Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

A blessed feast to everyone. No blogging for a couple days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Congress plans to add $450B to the deficit, mostly with tax cuts for corporations

Congressional negotiators were considering a package of tax breaks Tuesday that would add as much as $450 billion to the federal budget deficit over the next decade, wiping out most of the revenue gains President Obama won from Republicans just two years ago.

The package could grow even larger if Democrats succeed in persuading Republicans to tack on additional items sought by the White House: Permanent expansion of the child tax credit and a popular tax break for working families, which together could boost the cost by nearly $100 billion.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dr. Adam DeVille Severely Criticizes Met. Hilarion (MP)

Christian Unity Cannot Be Built on Lies

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the “foreign affairs minister” of the Russian Orthodox Church, is, as George Weigel observed recently in First Things, a talented man, “charming and witty.” However, the gifted Hilarion, Weigel rightly noted, “does not always speak the truth.” Hilarion is rather like the Energizer Bunny: he goes on and on and on repeating tirelessly whatever pernicious propaganda the Russians want to spread. He has three channels to choose from: tired and outright lies about Ukrainian Catholics, repeated ad nauseam for over a decade now; useful if rather vague calls for Christians to co-operate in addressing the social ills of our time (same-sex marriage, divorce, abortion); and tendentious distortions of his own Orthodox tradition, particularly her ecclesiology. It is the third I wish to address.

Read the rest here.

Progressive baseball in 1910

Either that or their catcher was spending waaay too much time in the tanning booth.

Preview of coming attractions?

In Great Britain some patients are waiting more than 24 hrs to be seen in hospital emergency rooms as the country's National Health Service is reported to be under severe strain.

Read the story here.

Shamelessly stolen from here.

Finland feeling vulnerable amid Russian provocations

HELSINKI — Wedged hard against Russia’s northwestern border, peaceable Finland has long gone out of its way to avoid prodding the nuclear-armed bear next door.

But now the bear is provoking Finland, repeatedly guiding military planes into Finnish airspace and deploying submarines and helicopters to chase after Finnish research vessels in international waters.

The incidents are part of a pattern of aggressive Russian behavior that has radiated across Europe but that has been especially unnerving for countries such as Finland that live outside the protective bubble of NATO.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The New Version of School House Rock

Via the funny people at SNL.

I am shocked!

(Reuters) - - A banking culture that implicitly puts financial gain above all else fuels greed and dishonesty and makes bankers more likely to cheat, according to the findings of a scientific study.

Read the rest here.

Feast of St. Michael the Archangel

Liturgy in the Archangel Cathedral in the Kremlin

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Two Men Freed 40 Years After Being Sentenced to Death - Both Innocent

(CLEVELAND) -- On May 25, 1975, Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman went to jail for a murder they didn’t commit. Sentenced to death on the testimony of a single juvenile witness, the men continued to protest their innocence through years of incarceration.

On Friday, nearly 40 years later, they walked out of prison as free men after the state’s witness in the case admitted that he concocted his testimony under police intimidation.

A case suffused with emotion culminated in exoneration Friday morning, when Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle formally dismissed all charges against Jackson after a brief hearing. Bridgeman, whose case was heard separately, was exonerated two hours later by Judge David Matia.

The two joined Bridgeman’s younger brother Ronnie, now known as Kwame Ajamu, who was found guilty of the same crime and eventually paroled in 2003.

The three were originally jailed for the 1975 murder of Harry Franks, a Cleveland businessman, after a 12-year-old witness named Edward Vernon told police that he had seen them attack the victim. No physical evidence linked them to the crime scene. Jackson was just 19 years old when he was sentenced to die, Wiley Bridgeman was 20, and Ronnie Bridgeman was 17.

Read the rest here.

We are in a Constitutional Crisis

...After announcing that he intended to act unilaterally in the face of congressional opposition, Obama ordered the non-enforcement of various laws — including numerous changes to the Affordable Care Act — moved hundreds of millions of dollars away from the purposes for which Congress approved the spending and claimed sweeping authority to act without judicial or legislative controls.

A growing crisis in our constitutional system threatens to fundamentally alter the balance of powers — and accountability — within our government. This crisis did not begin with Obama, but it has reached a constitutional tipping point during his presidency. Indeed, it is enough to bring the two of us — a liberal academic and a conservative U.S. senator — together in shared concern over the future of our 225-year-old constitutional system of self­governance.

We believe that people of good faith can likewise transcend politics and forge a bipartisan coalition to examine these changes. In our view, the gridlock in Washington is not simply the result of toxic divisions. The dysfunctional politics we are experiencing may in part be the result of a deeper corrosion — a dangerous instability that is growing within our Madisonian system.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Is Yiddish Enough?

...Mr. Moster had grown up one of 17 children in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where most Hasidic men marry young and, right after finishing yeshiva, or high school, either immediately enter the work force or dedicate themselves to Talmudic studies. But if Mr. Moster’s educational ambitions were unusual among his peers, his limited grasp of English was not.

There are 250 Jewish private schools in New York City, and though some schools, like Ramaz on the Upper East Side, have intensive secular curriculums, many do not. Nearly one-third of all students in Jewish schools are “English language learners,” according to the city’s Department of Education. Yiddish is the Hasidic community’s first language, and both parents and educators report that many boys’ schools do not teach the A B C’s until children are 7 or 8 years old. Boys in elementary and middle school study religious subjects from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. followed by approximately 90 minutes of English and math. At 13, when boys formally enter yeshiva, most stop receiving any English instruction.

This has been true for decades, even though Hasidic schools receive millions of dollars in government funds and are required by state law to teach a curriculum that is “equivalent” to what public schools offer.

Read the rest here.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cops Raid Wrong House; Bomb Room With 2yr Old

VENTURA, Calif. (CN) - A 2-year-old boy was burned by a police smoke bomb in a terrifying "no knock" raid at the wrong home, his family claims in court...

In their lawsuit, the Salinas family says they were sleeping on April 16, around 4 a.m., when they were awakened by scuffling footsteps and vehicles outside their condominium. When Jose Salinas drew the curtains of his bedroom window, he saw the barrel of a policeman's gun pointed at him.

Police broke the front windows of the home and set off three smoke bombs. Police then crashed through the front door with guns drawn, yelling, "Get down and put your hands to your head!"

With laser guns pointed at them, Paulina and Jose Salinas were handcuffed and put to their knees. Their 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son were shoved into a corner.

As police approached one of the bedrooms, Paulina Salinas and her two older children told officers there was a 2-year-old in the room. Police ignored them, told them to cover their ears, and threw a smoke bomb into the room as 2-year-old Justin Salinas stood near the door.

When the smoke bomb detonated, shrapnel from the blast hit Justin in the foot, causing first-degree burns and glass cuts.

The family was detained for four hours although "there was no resemblance of any claimant to any of the previous tenants at the location," according to the complaint.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Snow Tsunami Slams Buffalo NY

I am a native New Yorker and as such am no stranger to snow and ice. Those who live in Buffalo however take a certain perverse pride in their weather. This westernmost of New York's big cities is practically synonymous with ugly winter storms that roll in from the Great Lakes dumping a foot or more of snow at a time... with unpleasant regularity and near daily snow squalls dropping an inch or three. In Buffalo it has been said that there are two seasons, winter and the 4th of July. And one can well believe it with annual snowfalls often topping 100(!) inches. So let's just say that these people are not in the habit of fainting at the first sight of the white fluffy stuff.

But the storm now battering these hardy folk is one likely to be long remembered. Over the next 48 hrs or so Buffalo is expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of six feet of snow (70+ inches in various places). How bad is that? It is bad enough that Buffalo is paying this storm their ultimate tribute.

They are giving the kids a day off from school tomorrow.

Hotel guests ‘fined’ for leaving bad review on TripAdvisor

A couple have been "fined" £100 by a Blackpool hotel they described as a "rotten stinking hovel" on travel review website TripAdvisor.

Tony and Jan Jenkinson posted the negative comments after being unimpressed with the one night they spent at the Broadway Hotel.

The couple, from Whitehaven, later found £100 charged to their credit card. The hotel said its policy was to charge for "bad" reviews.

Read the rest here.

More Evidence of Global Warming

All 50 states are currently experiencing sub-freezing temperatures. Yes, even Hawaii.

Questions About Sharpton’s Finances Accompany His Rise in Influence

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who came to prominence as an imposing figure in a track suit, shouting indignantly at the powerful, stood quietly on a stage last month at the Four Seasons restaurant, his now slender frame wrapped in a finely tailored suit, as men in power lined up to exclaim their admiration for him.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hailed him as a civil rights icon. President Obama sent an aide to read a message commending Mr. Sharpton’s “dedication to the righteous cause of perfecting our union.” Major corporations sponsored the lavish affair...

...Obscured in his ascent, however, has been his troubling financial past, which continues to shadow his present.

Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanks to Jonathan Gruber for revealing Obamacare deception

Democrats are desperately distancing themselves from Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber. He “never worked on our staff,” President Obama said this weekend in Brisbane, Australia, (even though Gruber was paid almost $400,000 by his administration, is the intellectual author of the individual mandate and met in the Oval Office with Obama and the head of the Congressional Budget Office to pore over the bill). “I don’t know who he is,” Nancy Pelosi declared on Capitol Hill (even though she repeatedly cited him by name during the Obamacare debate).

The reason Democrats are running from Gruber is the same reason conservatives should be thanking him: Gruber has exposed what liberals really think of the American people.

Read the rest here.

Death: Forget closure, normal grief can last forever

Queen Victoria wore mourning for the rest of her life after Prince Albert's death.

When I was three years old my brother was born. He had a heart condition, and after being in and out of hospital for the whole of his little life, he died when I was five. The time after he was gone was a long and empty period of terrible loneliness and the hollow aching of grief. His death has quite literally marked me, the way all tragedies mark us, particularly when they happen when we’re small.

Even after all these years, there is still a raw place inside that is close enough to the surface to open up again with any big blow and all but double its impact. Even after years of therapy. Even with a long and involved period of training to be a therapist. Even with everything I supposedly know about losses and their impact.

There’s nothing particularly special about this story. While most of us imagine grief should be temporary, our optimism about the transience of loss is not supported by the facts. The death of children and of siblings affects the quality of the rest of our lives. The death of a parent when we are young has long-term measurable impacts on our mental health.

Closure doesn’t appear to be an accurate metaphor for the general course of our human bereavements. Instead, “normal” grief can last in some form for a lifetime.

Read the rest here.

Britain: PM Cameron Issues Blunt Warning on Global Economy

LONDON — In a starkly downbeat assessment, British Prime Minister David Cameron has written that the world’s economy could be headed for another fall.

“Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy,” Cameron writes in a piece published in Monday’s edition of Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The prime minister cites a euro-zone economy that is “teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too.” He also references emerging market economies that “were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery” but are now slowing, as well as stalled trade talks, instability in the Middle East, war in Ukraine and the spread of Ebola.

Read the rest here.

Cardinal O’Malley: ‘If I Were Founding a Church, I’d Love to Have Women Priests’

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has said that were he to start a church he would “love to have women priests”.

The outspoken remarks came during an interview with 60 Minutes on American television network CBS.

Asked by reporter Norah O’Donnell whether excluding women from the Church hierarchy was immoral, Cardinal O’Malley said, “Christ would never ask us to do something immoral. It’s a matter of vocation and what God has given to us.”

Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Great Immigration Betrayal

IN the months since President Obama first seem poised — as he now seems poised again — to issue a sweeping executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, we’ve learned two important things about how this administration approaches its constitutional obligations.

First, we now have a clear sense of the legal arguments that will be used to justify the kind of move Obama himself previously described as a betrayal of our political order. They are, as expected, lawyerly in the worst sense, persuasive only if abstracted from any sense of precedent or proportion or political normality.

Second, we now have a clearer sense of just how anti-democratically this president may be willing to proceed.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Vatican Approves Married Clergy for Eastern Rite in the West

The Vatican has taken steps to end a long simmering controversy. With the approval of Pope Francis, most restrictions in the diaspora on ordaining married men, or importing married clergy from the East are being lifted. The broad enforcement of the Latin discipline of celibacy on all Eastern Rite clergy in the West has been a sore point for more than a century.

Details here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Not Your Typical Christmas Ad

It's popping up all over the web, but if you haven't already seen it, here is the Christmas advertisement from the British supermarket chain Sainsbury's. While I don't generally get sappy over advertising, this one struck a nerve. For those unfamiliar with the background, it's based on the very real Christmas truce of 1914 during World War I. Read about it here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Statement of the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas on the Comments of Fr. Robert Arida on Homosexuality...

Read it here.

Former British PM Major Warms UK May Quit European Union Over Immigration

Britain has just a 50-50 chance of remaining in the European Union, Sir John Major has warned, saying that opposition to continued membership of the European Union has reached “a critical mass”.

In a speech in Berlin on Thursday Sir John warned that Britain’s frustration was “no game”, adding: “There is a very real risk of separation that could damage the future of the United Kingdom – and Europe as a whole.”

Read the rest here.

Defying the Law; Obama Prepares to Govern By Executive Order

WASHINGTON — President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.

Read the rest here.

Many banks defy bankruptcy rulings and demand payment

In the netherworld of consumer debt, there are zombies: bills that cannot be killed even by declaring personal bankruptcy.

Tens of thousands of Americans who went through bankruptcy are still haunted by debts long after — sometimes as long as a decade after — federal judges have extinguished the bills in court.

The problem, state and federal officials suspect, is that some of the nation’s biggest banks ignore bankruptcy court discharges, which render the debts void. Paying no heed to the courts, the banks keep the debts alive on credit reports, essentially forcing borrowers to make payments on bills that they do not legally owe.

Read the rest here.

Banks are the enemy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

U.S. Sailors Assaulted by Turkish Nationalists in Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Members of a Turkish nationalist youth group assaulted three visiting American sailors in Istanbul on Wednesday, hurling balloons filled with red paint at them, putting white sacks over their heads and calling them murderers.

A video posted online by the group, the Turkish Youth Union, or T.G.B., shows a dozen of its members staging an anti-American protest in the touristy Eminonu district and attacking the sailors, who were not in uniform, in broad daylight.

The sailors had just disembarked from the guided missile destroyer Ross, docked in Istanbul for a few days. They escaped and returned to the ship, and all shore leave for the crew was canceled.

Read the rest here.

Christmas stricken from schools calendar

Christmas and Easter have been stricken from next year’s school calendar in Montgomery County. So have Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

Montgomery’s Board of Education voted 7 to 1 Tuesday to eliminate references to all religious holidays on the published calendar for 2015-2016, a decision that followed a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha.

In practical terms, Montgomery schools will still be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays, as in previous years, and students will still get the same days off, as planned.

Board members said Tuesday that the new calendar will reflect days the state requires the system to be closed and that it will close on other days that have shown a high level of student and staff absenteeism. Though those days happen to coincide with major Christian and Jewish holidays, board members made clear that the days off are not meant to observe those religious holidays, which they say is not legally permitted.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Geert Wilders on the Islamization of Europe

I come to America with a mission. All is not well in the old world. There is a tremendous danger looming, and it is very difficult to be optimistic. We might be in the final stages of the Islamization of Europe. This not only is a clear and present danger to the future of Europe itself, it is a threat to America and the sheer survival of the West. The danger I see looming is the scenario of America as the last man standing. The United States as the last bastion of Western civilization, facing an Islamic Europe. In a generation or two, the US will ask itself: who lost Europe? Patriots from around Europe risk their lives every day to prevent precisely this scenario form becoming a reality.

Read the rest here.

Armistice Day

What if Mormon Missionaries Were Honest About Their Beliefs?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Islamic Prayer Service to be Held in National Cathedral

WASHINGTON -- Washington National Cathedral and five Muslim groups announced today the first celebration of Muslim Friday prayers (Jumaa) at the Cathedral on Friday, November 14.

Read the rest here. (Scroll down a bit)

The Leader of the Loyal Opposition

It's been expected for a while now, but for the record Pope Paul VII has removed Cardinal Burke from his position as the chief justice for the Catholic Church's version of the Supreme Court. He has been appointed as chaplain for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a position that is being universally referred to as purely ceremonial. As far as I am aware no one on either side of the increasingly sharp divide within the Catholic Church is pretending that this is anything other than a very public de-facto dismissal.

On the upside, Burke's status as the leader of the loyal opposition has now been firmly cemented. May God grant him many years!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Fr Robert Arida: Why Don’t You Become Episcopalian?

It's getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere. An Orthodox priest (OCA) recently posted a silly piece suggesting we take a hint from the Episcopalians and embrace the modern culture of everything goes. Now Fr. Johannes Jacobse (AOANA) has posted a scathing response that ends with the question in the title of the post. Read it here.

See also these related discussions from Rod Dreher and Christopher Johnson. And still more from Dreher on the broad based and very sharp criticism being directed at Fr. Robert's essay.

HT: Dr.Tighe

Supreme Court Likely to Take Gay Marriage Case

I am not easily surprised in politics or constitutional legal cases, but yesterday's decision by a three judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding four state bans on homosexual marriage was a bolt from the blue. With that decision we now have incompatible opinions on a critical constitutional issue at the appellate court level. I see no means by which the Supreme Court can continue to duck the matter. They will take the case, perhaps even hearing arguments late during this term.

An issue I had thought settled has suddenly become very unsettled. However, while I am extremely pleased, I will let the champagne chill until the SCOTUS hands down its ruling.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Republican Rout

It's 9PM PST (midnight on the right coast) and the GOP has regained control of the US Senate. The exact margin won't be known for a while, but it is possible that when the dust settles they may have gained a stunning nine seats. Meanwhile in the generally overlooked House of Representatives, the GOP looks like it will enjoy its biggest majority since the 1920s.

I think Mr. Obama is in for a tough final two years in office.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Pakistani Christian Couple Is Tortured and Burned to Death by Angry Mob

LAHORE, Pakistan — An enraged mob tortured a Pakistani Christian couple and incinerated their bodies in a brick kiln in eastern Pakistan on Tuesday after they were accused of burning a Quran, police officials said.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

St. Nicholas at Ground Zero

A short video showing the plans for the reconstructed St.Nicholas that was flattened on 9-11. They seem to have taken their inspiration from the new Roman Catholic cathedral in LA. Too big. Too modern. Way too sterile. This was a place where simplicity with traditional Orthodox iconography and interior design would have been far better. Color me unimpressed.

HT: Fr.Z

Decree of Excommunication by the Union of Eritrean Monasteries Against the Usurper Yof­tahe Dimet­ros

Spiritual greetings to you.

It is common knowledge that for over ten years, you, the individuals known as Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros Gebre-mariam and the priest Habtom Russom, have been administrating the Orthodox Tewahdo Church of Eritrea.

It is a truth known to everyone that during your administration, the church that is ancient, Apostolic, Holy and a bastion of peace and unity has been turned into a place of bedlam; its vision distorted; its mission disrupted; and enveloped by a fog of divisiveness which has placed her at a great peril. This is due to your wicked actions which fell outside the parameters of the rule of law. Most of all, you’ve rendered a church that was a source of faith, good moral behavior; a teacher, guide and protector of law and order, and the book of God into a haven for hypocrites and self-serving beasts by destroying its pillars of law and sacraments. You’re the cause and effect of this saddening phenomenon that is exhausting the church and wrecking havoc on it; this is the truth we have been closely following and carefully weighing to determine its veracity. You’re therefore primarily responsible for all the Church’s problems that have gotten worse under your tenure as administrators.

In regard to this, we, the Union of Eritrean Monasteries, have advised and warned you repeatedly, directly and through the Holy Synod and other concerned parties, in writing and verbally, to take quick corrective decisions to nib the problems in the bud. In spite of this, you failed to awaken your conscience and correct the way you conducted and ran your affairs; but you also misconstrued our patience and foolishly led the Church from bad to worse; making her slide backwards like a crab. We’ve become keenly aware and certain that your labor and mission is not to promote the interests and growth of the Church, but to hasten its demise and disintegration so you can serve your own individual interests and gain fame.

Although it is very difficult to compile and list all the damage you’ve incurred and are incurring on the Holy Orthodox Tewahdo Church, but in order to clarify all your misdeeds and transgressions with the hope that it might help you to repent, we’ve classified them into nine categories:

1. You’ve repeatedly violated and allowed the violation of the pillars of sacraments, canons and the traditions of the Church;

2. You’ve unlawfully taken over and monopolized the powers of the Holy Synod and the papacy of His Holiness the Patriarch, and the Archbishops of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church; and in their name and without their consent, you’ve taken illegal actions;

3. You’ve become partial and a cover to the hypocrites; and served them well by providing them solid ground;

4. You’ve strangled all aspects of the Church’s apostolic mission and spiritual activities and weakened the Church; labored to weaken and destroy the Union of Monasteries;

5. You’ve committed and allowed acts that brought in the causes for strife and dissension and put the unity of the Church in jeopardy;

6. You’ve being using your illegally acquired powers and dictatorial administrations to excommunicate and harass innocent servants of the Church, among whom were fathers from the monasteries and without any due process;

7. You’ve enabled corruptions and wickedness (contrary to spirituality) to spread within the Church.

In spite of your serious transgressions on the canons, religious traditions, the holy Church and sacredness, we’ve repeatedly reached out and implored you to correct your dictatorial wickedness, but you’ve failed to head our advice. We, the Union of Monasteries, should not allow our limitless patience to be taken for granted; our Church be the play-ground of anyone who dares to come and highjack it as if it doesn’t have owners; we can’t tie our hands behind our backs and watch, for that will be an utter abdication of our most important spiritual obligations. We, therefore, excommunicate you, Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros Gebremariam, and the priest, Habtom Russom Habte, in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, by the authority of Peter and Paul, the three hundred eighteen fathers of the Orthodox faith, Timothy the Apostle, Abune Selema Kessate Birhan and all holy fathers of the monasteries of Eritrea, effective this hour.

Read the rest here.