Sunday, February 17, 2019

British Government Report Slams Facebook as "Digital Gangsters"

Facebook deliberately broke privacy and competition law and should urgently be subject to statutory regulation, according to a devastating parliamentary report denouncing the company and its executives as “digital gangsters”.
The final report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news accused Facebook of purposefully obstructing its inquiry and failing to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections.
“Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day,” warned the committee’s chairman, Damian Collins.
The report:
  • Accuses Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, of contempt for parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the committee’s questions.
  • Warns British electoral law is unfit for purpose and vulnerable to interference by hostile foreign actors, including agents of the Russian government attempting to discredit democracy.
  • Calls on the British government to establish an independent investigation into “foreign influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation and the sharing of data” in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 general election.

    Read the rest here.

RIP- Bruno Ganz

He was perhaps the greatest actor that most English speaking people have never heard of. To the extent he is well known among anglophones it is for his masterful performance as Adolf Hitler in the German film Downfall (Der Untergang), which spawned scores of satirical YouTube parodies using clips from the movie showing some of the Fuhrer's infamous rants. For a good part of his life though, the Swiss native was recognized as one of the finest German speaking actors in the trade. In recognition of which he was the most recent holder of the famed Iffland-Ring for more than twenty years. Mr. Ganz has reposed at the age of 77.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Investigation finds no evidence of ‘racist or offensive statements’ by Covington Catholic students

An investigation released Wednesday into an encounter between Covington Catholic High School students and Native American activists at the Lincoln Memorial last month largely supports the students’ accounts of the incident, which prompted immediate and widespread condemnation of the boys after a video of the encounter went viral.

A short video clip showed Nathan Phillips, playing a traditional drum, in an apparent standoff with student Nick Sandmann, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School, which arranged the trip, were among those who initially condemned the boys’ actions in the video.

The report, prepared by Greater Cincinnati Investigation, Inc. and dated Feb. 11, employed four licensed investigators for approximately 240 hours to take statements from students and chaperones, as well as to interview third-party witnesses and review about 50 hours of video. Investigators were not able to interview either Phillips or Sandmann in person and instead reviewed the student’s written account.

The investigators said they found no evidence that the students responded in an offensive manner to the black Hebrew Israelites or that they chanted “build the wall.” After asking chaperones, they performed a school cheer, according to the report, to drown out the black Hebrew Israelites.

Read the rest here.

I think there are more than a few people who owe these kids an apology. Not holding my breath though.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Catastrophic Flooding in Australia

Large tracts of rural Australia, primarily Queensland, have been stricken with flooding of biblical proportions after enduring a prolonged drought. There have been severe losses among wildlife and livestock.

Warning: The linked story has images that may be disturbing.

California abandons $77 billion high-speed rail plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday he’s abandoning a plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a project with an estimated cost that has ballooned to $77 billion.

“Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”

The idea championed by Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, is years behind schedule. The latest estimate for completion is 2033.

Newsom, though, said he wants to finish construction that’s already under way on a segment of the high-speed train from Bakersfield to Merced, through California’s Central Valley, arguing it will revitalize the economically depressed region.

He’s also replacing Brown’s head of the state board that oversees the project and pledged more accountability for contractors that run over on costs.

Read the rest here.

Orbán announces major family protection package for Hungary

Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced a seven-point family protection action plan in his state-of-the nation address in Budapest.

“This is Hungary’s answer to challenges, rather than immigration”, the prime minister said.

Listing the points of the action plan, Orban said

  • every woman under 40 years of age will be eligible to a preferential loan when they first get married.
  • The preferential loan of the family home purchase scheme (csok) will be extended; families raising two or more children will now also be able to use it for purchasing resale homes.
  • The government will repay 1 million forints of the mortgage loan of families with two or more children. This measure was first announced in August 2017 for families with three or more children, with the government paying off 1 million forints of families’ mortgages for every third and subsequent child from January 2018. The measures has now been extended to include families raising two children.
  • Women who have had and raised at least four children will be exempt from personal income tax payment for the rest of their lives.
  • The government will launch a car purchase subsidy programme for large families. Families raising at least three children will be eligible to a grant of 2.5 million forints to buy a new car seating at least seven people.
  • The government will create 21,000 creche places over three years.
  • Grandparents will also be eligible to a child-care fee and look after young children instead of the parents, the prime minister added.
Read the rest here.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bulgarian Church calls for abortion ban, religious education in schools, no sex education

The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has called for an overhaul of the government’s National Strategy for the Child 2019-2030, arguing for a ban on abortion and for compulsory religious education in schools and the removal of sex education from the curriculum.

The strategy was posted on the government’s website for comments from January until February 8. The Synod published their comments on the patriarchate’s website which were then added to the governmental website, reports the Sofia Globe.

In taking the Orthodox stand against abortion, the Synod said that banning such murder would allow for society and children in particular to have a full chance at existence and “blessed progress,” giving society the chance to overcome its demographic crisis.
Abortion is “unworthy of the Bulgarian nation,” the bishops’ statement reads.

The bishops also called for religious education in schools, saying:
Religious education in kindergartens and schools educates not only the minds but also the hearts of the smallest members of our society, which means that religious activities (in particular: Orthodox Christianity) reveal to children the sacred secret of this, that man is created in the image of God, and that to educate means to develop not only intellectually, but also to be perfected in faith, hope, love, charity and godliness. This is and should be the highest goal of any education, of any education-form, that man should be likened to the image of his Creator,
The Synod also voiced its opposition to the teaching of sex education in schools, calling for students to instead learn about true love, and not “sexuality that is taken out of the context of love,” and that abstinence is the best contraceptive. Such education should not be left in the hands of those who push an LGBT agenda, the bishops write.

“Children’s rights, parents’ rights, and the protection of the traditional family have a direct bearing on national security, state prosperity and eternal salvation in God,” the bishops also said.

The bishops also addressed issues of child violence and drug abuse, protecting parental rights, and the elimination of familial policies imported from outside Bulgaria that are impractical for Bulgarian society.


Friday, February 08, 2019

My Hero (for at least the next 12 hrs give or take)

I am not in the habit of cheering for billionaires. But I'm making an exception here. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon is the world's richest man, with a personal net worth exceeding the GDP of more than a few countries (combined). Yesterday he struck a blow for all of us, great and small. Being confronted with what looks to my layman's eye to be a pretty naked attempt at extortion, he turned the tables on a bunch of thugs and character assassins masquerading as journalists. And he did it at not inconsiderable cost (not money wise) to himself. The press and pundits are having a field day with this. One can only imagine what the late night comedians are going to do with it.

But it really is serious stuff. There are all kinds of rumors running around about who may have been behind it, and why. For now I will just say that I hope Jeff sues these SOBs right down to their boxers.

But no farther please.

The details can be found here. (Caution- some of the material is salacious.)

God Agrees To Spare Virginia If Just 10 Democrats Who Never Wore Blackface or a KKK Hood Can Be Found

VIRGINIA—In a statement issued from on high, the Almighty has agreed to spare the state of Virginia from His imminent wrath if state officials can locate just ten Democrats who never wore blackface or a KKK costume at some point in their lives.

God had announced His plan to immediately destroy Virginia, but Democrat leaders quickly begged him to spare the state if they could locate just 50 Democrats who never dressed in blackface. Being unable to do so, they managed to get the Lord to reduce the requirement to 40, then 30, then 20, and finally just 10.

Virginians' relief, however, quickly turned to panic as Democrat lawmakers announced they couldn't find a single leftist politician who hadn't dressed in a horrifically racist costume in their college years. They thought they found one but he was accused of sexual assault and so didn't count.

The state's citizens immediately began gathering their things and fleeing for other states, being careful not to look back.


Thursday, February 07, 2019

Washington State Braces for Potentially Severe Measles Outbreak

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Amber Gorrow is afraid to leave her house with her infant son because she lives at the epicenter of Washington state’s worst measles outbreak in more than two decades. Born eight weeks ago, Leon is too young to get his first measles shot, putting him at risk for the highly contagious respiratory virus, which can be fatal in small children.

Gorrow also lives in a community where she said being anti-vaccine is as acceptable as being vegan or going gluten free. Almost a quarter of kids in Clark County, Wash., a suburb of Portland, Ore., go to school without measles, mumps and rubella immunizations, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) recently declared a state of emergency amid concern that things could rapidly spin out of control.

Measles outbreaks have sprung up in nine other states this winter, but officials are particularly alarmed about the one in Clark County because of its potential to go very big, very quickly.

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the nation’s most vocal and organized anti-vaccination activists. That movement has helped drive down child immunizations in Washington, as well as in neighboring Oregon and Idaho, to some of the lowest rates in the country, with as many as 10.5 percent of kindergartners statewide in Idaho unvaccinated for measles. That is almost double the median rate nationally.

Libertarian-leaning lawmakers, meanwhile, have bowed to public pressure to relax state laws to exempt virtually any child from state vaccination requirements whose parents object. Three states allow only medical exemptions; most others also permit religious exemptions. And 17, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho, allow what they call “philosophical” exemptions, meaning virtually anyone can opt out of the requirements.

All those elements combine into a dangerous mix, spurring concern about the resurgence of a deadly disease that once sent tens of thousands of Americans to hospitals each year and killed an estimated 400 to 500 people, many of them young children.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Beseeching the Mother of God for protection from schismatics in Ukraine


MLB is considering a series of rules changes including making the DH universal.


Some of these ideas I can live with. But if they force that candy @$$ DH rule on the National League I am going to just give up and start watching golf or ping pong. And putting someone on 2nd base who didn't get there by swinging a bat is pure 100% Grade A fertilizer.

Update on Richie Bonillas (Latest Update: 02-14-2019)

The latest update from the family...

Richie has taken a downturn.

Doctors are holding off Richie’s move to rehab until his lung improves. He had a partial lung collapse yesterday and another episode where his heart rate dropped significantly. Brian (Richie's dad) is hoping he will go to the rehab floor either today or tomorrow.

Doctor plans to do an MRI to try to determine the cause of his heart rate dropping into the 30’s and 40’s. They think it could be neurological. I’m not sure why they are holding off on the MRI. They may want to do it when his heart rate drops.

Further updates will be posted to this thread as I receive them.

Update: 02-14-2019
After almost 2.5 months in ICU, Richie was moved to Rehab yesterday. New doctors, nurses and support staff. One step at a time.

Monday, February 04, 2019

American Expatriates in Russia

Rod Dreher has an interesting, and I suspect some will find it controversial, post on an American family that decided to take the ultimate leap. They emigrated to Russia. I am not going to excerpt this as there is a lot to digest.

Read it here.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Good News


Richie Bonillas is making slow but steady progress. The latest word is that if all goes well he will be moved from ICU to rehab on Monday. The family is somewhat exhausted as to be expected. Your prayers have been and remain deeply appreciated.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Concelebrated hierarchical liturgy on the Feast of St. Mark of Ephesus

On the Feast of St. Mark of Ephesus the Patriarchs of Antioch, Moscow and Belgrade concelebrate the Divine Liturgy.

(Hello Constantinople... anyone paying attention?)

Friday, February 01, 2019

UK: Just one in ten babies is baptised into the Church of England

Only one in ten babies is baptised into the Church of England – and in London, the figure is even lower at three in every 100, a national breakdown of the Church’s strength has revealed.

The tiny minority of infants who are introduced to Christianity by the CofE in London is mirrored in other major cities.

In Birmingham, only 5 per cent of babies are christened by the Anglican church; in Bristol it’s 6 per cent; in Manchester 8 per cent; and in Nottingham 9 per cent.

But the proportion of newborn children who are baptised is much higher in provincial towns and rural areas. In the Hereford diocese, for example, one in four babies is christened by the CofE.

The figures come from an analysis of churchgoing in 2017 in the CofE’s 46 dioceses. It shows that across England an average of 10 per cent of babies under one were baptised – down from 14 per cent in 2007.

Less than 50 people attend Sunday services at a typical English parish church. The figures for the London diocese do not include the capital south of the Thames, which is the Southwark diocese, where 5 per cent of babies under one are baptised into the CofE.

Read the rest here.

This is hardly surprising when the CofE has devolved into little more than a left-wing social club. Albeit one with very nice stained glass windows. It is not exactly surprising that a "church" is unlikely to attract people who are looking for articles of faith beyond whatever is currently trendy or politically correct.

Quote of the day...

"It is, the most disgraceful, atrocious, unjust, detestable, heathenish, barbarous, diabolical, tyrannical, man-degrading, woman-murdering, demon-pleasing, Heaven-defying act ever perpetrated in any age of the world by persons claiming to have consciences and a belief in a just God!"

 -Rodney French (1850 in response to the Fugitive Slave Act)

Hello New York...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Critique of Old Calendarist Ecclesiology

Since its inception, the Old Calendarist movement has generated a substantial degree of debate. Although not all Old Calendarist groups share the same beliefs, the following three views are certainly among the most prevalent:

1) Ceasing commemoration of heretical hierarchs is obligatory (not optional)

2) Communion ought to be broken not only with erring clergymen, but also with those who, albeit Orthodox, maintain communion with them

3) Heretical clergy lose the grace of the mysteries even prior to synodal condemnations

The purpose of this paper is to critique these tenets using a range of examples from the history of the Church. Moreover, since several other matters relating to zealotry (such as the change in the Church’s Calendar) also remain highly misunderstood amongst both Old Calendarists and New Calendarists alike, they too shall be addressed..

Read the rest here.

Report: Orthodox Church of Cyprus to recognize schismatic Ukrainian church

The source is an anti-Russian news site, but they made some specific claims and quotes. I believe the report is credible. It's also not very surprising. I have generally expected that Cyprus and possibly the Greek and Romanian Churches would fall in line with Constantinople. Presumably Moscow will sever communion with Cyprus once this becomes official.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Ultrasound Unable To Detect Heartbeat In New York State Legislators

ALBANY, NY—After the New York State Legislature voted to greatly expand abortion rights all the way up until the point of birth Tuesday, doctors quickly ordered echocardiograms on every lawmaker who voted for the bill, but tragically, no heartbeats were found by any of the ultrasounds.

Physicians desperately searched the chest cavities of the legislators for any sign of a heartbeat but found only a black void where normal human beings have a heart.

"Not a single one of these legislators appears to have a heart," said one doctor gravely. "This is a known medical condition. When you try to justify the murder of infants, you slowly sear your conscience. As a side effect, your heart begins to harden. Finally, it becomes pure stone and eventually withers away into nothing, leaving you with a black void: a husk of a human."

"It's really the only way you could possibly cheer on something like the murder of babies," he added as he performed another cardiac ultrasound. "Nope, this one's coming up negative too: just blackness where normal people have a heart."

Doctors also ordered blood tests but found only cold hatred running through the veins of every legislator who voted to further oppress the unborn.

HT: Brian W.