July 23rd, 2014
Some 40 Catholic bishops from various dioceses in Mexico are attending an "intensive" exorcism seminar this week at the Pontifical University of Mexico, according to university rector Mario Flores Angel Ramos.
The bishops will be trained in how to perform exorcisms, which are "a reality in our society and it should be addressed from a biblical, theologic perspective with psychiatric aspects," according to Ramos.
Italian Bishop Sante Babolin, who is leading the training along with a theologian and a psychiatrist, said he has conducted 1,650 exorcisms on 150 people (each case demands a series of exorcisms). He has succeeded 50 times, he said.
Exorcisms, the cleansing of demons from a person or area, are ancient parts of several religions. In Catholicism, exorcisms are church-sanctioned — though rarely talked about — rituals done in the name of Jesus Christ.
"Of every 100 people who believe they need an exorcism, only 2.4 percent are found to be authentic cases," he said. "The rest are just bothered souls."
Pope Francis drew headlines not long ago for being caught on tape performing an exorcism, and earlier this week, the Vatican endorsed the International Association of Exorcists, which has 250 members from 30 countries.
July 22nd, 2014
Written by Raven Clabough
The United Nations continues to attempt to exert its unfounded authority in the affairs of the United States, this time by involving itself in the border crisis.
On the southern border of the United States, an influx of thousands of illegal immigrants, including unaccompanied children, has been migrating from Central America and finding that housing facilities are overflowing. Local communities across the country, including in California and New York, have refused to permit overflow shelters to house the immigrant children to be opened.
The cost of the crisis for the American people is staggering. Taxpayer money is used to secure space for the detention and feeding of the illegal immigrants. In June, the White House announced a plan to spend millions by sending aide to governments in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to help reduce crime and violence in an "effort" to reduce immigration.
The response from the Obama administration has been ineffectual at best, and the president has taken what some critics view as an "aloof" position on the crisis. Enter the United Nations, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, has interests other than that of the United States to protect in this crisis.
WorldNetDaily reported, "Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHRC, are 'intensely discussing in meetings' the possibility of extending U.N. protection to the thousands of Central Americans crossing the U.S. border with Mexico illegally by defining them as 'refugees' who are seeking asylum from political and domestic violence in their home nations, WND has confirmed."
A 10-nation meeting in Nicaragua was held last week with ministers from the United States, Mexico and various Central American countries. Those in attendance included representatives from SICA, an El-Salvador-headquartered non-government organization endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 to create regional bodies authorized to interact with the United Nations.
Preliminary reports indicate that the officials concluded that the illegal aliens are "refugees" and therefore deserve international protection. The ministers cited the United Nation's declaration on the rights of refugees.
"They are leaving for some reason. Let's not send them back in a mechanical way, but rather evaluate the reasons they left their country," Fernando Protti, regional representative for the UN refugee agency, told the Associated Press.
Officials close to the UN discussions have told WND that it's a "tricky situation" since the Central American immigrants do not belong to any group that has been designated by the United Nations as victims of political or religious persecution.
NBC News observed that the designation would be unprecedented. "Central Americans would be among the first modern migrants considered refugees for fleeing violence and extortion at the hands of criminal gangs," writes NBC News.
While a UN resolution asking the illegal immigrants to be declared as "refugees" would lack any legal weight in the United States, the agency said it believes "the U.S. and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation, which implies that they shouldn't be automatically sent to their home countries but rather receive international protection."
"Unaccompanied children and families who fear for their lives and freedoms must not be forcibly returned without access to proper asylum procedures," UNHCR official Leslie Velez said in testimony submitted to the House Judiciary Committee late last month.
It is highly unlikely that the American people would support the designation of the illegal aliens as refugees, particularly since little has changed in Central America, where violence and poverty were always an issue. The American Thinker's Doris O'Brien wrote:
There's nothing new about the deplorable conditions in Central America. Poverty and waves of violence have been threatening people there for decades. But not until a way was devised to misinterpret an immigration law did the widespread exodus of children to the Promised Land actually come to pass. Forget the buses and trains. These wayward kids were transported here in ... the modern-day equivalent of the Trojan Horse.
Similarly, NBC News reported....
July 22nd, 2014
“We’re lucky they just put a flag up there — and not a bomb,” a law enforcement source said. “It could have been terrible. Who knows how much damage it could have done. It’s an embarrassment.”
Emergency Services cops lowered the 11-by-20-foot flags — which are the traditional symbol for “surrender” — and folded them into tight triangles using traditional procedures around 11 a.m.
The cops also packed up large aluminum cooking pans, secured with zip ties, which the vandals used to cover the bridge’s lights in order to pull off the stunt, a law enforcement source said.
The vandals pulled off the stunt by climbing a bridge cable and scaling a locked gate to reach the top of the towers, police sources said.
Lights on the Brooklyn tower went out at 3:29 a.m.; they went out on the Manhattan tower at 3:42 a.m., the source said. They stayed out until an officer on duty reported the flags at around 5:30 a.m., sources said.
“It amazes me nobody saw anything … I’m upset,” said Nick Krevatas 49, a DOT bridge painter, who was called to replace the flags at 7:30 a.m.
“They took the flags down and either painted them or bleached them,” he said while puffing a cigar.
He added, “Isn’t there a better way to express yourself, couldn’t they have used social media?”
The vandal or vandals who performed the stunt scaled a bridge cable — and a locked gate — to reach the top of the towers, police sources said.
“This may be somebody’s art project, or it may be somebody’s attempt at making a statement,” John Miller of the NYPD said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Krevatas and officials had replaced both of the white flags with a U.S. flags by 3:30 p.m.
Police are trying to figure out how someone was able to gain access to the bridge, which has around-the-clock patrol cars stationed on both sides of the bridge and security cameras focused at the base of the towers.
The cameras face the center of the span — but it’s sometimes hard to see all the way to the towers in the middle, police sources said.
Patrol cars also park nearby Tillary and Old Fulton streets, the sources said.
It’s not the first time a U.S. flag has been stolen from the historical landmark. In 2004, anti-Bush protesters swiped one during the Republican National Convention — demanding a group of demonstrators be released from police custody.
Getting to the top of the towers is no easy task. Specially trained Department of Transportation workers must walk the quarter-mile stretch on a foot-wide cable, attached to a tether, until they reach a ladder.
A Twitter parody account named @bicyclelobby jokingly claimed credit for the flag stunt on Tuesday — but Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said it was no laughing matter.
“If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing,” he said.
“The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets. We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time.”
In April, a street artist named Supine climbed the bridge and posted a video of his adventure on Youtube. He was later charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass.
More from the NY Post
– Additional reporting by Amber Sutherland, Kevin Fasick Ross Toback, Aaron Feis, and Natalie O’Neill
July 22nd, 2014
Wired / BY ERIK KLEMETTI
Sometimes, it’s the sales pitch that gets you rather than the actual car. That seems to be the case with the latest rash of media coverage over the “critical state” at Japan’s Fuji. You read the news coverage and you’d think that Fuji will erupt any second now, all thanks to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan. Now, I wouldn’t blame you if you got that message — it is exactly what press releases and quotes from the authors make it seem is the case. Dr. Frolent Brenguier, the lead author on a new study that appeared in Science, was quoted as saying “All we can say is that Mount Fuji is now in a state of pressure, which means it displays a high potential for eruption. The risk is clearly higher.” Seems pretty straight forward, doesn’t it? Their research must clearly show that Fuji is now in a state ready to erupt and we know that from some sort of pressure measurement.
Now, it is hard for me to blame the media for not going back and carefully reading the Science article to see if their data supports such grandiose claims. You have to believe that if a paper is published in Science, then it is supported by verifiable data — and for the most part, they are. Like any reputable journal, Science is rigorously peer-reviewed before any article is published. Now, big name journals like Natureand Science do fall prey to a significant trap. Not only do they want what they see as quality scientific research, but they also want it to be flashy. So, you might have done the best study ever on the eruptive history of Mt. X, but Nature and Sciencewouldn’t touch it unless you can make it flashy: Is Mt. X a “supervolcano”? Did it change global climate? Will it destroy us all in the future? In a sense, Nature andScience are the Hollywood of science publications — they want the big tentpole papers. That is where the danger lies, especially if you’re trying to get media coverage. How far can you push the interpretations, possibly even from outside the paper itself, to get the attention you desire?
Back to the Brenguier and others (2014) study on Mt. Fuji. They examined how the state of pressure in the crust across Japan changed after the massive M9 Tohoku earthquake in 2011. That earthquake released a massive amount of energy, and although it relieved stress near its epicenter, it likely caused stress in the crust to increase in other places as that energy was displaced. By examining how quickly seismic waves move through the crust (which is partially controlled by the state of stress in the crust), they could see where new stress has accumulated. They argue that places with the largest velocity reduction after the Tohoku earthquake are the places where the crust is feeling low effective pressure. This low effective pressure is caused by pressurized fluids, like magma or hydrothermal fluids (i.e., water), in the crust pushing outward on the rocks.
Not surprisingly, the places that saw the largest velocity reduction were places underneath all the active volcanoes across Japan (see right). In contrast, the smallest reduction occurred in places with rigid rocks, like granite. This change in seismic velocity is tiny — even in the areas with the largest change, it was only by ~0.12%. Now, this is where it gets tricky. They state: “The seismic velocity susceptibility to stress can be used as a proxy to the level of pressurization of the hydrothermal and/or magmatic fluids in volcanic areas.” This means that anywhere that either hydrothermal or magmatic fluids are present can experience the large drop in seismic velocities. So, you can measure changes in seismic velocity to understand changes in pressurization of the crust — such as when new magma is intruding or hydrothermal fluids are moving through the crust.
In my mind, that is their key conclusion. It does not mean that the Tohoku earthquake caused the pressurization of the area as such. Rather, that changes in seismic velocity after the earthquake can tell us something about the state of pressurization in the crust. They do go on to say that an earthquake occurred 4 days after the Tohoku temblor, and it happened to be near Fuji (which hasn’t erupted since 1707, making people worry it’s “overdue” — it isn’t), but this correlation is not a piece of their evidence for their conclusion, but rather their way of trying to say the crust was prone to new earthquakes already and Tohoku triggered it. This is a bit of a stretch without further research to support this triggering.
The one thing they never say in the paper is that Fuji is more likely to erupt thanks to the Tohoku earthquake. Never. Not once.
So, why is this the message that we’re being fed in the news? Well, it’s thanks to the authors deciding that a conclusion that is outside their paper is the one that most media-ready. Would the media be all over a study that made the bold claim that changes in seismic velocities can tell us a little something about the state of pressure in the crust? I would venture to say no. Now, if you then say the change after the earthquake puts a big volcano in Japan – a national icon — into a “critical state” that could mean an eruption will occur soon? Stop the presses! Yet, this isn’t the conclusion of the actual Science article at all. I have no way of knowing, but this external “conclusion” about Fuji could have been originally included but was removed in the process of peer-review. I mean, we’ve seen this idea before — that a certain increase in pressure mean Fuji will erupt – but it has never really been shown to be verifiable. We’re actually stuck in a chicken-and-egg loop here: Did the earthquake tell us that pressure is high enough for an eruption (that was going to happen anyway), or did the earthquake add more pressure and make an eruption more likely? Fuji is a dangerous (yet wonderful) volcano, as is any volcano near large population centers, so understanding its behavior and planning for an eruption is important.
This is not to say that the science in the Brenguier and others (2014) article isn’t good science. From what I can tell, it is. However, there is a fine line in my mind between promoting your work and going all P.T. Barnum on everyone. Maybe the quotes were taken out of context (although it seems unlikely). Without understanding what actually triggers an eruption at Fuji (or any volcano for that matter) and without knowing whether the pressure in the crust in these volcanoes is due to magma or hydrothermal fluids, it is definitely a stretch to say that “the risk is clearly higher.” However, it does make much splashier press to lead with “Fuji could erupt” over “seismic waves changed velocity.”
July 22nd, 2014
Satan is brilliant at tactics. He breezes to short term victories that make him appear invincible. But for every Pearl Harbor he inflicts on the Church, there is a longer, deeper, countermove that guarantees his defeat. That’s how I’m reading the latest attempt by the Obama administration to force Christian churches to accept homosexual behavior as normal and good.
Obama has ignored the pleas of even his pals on the “religious left” -- those who were willing to collaborate with the most pro-abortion president in history -- and refused to exempt their churches from his latest diktat: An executive order that denies federal contracts to any group that’s unwilling to hire openly gay employees. With the stroke of a pen, like Louis XIV’s decision to persecute the Huguenots, Obama has put the entire force of the $3.77 trillion dollar federal budget behind the effort of cultural elites to impose their secular mores on the whole American people, using their own tax money against them.
You can learn more about the ever-more-ambitious, pro-gay agenda, which will entail the persecution of churches if it’s not stopped, in Robert Reilly’s latest courageous book, Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything -- a book so truthful and important that almost no one has the nerve to review it. Go buy it today. In ten years, such books might be illegal.
The short term impact of this on faithful Christians will certainly be unpleasant. Let’s assume that the leaders of the major Christian communions (Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical) stand on principle. Churches and charities that won’t collaborate will lose billions of dollars in federal funds that they had previously dispensed, channeling taxpayer money to serve the poor, recent immigrants, and others eligible for federal poverty aid. Groups such as Catholic Charities, some bishops’ migration offices, and others will see their budgets slashed. They will have to scale back their services, as the needy whom they had served get their needs met somewhere else -- by church groups which decide to play Judas, or outright secular agencies. The Christian groups that had relied on federal money to carry out their missions will have to look to their own church members for more donations, or their impact and clout will diminish.
There is no prospect of people going hungry, or being deported unjustly; the federal money that has been allocated to serve the poor will still be out there -- but it will be sluiced through different channels. Any given church that holds fast to traditional teaching, if it wants to feed the poor or engage in community organizing, will have to use its own (tax-exempt) money to do so.
Groups like Catholic Charities will have to draw closer to the Church and look to the laity for donations. The laity, in turn, will have to step up, giving as they never have before.
Would that be the worst thing in the world? As I read the Church’s teaching on subsidiarity, any given problem ought first to be addressed by individuals and families, then private groups such as churches, and only if it cannot be solved that way referred to the government -- the local government. If the locals fail to solve it, then the state government ought to get involved. Only problems that literally cannot be solved by local governments should be referred to Uncle Sam.
That crucial piece of Catholic social teaching, which Pius XI unfurled like a battle flag in the face of fascist and communist tyrannies, is flouted when the federal government becomes the first resort for every needy person. It’s corrupted when the units of civil society such as the churches become just one more another interest group feeding from the government trough. Critics of bishops’ statements on immigration have had a field day with the fact that Catholic agencies receive tens of millions of dollars from the federal government for their immigration ministries -- questioning whether this gives clerics a direct financial incentive to increase the number of migrants to America.,,,