Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why Palestinians in Gaza Don't Defy Hamas

I have been wondering why the Palestinians in Gaza do not defy Hamas and try to stop them from shooting rockets at Israel from houses in their neighborhoods. I recognize that many support Hama, but keep thinking that surely there must be many who would just like peace. Then reading this morning's New York Times and saw that some of the Palestinians were being killed by Hamas.
Armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes roamed the halls [of Shifa Hospital in Gaza]. Asked their function, they said it was to provide security. But there was internal bloodletting under way.

In the fourth-floor orthopedic section, a woman in her late 20s asked a militant to let her see Saleh Hajoj, her 32-year-old husband. She was turned away and left the hospital. Fifteen minutes later, Mr. Hajoj was carried out by young men pretending to transfer him to another ward. As he lay on the stretcher, he was shot in the left side of the head.

Mr. Hajoj, like five others killed at the hospital this way in 24 hours, was accused of collaboration with Israel. He had been in the central prison awaiting trial by Hamas judges; when Israel destroyed the prison on Sunday he and the others were transferred to the hospital. But their trials were short-circuited.

A crowd at the hospital showed no mercy after the shooting, which was widely observed.
And then I read Anglican Curmudgeon's piece on crucifixion as part of the new Sharia Law in Gaza. Curmudgeon includes this translation from News Blaze of one of the sections of the proposed code:
Section 59 of the law establishes that "punishment of death will be enacted on any Palestinian who intentionally does one of the following: Raised a weapon against Palestine on behalf of the enemy during war, was appointed to negotiate with a foreign government on a Palestinian issue and negotiated against Palestinians' interest, performed a hostile action against a foreign country in a way that endangers Palestine in war or in harming political relations, served a foreign army in time of war, advised or helped soldiers to enlist in this army, weakened the spirit or the force of resistance of the people, or spied against Palestine especially during war."
(my bold added for emphasis)

The punishment of crucifixion is for traitors, and among those so classified would be those who have "weakened the spirit or the force of resistance of the people". I am thinking that anyone who complains about rockets being fired at Israel from their neighborhood would be accused of "weakening the spirit or the force of resistance of the people".

Why would Hamas up the punishment from death to crucifixion? I am thinking that it is because there are those who would "weaken the spirit or the force of resistance of the people" and the threat of death had not been a sufficient deterrent. Being shot dead with a bullet is a quick death. Crucifixion is used to make the death long and painful, and as a lesson for those who see it. Hamas is cracking down on any resistance among the Palestinian people, which tells me there is a desire among at least some Palestinians for an end to Hamas aggression against Israel.

So, I am thinking that it is very important for us to make a distinction between the Palestinian people and Hamas. I don't think the Palestinian people can resist Hamas right now.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Predicted Break-Up of USA in 2010

UPDATE: I've added the map from The Nine Nations of North America at the bottom of this post.

ORIGINAL POST BEGINS HERE: As we ponder the life and works of Samuel P. Huntington, the author of The Clash of Civilizations and Who Are We?, it is sadly apt to come across this New Year's prediction in The Wall Street Journal. I suppose the good news is that this former Russian KGB officer turned Professor, Igor Panarin, is not predicting this will happen until 2010.
Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

Further down in the article we learn:
He based the forecast on classified data supplied to him by FAPSI analysts, he says. He predicts that economic, financial and demographic trends will provoke a political and social crisis in the U.S. When the going gets tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union. Social unrest up to and including a civil war will follow. The U.S. will then split along ethnic lines, and foreign powers will move in.

California will form the nucleus of what he calls "The Californian Republic," and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of "The Texas Republic," a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an "Atlantic America" that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls "The Central North American Republic." Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.

"It would be reasonable for Russia to lay claim to Alaska; it was part of the Russian Empire for a long time." A framed satellite image of the Bering Strait that separates Alaska from Russia like a thread hangs from his office wall. "It's not there for no reason," he says with a sly grin.

Huntington told us that our nation's elites have deconstructed our national identity and fostered racial and ethnic separatism. The obvious result would be to destroy much of our will to persevere as a nation. Would Huntington have been surprised by Panarin's prediction? Perhaps only that Panarin sets the date so near in the future.

UPDATE: It occurs to me to add the map from The Nine Nations of North America. Joel Garreau thought that some of California, Arizona, and New Mexico goes with Mexico. It is surprising to see his Dixie going to Mexico in Panarin's analysis.

Hat Tip Titus One Nine

The God +Gene Robinson Knows

Kevin Eckstrom at Religious News Service has an interview with +Gene Robinson up today in which +Robinson explains that 'his God' is as well pleased with +Gene himself as God was with Jesus at Jesus' baptism by John. In this excerpt of the interview, they are discussing this NY Times article about Rick Warren:
Q: You told The New York Times that "the God that he's praying to is not the God that I know." What God do you think he's praying to?

A: I think he is praying to a God, at least around this issue, that calls upon God's homosexual children to deny who they are, to deprive themselves of love and intimacy that is permitted every other one of God's children. He's praying to a God who calls on me, as a gay man, to change, to submit myself to the power of Jesus so I can be healed of this `infirmity' of mine.

Q: And how is that different from the God that you pray to?

A: The God I know says to me, just like we hear God saying at Jesus' baptism, that you are my beloved, and in you I am well pleased. That's a very, very different God. Imagine the difference between a parent who loves you for you who are, and one that says I'll only love you if you change.

+Robinson's understanding of God's love is consistent with that of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Schori. +Schori has suggested that all people should do a meditation imagining themselves in the role of Jesus at his baptism experiencing the loving approval spoken by God to Jesus. There are two problems with using the baptism of Jesus as the basis for understanding God's love for all humanity:
1) this conflates love and approval, and
2) this usurps the uniqueness of Christ.

God loves us unconditionally. But God's approval is conditional. We need only look to Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son to understand the difference between love and approval. The father loved the son throughout the son's life, but not one would claim that the father approved of the son's behavior in squandering his inheritance. However, God's forgiveness is infinite and we are not judged by a standard of perfection but rather on our willingness to continue to turn back toward God as we inevitably stray from God's path for us.

Jesus was uniquely without sin. We know that Jesus was not just another human when he came to be baptized by John. John recognized that he was not fit to tie Jesus' sandal and John said that Jesus did not need baptism. The assertion that one is equal to Jesus in God's approval cannot be found in scripture and leads to the heresy that we are equal to Christ. An example of this theological drift into heresy is found in the Diocese of Northern Michigan.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

An Atheist on Christian Conversion in Africa

Matthew Parris does not believe in Christianity, but he know a lot about it. And he is amazingly honest, even when what he thinks or sees does not support his ideology. In 2003, although he is a gay man, he wrote a column on why God would not approve of gay bishops. Now in his latest column in The Times, he has written on why he believes Africa needs Christianity.
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

Parris takes the risky step of criticizing tribal group think:
Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Read it all here.

Hat Tip to Titus One Nine and to Karen B in comment #3.

Hamas Parliment Passes Sharia for Gaza

This is unconfirmed,because the primary sources are in Arabic:
Headline: Hamas approves law of punishment by lashes, amputating hands, crucifying, and execution - in order to implement the Islamic Sharia law. Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council approved in its meeting in Gaza a new bill proposed by the Hamas who have a majority in the Legislative Council, whose purpose is "to implement Koranic punishments."

The newspaper Al Hayat of London reported on Dec. 24, 2008, that this step is seen as unprecedented, and has brought criticism and concern from human rights organizations in the Gaza Strip, especially as this law includes punishments by lashes, cutting off of hands, crucifixion, and execution... The language of the law proposes "primary and secondary" laws. Primary laws include: "Koranic laws, blood revenge, lashes, crucifixion, and execution ..."

The text stresses: "These punishments will not be canceled or pardoned ... except if pardoned by the victim himself... Section 59 of the law establishes that "punishment of death will be enacted on any Palestinian who intentionally does one of the following: Raised a weapon against Palestine on behalf of the enemy during war, was appointed to negotiate with a foreign government on a Palestinian issue and negotiated against Palestinians' interest, performed a hostile action against a foreign country in a way that endangers Palestine in war or in harming political relations, served a foreign army in time of war, advised or helped soldiers to enlist in this army, weakened the spirit or the force of resistance of the people, or spied against Palestine especially during war."

The punishment of lashes appears in many sections of the law. Section 84 states that: "Whoever drinks wine, owns or produces wine will be punished with 40 lashes if he is Muslim, and anyone who drinks wine, or angers another person [with wine], or causes him distress when drinking wine in a public place, or goes to a public place while drunk, will be punished with no less than 40 lashes and imprisonment for the minimum of three months." [Al-Arabiya, Dec. 24, 2008]

This text is from NewsBlaze
The Jerusalem Post has a brief version of this story as well.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Worst Christmas Ever, But I Am Happy

For many years now, I have been trying to ratchet down the expectations for Christmas. I say "We are going to have The Worst Christmas Ever this year; I just can't do very much this time." And this year we did even less than the year before.

The very good news was that I found the Christmas decorations. In January 2007, in a fit of housecleaning mania, I had cleaned out the garage and given away quite a bit to the Salvation Army. Then at Christmas 2007, when it was time to put up decorations, we looked through the garage and could not find the decorations. We looked in the attic and the downstairs storage closet. We could not find them. I had a clear memory of donating some of the ornaments that we didn't like. But could I have made a terrible mistake and donated all our decorations accumulated over the years to the Salvation Army? We were all very busy with various things and so 2007 was the Worst Christmas Ever with no Decorations, not even a tree. But actually, it was still fine, although I did worry a little what friends and neighbors were thinking.

This year, the week before Christmas, I discovered all the Christmas decorations neatly packed in storage boxes in the linen cupboards. So we were off to a great start. But we had some emergencies come up and didn't buy much in the way of presents. Luckily, sometimes during the year I will see something that I think is perfect for someone and then put it in a big bag in my closet. So, I looked in the bag and did have some gifts. With just a little shopping, I had something for everyone.

Then on Christmas Eve, I just made a crab chowder for dinner. We did have a lovely Christmas centerpiece with three red candles and some evergreens and carnations that my mother had chosen for a florist to deliver. It was just a nice simple dinner and after dinner I remarked to my daughter that it was the Worst Christmas Eve Dinner Ever. We were so happy. We had had a nice dinner together and we were laughing. It just wasn't A BIG DEAL.

Then today we barely had any presents at all. But we did have some gifts and everything was just right for the person it was for. I was even given a book Blogging for "Smart" People. (Actually, it says Blogging for and then there is some paper taped on to the book cover with "Smart" People handwritten on it.) After we opened our few gifts, I said "This was The Worst Christmas Ever, but I am so happy." We were laughing because we had given and received gifts that we actually liked. We didn't have a lot of stuff we didn't want. It was great. But by the objective standards of our culture, it was The Worst Christmas Ever.

How is it that every year we do less and yet every year we are happier with the Christmas we have?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Drag Queen Plays Mary in Amsterdam Nativity Scene

Well, the gay Christmas in Amsterdam seems not to have had enough money for the original idea of having a same sex marriage manager scene with actors portraying two Josephs and two Marys as same-sex couples. Although the Amsterdam city council provided euro15,000 ($21,000) to sponsor the event, all they seem to have been able to afford was this nativity scene with a man in drag as Mary:
A male entertainer known as Wendy Mills posed as Mary in a blonde wig and high-heeled black boots and holding a plastic doll. Another man played Joseph in black leather trunks and a silver shawl.

The five-person manger scene was staged off the street, in the courtyard of a nightclub. Visitors were invited to be photographed with the group. The first was 3-month-old Lily Pink Albers, Mills' niece.

Organizers remain unclear on the concept:
Organizers said the event was meant to raise Amsterdam's profile as a gay capital at a time when homosexuals feel threatened.

As I have said before, maybe they wouldn't feel so threatened if they would stop acting so deliberately to provoke others.

Hat Tip to E.E. Evans at Get Religion

Monday, December 22, 2008

Warren's Church Scrubs Website of Stance on Homosexuality

Has the invitation to do the Invocation at Obama's inauguration already begun to change Rick Warren? Saddleback Church has removed some text from its website that explained its view on homosexuality and church membership. (See the blank page here.) Previously, Saddleback had text on this page saying it welcomed both practicing homosexuals and unmarried couples living together before marriage to attend church. Howevr, it explained that only those willing to repent of their sins would be accepted as members:

Here is what Little Green Footballs found was up as of December 16th:
What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

The Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.

“Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin.” (Lev. 18:22 TLB)

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11 NIV)

While all sin is destructive, Romans 6 warns us of the great dangers in sexual sin when it says, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Cor 6:18 NLT) This includes not only homosexuality, but all sexual immorality: adultery, sex without marriage, pornography. We must not act as if homosexuality is the only serious sexual sin, and we must not act as if homosexuality is not a serious sexual sin.

I’ve heard it asked, “Isn’t being homosexual something that a person is physically born with?” First of all, there are absolutely no facts to support this claim. From time to time studies have been reported in the news that seemed to indicate this, but every one of these studies has proven to be wrong. Secondly, even if some physical difference were discovered, it would be no excuse for sin. We know that some people can develop a stronger physical addiction to alcohol than others, but that’s obviously no excuse for living an alcoholic lifestyle.

Finally, a word about being judgmental. It’s not judgmental to say that what the Bible calls a sin is a sin, that’s just telling the truth. Not being willing to talk to someone caught up in sin, or not believing that they can be forgiven, or thinking that you are not just as much in need of Jesus as they are ... that’s being judgmental.

Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one’s life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church. That does not mean they cannot attend church – we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.

In equal desire to follow Jesus, we also would not accept a couple into membership at Saddleback who were not willing to repent of the sexual sin of living together before marriage. That does not mean this couple cannot attend church – we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.

This material and the material that used to be up about Creationism is over at Little Green Footballs.

8 Yr Old Girl's Divorce Request Rejected Until Puberty

Al Arabiya News Channel is reporting:
A Saudi court has rejected a plea to divorce an eight-year-old girl married off by her father to a man who is 58, saying the case should wait until the girl reaches puberty, a lawyer involved told AFP.

How is this not selling your daughter?
The father had agreed to marry off his daughter for an advance dowry of 30,000 riyals ($8,000), as he was apparently facing financial problems, they said.

Hat Tip Debbie Schlussel

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rick Warren's God NOT "the God I know" says Robinson

In today's New York Times article on the controversy over President Elect Obama's selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the Invocation at the Inaguration, Bishop Gene Robinson sheds some light on our differences:
V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, whose consecration caused a painful divide in his church because he is openly gay, said that when he heard about the selection of Mr. Warren, “it was like a slap in the face.”

Bishop Robinson had been an early public endorser of Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and said he had helped serve as a liaison between the campaign and the gay community. He said he had called officials who work for Mr. Obama to share his dismay, and been told that Mr. Obama was trying to reach out to conservatives and give everybody a seat at the table.

“I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” Bishop Robinson said, “but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”
Two things caught my attention in these words:
1) Robinson makes a distinction between being included at the table and being given a place of honor, and
2) Robinson suggests that the places of honor should be reserved for those who share his understanding of God.

But, isn't it Robinson's understanding of the Baptismal Covenant that no one should be denied access to the places of honor as long as they have been baptized? Isn't this a repudiation of the arguments that we have been hearing about why sexually active gays and lesbians should be given seats of honor in the Episcopal Church?

If Robinson's thinking regarding Warren is correct, then isn't it equally correct for those who think he is worshiping a different God to refuse to have him given a place of honor in their churches? When it really comes down to it, both sides seem to agree that we are finding different Gospels in the Bible and we are worshiping different Gods.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Calif. AG Brown does about face on Prop 8

Jerry Brown is planning to run for Governor of the state of California (again) and he seems to have determined that he can't win if he gets on the wrong side of the GLBT lobby. So, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
State Attorney General Jerry Brown, in a surprise turnabout, asked the California Supreme Court on Friday to overturn Proposition 8, saying the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates basic rights guaranteed in the state Constitution.

Brown, who is required to defend state laws unless he cannot find reasonable legal grounds to do so, said after Prop. 8 passed Nov. 4 that he would support the initiative before the state's high court.

But in a lengthy filing late Friday, he argued that the measure was "inconsistent with the guarantees of individual liberty" in California's governing charter.

"Proposition 8 must be invalidated because the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification," Brown said.

The authors of the state Constitution, he said, did not intend "to put a group's right to enjoy liberty to a popular vote."

Merry Christmas and Tag, You're It

UPDATE 12/22/08: I've just been tagged by Clifford at Red Stick Rant, so I'm treating this post as a response to that tag as well. And there is a great post about this tagging thing at Anglican Curmudgeon.

I guess this is a sort of blogger's chain Christmas greeting. I've been tagged by Matthew over at Billy Ockham. I didn't even know about this Internet phenomenon until he tagged me.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you. Check.
2. Post the rules on your blog. Check.
3. Write six random things about yourself. (See below)
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. (See further below...)
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six random things

1. I just hung the Christmas stocking over the fireplace in the living room tonight.
2. Sometimes I think I want a puppy.
3. I like crime dramas and romantic comedies.
4. My daughter is not a little girl anymore.
5. I like pineapple and hazelnuts (also called filberts), but not at the same time.
6. I got a car stuck in a patch of ice going up a hill last weekend.

Tagging the following: Anglican Scotist, Baby Blue BillyD, Dr. Mabuse, Robert Easter, Underground Pewster,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prop 8 Hate Crime for Christmas?

The Trolley of Lights is a Santa Barbara tradition. Tickets for adults are $20 and for children under 12 are $12. The trolleys have a designated route through particular residential streets where people decorate their houses for Christmas.

This year, a gay couple whose house is prominent on the Trolley of Lights route because they go "overboard" (self described) on the decorations also left up their "No on Prop 8" sign to be viewed by all those paying to take their children on the tour. The Trolley of Lights tours started on December 8th and on December 12th, the gay couple awoke to find the word "fag" written on their front window. Outside they discovered that this had also been written on their driveway three times.

The homeowners called the police and want this vandalism investigated as a hate crime. The gay couple have two young children, seven and eight years old. In this photograph from the Santa Barbara Independent by Paul Wellman, you can see the two men with their children positioned to stand on each side of the three driveway tiles where the word "fag" had been written.

They had not removed the graffiti at the time of the photo because they were still waiting for the police to photograph the tiles. As well as getting this publicity in the newspaper, one member of the couple, Andrew Knox, has an idea how to use this for more promotion against Prop 8:
Knox said a new sign would be erected in front of his house — one reading “No H8 Graffiti” — and that he would be seeing if other homes in his neighborhood would consider posting similar ones in their yards.
The Trolley of Lights tour ends on the 26th, so if he can get the new sign up fast, he can get a lot of publicity for this efforts. The article on this is in the Santa Barbara Independent here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Census redefines two parent families

I thought it was great news when I read the headline in this morning's New York Times -- "2-Parent Black Families Showing Gains: Census Bureau Abstract Gives a Portrait of the Nation by the Numbers".

Look at the great graph- what an improvement!

But notice that sneaky wording " better survey techniques"? Reading the actual article one finds:
The Census Bureau attributed an indeterminate amount of the increase to revised definitions adopted in 2007, which identify as parents any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child’s biological parents.

I believe this is what Patrick Moynihan called "defining deviancy down". I can see why that change might be desired by GLBT lobbyists. However, it obscures the real problems with heterosexual family formation. I am particularly concerned about children who are living with mother and her current boyfriend.

The increase in the likelihood of abuse by stepparents has been demonstrated in studies by Margo Wilson and Martin Daly and is referred to as the Cinderella Effect. In one study they concluded that "a child under three years of age who lived with one genetic parent and one stepparent in the United States in 1976 was about seven times more likely (…) to become a validated child-abuse case in the AHA records than one who dwelt with two genetic parents." In another study of records in Great Britain, they found that "children were beat by stepfathers at a rate of 100 times more than genetic fathers".

I am particularly concerned that the new definition of parent doesn't even require marriage and can include children living with mother and her current boyfriend because of some a comment Jill Woodliff posted at Stand Firm recently:
One phenomenon here in the Mississippi Delta is for the mother’s current live-in boyfriend to keep the refrigerator in his bedroom so that the daughters must yield sexual favors for access to the food. These girls would be far less likely to be abused by their biologic fathers, even in a common law marriage, than by a series of live-in boyfriends. A highly restrictive moral code aimed at controlling sex within marriage, even a patriarchal marriage, would be far superior to the current state.

Read all about 2-Parent Black Families Showing Gains in the New York Times.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kliman: How elevator accidents happen

Joe Eskenazi of San Francisco Weekly continues to do great research on the death of Dan Kliman. Today he has posted scenarios of ways an elevator repairman can fall to his death from an elevator stuck between floors based on an interview with an elevator repairman he refers to as "Ozzy":
The first scenario Ozzy postulated involved an elevator car stuck more than halfway up the outer doors. In order to get out, one would need to force open both the inner and outer doors. Ozzy notes that many people in this situation choose to exit the elevator car feet-first while on their stomachs. And when one can't quite reach the "sill" of the outer door with his feet, then this becomes an extremely dangerous maneuver. When pushing oneself backward with the arms, momentum causes the legs to move upward toward a sitting position. Because of this, many repairmen have plunged down elevator shafts.

Ozzy's second scenario is perhaps even more disturbing. Many trapped elevator operators manage to pry open both the inner and outer sets of doors. They then sit on the floor of the elevator car and dangle their legs over the edge before leaping out of the car and through both sets of open doors. Instinctually, however, many balance themselves against the outer elevator doors - which, counter-intuitively, offer no resistance and move. This could cause someone to lose his or her balance and fall down the shaft.

"A lot of elevator men have been killed by forcing doors open and leaping out of elevators," said Ozzy. "Elevators are super safe. But when people get stuck, they want to get out as fast as they can, so they try to [escape]. Stay in there. Inside is the safest place to be - unless there's a fire."

Wasilla church: Accelerants found at entrances, exits

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting in the investigation of the fire at Sarah Palin's home church, Wasilla Bible Church, in Alaska. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has found accelerants in multiple locations on the outside of Wasilla Bible Church, including around entrances and exits. This was arson and five church members were inside when the blaze started. There were as many cars in the parking lot, so the arsonist must have know that people were inside. You can read the details in the Anchorage Daily News.

Was if a hate crime? Terry Mattngly at Get Religion has pointed out that this may have been a hate crime, an idea raised by the AP reporting including the fact that the Wasilla Bible Church:
was criticized for promoting in a Sunday bulletin a Focus on the Family “Love Won Out Conference” in Anchorage. The conference promised to “help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome.”

Or was it a family matter? We know that the people in the building at the time were a small group of women who were working on crafts according to the AP story. So an alternative hypothesis might be a nasty divorce where the man wished to eliminate the contesting party. I think of this because when I think of Wasilla, I think of Sarah Palin's sister and her "messy divorce" from the state trooper. I did notice that the Anchorage Daily News story concluded:
The investigation into the fire is being conducted by a joint task force. The Central Mat-Su Fire Department and Wasilla Police Department are heading up the investigation with help from the ATF and state fire marshal's office. State troopers responded to the scene but are not involved in the investigation, spokeswoman Megan Peters said.
So maybe I am not the only one who thought of the state trooper/ divorce problems in Wasilla

A criminal tells you why he supports gun control

I'm not a gun owner, but I'm thinking about it.

Hat Tip \Debbie Schussel

Monday, December 15, 2008

College Instructor Defends Blacklisting Over $100 Donation to Prop 8

This article was posted today defending the blacklisting of Marjorie Christofferson, the woman who worked at El Coyote restaurant in Los Angeles and made a $100 donation to support the California marriage amendment, Prop 8. The author, Robert Cruickshank teaches political science at a state funded institution, Monterey Peninsula College. Reading through this, I wondered how he could possibly grade students papers fairly. I've added some bolding and interspersed with some links and my comments:

Conservatives Use Proposition 8 To Continue To Foster Cult of Victimhood

By Robert Cruickshank

Conservatives have for decades cultivated a politics of victimhood - presenting themselves as victims of some group, usually liberal and often an oppressed minority, in order to gain sympathy for their insane beliefs and to delegitimize progressive ideas and actions. We're witnessing it on Proposition 8 as well, and now the media is playing along. The result is a massive distortion of the true effects of Prop 8, and the normalization of support for discriminatory policy.

This turns historical reality upside down. According to this worldview, heterosexual marriage is an "insane belief" and something conservatives are seeking to "normalize". I would like to think he is making a little joke, but more likely this is just unacknowledged psychological projection. It is disturbing to think that young college students in California could be graded down if they tried to argue with the ahistorical claims of their instructor.
The specific case is that of Margie Christofferson, who quit her job as a manager at LA's El Coyote Restaurant under pressure from activists and customers angry at her donation of $100 to the Yes on 8 campaign. Her journey from oppressor to victim has been aided by Steve Lopez of the LA Times, who wrote a deeply flawed column on Sunday casting Christofferson as a sympathetic figure:

Margie Christoffersen didn't make it very far into our conversation before she cracked. Chest heaving, tears streaming, she reached for her husband Wayne's hand and then mine, squeezing as if she'd never let go.

"I've almost had a nervous breakdown. It's been the worst thing that's ever happened to me," she sobbed as curious patrons at a Farmers Market coffee shop looked on, wondering what calamity had visited this poor woman who's an honest 6 feet tall, with hair as blond as the sun.

That sets the tone for a column that blames the victims of Prop 8 for making this poor woman cry, and Lopez isn't above repeating disputed claims that riot police showed up at El Coyote during a recent rally.
Robert Cruickshank is quoting from this column in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, one of the very few pieces that have been published that are sympathetic to supporters of prop 8 in any way. The LA Times ran this photo by Lori Shepler titled "Opponents of Proposition 8 yell at drivers entering El Coyote Mexican Cafe last month" with the article.

You can see and hear the protestors in action in this video:

Now that you have seen who Cruikshank considers innocent victims who have done nothing to make someone cry, we will continue with his analysis:

But perhaps the most troubling part of the column was Lopez' normalization of her support for discrimination:
But I didn't like what I was hearing about the vilification of Margie Christoffersen and others in California being targeted for the crime of voting their conscience.

"Voting our conscience" has been one of the key methods by which Prop 8 supporters have escaped responsibility for their actions or even acknowledging what Prop 8 was - an attack on the legal equality of thousands of Californians merely for their sexual orientation. When framed this way the Yes on 8 position becomes almost unassailable, immune to criticism. "They're just voting their conscience," we're supposed to think, and not be allowed to ask them to face the realities of what they have done, not be allowed to criticize them for voting to take away equal rights and destroy existing marriages, and not be allowed to act with our own conscience by denying those who backed Prop 8 our patronage. Each of those acts is cast as an aggressive and hurtful act, where the oppressed are cast as oppressors.

No, Robert Cruickshank, the aggressive bullying and the out of proportion reaction to a small value donation are what is being cast in as oppressor behavior. And the distortions of reality, as exemplified in your article.
Lopez mentions almost in passing that "thousands [of gay people] feel as though their civil rights have been violated" but their concerns and views don't get the sob story treatment Margie Christofferson got - even though she knew full well what she was giving money for, and continues to believe that her vote for Prop 8 was the right move. As Lisa Derrick notes she has never apologized to her once-loyal customers for what she did. Obviously she feels no need to offer any such apology.

Lopez' column writes the real victims of Prop 8 out of the story and replaces them with their victimizers. Once again GLBT Californians and their fundamental rights are treated as either deviant or invisible. The only people whose opinions matter are those who oppose gay rights, and if someone dares call it out then they become the oppressors. Standing up for gay rights, for marriage equality, becomes itself an act of hate.

No, Robert Cruickshank, forming a mob outside the restaurant and yelling hateful things are an act of hate.
Margie Christofferson is not a sympathetic figure.
You wish, Robert Cruickshank, she is sympathetic because we can all imagine the horror of becoming the target of this extreme reaction to a $100 donation.
She is someone in deep denial of reality, who is unwilling to reconcile her relationships with her own intolerance. It's not the rest of Los Angeles's job to play along with it, to enable it, to pretend as if it doesn't exist. Doing so merely continues the decades of injustice that comes when good people do nothing and discrimination is treated as normal.

It would be nice if the traditional media would recognize this. It's not likely that they will. Martin Luther King, Jr. may be venerated today but he was a controversial figure in his day who received FAR more criticism from the media than credit, who was told that the March on Washington was a dangerous provocation that should not be attempted. The Civil Rights Movement rightly refused to let such concern trolling stop them. We who are part of the marriage equality movement would do well to learn that lesson.
Of course, Robert Cruickshank ends by claiming a continuity with the black civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, jr. He doesn't mention that most African-Americans do not agree with the parallel he makes between racial discrimination and maintaining the definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman. In the recent election in California, the great majority of black voters, 70%, voted for Prop 8.

You can read the original here. I left a comment but I doubt it will be approved.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Other War on Christmas

"Santa Claus will take you to hell"
"And Merry Christmas to you, Uncle Scrooge."

I have the most embarrassing sense of humor. I can't stop laughing at the latest from Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. They seem to have created alternative lyrics to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and wish to post it along with all the other contestants at the Washington state capitol building:
"You'd better watch out,
get ready to cry,
You'd better go hide,
I'm telling you why
'cuz Santa Claus will take you to hell.

He is your favorite idol,
you worship at his feet,
but when you stand before your God
He won't help you take the heat.
So get this fact straight:
you're feeling God's hate,
Santa's to blame for
the economy's fate,
Santa Claus will take you to hell."

According to Monica Guzman of the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
The sign would join a Christian Nativity set, three signs mocking atheism, and the one that started it all - the sign from the atheist group Freedom From Religion whose message that "religion hardens hearts and enslaves minds" sparked a furious nationwide debate over the nature of atheism and the boundaries between church and state.

But it gets worse:
The state is also reviewing requests for a display depicting "The Spaghetti Monster," a fictional figure often cited in philosophical debates about the existence of God, a "Festivus" pole, which refers to a mock holiday from a "Seinfeld" episode and - in a surprising show of normalcy - a sign from a Christian woman in Bellevue who wants to offer blessings on all people.

Read it all in the Seattle PI

Hat Tip to Terry Mattingly at Get Religion

A Call for Interreligious Dialogue

Pope Benedict XVI has issued a "Papal Message on Cultural and Religious Dialogue" that is posted in translation over at zenit. Although the message is directed to the particular participants of a study day on "Cultures and Religions in Dialogue," and is written to European Catholics, I find some of the message personally relevant, and am quoting that selection below:
Believers should always be willing to promote initiatives of intercultural and interreligious dialogue, to stimulate collaboration on topics of mutual interest, such as the dignity of the human person, the quest for the common good, the building of peace and development. With this intention, the Holy See wished to give particular relevance to its own participation in high-level dialogue on understanding between religions and cultures and on cooperation for peace, in the framework of the 62nd U.N. General Assembly (Oct. 4-5, 2007). To be authentic, dialogue must avoid yielding to relativism and syncretism and be animated by sincere respect for others and by a generous spirit of reconciliation and fraternity.
That sentence I bolded really hits me hard. With regard to the first half of the sentence, in person, I tend to seek middle ground, give way and not make clear distinctions. With regard to the second half of the sentence, on this blog I have been "finding my voice by posting items that do not portray Islam in a flattering light shine a bright light on the violence perpetrated in the name of Islam. I need to do some thinking about this, but let's go on:

I encourage all those dedicated to the building of a friendly and sympathetic Europe ever more faithful to its roots and, in particular, I exhort believers to contribute not only to zealously protecting the cultural and spiritual heritage that distinguishes them and forms an integral part of their history, but also to commit themselves increasingly to seek new ways to adequately address the great challenges that mark the post-modern age. Among these, I limit myself to mention the defense of man's life in all its phases, the safeguarding of all the rights of the person and the family, the construction of a just and sympathetic world, respect of creation, and intercultural and interreligious dialogue.

I'm really interested in that list so let's repeat that last sentence and number the items in the list.
Among these, I limit myself to mention:
1) the defense of man's life in all its phases,
2) the safeguarding of all the rights of the person and the family,
3) the construction of a just and sympathetic world,
4) respect of creation, and
5) intercultural and interreligious dialogue.

Of course this is written to people who are spending a study day on cultures and religions in dialogue. But still, I am very excited that he has included this work in a list with working for pro-life concerns and environmental concerns. Interreligious dialogue is valuable work.

Hat Tip to Titus One Nine

Dan Kliman #5 : Did He Have His Cell Phone?

Joe Ezkenazi, the San Francisco Weekly reporter who has been covering the death of Dr. Daniel Kliman in a fall down an elevator shaft at the Sharon Building, has gone over to the Sharon building to test if his cell phone would work in an elevator. He says
While I was able to place a cell phone call out of the Sharon Building elevators, the manager told me that service is "hit or miss."

I have seen nothing in the media on whether Dan Kliman had his cell phone with him. We do know his laptop was found at the scene as well as significant cash. But did he have his cell phone?

Certainly if he had his cell phone, he would have called someone before going through the scenario the police have hypothesized. When someone I know got stuck in an old elevator in the downtown area of San Francisco a while ago, she used her cell phone and called for help. Then she decided she should call 911. The SF fire department came and had the elevator open in about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I thought it was “A Day Without a Gay” today

Well, the Obama Transition Team doesn't seem to know it is “A Day Without a Gay” today. The AP is reporting that two names not even mentioned previously are up for spots in the Obama adminstration, and guess what? Yes, one is a lesbian and one is a gay man.
President-elect Barack Obama has selected a deputy mayor of Los Angeles to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, transition officials said Wednesday. Nancy Sutley is the first prominent member of the gay and lesbian community to earn a senior role in the Democrat's new administration.
The position of interior secretary is still in flux.

Support for John Berry, the director of the National Zoo and a former assistant secretary at the department, was growing, officials said. Gay and lesbian advocacy groups backing Berry, who is gay, were expected to meet with the transition team in Washington on Wednesday.

Read it all here.

Koran teachers 'beat and abuse' children in Britain

The Times of London has a disturbing article about how Islam is taught to children in Britain:
One woman told The Times that her niece Hiba, 7, was slapped across the face so hard by her madrassa teacher that her ear was cut. It later became inflamed and she had to have emergency medical treatment.

When the teacher refused to apologise, Hiba's aunt, Jamila, insisted that her niece should be moved to another madrassa. “I have absolutely no respect for religious teachers who behave like this,” she said.

Another girl described how, at the age of 12, she was hit by her madrassa teacher whenever she mispronounced a word or forgot a verse of the Koran.

When Imam Chishti, a religious education teacher who also runs the Light of Islam Academy in Rochdale, decided to carry out his own investigation into the problem he was shocked by how even the victims had grown to accept the abuse. “They all joked about it,” he said. “There's a culture that accepts it.”

And it is not just the children who have come to accept the abuse. The parents seem ot have been "taught" Islam the same way as they seem to regard this as normal:
The magnitude of the problem in Rochdale has led primary school head teachers to break the silence surrounding the problem. Several disclosed that they had asked social services to investigate complaints of physical abuse in madrassas made by pupils but that the victims' parents refused to press charges against the perpetrators either because they felt that physical abuse was normal practice or they feared being ostracised by their community.

Tina Wheatley, deputy head of Heybrook Primary School, said: “If a child comes in with an injury of any sort and it's non-accidental, then schools will refer it to parents, then also to child protection.”

But she said that social workers were often faced by parents who refused to take action against the abusers. “When child protection turns up at the parents' [home], parents don't want to take it any further. There are a lot of head teachers in this area who have spoken to the authorities. It's so sensitive,” she said.

Sandra Hartley, head teacher at Brimrod County Primary School in Rochdale, where 93 per cent of pupils are Muslim, said that she feared that some Muslim parents regarded physical beatings as normal because they had been subjected to the same treatment when they were children.

Read it all here.

Hat Tip to Little Green Footballs

Episcopal Priest Joins Board of Equality California

The Rev. Abel Lopez of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena has joined the Board of Directors of Equality California, the lead organization working to overturn Proposition 8 in California. Proposition 8 restored the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman in California and was passed by over 52% of voters in November. Proposition 8 was only about the definition of marriage and did not take away the rights of Domestic Partners in the California Family Code.
"Family Code section 297.5. (a) Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same
responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they
derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dan Kliman #4: He Always Takes the Stairs

Kristi Hastings-Oliver has sent me the following email:
You don't know me but I just read your comments anout Dan and your question of whether he takes the stairs or not... HE ALWAYS DOES! I used to work for Dan and when his office was still in the old Alameda Hospital building he was always up and down those stairs. He would say elevators are too slow.

Dan Kliman #3: Elevator Doors Should Never Open More Than 4 Inches

Dean Fryer, spokesman for the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health says the elevator doors in the Sharon building "should never open if they are between floors,”. However, the doors would have had to have been open wide enough for Dan Kliman to have squeezed through in the accidental death scenario hypothesized by the San Francisco police investigating the death of Dr. Daniel Kliman, MD. (Early posts on 1. the discovery of the death and concerns about Sharia Law here and 2. developing suspicions here.)

Here's the part of the new article from the San Francisco Examiner the focuses on the elevator issue:
Ed Donoghue, spokesman for the National Elevator Industry, said that there are a “number of incidents” each year when stranded passengers fall to their deaths after prying open elevator doors, especially in older models.

“We see instances where people try to slide out on their stomachs on the bottom of the cars,” Donoghue said. “And somehow the body gets underneath the car and falls down the shaft.”

Donoghue said there are no national statistics on falling deaths in elevators. He said in the mid-1980s, a national requirement was put into place to prevent elevator doors from opening.

Despite Donoghue’s assertions that these scenarios not only happen, but they do with some frequency, officials from the state agency that monitors elevators say it’s impossible to open the doors — if the machinery is functioning properly.

California’s elevator laws, which were established in 1989, stipulate that the doors cannot be opened more than 4 inches once the car is 18 inches above the landing, according to Dean Fryer, spokesman for the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health.

Although the elevators in the Sharon Building are more than 90 years old, they were modernized in 1976 and passed an annual safety inspection Nov. 4, according to Erika Monterozza, a spokeswoman for Cal-OSHA.

Cal-OSHA inspectors annually test elevators on their compliance with the law, and on Nov. 4, workers inspected the elevators at the Sharon Building, Fryer said.

During that test, inspectors stopped the elevators between every floor in the building, and at no time where they able to pry open the doors from the inside, beyond the mandated 4-inch gap.

“These doors should never open if they are between floors,” Fryer said.

He said his department would have a better idea of what happened once they get a chance to conduct their own investigation into the elevator.

The elevator at the Sharon Building is maintained by Kone Inc., a Finnish-based company that has offices in San Francisco. Chuck Moore, spokesman for the company, said Kone has not been allowed to inspect the elevator, and thus could not offer any comment on the case, other than to express condolences for Kliman’s family.

The San Francisco Police Department would also not comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

Kliman’s friend Dardik said the theory that Kliman pried himself out of the stalled elevator makes sense for two reasons. One was that Kliman tended to be an impatient person, and the second was the doctor’s formidable physical strength, which makes the scenario of manually prying open the door a possibility.

“It was late at night near the holiday,” Dardik said. “I’m sure he didn’t want to be stuck in there overnight. There is a chance he saw the landing and thought ‘hey I can do this.’”

Dardik said that Kliman’s laptop and a significant amount of cash were found at the scene — further indicating that his death was accidental.

Many other circumstances surrounding Kliman’s death are still outstanding.

Hat Tip: Zomblog

Christmas Gift Idea from Canterbury Cathedral

The Canterbury Cathedral Gift Shop has some unusual Christmas tree ornaments for sale. Select from a hanging Archbishop of Canterbury

or a hanging Archbishop of York

Hat tip to Ship of Fools

Monday, December 8, 2008

Donate even $100 to Prop 8 -- Lose Your Job

Marjorie Christoffersen, the Mormon restaurant manager whose $100 donation to Prop 8 inspired the blacklisting of the restaurant, El Coyote, is resigning. Like Scott Eckern, she is resigning, she had not been fired, but one understands that the institution could not serve the boycott and resignation is in the best interest of the other employees.

I guess the $500 the restaurant workers had raised and donated $500 to the organization fighting Prop 8, wasn't enough.

Same Sex Marriage Manger Scene Plan for Christmas in Amsterdam

The city of Amsterdam is planning to have actors portraying two Josephs and two Marys at the manger scene of a Christmas festival planned for Christmas week according to this AP story. Of course, some Christian groups protested but the organizer said it was not meant to be offensive:
Some Christian groups protested. The organization Christians for Truth said the idea "mocks the core concepts of Evangelism."

"By putting Joseph and Mary down as homosexuals, a cracked human fantasy is being tacked on to history from the Bible," the organization said in a statement urging the city and organizers to cancel the event.

The manger, with actors playing the parts of Joseph and Mary, goes on display Dec. 21.

Van Dalen said it was not intended to be offensive, but was meant as a "wink" at heterosexual assumptions.

The article ends on an interesting note:
A study last month found that homophobia is an ingrained problem in the city despite the Dutch reputation for tolerance, and physical attacks on gay men are a weekly affair.

I am not advocating physical attacks on gay men. However, I do want to point out that the people who organized this event may actually be fomenting the problem. The Netherlands already has gay marriage. Why push people's buttons with this mockery of the Christmas story?

Hat Tip to Greg Griffith at Stand Firm in Faith

Sunday, December 7, 2008

So Much for Mandatory Reporting of Child Rape

Here is the video from Indiana of the Planned Parenthood nurse coaching a pregnant 13 year old how to avoid the law requiring her 31 year old boyfriend be reported for child abuse and how to avoid the parental consent laws in Indiana.

Watching this made me cry. Prop 4 for parental consent lost in California in November. But even if it passed, it would not have worked with dedicated professionals like this taking matters into their own hands.


The reporter for the Washington Times, Victor Morton writes:
The nurse, who is referred to on the video as "Diana" but whose face is blurred out, knew neither that the session was being taped nor that "Brianna" really was Miss Rose, a 20-year-old pro-life activist at UCLA.

Kudos to to Lila Rose and the other pro-life activists at UCLA who did the great undercover work to expose this.

Hat Tip to dpulliam at Get Religion

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two Local Cases of Foster Child Torture

The San Francisco Chronicle has articles today about two unrelated cases of a foster child being held prisoner, underfed and tortured. In one case the 16 year old teenage boy escaped.
The emaciated boy was wearing oversized boxer shorts, was covered in soot, had cuts all over his body and had a 3-foot chain padlocked to his right ankle.
In the other case, the 15 year old girl died of starvation.
Jazzmin Davis' naked, emaciated body was found in September covered with scars, wounds and burns.
How could this be happening? Both cases reveal an overworked foster care system and children being place with the "aunt".

In the boy's case, the woman representing herself as his aunt was not in fact related to him and had previously been convicted of abusing him:
Authorities were still trying to determine how the boy ended up in the hands of Caren Ramirez, 43, even after she was convicted of abusing him in Sacramento County.

The boy said Ramirez, who had been described as his aunt but in fact is not related to him, beat him with martial-arts sticks, a spatula, a broomstick and a clothes hanger in 2006. The boy was sent to a foster home but ran away.

Child Protective Services had issued a warrant for her arrest but had not located her:
In November 2007, Ramirez pleaded no contest to one charge of child-abuse and admitted she had used a deadly or dangerous weapon during the abuse, court records show. She was sentenced to 180 days in a work-furlough program, placed on five years' probation and ordered to stay away from her nephew.

In January, Child Protective Services told a judge that Ramirez's nephew had run away from his foster home and was believed to be living with her. A warrant was issued in February for her arrest, but authorities did not know where she was.

In the girl's case:
The San Francisco caseworker overseeing the care of a 15-year-old girl who starved to death in her aunt's home failed to follow state and agency regulations, including requirements that she confirm regular doctor visits and that the girl was attending high school, the head of the city's social services agency said this week.

"There's a reason that the law and local policies require third-party verifications as a check and balance, and it wasn't there," said Trent Rhorer, director of the city's Human Services Agency. Although the girl lived and died in Antioch, the agency oversaw her care because she and her twin brother were born in San Francisco. "That's clearly where the breakdown in casework occurred."

Friday, December 5, 2008

More on the Peculiar Case of Dr. Dan Kliman, M.D.

Since my first post on this case, the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that "a task force including officers from the department's hate crimes and homicide units has been formed to look into Kliman's death."

And one of Dan's patients, who maintains the blog CFS Warrior, has posted some information that indicates Dan had had an unusual experience a few days before his death that "rattled" him and caused "a little red flag to go up about" his safety:
Dr. Kliman shared with me that he had been to the Israeli consulate the week prior to 11/20. I don't know what day it was. He said that as he pulled up on his bike a man suddenly came up to him put his face next to Dr. Kliman's and said "Dan?" Dr. Kliman didnt' know who the guy was, said he looked American, and when he said yes I'm Dan, the guy broke out in fluent Hebrew or Arabic (I can't remember). Dr. Kliman said he's been to the consulate many, many times and this had never occurred before. He was a little rattled that the man knew who he was but Dan didn't recognize him. This occurred outside the consulate.

When Dr. Kliman entered the consulate he was searched and his computer, ipod, cell phone were all put in a secured area. He was very surprised this and said this had never happened before.

He wasn't so concerned about what occurred at the consolute-very puzzled by it since it was something that had never occurred before but he was rattled by the man who approached him outside the consulate. Dr. Kliman was not easily rattled by anything. A little red flag went up about his safety.

Of note, the man did not accompany Dr. Kliman into the consulate. Could it be that the consulate saw words exchanged between Dr. Kliman and this man and decided to increase their security? Or maybe it wasn't related at all. Maybe the increase in security measures taken by the consulate were just coincidence.

Something about shellfish

I am still thinking about "Prop 8 - The Movie" and particularly the part where Jack Black comes out looking like a glutton, parodying Jesus, holding the shrimp cocktail in his hand and making the shellfish argument. Of course, we all know the shell fish argument and its rebuttal. This particular argument by analogy seems to be perceived as particularly persuasive by gay men, although it is so easily rebutted it seems bizarre that it has such staying power.

That image of Jack Black with the shrimp reminds me of a parody I once saw of the famous deleted scene restored for the 1991 re-release of Spartacus. (In the film, Lawrence Olivier acted the role the Roman senator and Tony Curtis acted the role of his new young male slave.) In the scene, Crassus used the metaphor of eating food to discuss sexual behavior, referring to sex with women as eating oysters and sex with men as eating snails:
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn't it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.

(In the film, the slave Antonius soon runs away from from this situation and his implied future to join Spartacus.)

So I am wondering why gays find this argument convincing while heterosexuals tend to find it trivial. For those who experience sexuality as a union of opposites with the potential for procreation, it seems off center. Perhaps it is that eating as a metaphor for sexuality is more compelling for those who conflate oral and anal with genital. (I'm not a Freudian, but ...)It seems to me that accepting this metaphor one would have to view sex is a form of consumption, And that seems to me to be fundamentally narcissistic, not about the "romantic love" that gays are claiming makes their relationships as marriage.

Quite a few months ago I did a two part post (here and here) exploring some thoughts on cannibalism and Christianity. A formerly sexually active gay man posted a great comment at Stand Firm that I will provide in part below:
As for cannibalism. No, most gay people are never going to eat their partners. But I’m going to say something a bit provocative here about gay sex. I have always thought of sex between two men or two women as a form of ritual cannibalism, and even a kind of perverted sacrament, in which the person seeks in the object of his desire the qualities and attributes he cannot find in himself. The sex act is almost an act of consumption, but one doomed to futility and frustration because it cannot provide the fulfillment which is really being sought. “Looking for love in all the wrong places"--in search of something that only the healing and restoration afforded by God’s grace can provide.

Marc Shaiman has tasted blood, "And it felt fantastic."

The man behind the blacklisting of Scott Eckern gave an interview to the New York Times about his latest exploit, the viral video "Prop 8 - The Musical". (If you haven't seen it, you're lucky. But if you must, go here.) During the interview, Shaiman was asked: "How did you react to the news that Mr. Eckern had resigned from the theater?"

Shaiman replied:
There’s certainly nothing joyous about being partially responsible for a man resigning from his job. I mean, I did not ask for his resignation, nor would it be my place to ask for someone’s resignation. He resigned, though, and I was part of that, and that is a very heavy weight, and I don’t take it lightly. But it has certainly opened up our eyes, and made me get off the couch and out on the street with a picket sign, for the first time in my life. And it felt fantastic.

And the interviewer followed up with: "So this experience has made you more of an activist?"
And Shaiman replied:

Yeah, I was marching in New York, and that was just the greatest experience. And of course this video is just a viral picket sign. And hopefully funny. I hope that doesn’t get lost. I hope that’s what most people get out of it.

What I got out of "Prop 8 - The Musical" was that he HATES Christians.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Episcopal Church Membership Statistics

UPDATE: This post has been updated to include Julia Duin of the Washington Times

The membership numbers for The Episcopal Church (TEC) are in the news today with the announcement of the new Anglican Church in North America. But the reporters are reporting different numbers.

Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times is still using a membership for TEC of 2.3 million. Kind of sneaky the way she wrote this sentence to make it seem the number for TEC was provided by the new North American church:
Bishop Duncan will be named the archbishop and primate of the North American church, which says it would have 100,000 members, compared with 2.3 million in the Episcopal Church.

Michelle Boorstein in the Washington Post story is using 2.2 million.

But Julis Duin in the Washington Times story, Duke Helfand in the LA Times story, Michael Conlon for the Reuters story and Rachel Zoll for the AP story all have membership down to 2.1 million.

If we are talking about The Episcopal Church in North America, e.g., the Domestic Dioceses, TEC is officially reporting membership down to 2.1 million for 2007. These 2007 numbers still include all ten thousand members of the Episcopal Diocese for San Joaquin although San Joaquin voted themselves out of TEC and joined the Southern Cone in December 2007, so they should be taken with a grain of salt. And using the 2007 numbers does not reflect the 2008 losses of the dioceses and churches now forming the Anglican Church in North America.

However, the TEC report shows Non-Domestic Dioceses beginning in 2002. As of 2007, the membership in these non-North American diocese raises the TEC total to 2.3 million. But it would not make sense to include the Non-Domestic Dioceses in a direct comparison with the new Anglican Church in North America. If we are looking at TEC including the Non-Domestic Diocese, shouldn't we compare to the total membership in GAFCON? Hmmm, that gets a little embarrassing, what with the large memberships in the Anglican churches in Nigeria, etc.

Perhaps Manya A. Brachear for the Chicago Tribune was wise to just write TEC has "has about 2 million members" and not use a decimal point at all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Peculiar Case of Dr. Dan Kliman, M.D.

Dr. Dan Kliman's body was found in the elevator shaft of the San Francisco building where he attended classes in Arabic. Classes had been canceled last week, but Kliman apparently was not informed of this. He appeared to have died from a fall. Although the police are saying it was an accident, there is concern that he may have met with foul play. There are signs of a scuffle on the exterior elevator doors on the 7th floor where Kliman took his classes at the Pan Arabic Center according to the photos taken by Dave.

Dave says:
Remember that these are on the EXTERNAL doors that are ONLY on the 7th floor, not on other floors. In other words, the only way that those marks could have gotten there is that if there was some kind of struggle on the 7th floor (the floor of the PAR Arabic School where Dan was going for class), NOT any where else where the elevator car may have been stuck. The police are claiming that Dan tried to get out of a stuck elevator car, but the doors that you see on these pictures are the external doors on the 7th floor, which are stationary and do not move up and down with the car.

But who would do such a thing and why? Kliman was an activist in quite a few causes, and could be quite confrontational. Consider the following causes:

1) Vegetarianism (He was active in the Yahoo Group VeggieJews and is remembered for his contributions to discussions.

2) Bicycle Rights (He founded St. Louis Critical Mass and participated in Bay Area Critical Mass activities after moving here. Critical Mass is the organization that takes over city streets and harasses drivers following traffic rules.)

3) Pro-Israel (co-founder of S.F. Voice for Israel)

4) Gay Rights (recently campaigned against Prop 8).

There is little reason to suspect his advocacy for vegetarianism could have led to his death. His bicycle activism was confrontational and someone who remembers him from his St. Louis Critical Mass days wrote:
Dan Kliman was an acquired taste - many were put off by his strong opinions and loud voice. Others just hated his insistence on asserting his rights as a cyclist. He was certainly an in your face type. I figured if he were to die it would be because a motorist ran him over.
But it is hard to imagine a motorist would have stalked him and thrown him down an elevator shaft.

He did get into confrontations within the GLBT community over his advocacy for Israel. A few years ago, members of QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism) posted photos of this angry altercation. But Kliman had recently campaigned against Prop 8 and it is hard to imagine this was committed by someone in the GLBT community.

However, ed, a commenter at Zomblog reminds us:
don’t forget–one of the tenets of radical islam is to throw “unbelievers” off of the tops of buildings

Actually, this is true. I googled and found this post at IslamOnline titled Death Fall as Punishment for Homosexuality. The opinion of Sheikh `Abdel Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef concludes:
Some scholars hold the opinion that the homosexual should be thrown from a high building as a punishment for his crime, but other scholars maintain that he should be imprisoned until death.

Based on the above fact, we can conclude that, the judge is invested with full discretion as to whether this man is to be thrown from a high place or not, as a punishment for his crime. However, if the man survives death fall, the judge has the right to sentence him to death.

But who would do such a thing? Debbie Schlussel has one hypothesis:
On this site, I've repeatedly written about Ismael Ahmed, who founded and for decades ran ACCESS--the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, which has soaked taxpayers for billions to bring in thousands of Muslim illegal aliens, fund their every social service need, defraud Medicaid, and provide job-training for several Al-Qaeda terrorists. Ahmed now runs the Michigan Department of Human Services.

As I've noted, when Ahmed's first wife, an American non-Muslim, wanted to divorce him, he took her on a trip to New York. Suddenly, she was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft under construction. He apparently got rid of her and got away with it.

Now, the same thing has happened to Dan Kliman, MD, a gay pro-Israel activist in San Francisco. Like Ahmed's wife, his body was found at the bottom of an elevator shaft under construction, in the building where he was taking Arabic language instruction.

Coincidence? Sorry, but there are no coincidences. Not ones like this. Gay, a Jew, pro-Israel, and American--hmmm . . . a perfect four-in-one target for a Muslim kill

Actually that fall from a tall building thing is Islamic punishment for adultery as well as homosexual behavior. I wonder if this Ahmed suspected his first wife of adultery?

And I wonder how long the San Francisco Police will be able to maintain this was an accident?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christian Leaders Believe Jos Riots Were Coordinated and Planned

The Anglican Archbishop of Jos has been providing information that the Muslim attacks on Christians was carefully planned and the election results were only a pretext. In my early post on media reporting on the Jos riots, I wrote that it seemed to be a spontaneous outbreak of religious/ethnic hatred by Muslims against Christians. I want to correct that now based on this from the Barnabus Fund:
Coordinated and planned

The Archbishop of Jos, Rt Rev. Ben Kwashi, issued an urgent plea for prayer on the first day of violence. “Please pray for us in Jos, we are being attacked by Muslims.” Mentioning the link with the local elections, he added, “Why Christians must pay for this I do not know.” On Saturday, he reported, “The Muslims are attacking and burning this morning. It looks well coordinated. They are well armed with AK47 and pump machine guns. This morning they have been at Dogonduste. Quite a number of Christian homes have been burnt. We do not know how many have been killed.”

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has denied allegations that its group started the attack, and appealed to all the people of the state to be calm. Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the chairman of CAN in Plateau State, commented, “We were taken aback by the turn of events in Jos. We thought it was political, but from all indications it is not so. We were surprised at the way some of our churches and property were attacked and some of our faithful and clergy killed. The attacks were carefully planned and executed. The questions that bog our minds are why were churches and clergy attacked and killed? Why were politicians and political party offices not attacked if it were a political conflict? Why were the business premises and property of innocent civilians destroyed? We strongly feel that it was not political but pre-meditated act under the guise of elections.”

Part of a pattern

Plateau State lies in Nigeria’s troubled “Middle Belt” where Christians and Muslims are in roughly equal numbers and there is a history of large-scale sectarian rioting. These riots often appear to be pre-planned attacks, with young people being paid tiny sums to participate in the violence and promised heavenly rewards for killing people. The Berom ethnic group is indigenous to Plateau State, whereas the Hausas are settlers; there have been tensions for decades between the indigenous minority groups and the Hausa settlers.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, comments: “The apparently pre-planned anti-Christian violence in Jos would be shocking enough if it were a single incident on its own, but is far worse given that it forms part of a pattern of repeated rioting in Nigeria, usually started by Muslims against Christians. It is tragic when Christians respond with violence, as seems to have happened this time. Please pray that Christian leaders in Nigeria will be able to help the Christian population to react in a Christ-like way to such provocation.”

You can read it all here and also find information on donating to help.

Aquinas Visits Yugoslav Abortionist in Dream, Converted to Life

This doctor says he was visited twice in dreams by a figure who identified himself as "Thomas Aquinas". Remember, Thomas Aquinas is the one Nancy Pelosi and other pro-abortion Catholics use to claim that there has been a difference of opinion among Catholics regarding the beginning of life.

Catholic News Agency

MADRID (CNA) — The Spanish daily “La Razon” has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former “champion of abortion.” Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him. “Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.

“That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion—something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc. The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby’s heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,”

After this experience, Adasevic “told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so. They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university.”
After years of pressure and on the verge of giving up, he had another dream about St. Thomas.

“You are my good friend, keep going,’ the man in black and white told him. Adasevic became involved in the pro-life movement and was able to get Yugoslav television to air the film ‘The Silent Scream,’ by Doctor Bernard Nathanson, two times.”

Adasevic has told his story in magazines and newspapers throughout Eastern Europe. He has returned to the Orthodox faith of his childhood and has studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“Influenced by Aristotle, Thomas wrote that human life begins forty days after fertilization,” Adasevic wrote in one article. La Razon commented that Adasevic “suggests that perhaps the saint wanted to make amends for that error.” Today the Serbian doctor continues to fight for the lives of the unborn.
Hat tip to Jackie at Stand Firm