U.N. Council Passes Resolution Supporting Gay Rights

The United Nations issued its first condemnation of discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people on Friday in a cautiously worded declaration hailed by supporters including the United States as a historic moment. Members of the U.N. Human Rights Council narrowly voted in favor of the resolution put forward by South Africa, against strong opposition from African and Islamic countries. Couched in delicate diplomatic language, the resolution commissions a study of discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world, the findings of which will be discussed by the Geneva-based council at a later meeting. The proposal went too far for many of the council’s 47-member states, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Pakistan. A diplomat from the northwest African state of Mauritania said it was “an attempt to replace the natural rights of a human being with an unnatural right.”

  • Such sexual deviations are indeed unnatural – and immoral. However, we must still love the sinner while condemning the sin.

N.Y. Gay Marriage Bill Hits Snags on Religion Questions

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was cautiously optimistic his gay marriage bill will soon become law as he held more one-on-one negotiations Friday with Senate Republicans. The Republicans who hold the critical votes say they worry Cuomo’s bill doesn’t adequately protect religious groups and churches that refuse to preside over same-sex weddings and other services. The Democrat-led Assembly passed the measure Wednesday as expected, and a vote in the Senate had been anticipated this week. The bill is widely viewed as the key to national momentum on the issue.

Obama Overruled Lawyers on Libya Air War

President Barack Obama decided he could continue the air war in Libya without congressional approval despite rulings to the contrary from Justice Department and Pentagon lawyers. The president relied instead on the opinions of other senior administration lawyers that continuing U.S. participation in the air operations against the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi did not constitute “hostilities,” triggering the need for Congressional permission under the War Powers Resolution, the New York Times reported in its online edition Friday night. The 1973 law prohibits the military from being involved in actions for more than 60 days without congressional authorization, plus a 30-day extension. The 60-day deadline passed last month with the White House saying it is in compliance with the law. The 90-day mark is Sunday. One issue was reported to be whether firing missiles from drones amounted to hostilities. Presidents can ignore the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel, but rarely do so, the newspaper reported.

  • Missiles fired from drones not hostile? Dictator Obama prefers ruling by fiat than obeying the Constitution.

Romney, Cain Nix Anti-Abortion Pledge

Presidenial hopefuls Mitt Romney and Herman Cain have declined to sign a pledge that calls for White House hopefuls to push for anti-abortion goals if elected presdient, Politico reports. Five other candidates — Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum — have signed the pledge, written by the Susan B. Anthony List. The pledge requires that candidates promise to nominate or appoint pro-life judges, Cabinet members and administration officials. It also calls for zero taxpayer funding for abortion and the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Romney was concerned that abiding by the pledge would “strip taxpayer funding from thousands of healthcare facilities” and would hamstring him in selecting officials for the executive branch.

Abortionist Lauded in Arizona

Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy reports that, “Phoenix Magazine’s current edition portrays a glowing image of Valley abortionist Gabrielle Goodrick, who claims to perform, on average, 40 abortions per week. The article reads like a Planned Parenthood ad: dehumanizing the preborn and completely ignoring the considerable physical and emotional risks women face when they have an abortion.” Shane Wikfors of the Sonoran Alliance points out what is missing from the article: Goodrick was placed on five years probation by the Arizona Medical Board for a substance abuse problem and was not “safe to practice.” “While not surprising, the lack of journalistic integrity is astounding,” Herrod says.

Left-Leaning Christians Rally at ‘Wild Goose’ Festival

The Wild Goose Festival is an attempt to reimagine Christianity for the 21st century under a bigger, wider more inclusive tent. The four-day festival is expected to draw thousands of young campers and some of the leading lights of the so-called Emergent Christianity movement. Organizers want to distance themselves from the politicized versions of Christianity, and re-engage in social justice work — particularly prison reform, a topic of some of the sessions. Wild Goose leaders share a conviction that there are multiple streams of Christianity flowing into one river. Already, the festival has drawn the ire of more conventional evangelical bloggers who don’t like its inclusive nature or openness to gays and lesbians. “The wise Christian will have nothing to do with these neo-Gnostic fools who’ve unbuckled themselves from the Word of God and have embarked upon their Wild Goose Chase of subjective experience,” wrote Ken Silva of New Hampshire-based Apprising Ministries.

  • This movement and its offshoots represent a dangerous attempt to undermine basic Biblical values under the guise of love, tolerance, inclusiveness and other lofty goals that sound good on the surface but are rotten to the core – a typical Satanic ruse.

NBC Forced to Apologize for Leaving Out ‘Under God’ in Pledge

An omission in the Pledge of Allegiance had NBC issuing an on-air apology Sunday during the U.S. Open for editing out ‘under God’ out of the pledge of allegiance. The network opened its broadcast with a montage that included children reciting the pledge, but the words “under God” were omitted. The backlash on social media was quick and harsh, with some tweets calling for a boycott of NBC. “Regrettably, a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance that was in that feature was edited out. It was not done to upset anyone, and we’d like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it,” NBC announced.

Christians Die for Their Beliefs Every 5 Minutes

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has told an OSCE meeting in Bodollo, Hungary, that 105,000 people are killed every year because of their Christian faith.  That means an average of one Christian is killed every five minutes. Researcher Bert Hickman of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity “We report that … over the last 10 years, on average 100,000 Christians have been killed every year,” Hickman concurred. “This doesn’t count Christians who are killed incidentally because of other causes,” he clarified. International Christian Concern’s Jonathan Racho says “Persecution of Christians has really increased over the past couple of years… The number is consistent with what we’ve been hearing from reports of violent persecution, massacres, and violence.”

More States Require ID to Vote

State legislatures across the country have passed a record number of laws this year requiring photo identification to vote, a controversial move pushed by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. Proponents say the measures prevent vote fraud. Opponents say they are designed to stifle turnout among students, poor people and minorities, who are more likely to vote for Democrats but might lack government-issued IDs, such as driver’s licenses and passports. Six states have enacted photo ID laws since January — Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Bills in New Hampshire and North Carolina await gubernatorial action. The measures, all passed by Republican-controlled legislatures, could bring to 17 the number of states with photo ID requirements.

Obama Seeks to Jump-Start Economy Before 2012 Elections

Buffeted by glum economic news and frustrated by chronic joblessness despite $1 trillion in stimulus spending, the Obama administration has begun exploring a plethora of new proposals aimed at jump-starting the economy. Cuts in payroll taxes, reductions in the corporate tax rate, opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reduce gas prices, and persuading Republicans to buy into more stimulus programs are just a few of the concepts reportedly being discussed. The administration has been battered by a spate of bad economic reports. Among them: Unemployment in May jumped to 9.1 percent, its highest level this year; real estate values have dropped to levels not seen since 2002; new jobless claims continue to be higher than expected. lso, the National Federation of Independent Business reported Tuesday that a majority of small businesses plan to trim their payrolls — the first time that’s happened since September 2010.

  • The danger is that Obama will print more money and create more debt in a vain attempt to get reelected that will further push the economy over the edge

Economic News

Unemployment payments to service members fresh out of the military have doubled since 2008, a sign that veterans are returning from war to an increasingly tough job market. The military paid $882 million in unemployment benefits last year, up from $450 million in fiscal 2008. The 2011 figures are trending even higher.

High food prices are likely to rise even further over the next decade, putting the poor at an increasing risk of malnutrition and hunger, a world food report warned Friday. The report predicts that prices will be 20% higher for cereals and up to 30% higher for meat in the coming decade compared to the past ten years.

As a result of the Dodd-Frank Act enacted by US Congress, a new regulation prohibiting US residents from trading over the counter precious metals, including gold and silver, will go into effect on Friday, July 15, 2011. Section 742(a) of the Dodd-Frank act “prohibits any person from entering into, or offering to enter into, a transaction in any commodity with a person that is not an eligible contract participant or an eligible commercial entity, on a leveraged or margined basis.”

  • Typically, this regulation is so loosely worded that we’ll have to wait and see how it’s enforced. However, control over the gold and silver markets in times of economic “emergency” is a key New World Order objective.

Though the finance ministers of the 17 countries that use the euro agreed to hand over the next bailout installment, worth 12 billion euros ($17 billion), they said they would only do that if the Greek Parliament backed further austerity measures. Greece is preparing to sell off billions of dollars worth of state assets including airports, highways, state-owned companies as well as banks, real estate and gaming licenses to meet international lenders’ demands that it raise funds.

Libya

NATO warplanes dashed into the Libyan capital Tripoli at midday Friday, pounding a target in the south of the city and sending a thick cloud of black smoke rising high into the air. NATO has been ramping up the pressure on Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. Though most airstrikes happen under cover of darkness, daytime raids have grown more frequent. Renewed diplomatic efforts to halt the country’s civil war appeared to be gaining momentum. Officials in the capital say they are open to international efforts that would bring an end to four months of fighting between forces loyal to the longtime leader and rebels who control the eastern third of the country along with pockets in the west. But they insist that Gadhafi will not bow to international pressure to push him aside.

Japan

The owner of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant plans to construct a barrier around one of its reactors that The Telegraph in London describes as a “concrete sarcophagus.” The structure, to contain radiation resulting from the plant’s meltdown after the deadly earthquake and tsunami in March, will be similar to the one built around the reactors at Russia’s Chernobyl plant in 1986. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. will begin construction on June 27, using remote-controlled equipment in order to protect workers. The structure will be outfitted with filters that clean the air inside, allowing workers to eventually enter the facility. The company is expected to do the same with the other reactors if this move proves effective. The Japanese government also approved a bailout that could help save the company from collapse in the face of its estimated $100 billion bill stemming from the Fukushima meltdown in March.

Afghanistan

Obama promised in December, 2009 to start withdrawing troops from the decade-long war in Afghanistan this July — and have almost all of them out by 2014. Now, it’s decision time again and the president is wrestling with the scope and pace of that withdrawal. Does he follow the advice of his military leaders and keep the bulk of the 100,000 troops there for as long as possible? Or does he cede to public impatience and growing demands from Congress that he launch a swift withdrawal?  A bipartisan group of 27 senators sent a letter to Obama noting that the mission in Afghanistan is largely complete — the Taliban government has been driven from power, al-Qaeda has been significantly diminished and its leader, Osama bin Laden, is dead — and demanding a “sizable” reduction in combat troops and logistical and support forces. Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report saying that nearly $19 billion in U.S. aid to Afghanistan over a decade has generated waste and corruption and been of limited success.

A suicide attacker blew up his explosives-laden car next to a German military convoy in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing three Afghan civilians and wounding eleven others. The attack comes after a particularly violent day for Afghan and NATO security forces. On Saturday, insurgents targeted a police station in a suicide attack in Kabul, killing nine people, including five civilians, before they were eventually gunned down. Eight NATO service members were killed in Afghanistan the same day. The violence continues despite assertions by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that fledgling peace talks have started between the U.S. and Afghan government and Taliban emissaries. There are as many as 40,000 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, but only 1,700 of them have agreed to switch sides.

Pakistan

U.S. officials say Pakistan has apparently tipped off militants at two more bomb-building factories in its tribal areas, giving the terror suspects time to flee, after U.S. intelligence shared the locations with the Pakistani government. The latest incidents bring to a total of four bomb-making sites that the U.S. has shared with Pakistan only to have the terrorist suspects flee before the Pakistani military arrived much later. The report does not bode well for attempts by both sides to mend relations and rebuild trust after the U.S. raid on May 2 that killed Osama bin Laden.

Suspected U.S. drones fired missiles at a vehicle and a house in northwest Pakistan, killing at least seven people Monday in a rare attack in an area where some of NATO’s fiercest enemies have reportedly traveled. The Obama administration has dramatically stepped up covert CIA drone attacks against militants in Pakistan, but there have been only a handful of strikes in the Kurram tribal area. The U.S. has repeatedly asked Pakistan to launch an offensive against the network in North Waziristan, but the military has said that its forces are stretched too thin by other operations in the tribal areas. As a result, the U.S. has stepped up drone attacks in the area. The strikes Monday in Kurram could signal an expansion of this effort.

Saudi Arabia

Several Saudi women boldly got behind the wheel Friday, including one who managed a 45-minute trip through the nation’s capital, seeking to ignite a road rebellion against the male-only driving rules in the ultraconservative kingdom. Activists have not appealed for mass protests in any specific sites. But they urged Saudi women to begin a growing mutiny against the driving restrictions that are supported by clerics backing austere interpretations of Islam and enforced by powerful morality squads.

Libya

The Libyan government accused NATO of bombing a residential neighborhood in the capital and killing civilians early Sunday, adding to its charges that the alliance is striking nonmilitary targets. At least four people, including two children, were reported killed.

Yemen

At least 17 al Qaeda militants have died in clashes with Yemeni armed forces in Abyan province, state-run Yemen TV reported Monday. More than 100 influential religious clerics and tribal leaders called for the Yemeni president’s ouster and elections to choose a new leader, adding their weight to the opposition movement seeking to end nearly 33 years of autocratic rule by Ali Abdullah Saleh. Government forces in southern Yemen killed 12 al-Qaeda-linked militants and wounded three others in shelling attacks Sunday, Islamic militants are taking advantage of internal strife in Yemen to overrun parts of the country. President Ali Abdullah Saleh is being treated in Saudi Arabia for serious injuries suffered in a June 3 attack on his palace. In his absence, Yemen’s opposition parties have sought to persuade the ruling party to join them in a transitional leadership that would effectively shut out Saleh, who has resisted pressure at home and abroad to step down.

Syria

Syria’s embattled president said Monday his regime would consider political reforms, including ending his Baath Party’s monopoly on power. But Bashar Assad gave no sign he might step down, the key demand of nationwide protests. “Saboteurs” were trying to exploit legitimate demands for reform, he said. The vague timetable and few specifics — and lack of any clear move toward ending the Assad family’s 40-year rule — left Syrian dissidents deeply dissatisfied. The opposition estimates more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained as Assad unleashed his military, pro-regime gunmen and the country’s other security forces to crush the protest movement.

Volcanoes

The ash cloud from a Chilean volcano that has been erupting for nearly two weeks has circled the globe and come home again. The cloud — which has disrupted flights in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia and New Zealand on its around-the-world trip — on Friday forced Chilean officials to cancel domestic flights for the first time since the Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting June 4. Chilean authorities evacuated 3,500 people living near the volcano after it began erupting but some have since returned.

Wildfires

Thousands more people evacuated their homes in southern Arizona Sunday as crews battling the Monument wildfire faced extremely high winds that drove flames across roads and containment lines and toward populated areas. The Monument Fire was one of several raging in the Arizona and New Mexico where forecasters say fire crews would likely have little relief from the hot, windy weather that has dogged them for days. About 3,000 people from 1,700 homes were evacuated south of the city of Sierra Vista where the blaze has been burning for a week but picked up speed Sunday as winds gusted up to 60 mph. The flames raced down a mountain and into a heavily populated area, forcing crews to abandon their lines and set up in new spots. Sunday’s evacuations brought the total number to about 10,000 people from 4,300 homes forced to flee the flames that have consumed almost 27,000 acres (over 40 square miles). Some residences were destroyed Sunday, adding to the 44 already reported, but fire officials still don’t have an exact number.

Meanwhile, the massive Wallow Fire that has been burning in eastern Arizona for three weeks kept about 200 residents of Luna, N.M., under an evacuation order for a second day. A containment line that had held through days of high winds was breached Saturday and the fire raced toward town before shifting winds steered it around the community. The Wallow fire, which is burning up much of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, is the largest of several wildfires burning in spots across the southwestern United States. The Wallow blaze has consumed nearly 800 square miles, a little more than 511,000 acres. Residents of Alpine, Ariz., were allowed to return to their homes Saturday morning after being forced out for more than two weeks, while residents of the resort town of Greer will be allowed to return home late Monday morning.

A new wildfire ignited Sunday in northcentral Arizona that officials said could threaten powerlines running to Phoenix as well as some scattered ranches in coming days. The blaze, about 40 miles northeast of Payson, had burned about 500 acres. Another wildfire in Cochise County, Ariz., called Horseshoe Two was 75% contained after charring about 210,000 acres — nearly 330 square miles. It has destroyed 23 structures since it started May 8. All of the Arizona wildfires are believed to be human caused. Investigators believe a campfire was the most likely cause of the Wallow fire. Numerous wildfires are also burning in drought-stricken New Mexico, Texas and Florida.

Weather

Almost all the levees along the Missouri River held strong. There have been no significant injuries or deaths. Now comes the weeks of fretting and worry over whether levees in several states will continue to hold until the river starts to drop sometime this fall. Water from one levee breach, five miles south of the small town of Hamburg, Iowa, reached the partially evacuated community late Wednesday. Upriver in South Sioux City, Neb., officials scrambled earlier this month to build a 7,000-foot-long levee to protect the city’s northwest side.

A flooded river in eastern China is at its highest level in more than 50 years, and thousands of train passengers were stranded after landslides buried parts of a railway line in the southwest. Flooding in China over the past two weeks has left more than 170 people dead or missing and forced out residents in regions along the Yangtze River. The landslides and mudslides have toppled homes and blocked roads due to ongoing torrential rains.

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