Bishops Covered Up Priests’ Child Abuse

Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Dublin covered up decades of child abuse by priests to protect the church’s reputation, an expert commission reported Thursday after a three-year investigation. Abuse victims welcomed the report on the Dublin Archdiocese’s mishandling of abuse complaints against its parish priests from 1975 to 2004. It followed a parallel report published in May into five decades of rape, beatings and other cruelty committed by Catholic orders of nuns and brothers nationwide in church-run schools, children’s workhouses and orphanages from the 1930s to mid-1990s. The government said the Dublin investigation “shows clearly that a systemic, calculated perversion of power and trust was visited on helpless and innocent children in the archdiocese.”

  • Many illegal and immoral acts are routinely performed to protect the “church.” This is not what Jesus wants for His Church. Instead, the “hidden things of shame” (2Cor. 4:2) need to be brought out into the light to be exposed and healed (Eph. 5:13)

‘Honor Killings’ in USA Raise Concerns

Muslim immigrant men have been accused of six “honor killings” in the United States in the past two years, prompting concerns that the Muslim community and police need to do more to stop such crimes. Honor killings are generally defined as murders of women by relatives who claim the victim brought shame to the family. Thousands of such killings have occurred in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Palestinian territories, according to the World Health Organization. Some clerics and even lawmakers in these countries have said families have the right to commit honor killings as a way of maintaining values.

  • Islam is especially regressive toward women who are treated more as property than human beings

Military Divorces Edge Up

Divorce rates among Army enlisted soldiers continued a gradual and steady increase for the seventh straight year with nearly 10,000 married G.I.s ending marriages during fiscal 2009, according Pentagon figures released Friday. Four percent of marriages among enlisted soldiers failed. The trend mirrors findings by Army battlefield researchers earlier this month that revealed a similar year-by-year increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq who complain of failing marriages. The evidence shows that long and multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are damaging military marriages, says Lt. Col. Paul Bliese, a research psychologist. The divorce rate within the Army is not the highest among the services — Air Force enlisted airmen registered a 4.3% divorce rate this year. The overall divorce rate in the U.S. military increased from 3.4% to 3.6% this year.

Senate Begins Health Care Debate

With the Senate set to begin debate Monday on health care overhaul, the all-hands-on-deck Democratic coalition that allowed the bill to advance is fracturing. Some Democratic senators say they’ll jump ship without tighter restrictions on abortion coverage. Others say they’ll go unless a government plan to compete with private insurance companies gets tossed. Such concessions would enrage liberals, the heart and soul of the party. The public is ambivalent about the Democrats’ legislation. While 58 percent want elected officials to tackle health care now, about half of those supporters say they don’t like what they’re hearing about the plans, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Red Kettle Campaign Expands Beyond Pocket Change

The Christian Post reports that The Salvation Army’s signature campaign is now letting people donate plastic in 120 cities. The 118th Red Kettle Christmas campaign added credit card readers to more than 300 kettle sites and marketed virtual red kettles on various corporate and individual websites, including Facebook. “These electronic payment machines let everyone get into the charitable Christmas spirit even if they don’t have quarters, dimes and nickels,” said Major George Hood, The Salvation Army’s National Community Relations and Development Secretary. The move acknowledges that fewer people are paying for Christmas with cash. “Our local units are taking the initiative to meet donors wherever they are, and however they would choose to give, whether that be with a credit card, online, or in our traditional Red Kettles,” he added.

Administration Plans New Efforts on Foreclosures

With the foreclosure crisis showing no signs of relenting, the Obama administration plans to expand a program aimed at helping people remain in their homes. The goal of the announcement, expected Monday, is to increase the rate at which troubled home loans are converted into new loans with lower monthly payments. Industry officials said the effort would include increased pressure on mortgage companies to accelerate loan modifications by highlighting firms that are lagging in that area. The Treasury is also expected to announce that it will wait until the loan modifications are permanent before paying cash incentives to mortgage companies that lower loan payments. Under a $75 billion Treasury program, companies that agree to lower payments for troubled borrowers collect $1,000 initially from the government for each loan, followed by $1,000 annually for up to three years. The program has come under heavy criticism for failing to do enough to attack a tidal wave of foreclosures. Analysts said the foreclosure crisis is likely to persist well into next year as high unemployment pushes more people out of their homes.

Food Stamp Use Soaring

Food stamp use is expanding so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs. Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare. From the ailing resorts of the Florida Keys to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea, the program is now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day. Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster. “I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”

  • That our government wants to see this program expand even further is indicative of the underlying desire for more dependency and more control over every aspect of our lives.

Economic News

Shoppers took to stores in big numbers over the holiday weekend, but average spending per person fell as they snapped up bargains — trend retail analysts expect to continue through Christmas. The retail federation says 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the weekend, up from 172 million last year, based on a survey of almost 5,000 consumers by BIGresearch. On average, consumers spent $343.31 per person vs. $372.57 a year ago, the survey said.

Growing ranks of U.S. citizens are heading to street corners and home improvement store parking lots to find day-labor work usually done by illegal immigrants. The trend is most pronounced in regions where hot construction markets have collapsed. Day laborers gather at high-traffic spots such as busy intersections and home improvement stores, looking for pick-up work such as painting, laying bricks or landscaping. Contractors and homeowners describe the jobs and negotiate pay on the spot.

UN Wants $7.1 Billion for 2010 Humanitarian Work

The United Nations asked Monday for $7.1 billion to pay for its humanitarian work around the world next year, with Sudan and its troubled Darfur region most in need and Afghanistan rising to second. The money will go toward providing 48 million people in 25 countries with urgent aid such as tents, water and medicines, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who urged countries not to cut back on humanitarian donations as they struggle with economic turmoil at home. Last year the U.N. originally asked donors for $7 billion, but additional appeals pushed the total figure for 2009 to $9.7 billion as conflicts in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Palestinian territory of Gaza demanded increased humanitarian responses. The global body said it received just under two-thirds of the money it asked for.

Afghanistan

The Afghanistan strategy President Obama will detail Tuesday involves more than sending additional forces, experts and officials say, and will give the president a chance to address growing public skepticism. The president’s decision, which will be announced in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., comes after months of debate within the administration. That debate intensified as the Afghan insurgency continued to heat up throughout the year, the Afghan government was roiled by a disputed election and a troop request by the top U.S. commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was leaked to The Washington Post in September.

Iran

Responding to a U.N. demand that Iran stop its uranium-enrichment activity, an Iranian official suggests that his country may pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. If Iran were to follow through on the threat, it would no longer be subject to oversight by the U.N. nuclear agency, which would seriously hinder efforts to ensure that enriched uranium was not used for nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its nuclear program is meant only for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. and other nations fear Iran is developing weapons. Two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency rebuked Iran over its nuclear program, the Iranian Cabinet on Sunday ordered a dramatic expansion of the program that would include an additional 10 nuclear plants.

Iranian state radio says the country’s parliament has approved a bill earmarking $20 million to support militant groups opposing the West. It was not immediately clear which groups would receive funding from Iran, but Tehran already backs the Islamic militants Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The move is seen as a reaction to U.S. and British criticism of Iran’s violent crackdown on protests after the disputed June presidential election.

Honduras

Honduras will hold general elections on Sunday, which many hope will allow the Central American nation to move past a six-month political crisis. Neither ousted president Manuel Zelaya or the de facto leader Roberto Micheletti are running for office. But the dispute between the two men remains a key issue in the campaign. About 30,000 police officers and soldiers were set to be deployed across Honduras. Those who support ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who was forced from office in a coup in June, are urging citizens to stay home. They say that participating in the polls is tantamount to legitimizing the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti, who replaced Zelaya. The current government, on the other hand, sees the election as a means to end months of international isolation. The coup, widely condemned worldwide, cut off foreign aid to the Central American nation and dealt a blow to its economy.

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