Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Death Penalty Is Dying

Posted by Mike Farrell, Meet the Bloggers at 9:03 AM on December 15, 2008.

The death penalty is dying.  Fewer death sentences are being pronounced and fewer are being pursued, as prosecutors find America’s juries increasingly uncomfortable with the failures in the system.

Seeing that 130 innocent people have suffered being charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to death in the last 35 years only to be exonerated and freed ultimately, jurors are less likely today to condemn another to die.

In 2000, Governor George Ryan of Illinois found that his state had executed 12 people in the 23 years since their death penalty was reinstated, but in the same period had exonerated 13.  Stunned, Ryan, a self-described death-penalty-supporting conservative, declared a moratorium on state killing and established a bipartisan commission to examine and fix the system.

Finding his legislature unwilling to follow the commission’s recommendations by the end of his term, Ryan studied each case and shocked the political world by releasing four additional men he found innocent and commuting the remaining 167 death row prisoners to life without parole.

A thunderclap in the world of politics, Ryan’s actions generated the establishment of like commissions across the country.  This has ripped the masks of respectability, efficiency and fairness off a torturous system that fails every test of civilized behavior, and exposed a politically-driven death machine that is racist in application, is only used against the poor and poorly defended, and entraps and kills the innocent and the mentally ill while costing taxpayers two to three times as much as does permanent incarceration.  

Last year, due to the work of just such a commission, the New Jersey became the first state in the modern era to abolish the death penalty, joining the thirteen other U.S. states that do not kill.  In June, a commission in California found that its death system was costing taxpayers $100 million per year and needed improvements that would cost another $95 million a year, this while having executed 13 people in 29 years.  Last month a commission in Maryland found the same problems in its system and recommended abolition.  

The death penalty is dying.   And when it does, we will leave the company of China, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia and join the rest of the modern world that has long since abolished state killing.

Learn more at Death Penalty Focus, and watch Mike Farrell on this week’s Meet the Bloggers dedicated to ending the death penalty.

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Pelosi Confirms War on Christmas

Christian News Wire | WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2008 | Peggy Birchfield, Faith and Action

 — Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi recently confirmed to Capitol Hill missionary Rev. Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK) of Faith and Action that the war against Christmas is real.

Schenck is a missionary to elected and appointed officials on Capitol
Hill and was a VIP guest at the recent US Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony held on the Capitol’s West Lawn, near the presidential inaugural platform that is under construction.

Following the ceremony that included traditional Christmas carols played by a US Air Force band, Rev. Schenck thanked Speaker Pelosi for keeping, as he said it, “Christ-mas” at the US Capitol, emphasizing “Christ.” Speaker Pelosi politely acknowledged the remark, then pursued Rev. Schenck to tell him she had been “mugged” for doing so.

Rev. Schenck commented, “At first I didn’t understand what Mrs. Pelosi was saying, so I simply nodded and thanked her again, but she repeated it emphatically. I realized the Speaker was saying she had paid a serious price politically for allowing the Christmas celebration to go on. She obviously took some political heat for it. For that, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be commended, and I made sure I did so.”

Schenck also said, “The fact that Nancy Pelosi said she was assailed for allowing a Christmas observance at the US Capitol confirms the war against Christmas is not a figment of the so-called religious right’s imagination. If one of the most liberal, arguably left-wing political leaders in our country, the woman third in succession to the presidency, is getting pummeled for lighting a Christmas tree and allowing Christmas carols on the lawn of the Capitol, that would qualify as a war against
Christmas.”

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Natural Law as a Universal Ethic

Natural law defends us from abuses of power, Benedict XVI asserts

Vatican City, December 5 (CNA).-A commission of theologians is wrapping up a five-year study on the ability of natural law to serve as a set of universal ethics for mankind. With relativism gaining prominence in the modern world, Pope Benedict asserted that natural law is “the authentic guarantee” of freedom and the defense against “any form of ideological manipulation.”

Pope Benedict delivered his address on natural law to participants in the plenary session of the International Theological Commission at the Vatican on Friday morning. The meeting coincided with the conclusion of the commission’s five-year mandate, the seventh since it was created.

Referring in his remarks to a soon-to-be-approved draft document on the ability of natural law to serve as a form of universal ethics, the Holy Father pointed out “the urgent need, in the current situation of culture and of civil and political society, to create the conditions necessary to raise awareness of the indispensable value of natural moral law.”

In a culture where a “survival of the fittest” mentality often holds sway, Pope Benedict praised the natural law as “the authentic guarantee everyone has to live free and respected in their dignity as human beings.” Moreover, the natural law helps people “feel they are defended from any form of ideological manipulation and all abuses perpetrated on the basis of the law of the strongest,” the Holy Father said.

Since the International Theological Commission also studied the question of the “meaning and method of theology” for the last five years, Benedict XVI went on to remark that “the real task of theology is to enter into the Word of God, to seek to understand it and to make it understood in our world, and thus to find the answer to our great questions.”

“Methods in theology cannot be constituted only on the basis of criteria and norms common to other academic disciplines, but must above all observe the principles and norms deriving from [God’s] Revelation and from faith in its personal and ecclesial dimensions,” the Pope explained.

Pope Benedict also touched on the sensitive topic of academic freedom for theologians. After first pointing out that “the fundamental virtue of theologians is that of seeking obedience to the faith, which makes them collaborators of truth,” the Pope affirmed that “obedience to truth does not mean giving up research or the effort of thought.”

“Restiveness of thought, which in the life of believers can certainly never be fully placated because they too are searching for and studying the Truth, will nonetheless be a restiveness that accompanies and stimulates them on their pilgrimage of thought towards God, and in this way it will bear fruit.”

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New Logo, New Mastehead

Recently, we were criticized for “the superimposition of the Cross of St. Andrew upon the U.S. flag” as “completely improper“.  Michael continued, “The cross transcends all nation-states…“; which is exactly the reason we did overlay the Cross upon the flag. But Michael then reminded us that there are official “flag etiquette” where we “would find that nothing is to be superimposed upon the flag“. And there is in fact such etiquette that bears legal consequences if not conformed to.

auocclogo2

So much for our limited creative skills.  Nevertheless, as you all can see, we have a politically correct logo and mastehead! Right, M.R.?   🙂   We do appreciate your input! Thanks!

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Russian Orthodox Church welcomes Obama

InterFax | 2008-11-05 | Moscow

The Russian Orthodox Church hopes Russia and the USA led by the newly elected President Barak Obama will manage to build honest and mutually respectful relations.

“I’d like to congratulate Barak Obama on his victory and express hope that our country and our Church will make a good dialogue with American administration and our approach to life – both of our country and the entire world – will be heard and enjoy the deserved attention,” Deputy Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said at a press conference in Moscow.

“I hope that new USA leadership will conduct a dialogue with nation of our country and other nations constituting the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church and will listen to their opinion,” the priest went on to say.

He finds it joyful that the newly elected American President states he is a Christian believer and hopes that future Obama’s policy “will correspond to the traditional Christian values.”

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The People Speak Out!

On the same election night when America voted Mr. Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, the people in California, Florida and Arizona exercise their will to preserve traditional marriage (1 man & 1 woman). State Constitutional ban on “same-sex” unions was established in California over turning State Supreme Court order allowing such vile legal unions.

Arizona Proposition 102 Ban on Gay Marriage: 56% YES, 44% No.
California Proposition 8 Ban on Gay Marriage:   52% YES, 48% No.
Florida Amendment 2 Ban on Gay Marriage:      62% YES, 38% No.

Also of interest was Colorado Amendment 48 to define Personhood in other words establishing human life from the moment of conception. This measure would amend the state constitution to define the term “person” to include “any human being from the moment of fertilization.” This definition would be applied to all aspects of the state constitution, including the provisions that ensure that no person has his or her life, liberty, or property taken away without due process of law. Thus, the measure would essentially have the effect of banning abortion.  Regretfully, it was defeated by 73% / 27%.

Arkansas Initiative 1 was approved 57% to 42% banning Gay Couples from adopting children.

Attempts to end Affirmative Action in Nebraska won 38% to 28%  but in Colorado there is a tie with 92% votes counted thus far.

South Dakota Initiative 11, according to CNN, “This measure would prohibit all abortions in the state except in cases where mother’s life or health is at risk or in cases of rape or incest for pregnancies of less than 20 weeks. A similar measure that did not include exceptions for rape or the health of the mother was on the ballot in 2006, but was rejected by voters 44 to 56 percent.”

California Proposition 4:This measure would amend the state constitution to require physicians to notify the parents or legal guardian of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion involving that minor. The measure does not require that parent or guardian’s actual consent in order to perform the abortion. Exceptions are provided in the cases of medical emergencies. Also, an adult family may be notified instead if the minor fears abuse from the parent or guardian. Parents may also waive the notification requirement.”  This was defeated by voters 52% to 48%.

Source: CNN Local Ballot Measures

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Orthodox human rights activists demand persecution of Rusyns leader to stop in Ukraine

Interfax | Religion | Moscow, October 24, 2008

The human rights center of the World Russian People’s Council has urged Ukrainian authorities to stop persecuting Archpriest Dimitry Sidor, a leader of the Rusyn national movement, who was earlier charged with separatism.

“The Soim [people’s parliament] of Carpathian Rusyns led by Archpriest Dimitry Sidor does not pursue the goal of breaking Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It only calls to observe the rights of Rusyns and their recognition as an independent nation that has the right to autonomy as part of the Ukrainian state,” the human rights center said in a statement obtained by Interfax-Religion on Friday.

“Courts of [Ukraine’s] Zakarpattia region reject claims of the Soim, which tries to protest against the opening of a criminal case against its leader. Attempts to study materials of the case are futile as well,” the statement reads.

“Rusyns are still threatened with violence, and their ethnical dignity is being constantly humiliated,” it reads.

“It is not Rusyns, but dissenters who are still unpunished for seizing Orthodox temples and radical politicians who are constantly insulting Russians and people having pro-Russian sentiments, who pose the greatest threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” the human rights center said.

The center called on all Russian and foreign human rights organizations to “pay the utmost attention to instances of violating the rights of Rusyns and tell Ukrainian authorities that such actions are unacceptable.”

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