World Church Body Deplores Pakistan’s Death for Blasphemy Law

The World Council of Churches is calling on Pakistan to repeal the mandatory death penalty for blasphemy in the country’s penal code. The WCC’s governing body, which met in Geneva Aug. 26-Sept. 2, issued a statement Tuesday (Sept. 1) urging Pakistan to “guarantee the rights of all religious minorities in the country.” The church council said the law has become “a major source of victimization and persecution” of religious minorities who are living “in a state of fear and terror.” Since the penal code of Pakistan was amended in 1986, “Christians in particular have become targets of harassments and persecutions,” according to the WCC.

  • Sometimes the WCC is on target, but mostly it is a means of compromising the Gospel for the sake of unity and tolerance.

Home Birth with Midwife as Safe as Hospital Birth

Having your baby at home with a registered midwife is just as safe as a conventional hospital birth, a new study says. In fact, planned home births of this kind may have a lower rate of complications, according to the study published in the Sept. 15 issue of CMAJ. The mortality rate per 1,000 births was 0.35 in the home birth group, 0.57 in hospital births attended by midwives, and 0.64 among those attended by physicians, according to the study. Even though the study was conducted in Canada, where attitudes toward midwifery are more accepting than in some other countries, the findings may help to calm an ongoing controversy in the United States and elsewhere.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is opposed to home births. The controversy has resulted in a lack of clear regulation and licensing requirements in the United States. The National Association of Certified Professional Midwives does have a certification process but many states don’t recognize it. “If you’re a woman who wants to have a home birth, how do you determine if this person has appropriate qualifications?” said Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

  • Let’s see if I’ve got this right. Doctors are against home births, presumably for the safety of the mother and unborn child, but abortions are okay?

Runaway Teen Convert can Remain in Florida for Now

A 17-year-old girl who says she ran away from her Muslim family in Ohio because she feared she could be killed for converting to Christianity can remain in Florida for now. An Orlando judge signed an order Thursday sealing a police report for at least ten days until lawyers for Rifqa Bary, her parents, and child welfare officials can read it. The report contains the results of a two-week investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into Bary’s family and home life. The case is headed for a trial in which the judge will hear testimony and decide whether Bary should be returned to Ohio. She has been placed with a foster family in Florida and wants to stay with them.

  • Would a teen who converted to Islam from Christianity be concerned about being killed by her parents? No matter how people (e.g. Obama) try to minimize it, Islam is a dangerous, violent religion, especially to women.

Internet Addiction Center Opens in US

Ben Alexander spent nearly every waking minute playing the video game “World of Warcraft.” As a result, he flunked out of the University of Iowa. Alexander, 19, needed help to break an addiction he calls as destructive as alcohol or drugs. He found it in this suburb of high-tech Seattle, where what claims to be the first residential treatment center for Internet addiction in the United States just opened its doors. The center, called ReSTART, is somewhat ironically located near Redmond, headquarters of Microsoft and a world center of the computer industry. It opened in July and for $14,000 offers a 45-day program intended to help people wean themselves from pathological computer use, which can include obsessive use of video games, texting, Facebook, eBay, Twitter and any other time-killers brought courtesy of technology. Internet addiction is not recognized as a separate disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and treatment is not generally covered by insurance. But there are many such treatment centers in China, South Korea and Taiwan — where Internet addiction is taken very seriously — and many psychiatric experts say it is clear that Internet addiction is real and harmful.

1,600 Workers Let Go Over Legal Status

Clothing company American Apparel said Thursday it is terminating 1,600 employees at its Los Angeles operations after a government investigation into workers’ immigration status. The federal government has recently shifted its attention in immigration probes to make employers the primary target of immigration raids. In July, Homeland Security released a list of 652 businesses nationwide that will receive audits of their work force. After an audit of American Apparel’s (APP) employee records, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement informed the company that documents for about 1,800 current workers — representing about one-third of its Los Angeles-based work force — indicated they either were illegally working in the U.S. or potentially illegal to work. The workers were given 30 days to 60 days to produce additional documents proving their eligibility. Of the 1,800 workers identified, 1,600 were deemed to be unauthorized to work. The agency wasn’t able to verify the status of 200 others.

Poll Shows Congress’ Popularity Dropping

A new poll says slightly more than one-third of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Democratic-led Congress. The Pew Research Center says the 37% expressing positive opinions represents a decline of 13 points since April. In a clear warning to the majority party, the favorable percentage is one of the lowest in more than two decades of Pew surveys. In another sign of bad news for Democrats, the poll found a major drop in intentions to vote Democratic in next year’s midterm elections. Forty-five% of respondents said they would vote for a Democratic candidate in their district or lean Democratic, while 44% said they would vote or lean Republican. Four years ago Democrats led 52% to 40% as they went on to gain control of Congress.

Obama to Track Your Info

The White House is hiring a contractor to harvest information about Americans from its pages on social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. The National Legal and Policy Center, or NLPC, revealed the White House New Media team is seeking to hire a technology vendor to collect data such as comments, tag lines, e-mail, audio and video from any place where the White House “maintains a presence” – for a period of up to eight years. “The contractor shall provide the necessary services to capture, store, extract to approved formats, and transfer content published by EOP (Executive Office of the President) on publicly-accessible web sites, along with information posted by non-EOP persons on publicly-accessible web sites where the EOP offices under PRA (Presidential Records Act) maintains a presence,” the posting states.

  • Big Brother Obama is becoming paranoid

Planned Obama Speech to Students Sparks Protest

Some schools won’t show President Obama‘s online speech to the nation’s students Tuesday because of the objections of administrators and parents. Independence, Mo., School District Superintendent Jim Hinson says he’s gotten “more calls than we’ve ever had on an issue,” some from parents who will keep their children home Tuesday. Lesson plans sent to schools originally suggested that students write letters to themselves “about what they can do to help the president.” That language prompted conservative radio host Glenn Beck to say the White House goal is the “indoctrination” of children.

Is Obama the AntiChrist?

A strange video has shown up on Youtube claiming that Jesus identified Obama as the Antichrist. Some Christians have been startled by this wildly popular video and believe that the evidence is overwhelming. You can watch the video by clicking here. The net of it is that two key Hebrew/Aramaic words in the Bible are close to Obama’s first and last names.

Feds Fine Pfizer Record $2.3 billion

Federal prosecutors hit Pfizer Inc. with a record-breaking $2.3 billion in fines Wednesday and called the world’s largest drugmaker a repeating corporate cheat for illegal drug promotions that plied doctors with free golf, massages and resort junkets. Announcing the penalty as a warning to all drug manufacturers, Justice Department officials said the overall settlement is the largest ever paid by a drug company for suspected violations of federal drug rules, and the $1.2 billion criminal fine is the largest ever in any U.S. criminal case. Authorities called Pfizer a repeat offender, noting it is the company’s fourth such settlement of government charges in the past decade. The allegations surround the marketing of 13 different drugs, including big sellers such as Viagra, Zoloft and Lipitor.

Women Take Over Job Market

Women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time, a historic reversal caused by long-term changes in women’s roles and massive job losses for men during this recession. Women held 49.83% of the nation’s 132 million jobs in June and they’re gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The only parts of the economy still growing — health care, education and government — have traditionally hired mostly women. At the current pace, women will become a majority of workers in October or November. The change reflects the growing importance of women as wage earners, but it doesn’t show full equality. On average, women work fewer hours than men, hold more part-time jobs and earn 77% of what men make.

1.3 Million to Lose Jobless Benefits by Year’s End

More than 1.3 million Americans unemployment insurance benefits will run out by the end of the year, placing extra strain on an economy that is just starting to recover from the worst downturn in a generation. These are the most unfortunate of America’s 14.5 million jobless: the ones whose benefits are drying up — in some cases after a record 18 months of government support. With savings depleted and job opportunities scarce, people …. are living with relatives and borrowing cash from friends. They are even skipping meals. The government said Thursday that 570,000 laid-off workers filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the number of people receiving benefits to 6.23 million.

Economic News

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say the country’s still in a recession, according to a new national poll. Eighty-seven percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning say the nation’s in a serious, moderate or mild recession, and nearly 7 in 10 say things are going badly in the country today. “Economists may be speculating that the recession is over, but don’t tell that to the American public,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high, but employers cut a fewer-than-expected 216,000 jobs in August, the government said Friday in a report showing a still fragile labor market. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose to 9.7% after dipping to 9.4% in July and the decline in payrolls was the smallest in a year. There were 7.3 million Americans who held multiple jobs this past January, representing about 5% of the total workforce.

Retailers on Thursday posted sales declines for August as shoppers held back on back-to-school purchases and continued to focus on necessities, raising further concern about the upcoming holiday season. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for about 70% of economic activity. Thursday’s results didn’t offer much evidence of a recovery

As shares of bailed-out banks bottomed out earlier this year, stock options were awarded to their top executives, setting them up for millions of dollars in profit as prices rebounded, according to a report released Wednesday. The top five executives at 10 financial institutions that took some of the biggest taxpayer bailouts have seen a combined increase in the value of their stock options of nearly $90 million, the report by the Institute for Policy Studies said..

California taxpayers will pay nearly $10 million in interest on the nearly half a million IOUs the state has issued this summer. California ran short of cash this summer amid a budget deficit and was forced to hand out the warrants to vendors and contractors. Friday marks the first day the state will begin redeeming them. Since July 2, California has issued 449,241 IOUs worth more than $2.6 billion.

Rental car rates are climbing, despite sluggish demand resulting from fewer people traveling. The higher rates are hitting leisure travelers who don’t get the lower corporate rates that businesses negotiate with the rental companies. Rental companies have been able to raise rates primarily by buying fewer cars, shrinking supply and artificially creating scarcity.

Gunmen Kill 18 at Mexico Rehab Center

Investigators hunted for suspects Thursday following the execution of 18 youths at a drug rehab center in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, one of the most brazen episodes yet in Mexico‘s drug cartel wars. It was the third recent attack on a drug treatment center in Ciudad Juarez. Patricia Gonzalez, the prosecutor of Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located, said Thursday that the centers have frequently been used by drug cartel members as hide-outs from police or rival gang members. In all, 40 people were murdered throughout Chihuahua on Wednesday, according to Mexican newspaper El Universal, which called it the bloodiest day in “the history of crime” in the state.

U.S. Cuts Aid to Honduras

The Obama administration cut all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras on Thursday over the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya, making permanent a temporary suspension of U.S. aid imposed after he was deposed in June. More than $200 million is at stake. The State Department made the announcement as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Zelaya.

U.N. Peacekeeping Chief says Darfur War is Over

The outgoing U.N. peacekeeping chief in Sudan’s Darfur region said the world should no longer consider the long-running conflict a war after a sharp decline in violence and deaths over the past year. Activists and Darfur residents disagree, and the comments heightened anxiety that there will be less international focus on resolving the root problems in the troubled region. U.N. peacekeepers have recorded a sharp decline in fatalities from violence. There were 16 deaths in June, compared to an average 130 deaths per month last year. The Darfur conflict began in February 2003 when ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government in Khartoum, claiming discrimination and neglect. U.N. officials say the war has claimed at least 300,000 lives from violence, disease and displacement. They say some 2.7 million people were driven from their homes and at its height, in 2003-2005, it was called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Zimbabwe Vastly Better than Last Year, U.S. Bishop Says

Catholic News Service reports Zimbabwe is no longer a “desperate” place. “There is food in the shops, people are in the supermarkets buying things,” said, Bishop Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla. Ricard says he sees a “level of hope” that was nonexistent last year, when hyperinflation, drought and political corruption still devastated the country. Ricard and Steve Hilbert, Africa policy adviser in the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, visited the country Aug. 26-28 for the first time since 2008. “It was startling to see the number of people on the streets” of the capital, Harare, Hilbert said. “Zimbabwe a lot has changed for the better.” The unity government remains fragile, but Zimbabweans are hopeful that upcoming referendums will lead to a new, permanent constitution to safeguard the country’s progress.

Israeli Settlements at Issue

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will approve hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements before slowing settlement construction, two of his aides said Friday, in an apparent snub of Washington’s public demand for a total settlement freeze. The U.S. has a set a high public bar for a freeze, saying repeatedly that all settlement activity on lands the Palestinians claim for a future state must stop, without exception.

Afghanistan

A NATO jet blasted two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, setting off a huge fireball Friday that killed up to 90 people, including dozens of civilians, Afghan officials said. The NATO command said a “large number of insurgents” were killed or injured in the pre-dawn attack. The airstrike is likely to intensify concern over civilian casualties in the Afghan war. The top NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has ordered curbs on airstrikes after a strong backlash among Afghans over civilians killed in military operations.

Facing eroding public support for the war in Afghanistan, Defense secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that the Obama administration’s effort in the 8-year-old conflict is “only now beginning.” Several recent public opinion polls have shown Americans expressing declining support for the idea of sending more troops to the conflict and falling confidence in how the campaign is going. Gates argued that President Obama’s new strategy in Afghanistan has not been given a chance to work.

North Korea

North Korea announced Friday that its process of enriching uranium is nearly complete, giving it a new way to make nuclear bombs as the U.S. and regional powers discuss how to bring the communist country back to disarmament talks. The move raises concerns that North Korea may soon produce uranium-based bombs in addition to those made from plutonium. The U.S., China, Japan, Russia and South Korea had been trying for years to persuade North Korea to dismantle its plutonium-based nuclear program, which experts say has yielded enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen bombs, in exchange for much-needed aid. After hashing out a 2007 disarmament-for-aid deal, North Korea walked away from those talks earlier this year in anger over the rising international outcry over a rocket launch widely condemned as a disguised test of its long-range missile technology.

Earthquakes

Rescuers dug through rocks and debris with their bare hands Thursday in search of dozens of villagers believed buried in a landslide triggered by a strong Indonesian earthquake that killed at least 63 people and damaged or destroyed 87,000 buildings. At least 125 people were hospitalized with injuries from the 7.0 magnitude quake just off the coast of densely populated Java island. More than 28,000 people were forced into temporary shelters.

Wildfires

Authorities said Thursday they were opening a homicide investigation after determining that the massive wildfire that has scarred 226 square miles, destroyed 141 structures and killed two firefighters was arson. Most people who fled the wildfire were allowed to return home Thursday. Fire officials reported the fire was 38% contained. Federal authorities failed to follow through on plans earlier this year to burn away highly flammable brush in a forest on the edge of Los Angeles to avoid the very kind of wildfire now raging there, The Associated Press has learned. Months before the huge blaze erupted, the U.S. Forest Service obtained permits to burn away the undergrowth and brush on more than 1,700 acres of the Angeles National Forest. But just 193 acres had been cleared by the time the fire broke out The agency defended its efforts, saying weather, wind and environmental rules tightly limit how often these “prescribed burns” can be conducted.

Weather

Arctic temperatures are now at their warmest in two millennia, according to researchers writing in today’s issue of the journal Science. The researchers say what’s happening in the Arctic is further evidence that human activities contribute to climate change, and they say it’s a warning that the rest of the Earth is at risk.

  • Whether a natural cycle of nature or human-induced, or both, this is an end-time phenomenon that will contribute to the plagues and woes highlighted in the book of Revelation

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