Tag Archives: Germany

FBI: US girls may have tried to join jihadis


What do parents do with kids, especially girls, who have somehow become so twisted that they would actually fly to Germany in an attempt to join IS fighters?

What could possibly influence three teenage girls to do this? The answer is unknown, at least for now. I’m just glad I’m not one of the parents of these girls. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Associated Press

IS 1

DENVER (AP) — Three teenage girls from suburban Denver may have been trying to join Islamic State militants in Syria after stealing their parents’ money and flying to Germany, authorities said Tuesday.

The girls — two sisters, ages 17 and 15, and their 16-year-old friend — were reported missing after they skipped school Friday, but the families had no indication of where they might have gone, said Glenn Thompson, bureau chief of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department.

They were stopped at the Frankfurt, Germany, airport over the weekend by FBI agents and returned to Colorado where they were reunited with their families, FBI spokeswoman Suzie Payne said.

A U.S. official said the girls were headed toward Turkey en route to Syria and that investigators were now reviewing evidence, including the girls’ computers.

Another U.S. official called the case “concerning” both to the community and to the country in general. The official said the evidence gathered so far made it clear that the girls were headed to Syria, though the official said investigators were still determining what sort of contacts they had in that country. The official said investigators would be trying to figure out whether there were “like-minded” friends and acquaintances in the girls’ social circle.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name.

The Arapahoe County missing person’s report contains details of the girls’ movements.

They said they stayed in the Frankfurt airport for an entire day before being detained, questioned and returned to Denver, where they were further questioned by the FBI and sent home.

They told authorities they had gone to Germany for “family” but wouldn’t elaborate.

Suspicion arose when the sisters’ father realized his daughters were gone, along with $2,000 and their passports.

The 16-year-old girl’s father became concerned when he got a call from her high school saying she hadn’t reported to class, according to the police reports.

The families reported no prior problems with the girls.

Deputies closed the missing person’s case Monday after they learned the girls had been returned.

A man who answered the door at the sisters’ home in the Denver suburb of Aurora identified himself as a family member but said he had no comment.

The announcement comes one month after 19-year-old Shannon Conley of Arvada, Colorado, pleaded guilty to charges that she conspired to help militants in Syria.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver declined to comment on the latest cases. It’s unclear whether the girls will face charges.

Crimes committed by juveniles are treated as acts of “delinquency” in the federal system and are not handled the same way as crimes committed by adults.

Authorities have not said how they think the girls became interested in helping the Islamic State militants. In Conley’s case, she told agents she wanted to marry a suitor she met online who said he was a Tunisian man fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria.

Conley said she wanted to use her American military training with the U.S. Army Explorers to fight a holy war overseas, authorities said. If she could not fight with the extremists, she told agents, she would use her training as a nurse’s aide.

Agents, who had been overtly trying to stop Conley, arrested her in April as she boarded a flight she hoped would ultimately get her to Syria. She could face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced in January.

Foreign fighters from dozens of nations are pouring into the Middle East to join the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations. U.S. officials are putting new energy into trying to understand what radicalizes people far removed from the fight, and into trying to prod countries to do a better job of keeping them from joining up.

____

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington and P. Solomon Banda in Aurora contributed to this report.

Scientists pinpoint exotic new particle called quantum droplet


Interesting stuff… TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Will Dunham 

Droplet

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the field of quantum physics, you could call this a droplet in the bucket.

Physicists in Germany and the United States said on Wednesday they have discovered an exotic new type of particle that they call a quantum droplet, or dropleton.

Writing in the journal Nature, they said it behaves a bit like a liquid droplet and described it as a quasiparticle – an amalgamation of smaller types of particles.

The discovery, they added, could be useful in the development of nanotechnology, including the design of optoelectronic devices. These include things like the semiconductor lasers used in Blu-ray disc players.

The microscopic quantum droplet does not dawdle. In the physicists’ experiments using an ultra-fast laser emitting about 100 million pulses per second, the quantum droplet appeared for only about 2.5 billionths of a second.

That does not sound like much, but the scientists said it is stable enough for research on how light interacts with certain types of matter.

A previously known example of a quasiparticle is the exciton, a pairing of an electron and a “hole” – a place in the material’s energy structure where an electron could be located but is not.

The quantum droplet is made up of roughly five electrons and five holes. It possesses some characteristics of a liquid, like having ripples, the scientists said.

Quantum physics is a branch of physics that relates to events taking place on the tiniest scale. It is essential in describing the structure of atoms.

Particles are the basic building blocks of matter. They include things like subatomic entities such as electrons, protons, neutrons and quarks. Only rarely are new ones found.

The scientists in Germany worked with a team led by physicist Steven Cundiff at JILA, a joint physics institute of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

It was in Boulder where the laser experiments were performed using a semiconductor of the elements gallium and arsenic, revealing the new particle, albeit fleetingly.

“Even though this happens so rapidly, it is still useful to understand that it does happen,” Cundiff said by email.

The scientists foresee practical value in the discovery.

“The effects that give rise to the formation of dropletons also influence the electrons in optoelectronic devices such as laser diodes,” physicist Mackillo Kira of the University of Marburg in Germany, one of the researchers, said by email.

Examples of optoelectronic devices include LED lights and semiconductor lasers used in telecommunications and Blu-ray players.

“For example, the dropletons couple particularly strongly to quantum fluctuations of light, which should be extremely useful when designing lasers capable of encoding quantum information,” Kira added.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Jan Paschal)

‘Bishop of Bling': Catholics Aren’t Alone in Struggle with Wealth


Excellent article… TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Live Science

LiveScience.com

  By Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer 

The Vatican has suspended a German bishop over the cost of his home renovation, highlighting religious — and very human — ambivalence over wealth.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst spent some $40 million of Catholic Church and German taxpayer money (registered Catholics in the country pay part of their income to the church) improving his private residence, including installing a $20,000 bathtub. Such a showy display apparently displeased Pope Francis, who is known for his austerity. Tebartz-van Elst has since been dubbed “the bishop of bling” by the German media.

The Catholic Church itself, however, is one of the wealthiest institutions on the planet, and some critics argue that the bishop of bling is merely a symptom of a larger problem.

“Tebartz-van Elst is just the tip of the iceberg,” Christian Weisner, spokesman for the German branch of the Church reform group We Are Church, told the Religious News Service. “There is a real clash of cultures between Germany’s current cardinals and bishops — nominated under John Paul II or Benedict XVI — and Pope Francis.” [Papal Primer: History's 10 Most Intriguing Popes]

Catholics aren’t the only ones with a wealth problem. Every religion and human philosophy has grappled with inequality in some way or another — and studies suggest that wealth gaps date to the beginnings of agriculture. Meanwhile, even as religion struggles with questions of wealth, belonging to a certain religion can influence how well off a person becomes.

Christianity and wealth

Whatever one’s beliefs about wealth, they can probably find a religious theory to match. Among Protestant Christians, for example, wealth has been seen in three ways: as an offense to faith, as an obstacle to faith, and even as an outcome of faith, according to David Miller, the director of the Princeton University Faith & Work Initiative.

In a 2007 talk, Miller laid out the Biblical references to wealth and the philosophies they’ve engendered. Those who see wealth in direct opposition to faith have pointed to passages like Mark 8:20, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” According to anti-wealth thinkers, if Jesus rejected the material world, his followers should, too. “[W]oe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort,” Jesus says in Luke 6:24-25. “Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.”

Others see wealth as an obstacle to faith, but not an insurmountable one. This faction points to Biblical quotes like, “the love of money is the root of all evil,” to argue that it’s not wealth, but obsession with wealth, that stands between man and faith.

“On the one hand, this Protestant modality recognizes a theologically legitimate role for wealth creation and its subsequent use,” Miller wrote. “On the other hand, there is a profound awareness of two ways in which wealth creation becomes an obstacle to faith.” [Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]

Finally, a small but influential group of evangelical Protestants argue that wealth is a sign of God’s blessings, and the faithful will find that money comes their way. Figures such as televangelist Oral Roberts and megachurch pastor Joel Osteen preach this “prosperity gospel.”

The Catholic Church has also wrestled with wealth, with Popes taking a generally pro-capitalist view since the late 1800s, according to Todd Whitmore, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. Nevertheless, Catholic theologians have condemned consumerism and wealth inequalities. In Redemptor hominis, a 1979 policy blueprint of sorts by Pope John Paul II, the Pope lamented, “We are now dealing with the rich highly developed societies — while the remaining societies — at least broad sectors of them — are suffering from hunger, with many people dying each day of starvation and malnutrition. Hand in hand go a certain abuse of freedom by one group — an abuse linked precisely with a consumer attitude uncontrolled by ethics — and a limitation by it of the freedom of the others, that is to say those suffering marked shortages and being driven to conditions of even worse misery and destitution.”

The roots of money

However it’s handled, wealth goes way back. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Science, wealth gaps emerge in traditional societies where inheritance matters: agricultural communities and pastoral, herding societies. A child born in the top 10 percent of one of these societies is 11 times more likely to end up in the top 10 percent than a child born in the bottom 10 percent.

Throughout history, hunter-gatherer societies and societies based on primitive slash-and-burn agriculture (without ploughs or land ownership) have been more egalitarian. A child born in the top 10 percent of these societies is still more likely to end up there than a child born in the bottom 10 percent, but only by three times, not 11.

In modern-day society, where a person sits in the social pecking order strongly determines how they’ll interact with others. The wealthy are worse at understanding other people’s emotions (a skill known as empathy) than the poor, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Science.

“Upper-class people’s interactions are characterized by independence,” study researcher Michael Kraus, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told LiveScience. “This can be good, because it provides autonomy from others and freedom from social pressures. It can be a problem in cases where upper-class individuals pay less attention to others’ internal states.”

Lower-class people live in a more dangerous world of unsafe neighborhoods and lack of ease. For them, Kraus said, understanding others is a matter of survival.

Kraus has also found the poor are more polite and attentive to the wealthy than vice versa, bolstering the theory that the well-off send a “I don’t need you” vibe. But wealth doesn’t make people mean across the board. A 1993 study by psychologist Jon Haidt, now at New York University, surveyed rich and poor people in Brazil and found the wealthy were less likely than the poor to demand punishment for offensive but ultimately harmless acts, such as defacing an American flag. Researchers think the poor are quicker to moralize such acts because of the need to hang together.

“Extra moralizing helps protect lower-class group members from inappropriate behaviors that might shatter group cohesion,” Kraus said.

Get rich with God

If Catholic bishops often have spare cash, their followers aren’t doing so badly either —at least in the United States. White, non-Latino Catholics ages 35 to 55 have proven to be an upwardly mobile bunch, according to research by Duke University sociologist Lisa Keister. Much of the change is demographic: This group has gained education, sized down families and sent more women to work.

In comparison, conservative Protestants tend to have bigger families and less education, making them among the poorest of religious groups, while Jewish families are, on average, the wealthiest, thanks in part to high levels of education and employment as well as small families. [Saint or Slacker? Test Your Religious Knowledge]

But much of the differences in wealth between religious groups remain unexplained. Keister suspects the teachings of each religion may explain the gaps.

“Religions have a lot of say about money, and people seem to internalize those messages,” Keister told LiveScience. One obvious example is tithing: Conservative Christians tend to view money and belonging to God first, Keister said, and most give 10 percent of their income to the church. Tithing automatically cuts down on savings. That alone could explain the Protestant-Catholic wealth gap, Keister said, because U.S. Catholics typically don’t tithe.

The wealth gaps even persist when race and other factors are taken into account. Latino Catholics, for example, have less wealth than white, non-Latino Catholics. But Latino Catholics are still better off than Latino conservative Protestants.

Another possibility is that just by attending church, people build social networks that help them accumulate wealth. Perhaps they meet people who might loan them money, or simply chat about investments after services with people wealthier than they.

“If I go to church with those kind of people, and I go a lot, it should matter,” Keister said.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

Tear Down That Wall


This article was written by the late (and great) Christopher Hitchens. Although Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is no longer “in office,” the Catholic Church remains a haven for sexual predators. As such, the article is still relevant. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Slate

by Christopher Hitchens
Posted: February 12, 2013

Here’s a little thought experiment on practical ethics. Suppose that you are having a drink with a new acquaintance and the subject of law-breaking comes up. “Ever been in any trouble with the authorities?”

You may perhaps mention your arrest at a demonstration, your smuggling of excess duty-free goods, that brush with the narcotics people, that unwise attempt at insider trading. Your counterpart may show a closer acquaintance with the criminal justice system. He once did a bit of time for forgery, or for robbery with a touch of violence, or for a domestic dispute that got a bit out of hand. You are still perhaps ready to have lunch next Friday. But what if he says: “Well, I once knew a couple who trusted me as their baby sitter. Two little boys they had—one of 12 and one of 10. A good bit of fun I had with those kids when nobody was looking. Told them it was our secret. I was sorry when it all ended.” I hope I don’t seem too judgmental if I say that at this point the lunch is canceled or indefinitely postponed.

And would you feel any less or any more revulsion if the man went on to say, “Of course, I wasn’t strictly speaking in any trouble with the law. I’m a Catholic priest, so we don’t bother the police or the courts with that stuff. We take care of it ourselves, if you catch my meaning”?

Yet this is exactly what we are forced to read about every day. The happiness and the health of countless children was systematically destroyed by men who could count on their clerical bosses to shield them from legal retribution and, it seems, even from moral condemnation. A bit of “therapy” or a swift change of locale was the worst that most of them had to fear.

Almost every week, I go and debate with spokesmen of religious faith. Invariably and without exception, they inform me that without a belief in supernatural authority I would have no basis for my morality. Yet here is an ancient Christian church that deals in awful certainties when it comes to outright condemnation of sins like divorce, abortion, contraception, and homosexuality between consenting adults. For these offenses there is no forgiveness, and moral absolutism is invoked. Yet let the subject be the rape and torture of defenseless children, and at once every kind of wiggle room and excuse-making is invoked. What can one say of a church that finds so much latitude for a crime so ghastly that no morally normal person can even think of it without shuddering?

It’s interesting, too, that the same church did its best to hide the rape and torture from the secular authorities, even forcing child victims (as in the disgusting case of Cardinal Sean Brady, the spiritual chieftain of the Catholics of Ireland) to sign secrecy oaths that prevented them from testifying against their rapists and torturers. Why were they so afraid of secular justice? Did they think it would be less indifferent and pliable than private priestly investigations? In that case, what is left of the shabby half-baked argument that people can’t understand elementary morality without a divine warrant?

One mustn’t claim all that much for secular justice either, since Cardinal Brady and many like him have neither been dismissed by the church nor prosecuted by the civil power. But this dereliction on the part of the courts and police has mainly occurred in countries or provinces—Ireland, Massachusetts, Bavaria—where the church has undue influence on the bureaucracy. When are we going to see what the parents and relatives of the devastated children want to see and need to see: a senior accomplice of the cover-up actually facing a jury?

Pope Benedict’s pathetic and euphemistic letter to his “flock” in Ireland doesn’t even propose that such people should lose their positions in the church. And this cowardly guardedness on his part is for a good and sufficient reason: If there was to be a serious criminal investigation, it would have to depose the pope himself. Not only did he, as Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, protect a dangerously criminal priest in his own diocese of Munich and Freising in 1980, having him sent only for “therapy” instead of having him arrested. (The question of the priest’s later reassignment to assault more children, which the church continues to obfuscate, is irrelevant to the fact of Ratzinger’s direct and personal involvement in the original crime.) Not content with this, Ratzinger later originated, as a cardinal and head of a major institution in Rome, a letter that effectively instructed all bishops to refuse cooperation with any inquiry into what was fast becoming a global scandal.

Eighteen of Germany’s 27 Roman Catholic dioceses are now facing government investigations after a breach in what Germany’s justice minister has rightly described as “a wall of silence.” That wall was originally constructed by the man who now heads the church. The wall must be torn down. The fish—the ancient Christian symbol adopted by those who regard human beings as a shoal to be netted—absolutely rots from the head. I don’t think the full implications of this have even begun to sink in. The supreme leader of the Roman Catholic Church is now a prima facie suspect in a criminal enterprise of the most appalling sort—and in the attempt to obstruct justice that has been part and parcel of that enterprise. He is also the political head of a state—the Vatican—that has given asylum to wanted men like the disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. What, then, is the position when the pope decides to travel—as, for example, he intends to do on a visit to Britain later this year? Does he have immunity? Does he claim it? Should he have it? These questions demand serious answers. Meanwhile, we should register the fact that the church can find ample room in its confessionals and its palaces for those who commit the most evil offense of all. Whether prosecuted or not, they stand condemned. But prosecution must follow, or else we admit that there are men and institutions that are above and beyond our laws.

Exhibit of Jews in Germany raises interest, ire


Jews are relentless… They insist on never letting the world forget the stinking Holocaust. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER | Associated Press

Jew

BERLIN (AP) — “Are there still Jews in Germany?” ”Are the Jews a chosen people?”

Nearly 70 years after the Holocaust, there is no more sensitive an issue in German life as the role of Jews. With fewer than 200,000 Jews among Germany’s 82 million people, few Germans born after World War II know any Jews or much about them.

To help educate postwar generations, an exhibit at the Jewish Museum features a Jewish man or woman seated inside a glass box for two hours a day through August to answer visitors’ questions about Jews and Jewish life. The base of the box asks: “Are there still Jews in Germany?”

“A lot of our visitors don’t know any Jews and have questions they want to ask,” museum official Tina Luedecke said. “With this exhibition we offer an opportunity for those people to know more about Jews and Jewish life.”

But not everybody thinks putting a Jew on display is the best way to build understanding and mutual respect.

Since the exhibit — “The Whole Truth, everything you wanted to know about Jews” — opened this month, the “Jew in the Box,” as it is popularly known, has drawn sharp criticism within the Jewish community — especially in the city where the Nazis orchestrated the slaughter of 6 million Jews until Adolf Hitler’s defeat in 1945.

“Why don’t they give him a banana and a glass of water, turn up the heat and make the Jew feel really cozy in his glass box,” prominent Berlin Jewish community figure Stephan Kramer told The Associated Press. “They actually asked me if I wanted to participate. But I told them I’m not available.”

The exhibit is reminiscent of Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann sitting in a glass booth at the 1961 trial in Israel which led to his execution. And it’s certainly more provocative than British actress Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box at a recent performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Eran Levy, an Israeli who has lived in Berlin for years, was horrified by the idea of presenting a Jew as a museum piece, even if to answer Germans’ questions about Jewish life.

“It’s a horrible thing to do — completely degrading and not helpful,” he said. “The Jewish Museum absolutely missed the point if they wanted to do anything to improve the relations between Germans and Jews.”

But several of the volunteers, including both German Jews and Israelis living in Berlin, said the experience in the box is little different from what they go through as Jews living in the country that produced the Nazis.

“With so few of us, you almost inevitably feel like an exhibition piece,” volunteer Leeor Englander said. “Once you’ve been ‘outed’ as a Jew, you always have to be the expert and answer all questions regarding anything related to religion, Israel, the Holocaust and so on.”

Museum curator Miriam Goldmann, who is Jewish, believes the exhibit’s provocative “in your face” approach is the best way to overcome the emotional barriers and deal with a subject that remains painful for both Jews and non-Jews.

“We wanted to provoke, that’s true, and some people may find the show outrageous or objectionable,” Goldmann said. “But that’s fine by us.”

The provocative style is evident in other parts of the special exhibition, including some that openly raise many stereotypes of Jews widespread not only in Germany but elsewhere in Europe.

One includes a placard that asks “how you recognize a Jew?” It’s next to an assortment of yarmulkes, black hats and women’s hair covers hanging from the ceiling on thin threads. Another asks if Jews consider themselves the chosen people. It includes a poem by Jewish author Leonard Fein: “How odd of God to choose the Jews. But how on earth could we refuse?”

Yet another invites visitors to express their opinion to such questions as “are Jews particularly good looking, influential, intelligent, animal loving or business savvy?”

Despite the criticisms, the “Jew in the Box” has proven a big hit among visitors.

“I asked him about the feelings he has for his country and what he thinks about the conflict with Palestine, if he ever visited Palestine,” visitor Panka Chirer-Geyer said. “I have Jewish roots and I’ve been to Palestine and realized how difficult it was there. I could not even mention that I have Jewish roots.”

On a recent day this week, several visitors kept returning to ask questions of Ido Porat, a 33-year-old Israeli seated on a white bench with a pink cushion.

One woman wanted to know what to bring her hosts for a Shabbat dinner in Israel. Another asked why only Jewish men and not women wear yarmulkes. A third inquired about Judaism and homosexuality.

“I guess I should ask you about the relationship between Germans and Jews,” visitor Diemut Poppen said to Porat. “We Germans have so many insecurities when it comes to Jews.”

Viola Mohaupt-Zitfin, 53, asked if Porat felt welcome as a Jew living among Germans “considering our past and all that.”

Yes, Porat said, Germany is a good place to live, even as a Jew. But the country could do even more to come to terms with its Nazi past, he added. He advised the would-be traveler that anything is permissible to bring to a Shabbat dinner as long as it’s not pork.

“I feel a bit like an animal in the zoo, but in reality that’s what it’s like being a Jew in Germany,” Porat said. “You are a very interesting object to most people here.”

Dekel Peretz, one of the volunteers in the glass box, said many Germans have an image of Jews that is far removed from the reality of contemporary Jewish life.

“They associate Jews with the Holocaust and the Nazi era,” he said. “Jews don’t have a history before or after. In Germany, Jews have been stereotyped as victims. It is important that people here get to know Jews to see that Jews are alive and that we have individual histories. I hope that this exhibit can help.”

Still, not everyone believes this is the best way to promote understanding.

Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal from the Jewish Chabad community in Berlin said Germans who are really interested in Jews and Judaism should visit the community’s educational center.

“Here Jews will be happy to answer questions without sitting in a glass box,” he said.

Egypt deploys troops in Suez after 9 killed on anniversary of uprising


Wherever there are Muslims, you can bet all of your earthly belongings; your home, your entire retirement, pension, 401K, social security – the works… Violence is just hours away. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Marwa Awad and Ali Abdelaty | Reuters

Gas

CAIRO/ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) – Egypt’s armed forces deployed troops in the city of Suez early on Saturday after nine people were shot dead during nationwide protests against President Mohamed Mursi, underlining the country’s deep divisions as it marked the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Eight of the dead, including a policeman, were shot dead in Suez, and another was shot and killed in the city of Ismailia, medics said. Another 456 people were injured across Egypt, officials said, in unrest on Friday fuelled by anger at Mursi and his Islamist allies over what the protesters see as their betrayal of the revolution.

Mursi said the state would not hesitate in “pursuing the criminals and delivering them to justice”. In a statement, he also called on Egyptians to respect the principles of the revolution by expressing their views peacefully.

The troops were deployed in Suez after the head of the state security police in the city asked for reinforcements. The army distributed pamphlets to residents assuring them the deployment was temporary and meant to secure the city.

“We have asked the armed forces to send reinforcements on the ground until we pass this difficult period,” Adel Refaat, head of state security in Suez, told state television.

Friday’s anniversary laid bare the divide between the Islamists and their secular rivals.

The schism is hindering the efforts of Mursi, elected in June, to revive an economy in crisis and reverse a plunge in Egypt’s currency by enticing back investors and tourists.

Inspired by the popular uprising in Tunisia, Egypt’s revolution spurred further revolts across the Arab world. But the sense of common purpose that united Egyptians two years ago has given way to internal strife that already triggered bloody street battles last month.

Thousands of opponents of Mursi massed on Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square – the cradle of the revolt against Mubarak – to rekindle the demands of a revolution they say has been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Mursi emerged.

In Suez, the military deployed armored vehicles to guard state buildings, witnesses and security sources said, as symbols of government were targeted across the country.

Street battles erupted in cities including Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Port Said. Arsonists attacked at least two state-owned buildings. An office used by the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party was also torched.

“Our revolution is continuing. We reject the domination of any party over this state. We say no to the Brotherhood state,” Hamdeen Sabahy, a popular leftist leader, told Reuters.

The Brotherhood decided against mobilizing for the anniversary, wary of the scope for more conflict after December’s violence, stoked by Mursi’s decision to fast-track an Islamist-tinged constitution rejected by his opponents.

The Brotherhood denies accusations that it is seeking to dominate Egypt, labeling them a smear campaign by its rivals.

‘LEAVE! LEAVE! LEAVE!’

There were conflicting accounts of the lethal shooting in Suez. Some witnesses said security forces had opened fire in response to gunfire from masked men.

News of the deaths capped a day of violence that started in the early hours of Friday. Before dawn in Cairo, police battled protesters who threw petrol bombs and firecrackers as they approached a wall blocking access to government buildings near Tahrir Square.

Clouds of teargas filled the air. At one point, riot police used one of the incendiaries thrown at them to set ablaze at least two tents erected by youths, a Reuters witness said.

Skirmishes between stone-throwing youths and the police continued in streets around the square into the day. Ambulances ferried away a steady stream of casualties.

Protesters echoed the chants of 2011’s historic 18-day uprising. “The people want to bring down the regime,” they chanted. “Leave! Leave! Leave!” chanted others as they marched towards the square.

“We are not here to celebrate but to force those in power to submit to the will of the people. Egypt now must never be like Egypt during Mubarak’s rule,” said Mohamed Fahmy, an activist.

There were similar scenes in Suez and Alexandria, where protesters and riot police clashed near local government offices. Black smoke billowed from tires set ablaze by youths.

In Cairo, police fired teargas to disperse a few dozen protesters trying to remove barbed-wire barriers protecting the presidential palace, witnesses said. A few masked men got as far as the gates before they were beaten back.

Teargas was also fired at protesters who tried to remove metal barriers outside the state television building.

Outside Cairo, protesters broke into the offices of provincial governors in Ismailia and Kafr el-Sheikh in the Nile Delta. A local government building was torched in the Nile Delta city of al-Mahalla al-Kubra.

With an eye on parliamentary elections likely to begin in April, the Brotherhood marked the anniversary with a charity drive across the nation. It plans to deliver medical aid to one million people and distribute affordable basic foodstuffs.

Writing in Al-Ahram, Egypt’s flagship state-run daily, Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said the country was in need of “practical, serious competition” to reform the corrupt state left by the Mubarak era.

“The differences of opinion and vision that Egypt is passing through is a characteristic at the core of transitions from dictatorship to democracy, and clearly expresses the variety of Egyptian culture,” he wrote.

Mursi’s opponents say he and his group are seeking to dominate the post-Mubarak order. They accuse him of showing some of the autocratic impulses of the deposed leader by, for example, driving through the new constitution last month.

“I am taking part in today’s marches to reject the warped constitution, the ‘Brotherhoodisation’ of the state, the attack on the rule of law, and the disregard of the president and his government for the demands for social justice,” Amr Hamzawy, a prominent liberal politician, wrote on his Twitter feed.

The Brotherhood says its rivals are failing to respect the rules of the new democracy that put the Islamists in the driving seat via free elections.

(Additional reporting by Tom Perry, Ahmed el-Shemi, Ashraf Fahim, Shaimaa Fayed and Yasmine Saleh in Cairo and Abdel Rahman Youssef in Alexandria; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Robert Woodward and Peter Cooney)

Schools and students are targets worldwide


This is one twisted world we live in. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone would hurt a child. I can understand committing an atrocious crime if one is mentally ill, but I cannot fathom killing children because one is angry at the world. Being that I’m not trained in psychology my opinion in these cases doesn’t matter, I’m just hopeful that something can be done to protect kids from these criminal acts. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By By CHARLES HUTZLER | Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — A half-day before a young gunman committed one of the deadliest school attacks in U.S. history, a Chinese farmer took a kitchen knife and hacked at more than 20 children as they entered their rural elementary school.

Though the outcomes are different — 28 dead in Connecticut, and 23 injured in China — the Friday attacks show how disturbingly frequent rampages against children and schools are. Attackers often seek out the vulnerable, hoping to amplify their outrage before they themselves often commit suicide. News of one mass killing often serves as inspiration and blueprint to other potential mass killers.

“It’s these disaffected people who are angry at the world, who plan to take out as many people as they can, and there’s some element there of notoriety,” said forensic psychologist James Ogloff of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. “It’s a way of becoming infamous.”

Mass killings, when an individual tries to kill as many people at one time as possible, have occurred in places as far away as Switzerland, where 14 people died in a shooting spree by an unemployed man who then killed himself in 2001, to South Korea, where a police officer killed 56 people before he blew himself up in 1982. Distinct from acts of terror that have political or collective aims, other mass killers act out of personal grievances.

Attacks against schools are a bleak subset, offering easy targets for taking down large numbers of victims. Shootings at schools have periodically occurred in Finland and Germany as well as the U.S., though the American attacks have been more frequent.

China has seen more than a half-dozen school attacks in less than three years, though the death tolls have been mostly in single digits, largely because knives have been the most-used weapon. China largely prohibits private ownership of guns.

“They choose to attack school students who are weak in defending themselves and are easily assaulted,” said Zhu Zhuohong, an associate researcher in psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Ogloff, the forensic psychologist who has studied both spree and serial killers in the U.S., Canada and Australia, said that a break-down in a relationship or a humiliating experience often acts as a triggering event for mass shooters. After Thomas Hamilton killed 16 kindergarteners and a teacher at an elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, reports said that he had been suspected of inappropriate behavior with boys he oversaw in a youth group and that letters he wrote talked of persecution by police and authorities for forcing him from taking part in boys clubs and for causing a business he ran to fail.

While police in Connecticut and in China have so far not given motives for Friday’s attacks, both began with single assaults. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza first shot his mother in their home in the New England town of Newtown before driving to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School; armed with two handguns, he shot into two classrooms, killing 20 people and six adults and then apparently shooting himself.

Min Yingjun, a 36-year-old resident of Guangshan, an area of tea and rice farms in central China, burst into the home of an elderly woman and stabbed her with a kitchen knife, the government’s Xinhua News Agency reported. Min then went to the Chenpeng Village Primary School, slashing at 22 students, ages 6 to 12, as they arrived for class. Seven of the students, some with severed fingers and ears, required hospitalization, Xinhua said.

Though Min did not die — he was grabbed by police at the scene and is under arrest — Zhu, the psychologist, said many mass attacks should be seen as “expanded suicide.” The attackers, often in a state of depression, believe society is malicious or unsafe and wants others to die with them, said Zhu.

Police described Min as possibly being “mentally ill,” Xinhua said, and a law enforcement official briefed on the Connecticut shooting told The Associated Press that Lanza was believed to suffer from a personality disorder. But overall, said Ogloff, very few mass shooters are mentally ill.

Most perpetrators are young men, and their common traits — an interest in the military or violence — are so widespread as to make it impossible to identify potential killers, said Ogloff. Spree shootings, he said, are increasing and becoming deadlier because each killing leaves a blueprint for others to follow.

“Imagine you’re a kid and you’re 20 years old, and you’re angry at the world and you’re fascinated with the military and you’re in a situation where you want to end your life. … You’re influenced by all the ones who’ve gone before you,” said Ogloff, who has overseen the treatment of Martin Bryant, who shot 35 people at Port Arthur, a former penal colony and tourist site, in Tasmania in 1996.

The spate of school attacks in China — six in a seven-month period in 2010 — have raised concerns about copycats. News media in China, all of which are state-controlled, gave wide coverage to the Connecticut attack. But they ran the same brief Xinhua report about Friday’s knifings in Guangshan, and local officials refused to provide more information, signs that authorities want to restrict the news either to prevent encouraging others or to play down the crime to keep blame off the government.

If identifying possible perpetrators is difficult, providing better access to mental health services and restricting the availability of firearms are key to reducing the numbers of victims, experts said.

“It’s interesting that you have two individuals entering schools but because of the means of their attacks — one with firearms, one with a knife — there’s an extreme disparity in the casualties,” said Christian Chan, a professor of psychology at Hong Kong University. “It’s the means that we can control, not necessarily the psychology of people. Throughout history there will always be people who might lose it.”

Tight controls mean that gun crimes are rare in China and make knives and sometimes explosives the weapons used in mass attacks in China. Even so, violence is on the rise as people grow frustrated with a corrupt and often indifferent officialdom and seek other means to address grievances.

“The social environment is a factor behind attacks in China,” said Ku Jianhui, a lawyer with the Beijing Xindong law firm. “A person who chooses extreme acts to voice his or her grievances usually believes that his or her cases were unable to be handled fairly through normal channels or legal procedures.”

___

Associated Press reporter Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Australia, and researcher Henry Hou in Beijing contributed to this report.

Amsterdam to ban smoking pot in school


Live and learn… I never knew that one could smoke in school in Amsterdam; much less pot, without consequences. Now that’s all going to change. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By TOBY STERLING | Associated Press

Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Amsterdam’s mayor said Wednesday he would formally ban students from smoking marijuana at school, making the Dutch capital the first city in the Netherlands to do so.

Eberhard van der Laan’s introduction of a law that in other countries either already exists or seems so obvious it wouldn’t even require a rule is the result of the Netherlands’ unique drugs policy. Under the “tolerance” principle, marijuana is technically illegal here, but police can’t prosecute people for possession of small amounts.

That’s the loophole that made possible Amsterdam’s famed “coffee shops” — cafes where marijuana is sold openly. But it has also had the unwanted side effect that Dutch children are frequently exposed to the drug in public areas.

City spokeswoman Iris Reshef says schools have always forbidden pot, but found it difficult to enforce the policy when students smoked on or near campus and challenged administrators to do anything about it.

“It’s not really what you have in mind as an educator, that children would be turning up for class stoned, or drunk either for that matter,” she said. “But it has been a problem for some schools.”

After a change in national law, the city will now be able to declare as of Jan. 1 “no toking zones” — areas like schools and playgrounds where weed-smoking is forbidden — under a public nuisance ordinance. Police can then levy fines against students or anybody else who flouts the rules.

The move is closely paired with a decision by the new government to ditch plans for a national “weed pass” that would have blocked tourists from buying marijuana.

That was a measure years in the making, and greatly desired by southern cities such as Maastricht that have been flooded with dealers from Belgium and Germany who drive across the border to buy weed in bulk. But the weed pass was opposed by Amsterdam, where drug tourists are not generally seen as causing many problems.

Last month, Van der Laan proclaimed that coffee shops would stay open for tourists after all. In a letter Wednesday, he noted that one in three tourists who come to Amsterdam try marijuana while they’re here, more than previously estimated.

Wednesday’s decision seems to signal a typically Dutch compromise outcome: the drug will remain available for adults and tourists who want to try it, but access for children will be restricted.

After several decades of the tolerance policy, Dutch marijuana usage rates are in the middle of international norms, higher than those in neighboring Germany, but lower than those in France, Britain or the United States.

German church: most sex abuser priests are psychologically normal


The results of this “study” is a crock. I can’t imagine people being stupid enough to believe the “results” of a study conducted by the Catholic Church on its own priests. Wait, I take that back, people are stupid enough to believe what the church says. If people are stupid enough to still belong to this church and call themselves Catholics, they’ll believe anything… TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor | Reuters

 PARIS (Reuters)- A German Catholic Church study showed most priests found guilty of sexually abusing minors were psychologically normal, according to survey results presented on Friday.

Only 12 percent of those surveyed were diagnosed as paedophiles, said the report released by Trier Bishop Stephan Ackermann, the church’s spokesman on abuse cases.

Psychological tests commissioned by priests’ dioceses around Germany found only five percent could be classified as ephebophiles – attracted to teenagers, it said.

“There are no significant differences to results found in the general population in Germany,” said Dr Norbert Leygraf, one of the experts reviewing reports on predator priests found out in the past decade.

Victims advocate Norbert Denef dismissed the study as biased in favor of the Church that commissioned it, and called for an independent commission to study clerical abuse cases.

“You wouldn’t ask the mafia to investigate its own crimes,” Denef, head of an advocacy group called Netzwerk B, told daily newspaper Die Welt.

A wave of revelations of clerical sexual abuse, with many cases dating from previous decades, shook the German Catholic Church in 2010 and prompted it to order an overall study of diocesan reports to spot any trends.

MOST VICTIMS MALE

About 600 people filed accusations of sexual abuse against priests following these revelations. Some 180,000 Germans left the church that year, a 40 percent jump over 2009.

Leygraf gave no reason why so many men described as psychologically normal, 68 percent of the group under investigation, had abused minors.

“The alleged sexual abuse was committed for reasons that can mostly be described as within normal psychological bounds and only a few cases resulted from a specific psychopathology,” he said, according to a Church statement.

According to the study, the diocesan reports showed 54 percent of the priests were identified as heterosexual, 37 percent as homosexual and nine percent as bisexual.

Ackermann ruled out any link to celibacy, a rule for Catholic priests that some critics blame for the wave of abuse cases that have rocked Catholic communities in Europe and North America for over a decade.

“There is no causal connection between a celibate way of life and sexual abuse,” he told a news conference in Trier.

Almost all the priests said they met their victims in their parishes or in schools. Asked why three-quarters of victims were male, Ackermann noted many cases dated back several decades when priests were likely to only come into contacts with boys.

“There were no girl altar servers back then,” he said. “The boys were there and were the ones the priests had the most to do with in their daily work.”

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

Vatican disciplines Austrian dissident priest


Why would the Gay Man’s Club (Catholic Church) want women within its ranks? Further, why would the Catholic Church ever preach that celibacy isn’t absolutely essential. Why that would mean that hypocrisy would no longer be part of church doctrine, and a non-hypocritical Catholic Church would be unrecognizable. Celibacy is very important in the priesthood, unless of course one happens to be a gay pedophile; then it’s OK to have sex – with boys.

Did I mention that the Catholic Church was hypocritical? I believe I did. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Philip Pullella | Reuters – Thu, Nov 29, 2012

Pope 3

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican has cracked down on a prominent Austrian Roman Catholic priest who has been leading a disobedience campaign to openly challenge Roman Catholic teachings on celibacy and women priests.

The Vatican said on Thursday it had stripped Father Helmut Schueller of the right to use title monsignor and said he also was no longer a “Chaplain of His Holiness”. Schueller remains a priest.

Schueller, a former deputy to Vienna’s archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, had been given the honorary title in his capacity as head of the Austrian branch of the Catholic charity group Caritas.

Schueller is head of the group “Call to Disobedience”, which has broad public backing in opinion polls and says it represents about 10 percent of the Austrian clergy.

Nearly 150,000 Austrians left the Church in 2011-2012, many in reaction to sexual abuse scandals.

The group wants Church rules changed so that priests can marry and women can become priests. It has said it will break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and divorced Catholics who remarry.

Schueller told Austrian media that the Vatican decision had not shaken his principles.

Reformist Austrian Catholics have for decades challenged the conservative policies of Benedict and his predecessor John Paul, creating protest movements and advocating changes the Vatican refuses to make.

Schueller has met like-minded clergy in Austria and abroad since launching the “Call to Disobedience” group. Catholic reform groups in Germany, Ireland and the United States have made similar demands from the Church.

The Catholic Church does not allow priests to marry and teaches that it has no authority to allow women to become priests because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles when he instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper.

Proponents of a female priesthood say Jesus was only adhering to the social norms of his times.

Last week, the Vatican disciplined another priest who advocated women’s ordination.

Father Ray Bourgeois, an American of the Maryknoll religious order, was kicked out of the priesthood and the order by the Vatican’s doctrinal department, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Last year, Bourgeois, who had been a priest for 40 years, was among a group of Roman Catholic activists detained by Italian police after they tried to deliver a petition to the Vatican in favor of a female priesthood.

Benedict, who for decades before his 2005 election as pope was the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer, directly denounced disobedient priests last April, saying it was not the right path to renewal in the Church.

(Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Elusive Dark Energy Is Real, Study Says


Interesting stuff… TGO

Refer to story below: Source: Space.com

By SPACE.com Staff | SPACE.com

Dark energy, the mysterious substance thought to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, almost certainly exists despite some astronomers’ doubts, a new study says.

After a two-year study, an international team of researchers concludes that the probability of dark energy being real stands at 99.996 percent. But the scientists still don’t know what the stuff is.

“Dark energy is one of the great scientific mysteries of our time, so it isn’t surprising that so many researchers question its existence,” co-author Bob Nichol, of the University of Portsmouth in Engalnd, said in a statement. “But with our new work we’re more confident than ever that this exotic component of the universe is real — even if we still have no idea what it consists of.”

The roots of dark energy

Scientists have known since the 1920s that the universe is expanding. Most assumed that gravity would slow this expansion gradually, or even cause the universe to begin contracting one day.

But in 1998, two separate teams of researchers discovered that the universe’s expansion is actually speeding up. In the wake of this shocking find — which earned three of the discoverers the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 — researchers proposed the existence of dark energy, an enigmatic force pushing the cosmos apart.

Dark energy is thought to make up 73 percent of the universe, though no one can say exactly what it is. (Twenty-three percent of the universe is similarly strange dark matter, scientists say, while the remaining 4 percent is “normal” matter that we can see and feel.)

Still, not all astronomers are convinced that dark energy is real, and many have been trying to confirm its existence for the past decade or so.

Hunting for dark energy

One of the best lines of evidence for the existence of dark energy comes from something called the Integrated Sachs Wolfe effect, researchers said.

In 1967, astronomers Rainer Sachs and Arthur Wolfe proposed that light from the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation — the thermal imprint left by the Big Bang that created our universe — should become slightly bluer as it passes through the gravitational fields of lumps of matter.

Three decades later, other researchers ran with the idea, suggesting astronomers could look for these small changes in the light’s energy by comparing the temperature of the distant CMB radiation with maps of nearby galaxies.

If dark energy doesn’t exist, there should be no correspondence between the two maps. But if dark energy is real, then, strangely, the CMB light should be seen to gain energy as it moves through large lumps of mass, researchers said.

This latter scenario is known as the Integrated Sachs Wolfe effect, and it was first detected in 2003. However, the signal is relatively weak, and some astronomers have questioned if it’s really strong evidence for dark energy after all.

Re-examining the data

In the new study, the researchers re-examine the arguments against the Integrated Sachs Wolfe detection, and they update the maps used in the original work.

In the end, the team determined that there is a 99.996 percent chance that dark energy is responsible for the hotter parts of the CMB maps, researchers said.

“This work also tells us about possible modifications to Einstein’s theory of general relativity,” said lead author Tommaso Giannantonio, of Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.

“The next generation of cosmic microwave background and galaxy surveys should provide the definitive measurement, either confirming general relativity, including dark energy, or even more intriguingly, demanding a completely new understanding of how gravity works,” Giannantonio added.

The team’s findings have been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

2012 Summer Olympics – Overall Medal Count


Medals won by each participating country…

Source: Yahoo Sports

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 46 29 29 104
2 China 38 27 23 88
3 Russia 24 26 32 82
4 Great Britain 29 17 19 65
5 Germany 11 19 14 44
6 Japan 7 14 17 38
7 Australia 7 16 12 35
8 France 11 11 12 34
9 South Korea 13 8 7 28
10 Italy 8 9 11 28
11 Netherlands 6 6 8 20
12 Ukraine 6 5 9 20
13 Canada 1 5 12 18
14 Hungary 8 4 5 17
15 Spain 3 10 4 17
16 Brazil 3 5 9 17
17 Cuba 5 3 6 14
18 Kazakhstan 7 1 5 13
19 New Zealand 6 2 5 13
20 Iran 4 5 3 12
21 Jamaica 4 4 4 12
22 Belarus 2 5 5 12
23 Kenya 2 4 5 11
24 Czech Republic 4 3 3 10
25 Azerbaijan 2 2 6 10
25 Poland 2 2 6 10
27 Romania 2 5 2 9
28 Denmark 2 4 3 9
29 Sweden 1 4 3 8
30 Colombia 1 3 4 8
31 Ethiopia 3 1 3 7
32 Georgia 1 3 3 7
32 Mexico 1 3 3 7
34 North Korea 4 0 2 6
35 South Africa 3 2 1 6
36 Croatia 3 1 2 6
37 India 0 2 4 6
38 Turkey 2 2 1 5
39 Lithuania 2 1 2 5
40 Ireland 1 1 3 5
41 Mongolia 0 2 3 5
42 Switzerland 2 2 0 4
43 Norway 2 1 1 4
44 Argentina 1 1 2 4
44 Serbia 1 1 2 4
44 Slovenia 1 1 2 4
47 Trinidad and Tobago 1 0 3 4
47 Uzbekistan 1 0 3 4
49 Slovakia 0 1 3 4
50 Tunisia 1 1 1 3
51 Thailand 0 2 1 3
52 Armenia 0 1 2 3
52 Belgium 0 1 2 3
52 Finland 0 1 2 3
55 Dominican Republic 1 1 0 2
56 Latvia 1 0 1 2
57 Egypt 0 2 0 2
58 Bulgaria 0 1 1 2
58 Taiwan 0 1 1 2
58 Estonia 0 1 1 2
58 Indonesia 0 1 1 2
58 Malaysia 0 1 1 2
58 Puerto Rico 0 1 1 2
64 Greece 0 0 2 2
64 Qatar 0 0 2 2
64 Moldova 0 0 2 2
64 Singapore 0 0 2 2
68 Algeria 1 0 0 1
68 Bahamas 1 0 0 1
68 Grenada 1 0 0 1
68 Uganda 1 0 0 1
68 Venezuela 1 0 0 1
73 Botswana 0 1 0 1
73 Cyprus 0 1 0 1
73 Gabon 0 1 0 1
73 Guatemala 0 1 0 1
73 Montenegro 0 1 0 1
73 Portugal 0 1 0 1
79 Afghanistan 0 0 1 1
79 Bahrain 0 0 1 1
79 Hong Kong 0 0 1 1
79 Kuwait 0 0 1 1
79 Morocco 0 0 1 1
79 Saudi Arabia 0 0 1 1
79 Tajikistan 0 0 1 1
86 Albania 0 0 0 0
86 American Samoa 0 0 0 0
86 Andorra 0 0 0 0
86 Angola 0 0 0 0
86 Antigua and Barbuda 0 0 0 0
86 Aruba 0 0 0 0
86 Austria 0 0 0 0
86 Bangladesh 0 0 0 0
86 Barbados 0 0 0 0
86 Belize 0 0 0 0
86 Benin 0 0 0 0
86 Bermuda 0 0 0 0
86 Bhutan 0 0 0 0
86 Bolivia 0 0 0 0
86 Bosnia and Herzegovina 0 0 0 0
86 Brunei 0 0 0 0
86 Burkina Faso 0 0 0 0
86 Burundi 0 0 0 0
86 Cambodia 0 0 0 0
86 Cameroon 0 0 0 0
86 Cape Verde 0 0 0 0
86 Cayman Islands 0 0 0 0
86 Central African Republic 0 0 0 0
86 Chad 0 0 0 0
86 Chile 0 0 0 0
86 Comoros 0 0 0 0
86 Congo 0 0 0 0
86 Cook Islands 0 0 0 0
86 Costa Rica 0 0 0 0
86 Cote d’Ivoire 0 0 0 0
86 Djibouti 0 0 0 0
86 Dominica 0 0 0 0
86 Democratic Republic of the Congo 0 0 0 0
86 Ecuador 0 0 0 0
86 El Salvador 0 0 0 0
86 Equatorial Guinea 0 0 0 0
86 Eritrea 0 0 0 0
86 Fiji 0 0 0 0
86 Gambia 0 0 0 0
86 Ghana 0 0 0 0
86 Guam 0 0 0 0
86 Guinea 0 0 0 0
86 Guinea-Bissau 0 0 0 0
86 Guyana 0 0 0 0
86 Haiti 0 0 0 0
86 Honduras 0 0 0 0
86 Iceland 0 0 0 0
86 Independent Olympic Athletes 0 0 0 0
86 Iraq 0 0 0 0
86 Israel 0 0 0 0
86 Jordan 0 0 0 0
86 Kiribati 0 0 0 0
86 Kyrgyzstan 0 0 0 0
86 Laos 0 0 0 0
86 Lebanon 0 0 0 0
86 Lesotho 0 0 0 0
86 Liberia 0 0 0 0
86 Libya 0 0 0 0
86 Liechtenstein 0 0 0 0
86 Luxembourg 0 0 0 0
86 Madagascar 0 0 0 0
86 Malawi 0 0 0 0
86 Maldives 0 0 0 0
86 Mali 0 0 0 0
86 Malta 0 0 0 0
86 Marshall Islands 0 0 0 0
86 Mauritania 0 0 0 0
86 Mauritius 0 0 0 0
86 Micronesia 0 0 0 0
86 Macedonia 0 0 0 0
86 Monaco 0 0 0 0
86 Mozambique 0 0 0 0
86 Myanmar 0 0 0 0
86 Namibia 0 0 0 0
86 Nauru 0 0 0 0
86 Nepal 0 0 0 0
86 Nicaragua 0 0 0 0
86 Niger 0 0 0 0
86 Nigeria 0 0 0 0
86 Oman 0 0 0 0
86 Pakistan 0 0 0 0
86 Palau 0 0 0 0
86 Palestine 0 0 0 0
86 Panama 0 0 0 0
86 Papua New Guinea 0 0 0 0
86 Paraguay 0 0 0 0
86 Peru 0 0 0 0
86 Philippines 0 0 0 0
86 Rwanda 0 0 0 0
86 St. Kitts and Nevis 0 0 0 0
86 Saint Lucia 0 0 0 0
86 Samoa 0 0 0 0
86 San Marino 0 0 0 0
86 Sao Tome and Principe 0 0 0 0
86 Senegal 0 0 0 0
86 Seychelles 0 0 0 0
86 Sierra Leone 0 0 0 0
86 Solomon Islands 0 0 0 0
86 Somalia 0 0 0 0
86 Sri Lanka 0 0 0 0
86 St. Vincent and Grenadines 0 0 0 0
86 Sudan 0 0 0 0
86 Suriname 0 0 0 0
86 Swaziland 0 0 0 0
86 Syria 0 0 0 0
86 Tanzania 0 0 0 0
86 Timor-Leste 0 0 0 0
86 Togo 0 0 0 0
86 Tonga 0 0 0 0
86 Turkmenistan 0 0 0 0
86 Tuvalu 0 0 0 0
86 United Arab Emirates 0 0 0 0
86 Uruguay 0 0 0 0
86 Vanuatu 0 0 0 0
86 Vietnam 0 0 0 0
86 British Virgin Islands 0 0 0 0
86 U.S. Virgin Islands 0 0 0 0
86 Yemen 0 0 0 0
86 Zambia 0 0 0 0
86 Zimbabwe 0 0 0 0

Jews, Muslims unite to condemn German circumcision ruling


So let me get this straight… Jews and Muslims, who cannot get along as neighbors, who have been slaughtering one another for centuries, are uniting to defend a barbaric religious custom? They are uniting over the removal of skin at the end of a penis? For real?

The stupidity of religious people has just reached new heights! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

AFPAFP – Wed, Jul 11, 2012

Jewish and Muslim groups have issued a joint call for German lawmakers to protect the right to circumcise boys after a court ruling against the rite sent shockwaves through their communities.

Several Jewish and Islamic organisations said in a statement released Wednesday that they had met with legal and medical experts and European Parliament deputies in Brussels this week to discuss the court’s decision.

“We consider this to be an affront (to) our basic religious and human rights,” the joint appeal said.

“Circumcision is an ancient ritual that is fundamental to our individual faiths and we protest in the strongest possible terms this court ruling.

“To that end we will vigorously defend our right to maintain our mutual tradition and call on the German parliament and all political parties to intervene in overruling this decision as a matter of urgency.”

The unusual joint statement was signed by leaders of groups including the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, the European Jewish Parliament, the European Jewish Association, Germany’s Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs and the Islamic Centre Brussels.

They met with MEPs from Germany, Finland, Belgium, Italy and Poland, according to the statement released by the Turkish-Islamic Union.

The June 26 ruling by the regional court in Cologne that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounted to grievous bodily harm has caused international uproar.

Jewish and Muslim groups had each demanded that the German parliament establish clear legal protections for the rite, calling the issue a matter of religious freedom.

Pope criticizes profit-seeking, says his image of heaven is his childhood in Bavaria


The Pope is so full of it… Imagine the hypocrisy of a man who leads the richest organization in the world, who lives in a palace, charters full-sized jets for travel, is clothed with the finest fabrics and is surrounded with gold and precious stones, etc., etc. And this man has the stones to say that focusing on making money (which is what the Catholic Church is all about) is selfish. What a joke! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Associated PressBy Colleen Barry, The Associated Press | Associated Press

MILAN – Pope Benedict XVI celebrated an open-air Mass on Sunday for a million followers, capping three days of activities in Milan aimed at showing support for the family.

Fitting his theme of strengthening the institution, the pope recalled the night before his own childhood in Germany in a house filled with music, big Sunday lunches and shared liturgical readings to strengthen the family faith.

“To tell the truth,” the pope said, responding to a question about his youth from a young Vietnamese girl during a meeting with families Saturday night, “if I try to imagine a little how it will be in heaven, it seems to be the time of my youth, of my childhood.”

Benedict recalled lots of singing in his childhood home in Bavaria, not far from Salzburg, and of long walks in the woods.

“In a word, we were one heart and one soul, with many shared experiences, even if the times were difficult, ” the pontiff said.

Families from places as far-flung as Greece, Madagascar and Brazil shared their personal challenges balancing work and family life and sought advice from the pontiff.

In his Sunday homily, the pope said the focus on making money undermines the family by creating an unjust society in which people focus primarily on their own selfish concerns.

Such thinking, he said, “creates ferocious competition, strong inequalities, degradation of the environment” and reduces family relationships “to fragile convergences of individual interests.”

The pope also remembered those who live in quake-stricken Emilia-Romagna, where 24 died in two temblors more than a week apart last month. The pope on Sunday pledged €500,000 ($616,000) to families in severe need in the quake zone, which will be distributed through bishops in five stricken diocese.

The pope’s three-day visit was viewed as a welcome respite away from an embarrassing and damaging leaks scandal at the Vatican that has led to the arrest of the his personal butler.

Factbox: Catholic sex abuse scandals in Europe


Aren’t Catholic priests a wonderful lot? I know, I know, all of you Catholic apologists are going to claim that only a very small percentage of priests are pedophiles; I beg to differ. In fact, I believe that the number of people who have come forward and admitted that they were sexually abused is but a small percentage of the actual number of victims – the tip of the iceberg. This is especially true in places such as the Philippines, as well as Central and South American countries and places such as Nigeria, where local governments (what governments may exist) are under the influence of the Church and authorities are unlikely to even investigate crimes against children. The truth is that in many of these countries not even the parents of the victims would believe their own children’s stories of abuse. This is why most people who come forward and claim they have been abused are grown men and women who now have the wherewithal to deal with the issue.

Once again, the Catholic Church is one of the most corrupt organizations on the planet. And as far as priests are concerned, the majority are gay, which as far as I’m concerned makes them hypocrites of the highest order, for obvious reasons. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

ReutersReuters

(Reuters) – A new Vatican report on the sexual abuse of Irish children by Catholic clergy accused Ireland’s religious leaders of negligence and called for more reforms there to avoid a similarly “shameful” scandal in the future.

Here are some details of some major developments in the Roman Catholic Church abuse scandals in Europe in the last two years:

IRELAND:

– November 30, 2011 – Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, agreed to a legal settlement over his role in administering an oath of secrecy to a teenage victim of clerical sexual abuse in 1975, the victim’s lawyer said.

– July 13, 2011 – The Catholic Church in Ireland concealed the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, a decade after it introduced rules to protect minors, and the Vatican was complicit in the cover-up, a government report into the handling of sex abuse claims in the diocese of Cloyne, in County Cork, showed.

– May 31, 2010 – The Vatican named two cardinals and three archbishops from England, the United States and Canada to lead its inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in Ireland.

– March 24, 2010 – Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, accused of mishandling reports of sexual abuse in his diocese. He later accepted the resignation of two other Irish bishops.

– March 20, 2010 – In rare letter to Ireland’s Catholics, the pope told abuse victims he felt “shame and remorse” over the scandals and announced an official Vatican probe of Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious orders.

AUSTRIA:

– November 11, 2011 – Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn faced down calls for radical change in the Church from priests and lay people at a four-day meeting. Catholic rebels made calls for “disobedience” and changes in the Church, after a record 87,000 Austrians deserted it in 2010, many of them in response to allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

BELGIUM:

– December 14, 2011 – Victims of sexual abuse by priests in Belgium should be able to claim up to 25,000 euros ($32,700) in compensation from the Church, with assessments made by an independent panel, a parliamentary commission concluded.

– Hundreds of victims of abuse in the Belgian Church came forward after the former bishop of Bruges admitted in 2010 to abusing his nephew for years. Almost 500 people filed claims with an earlier commission set up by the Church but this was disbanded after police seized its documents.

– September 10, 2010 – Widespread child sexual abuse in the Belgian Church drove at least 13 victims to suicide, a Church commission reported. Of the 475 cases it recorded, two-thirds of the victims were male, with boys aged about 12 most vulnerable.

BRITAIN:

– Sept 18, 2010 – Pope Benedict made one of his strongest apologies to abuse victims while on a state visit to Britain, expressing his deep sorrow to innocent victims of “these unspeakable crimes.”

GERMANY:

– Jan 10, 2012 – A Catholic priest admitted in a German court to sexually abusing three boys over eight years, during trips that included to Disneyland in Paris.

– In April 2011 a survey said that some 180,000 German Catholics left the Church in 2010, a 40 percent rise over the previous year, amid allegations that priests had sexually abused children for decades.

– Aug 31, 2010 – The German Church unveiled new, tougher guidelines on dealing with sexual abuse of minors, obliging church authorities to report suspected cases to police.

– June 11, 2010 – A Jesuit investigation, commissioned in January, cited on May 27, 205 allegations of sexual abuse against priests at its schools in Germany, revealing decades of systematic abuse and attempts at a cover-up.

ITALY:

– Feb 18, 2010 – Italy has had dozens of cases of clerical sexual abuse involving about 80 priests over the past decade, a priest who runs an anti-pedophilia organization told Vatican Radio.

NETHERLANDS

– Dec 9, 2010 – A Church-commissioned report said 1,975 people had declared themselves victims of sexual and physical abuse while minors in the care of the Dutch Church, and criticized the Church for not responding to the scandals more promptly.

SWITZERLAND:

– June 2, 2010 – Swiss bishops said they received reports between January and May of 72 perpetrators abusing 104 victims, up from 14 perpetrators and 15 victims in 2009.

Sources: Reuters, Munich archdiocese

(Reporting by Tom Heneghan and David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

German priest admits 280 counts of child abuse


Is anyone surprised by this? I’m not. The only thing that surprises me about sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is that so few victims come forward. TGO

Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press

Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest in Germany has admitted to 280 counts of sexually abusing three boys over a several-year period.

The 46-year-old priest, who has been suspended, went on trial Thursday at the state court in Braunschweig. The dapd news agency reported that he showed no remorse.

The man who was not identified was arrested last July after one victim told his mother what had happened. He was charged with abusing three boys aged between 9 and 15.

Hildesheim diocese spokesman Michael Lukas says the defendant’s actions were “a catastrophe for the victims and for the Catholic church.” The trial continues through Feb. 2.

The priest also faces church disciplinary proceedings.

Germany, Pope Benedict XVI’s homeland, was shaken in 2010 by revelations of abuse by clergy going back decades.

Pope names new cardinals who’ll choose successor


The Pope with some of his henchmen. Don’t they look pathetic, bowing their heads as if pleading for some sort of supernatural assistance?

What is truly pathetic is that it is all a farce – pure hypocrisy. Behind all of the rituals, the ridiculous costumes, the Swiss Guard, the candles and the crosses – it is all politics and BIG business. There is nothing sacred about the Catholic Church, Catholicism or the con men who run the Vatican; those who dictate every move that this corrupt, bogus organization make.

Yet despite these irrefutable facts, 1 billion people on Earth believe in this quackery. The masses truly are ignorant. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

ReutersBy Philip Pullella | Reuters

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict, putting his stamp on the future of Roman Catholicism, named 22 new cardinals on Friday, the red-hatted “princes of the Church” who are his closest aides and will one day choose his successor.

One of the most prominent on the list is Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York. Others are from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, India, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Germany, China, Romania, Belgium, and Malta.

They include the archbishops of Toronto, Prague, Utrecht, Florence, Berlin and Hong Kong. The head of the Siro-Malabar Catholic rite in India was also elevated to cardinal.

Another new American cardinal is Edwin O’Brien, head of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, a group that is a major funder of the church in the Holy Land.

Eighteen of the new cardinals are under 80, meaning they will be eligible to enter a secret conclave to elect a new pope from among their ranks after Benedict dies. The other four are over 80.

Speaking to pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square, the pope said he hoped the new cardinals would always be able to show their love for the Church with courage and dedication.

With the new appointments, Benedict, who was elected in a secret conclave in 2005, has now named more than half the “cardinal electors” who will be able some day to choose a new leader of the world’s some 1.3 billion Roman Catholics.

Seven of the 22 named on Friday were Italian — six of them members of the Vatican’s central administration and the other the archbishop of Florence.

The ceremony to install them, known as a consistory, will be held on Feb 18. It will be Benedict’s fourth.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Edited by Richard Meares)

Snow church opens in Bavaria


Hopefully this “structure” won’t collapse and bury a few of these knuckleheads alive. TGO

Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press

AP

MITTERFIRMIANSREUT, Germany (AP) — A church built entirely of ice and snow has opened in Bavaria — a century after villagers first built a snow church in an act of protest.

The church at Mitterfirmiansreut, near the Czech border, is more than 20 meters (65 feet) in length and boasts a tower. It’s made up of some 1,400 cubic meters (49,000 cubic feet) of snow.

The structure was bathed in blue light as it opened Wednesday evening with a blessing from Dean Kajetan Steinbeisser.

But when the ancestors of today’s villagers built the first snow church in 1911, they weren’t thinking just of architectural achievement.

Steinbeisser says: “It was meant as an act of provocation — believers from the village got together and built a snow church because they didn’t have a church here.”

German war memorial features Nazi bell


I’m curious to know how Jews feel about this; should the Nazi past be swept under the rug, or should Nazi relics continue to be displayed? TGO

Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press

AP

BERLIN (AP) — A German state governor is asking a tiny town to remove a bell adorned with swastikas and Hermann Goering’s name from its memorial to Germany’s war dead.

The bell was donated by Goering himself to the town — which once bore the deputy Nazi leader’s name and is now called Tuemlauer-Koog.

News magazine Der Spiegel reported Friday the bell, which had hung in the town’s belltower, was replaced in 2008 because it was too old to ring anymore and moved to the memorial site. A German tourist recently saw the bell and complained to Schleswig-Holstein governor Peter Harry Carstensen, who asked that it be removed.

Area mayor Christian Marwig acknowledges a sign could better explain the bell’s significance but says the Nazi past should be acknowledged and not swept under the rug.

German autobahn pileup kills 3


Wow, a 52 vehicle accident! What a mess… TGO

Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press

AP

BERLIN (AP) — Police say a 52-vehicle pileup on a highway in northwestern Germany has left three people dead and 35 injured.

The accident happened Friday evening on the A31 autobahn near the town of Gronau on the border with the Netherlands. The weather was foggy at the time but it wasn’t immediately clear what triggered the pileup.

Police said Saturday that 14 people were taken to nearby hospitals. Twenty-one people had only light injuries.

German firm fires model for praising Gadhafis


She’s not just a dumb blond, she’s a stupid blond. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By JUERGEN BAETZ – Associated Press | AP

BERLIN (AP) — A German company has canceled a major advertising contract with an Italian-American model after she described her passionate relationship with Moammar Gadhafi’s son Muatassim and praised his family.

Telecommunications firm Telefonica Germany and its subsidiary Alice will stop working with 23-year-old model Vanessa Hessler and remove her face from its website within hours, spokesman Albert Fetsch said Monday.

“Vanessa Hessler has failed to distance herself from her comments on the conflict in Libya,” Fetsch said.

Hessler had been the company’s advertising face for years, and giant posters featuring the model were a fixture in many German cities.

Hessler told the Italian magazine Diva e Donna that for four years she had been dating Muatassim Gahafi — who was captured and killed in Libya alongside his father this month.

“I didn’t have any contact with him since the uprising broke out, but our relationship was one of passion,” she was quoted as saying by the magazine. “The Gadhafi family is not as they are being depicted, they are normal people.”

The model-turned-actress also said that she was crying for Libya, adding that the rebels are “people who don’t know what they’re doing.”

Talks between Telefonica and Hessler’s agency did not yield a solution because Hessler stood by her comments, said Fetsch. “We and our clients have no comprehension for what she said.”

Her face will be successively removed from all Alice PR material, he added. Telefonica Germany is a subsidiary of Spain’s Telefonica S.A.

In August, Talitha van Zon, another model and ex-girlfriend of Muatassim Gadhafi, was evacuated from Libya to Malta. She then said that their three-month relationship had ended years ago but that they remained friends.

In comments to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, van Zon recounted details of her seven-year friendship with Muatassim, including trips to Monaco and St. Bart’s, the Caribbean haven for the chic, luxury hotels and gifts of Louis Vuitton bags.

____

Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.

Wall Street sit-in goes global Saturday


I’m curious to see what kind of positive effect, if any, these demonstrations have. One can only hope that they not only pick up momentum, which currently seems to be happening, but more importantly that they don’t fizzle out.

Until such time as the Central Bank is destroyed, which in my opinion will never happen, this country, and by default all others, will be at its mercy. Nevertheless, these demonstrations are all the people can do; other than the more drastic measure,  which will never happen for obvious reasons. That is, for all bank employees across the country to stop going to work; and I mean ALL employees at ALL banks – period. That would definitely create major chaos in “the system.” But again, I don’t believe this would ever happen.

Watch the video below (which was not part of this article) for information on the Central Bank and how it works. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

Video: YouTube

ReutersBy Alastair Macdonald | Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – For an October revolution, dress warm. That’s the word going out – politely – on the Web to rally street protests on Saturday around the globe from New Zealand to Alaska via London, Frankfurt, Washington and, of course, New York, where the past month’s Occupy Wall Street movement has inspired a worldwide yell of anger at banks and financiers.

How many will show up, let alone stay to camp out to disrupt city centers for days, or months, to come, is anyone’s guess. The hundreds at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park were calling for back-up on Friday, fearing imminent eviction. Rome expects tens of thousands at a national protest of more traditional stamp.

Few other police forces expect more than a few thousand to turn out on the day for what is billed as an exercise in social media-spread, Arab Spring-inspired, grassroots democracy with an emphasis on peaceful, homespun debate, as seen among Madrid’s “indignados” in June or at the current Wall Street park sit-in.

Blogs and Facebook pages devoted to “October 15″ – #O15 on Twitter – abound with exhortations to keep the peace, bring an open mind, a sleeping bag, food and warm clothing; in Britain, “Occupy London Stock Exchange” is at pains to stress it does not plan to actually, well, occupy the stock exchange.

That may turn off those with a taste for the kind of anarchic violence seen in London in August, at anti-capitalism protests of the past decade and at some rallies against spending cuts in Europe this year. But, as Karlin Younger of consultancy Control Risks said: “When there’s a protest by an organization that’s very grassroots, you can’t be sure who will show up.”

Concrete demands are few from those who proclaim “We are the 99 percent,” other than a general sense that the other 1 percent – the “greedy and corrupt” rich, and especially banks – should pay more, and that elected governments are not listening.

“It’s time for us to unite; it’s time for them to listen; people of the world, rise up!” proclaims the Web site United for #GlobalChange. “We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us … We will peacefully demonstrate, talk and organize until we make it happen.”

By doing so peacefully, many hope for a wider political impact, by amplifying the chord their ideas strike with millions of voters in wealthy countries who feel ever more squeezed by the global financial crisis while the rich seem to get richer.

“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”

“We have people from all walks of life joining us every day,” said Spyro, one of those behind a Facebook page in London which has grown to have some 12,000 followers in a few weeks, enthused by Occupy Wall Street. Some 5,000 have posted that they will turn out, though even some activists expect fewer will.

Spyro, a 28-year-old graduate who has a well-paid job and did not want his family name published, summed up the main target of the global protests as “the financial system.”

Angry at taxpayer bailouts of banks since crisis hit in 2008 and at big bonuses still paid to some who work in them while unemployment blights the lives of many young Britons, he said: “People all over the world, we are saying ‘Enough is enough’.”

What the remedy would be, Spyro said, was not for him to say but should emerge from public debate – a common theme for those camping out off Wall Street since mid-September, who have stirred up U.S. political debate and, a Reuters poll found, won sympathy from over a third of Americans.

A suggestions log posted at http://15october.net (“This space is ready for YOUR idea for the revolution”) range from a mass cutting up of credit cards (“hit the banks where it counts”) to “use technology to make education free.”

For all such utopianism, the possibility that peaceful mass action, helped by new technologies, can bring real change has been reinforced by the success of Arab uprisings this year.

“I’ve been waiting for this protest for a long time, since 2008,” said Daniel Schreiber, 28, an editor in Berlin. “I was always wondering why people aren’t outraged and why nothing has happened and finally, three years later, it’s happening.”

Quite what is happening, though, is hard to say. The biggest turnouts are expected where local conditions are most acute.

Italian police are preparing for tens of thousands to march in Rome against austerity measures planned by the beleaguered government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Yet in crisis-ravaged Athens, where big protests have seen violence at times of late, a sense of fatigue and futility may limit numbers on Saturday. In Madrid, where thousands of young “indignados,” or “angry ones,” camped out for weeks, many also feel the movement has run out of steam since the summer.

Germans, where sympathy for southern Europe’s debt troubles is patchy, the financial center of Frankfurt, and the European Central Bank in particular, is expected to be a focus of marches calling by the Spanish-inspired Real Democracy Now movement.

Complicating German sentiments, however, a series of small bombs found on trains has stirred memories of the left-wing guerrilla attacks that grew in the 1970s from frustration at a lack of change after the student protests of 1968.

CITY OF LONDON

British student protests a year ago were marked by some acts of violence by what authorities say were hard-core anarchists. Days of looting in London in August were put down to motives that mingled political discontent with criminal opportunism.

As an international center of finance, the City of London is key target. But organizers know strong police powers make setting up a Wall Street-style protest camp there far from easy.

“There’s quite a bit of fatigue setting in,” said one young veteran of last year’s protests against higher university fees. “But if it’s still going by Monday or Tuesday, I think that will excite students and they will head down. The City is much more the focus of people’s anger now, compared to a year ago.”

A long Saturday of rallies may start in New Zealand, where the Occupy Auckland Facebook page provides links recommending “suitable clothing … a sleeping bag, a tent, food” — but, in a family-friendly spirit, strictly no drugs or alcohol.

Asian authorities and businesses may have less to fear, since most of their economies are still growing strongly.

Tracking across the time zones, through towns large and small (“Occupy Norwich!” reads a website from the picturesque English city), the New York example has also prompted calls for similar occupations in dozens of U.S. cities from Saturday.

In Houston, protesters plan to tap into anger at big oil companies. As the world’s day ends, hardy souls will be marching in Fairbanks. “We will be obeying traffic lights,” insist the authors of OccupyAlaska.org, and they “will be dressed warm.”

History suggests such actions are unlikely, of themselves, to change the world. As one anonymous poster at 15october.net writes, “Fleshing out ideas into living reality has always been the bugbear of radical politics.” And while anger at corporate greed is widespread, there are plenty of voters who would agree with the Australian who posted on the OccupySydney site that those marching will be “the lazy, the paranoid, the confused.”

But some analysts do see a potential for political change.

Jeff Madrick, a prominent economics writer, speaks warmly of the serious and reasonable debate he found at Zuccotti Park. Revolutions may be rare, but the protests could push lawmakers to act on some of the demands, he said last week: “It may begin to change public opinion enough to give Congress, people in Washington, the courage of their own convictions.”

Catholics cannot accept gay marriage, pope says


Catholics cannot accept gay marriage, but they can sure as hell accept gay and pedophile priests; right? Why of course! Talk about frauds and hypocrites… The leaders of this corrupt organization otherwise known as the Catholic Church, beginning with the Pope, are more twisted than a pretzel. How anyone with a semblance of a brain can belong to this Mafia, much less support it with their hard-earned money, is incomprehensible! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Philip Pullella and Sarah Marsh | Reuters

FREIBURG, Germany (Reuters) – Pope Benedict said on Saturday the Catholic Church could not accept gay marriage and urged young people to root out evil in society and shun a “lukewarm” faith that damages their Church.

The 84-year-old pope ended the third day in his homeland with a rally for about 30,000 young people at a fairground outside the southern city of Freiburg, a Catholic area where he received the warmest welcome of his trip so far.

“The world in which we live, in spite of its technical progress, does not seem to be getting any better,” he told the young people. “There is still war and terror, hunger and disease, bitter poverty and merciless oppression.”

He urged them to root out all forms of evil in society and not to be “lukewarm Christians,” saying that lack of commitment to faith did more damage to their Church than its sworn enemies.

Young people in the crowd cheered as he spoke.

“The Church is shown very negatively in the media these days so it is important for us young people to see we can also be proud of the Church, and the Church itself is not bad even if some people have let it down,” said Kathrin Doerr, 26, who attended the youth rally.

Earlier, at a meeting with Orthodox Christian leaders, Benedict spoke out against abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage.

“We as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation,” he said.

COMMUNISM’S ACID RAIN HURT FAITH

On the penultimate day of his trip, the pope straddled his homeland’s religious and geographical divisions, praising the faithful for enduring communism’s “acid rain” effect in former East Germany and then addressing cheering Catholic crowds in the west.

At a mass in the medieval main square during a subdued visit to the city of Erfurt, where only about seven percent of the people are Catholic, he praised eastern Germans who stayed loyal to the Church during oppressive years under Nazism and communism.

“You have had to endure first a brown and then a red dictatorship, which acted on the Christian faith like acid rain,” he told the crowd from the altar, set against a hill dominated by Erfurt’s cathedral and another Catholic church.

About two hours before the morning mass in Erfurt, a man fired an air gun at security staff at an Erfurt checkpoint in an apparent protest against the strict crowd-control measures, police said. The Vatican said the pope was never in any danger.

Benedict held a surprise meeting on Friday evening in Erfurt with victims of sexual abuse by priests. Church officials said on Saturday there were three men and two women present, chosen from many victims around Germany who had asked to meet the pope.

“The atmosphere of the meeting was rather relaxed,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told a news conference. “It was very important that the Pope expressed he shares in the pain the victims suffered and that the Church will do everything to prevent that happening again in the future.”

About 700 Germans have filed for compensation for abuse by priests and other Church personnel. A record 181,000 Germans left the Church last year, many in protest at the abuse scandal.

(Writing by Philip Pullella and Tom Heneghan; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Pope meets with German sex abuse victims


More BS from the Pope, who according to the article, expressed “deep compassion and regret” for sex abuse victims. Now isn’t that nice of him? I wonder what good his “feelings” will do for those who were sodomized as children by sexual perverts disguised as priests? And how about the hypocrisy of these low-lifes at the Vatican? The Roman Catholic Church is littered with homosexual men and women, and yet these hypocrites claim to be opposed to homosexuality! 

Don’t you just love the poster the woman is holding up? TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By MELISSA EDDY and VICTOR L. SIMPSON – Associated Press | AP

ERFURT, Germany (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI met with German victims of sexual abuse by priests and expressed “deep compassion and regret” at the suffering of those abused by members of the clergy, the Vatican said Friday.

The pope met for half an hour with five victims on the second day of his four-day state visit to his native Germany, following an ecumenical service with members of the country’s Lutheran church and an evening vesper held in a small chapel nestled deep in the former East Germany.

Germany’s Catholic church has seen the numbers of faithful leaving the congregation jump, after hundreds of people came forward last year with stories of having been physically or sexually abused by members of the clergy. Church leaders had expressed hope that Benedict’s visit could help heal wounds left by the scandal.

Benedict has been accused by victims groups and their lawyers of being part of systematic practice of cover-up by church hierarchy for pedophile priests, in his earlier roles as an archbishop in Germany and later at the helm of the Vatican morals office.

The Vatican said in a statement following Friday’s meeting that the pope was “moved and deeply shaken” and is close to the victims. He expresses the hope that God “may heal the wounds of the victims and grant them inner peace,” the Vatican said.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the victims were two women and three men from all over Germany. He said the meeting was held in “very calm” circumstances and that a member of the hotline service set up by Germany’s church to field abuse claims was also present.

The pope assured the group that church officials are “seriously concerned” about dealing with crimes of abuse and are committed to enact effective measures to protect children, the Vatican said.

The pope has had similar meetings on trips to the U.S., Australia, Malta and Britain, all hit by the worldwide sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Roman Catholic church over the past decades. In Germany, claims began to emerge in 2010.

Emmanuel Henckens of Belgium, a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the German meeting, “will make a handful of wounded individuals feel better for a while,” but will do nothing “to stop priests from molesting kids, or bishops from concealing crimes.”

Benedict started Friday in Berlin with a close-door meeting with leaders from Germany’s Muslim community. He told them that he understood the “great importance” they placed on the religious dimension of life.

In one of his main themes, he then made a landmark visit to the Erfurt monastery where Martin Luther studied before splitting from the Catholic Church centuries ago and launching the Protestant Reformation.

In a sign of how far relations have improved between the two churches in recent decades, the pope praised Luther for his “deep passion and driving force” in his beliefs. But he didn’t announce any concrete steps to achieve greater unity among Christians, as some had hoped.

During an ecumenical service held in the monastery’s stone chapel, with soaring stained glass windows that date from even before Luther prayed here in the early 1500s, Benedict acknowledged there was talk before the visit that he would come bearing an “ecumenical gift.”

Instead, the pontiff told an audience including representatives of Germany’s Lutheran Church that such a belief was “a political misreading of faith and of ecumenism.”

Leaders from both sides of the church were quick to underline that the pontiff’s mere presence in the heartland of the Reformation was a key signal to how vastly relations have improved.

“It must be recalled that the pope has come to this monastery in Erfurt as a gesture that is an indication that he is fully aware of its meaning,” said Thies Gundlach, a deputy in the German Lutheran Church.

Nevertheless, expectations from the Lutherans remain high, as the community looks ahead to celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle church in nearby Wittenberg demanding change in the Catholic church that ultimately led to a split.

German Lutheran leader Nikolaus Schneider told the pope “it is time to take real steps for reconciliation” and suggested Catholics join Protestants in marking the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

Some Catholics and Lutherans have called for a joint commission to examine the Reformation and Luther’s excommunication.

After a morning in the city, Benedict was flown by a German police helicopter to a small chapel nestled deep in the former East Germany, where he honored those Catholics who helped resist communist rule. A crowd estimated by organizers at 90,000 — twice as large as expected — filled the neighboring field in Etzelsbach, a popular stop for pilgrims.

The pope said Christians had sought spiritual comfort at the shrine during the “two godless dictatorships, which sought to deprive the people of their ancestral faith,” referring to the Nazis and communists.

Benedict’s visit has drawn protesters, many opposed to the Catholic church’s views on homosexuality, abortion and other issues.

A demonstration in front of Erfurt’s main train station drew only about 150 people Friday night, but about 9,000 people protested in downtown Berlin on Thursday.

___

David Rising contributed to this story from Berlin.

Germans quit church during 2010 sex scandal


We always knew that Germans were a smart people. They quickly realized that the Roman Catholic Church is a corrupt, fraudulent organization filled with sexual misfits. Church leaders hide behind the imaginary God and empty promise of everlasting life to carry out their primary objective – making money. And oh, by the way, let’s not forget the pedophile priests; those thousands of sexual predators who have destroyed countless lives.TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

APBy JUERGEN BAETZ – Associated Press | AP

BERLIN (AP) — The number of people leaving the Roman Catholic Church in Germany jumped by nearly 50 percent in 2010 as an abuse scandal widened, new data showed Friday.

Some 181,000 people quit their memberships last year, up from 124,000 in 2009, official numbers released by Germany’s Roman Catholic Church showed.

Deaths and people turning away from the church heavily outnumbered baptisms, which reached a record low, putting one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential Catholic Churches further in decline.

Over the past twenty years, the number of members of Germany’s Roman Catholic Church has fallen from 28.3 million to 24.6 million or 30.2 percent of the country’s population in 2010, the data showed.

The numbers are easily tracked because members pay a church tax unless they formally leave the congregation — the same reason the declining membership has led to increasing budget shortfalls for the church.

The new figures come ahead of a planned visit by Bavarian-born Pope Benedict XVI on Sept 22-25, when he is scheduled to visit the cities of Freiburg, Erfurt and Berlin where he will deliver a speech to German parliament.

Germans are not required to say why they want to strike their church membership, but many have blamed the reports of sexual and physical abuse of hundreds of children by clergy that surfaced last year.

The diocese that recorded the highest member loss last year was Munich and Freising — the pope’s former diocese, which had been hard-hit by the abuse scandal — where 21,600 people alone left the church.

The Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, late last year begged forgiveness for “everything those working for the church have done” as he presented a report that showed more-than 250 priests and religion teachers sexually or physically abused children in the diocese over the past decades.

“We want to learn from our bad mistakes and misconduct of the past,” Marx then vowed.

In its response to the abuse scandal, Germany’s Bishops Conference has publicly and repeatedly showed remorse, changed the relevant guidelines for the clergy and offered up to euro5,000 ($6,900) compensation to victims of abuse by clergy or church officials while they were minors, but it gave no total number of victims.

The overall number of German faithful in 2010 fell by a total of 258,000 as deaths and people turning away from the church heavily outnumbered baptisms, which reached a record low of 170,000.

Austria, which taxes church members in a way similar to those in Germany also saw a significant drop in the number of departures. Figures published by the Austrian Bishop’s Conference earlier this year said 87,000 Austrian Catholics left in 2010, a 64 percent increase over the 53,000 who formally had their names struck from church registries in 2009.

___

Melissa Eddy in Berlin contributed to this report.

German priest arrested, accused of child abuse: police


Catholic pedophile priests continue being exposed, even though anyone with half a brain will realize that those who are caught are only the tip of the iceberg, as the Catholic Church is saturated with sexual deviants. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

ReutersBy Annika Breidthardt | Reuters – Sun, Jul 17, 2011

 BERLIN (Reuters) – A German Catholic priest has been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing a child, police said Sunday.

“The accused priest has admitted the allegations made against him in police questioning,” police in the city of Braunschweig said on their website.

The news comes days after the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, one of the countries worst affected in a series of abuse scandals in Europe last year, said it would open its files to independent investigators, allowing a search as far back as 1945.

Police arrested the priest after the alleged victim’s mother pressed charges, Der Spiegel magazine said on its website.

The alleged abuse took place several years ago and investigations had been running since early July. Police moved forward the arrest — initially planned for next week — as the priest was about to go on a trip with minors organised by the church, according to the magazine.

The prosecutor’s office was not immediately available for comment.

Some 180,000 Germans left the Catholic Church in 2010, a 40 percent jump over the previous year, as allegations priests sexually abused children for decades shook the faith, according to a study published in April.

The number of people quitting the Church surpassed the total of those leaving main Protestant churches for the first time in postwar Germany, the study by the magazine Christ & Welt said.

German-born Pope Benedict is due to visit his homeland in September to deliver a speech to parliament in Berlin and tour Erfurt in eastern Germany and Freiburg in the southwest.

(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

PETA urges pope to say no to leather in popemobile


People really are stupid beyond belief. There are millions upon millions of cars fabricated worldwide each and every year with leather interior. Is it really going to make a difference whether or not the Pope’s “pope-mobile” is equipped with leather? My goodness, these idiots might as well play with a stick in the mud if they have that much time on their hands. And by the way, how is it that cows suffer by having their skin removed? They’re not skinned alive. The skin is removed after they’ve been slaughtered.

I wonder how many of these assholes are vegetarians? I’d be willing to bet that not many of them are. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

ROME – An animal rights group has urged Pope Benedict XVI to “truly go green” and insist that the next popemobile is made without leather.

PETA said it has written to the pope with the request following the Vatican’s confirmation Wednesday that Germany’s Mercedes-Benz auto company is making a study of a hybrid, energy-saving popemobile. The car would replace the current Mercedes vehicle used when the pope travels abroad.

PETA spokeswoman Ashley Gonzalez says leather production is not only “toxic to the environment, it’s also hell for cows.”

The letter, which is dated June, 22 and also sent to The Associated Press, said PETA counts many Catholics among its members and suggested that a leather-free car could “help the environment and prevent animal suffering.”

The Vatican press office said Friday it hadn’t seen the letter and couldn’t comment.

Benedict has made conserving resources an important concern of his papacy. Vatican officials say a green popemobile would be a sign of his efforts to promote sustainable energy and take care of the planet.

When he is outside the Vatican, Benedict usually rides in a modified white Mercedes-Benz outfitted with bulletproof windows. It has room for two passengers in addition to the pope, who sits on an elevated chair to wave to crowds.

Through the years, a number of different models have been donated to the Vatican.

Popemobile ‘to become green machine': report


How utterly ridiculous; riding around on display like a circus freak. Oh well, we are talking about the Pope and Catholic Church, why be surprised? TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Sat Jun 18, 8:01 am ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Mercedes-Benz is making a greener hybrid Popemobile for Benedict XVI, the Wirtschaftswoche weekly paper said Saturday.

However a Vatican spokesman denied the paper’s prediction that it should be ready for Benedict’s visit to his native Germany in September.

According to the report, the new Popemobile will be based on the four-wheel drive M Class Mercedes with a hybrid electric-petrol motor.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery will allow it to drive 30 kilometres (16 miles) without any polluting emissions.

The pope would not be allowed to use a purely electric-driven car as the Popemobile must have the capacity to take off swiftly in case of emergency, the paper said.

A Mercedes-Benz spokesman said the group could give no details on private clients “for reasons of confidentiality”.

Marcedes has provided the special cars to successive popes since the 1980s, the special high-sized, reinforced glass design allowing for maximum viewing with high levels of security.

Last December, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the governorate of Vatican City State, suggested Pope Benedict was “prepared to use an electric Popemobile,” as long as it was efficient and reliable.

Benedict XVI, sometimes labelled “the green pope” in the Italian press, has emphasised the defence of “God’s works” and therefore the need to protect the environment.

Vatican spokesman Federicoo Lombardi told AFP Saturday that while the project for new car was under development it was not yet finalised and the vehicle would not be ready before the end of the year.

German Catholics call for reform, many leaving


This is a good sign; that people are leaving the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, with approximately 1 billion Catholics around the world, not nearly enough people are seeing this organization for what it really is, and moving on. Only time will tell if the trend continues. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By MELISSA EDDY, Associated Press 

AUGSBURG, Germany – A year after a widespread sex scandal rocked Roman Catholics in Pope Benedict XVI’s homeland, German intellectuals and faithful alike are turning their backs on the church, calling for change or simply leaving the congregation.

German theologians and others have aired their discontent in a series of petitions to church leaders calling for changes including more transparency, an end to celibacy, and women’s ordination.

“After their initial horror, many responsible Christians, women and men, in ministry and outside of ministry, have come to realize that deep-reaching reforms are necessary,” wrote leading German theologians in a petition to the nation’s highest Catholic officials.

Germany has long been a cradle of religious thought and agitation for reform, stemming from Martin Luther in the 1500s up to today’s outspoken Swiss-born Vatican critic, Hans Kung. The pope himself, before moving to Rome, taught theology at German universities.

The Vatican has not responded to the petitions, but the German Bishops Conference sought to address the issue in March by announcing a series of platforms for dialogue “aimed at giving our church in Germany a theological profile and sense of cohesion in this new century.”

Many would welcome a signal from the pope that he supports such discussion, but there are no exchanges with parishioners or lay people scheduled during his Sept. 22-25 visit to Berlin and eastern Germany.

Gerhard Kruip, a theology professor at Mainz University who helped write the petition from the theologians does not expect that to happen.

“The bishops will not want to confront the pope with the problems facing Germany’s church,” Kruip said.

There are nearly 25 million Catholics in Germany, but numbers gathered by The Associated Press indicate a spike in people leaving the congregation last year as allegations of sexual and physical abuse of hundreds of children by clergy surfaced.

“These major abuse cases need to be taken into account by church leaders,” said Rev. Max Stetter, a priest in the Augsburg diocese who formed a group calling for change.

While tens of thousands of Germans formally “quit” the church every year, 2010 saw a jump in the number of walkouts. German authorities easily track the numbers, because members pay a church tax, unless they formally leave the congregation.

Official numbers from the seven archbishoprics and 20 dioceses have not yet been released, but data acquired by AP show an increase ranging from 19 percent in Magdeburg, to more than 60 percent in diocese of Passau and Wuerzburg in the pope’s homeland.

Augsburg, also in Bavaria, was among those hardest hit. Some 12,065 Catholics resigning their membership last year, compared with 7,000 in 2009, the diocese said. Fearing such a bleeding of the faithful, Stetter joined hundreds of other priests and lay people to appeal to their bishop to change.

“There is the impression that a page has been turned and things are going on, without anyone looking into the cause of the scandals and finding new structures to avoid such things,” Stetter said.

Austria, which also taxes church members in a way similar to those in Germany also saw a significant drop in the number of departures. Figures published by the Austrian Bishop’s Conference said 87,000 Austrian Catholics left in 2010 — a 64 percent increase over the 53,000 who formally had their names struck from church registries in 2009.

The Catholic church in the pope’s homeland forms the backbone of everyday life, and despite the discontent, the decision to leave does not come easily to its members.

Margit Becker, who lives on the outskirts of Augsburg with her husband and two children, is one of thousands of German Catholics who feels disconnected from and disillusioned by the church. She stopped attending services months ago, but has not yet brought herself to formally resign.

“We were really born into the church and socialized in the church,” Becker said of herself and her husband. “Our parents would have a heart attack if we were to leave the church. It is unthinkable.”

Becker, in her early 50s, said her generation followed the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s — in which the pope, then Joseph Ratzinger, took part. The council changed everything from the role of lay people to the direction priests face while celebrating Mass and inspired a young generation with hope for a more open church.

Yet Benedict has revived some traditions and prayers that had been largely abandoned since Vatican II, disappointing many in his homeland.

“The church no longer speaks to the people. I don’t feel that it speaks to me, I don’t feel comfortable with these traditions that date back centuries,” said an administrator who works in the Augsburg dioceses, but refused to give his name for fear that he would be fired for criticizing the church.

Nevertheless, theologian Kruip believes the call for dialogue from the Bishops Conference shows that the discontent is being heard, and taken seriously. He concedes that change will take time, but will come.

“We wouldn’t have done this if we were not convinced that we had a real chance,” Kruip said.

Pope visits Venice, urges welcome for immigrants


So much to do about nothing. Just a man wearing a dress and his entourage. A small group of men who collectively, along with their attorneys and accountants, operate one of if not the richest organization on the planet. When one considers all of the land, the buildings, the priceless art, the gold, etc. that the Catholic Church possesses, it may very well be the wealthiest and most profitable enterprise on Earth; and people continue to throw money at it…

What a scam! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By COLLEEN BARRY, Associated Press

VENICE, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI urged Italy on Sunday to welcome immigrants fleeing to its shores, invoking the historic role of Venice and the once influential church in nearby Aquileia as a cultural bridges during his two-day visit to northern Italy.

“The churches created by Aquileia are called today to renew that ancient spiritual unity, in particular in light of the phenomenon of immigration and the new geopolitical circumstances,” Benedict said during his homily to more than 300,000 worshippers gathered in a park on the Venetian mainland.

Italy has been struggling to cope with thousands of illegal migrants that have reached its shores in recent months often in rickety boats as they flee unrest spreading through northern Africa. On Sunday, about 400 were rescued when their boat crashed against rocks at the port of Lampedusa, Italy’s closest port.

The pope’s message of tolerance for immigrants appeared especially pointed as the visit takes place in the region of Veneto, one of the strongholds of the anti-immigration Northern League, although Venice itself has long been run by center-left administrations.

The open-air Mass was the spiritual highlight of Benedict’s two-day visit, the first by a pope to Venice since his predecessor John Paul II plied the canals in a gondola styled for Venice’s long-ago rulers.

Later Sunday, Benedict was to board the same gondola to cross the Grand Canal to Our Lady of Good Health Basilica, where he will meet with cultural, economic and political leaders.

During the Mass, Benedict spoke from beneath a huge dome constructed in the likeness of St. Mark’s Basilica, replete with images of its golden mosaics of saints printed on cloth. Gold-laced crystal chalices handcrafted by glassblowers of the Venetian island of Murano were used during the service.

Benedict greeted worshippers from his popemobile as he arrived for Mass, stopping briefly to kiss a swaddled infant who was passed to him from the crowd.

His visit started Saturday in Aquileia, a former Roman port city where the Patriarchal Basilica was erected during the Middle Ages. Aquileia became one of the most influential dioceses of the era, establishing churches from present-day Hungary to Germany and northwestern Italy and uniting Latin culture with Germanic and Slavic peoples.

From Aquileia, Benedict traveled to St. Mark’s Square, the heart of Venice, a city which for ages was the cultural crossroads between the East and West thanks to its strong merchant class. He was greeted by around 25,000 well-wishers as he toured the arcade-lined square in an electric vehicle.

Benedict returned after Sunday Mass to Venice’s historic center for lunch, followed by an assembly of bishops at St. Mark’s Basilica.

The visit was held under tight security, with helicopters flying overhead during the Mass and the pope flanked by his personal security corps. Most traffic in the area of the Mass was blocked, but worshippers were not required to go through metal detectors or have their bags checked as they streamed into the park.

In response to The Great One’s recent blogs on Muslim veils and headscarves.


GhostRider rides through:    

Oh Great One…Only after GhostRider consciousness continues streaming thru humanity to the, “critical mass” point, will all of humanity “get it.”

I can clearly see that in regards to this whole “ban the Muslim veil” sham of a mockery, there are two different male opinions. The male that tells the female that, “she must wear it” and the male that tells the female that, “she can’t wear it.”

About the males: looking at it psychologically, the profile of those two types of males is identical in that they are both assholes – that’s not a psychological observation, that’s a GhostRider observation – and both are generally oppressive to the female gender – that one is a psychological observation,

Females should wear veils, niqabs, burqas, hot pants, mini shirts, tube tops, clown outfits, Kotex napkins or tampons, latex, leather, corsets, Victorian outfits, Catholic school uniforms, or whatever else their beautiful little consciousnesses chooses – and not wear any of those if they choose not to. This cycle of male oppression over the female, must, and will, end, and to get to that point, this is yet another point that human consciousness will travel through – nothing more, nothing less.

As for calling Muslim women stubborn idiots and dumb in your previous posts of the same subject matter, all citizens living in a Democracy have the freedom to protest whatever they choose to. About the United States being the last country to follow idiot politicians with this ban is really non-sequiter as the following is the reality:

BELGIUM: The parliament passed a measure banning veils in 2010 but it has languished

BRITAIN: The issue of full-body veils has largely faded from the spotlight since then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair called it a “mark of separation” in 2006.

ITALY: Representatives in all communities say the ban law is rarely applied in the case of women wearing veils.

NETHERLANDS: The administration considered but abandoned legislation in 2006 for a total ban on Muslim veils, after lawyers said it would likely be unconstitutional

TURKEY: A similar ban for university students was recently relaxed.

SPAIN: There have been a handful of incidents involving schoolgirls wearing heads carves but they are not banned under any legislation.

AUSTRIA: There are no laws banning headscarves but Muslim community officials say women are at a disadvantage professionally if they choose to wear one.

Even in France where the latest media frenzy on the subject started, the 61 people that police arrested on Saturday, were arrested for attempting to hold an outlawed Paris protest against the pending ban – not for wearing them. And furthermore, police complained that the law will be a challenge to enforce: “The law will be infinitely difficult to apply, and it will be infinitely rarely applied.” Emmanuel Roux, the police union SCPN, said on France-Inter radio.

At least in France, all this recent activity on the banning of the Halloween masks has nothing to do with the issue; it’s just politics and a politician’s way of getting media exposure. In less than 2 years when we start the 2012 presidential races, you will see our politicians in the U.S. of A. bringing up abortion and a barrel of other issues to get media exposure and votes from the like-minded.

And finally, Oh Great One, as for another one of your comments: “There are always stubborn idiots who want to break the law, especially when they’re breaking laws of a foreign nation.” Upon research you’ll find out that by definition, those arrested were “activists,” not stupid idiots as you refer them, and all those who were arrested were not only French citizens, they did not break any law. In this case of civil disobedience, the women acted no differently than the great, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, an American citizen of African-American, Cherokee-Creek, and Scots-Irish ancestry whom the U.S. Congress called “the first lady of civil rights,” and “the mother of the freedom movement.” On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake’s order to comply with a law that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Parks’ individual action of civil disobedience created impact by sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The laws created by a government to oppress people, should be bucked and broken until those laws disappear.

As always, GhostRider says: You Go Girls. http://ghostriderandfriends.wordpress.com/ghostrider-friends-come-to-life/

BLOG BONUS: As a treat to the readers, I invite you to screen this movie with me… GhostRider&Friends© is now undergoing negotiations with Esoteric Agenda to bring the GhostRider Consciousness to you, on a film titled BITTERSWEET DEMENTIA.

Laws on Muslim veils and headscarves


Following are the views of several countries regarding the use of face veils (burqas/niqabs). My guess is that the United States will probably be the last of these countries to prevent the use of this demeaning and ridiculous costume worn by indoctrinated Muslim women slaves. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By The Associated Press

Here is a look at legislation and debate about face-covering Muslim veils and Muslim headscarves in various countries:

• FRANCE: France on Monday became the first country to enact a law designed to forbid face-covering veils such as the niqab or burqa anywhere in public. Violators risk fines or citizenship classes. A 2004 law bans Muslim headscarves and other “ostentatious” religious symbols from classrooms.

• BELGIUM: The parliament passed a measure banning veils in 2010 but it has languished since the country has struggled to form a new government for the past several months. The mayor of Maaseik banned face-covering veils in 2004.

• BRITAIN: The issue of full-body veils has largely faded from the spotlight since then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair called it a “mark of separation” in 2006. The coverings are more visible on the streets of London than many other European cities.

• ITALY: Has a law requiring people to keep their faces visible in public, dating to Italy’s crackdown on domestic terrorism decades ago. Representatives of Italy’s Muslim community say it’s rarely applied in the case of women wearing veils.

• NETHERLANDS: The coalition government installed last year said it is aiming to ban the burqa, but has yet to present any concrete plans or draft legislation. A previous administration considered but abandoned legislation in 2006 for a total ban on Muslim veils, after lawyers said it would likely be unconstitutional.

• UNITED STATES: There are currently no laws banning veils or headscarves in the U.S. There is a move in some states to ban Sharia law, though these attempts have not succeeded so far. The sponsor of such a bill in Oklahoma wanted to prohibit women from wearing headscarves in driver’s license photos. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2010 banned veils that obscure the face for security reasons, but later changed it to accommodate Muslim women.

• TURKEY: Islamic-style headscarves and full robes are banned in schools and in government offices. A similar ban for university students was recently relaxed.

• EGYPT: Egypt allows some institutions to pass partial bans on wearing the face veil where necessary, like in the armed forces. Universities have attempted to impose rules that ban women wearing the face veil during exams — a notch up from a widely accepted procedure that demands women wearing the face veil reveal their face to a female official to confirm their identity before beginning exams. At least one institution, Cairo University, has banned one woman from teaching students while wearing a face veil.

• TUNISIA: Headscarves and full veils are banned from public buildings and schools. After the longtime president was ousted in a popular revolt this year, some Islamist protesters have demanded that the rules be relaxed.

• SYRIA: Syrian President Bashar Assad last week reversed a decision that bans teachers from wearing the niqab, the full Islamic veil that reveals only a woman’s eyes. The move is seen an attempt to appease religious conservatives in the Sunni majority as Assad faces down a popular uprising challenging his authoritarian rule. The government had banned the veil in July 2010.

• GERMANY: Several states in the country, which has a large Muslim immigrant community, have banned teachers from wearing headscarves in public schools. The state of Hesse decided in February to bar public employees from wearing face-covering burqas at work.

• SWITZERLAND: Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said in 2009 the government could “study a possible ban” of face-covering veils if more Muslim women begin wearing them. She said they make her feel “uncomfortable.”

• SPAIN: Several Spanish towns have begun processes to prohibit the use of face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings but not in the street. There have been a handful of incidents involving schoolgirls wearing headscarves but they are not banned under any legislation.

• AUSTRIA: There are no laws banning headscarves but Muslim community officials say women are at a disadvantage professionally if they choose to wear one. The far-right Freedom Party has slammed headscarves and face-covering veils saying they “promote the oppression of women” and last summer called for a referendum on the issue.

German Catholics leave in droves: report


Hopefully this downward spiral in the number of Catholic “faithful” will continue. Maybe people are finally beginning to see the Roman Catholic Church for what it really is; a Mob which sells religion to the masses in return for money and power. And as if this wasn’t enough, the Catholic Church is saturated with misfits and sexual deviants, predators who throughout the ages have destroyed countless lives by sexually abusing the young and helpless.

The world will be a better place when this centuries-old establishment ceases to exist, should that day ever come. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Thu Apr 7, 12:03 pm ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Paedophile priest scandals in Germany contributed to a 40-percent rise in the number of Catholics leaving the Church last year, a report said Thursday, five months before a visit by the pope.

Based on figures from 24 out of Germany’s 27 dioceses, 180,000 Catholics terminated their membership, more than 50,000 more than in 2009, the Die Zeit weekly’s religious supplement Christ und Welt said.

“The rise … is partly due to a loss in trust suffered by the Church, particularly because of the abuse cases,” Cologne’s vicar general Dominik Schwaderlapp told the paper.

“This is painful for us because obviously lots of people have chosen to cancel their Church membership as a personal protest and to show their horror at this scandal.”

For the first time in post-war Germany, the Protestant Church suffered a smaller drop in members — just under 150,000 — than the Catholic Church, the paper added.

Germans normally pay a Church tithe as part of their income tax but they may opt out if they relinquish their membership.

Since early 2010 and in common with other countries, Germany has been hit by revelations that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in institutions, all but a handful run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church has said it failed to investigate properly claims of abuse and that in some cases there was a cover-up, with paedophile priests simply moved elsewhere instead of being disciplined and reported to the police.

It has also faced accusations of foot-dragging on reparations for victims, most of whom suffered their abuse several decades ago, too long ago for criminal charges to be brought.

Pope Benedict XVI is due to visit his native Germany from September 22 to 25, 60 years after he was ordained as a priest, in his first state trip since his election as pontiff became a great source in national pride in 2005.

Vatican launches public dialogue with atheists


I find there are two distinct views I have when I hear or read about people discussing God; one is that of amusement and the other is repulsion. The former is generally the case, as I consider it really entertaining when people talk about God, as if they knew what they were talking about; which they don’t. The word God has no true meaning, as it stands for something which no one can accurately define. One could replace the word God with the word Martians, Extra-Terrestrials, Moon-People, etc. and it would all be the same. In short, it is a waste of words to talk about God and what he knows and what he does. No man knows that God does anything, that God knows anything, or that there is a God.

My feeling of repulsion comes to the forefront when I hear or read about the atrocities that man has inflicted upon man as a result of religious dogma. When I read about Muslim extremists blowing themselves up or the hatred that Palestinians and Jews harbor toward one another, for no other reason than their religious views and claims over so-called “holy lands.” When I realize the surrender of reason and lack of common sense that millions of people possess; those who call themselves evangelical Christians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists and followers of other such fanatical ridiculous tenets. Yet maybe most of all I feel repulsed with the Roman Catholic Church and its centuries-old reign over the masses in Europe; its efforts to repress scientific progress; its witch-hunts; its Inquisitions; its pedophile priests and abusive nuns; its lust for wealth and power and its hypocrisy.

Personally, I would welcome a dialogue with Vatican leaders, although clearly they wouldn’t be very pleased with what I would have to say… TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor Thu Mar 24, 7:01 pm ET

PARIS (Reuters) – The Vatican launched a series of public dialogues with non-believers Thursday, choosing leading intellectual institutions in Paris to present its belief that modern societies must speak more openly about God.

The decision to start the series in France, where strong secularism has pushed faith to the fringes of the public sphere, reflected Pope Benedict’s goal of bringing religious questions back into the mainstream of civic debates.

The dialogues, called “Courtyard of the Gentiles” after the part of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem where Jews and non-Jews met, will continue in at least 16 cities in Europe and North America over the next two years.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s culture minister, told participants at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the dialogue was meant not to confront believers and atheists but to seek common ground.

Rather it was “an invitation to non-believers … to start a voyage with believers through the desert,” he said.

The meeting was due to continue Friday with sessions at the Sorbonne university and the Institut de France, home of the prestigious Academie Francaise.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION

Pope Benedict, who recently launched another Vatican drive to revitalise the faith in traditionally Catholic countries, proposed these meetings with non-believers in 2009.

“We must be concerned that human beings do not set aside the question of God, but rather see it as an essential question for their lives,” he said in a speech to the Vatican hierarchy.

“We must make sure that they are open to this question and to the yearning concealed within it.” Addressing the UNESCO meeting, former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato said a so-called honor killing in his country, in which a Pakistani murdered his daughter for behaving as freely as Italian youths, presented a challenge to open democracies that believers and atheists had to think about.

“Democratic societies are founded on the hypothesis that everyone can differentiate between just and unjust, good and evil, and everyone can find the limits” he said. “If one is no longer conscious of this, then democracy doesn’t work anymore.”

Although he said Christianity offered a moral compass, Amato did not present it as the only way to counter the problems challenging affluent liberal societies.

Even Ravasi, despite his Roman collar, did not present his views as a sermon for more Catholicism. Instead of the Gospels, he quoted secular thinkers such as the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Argentinian novelist Jorge Luis Borges.

The discussions are due to end Friday evening with a youth rally outside Notre Dame Cathedral highlighted by a video address by the pope from Rome.

Further dialogue meetings are planned in Italy, Albania, Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Spain, Russia and the United States.

Necropsy being performed on celebrity polar bear


It’s incredible how strong the bond is between humans and animals. And naturally, we feel more of an attachment to mammals, our own kind, than to all others.

Few animals are as cute as a bear cub. TGO

Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press

BERLIN – Experts are performing a necropsy on Berlin zoo’s celebrity polar bear Knut, who died suddenly over the weekend.

The four-year-old polar bear died Saturday afternoon in front of visitors, turning around several times and then dropping to the ground, and falling into the water in his enclosure.

Polar bears usually live 15 to 20 years in the wild, and even longer in captivity, and the zoo is hoping the investigation Monday may help clarify what happened.

Meanwhile, the zoo is also setting up a special account to accept donations on Knut’s behalf, which will be used for polar bear research and the preservation of their habitat.

Knut was rejected by his mother at birth and raised by a keeper. He went on to appear on magazine covers, in a film and on mountains of merchandise.

 

Germany: Islamism behind attack on US forces


It would be of no surprise if indeed it is determined that Muslims were behind this attack on American troops. These religious radicals are committed to murdering innocent people, even at the expense of their own lives. This is what makes them especially dangerous. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By DAVID RISING and MELISSA EDDY, Associated Press David Rising And Melissa Eddy, Associated Press

BERLIN – The attack on a busload of U.S. Air Force troops at Frankfurt airport that killed two is being investigated as a possible act of Islamic terrorism, German federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Two airmen were also wounded late Wednesday when a man identified as a 21-year-old ethnic Albanian from Kosovo fired on the servicemen at close range.

“The suspect is accused of killing two U.S. military personnel and seriously injuring two others,” federal prosecutors said in a statement. “Given the circumstances, there is a suspicion that the act was motivated by Islamism.”

Federal prosecutors said they had taken over the investigation of the Wednesday afternoon shooting, and are working on conjunction with Frankfurt and federal police, as well as American authorities.

The suspect was taken into custody immediately after the shooting and is to appear later Thursday in federal court.

Frankfurt police spokesman Juergen Linker told the DAPD news agency that one airman remained in critical condition after being shot in the head. The other wounded airman was not in life-threatening condition, Linker said. Both men were being treated at the Frankfurt University clinic. None of the victims have yet been identified.

The attacker’s family in northern Kosovo identified him as Arid Uka, whose family has been living in Germany for 40 years. His uncle, Rexhep Uka, said the young man worked at Frankfurt airport and was a devout Muslim.

Police said the attacker had an altercation with U.S. military personnel in front of a bus outside the airport’s Terminal 2. They said the man started shooting, then boarded the bus briefly and was apprehended by police when he tried to escape.

The airmen were based in Britain, a U.S. Air Force spokesman for the Lakenheath airfield in eastern England said. They were bound to Ramstein Air Base from where they were to have been deployed to support an overseas operation, the U.S. military said, without elaborating.

The U.S. has some 50,000 troops stationed in Germany. It operates several major facilities in the Frankfurt region, including the Ramstein Air Base, which is often used as a logistical hub for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Washington, President Barack Obama promised to “spare no effort” in investigating the slayings.

“I’m saddened and I’m outraged by this attack,” he said.

Married German ordained as Catholic priest


This tells me that the Roman Catholic Church is desperately in need of priests and is further reaching out to re-gain some of the popularity lost as a result of the sex abuse scandal. The fact that the Lutheran convert is German may also have been a factor, as Pope Benedict XVI, whose real name is Joseph Ratzinger, is a German. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press Kirsten Grieshaber, Associated Press

BERLIN – In a rare move that needed the pope’s approval, a Lutheran convert was ordained Tuesday as a Catholic priest in Germany and is being allowed to remain married to his wife — who has already become a nun.

Harm Klueting, 61, was ordained by Archbishop Joachim Cardinal Meisner in a private ceremony at the city’s seminary, the Cologne archdiocese said.

Pope Benedict XVI gave Klueting a special permission to remain married to his wife Edeltraut Klueting, who became a Catholic Carmelite nun in 2004.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, said the exception is rare but there have been similar cases.

“It doesn’t happen every day,” he said.

Klueting and his wife were Lutherans when they married in 1977 and both served as Lutheran clerics before converting to Catholicism several years ago. They have two grown children.

The Cologne archdiocese said in a statement that the couple would not have to take the traditional vow of celibacy as long as they remain married — a highly unusual move since celibacy is normally a key requirement for Catholic priests.

Klueting and his family could not be reached for comment, and it was not clear whether they still lived together as a couple.

Lombardi said he didn’t have any specific information about the Kluetings, including what the pope said about the case.

Klueting is a professor for historical theology at the University of Cologne and teaches Catholic theology at Fribourg University in Switzerland. From now on, he also will provide services as a spiritual counselor for university students.

The archdiocese published pictures of the ordination ceremony showing Klueting with short gray hair and a beard, wearing a simple white priest vestment as he received his blessings from Meisner, who was wearing a festive yellow embroidered robe and a golden cardinal’s hat.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII first allowed clergymen who had converted to Catholicism to remain married, the Cologne diocese said in its statement. However, each case has to be approved by the pope himself, the statement said, adding that in the past married priests also had been ordained in the German cities of Hamburg and Regensburg.

Last month, three former Anglican bishops were ordained as Catholic priests in London, becoming the first ex-bishops to take advantage of a new Vatican system designed to make it easier for Anglicans to embrace Roman Catholicism.

___

Frances D’Emilio contributed to this report from Rome.

German accused of abusing children back in court


Sexual offenders such as the man described in this article should be thrown into a pit of rattlesnakes; yet even this is too merciful considering the nature of his crimes. TGO

Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press

KOBLENZ, Germany – A 48-year-old man who admits fathering eight children with his stepdaughter is back in court facing hundreds of counts of sexual abuse.

Detlef S.’s stepson Bjoern B is scheduled to take the stand Wednesday in the second day of his trial on 350 counts of sexual abuse. He is alleged to have assaulted his daughter, stepdaughter and stepson for more than 20 years. He also faces 35 other counts for allegedly forcing the two girls to have sex with other men for money.

As the trial opened Tuesday the man, whose full name was not given in accordance with German privacy laws, acknowledged fathering the children — one of whom died in infancy — with his stepdaughter. But his attorney says he does not admit to the charges against him.

His stepdaughter testified in a closed session Tuesday.

German Catholics urge reforms as papal visit nears


The people who run the Roman Catholic Church are mainly old farts who are completely out of touch with the current world and want to maintain traditional “thinking.” More than likely, a fairly substantial percentage of them are homosexuals who for obvious reasons haven’t come out of the closet. Therefore they want to maintain the status quo and avoid shaking things up. They live a very comfortable life and want to keep it that way. Ordaining women, married men, etc. will only complicate things and they don’t want complications. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) – Over 140 Roman Catholic theologians in Germany have urged the church to embrace far-reaching reforms to end priestly celibacy, ordain women, welcome same-sex couples and let lay people help pick their bishops.

The appeal, the second reform call in two weeks, came as the German church is struggling to overcome a wave of clerical sex abuse scandals and prepare for Pope Benedict’s visit to his German homeland in September.

The proposals reflect liberal positions in deep disfavor at the Vatican. While they have no hope of being adopted, the fact that 144 theologians backed them meant Benedict’s third trip to Germany since his 2005 election could be his most difficult.

A group of prominent Catholic politicians urged the bishops last month to ordain older married men in response to the worsening shortage of priests.

“The deep crisis of our church demands that we address problems that at first glance are not directly related to the abuse scandal and its decades-long cover-up,” the latest appeal said.

Replying to the appeal, the bishops’ conference said it would discuss the proposals at a meeting in mid-March.

PARISHES DYING

The appeal said the priest shortage meant many parishes without resident clerics were slowly dying and the remaining priests had so much to do they were increasingly “burned out.”

The German bishops estimate two-thirds of all parishes will not have their own priest by 2020 and have been merging parishes to spread the work among the dwindling number of clerics.

Supporters of a married priesthood caused a stir late last month when they unearthed a 1970 appeal to ordain older married men signed by nine German theologians including the then Father Joseph Ratzinger, the present pope.

Ratzinger turned away from his youthful liberal views in the 1970s, becoming a leading conservative theologian. Vatican Radio said the report of his signature on the 40-year-old appeal was “a sensationalist report” that was “not news.”

The latest appeal said the scandal-hit church needed a new start to win back Catholics who had left in protest last year.

“The church needs married priests and women in church ministry,” it said. Catholicism should also not “shut out people who live in love, loyalty and mutual support as same-sex couples or remarried divorced people.”

It criticised Benedict’s stress on bringing back older practices in Catholic worship, saying “the liturgy must not be frozen in traditionalism.”

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

Opponents and West press Mubarak after 6 killed


I find it amazing that in today’s world there are still leaders who remain in power for decades. The only other country where a dictator has ruled for this length of time (that I’m aware of) is Cuba, where Fidel Castro ruled from 1959 through 2006; only to turn over the reigns to his brother Raul after falling ill. The communist brothers have been in power on this Caribbean island for 52 years – amazing! This tells me one thing: as a people, Cubans have no testicles. The same cannot be said about the Egyptians, who obviously have had enough of their corrupt leader. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Jonathan Wright and Marwa Awad Jonathan Wright And Marwa Awad

CAIRO (Reuters) – Gunmen fired on anti-government protesters in Cairo, where fighting killed six and wounded over 800 and prompted new calls on Thursday from Western powers for President Hosni Mubarak to start handing over power immediately.

Thousands of angry young demonstrators on Tahrir Square said those who opened fire on them overnight were secret policemen. They insisted their resolve had only hardened. Scornful of Mubarak’s pledge on Tuesday to step down, but only in September, they vowed to stand firm until the 82-year-old leader is gone.

Opposition leaders including the liberal figurehead Mohamed ElBaradei and the mass Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood rejected a call to talks from Mubarak’s new prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq. Only the president’s departure and an end to violence would bring them to negotiations, they told Reuters.

They want free elections to tackle corruption and political repression which they blame for growing economic hardships similar to those frustrating people across the Arab world.

“One way or another we will bring Mubarak down,” protesters chanted in the morning, amid rubble and burned out cars. “We will not give up, we will not sell out,” others shouted.

Egypt’s army and the Western powers which have supported it and Mubarak as bulwarks against radical Islam have key roles to play, as the president’s supporters seek to rally those Egyptians with much to lose from a collapse of the old order.

ARMY ROLE

Many analysts see the army seeking to preserve its own 60-year-old position at the heart of secular Egyptian society by engineering a smooth removal of Mubarak, a former air force commander. On Monday, it called protesters’ demands legitimate and pledged not to open fire, giving heart to the opposition.

But on Wednesday, troops stood by as Mubarak loyalists charged Tahrir Square on horseback and camels, lashing out at civilians. After dark, several demonstrators were shot dead.

Only on Thursday morning did soldiers set up a clear buffer zone around the square to separate the factions. But that did not prevent new clashes, as groups pelted each other with rocks.

Soldiers with a tank pushed back Mubarak supporters.

The United States, which gives Egypt’s army some $1.3 billion a year, has made clear it wants Mubarak out, but has shied away from fully backing the opposition demands for him to leave the presidency immediately. The violence, however, has given fuel to international impatience with their Arab ally.

“This process of transition must start now,” the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain said in a statement.

They echoed the message U.S. President Barack Obama said he gave Mubarak in a phone call on Tuesday.

The European Union’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said her team had been calling Egypt overnight urging the army to protect the demonstrators and to give access for ambulances.

A senior U.S. official said “somebody loyal to Mubarak has unleashed these guys to try to intimidate the protesters.”

An Egyptian government spokesman called it a “fiction” to accuse ministers of orchestrating the violence. Demonstrators said over 100 attackers they seized were carrying documents associating them with the police or with Mubarak’s ruling party.

DEFIANCE

“What happened yesterday made us more determined to remove President Mubarak,” protest movement Kefaya, or Enough, said.

“There will be no negotiations with any member of Mubarak’s regime after what happened yesterday and what is still happening in Tahrir Square.”

In a statement on Al Jazeera, the Brotherhood said: “We demand that this regime is overthrown and we demand the formation of a national unity government for all the factions.”

Support for a new order is far from unanimous, however.

Many of the 80 million Egyptians have much to lose from change, whether businesspeople enjoying lucrative concessions in the mixed economy or those employed by the extensive apparatus of the state and its security forces. An even greater number is losing patience with unrest after 10 days of dislocation.

“I just want to see security back on the streets so that I can go on with my life,” said Amira Hassan, 55, Cairo teacher. “It makes no difference to me whether Mubarak stays or leaves.”

The protesters in Tahrir Square, reduced largely to a youthful hard core including secular middle class graduates and mostly poorer activists from the Muslim Brotherhood, have been inspired by the example of Tunisia, where veteran strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee last month.

But many other Egyptians have more respect for Mubarak and seem willing to let him depart more gracefully in due course.

Many fear anarchy. The secular-minded share concerns in the West, and in Israel, about the Muslim Brotherhood taking over.

WESTERN CONCERNS

Egypt, the most populous Arab state, is one of the few to have made peace with Israel, whose prime minister has warned that revolution in Cairo could create an Iranian-style theocracy.

Egyptian Health Minister Ahmed Samih Farid told state television six people had died and 836 were wounded in fighting which first erupted on Wednesday. He said most of the casualties were due to stone throwing and attacks with metal rods and sticks.

Hundreds of those protesting in the square wore bandages and other signs of being hurt. Mohamed al-Samadi, a doctor who had been treating people complained the troops were not helping.

“When we come here, they search us for weapons, and then they let armed thugs come and attack us,” he said. “We refuse to go. We can’t let Mubarak stay eight months.”

An estimated 150 people have been killed so far and there have been protests across the country. United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said up to 300 people may have died.

Oil prices have climbed on fears the unrest could spread to other authoritarian Arab states including oil giant Saudi Arabia or interfere with oil supplies from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal.

Brent crude surpassed $103 a barrel on Thursday. The cost to lenders of insuring loans to the Egyptian government against it defaulting rose slightly but was lower than earlier this week.

On Thursday, tens of thousands of pro-and anti-government protesters squared off in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Opponents want a change in government and say President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s offer on Wednesday to step down in 2013 was not enough.

Some analysts suggested the violence could encourage a backlash against Mubarak both internationally and among those Egyptians who had accepted his pledge to step down in September.

But others feared he could either cling on to power, or hand over to a military ruler without allowing fair elections.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Hammond, Patrick Werr, Dina Zayed, Marwa Awad, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Yasmine Saleh, and Alison Williams in Cairo and Myra MacDonald in London; writing by Alastair Macdonald)

Swiss police: man admits abusing 100 in his care


Immediately following his trial, this man should be electrocuted, hanged, put before a firing squad; whatever. An individual this evil doesn’t deserve to live. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By FRANK JORDANS and JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Frank Jordans And John Heilprin, Associated Press Tue Feb 1, 4:57 pm ET

BERN, Switzerland – A 54-year-old man has admitted sexually abusing more than 100 mentally disabled children and adults in care homes in Switzerland and Germany during almost three decades, in what Swiss police described Tuesday as an unprecedented case.

The abuse took place in nine different institutions where the unidentified man had worked as a therapist since 1982, police in the canton (state) of Bern said.

Authorities have identified 122 of the victims, with the youngest being 1 year old at the time of the crime. Forty-two of the victims were over 18.

“It’s possible that in the course of the investigation more victims will come to light,” the head of Bern police’s special investigations unit, Gabriele Berger, told a news conference in Bern. Some 100 investigators have been assigned to the case.

The man was arrested in April 2010 and has been detained since, but police only released details of the case Tuesday to prevent the investigation from being impeded by media interest.

Evidence against the man includes photos and hours of video in which he recorded the abuse. Berger said the man had gone about his crimes deliberately, in many instances choosing victims who were unable to speak.

“He told police he had always known that what he did was wrong and he was sorry for the victims,” Berger said.

The case came to light in March, after two male residents of a care home in the northeastern canton of Aargau informed their parents of sexual contact with the therapist.

The man was subsequently arrested at his home in the Bernese Oberland, in central Switzerland. Police said he has cooperated with investigators since his arrest, describing himself as a pedophile.

During 50 police interviews he gradually admitted sexually abusing 114 mentally disabled patients, some of whom also were physically impaired, police said. He also admitted eight further cases of attempted abuse. Most of the victims were male, authorities said. Eight of the care homes are in Switzerland and one is in Germany.

The majority of abuses have passed the statute of limitations. Police say that under Swiss law, the man can only be prosecuted for 33 of them.

“One of the central questions of this investigation is how such levels of abuse could go undetected for so long,” said Berger.

The man previously came under suspicion in 2003, after a 13-year-old severely disabled girl accused him of sexual abuse. That probe was dropped after experts decided the accusations likely concerned another care worker, who was later sentenced to several years in prison. Berger said the 2003 case would now be reopened.

Swiss privacy law prevents offenders from being publicly named, in some cases even after they have been convicted.

Criminal investigations in Switzerland also are usually lengthy procedures that can take years to complete. Once they go to trial, however, a judgment is often delivered swiftly.

This case recalls other instances of large-scale abuse at institutions, including a 27-year-old man arrested in the Netherlands in December on suspicion of molesting dozens of very young children at two preschools in Amsterdam.

Several years ago more than 100 people came forward claiming they had been abused by staff at a former children’s home on the English Channel island of Jersey.

Catholic schools, too, have been at the center of sexual abuse investigations in Europe and the United States in recent years.

____

Jordans contributed from Geneva.

10 killed in German train crash, toll could rise


Wow, this must have been a horrifying experience for those on board! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press Kirsten Grieshaber, Associated Press

BERLIN – A head-on collision between a cargo train and a passenger train killed 10 people and injured 23 others in eastern Germany, and left wreckage scattered across a frost-covered field. Authorities said Sunday they believe the death toll in one of the country’s worst train accidents ever could still rise.

The trains crashed in heavy fog late Saturday on a single-line track near the village of Hordorf, close to Saxony-Anhalt’s state capital Magdeburg, vaulting the passenger train from the track and tipping it onto its side. The front rows of the first passenger compartment were crushed and several seats lay outside the train. Both trains caught fire, but most of the dead were killed on impact, police said.

“The crash was so strong that the passenger train was catapulted off the tracks,” Armin Friedrich, the police officer in charge of the rescue efforts, said at a news conference in Hordorf, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Berlin, Germany’s capital. Nearly 200 police and rescue workers were sent to the crash site.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, and experts said they were still looking at all possibilities, including technical failure and human error. State governor Wolfgang Boehmer, who visited the site Sunday, told reporters one of the drivers may have missed a red traffic signal.

Police said it was too early to comment on a possible cause.

“We are still speechless and shocked by the images and the level of destruction,” said Holger Hoevelmann, the interior minister of Saxony-Anhalt.

The passenger train operated by Harze Elbe Express was on its way from Magdeburg to Halberstadt with about 50 passengers aboard, moving at a speed of 62 mph (100 kph), when it crashed with the cargo train, which was going 50 mph (80 kph).

The cargo train, run by Peine-Salzgitter, was carrying calcium carbonate, often used as a calcium substitute or antacid.

Neither train operator could immediately be reached for comment, but the head of Deutsche Bahn, the national German railway, told news agency DAPD that he was “deeply upset” by the accident.

“Of course, we will do everything possible to support all those involved in this accident,” Ruediger Grube said, adding that he had contacted Harz-Elbe-Express and offered help.

At the scene, mangled parts of the blue and yellow train passenger were scattered around the field. The dark imprints of some of the bodies that had been removed could be seen on the white frosty ground next to the crash site.

The noise of the collision was heard in the village of Oschersleben, more than four miles (about seven kilometers) away.

Due to the heavy fog, rescue helicopters were not able to fly the injured to nearby hospitals and they had to be taken by ambulance instead. Most of the injured were so severely hurt that doctors fear the death toll could rise, Hoevelmann added.

Several German media outlets said the train driver and a conductor of the passenger train were among the dead, but police did not confirm those reports.

Two bodies have been identified, but police did not want to release their identities before informing relatives. A phone hotline was activated for family members and friends, and psychologists and ministers were on the scene to counsel rescue personnel.

Police said they were having trouble identifying victims because most of them were not carrying ID with them.

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her condolences, saying she too was shocked.

“My thoughts are with the families of the victims,” Merkel said in a statement.

The chancellor also thanked the many rescue workers for their immediate and tireless help.

In 2006, 23 people were killed in a train accident in Emsland in northern Germany and 101 people died in 1998, when a high-speed train derailed near Eschede in Lower-Saxony.

Nazi-hunters give low grades to 13 countries


Jews are relentless… What are they going to do a few years from now when the last of the  remaining Nazi war criminals are dead, dig up their graves? TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press Josh Lederman, Associated Press

JERUSALEM – A new report by a prominent Nazi-hunting group gives more than a dozen countries, including Hungary, Ukraine and Canada, low grades for bringing suspected Holocaust-era war criminals to justice.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center gave top marks to Germany — the first time any country besides the U.S. has been given an “A” grade for prosecuting suspected Nazi war criminals.

The Associated Press on Wednesday received an advance copy of the center’s report, which covers the period between April 2009 and March 2010. The formal release is scheduled for Thursday.

The director of the Weisenthal Center’s Israel office, Efraim Zuroff, said Hungary received a failing grade for not imprisoning Dr. Sandor Kepiro, a Hungarian military officer convicted in 1944 in the mass murder of civilians.

He called Canada’s efforts “a terrible failure” for not extraditing former Nazis even after stripping them of citizenship.

The center gave a failing grade to Ukraine, saying it “has to the best of our knowledge never conducted a single investigation of a local Nazi war criminal, let alone prosecuted a Holocaust perpetrator.”

But in a related development Wednesday, Ukraine rescinded the National Hero of Ukraine award given to Stepan Bandera, a nationalist partisan whose group briefly fought for the Nazis.

In all, nine countries received failing grades from the center and five received “Ds.”

Zuroff noted that counterintuitively, perhaps, the number of new state-launched investigations has risen in recent years, even though 65 years have passed since the end of World War II.

A total of 456 new cases were opened in the period covered by the recent report, compared with 315 the year before and only 63 in 2006-2007.

Germany received its top mark for convicting, in 2009 and 2010, the first two Nazi war criminals since 2002.

“People assume because of the age of the defendants that nothing will actually happen,” Zuroff said, but “passage of time does not diminish the crimes of the killers.”

(This version CORRECTS that nine countries received failing grades, five others received “Ds.” Adds quotes, byline, contributor’s line)

What’s in a name? For the pope, a lot


Really? I’m certain that the first thing on the minds of Catholic parents is to give their child a Christian name; what a bunch of crappola! These old fuddy-duddys at the Vatican, beginning with the Pope, eat manure in bucket fulls. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

Mon Jan 10, 9:40 am ET

VATICAN CITY (Reuters Life!) – If you’re Catholic and are expecting a baby don’t even think of naming it anything like Crystal, Heather, Track or Chelsea unless you want to upset Pope Benedict.

The pope, who baptized 21 children on Sunday at a traditional annual ceremony at the Vatican, said afterwards that every new member of the faith acquires the character of a son or daughter of the Church “starting from a Christian name.”

This, he said, was “an unequivocal sign that the Holy Spirit gives a rebirth to people in the womb of the Church.”

Italian newspapers had a field day with the story on Monday with headlines such as “Give your children Christian names.”

One mainstream newspaper dedicated an entire page to it, including lists of names, an interview with a pastor, and a personal account by a man who recalled that priests in Italy at one time only allowed names of Italian saints.

Apparently not much has changed, so the pope doesn’t have to worry too much about Italy.

According to La Stampa, most Italians still prefer to name their children after saints. Francesco (Francis) is number one for boys and Giulia (Julia) is at the top of the chart for girls these days.

The pope was born in Germany 83 years ago and baptized Joseph, which stands at number 14 on the Italian charts today.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Steve Addison)

Millions gathering worldwide to ring in new year


New Year celebrations have begun! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By TANALEE SMITH, Associated Press Tanalee Smith, Associated Press

ADELAIDE, Australia – Multicolored starbusts and gigantic sparklers lit the midnight sky over Sydney Harbour in a dazzling fireworks show witnessed by 1.5 million enthusiastic spectators who camped out all day to ring in the new year.

Sydney touted its claim to be the New Year’s Eve capital of the world with a spectacular display over the iconic Harbour Bridge using 7 tons of fireworks, its largest since 2000.

“Stunning, beautiful,” said Cinthya Romo, 32, a Sydney-based interpreter from Chile who watched the 12-minute fireworks show from the Opera House.

As the clock ticked closer to 2011, cities across Asia readied for midnight events ranging from traditional prayers in Japan to a massive pyrotechnic display in the shape of a dragon in Taiwan. Europeans were looking forward to celebrations that could help them forget their economic worries.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered along Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor to watch fireworks explode from the roofs of 10 of the city’s most famous buildings. Shoppers bustled among the glittering malls and hotels on both sides of the harbor as they waited for the midnight countdown in a night of cool, clear weather.

At Japan’s Zojoji temple in central Tokyo, founded in 1393, monks chanted as thousands packed in to count down until midnight. Revelers released a mass of silver balloons carrying notes with their hopes for the future, as the temple’s giant 15-ton bell rang in the background.

A few hours earlier, New Zealand and many South Pacific island nations were first to see in new year.

New Zealanders sang and danced their way into 2011, with firework displays and sold-out concerts entertaining revelers. In the biggest city, Auckland, explosions of red, gold and white burst over the Sky Tower while tens of thousands shouted, danced and sang in the streets below.

In New York City, nearly a million revelers were expected to cram into the streets around Times Square to watch the traditional midnight ball drop. The 20-inch snowstorm that blanketed the city will be just a memory thanks to work crews and warmer temperatures.

This year marks the first time Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, officially celebrates the new year with a countdown blowout, complete with a light show and foreign DJs in front of the city’s elegant French colonial-style opera house.

Vietnamese typically save their biggest celebrations for Tet, the lunar new year that begins on Feb. 3. But in recent years, the Western influence has started seeping into Vietnamese culture among teens, who have no memory of war or poverty and are eager to find a new reason to party in the communist country.

At midnight in Taipei, Taiwan, fireworks formed a spiraling dragon climbing up the city’s tallest skyscraper.

In the Philippines, powerful firecrackers have injured at least 245 people in recent days and Health Secretary Enrique Ona urged safety during Friday’s celebrations, saying he feared up to 1,000 injuries.

Many Filipinos, influenced by Chinese tradition, believe that noisy New Year’s celebrations drive away evil and misfortune. But they have carried that superstition to extremes, exploding huge firecrackers sometimes bigger than dynamite sticks to welcome the new year.

In Europe, many people will be partying simply to forget their economic woes after a year that saw Greece and Ireland needing financial bailouts and others, such as Spain and Portugal, battling speculation that they will need similar aid.

In London, thousands will witness a musical and firework display at the 135-meter high London Eye, located on the southern banks of the Thames River. The Eye, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, lies almost opposite the Big Ben clock tower at Parliament that will chime in 2011.

If not at home or at private parties, Spaniards traditionally gather in their main town squares to eat 12 grapes one by one as the bell in the square marks the countdown to 2011.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her New Year message that Europe is dealing with a major test and must strengthen the euro, even as she celebrated Germany’s emergence from the economic crisis, powered by strong exports.

Merkel said in her televised message being broadcast Friday that “it was a good year for Germany.”

____

Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report.

Dog in Germany gives birth to 17 puppies


For all of you dog lovers out there… TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

BERLIN – A dog in Germany has given birth to 17 puppies, leaving their owner thrilled but fatigued after having to feed them with a bottle for several weeks because their mother couldn’t cope with the demand.

Owner Ramona Wegemann said Monday she barely slept for more than a couple of minutes without interruption during about four weeks in an “exhausting” struggle to make sure all of the purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies would survive.

She said when she was “finished feeding the last puppy, the first was hungry again.”

Wegemann’s dog Etana gave birth to eight female and nine male puppies on Sept. 28 in Ebereschenhof, which is near Berlin.

At least five times a day, Wegemann gave the dogs a bottle with special milk because their mother’s nipples could have never coped with the demand, and when the puppies were not hungry, they wanted to be entertained, she said.

Wegemann said when dogs give birth to so many puppies several of them die within the first week. “But all of our puppies survived. This is incredible and wonderful,” the 32-year-old added.

It was the second time that Etana gave birth. She gave birth to eight puppies in her first pregnancy, not uncommon for the dog’s breed, Wegemann said.

“The birth of the puppies was very special. All puppies were born naturally, no cesarean was necessary,” she added. It took Etana a full 26 hours to give birth to all of the puppies — and Wegemann was as baffled as amazed.

But caring for 17 puppies turned out to be a full-time job: Wegemann put her work as an independent animal psychiatrist on a hold and her husband took as much vacation as he could.

Their lives have been turned upside down by the puppies, and their living room is now occupied by a giant box that houses the puppies.

But even Wegemann still struggles to recognize them: The females puppies are called Bahati, Binta, Bahya, Bashima, Batouuli, Binki, Bora, Bisa and the male ones are Baakir, Banjoku, Belay, Bruk, Bundu, Bayo, Bukekayo, Biton and Bulus.

Wegemann gave them all African names because the Rhodesian Ridgeback is an African hunting dog. Wegeman and her husband now plan to give most of the puppies away.

A price of $800 ($1,050) per puppy would only cover the expenses for the veterinary, vaccinations, food and the mandatory paperwork, Wegemann said. She hopes to get about $1,000 ($1,315) per dog, but said they would only give them to families with children, not breeders.

Four of the puppies have been sold, two more are already paid for and will leave their siblings shortly.

Jewish-American group releases list of top 10 slurs


My experience with Jews basically boils down to this: they generally have an air of arrogance about them that is difficult to “swallow.” They act as if they truly were the “Chosen People,” something which obviously is a bunch of nonsense. Finally, there is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the problems in the Middle East is a direct result of the Jews in Israel, as well as the United States for supporting them.

The fact that members of a Jewish-American organization are actually wasting time (picking their noses would have been more productive) on this effort shows just how self-centered and relentless Jews are. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Sun Dec 19, 6:06 am ET

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A prominent Jewish-American organization has made public a list of top 10 anti-Semitic slurs made in 2010, saying it was showing an unprecedented proliferation of anti-Semitism in the country.

The personality featured in the list, released on Wednesday, include former UPI Senior White House correspondent Helen Thomas, film director Oliver Stone, former Malaysian prime minister Mahatir Mohammad and Deputy Minister of Information for the Palestinian Authority Al-Mutawakil Taha.

“Our list of top ten anti-Semitic slurs runs the gamut of well-known personalities including journalists, government officials, celebrities, a prominent film director, and academics,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

“Unfortunately, our list shows that anti-Semitic canards normally thought to belong to the lunatic fringe have, in fact, been bought into by major elements of Western society,” Rabbi Hier concluded.

The list is topped by Helen Thomas, who said in May that “Jews should get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else.”

Oliver Stone, who occupies spot number two, for saying that “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people” during World War II.

In the filmmaker’s view, Russian suffering is being ignored because of “the Jewish domination of the media.”

Mahatir Mohammad took third place for saying in January that Jews “had always been a problem in European countries.”

“Even after the massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world,” Mohammad stated.

Following the top three is Al-Mutawakil Taha, who said last month that “the Jews have no historical or religious ties to the Temple Mount or the Western Wall” in Jerusalem and that there was “no archeological evidence that the Temple Mount was built during the period of King Solomon.”

Cyclist Landis doubts Contador, says riders ‘protected’


Floyd Landis is the Jose Canseco of cycling; blowing the whistle on the top cyclists in the world in terms of doping. And disgusting as he may be (nobody likes a snitch) – especially one who was also a cheat, he/they generally turn out to be right as they know the ins and outs of their respective sports. TGO

Refer to story below. Source Associated Press

Sun Nov 28, 10:47 am ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis has placed doubt on reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador’s claims that a positive test for clenbuterol was down to contaminated meat.

And the American, speaking on German television on Sunday, claimed that world cycling chiefs have protected top riders from the scandal of positive doping tests for the past 20 years.

Contador, who has won the race’s yellow jersey three times, is facing an uncertain future. He is currently suspended provisionally as anti-doping experts decide whether a positive test for trace amounts of the banned weight loss/muscle building drug at the 2010 race merits a lengthy ban.

Landis knows a thing or two about doping practices. He was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France crown after a positive test for testosterone, and despite denying doping for four years he finally confessed several months ago.

In making his confession, he alleged that former team-mate Lance Armstrong was involved in systematic doping during his spectacular Tour de France career.

Those claims have since prompted a federal investigation into the superstar American.

Landis said that despite even tighter controls being put in place by the sport’s governing body the UCI (International Cycling Union), clenbuterol is still used in the peloton.

“I know of riders taking clenbuterol. The chances of getting caught are higher than they used to be, but they’re still quite small because the drug usually disappears before the test,” said Landis on ARD.

Contador claimed his result was down to contaminated meat which someone from his Astana team bought in Spain, and which he ate on the race’s second rest day.

Landis meanwhile reiterated claims against Armstrong, alleging the seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor doped during his career.

But he also claimed that world cycling chiefs, in particular UCI chief Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, “protected” the top riders in the peloton.

“In the peloton, everyone knows that Pat McQuaid, Hein Verbruggen and other UCI officials have protected some riders, and not others, for the past 20 years,” added Landis.

“It was manipulation, and their way of creating stars.”

Pope’s praise of Pius dismays Holocaust survivors


The Pope continues to make news (negative news) with comments contained in his new book, which will be released this coming week. Now the Jews are upset with his comments pertaining to Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. All of this nonsense really is amusing. There is nothing like religion to get silly people  emotional and all bent out of shape. TGO

Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press

ROME – A Holocaust survivors group is voicing dismay over Pope Benedict XVI’s assertion that wartime pontiff Pius XII saved more Jews than anyone else.

Elan Steinberg, an official of the group, said Benedict’s comments “fill us with pain and sadness.” Some scholars and Jewish leaders contend Pius didn’t speak out enough against mass deportation and killing of Jews by Germany’s Nazi regime.

Benedict in a book to be published Tuesday contends that Pius was a “great righteous man” who “`saved more Jews than anyone else.”

Steinberg in a statement said singling out Pius for praise in the pope’s book could hurt Vatican-Jewish relations.

Pope puts stamp on church future with new cardinals


It’s truly remarkable that the Roman Catholic Church, this corrupt organization of misfits, is still in business and still popular. Throughout the ages this church has been guilty of all kinds of crimes against humanity, not the least of which are the tortures of the Inquisition and the sexual abuse of children. By the way, let’s not forget the church’s alliance with brutal dictators such as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, just this past century. If this is not a testament to the ignorance and stupidity of the masses that support this church I don’t know what is. I suppose the overwhelming majority of humans possess a weakness of character as well as a willingness to surrender their intelligence, limited as it may be, to blind faith. What a pity. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

By Philip Pullella Philip Pullella Sat Nov 20, 6:40 am ET

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict installed 24 new Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world on Saturday in his latest batch of appointments that could include his successor as leader of the 1.2 billion member church.

As their national delegations cheered, the men were elevated to their new rank as top advisers to the pope at a solemn ceremony in St Peter’s Basilica known as a consistory.

Each of the 24 men swore their loyalty to him, to future popes and to the church, even if it meant giving their lives.

Twenty of the new cardinals are under 80 and thus eligible under church rules to take part in the conclave that chooses a successor after the death or resignation of the current pope.

The new cardinals include Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C., who, as a senior figure in the American capital, will likely play a leading role in the U.S. church’s response to the sexual abuse scandal.

At a pre-consistory meeting on Friday, the Vatican told

bishops they would have to take more responsibility to prevent sexual abuse of children by priests and said it was preparing new guidelines for bishops on how to deal with the sexual abuse, including cooperation with local authorities.

The German pope has now named 50 of the 121 electors who can pick his successor from among their own ranks, raising the possibility that the next pontiff will be a conservative in Benedict’s own image.

In his homily before he bestowed each new cardinal with the red hat of their office, known as a berretta, Benedict told them their role was “not to be served, but to serve” and urged them to shun “the logic of power.”

He told the cardinals, the pope’s closest advisers at the Vatican and around the world, that “in the church, no one is an owner” but all are called to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

Popes usually reign for life but Benedict, 83, has not ruled out the possibility of resigning for health reasons. The last time a pope resigned willingly was in the 13th century.

RE-ITALIANISATION OF CURIA?

The 24 new cardinals come from Italy, Guinea, Poland, Switzerland, Egypt, the United States, Spain, Germany, Zambia, Ecuador, Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

Eleven of the new electors are European, eight of them Italian, giving Europeans a small majority of 62 if a conclave where held soon.

A number of new cardinals run Vatican departments. These include arch-conservative American Archbishop Raymond Burke, who heads a top Vatican tribunal, and Kurt Koch, the Swiss head of the Vatican department on relations with other Christian religions and Jews.

Benedict’s choice of the new cardinals is seen by some observers as “re-Italianization” of the curia, the Roman Catholic Church’s central government, following a string of appointments of non-Italians by his predecessor John Paul.

The latest batch of appointments takes the regional blocs in the electoral college to: Europe-62 cardinals; Latin America-21; North America-15; Africa-12; Asia-10; Pacific region-1.

The largest national group is the Italians, with 25 cardinals eligible to elect a new pope, followed by the United States, with 13.

But most observers say the possibility of the next pope being American is virtually nil because the conclave would be loathe to give an office as influential as the papacy to someone from the world’s superpower.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

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