Please read some current events from a variety of media.
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Israel National News
May 24, 2011
Israel is the only country that has guaranteed freedom of all faiths in Jerusalem, which must remain undivided, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Congress Tuesday. In unusually strong language, he told members of Congress that Judea and Samaria are part of the ancient Jewish homeland that our forefathers walked in and that the 650,000 Jews living there "are not ‘occupying’ the region.” He strongly criticized the changed versions of history that are being promoted by others.
Interrupted dozens of times by standing ovations, after minutes-long applause as he entered the chamber, Netanyahu also said that there are 300 million Arabs in the Middle East, but the only ones who are free are Israeli citizens.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted in his opening remarks that the "ground is still shifting” in the Middle East and that the uprisings in the Muslim countries represent people’s demands for liberty.
He thanked the United States for helping Israel reach its defense capabilities despite the “tough” economy. He jokingly said that the United States doesn't have to help build Israel--it is already built. More seriously, he said that the United States doesn't have to send soldiers to defend Israel, because Israel defends itself.
The Prime Minister did not change any of his policies, and put paid to rumors that he was going to announce new concessions. He expressed his policies in down-to-earth and homey language that clearly enthused the legislators. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was on the podium to receive him. U.S. President Barack Obama was on his way back to the United States from a visit to Ireland.
He jokingly noted that Israel is larger than the Delaware, Biden’s home state, and larger than Rhode Island, “but that’s about it.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that the entire length of the Washington Beltway is larger than the width of the Israel that the Palestinian Authority demands, which would be 9 km. wide, hardly "strategic depth"..
He made it clear that he is willing to agree to borders for a Palestinian Authority country that would place some Jews outside of Israel’s borders, but did not mention that this would be only in settlement blocs and gave the impression of giving up less, rather than more.
Netanyahu also stressed that the borders must be negotiated because Israel “will not return to the indefensible borders of 1967.” He relied on his interpretation of U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement that any future borders of Israel will not be identical with the 1949 Armistice Lines that existed until the Six-Day War in 1967. He repeated his insistence that the Jordan River have an Israeli Army presence, remarking that in the MIddle East, peace depends on the ability to defend oneself.
The president has called for “land swaps,” a concept that Prime Minister Netanyahu did not mention and one which has little chance of getting off the ground because Israeli Arabs have little interest in giving up their freedom and economic security as Israeli citizens.
The vast majority of Jews living beyond the 1949-1967 borders live in greater Jerusalem and greater Tel Aviv,” the Prime Minister said in his address. “These areas and other places of historic, strategic and national importance will be incorporated into the final borders of Israel," he asserted.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also buried the issue of “refugees,” meaning the Arabs who either fled Israel in the wars in 1948 and 1967, or their descendants.
"Jews around the world have a right to immigrant to the only Jewish state, and Arabs around the world should have the right to immigrate to a Palestinian state.” he told Congress.
In case anyone doubted his intentions, he added, “This means that the refugee problem will be solved outside the borders of Israel".
Repeating that the obstacle to peace is not the creation of a Palestinian State to which six successive Israeli Prime Ministers agreed, but the Palestinian acceptance of the existence of a Jewish State, Netanyahu called to Abbas to tell Palestinians clearly that Israel has a right to exist. Meanwhile, he said, incitement continues in PA school curricula, squares are named after terrorists and the only reward Israel got for leaving Lebanon and Gaza was 12,000 rockets fired at its children.
"Imagine a siren sounding and giving you 60 seconds to find shelter before a missile strikes. You couldn't live with that. No one can live with that,” he said emphatically, adding, "Israel is not what is wrong in the Middle East. Israel is the only thing that is right in the Middle East."
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Obama wants more 'death panel' power
'Strip Congress of legislative role in favor of unaccountable experts?'
April 25, 2011
Most of the legal challenges to Obamacare, the president's signature legislation that allows the federal government to take over health-care decision-making, focus on the "unconstitutional individual mandate" that defines sitting in one's living room as "interstate commerce" and demands the purchase of government-approved health insurance.
However, there's a new round of alarms developing over what critics have described as the ultimate "death panel," concerns that have been raised because Barack Obama himself suggested giving an already-unaccountable board more authority.
It's the idea of Obama's Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is one of 150 board and commissions established by Obamacare but is the most notorious because it would be made up of 15 Obama-appointed individuals and would dictate Medicare policy affecting millions of seniors and disabled Americans with essentially no congressional or judicial oversight.
It was during Obama's recent speech in which he condemned a plan to cut the deficit by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., he referenced Obamacare and its critics.
"What they'll say is, well, you know what, that will never work because it's government imposed and it's bureaucracy and it's government takeover and there are death panels," the president said. "I still don't entirely understand the whole 'death panel' concept. But I guess what they're saying is somehow some remote bureaucrat will be deciding your health care for you."
Obama then specifically said his panel's authority should kick in at an earlier time than it already is scheduled to become the law.
U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, who has authored "Doctor in the House" on the issue of the nationalization of health care, said the IPAB was a bad idea when ex-Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., proposed it before voters removed him from office, and it hasn't gotten better.
"Now for the first time ever the primary party for health care for seniors, Medicare, is going to be able to tell you what kind of care you can get, where and when you can get it and worst of all, when you've had enough," he told WND today.
"If all you're looking to do is be able to figure how to take care of old people cheaply, this is the way to go," he said. "If what you want to provide is meaningful medical care, why would you set up or embellish a system that leads to waiting lists and rationing?"
He cited Obama's recent comments, and said the board will become "the central command and control system" and the "primary tool" to limit, ration, reduce or restrict treatments.
Among other reactions was Stanley Kurtz at National Review Online, who followed Obama's vague references with an explanation.
"They're back. Rationing, death panels, socialism, all those nasty old words that helped bring Republicans victory in 2010 … They're back because of IPAB. Remember that acronym. It stands for The Independent Payment Advisory Board. IPAB is the real death panel, the true seat of rationing, and the royal road to health-care socialism.
"Policy wonks and political junkies may know a bit about this health-care rationing panel, but most Americans have barely heard of it. That has got to change," he wrote.
Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, initially referred to "death panels" in Obamacare referencing the end-of-life instructions that originally were included.
"But IPAB is the real death panel (as Palin herself later noted), a body of unelected bureaucrats with the power to cut off care through arbitrary rules based on one-size-fits-all cost calculations," Kurtz wrote.
It was in Obama's speech decrying Ryan's money-saving plan that he suggested expanding the authority of the individuals he would expect to pick.
"We will change the way we pay for health care – not by the procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results. And we will slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services that seniors need," he said.
There were a multitude of similar alarms being raised after that speech, but those actually taking action on the issue are those at the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix.
Its attorneys have filed a lawsuit over the provision, arguing that nowhere in the Constitution is the concept of an all-powerful and non-reviewable panel.
"No possible reading of the Constitution supports the idea of an unelected, stand-alone federal board that's untouchable by both Congress and the courts," said Clint Bolick, litigation director for Goldwater.
The organization describes the authority Obama endorses for IPAB: It wouldn't have to follow the basic steps for adopting and enforcing administrative rules. Its payment schedules and policies couldn't be examined by courts and automatically would become law unless amended by Congress through a difficult and complex procedure. And even if Congress would repeal the board in 2017, Obama's strategy automatically delays the effectiveness of that repeal until 2020.
The Institute's lawsuit in federal court opposes IPAB as simply unconstitutional – and it apparently is the only lawsuit challenging Obamacare on this crucial argument.
'Protecting any new federal agency from being repealed by Congress appears to be unprecedented in the history of the United States," said Diane Cohen, the Goldwater Institute's lead attorney in this case.
The Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation represents a number of clients in this lawsuit including U.S. Reps Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and John Shadegg of Arizona. The congressmen have supported repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Other reactions to Obama's plans include:
Meanwhile, Obama officials have granted 1,040 waivers to the new law already, because many groups, especially unions who supported Obama, and companies, contend they simply cannot meet its requirements, so shouldn't have to.
The total prompted a video commentary on Obama administration actions:
The site is sponsored by Let Freedom Ring, Americans for Tax Reform, CWA, 60 Plus, Independent Women's Voice and the College Republican National Committee. It allows visitors to e-mail the Obama administration asking for their own waivers. Visitors can select whether they want to ask for exemptions from the law's $500 billion in tax increases, taxpayer funding of abortion or the individual health insurance mandate, among others.
In the federal courts, Obamacare already has been declared
by at least two federal judges and it appears en route to a decision by
U.S. Supreme Court. Also, numerous state legislatures are considering
legislation that simply would exempt their state's citizens from its
requirements. One state had a proposal to make it a crime to try to
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Look who refuses to stop 'imminent' threat against Jews
Officials in Jerusalem warning 'planned attack is already in motion'
JERUSALEM – The new Egyptian government has refused to share important intelligence information with Israel, including details of a terrorist plot against Israelis thought to be imminent, WND has learned.
Last week, officials in Jerusalem warned of the possibility of Hezbollah terrorist attacks against Israeli targets overseas, saying "a planned attack is already in motion," Israel's Channel 2 reported.
Security officials here believe Hezbollah is not planning an attack so large that it would lead to another war with Israel, but they said the Iranian-backed group would attempt a hard hit on overseas Israeli targets in the immediate future.
In light of the immediate threat, Israel requested an exchange of information on Hezbollah with Egypt's intelligence apparatus, but Cairo refused to cooperate, according to security officials here who spoke to WND.
The officials said such information sharing was routine under the previous regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
The officials said Egypt is thought to have an important bank of information on Hezbollah cells, particularly in the Sinai desert following the arrests and interrogations several months ago of a major Hezbollah cell accused of plotting against Mubarak.
WND reported the vast majority of that cell escaped from Egyptian prison in February amid the chaos then engulfing Mubarak's regime.
Members of the cell were arrested in June 2009. At the time, Egypt's public prosecutor, Abdel-Magid Mohammed, announced the country had arrested 13 alleged Hezbollah agents on suspicion of planning attacks inside Egypt.
In 2009, WND was first to report Iranian soldiers aiding the Hezbollah members were nabbed in Egypt.
A senior Egyptian security official, speaking from Cairo, told WND in 2009 his country had information Hezbollah cells – working with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – had been coordinating terrorist activities inside Egypt with al-Qaida elements known to be present in the Sinai.
The accusation that Iranian-backed agents were working with al-Qaida could not be verified by Israeli security officials. If accurate, it would mark a major turning point for Hezbollah, which has openly clashed with al-Qaida over ideology. Hezbollah espouses a strict Shiite Islamic belief system, while al-Qaida adheres to fundamentalist Sunni Muslim beliefs.
Al-Qaida has been blamed for a string of major, deadly suicide bombings inside Egypt the past few years mostly targeting hotels and other tourist sites. The Egyptian government previously has admitted it was likely al-Qaida was still operating in the Sinai.
The Egyptian security official speaking to WND said the Hezbollah-Iranian agents in Egypt were working with al-Qaida to plot attacks against tourist sites, particularly those known to be popular with Israelis.
According to separate informed security officials with direct knowledge of the situation, Hezbollah, working directly with Iran, began setting up cells inside Egypt at least two years ago. The cells consisted of well over 80 agents, said the sources.
The goals of the cells operating in the country include plotting to destabilize the Egyptian regime to advance Iranian interests, planning attacks against Israelis at tourist sites, aiding Hamas in Gaza and establishing a base of Iranian operations along the strategic Suez Canal.
The pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reported Egypt arrested the chief of the Hezbollah cell, identified as Sami Shehab. The newspaper claimed Shehab confessed his cell monitored tourist sites in the Egyptian resort cities of Taba, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh, and tracked Israeli ships passing through the Suez Canal.
Latest signs of Egyptian militancy
The purported refusal of Egypt to share intelligence information with Israel comes amid fears in the country of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood seeks to restore the Islamic caliphate, a political empire that once ruled the Middle East. Both Hamas and al-Qaida are Brotherhood offshoots.
Earlier this month, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who had previously announced his intentions to run for the presidency of Egypt, said "if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime."
The same day, Egypt's foreign minister said Cairo was ready to re-establish diplomatic ties with Tehran after a break of more than 30 years, signaling a clear shift in Iran policy since the fall of Mubarak.
"The Egyptian and Iranian people deserve to have mutual relations reflecting their history and civilization," said Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby after meeting with Iranian official Mugtabi Amani.
Days after Mubarak stepped aside, Egypt allowed the passage of two Iranian warships through the strategic Suez Canal for the first time since 1979.
Also WND reported
the Egyptian military command met with Hamas to discuss ways to build a
relationship with the Islamist organization.
Israeli minister: Annex Jewish communities
Warns Israel can take unilateral actions of its own if U.N. declares Palestinian state
If the United Nations unilaterally declares a Palestinian state, Israel should respond by immediately annexing the Jewish communities in the strategic West Bank, declared a Knesset member from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party.
Danny Danon, the deputy speaker of Israel's parliament, pointed out the 1993 Oslo Accords restrict both Israel and the Palestinian Authority from taking unilateral action outside of negotiations.
However, he contended that if the PA follows through with seeking a U.N. declaration of a Palestinian state, and the international body approved the motion, the Jewish state should take unilateral measures of its own.
"We should (then) announce that we are annexing the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, immediately. The same way (Prime Minister) Menachem Begin did it with the Golan Heights and we did it in Jerusalem, we should do the same with the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria."
Danon was speaking in a radio interview with Aaron Klein, WND's Jerusalem bureau chief who hosts an investigative program on New York's WABC 770 AM Radio.
The Likud Knesset member was referring to the Israeli annexation of the eastern sections of Jerusalem, which contain the Temple Mount, after it recaptured the territory in the 1967 Six Day War.
Also, Israel in 1981 annexed the Golan Heights, which looks down on Israeli population centers, after neighboring Syria twice used the plateau to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state.
Danon told Klein that any U.N.-created Palestinian state would be "like a state on Facebook."
"They will get a lot of 'likes,'" he said. "People will support them. Countries will support them. But on the ground we will have to make sure that we control the borders. We control the security issues."
He warned a Palestinian country would be a "state of terrorism" that would be controlled by Iran.
Judea and Samaria, commonly referrer to as the West Bank, contains large Palestinian cities as well as Israeli communities, some in biblical cities, such as Beit El and Hebron.
The Palestinians seek a state in the pre-1967 borders, meaning the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem.
The PA been saying for at least two years they may seek a vote at the United Nations Security Council for the declaration of a Palestinian state.
Previously, PA officials stated the Obama administration would not veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a Palestinian state.
In 2009, Ahmed Qurei, former PA prime minister and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, told WND in an interview that the PA "reached an understanding with important elements within the administration" to possibly bring to the U.N. Security Council a resolution to unilaterally create a Palestinian state.
Asked to which "elements" he was referring, Qurei would only say they were from the Obama administration.
In a clear attempt to pave the way for a U.N. vote on the matter, the international body announced last week the PA possesses the capacity to function as a state.
"In six areas where the U.N. is most engaged, government functions are now sufficient for a functioning government of a state," stated a U.N. report released last Tuesday.
The six areas were "governance, rule of law and human rights; livelihoods; education and culture; health; social protection; and infrastructure and water."
Still, the report cautioned, "The key constraints to the existence and successful functioning of the institutions of a potential state of Palestine arise primarily from the persistence of occupation and the unresolved issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
The reference to "occupation" is controversial, since the territories were never part of any previous Palestinian state, and Israel is historically tied to the West Bank.For more information on this topic, click here
U.S. government has no strategy to deal with Muslim Brotherhood
Mrs. Myrick was particularly concerned about the role the Muslim Brotherhood plays in the United States.
The federal government has no strategy to counter the Muslim Brotherhood at home or abroad, according to the chairwoman of the House panel that oversees counterintelligence and terrorism.
“The federal government does not have a comprehensive or consistent strategy for dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated groups in America,” Rep. Sue Wilkins Myrick said during a hearing Wednesday. “Nor does it have a strategy for dealing with the Brotherhood in Egypt or the greater Middle East.”
The North Carolina Republican is chairwoman of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism, human intelligence, analysis and counterintelligence. Mrs. Myrick said at the hearing that she planned on scheduling closed classified hearings on the Muslim Brotherhood this session with government officials.
Established in 1928 in Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood is widely considered the first organization to push for political Islam or Islamism, a movement that seeks to replace civil law with Islamic or Shariah law.
Islamists were repressed for decades by the governments in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. But with the wave of uprisings that have toppled those governments, political parties and social movements inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood may be poised to try to assume political power in those countries for the first time.
At the hearing, during which nongovernment experts gave testimony, opinions on this point differed.
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WHISTLEBLOWER MAGAZINE STATES OF REBELLION
How legislators and governors nationwide are challenging a rogue president
While millions of outraged Americans protest what they see as a lawless and power-mad Obama administration, many wonder how much clout individuals can really have in reining in a wildly out-of-control government.
But suppose, in addition to citizens with little power beyond their vote, those standing up to the federal government were named Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Montana, Maine, South Dakota – and many more?
Incredibly, though under-reported by the establishment press, that's exactly what is happening right now, as the April issue of Whistleblower documents in-depth, in "STATES OF REBELLION: How legislators and governors nationwide are openly challenging a rogue president."
A wide-ranging rebellion is indeed under way – by a large majority of states – against what they claim are intolerable and blatantly unconstitutional encroachments by the federal government. And they are seriously intent on declaring such unconstitutional laws null and void in their state.
Here's how Thomas E. Woods Jr., author of the bestselling book, "Nullification: How to resist federal tyranny in the 21st century," succinctly lays out the issue in the April Whistleblower:
Nullification begins with the axiomatic point that a federal law that violates the Constitution is no law at all. It is void and of no effect. Nullification simply pushes this uncontroversial point a step further: If a law is unconstitutional and therefore void and of no effect, it is up to the states, the parties to the federal compact, to declare it so and thus refuse to enforce it. It would be foolish and vain to wait for the federal government or a branch thereof to condemn its own law. Nullification provides a shield between the people of a state and an unconstitutional law from the federal government.
Take Obamacare: Most people know the GOP-led House of Representatives repealed it (though the Democrat-controlled Senate almost certainly will not, nor will Obama ever sign it). And many also know 27 states are challenging Obamacare in court. But what few understand is that at least 11 states are attempting to legislatively nullify Obamacare within their borders. So far, an act to nullify the entire federal health-care law has become state law in Montana and Idaho, has been approved by one house in North Dakota, and introduced in eight other states – New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas, Wyoming, South Dakota and Oklahoma.
What about the federal government's labyrinthine gun laws? Eight states have already passed laws – signed by their governors – telling Washington its firearms regulations are not valid in those states for weapons manufactured and purchased in-state. Many other states are on the same legislative track.
There's much more: Utah last month became the first state to make gold and silver legal tender in that state. Twenty-four states are defying Obama by copying Arizona's immigration law – the one the Obama Justice Department sued Arizona over. Lawmakers in 40 states are working to halt the epidemic of "anchor babies" establishing "birthright citizenship." And 13 states are considering laws that would require every presidential candidate – including Barack Obama – to prove he is a natural-born citizen before his name can be placed on that state's ballot in presidential elections.
Posted: April 21, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to bring a decision from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver into alignment with its precedents in a dispute over cross memorials to fallen Utah state highway patrol troopers.
Officials with the Alliance Defense Fund today said they have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court that asks the court to affirm the constitutionality of roadside memorial crosses honoring the fallen officers.
The high court last year concluded in another case that a cross erected by a private group on public property in honor of fallen members of the military was constitutional.
ADF argues that the precedent also should apply to the Utah dispute.
"One atheist group's agenda shouldn't diminish the sacrifice made by Utah highway patrol officers and their families. We are asking the Supreme Court to allow the families of the fallen to honor their loved ones through these constitutionally permissible memorials," said ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione.
"The Supreme Court recently signaled that individualized memorial crosses honoring fallen troopers simply do not amount to a government establishment of religion. That guidance applies directly to this case," he said.
A district court judge affirmed the constitutionality of the memorials, but when the dispute was elevated to the Denver court, the judges condemned the crosses on the narrowest of margins, 5-4.
The four judges who dissented raised strong objections to the censorship that the decision appeared to impose.
"The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm," the Supreme Court wrote in its 2010 decision regarding a cross memorial in the Mojave Desert. "A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, the place where a state trooper perished need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs. The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion's role in society."
Argued the ADF brief, "The 10th Circuit's decision conflicts with this court's Establishment Clause precedent. The 10th Circuit invalidated the challenged roadside memorials by (1) fixating on their cross shape, (2) ignoring most of their features, history, and context, and (3) opining that the Establishment Clause forbids such displays unless the overall setting nullifies any religious significance."
However, "This court … has denounced each of these analytical missteps. In short, the 10th Circuit's approach, if allowed to stand, will prohibit the government from accommodating public displays of religious symbols, forbid a widely embraced means of commemorating fallen heroes on public property, and manifest an unconstitutional hostility toward religion."
ADF warned that if the Utah crosses are disallowed, the result "could jeopardize similar memorials honoring other fallen heroes across the nation, including 14 crosses on Colorado's Storm King Mountain where firefighters lost their lives in a 1994 wildfire."
The case originated with complaints from American Atheists who sued the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Transportation Department, alleging the memorials are a government establishment of religion.
That claim was pursued even though the memorials are funded and maintained by a private group, the Utah Highway Patrol Association, which supports patrol officers and their families.
WND columnist David Limbaugh, when the earlier ruling banishing the crosses was released, blasted the judiciary for its "allergy" to Christianity.
"Our politically correct-intoxicated culture is so allergic to expressions and symbols of Christianity that our courts leap to absurd conclusions to cordon off the chief allergen: Christianity," he wrote at the time.
"The egregious constitutional infraction here is not that the government put up the signs, which it didn't, but that the memorials were placed along public roads. Thus, 'reasonable' passing motorists – as opposed, I guess, to those afflicted with anti-Christian road rage – might well assume that the government is endorsing the Christian religion. Horror of horrors. My gosh, what would the largely Christian founders think?"
He continued. "I don't think it's a reasonable inference at all that the government is making a religious statement by permitting the placement of these memorials along the public highway. On the other hand, I think the government would be (and is) making a statement against Christianity by denying this group access because of its paranoia about going into Christian-spawned anaphylactic shock."
The memorials have remained in place during the court process,
future depends entirely on the high court accepting the case and
lower court's decision.
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VOICE OF AMERICA
China Breaks Up Christian Worship Services
Police in China
detained hundreds of Christian worshippers as they gathered for
outdoor service in Beijing.
The detentions are the latest in a crackdown on individuals and groups
by the government to pose a threat to social stability.
BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS
District taking money, but censoring Christians?
Lawsuit challenges decision to edit messages on project bricks
Posted: January 25, 2011
By Bob Unruh
A lawsuit has been filed accusing Palm Desert High School in Palm Desert, Calif., of taking money from Christians who bought paving stones as part of a fund-raiser, but then refusing to include them in the final project because of the Christian "verbiage" the stones contained.
A spokeswoman for the school in the Desert Sands Unified School District told WND that it was an outside organization, the parent teacher organization, that was running the fundraiser and the school did not have a responsibility.
"We were surprised because the ADF had brought the issue forward to us [and we] were reviewing it to see what we could do. We're very sensititve to the First Amendments rights to speech and religion," said Cindy McDanielBut the accusations were spelled out in a complaint filed just days ago in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Eastern Division-Riverside by the the Alliance Defense Fund.
It explains that small paving
stones were sold for $100 and large ones for $250 in the school
fund-raiser, and purchasers were allowed to include messages such as:
But two Christians who bought stones, one was the purchase of five small stones for $500 and the other was the purchase of one large stone for $250, were refused permission to have their stones displayed along with the others.
"The government cannot single out Christians because their religious viewpoint does not coincide with campus orthodoxy," said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. "Christians have the same First Amendment-protected rights as everyone else does on public school campuses, and their messages are no less worthy of exposure than other individuals'."
The project was launched in February 2010 by the Palm Desert parent teacher organization. It was approved by the principal, board and superintendent.
"No limitations were given as to the content of the messages on the pavers – other than the length – and the fundraiser policy stated that the messages could be used to pay tribute, create a legacy, commemorate a special event, or give recognition to various entities," the ADF explained.
Hart and Sheryl Caronno shortly later made their purchases, "for which they later paid."
Then in August the bricks were made, but the two purchasers "were notified that their pavers' inclusion on the walkway was denied because they quoted Bible verses," ADF said.
District officials cited their perception of the "separation of church and state" as a reason, presuming "erroneously" that the Bible verses would establish an unconstitutional establishment of religion, the ADF said.
The ADF said the district did, however, accept other religious messages, such as a Hindu quote from Mahatma Gandhi and even a Bible quote, "Yes, it is possible," in Spanish.
It was a memo from Karen Rohrbaugh of the parent teacher organization that raised concerns about the "religious verbiage."
The principal, Patrick Walsh, agreed. "We need to respectfully decline the donation of bricks quoting scripture from the bible," he wrote. "I'm sure most parents will understand the constitutional protections regarding the separation of church and state."
The paving stones then were
handed over to the purchasers, the case explains.
Ground Zero imam: 'True' Muslims implement Shariah
Tells faithful they must pay 'ultimate price' to see paradise
by Aaron Klein
"True" Muslims who enter the highest levels of Muslim paradise are those who pay the ultimate price of sacrifice for the goal of implementing Shariah Islamic law, declared the imam who has become the new face of the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York City.
In a recent mosque sermon obtained by WND, Imam Abdallah Adhami opens with an Islamic prayer declaring the supremacy of Allah over the universe.
Adhami stated the message of the Quranic figure Muhammad "is the continuity and the culmination of all the messages of all the prophets before him, from Adam to Noah to Abraham and Moses and Jesus and everyone in between."
"And that message is the supremacy and the total dominion of the lord [Allah] of the world," he stated.In his sermon, Adhami discussed Islamic oral tradition regarding "true" Muslims worthy of entering "Jannah," or the Islamic paradise.
Stated Adhami: "You have to pass all your tests, and the only time that you know you are truthful in implementing the change that Shariah sought for you to implement is when you have paid the ultimate price of sacrifice."Later in the lecture, Adhami states Muslims have more of a right than do Jews to the biblical prophet Moses.
"We love Moses more than them. We are more worthy of loyalty to Moses, more than they are. We love him more than they do," he stated.This seems to be a theme for Adhami.
Two week ago, WND broke the story that Adhami declared in a separate lecture that Muslims have "more of a right" than Jews to the biblical prophet Moses.
In the same lecture, Adhami urged Muslims to "compete" with other religions.
Meanwhile, others have been scrutinizing Adhami's background.
Writing at the NewsReal blog writer Joseph Klein revealed Adhami was a guest speaker at the annual convention of the Islamic Association for Palestine in 200o. T he theme of the convention was "All Palestine is Sacred!"
Adhami was reportedly joined at the speakers' rostrum by Dr. Sami Al-Arian, who pled guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to contribute services to or for the benefit of the Palestine Islamic Jihad.
IAP went defunct in 2005. It was established in 1981 by Hamas political operative Mousa Abu Marzook.
Like the ISNA, the IAP was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document — titled "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America" – as one of the Brotherhood's 29 likeminded "organizations of our friends."
Also, the Atlas Shrugs website, run by blogger and activist Pamela Geller, found Adhami has expressed appreciation for Islamic cleric Siraj Wahhaj, who was named as a possible co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Adhami has called Wahhaj "Our Beloved Imam" and the "voice of the spirit of Islam in America and its pride."
Also, Adhami's website, Sakeenah, hailed Wahhaj for his "devoted leadership to the community" and his role "as a pioneer in the American Muslim experience."
"Since the 1970s, Imam Siraj has tirelessly laid the foundations for many scholars and leaders that would follow him," the website stated. "From activism to challenges, to the Nation of Islam to revolutions, follow Imam Siraj as he retraces the footsteps of his life."World Net Daily
Courts have ‘special animosity’ for Christians
of 'infecting' children
March 16th, 2011
A Louisiana driver was stopped and detained for having a "Don't Tread on Me" bumper sticker on his vehicle and warned by a police officer about the "subversive" message it sent, according to the driver's relative.
The situation developed in the small town of Ball, La., where a receptionist at the police department told WND she knew nothing about the traffic stop, during which the "suspect" was investigated for "extremist" activities, the relative said.
It followed by only a few weeks the release of a Department of Homeland Security report, "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment", which prompted outrage from legislators and a campaign calling for the resignation of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The report, which cites individuals who sport certain bumper stickers on their vehicles as suspect, was delivered to tens of thousands of local law enforcement officers across the nation.
WND is withholding the driver's name and the relative's name at their request.However, the situation was described on the American Vision blog.
According to the relative, it happened this way: Her brother-in-law was driving home from work through the town, which has a local reputation for enhancing its budget by ticketing speeders. He was pulled over by police officers who told him "he had a subversive survivalist bumper sticker on his car."
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"They proceeded to keep him there on the side of the road while they ran whatever they do to see if you have a record, keeping him standing by the side of the road for 30 minutes," she told WND.
Finding no record and no reason to keep him, they warned him and eventually let him go, she said.
The company that sells the bumper sticker is The Patriot Depot, where Chief Operating Officer Jay Taylor told WND the woman had told his staff about the situation while ordering more bumper stickers.
"It's rather shocking," he said. "We supposedly have freedom of speech in our country.
Get your own Gadsden Flag here!
"We joke around every now and then how our spouses will come to visit us in jail," he continued, citing his products that say, "The Audacity of Nope," "Taxed Enough Already," "Born Free, Taxed to Death," "Bring Home Our Troops: Send the Democrats" and "I'll Keep my Guns and Money, You Keep the 'Change'."
"We hope people realize this is serious," he said.
American Vision noted the "background check" that was done on the driver.
"Why? [He] had purchased and displayed a conservative 'Don't Tread on Me' bumper sticker.""
The commentator wrote, "The bumper sticker is based on the famous flag designed by American Revolution era general and statesman Christopher Gadsden. The yellow flag featured a coiled diamondback rattlesnake ready to strike, with the slogan 'Don't Tread on Me!' underneath it. Benjamin Franklin helped make the rattlesnake a symbol of Americans' reluctance to quarrel but vigilance and resolve in defense of their rights. By 1775 when Gadsden presented his flag to the commander-in-chief of the Navy, the rattlesnake was a symbol of the colonies and of their need to unite in defense of threats to their God-given and inherited rights. The flag and the bumper sticker symbolize American patriotism, the need to defend Americans' rights, and resistance to tyranny's threats to American liberty. Those threats included-and include-illegal taxation, profanation of Americans' rights, and violation of the fundamental principles of American law."
American Vision continued: "The notorious Department of Homeland Security memo, which was apparently based on the infamous Missouri State Police Report that described supporters of presidential candidates Bob Barr, Ron Paul, and Chuck Baldwin as 'militia'-type potential extremists and potential terrorists, is not the first effort of leftist radicals to slander their political opponents as 'extremists.'"
"'Liberals' and other leftists have been calling defenders of traditional American limited, constitutional government, free enterprise, and individual liberty 'extremists' since at least the 1964 election," the Vision America statement said. "Small town police misled by phony left wing 'reports' are bad enough. Federal government agencies and their armed agents under the direction of leftist radicals are exponentially worse."
WND reported earlier on the DHS report, which advised about the "extremism" that could be expected from returning veterans, those who support homeschooling and oppose abortion, post certain bumper stickers on their vehicles and other factors.
The DHS not only issued that report, but also an earlier memo defining dozens of groups, members of animal rights organizations, black separatists, tax protesters and others as "threats."
That item, the "Domestic Extremism Lexicon" reportedly was rescinded almost immediately, but Benjamin Sarlin of The Daily Beast recently obtained and published online a copy of the unclassified memo, dated March 26, 2009.
It defines the "tax resistance movement" – also referred to in the report as the tax protest movement or the tax freedom movement – as "groups or individuals who vehemently believe taxes violate their constitutional rights. Among their beliefs are that wages are not income, that paying income taxes is voluntary, and that the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allowed Congress to levy taxes on income, was not properly ratified."
It states that tax protesters "have been known to advocate or engage in criminal activity and plot acts of violence and terrorism in an attempt to advance their extremist goals."
Apparently, the DHS analyzes the "threat" level of
Internet news websites like WorldNetDaily, for the lexicon defines
"alternative media" as "a term used to describe various information
sources that provide a forum for interpretations of events and issues
that differ radically from those presented in mass media products and
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The attack in Pakistan follows only by days an expansion of the territory occupied by the Islamic Taliban members.
The report from International Christian Concern said it happened in Taseer Town in Karachi.
The organization, which reaches out to persecuted Christians around the world, said it was told by Asif Stephen, a Christian politician, that the Christians protesting the Islamic slogans say: "We were protesting peacefully and all of sudden, a few militants carrying the latest weapons rushed in. Some of the attackers entered homes and pillaged money and jewelry and abused the women and burned their properties. The elderly were injured and one child fell to the ground and died in my friend's arms."ICC said it got reports that Taliban militants went door to door, breaking into Christian homes and dragging the elderly and the women out into the street by their hair.
"The Taliban leaders shouted, 'You infidels have to convert to Islam or die. Why did you wash up warnings inscribed on walls of church and home doors? How dare you to take out procession against Taliban?'"
The terrorists used clubs, iron rods and whips in their attacks, and set homes on fire, ICC said.
"When two Christians resisted, the militants killed them execution-style directly in front of their families. The identity of those killed has not yet been confirmed," ICC said.
A report in AsiaNews said seven suspects were arrested in the attack.
"The Pakistani government has created an opening for terrorists to attack Christians indiscriminately by acceding to their demands in the Swat Valley," said Jeremy Sewall, ICC's director for advocacy.
"Formerly, Christians in the major cities of Pakistan experienced discrimination, but up till now they had not had to fear threats of forced conversion or execution on a wide scale. This attack is a harbinger of worse to come if the Pakistani government continues to cower in the face of Muslim radicals," he said.
The Christians had been protesting because on Monday residents of Taseer Town in Karachi awakened to find pro-Taliban messages chalked onto the walls of two churches.
The message included, "Long Live the Taliban," "Talibanization is our goal" and "Embrace Islam or Prepare to Die."
The Christians staged a protest to try to attract the attention of local government officials, but they did not respond, leaving the door open to the physical attack and executions, AsiaNews reported.
According to a report in the Christian Post, Taliban members also burned shops and churches, leaving dozens more injured.
On the Chowk website, which is set up for volunteer reporters to document their experiences, a statement described the attack as "well-organized and [with] heavy firearms."
"More than 100 masked Taliban intruded in Taseer Colony and attacked Christians with heavy machine guns," the report said. "They [the attackers] said, 'You infidels have to convert to Islam or die. … How you dare to take out procession against Taliban?"
The report said the Pakistan Christian Congress already was
seeking help from the United Nations in New York.
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A Middle East expert and former Air Force special agent is set to launch a "counter-terrorism tour" across America in which he plans to visit a mosque in each state in 50 days to assess their threat to the nation's security.
Dave Gaubatz told WND the ultimate aim of his project, which begins April 16, is to shut down Islamic centers "that advocate violence against America" and to prosecute the Islamic leaders "for sedition or treason if they are encouraging their worshippers to attack America from the 'inside.'"
"This objective will only be met if American citizens become involved in their communities and say 'no more,'" Gaubatz said.
He said he receives contact almost daily from citizens who complain that law enforcement officials are not listening to their concerns.
In fact, he said, intelligence on the Islamic centers he plans to visit has been provided by concerned Christian, Jewish and Muslim citizens.
Gaubatz said many law enforcement officers that understand the Islamic threat are hindered by political red tape that prevents them from conducting timely investigations."Most counter-terrorism intelligence collected is filed away and never shared with the public," Gaubatz said. "An objective of this project will be to bring counter-terrorism issues to the attention of the public; and they, in turn, should demand their respective law enforcement departments and elected officials focus on protecting their families and our country."
His assessment of each mosque will be based on available written materials, study material provided for children, discussions with Islamic leaders and observations based on his 25 years of professional training.
Gaubatz, a U.S. State Department-trained Arabic linguist and counter-terrorism specialist, has more than two decades of experience in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq. He was deployed to Nasiriyah, Iraq, in 2003, where he collected intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and espionage.
Gaubatz said he will declare his intentions at each of the pre-selected mosques in a professional manner, hand the leaders his card and confront them on any violent material he observes or on any information they distribute that advocates an Islamic state in the U.S.
"It is important to understand not all mosques and Islamic leaders advocate violence against the U.S., but initial research and intelligence obtained from sources indicate many do," he said.
As WND reported, Gaubatz was engaged in a similar endeavor, though on a much larger scale, in a project called Mapping Shariah in America: Knowing the Enemy
The objective of the mapping project, which stopped due to lack of funding, was to systematically classify every known mosque in the U.S. in a rigorous, scientific fashion, based on the premise that the more a mosque or community of Muslims adheres to Shariah, or Islamic law, the greater its threat to U.S. national security.
During his upcoming 50-day journey, Gaubatz plans to make any relevant information his finds available to law enforcement, and he will keep the public abreast of his travels with photos, video and audio uploaded on his website.
"The public needs this information right now," he said. "With or without public funding, I will conduct the assessment."
His previous charting of about 100 mosques showed "the more adherent the mosque is to Shariah, the more likely you are going to find the material to back that up."
Gaubatz found, for example, at the Islamic Center of South Jersey in Palmyra – where three Muslims charged with terrorism regularly worshipped – a strict, Shariah-adherent leadership that eagerly distributed jihadist materials supportive of seminal Shariah proponents such as Sayid Abul Maududi, the founder of the radical Pakistani party Jamaat-e-Islami, and Syed Qutb, whose ideas shaped al-Qaida
Gaubatz discovered that the mosque tied to the Muslim who went on a shooting rampage at Salt Lake City's Trolley Square mall in 2007 ranked high in Shariah adherence. In Blacksburg, Va., he met the imam who was asked to pray at the nationally televised service for slain students at Virginia Tech and discovered he leads a Shariah-compliant mosque that backs the genocidal Islamist regime in Sudan.
Gaubatz contends many Islamic groups and organizations take on a legal and peaceful veneer in English-speaking settings but often preach quietly in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu "a very violent and anti-American jihad."
Virtually all Islamic leaders in the U.S. have been particularly careful since the 9/11 attacks about what they say publicly, Gaubatz said. But many Shariah-compliant mosques and schools distribute materials supporting or calling for violent jihad.
Gaubatz has spent a considerable amount of his time investigating the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, which has enjoyed access to the White House, the State Department, Homeland Security and other branches of government despite evidence of its ties to Hamas and other radical groups.
Gaubatz noted CAIR has a campaign to put Shariah-promoting materials into American libraries.
"I've gone to several hundred public libraries and this material is in there," he said. "People don't realize what it is until you start looking at the author, and it came from Saudi Arabia, sent to CAIR. And CAIR is putting it into our public libraries."
As WND reported, Gaubatz publicly served CAIR leaders last November with legal notice of a lawsuit on behalf of Muslims who claim the group victimized them in a fraud scheme involving a lawyer who is unqualified to practice.
Gaubatz said his group has been told by many sympathetic Muslims that to minimize the threat of another attack, authorities should ask foreigners seeking entry into the U.S. if they agree with Shariah.
"If they agree, according to the Muslims who have told us this, then they should probably not even be given entry here," he said.
"It's so easy. You can't agree with Shariah law and say that you are peaceful," Gaubatz continued. "You can't do it. Now there are Muslims in the United States who do. They say, we don't agree with Shariah law, we don't want Shariah law. But then, to the pure Muslim, they are not Muslim."
Some Muslims want to reform Islam, he said, and retain only peaceful elements.
"That's fine, but then you are not pure Muslim," Gaubatz said.
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A North Carolina judge has ordered three children to attend public schools this fall because the homeschooling their mother has provided over the last four years needs to be "challenged."
The children, however, have tested above their grade levels – by as much as two years.
The decision is raising eyebrows among homeschooling families, and one friend of the mother has launched a website to publicize the issue.
The ruling was made by Judge Ned Mangum of Wake County, who was handling a divorce proceeding for Thomas and Venessa Mills.A statement released by a publicist working for the mother, whose children now are 10, 11 and 12, said Mangum stripped her of her right to decide what is best for her children's education.
The judge, when contacted by WND, explained his goal in ordering the children to register and attend a public school was to make sure they have a "more well-rounded education."
"I thought Ms. Mills had done a good job [in homeschooling]," he said. "It was great for them to have that access, and [I had] no problems with homeschooling. I said public schooling would be a good complement."
The judge said the husband has not been supportive of his wife's homeschooling, and "it accomplished its purposes. It now was appropriate to have them back in public school."
Mangum said he made the determination on his guiding principle, "What's in the best interest of the minor children," and conceded it was putting his judgment in place of the mother's.
And he said that while he expressed his opinion from the bench in the court hearing, the final written order had not yet been signed.
However, the practice of a judge replacing a parent's judgment with his own regarding homeschooling was argued recently when a court panel in California ruled that a family would no longer be allowed to homeschool their own children.
WND reported extensively when the ruling was released in February 2008, alarming homeschool advocates nationwide because of its potential ramifications.
Ultimately, the 2nd Appellate District Court in Los Angeles reversed its own order, affirming the rights of California parents to homeschool their children if they choose.
The court, which earlier had opined that only credentialed teachers could properly educate children, was faced with a flood of friend-of-the-court briefs representing individuals and groups, including Congress members.
The conclusion ultimately was that parents, not the state, would decide where children are educated.
The California opinion said state law permits homeschooling "as a species of private school education" but that statutory permission for parents to teach their own children could be "overridden in order to protect the safety of a child who has been declared dependent."
In the North Carolina case, Adam Cothes, a spokesman for the mother, said the children routinely had been testing at up to two years above their grade level, were involved in swim team and other activities and events outside their home and had taken leadership roles in history club events.
On her website, family friend Robyn Williams said Mangum stated his decision was not ideologically or religiously motivated but that ordering the children into public schools would "challenge the ideas you've taught them."
Williams, a homeschool mother of four herself, said, "I have never seen such injustice and such a direct attack against homeschool."
"This judge clearly took personal issue with Venessa's stance on education and faith, even though her children are doing great. If her right to homeschool can be taken away so easily, what will this mean for homeschoolers state wide, or even nationally?" Williams asked.
Williams said she's trying to rally homeschoolers across the nation to defend their rights as Americans and parents to educate their own children.
Williams told WND the public school order was the worst possible outcome for Ms. Mills, who had made it clear she felt it was important to her children that she continue homeschooling.
According to Williams' website, the judge also ordered a mental health evaluation for the mother – but not the father – as part of the divorce proceedings, in what Williams described as an attack on the "mother's conservative Christian beliefs."
According to a proposed but as-yet unsigned order submitted by the father's lawyer to Mangum, "The children have thrived in homeschool for the past four years, but need the broader focus and socialization available to them in public school. The Court finds that it is in the children's best interest to continue their homeschooling through the end of the current school year, but to begin attending public school at the beginning of the 2009-2010 instructional year."
The order proposed by the father's lawyer also conceded the reason for the divorce was the father's "adultery," but it specifically said the father would not pay for homeschooling expenses for his children.
The order also stated, "Defendant believes that plaintiff is a nurturing mother who loves the children. Defendant believes that plaintiff has done a good job with the homeschooling of the children, although he does not believe that continued homeschooling is in the best interest of the children."
The website said the judge also said public school would "prepare these kids for the real world and college" and allow them "socialization."
Williams said the mother originally moved into a homeschool schedule because the children were not doing as well as she hoped at the local public schools.
In last year's dispute in California, the ruling that eventually was released was praised by pro-family organizations.
"We're pleased the appeals court recognized the rights of parents to provide education for their children," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. "This decision reaffirms the constitutional right that's afforded to parents in directing the education of their children. It's an important victory for families who cherish the freedom to ensure that their children receive a high quality education that is inherent in homeschooling."
"Parents have a constitutional right to make educational choices for their children," said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb. "Thousands of California families have educated their children successfully through homeschooling. We're pleased with the court's decision, which protects the rights of families and protects an avenue of education that has proven to benefit children time and time again.
The North Carolina ruling also resembles a number of rulings handed down against homeschool parents in Germany, where such instruction has been banned since the years of Adolf Hitler's rule.
As WND reported, Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented previously on the issue, contending the government "has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion.""The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling," said a government letter in response. "... You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. ... In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement."
WND also reported recently when a German appeals court tossed out three-month jail terms issued to a mother and father who homeschool their children. But the court also ordered new trials that could leave the parents with similar penalties, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.
The case involves Juergen and Rosemarie Dudek of Archfeldt, Germany, who last summer received formal notices of their three-month sentences.
The 90-day sentences came about when Hesse State Prosecutor Herwig Muller appealed a lower court's determination of fines for the family. The ruling had imposed fines of about 900 euros, or $1,200, for not sending their children to school
Muller, however, told the parents they shouldn't worry about any fines, since he would "send them to jail," the HSLDA reported.
HSLDA spokesman Michael Donnelly warned the homeschooling battle is far from over in Germany.
"There continue to be signs that the German government is cracking down on homeschooling families," he reported. "A recent letter from one family in southern Germany contained threats from local school authorities that unless the family enrolled their children in school, they would seek fines in excess of 50,000 euros (nearly $70,000), jail time and the removal of custody of the children."
HSLDA officials estimate there are some 400
homeschool families in Germany, virtually all of them either forced
into hiding or facing court actions.
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The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the state's determination that the church was an "incidental political committee" because members promoted and signed petitions supporting traditional marriage, and the pastor also encouraged it.
The complaint against Ferry Road Baptist Church of East Helena was sparked by a complaint from a homosexual activist group, the court ruling noted. The Alliance Defense Fund took up the fight for the church by filing a lawsuit in 2004 after the state issued its ruling against the church.
"Churches shouldn't be penalized for expressing their beliefs. They should never be forced to forfeit their free speech rights just because the government decides to enact unconstitutional laws requiring them to remain silent on social issues," said ADF Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt, who litigated the case with co-counsel Tim Fox of the Helena law firm of Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman."Churches have the right to speak about the moral issues of our time. That is what churches do," said Fox. "This ruling affirms that churches are free to disagree and to participate in public debate."
The appeals court also determined the state's political practices law is vague.
"An unregulated, unregistered press is important to our democracy. So are unregulated, unregistered churches. Churches have played an important – no, an essential – part in the democratic life of the United States," wrote Judge John T. Noonan.
"Is it necessary to evoke these historic struggles and the great constitutional benefits won for the country by its churches in order to decide this case of petty bureaucratic harassment? It is necessary," he continued.
"The memory of the memorable battles grows cold. The liberals who applaud their outcomes and live in their light forget the motivation that drove the champions of freedom. They approve religious intervention in the political process selectively: it's great when it's on their side. In a secular age, Freedom of Speech is more talismanic than Freedom of Religion. But the latter is the first freedom in our Bill of Rights. It is in terms of this first freedom that this case should be decided," the judge said.
When the district court ruling went against the church in 2006, ADF lawyers appealed to the 9th Circuit, arguing the Constitution should never be construed to demand cumbersome reporting requirements for churches to discuss moral issues.
The church had been cited for not submitting to a series of reporting requirements under the state's campaign finance law when a member made copies on a church copy machine of a petition in support of a 2004 state ballot initiative supporting traditional marriage.
Church leaders, including Pastor Berthold Stumberg III, supported the petition, which was signed by members, actions that were cited as violations by the Montana commissioner of political practices.
The marriage proposal ultimately was adopted 67 percent to 33 percent in the state, and the church's involvement triggered a complaint from "Montanans for Families and Fairness." Montana is one of dozens of states in which voters have adopted constitutional provisions limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
The court opinion said, "The Church argues that it cannot constitutionally be subjected to the disclosure and reporting requirements applicable to 'incidental political committees' under Montana law on the sole basis of its activities of de minimis economic effect in connection with the Battle for Marriage event and related petition – signing efforts in support of CI-96. It argues, inter alia, that, as applied to its activities, the Montana statute is impermissibly vague. We agree in part with the Church's vagueness claim and hold that, as applied to (1) the placement of the petition in its foyer and (2) Stumberg's exhortation to sign the petition in support of CI-96 during a regularly scheduled Sunday service, the Commission's interpretation of 'inkind Expenditures' is unconstitutionally vague. We also agree that the designation of the Church as an 'incidental Committee' because of its one-time, in-kind 'expenditures' of de minimis economic effect violates the Church's First Amendment free speech rights."
The judge said broadcast stations, newspapers, magazines and other operations are exempt from such reporting requirements, and so should a church.
"The media are free to promote political opinions
without registering as independent political committees and without
disclosing the identity of those owning the facilities used to promote
the opinions. The most likely sources of potent political input into an
election are removed from the statute's scope. The generality of the
statute is destroyed. The neutrality of the statute is preserved as to
the media while all religious expressions on a ballot measure are swept
within its requirements. The disparity between the treatment of the
media and the treatment of churches is great and gross," he said.
World Net Daily
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The proposal, which has earned the support of Janet Napolitano, the newly chosen chief of the Department of Homeland Security, would embed radio chips in driver's licenses, or "enhanced driver's licenses."
"Enhanced driver's licenses give confidence that the person holding the card is the person who is supposed to be holding the card, and it's less elaborate than REAL ID," Napolitano said in a Washington Times report.
REAL ID is a plan for a federal identification system standardized across the nation that so alarmed governors many states have adopted formal plans to oppose it. However, a privacy advocate today told WND that the EDLs are many times worse.
Radio talk show host and identity chip expert Katherine Albrecht said REAL ID earned the opposition of Christians because of its resemblance to the biblical "mark of the beast," civil libertarians opposed it for its "big brother" connotations and others worried about identity theft issues with the proposed databases.
"We got rid of the REAL ID program, but [this one] is way more insidious," she said.
Enhanced driver's licenses have built-in radio chips providing an identifying number or information that can be accessed by a remote reading unit while the license is inside a wallet or purse.
The technology already had been implemented in Washington state, where it is promoted as an alternative to a passport for traveling to Canada. So far, the program is optional.
But there are other agreements already approved with Michigan, Vermont, New York and Arizona, and plans are under way in other states, including Texas, she said.Napolitano, as Arizona's governor, was against the REAL ID, Albrecht said. Now, as chief of Homeland Security, she is suggesting the more aggressive electronic ID of Americans.
"She's coming out and saying, 'OK, OK, OK, you win. We won't do REAL ID. But what we probably ought to do is nationwide enhanced driver's licenses,'" Albrecht told WND.
"They're actually talking about issuing every person a spychip driver's license," she said. "That is the potential problem."
Imagine, she said, going to a First Amendment-protected event, a church or a mosque, or even a gun show or a peace rally.
"What happens to all those people when a government operator carrying a reading device makes a circuit of the event?" she asked. "They could download all those unique ID numbers and link them."
Participants could find themselves on "watch" lists or their attendance at protests or rallies added to their government "dossier."
She said even if such license programs are run by states, there's virtually no way that the databases would not be linked and accessible to the federal government.
Albrecht said a hint of what is on the agenda was provided recently by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The state's legislature approved a plan banning the government from using any radio chips in any ID documentation.
Schwarzenegger's veto noted he did not want to interfere with any coming or future federal programs for identifying people.
Albrecht's recent guest on her radio program was Michigan State Rep. Paul Opsommer, who said the government appears to be using a national anti-terrorism plan requiring people to document their identities as they enter the United States to promote the technology.
"The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was … just about proving you were a citizen, not that you had to do it by any specific kind of technology," Opsommer said.
But he said, "We are close to the point now that if you don't want RFID in any of your documents that you can't leave the country or get back into it."
Opsommer said his own state sought an exception to the growing federal move toward driver's licenses with an electronic ID chip, and he was told that was "unlikely."
He was told, "They were trying to harmonize these standards with Canada and Mexico [so] it had to apply to everybody. I was absolutely dumbfounded."
WND previously has reported on such chips when hospitals used them to identify newborns, a company desired to embed immigrants with the electronic devices, a government health event showcased them and when Wal-Mart used microchips to track customers.
Albrecht, who has worked on issues involving radio chip implants, REAL-ID, "Spychips" and other devices, provided a platform for Opsommer to talk about drivers licenses that include radio transmitters that provide identity information about the carrier. She is active with the AntiChips.com and SpyChips.com websites.
Opsommer said he's been trying for several years to gain permission for his state to develop its own secure license without a radio chip.
"They have flat out refused, and their reasoning is all about the need for what they call 'facilitative technology,' which they then determined was RFID," he said during the recent interview.
According to the U.S. State Department, which regulates international travel requirements, U.S. citizens now "must show proof of identity and proof of U.S. citizenship when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the countries of the Caribbean by land or seas."
Documentation could be a U.S. passport or other paperwork such as birth certificates or drivers' licenses. But as of this summer, one of the options for returning residents will be an "Enhanced Driver's License."
The rules are being promulgated under the outline of the WHTI, a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which requires travelers to present a passport or other identity documents on entry into the U.S.
While the government has expressed confidence that no personal or critical information will be revealed through the system, it also says drivers will need special information on how to use, carry and protect the radio-embedded licenses as well as "a shielded container that will prevent anyone from reading your license."
But Albrecht, the author or co-author of six books and videos, including the award-winning "Spychips: How major corporations and government plan to track your every move with RFID," warns it goes much further.
"This must be nipped in the bud. Enhanced DL's make REAL ID look like a walk in the park," Albrecht said.
"Look, I am all in favor of only giving drivers licenses to U.S. citizens or people that are otherwise here in this country legally," Opsommer said, "But we are already doing that in Michigan. We accomplished that without an EDL, as has virtually every other state via their own state laws.
"But just because we choose to only issue our license to U.S. citizens does not mean that our licenses should somehow then fall under federal control. It's still a state document, we are just controlling who we issue them to. But under the EDL program, the Department of Homeland Security is saying that making sure illegals don't get these is not enough. Now you need the chip to prove your citizenship," he continued.
Opsommer further warned the electronic chips embedded in licenses to confirm identity are just the first step.
"Canadians are also more connected to what is going on in Britain with the expansion of the national ID program there, and have seen the mission creep that occurs with things like gun control first hand … Whatever the reason, as an example, just last week the Canadian government repatriated a database from the U.S. that contained the driver's license data of their citizens," he said.
"Someone finally woke up and realized it would not be a good idea for that to be on American soil … I think it is only logical that we as state legislators really understand how the governments of Mexico and Canada will have access to our own citizen's data. Right now it is very ambiguous and even difficult for me to get answers on as a state representative."
But Opsommer said Big Brother concerns certainly have some foundation.
"So if EDLs are the new direction for secure licenses
in all states, it just reinforces what many have been telling me that
DHS wants to expand this program and turn it into a wireless national
ID with a different name," he said. "We'll wake up one day and without
a vote in Congress DHS will just pass a rule and say something like
'starting next month you will need an EDL to fly on a plane, or to buy
a gun, or whatever.'"
The ruling came in a case stemming from a dispute in Utah in which a religious organization called Summum demanded the city of Pleasant Grove display a monument containing its seven "aphorisms." Summum argued the city already had accepted a donated monument displaying the Ten Commandments in a city park.
Lawyers with the American Center for Law and Justice, who defended the city, said a requirement that governments display any message offered was "scary" and would lead to absurd scenarios.
"The Minutemen in Massachusetts? We need a Redcoat. A George Washington statue? Why not George the 3rd. A Holocaust memorial? How about a Hitler memorial?" said the ACLJ's Frank Manion in a previous interview with WND.The non-profit legal group also had suggested that according to Summum's logic, the nation could be required to allow a "Statue of Tyranny" in New York Harbor to accompany the Statue of Liberty.
The Supreme Court's ruling concluded those fears are "well founded."
At the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, judges had ruled that Summum was entitled to have its monument displayed by the city.
The ACLJ contended Ten Commandments monuments nationwide were the real targets of the legal action, because in many circumstances, cities or other governments likely would order such monuments removed rather than order acceptance of others.
Today's decision, ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow told WND, is a "huge victory."
"This decision allows government to convey messages about its own history of its community, and includes religious monuments," he said. "Religious monuments are not treated differently than others. Most significantly, the government get to make the selections."
The ACLJ, which has worked on the case with the Thomas More Law Center, explained the Constitution "does not empower private parties to force permanent displays into a park, crowding out the available physical space and trumping the government's own vision" for the parks.
A monument is not the same as a message delivered in a public forum, either, the opinion said.
"Speakers, no matter how long-winded, eventually come to the end of their remarks; persons distributing leaflets and carrying signs at some point tire and go home; monuments, however, endure. They monopolize the use of the land on which they stand and interfere permanently with other uses of public space. A public park, over the years, can provide a soapbox for a very large number of orators – often, for all who want to speak – but it is hard to imagine how a public park could be opened up for the installation of permanent monuments by every person or group wishing to engage in that form of expression," said the court.
"There may be situations in which it is difficult to tell whether a government entity is speaking on its own behalf or is providing a forum for private speech, but this case does not present such a situation. Permanent monuments displayed on public property typically represent government speech," the opinion said.
"Just as government-commissioned and government-financed monuments speak for the government so do privately financed and donated monuments that the government accepts and displays to the public on government land … We think it is fair to say that throughout our Nation's history, the general government practice with respect to donated monuments has been one of selective receptivity."
The majority opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito Jr., who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. David Souter filed an opinion concurring in judgment.
In his arguments to the high court, Sekulow said another ruling in the case would "create havoc in America over how local, state and federal governments choose to memorialize significant events."
He suggested the basic question is whether a city gets to decide which permanent, unattended monuments, if any, to install on city property. The answer is 'Yes,'" he said. "The fact is that government speech means the government can control its message. For example, accepting a Statue of Liberty does not compel a government to accept a Statue of Tyranny."
"Summum's assertion of a right to force its monument upon the city has no legitimate basis in Supreme Court case law," Sekulow said.
Summum, founded in Salt Lake City in 1975, calls itself a church. The group sued Pleasant Grove in federal court, alleging that because the city had a donated Ten Commandments monument in a city park, the First Amendment required the city to accept and display a monument to Summum's seven aphorisms.
The aphorisms, according to the group's website, predate the Ten Commandments and include: The principles of psychokinesis, correspondence, vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, and gender.
The "church" claims the aphorisms were written on the
original stone tablets given by God to Moses, which he broke when he
saw the Israelites had manufactured a golden calf idol during his
absence. The organization says the tablets were broken because Moses
realized people couldn't understand the aphorisms, so he came down a
second time with the Ten Commandments.
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"Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven't seen any birth certificate," Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told constituents in Cullman County. "You have to be born in America to be president."
Where's the proof Barack Obama was born in the U.S. or that he fulfills the "natural-born American" clause in the Constitution? If you still want to see it, join more than 250,000 others and sign up now!
WND has reported on multiple legal challenges to Obama's status as a "natural born citizen." The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."
Some question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama's American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.
Other challenges have focused on Obama's citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.Here is a partial listing and status update for some of the cases over Obama's eligibility:
In addition, other cases cited on the RightSideofLife blog as raising questions about Obama's eligibility include:
WND senior reporter Jerome Corsi had gone to both Kenya and Hawaii prior to the election to investigate issues surrounding Obama's birth. But his research and discoveries only raised more questions.
The governor's office in Hawaii said there is a valid certificate but rejected requests for access and left ambiguous its origin: Does the certificate on file with the Department of Health indicate a Hawaii birth or was it generated after the Obama family registered a Kenyan birth in Hawaii, which the state's procedures allowed at the time?
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JERUSALEM – Two newspaper executives were arrested yesterday on charges of "intent to outrage" the "religious feelings" of Muslims.
Their alleged crime? Republishing an article that refers to Islam as "oppressive" and states the religion's prophet, Muhammad, had sex with a 9-year-old girl and ordered the murder of Jews.
The incident unfolded in India, where Ravindra Kumar, an editor, and Anand Sinha, publisher of the country's Statesman newspaper, turned themselves into police following complaints from local Muslims. The complaints cited a law that makes illegal the "malicious intent" to "outrage religious feelings." The two were released on bail today.
The Statesman had republished an article Feb. 5 originally printed in Britain's Independent newspaper titled, "Why should I respect these oppressive religions?" The author, columnist Johann Hari, was lamenting what he said was the erosion of rights to criticize religion."I don't respect the idea that we should follow a 'prophet' who at the age of 53 had sex with a 9-year old girl and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him," Hari wrote.
Although the piece prompted little outcry in Britain, angry Muslims reportedly have been demonstrating in front of the Statesman's offices. Baton-wielding police broke up several protests the past two weeks.
Kumar already issued a public apology for reprinting the article.
"The essential ingredient of the law under which we are charged is malicious intent," Kumar told reporters today.
"But how could we anticipate the protest when the article generated no controversy in Britain, which has substantial Muslim population, after it was carried originally by the Independent?" he said.
India, the world's second most populous country, is mostly Hindu. About 13 percent of the population is Muslim.
As WND reported, a Saudi cleric, pointing to Muhammad as a model for marriage, has declared age is no hindrance to marriage under Islam, and sex at age 9 is fine.
"There is no minimal age for entering marriage. You can have a marriage contract even with a 1-year-old girl, not to mention a girl of 9, 7, or 8. This is merely a contract [indicating] consent. The guardian in such a case must be the father, because the father's opinion is obligatory. Thus, the girl becomes a wife," said Ahmad Al-Mu'bi, an officiant for marriages.World Net Daily
Ron and Rita Palma filed the exemption with their son's school district in 2006 after coming to the conclusion the year before that the required vaccinations violated their conscience and sense of God's leading for their family.
Rather than accept the standard exemption form, however, the Bayport-Blue Point Union Free School District demanded the couple meet with school attorney David Cohen. The Palmas have twice been compelled to sit down with Cohen to be interrogated about their faith and their convictions about vaccines.
"If you believe God is on your side," Cohen asked in the most recent of the two interviews, conducted last fall, "does that mean he's not on the side of someone who believes in immunization?"
"Do you have conversations with God? Has God told you not to immunize?" the attorney asked. "Explain it to me."
Cohen described to the Palmas' attorney that the purpose of the interview was two-fold: to determine whether the Palmas' beliefs are actually religious, as opposed to philosophical or political; and to determine whether the beliefs are "sincerely and genuinely held."
The school district's most recent interrogation of the Palmas was videotaped, and a segment – which shows the attorney, Cohen, while the Palmas and their attorney sit off-screen – can be seen below:Rita Palma told WND that being compelled to defend her faith before an attorney and answer questions about her family's lifestyle, diet, medicinal choices and personal convictions was "unbelievably invasive."
"It's almost beyond words what we were put through," Palma said. "It's such an abusive power, it's so arrogant that 'outrageous' doesn't even label it correctly. It's something you can't even imagine that somebody would take it upon themselves to do – to judge the sincerity of your belief.
"Particularly in a school district," Palma said, "taking it upon themselves to judge your relationship with God? Have you ever heard of such a thing?"
Not only were the Palmas grilled, however, their attempts to file religious exemptions were also ultimately denied.
Following both interviews, the first in 2006 and the last in 2008, the school district deemed the Palmas' beliefs were not sincerely held.
"This determination," wrote the school in 2006, "was made based upon your meeting with the school attorney and information which we received, which significantly calls into question your stated beliefs."
Rita Palma explained to WND that her choice not to immunize her children was a decision of conscience and of following God's leading. In the interview with the lawyer, Palma further explained that she sees a distinction between medicine as a healing for sickness and vaccines, which she described as injecting a sickness as step toward heath. The latter, she insisted, violates her understanding of trust in God and his design for the body.
The school district's denial, however, cited a medical test Palma gave her son as evidence that her beliefs are too inconsistent to be sincerely and genuinely held.
The district's second denial, in 2008, further criticized the Palmas, a self-described Catholic family, for misquoting the Bible and claimed that if their objection was truly a matter of religious conviction, they could have sought something other than public school for their son.
The Palmas appealed the original denial to the state's commissioner of public education, only to be denied again.
Now, with the help of New York State Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, the Palmas are working to prevent other parents from enduring the same interrogation or contra-conscience mandatory immunization of their children.
Gottfried, chair of the state Assembly's health committee, has sponsored New York bill A00883, which amends state law to ban "sincerity tests" and states, "The current common practice of government agencies scrutinizing and judging a parent's religious beliefs is inappropriate in a democracy that values the First Amendment.
"There could be concern that some parents might falsely claim a religious exemption," the bill continues. "But it is greatly outweighed by the burden that the intrusive, prolonged inquiry imposes on bona fide objectors forced to defend their religious beliefs."
WND contacted the offices of attorney David Cohen for response or comment but received no reply.World Net Daily
A woman arrested at the Cairo airport because her identity card described her as a Christian has been threatened for her faith by the judge in her case, according to a new report.
As WND reported, authorities in Egypt deprived the woman's two children, ages 2 and 4, of food to try to coerce her to abandon Christianity and return to Islam.
According to the Assyrian International News Agency, a woman identified as Martha Samuel Makkar was arrested Dec. 13 as she, her husband, Fadl Thabet, and two sons were trying to leave Cairo for Russia.
Makkar, formerly known as Zainab Said Abdel-Aziz, was accused
of carrying forged government documents, because she identified herself
as a Christian. Islamic law forbids Muslims from abandoning the faith.
Now, according to Compass Direct News, she has been granted bail, and released to rejoin her husband and sons at home pending her forgery trial.
However, the release was not without complications.
Makkar's lawyer, Nadia Tawfiq, reported that Judge Abdelaa Hashem questioned Makkar closely about her Christian faith during a courtroom hearing.
The decision to grant her bail came Saturday in the hearing before Hashem after Makkar told the judge about her new Christian faith and her abandonment of Islam.
Tawfiq told Compass Direct "the judge then said, 'I want to talk with Martha alone,' so we all left the room, and he said to her, 'Nobody changes from Muslim to Christian – you are a Muslim.'
"And she said, 'No, I am a Christian.' He told her, 'If I had a knife now, I would kill you,'" the lawyer said.
Makkar, 24, has said she's been enduring death threats from police and members of her extended family for the five years since she converted.
There is no established legal precedent in Egypt for allowing people to leave Islam. And national law doesn't provide a channel through which to change the religious designation on an identity card.
The Compass report said George Abyad, 67, and Masood Guirges, 55, employees of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria, also were arrested on suspicion they aided Makkar with her papers.
Egypt formally recognizes Islamic Shariah law as the source of justice, and Christians have faced persecution there for generations.
The American Center for Law and Justice has participated in a fight to keep a man who fled Egypt from being deported from the U.S. A recent decision from the 3rd U.S. District Court of Appeals gave Sameh Khouzam the right to challenge Egypt's "diplomatic assurances" that he would not be tortured on his return to the Middle East nation.
Egypt has been demanding his extradition in a homicide case he alleges is trumped-up. The case has been highlighted by spokesman Sam Grace of Coptic News. He praised U.S. District Judge Thomas Vanaskie's earlier ruling that Khouzam "most assuredly has a right not to be tortured."
Grace earlier told WND Christians in Egypt are hostages.
"We live in a time that is really as bad if not worse than the time of the martyrs," he said.
Multitudes of Christians have been attacked, and many killed, yet not one Muslim ever has been convicted in the attacks, he said.
"The why is very simple, because Shariah law says the blood of the Muslim should not be shed for the blood of an unbeliever," he said.
Grace said since Egypt's constitution concludes laws derive from the Quran, persecution of Christians is not only allowed but endorsed by the government.
"In the last 10 years, more than 5,000 Christians have been massacred in Egypt," he told WND. "Hundreds of businesses and homes first have been looted, then burned and destroyed. Churches have been burned and destroyed."
Grace told WND that attacks, lootings and burnings are common in Egypt on Fridays, after the local imam preaches violence against Christians at his mosque.
"The life of a Christian in Egypt is now worth zero. Every Muslim now knows killing a Christian [is not prosecuted]," he said.
A report from the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights concluded Coptic Christians in Egypt have been harassed, tortured and killed by Muslims for 1,400 years.
"They have been subjected to all kinds of hate crimes
including, the abduction of young Coptic girls, the killing of Coptic
women and children and the destruction of their places of worship," the
World Net Daily
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A federal judge today denied a further attempt by the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations to extract attorney fees and costs in a case nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Savage brought against the Muslim lobby group.
Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected CAIR's request for reconsideration of her Nov. 12 order denying a motion that Savage pay attorney's fees to the Washington, D.C.-based group.
Illston previously dismissed Savage's copyright infringement and RICO lawsuit alleging CAIR illegally published singled-out quotes and audio excerpts from his show regarding Islam, misappropriated his words and used the clips for its own fundraising purposes, damaging the value of his copyrighted material.As WND reported, Savage called Illston's November decision a "huge victory for me, personally, but also for the rest of America who is afraid of this lawsuit-happy group of intimidators."
Savage said Illston is a "bona fide liberal, yet she followed the law in the fees motion."
"CAIR tried to tell her in their claim that she 'should get' me, because they were all liberals," he said. "You have to read their sloppy claim to believe it. Now, people will not be afraid to file suits if they have a legitimate claim against CAIR or any other Soros-funded group."
CAIR waged a public campaign using excerpted Savage remarks to urge advertisers to boycott his top-rated program. CAIR stated its campaign successfully resulted in Savage losing $1 million in advertising.
Part of Savage's lawsuit alleged CAIR received millions in foreign funding and that the Islamic group may have been wrongfully acting as a lobbyist or agent for a foreign government, violating its nonprofit status.
Savage also alleged CAIR was engaged in racketeering, describing the group as a "mouthpiece of international terror" that helped fund the 9/11 attacks, a contention strongly denied by CAIR.
But Illston concluded it is legal to use excerpts of a public broadcast for purposes of comment and criticism.
Illston wrote in her ruling that Savage could try to rewrite the racketeering portion of his suit to better fit the specifics of his case.
In May 2007, CAIR was identified by the government as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving the Holy Land Foundation, a charity allegedly affiliated with Hamas. Federal prosecutors listed CAIR under the category: “Individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the US Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.”
The government also listed Omar Ahmad, CAIR's founder and chairman emeritus, under the same category.
CAIR is registered as a nonprofit organization recognized as tax-exempt under IRS codes, which restrict "lobbying on behalf of a foreign government." CAIR's website claims it receives no foreign government support.
But CAIR's headquarters near the U.S. Capitol until recently was owned by the ruler of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the ruler's foundation has pledged $50 million to capitalize a long-term CAIR public-relations campaign.
The UAE formally recognized the Taliban, and Dubai reportedly acted as the transit point for cash for the 9/11 hijackers. Two of the hijackers were from the Emirates, and one served in the UAE military.
Until 2005, the Al Maktoum Foundation run by Dubai's ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid held the deed to CAIR's headquarters just three blocks from the Capitol. The same foundation reportedly has held telethons to raise money for families of Palestinian "martyrs" during the intifada – or terrorist war – started in September 2000 against Israel. It recently pledged a $50 million endowment for CAIR.
CAIR argues that any assertions it receives money from foreign governments is "disinformation."
"This is yet another attempt to invent a controversy," the group said. "CAIR's operational budget is funded by donations from American Muslims."
CAIR, however, has never publicly acknowledged $1 million controlling interest that the ruler of Dubai's foundation took in its national headquarters just one year after 9/11.
The group also received $500,000 from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the sheik whose $10 million relief check after 9/11 was rejected by then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani after he blamed U.S. policy toward Israel for the attacks.
"There is nothing criminal or immoral about accepting donations from foreign nationals," CAIR asserted. "The U.S. government, corporations and non-profit organizations routinely receive money from foreign nationals."
"Bin Talal is not a member of the Saudi Arabian government," the group added in a statement. "He is a private entrepreneur and international investor."
This may be a distinction without a difference, Savage's lawyers argued, since bin Talal is a member of the Saudi ruling family.
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JERUSALEM – CNN's extensive coverage this week of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca is a defeat for evangelical Christians and proves it is only a question of time before Islam will be "shining all over the world," according to Muslim terrorists in Gaza speaking to WND.
Starting last Saturday and continuing until Wednesday, CNN provided regular coverage of the Hajj, the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. The fifth pillar of Islam requires every able-bodied Muslim to travel to Mecca at least once in their life in a demonstration of solidarity with fellow Muslims and in an act of individual submission to Allah.
CNN aired several live reports from this year's Hajj, including a live shot of the end of the pilgrimage in which Muslims in attendance encircle the Kabah – the holiest Islamic building in Mecca – seven times, in a counter-clockwise direction. The news network also provided extensive online coverage, including several articles and an entire special section of the CNN website dedicated to the Hajj.
CNN regularly provides coverage of festivals of other religions, including extensive Christmas reporting and occasional coverage of Jewish holidays.
The Hajj reporting was sure to draw accolades from the many Muslims among CNN's national and international audience. Apparently this extends to some radical Muslims and terrorists in the Gaza Strip, who may have read a little too much into the coverage.
"The fact that the Americans, who are the biggest enemies of Islam, are so interested in the Hajj proves they want to know what is this thing threatening their culture. They want to understand what is this religion that is defeating them in the U.S., in Iraq, in Palestine, everywhere," said Muhammad Abdel Al, spokesman and a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization.
"This (CNN coverage) proves it's a question of time when Islam will be shining all over the world," Abdel-Al told WND.
Abdel-Al's Committees' is responsible for scores of suicide bombing, shooting attacks and rocket launchings against Jewish civilian population centers. The group carried out a 2003 roadside bomb attack that killed three American contractors.
Abdel-Al said he didn't personally watch the CNN coverage. He said he heard about it in several Arabic language news reports boasting of CNN's interest in the Hajj.
Also sounding off about the news network was Abu Islam, chief of Jihadiya Silafiya, a Palestinian Islamist organization ideologically allied with al-Qaida values. The group took responsibility for several attacks targeting Christians in Gaza, including the bombing of a Christian bookstore there accused of missionary activity.
"Since CNN gives the Hajj so much coverage, it means there is no way that Islam is defeated. We bless CNN for this great gesture that can improve relations between the West and between Islam. They did it because they checked with audience and found they are so interested in knowing Islam," said Abu Islam.
"I am calling all Americans to see how Islam is a religion of modesty where the richest person in there world and poorest person in the world can meet in Mecca and they have no differences. As long as we believe in Allah, then Allah says Islam will be winning, so Americans understand they cannot defeat Islam."
Abu Islam called CNN's Hajj coverage a "defeat for
the radical Christian evangelists who wanted to show Islam only in a
dark way. We are defeating these people through their homes in their
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Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund earlier this year settled a case against Ithaca, N.Y., over an ordinance that violated the free speech rights of a street preacher. A federal court banned enforcement of the disputed rule, which restricted sounds that could be heard from 25 feet away.
But it took only a couple of visits from another street evangelist, and the attorneys were back in court with another action against Ithaca. Police officers who were told about the court order insisted it didn't apply to them, because they weren't involved in the first case.
The original 1999 dispute, involving Kevin Deegan, was settled earlier this year, according to ADF officials. The resolution included a court order prohibiting officials "from enforcing a municipal code that ... restricts sounds on public streets, sidewalks, or paths that can be heard from 25 feet," which, the legal group noted, would ban sneezing or cell phone rings."Three months ago, a friend of Kevin's, Jim Deferio was standing at Kevin's accustomed spot on the commons, doing a little preaching of his own. He, too, was approached by police officers who told him he'd have to stop, since he was violating the same city ordinance their predecessors had invoked against Kevin," the ADF said in a new report.
"The next week, Kevin went back to the spot with Jim, and the two of them were approached by police, citing the same law. Kevin produced a copy of the federal court order authorizing him to exercise his rights, but the officers told him – incredibly – that the order didn't apply to them – only to the specific officers who had confronted Kevin years earlier," the ADF reported.
"So, now ADF is representing Jim. We've filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Ithaca on his behalf, along with a motion asking the court to suspend the ordinance while the case moves forward."
Nate Kellum, a senior counsel with ADF, commented.
"Police officers cannot step beyond their authority and illegally suppress Christian speech in defiance of a court order," he said.
The new complaint explains, "This is a civil rights action challenging city ordinances and policy, on their face and as applied, that prohibit noise heard 25 feet from its source in the City of Ithaca. These precise ordinances and policy of City of Ithaca have already been declared unconstitutional by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and enjoined by this court in Deegan v. City of Ithaca, et al."
City officials did not respond to a WND request for comment today.
The original case involving Deegan came when he was delivering a Gospel message in Ithaca Commons. Officers cited Deegan under the noise ordinance – the only apparent use of that ordinance in its history at that time – despite any number of "recreation activities, celebrations, demonstrations, rallies, musical performances, poetry readings, speeches, and other expressive undertakings" that have gone on there.
Deegan was told the city banned sound loud enough to be heard more than 25 feet away.
"Kevin was understandably stunned," ADF said. "Under those restrictions, public sneezing would be illegal on the streets of Ithaca. So would almost every other activity then under way on the commons. Indeed, as a noise expert hired by the Alliance Defense Fund (which represented Kevin) testified, this city ordinance would outlaw even such everyday sounds as the clicking of boots, small children playing, a ringing cell phone, and normal-decibel conversations."
Ultimately, the appeals court panel ruled in favor of Deegan's First Amendment right to free speech, even on the Ithaca Commons, ADF reported.
"Noisy free speech abounds here, yet Mr. Deegan was limited to a whisper," Kellum said.
The appeals court ruling said the city's officials could not "justify their even stricter regulation of Deegan's speech in the Commons, which is a public forum bustling with the sounds of recreation, celebration, commerce, demonstration, rallies, music, poetry, speeches, and other expressive undertakings."
JERUSALEM – Claiming Barack Obama has roots in the Islamic religion, an Egyptian cleric has broadcast a plea urging Obama to convert to Islam while warning if the U.S. doesn't withdraw its troops from the Middle East and provide aid to Muslims, those "eager for [death]" will attack America.
"My message to [Obama] is threefold," declares Egyptian cleric Hassan Abu Al-Ashbal, speaking last week on the state-funded Al Nas religious television network. "First, I invite him to convert to Islam. This is the call of the Prophet and of Allah. Oh, Obama – convert to Islam, and you will be saved.""You, Obama, are among those who have pledged before Allah – Allah who created you, sustained you, and brought you to this position – to be a Muslim who believes that Allah is the one God, especially since you have some kind of roots in Islam," declares Ashbal. "Convert to Islam, and you will be saved. All glory and honor lie in following Allah and his messenger, Muhammad. Know that the true religion is the religion of Islam, and all other religions are fabricated religions, which are null and void – religions that were abrogated by the shari'a of Muhammad."
Continues Ashbal, "I hope that Allah will reward you twice: once for converting to Islam, and another reward for all those who will convert in your footsteps. If you want glory, you will find it in Islam. If you want honor, you will find it in Islam. In religions other than Islam there is utter humiliation, even if you are the president of the entire world."
The Egyptian cleric says if Obama refuses to convert to Islam, his administration should at the least "withdraw your huge armies and military bases from the lands of the Muslims."
"Know that all your predecessors have ended up in the garbage bin of history, and that America's black and bleak history in the land of the Muslims and the Arabs constitutes an evil omen for you, your predecessors, and your successors," Ashbal states.
Ashbal further warns there will be no peace "as long as a single Muslim child lacks food, drink, medicine, or housing," implying suicide bombers would strike American targets.
"If you refuse," Ashbal declares, "and insist on remaining in Muslim lands, know that Allah still plants in [Muslims] obedience to Him, and that they are willing to wait for paradise, which is closer than their own shoelaces. Know, Obama, that in the lands of Islam, there are people who seek death, and are eager for it, even more than you and your people are eager for life – any kind of life, even a life of humiliation."
Ashbal's remarks were captured, translated and transcribed by the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI.
Obama was 'quite religious in Islam'
Obama repeatedly has denied he is a Muslim. His presidential campaign website contained the statement, "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim, and is a committed Christian."
But as WND has reported, public records in Indonesia listed Obama as a Muslim during his early years, and a number of childhood friends claimed to the media Obama was once a mosque-attending Muslim.
Obama's campaign had several times wavered in response to reporters queries regarding the senator's childhood faith.
Commenting on a Los Angeles Times report quoting a childhood friend stating Obama prayed in a mosque "something the presidential candidate said he never did," Obama's campaign released a statement explaining the senator "has never been a practicing Muslim."
Widely distributed reports have noted that in January 1968, Obama was registered as a Muslim at Jakarta's Roman Catholic Franciscus Assisi Primary School under the name Barry Soetoro. He was listed as an Indonesian citizen whose stepfather, listed on school documents as "L Soetoro Ma," worked for the topography department of the Indonesian Army.
Catholic schools in Indonesia routinely accept non-Catholic students but exempt them from studying religion.
After attending the Assisi Primary School, Obama was enrolled "also as a Muslim, according to documents" in the Besuki Primary School, a public school in Jakarta.
Laotze blog, run by an American expatriate in Southeast Asia who visited the Besuki school, noted: "All Indonesian students are required to study religion at school, and a young 'Barry Soetoro,' being a Muslim, would have been required to study Islam daily in school. He would have been taught to read and write Arabic, to recite his prayers properly, to read and recite from the Quran and to study the laws of Islam."
Indeed, in Obama's autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," he acknowledged studying the Quran and describes the public school as "a Muslim school."
"In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Quranic studies," wrote Obama.
The Indonesian media have been flooded with accounts of Obama's childhood Islamic studies, some describing him as a religious Muslim.
Speaking to the country's Kaltim Post, Tine Hahiyary, who was principal of Obama's school while he was enrolled there, said she recalls he studied the Quran in Arabic.
"At that time, I was not Barry's teacher, but he is still in my memory" claimed Tine, who is 80 years old.
The Kaltim Post said Obama's teacher, named Hendri, died.
"I remember that he studied mengaji (recitation of the Quran)," Tine said, according to an English translation by Loatze.
Mengaji, or the act of reading the Quran with its correct Arabic punctuation, is usually taught to more religious pupils and is not known as a secular study.
Also, Loatze documented the Indonesian daily Banjarmasin Post interviewed Rony Amir, an Obama classmate and Muslim, who described Obama as "previously quite religious in Islam."
"We previously often asked him to the prayer room close to the house," Amir said. "If he was wearing a sarong (waist fabric worn for religious or casual occasions) he looked funny."
The Los Angeles Times, which sent a reporter to Jakarta, quoted Zulfin Adi, who identified himself as among Obama's closest childhood friends, stating the presidential candidate prayed in a mosque, something Obama's campaign claimed he never did.
"We prayed, but not really seriously, just following actions done by older people in the mosque," said Adi. "But as kids, we loved to meet our friends and went to the mosque together and played."
Obama's official campaign site contained a page titled "Obama has never been a Muslim, and is a committed Christian." The page stated, "Obama never prayed in a mosque. He has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ."
But the campaign changed its tune when it issued a "practicing Muslim" clarification to the Los Angeles Times.
An article in March by the Chicago Tribune apparently disputes Adi's statements to the L.A. paper. The Tribune caught up with Obama's declared childhood friend, who now describes himself as only knowing Obama for a few months in 1970 when his family moved to the neighborhood. Adi said he was unsure about his recollections of Obama.
But the Tribune found Obama did attend mosque.
"Interviews with dozens of former classmates, teachers, neighbors and friends show that Obama was not a regular practicing Muslim when he was in Indonesia," states the Tribune article.
It quotes Obama's former neighbors and third-grade teacher recalling how the young Obama "occasionally followed his stepfather to the mosque for Friday prayers."
Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, notes the Tribune article "cited by liberal blogs as refuting claims Obama is Muslim" actually implies Obama was an irregularly practicing Muslim and twice confirms Obama attended mosque services.
In a free-ranging interview with the New York Times, Obama described the Muslim call to prayer as "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset."
The Times' Nicholos Kristof wrote Obama recited, "with a first-class [Arabic] accent," the opening lines of the Muslim call to prayer.
The first few lines of the call to prayer state:
Allah is Supreme!
Allah is Supreme!
Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme!
I witness that there is no god but Allah
I witness that there is no god but Allah
I witness that Muhammad is his prophet ...
Some attention also has been paid to Obama's paternal side of the family, including his father and his brother, Roy.
Writing in a chapter of his book describing his 1992 wedding, Obama stated: "The person who made me proudest of all was Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage. He converted to Islam and has sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol."
Still, Obama maintains he was raised by his Christian mother and repeatedly has labeled as "smears" several reports attempting to paint him as a Muslim.
make clear what the facts are: I am a
Christian. I have been sworn in with a Bible. I pledge allegiance [to
the American flag] and lead the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes in the
United States Senate when I'm presiding," he told the Times of London
earlier this year.
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Shariah, or Islamic law, may be spreading around the world, but it isn't going to be established in the United States without opposition, vow members of the United American Committee.
Officials with the non-profit have erected a 48-foot-long billboard just outside of Detroit, home to one of the largest groups of Muslims in the U.S.
"SHARIA LAW THREATENS AMERICA," warns the sign.
The UAC says it's "dedicated to awakening the nation to the threats of radical Islam" and works to "educate Americans on the nature of Islamic extremism."
The group's mission is to battle against "the ideological aspects of the war on terror to counter elements of radical Islam in America.""Shariah law is a legal system recognized in many Islamic countries such as the former Taliban regime of Afghanistan, and currently Saudi Arabia, and is a legal system which dictates beheadings, stonings, and other punishments for what are listed as crimes under Shariah such as homosexuality and adultery, and according to critics views women as inferior granting them little rights," the organization stated.
Tom Trento, a spokesman, said, "Muslims are the biggest victims of Shariah law in the world. We hope this message inspires the Muslims of America who came to this country to escape Shariah to stand up against it."
The organization's website, whose address is featured on the billboard, highlights a video of Wafa Sultan, a Syrian Muslim who escaped the Middle East and has become a fierce critic of Islam and Shariah.
"At times, it feels to me that Shariah is following me to the United States," Sultan says in the video, referring to radical Islamic charities and organizations operating in the U.S.
Sultan also points out that in Britain and France Shariah is being enforced in various ways in certain communities. Britain recently sanctioned the establishment of Shariah courts for civil matters among Muslims, the UAC noted.
"Our Constitution is not compatible with Shariah," Sultan said. Under the religious rules, "Women and children are deprived of rights we in the West take for granted."
"Homeless in America is more attractive to me than living as a woman under Shariah," she added. "I don’t want to face again the hell that I had kicked off 20 years ago. My biggest obligation is to preserve the free spirit of this wonderful country and not allow destructive forces to ruin it."
The UAC billboard is in Luna Pier, 10 miles north of Toledo and 20 miles south of Detroit on Interstate 75, officials said.
The announcement about the sign comes as Islam expert Daniel Pipes warns in a report in the Jerusalem Post Shariah is advancing one step at a time into Western Europe and North America.
Pipes cited the recent case of a Scottish judge who "bent" the law to acknowledge a polygamous household, a status allowed under Shariah.
"The case involved a Muslim male who drove 64 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone – usually grounds for an automatic loss of one's driving license. The defendant's lawyer explained his client's need to speed: 'He has one wife in Motherwell and another in Glasgow and sleeps with one one night and stays with the other the next on an alternate basis. Without his driving license he would be unable to do this on a regular basis,'" Pipes reported.
"Sympathetic to the polygamist's plight, the judge permitted him to retain his license," he said.
The report said the ruling suggests monogamy, "long a foundation of Western civilization, is silently eroding under the challenge of Islamic law."
Pipes reported at least six Western jurisdictions now accept harems, including Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Australia and Canada. Canada, for example, acknowledges "a marriage that is actually or potentially polygamous, if it was celebrated in a jurisdiction whose system of law recognizes it as valid."
WND reported just days ago a Heritage Foundation expert's warning the U.S. also needs to maintain active opposition to plans for "religious anti-defamation" laws both within its borders and on an international scale or face consequences.
In a report published on the foundation's website, Steven Groves said the U.S. "must remain wary of continuing efforts by U.N. member states to gain wider acceptance of the 'defamation of religions' concept." The proposal primarily targets any criticism of Islam.
Proponents "will continue to push the 'defamation of religions' agenda at the U.N. Human Rights Council, the U.N. General Assembly, and at other international forums such as the April 2009 Durban Review Conference," Groves warned.
Groves is the Heritage Foundation's Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.
He also said within its own borders, the U.S. should refuse to recognize "a new legal cause of action that bans insults or criticism of religion," because it would provide no benefit whatsoever.
States already have laws to condemn religious discrimination and prosecute acts of incitement to violence, he argued. The federal government "should tread extremely lightly where disputes over religious doctrine are concerned. The U.S. does not need a national speech code that would restrict the First Amendment rights of Americans, no matter how offensive that speech may be to any particular religious denomination."
Groves cited the 2005 attempt by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., who wanted to require that the Islamic holy book, the Quran, be treated with "dignity and respect."
"Any attempt to establish a criminal or civil 'defamation of religions' law in the United States … must be strongly opposed," Groves said. "Attempts to introduce such legislation may be incremental – notably, in May 2005, when a group of U.S. congressmen sponsored a resolution," he said. "Such piecemeal legislation must be closely guarded against."
WND previously reported the original U.N. plan that could turn ordinary Christians in America into international criminals.
WND also has reported the Treasury Department has announced it will teach "Islamic finance" to U.S. banking regulatory agencies, Congress and other parts of the executive branch.
According to its announcement, the "Islamic Finance 101" forum is "designed to help inform the policy community about Islamic financial services, which are an increasingly important part of the global financial industry."
The Treasury Department has collaborated with Harvard University's Islamic Finance Project to coordinate its instructions.
Revealingly, a recent report in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND, said Britain's MI6 intelligence service identified a group that raises funds with impunity in London as the organization whose militia members in Somalia imposed a Shariah death sentence on a 13-year-old rape victim.
The report describes how the group recently imposed the brutal punishment on a child in the Somalian town of Kismayo.
A 13-year-old girl, described in an intelligence report as "little more than a pretty child," was sentenced to be stoned to death by the all-male court.
It imposed the sentence on Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow after she had complained to the local Shariah court that she had been gang-raped by, among others, her cousins.
But the court found her guilty of adultery and sentenced her to death by stoning.
She was taken from the courthouse to a local sports
stadium. There she was buried up to her neck in sand and then stoned in
front of a 1,000-strong crowd.