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A Holocaust mystery finds some answers

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By ARTHUR MAX and MONIKA SCISLOWSKA, Associated Press Writers 

BAD AROLSEN, Germany – Deep in Shari Klages’ memory is an image of herself as a girl in New Jersey, going into her parents’ bedroom, pulling a thick leather-bound album from the top shelf of a closet and sitting down on the bed to leaf through it.

What she saw was page after page of ink-and-watercolor drawings that convey, with simple lines yet telling detail, the brutality of Dachau, the Nazi concentration camp where her father spent the last weeks of World War II.

Arrival, enslavement, torture, death — the 30 pictures expose the worsening nightmare through the artist’s eye for the essential, and add graphic texture to the body of testimony by Holocaust survivors.

“I have a sense of being quite horrified, of feeling my stomach in my throat,” Klages says. Just by looking at the book, she felt she was doing something wrong and was afraid of being caught.

Now, she finally wants to make the album public. Scholars who have seen it call it historically unique and an artistic treasure.

But who drew the pictures? Only Klages’ father could know. It was he who brought the album back from Dachau when he immigrated to America on a ship with more than 60 Holocaust orphans — and he had committed suicide in 1972 in his garage in Parsippany, N.J.

The sole clue was a signature at the bottom of several drawings: Porulski.

Klages, 47, has begun a quest to discover who Porulski was, and how her family came to be the custodian of his remarkable artistic legacy. The Associated Press has helped to fill in some of the blanks.

What unfolds is a story of Holocaust survival compressed into two tragic lives, a tale with threads stretching from Warsaw to Auschwitz and Dachau, from Australia to suburban England, and finally to a bedroom in New Jersey where a fatherless girl makes a traumatic discovery.

It shows how today, as the survivors dwindle in number, their children and grandchildren struggle to comprehend the Nazi genocide that indelibly scarred their families, and in the process run into mysteries that may never be solved.

This is Shari Klages’ mystery: How did Arnold Unger, her Polish Jewish father, a 15-year-old newcomer to Dachau, end up in possession of the artwork of a Polish Catholic more than twice his age, who had been in the concentration camps through most of World War II?

None of the records Klages found confirm that the two men knew each other, though they lived in adjacent blocks in Dachau. All that is certain is that Unger overlapped with Porulski during the three weeks the boy spent among nearly 30,000 inmates of Dachau’s main camp.

“He never talked about his experiences in the war,” said Klages. “I don’t recall specifically ever being told about the album, or actually learning that I was the child of a Holocaust survivor. It was just something I always knew.”

As adults, she and her three siblings took turns keeping the album and Unger’s other wartime memorabilia.

The album begins with an image of four prisoners in winter coats carrying suitcases and marching toward Dachau’s watchtower under the rifles of SS guards. It is followed by a scene of two inmates being stripped for a humiliating examination by a kapo, a prisoner working for the Nazis.

One image portrays two prisoners pausing in their work to doff their caps to a soldier escorting a prostitute — intimated by the seam on her stocking. Another shows a leashed dog lunging at a terrified inmate.

The drawings grow more and more debasing. Three prisoners hang by their arms tied behind their backs; a captured escapee is paraded wearing a sign, “Hurray, I am back again”; an inmate is hanged from a scaffold; and, in the final image, a man lies on the ground, shot dead next to the barbed-wire fence under the looming watchtower.

The album also has 258 photographs. Some are copies of well-known, haunting images of piles of victims’ bodies taken by the U.S. army that liberated the camp. Others are photographs, apparently taken for Nazi propaganda, portraying Dachau as an idyllic summer camp. Still others are personal snapshots of Unger with Polish refugees or with American soldiers who befriended him.

Barbara Distel, the director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, said Porulski probably drew the pictures shortly after the camp’s liberation in April 1945. He used identical sheets of paper, ink and watercolors for all 30 pictures, she said, and he “would never have dared” to draw such horrors while he was still under Nazi gaze.

“It’s amazing after so many years that these kinds of documents still turn up,” Distel told the AP. “It’s a unique artifact,” and clearly drawn by someone with an intimate knowledge of the camp’s reality, she said.

Holocaust artwork has turned up before, but Distel and Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, who is with the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, say they are unaware of any sequential narrative of camp life comparable to Porulski’s.

“I’ve seen two or three or four, but never 30,” said Berenbaum.

In Coral Springs, Fla., where she now lives, Klages showed the book in 2005 to a neighbor, Avi Hoffman, executive director of the National Center for Jewish Cultural Arts. Hoffman immediately saw its quality and significance. The two became determined to uncover its background and find out if the artist had created an undiscovered body of work.

In August, Klages, Hoffman and Berenbaum went to Germany to begin their hunt. They hired a crew to document it, hoping a film would help finance a foundation to exhibit the book.

They began chipping away at the album’s secrets at the Dachau memorial, outside Munich, where they found an arrival record for Michal Porulski, which listed his profession as artist, in 1941.

They learned that Unger hid the fact that he was Jewish when he reached Dachau three weeks before the war ended. “That probably saved his life,” Hoffman said. They also discovered a strong likelihood that the album’s binding was fashioned from the recycled leather of an SS officer’s uniform.

Unger, an engaging youngster, became an office boy and translator for U.S. occupation authorities at Dachau, which was turned into a displaced persons camp, and obtained a U.S. visa in 1947.

Research by Klages’ group and the AP has begun to pull together the scattered threads of Porulski’s life from long forgotten records at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, a tiny museum in Warsaw, Auschwitz and Dachau, the International Tracing Service of the Red Cross, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial archives in Jerusalem, Australian immigration records and data from England.

Porulski enrolled in the Warsaw arts academy in 1934 after completing two years of army service. Attached to his neatly written application is a photograph of a good looking young man with light hair and dreamy eyes.

It says he was a farmer’s son, born June 20, 1910, in the central town of Rychwal, although in later records Porulski said he was born five years later.

Chronically poor, he left the academy after failing to secure a loan for his tuition but was later reinstated. After Germany invaded in 1939, he made some money painting watercolor postcards of Nazi-occupied Poland, two of which have survived and are now in the Warsaw Museum of Caricature.

In June 1940, he was arrested in a Nazi roundup “without any reason,” he wrote many years later in an appeal for help from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Two months later, he and 1,500 others were the first Poles to be shipped from Warsaw to Auschwitz. He spent eight months there, then was sent to the Neuengamme camp and finally to Dachau, near Munich, in May 1941.

In Dachau, according to a brief reference in a Polish book on wartime art, he painted portraits, flowers, folk dance scenes and decoration for a clandestine theater.

In 1949 he sailed to Australia and tried to work as a painter and decorator but mostly lived off friends. He returned to Europe in 1963 and lived in England and France. He visited Poland in the early 1970s for several months, and stayed with his sister, Janina Krol, in Gdynia on the Baltic coast, and another relative outside Warsaw, Wanda Wojcikowska.

He brought his sister paintings of Dachau, his niece, Danuta Ostrowska, now 75, recalls. But her mother threw them away, saying “I can’t look at them.” The family still owns 10 of his mostly prewar paintings.

He was robbed of his money and passport, and Poland‘s communist authorities wanted Porulski out of the country, Wojcikowska’s daughter, Malgorzata Stozek, recalls. “My mother even found a woman willing to marry him, to help him stay in Poland,” she said. But he already had borrowed money from his sister and left.

His letters from England said he found work maintaining bridges, Stozek said. “He wrote that the moment he finished painting a bridge over some river, he had to start again.” It could have been a metaphor for a life going nowhere.

“One day I came to see my mother and she was crying because he wrote to her that he had no money, he was hungry and was sleeping on park benches. He lived in terrible poverty,” Stozek told the AP.

He was so lonely, she said, he had considered suicide.

In 1978 he sent a request for war compensation to the International Tracing Service in the central German town of Bad Arolsen, which houses the world’s largest archive of concentration camp records and lists of Holocaust victims.

“I have no occupation of any sort. I was unable to resume my studies after all those years in the camps,” he wrote. “I am just by myself, and I live from day to day.”

The ITS replied that it had no authority to give grants, but was sending confirmation of his incarceration to the U.N. refugee agency to support his earlier reparations claim.

Unger also shows up in the Tracing Service, in a 1955 two-page letter he wrote recounting his ordeal that began when he was 9.

Unger’s father had a prosperous furniture business near Krakow. “Then the infamous horde of Nazis overran our town, disrupted our life, murdered my parents and little sister, and robbed us of all we had.” He was the only survivor of 50 members of the Unger family.

Christian friends hid him for a while, but he ended up imprisoned inside the Krakow ghetto, then was moved to a series of concentration camps.

His daughter says that after he immigrated to America, he told a cousin with whom he lived in New Jersey that his job at Dachau had been to tend the ovens. The Nazis commonly used inmates for such purposes — it was one of the few ways of surviving.

Newly arrived in America, Unger spoke to Newark newspapers of his years of torment, saying he escaped three times during marches between camps but was always recaptured.

At one point, he told the Newark Evening News, he was herded into a gas chamber at Natzweiler camp with 50 other prisoners, but they were spared at the last minute because some of them were electricians whom the Nazis needed for their war effort.

The two lives, briefly intertwined by the Holocaust and an album of photos and paintings, ended 17 years apart — Unger by hanging himself in 1972, Porulski in 1989 in St. Mary’s Hospital near Hereford, England, of pneumonia and tuberculosis.

The death certificate gives his age as 74 and his profession as “painter (retired).”

Shari Klages was 12 when her father died.

He had just been laid off from his 18-year job in the aeronautics industry, and his wife had been diagnosed with brain cancer. His suicide is given added poignancy by the image of the hanged inmate in the album, and Klages believes it was his Holocaust experience that weighed most heavily on him.

“I have no doubt it was the most significant contributor to his death,” she said.

___

Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report. Arthur Max reported from Bad Arolsen, Germany, and Monika Scislowska from Warsaw.

On the Net:

National Center for Jewish Cultural Arts

Dachau

International Tracing Service


Baghdad Burning … (Is Safe)

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Baghdad Burning… 

Leaving Home…


Two months ago, the suitcases were packed. My lone, large suitcase sat in my bedroom for nearly six weeks, so full of clothes and personal items, that it took me, E. and our six year old neighbor to zip it closed.

Packing that suitcase was one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do. It was Mission Impossible: Your mission, R., should you choose to accept it is to go through the items you’ve accumulated over nearly three decades and decide which ones you cannot do without. The difficulty of your mission, R., is that you must contain these items in a space totaling 1 m by 0.7 m by 0.4 m. This, of course, includes the clothes you will be wearing for the next months, as well as any personal memorabilia- photos, diaries, stuffed animals, CDs and the like.

I packed and unpacked it four times. Each time I unpacked it, I swore I’d eliminate some of the items that were not absolutely necessary. Each time I packed it again, I would add more ‘stuff’ than the time before. E. finally came in a month and a half later and insisted we zip up the bag so I wouldn’t be tempted to update its contents constantly.

The decision that we would each take one suitcase was made by my father. He took one look at the box of assorted memories we were beginning to prepare and it was final: Four large identical suitcases were purchased- one for each member of the family and a fifth smaller one was dug out of a closet for the documentation we’d collectively need- graduation certificates, personal identification papers, etc.

We waited… and waited… and waited. It was decided we would leave mid to late June- examinations would be over and as we were planning to leave with my aunt and her two children- that was the time considered most convenient for all involved. The day we finally appointed as THE DAY, we woke up to an explosion not 2 km away and a curfew. The trip was postponed a week. The night before we were scheduled to travel, the driver who owned the GMC that would take us to the border excused himself from the trip- his brother had been killed in a shooting. Once again, it was postponed.

There was one point, during the final days of June, where I simply sat on my packed suitcase and cried. By early July, I was convinced we would never leave. I was sure the Iraqi border was as far away, for me, as the borders of Alaska. It had taken us well over two months to decide to leave by car instead of by plane. It had taken us yet another month to settle on Syria as opposed to Jordan. How long would it take us to reschedule leaving?

It happened almost overnight. My aunt called with the exciting news that one of her neighbors was going to leave for Syria in 48 hours because their son was being threatened and they wanted another family on the road with them in another car- like gazelles in the jungle, it’s safer to travel in groups. It was a flurry of activity for two days. We checked to make sure everything we could possibly need was prepared and packed. We arranged for a distant cousin of my moms who was to stay in our house with his family to come the night before we left (we can’t leave the house empty because someone might take it).

It was a tearful farewell as we left the house. One of my other aunts and an uncle came to say goodbye the morning of the trip. It was a solemn morning and I’d been preparing myself for the last two days not to cry. You won’t cry, I kept saying, because you’re coming back. You won’t cry because it’s just a little trip like the ones you used to take to Mosul or Basrah before the war. In spite of my assurances to myself of a safe and happy return, I spent several hours before leaving with a huge lump lodged firmly in my throat. My eyes burned and my nose ran in spite of me. I told myself it was an allergy.

We didn’t sleep the night before we had to leave because there seemed to be so many little things to do… It helped that there was no electricity at all- the area generator wasn’t working and ‘national electricity’ was hopeless. There just wasn’t time to sleep.

The last few hours in the house were a blur. It was time to go and I went from room to room saying goodbye to everything. I said goodbye to my desk- the one I’d used all through high school and college. I said goodbye to the curtains and the bed and the couch. I said goodbye to the armchair E. and I broke when we were younger. I said goodbye to the big table over which we’d gathered for meals and to do homework. I said goodbye to the ghosts of the framed pictures that once hung on the walls, because the pictures have long since been taken down and stored away- but I knew just what hung where. I said goodbye to the silly board games we inevitably fought over- the Arabic Monopoly with the missing cards and money that no one had the heart to throw away.

I knew then as I know now that these were all just items- people are so much more important. Still, a house is like a museum in that it tells a certain history. You look at a cup or stuffed toy and a chapter of memories opens up before your very eyes. It suddenly hit me that I wanted to leave so much less than I thought I did.

Six AM finally came. The GMC waited outside while we gathered the necessities- a thermos of hot tea, biscuits, juice, olives (olives?!) which my dad insisted we take with us in the car, etc. My aunt and uncle watched us sorrowfully. There’s no other word to describe it. It was the same look I got in my eyes when I watched other relatives and friends prepare to leave. It was a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, tinged with anger. Why did the good people have to go?

I cried as we left- in spite of promises not to. The aunt cried… the uncle cried. My parents tried to be stoic but there were tears in their voices as they said their goodbyes. The worst part is saying goodbye and wondering if you’re ever going to see these people again. My uncle tightened the shawl I’d thrown over my hair and advised me firmly to ‘keep it on until you get to the border’. The aunt rushed out behind us as the car pulled out of the garage and dumped a bowl of water on the ground, which is a tradition- its to wish the travelers a safe return… eventually.

The trip was long and uneventful, other than two checkpoints being run by masked men. They asked to see identification, took a cursory glance at the passports and asked where we were going. The same was done for the car behind us. Those checkpoints are terrifying but I’ve learned that the best technique is to avoid eye-contact, answer questions politely and pray under your breath. My mother and I had been careful not to wear any apparent jewelry, just in case, and we were both in long skirts and head scarves.

The trip was long and uneventful, other than two checkpoints being run by masked men. They asked to see identification, took a cursory glance at the passports and asked where we were going. The same was done for the car behind us. Those checkpoints are terrifying but I’ve learned that the best technique is to avoid eye-contact, answer questions politely and pray under your breath. My mother and I had been careful not to wear any apparent jewelry, just in case, and we were both in long skirts and head scarves.

Syria is the only country, other than Jordan, that was allowing people in without a visa. The Jordanians are being horrible with refugees. Families risk being turned back at the Jordanian border, or denied entry at Amman Airport. It’s too high a risk for most families.

We waited for hours, in spite of the fact that the driver we were with had ‘connections’, which meant he’d been to Syria and back so many times, he knew all the right people to bribe for a safe passage through the borders. I sat nervously at the border. The tears had stopped about an hour after we’d left Baghdad. Just seeing the dirty streets, the ruins of buildings and houses, the smoke-filled horizon all helped me realize how fortunate I was to have a chance for something safer.

By the time we were out of Baghdad, my heart was no longer aching as it had been while we were still leaving it. The cars around us on the border were making me nervous. I hated being in the middle of so many possibly explosive vehicles. A part of me wanted to study the faces of the people around me, mostly families, and the other part of me, the one that’s been trained to stay out of trouble the last four years, told me to keep my eyes to myself- it was almost over.

It was finally our turn. I sat stiffly in the car and waited as money passed hands; our passports were looked over and finally stamped. We were ushered along and the driver smiled with satisfaction, “It’s been an easy trip, Alhamdulillah,” he said cheerfully.

As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn’t want to seem like a baby. I didn’t want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.

The Syrian border was almost equally packed, but the environment was more relaxed. People were getting out of their cars and stretching. Some of them recognized each other and waved or shared woeful stories or comments through the windows of the cars. Most importantly, we were all equal. Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds… we were all equal in front of the Syrian border personnel.

We were all refugees- rich or poor. And refugees all look the same- there’s a unique expression you’ll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same.

The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming. Overwhelming relief and overwhelming sadness… How is it that only a stretch of several kilometers and maybe twenty minutes, so firmly segregates life from death?

How is it that a border no one can see or touch stands between car bombs, militias, death squads and… peace, safety? It’s difficult to believe- even now. I sit here and write this and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions.

I wonder at how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break through the door and into our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets free of road blocks, hummers and pictures of Muqtada and the rest…

How is it that all of this lies a short car ride away?


September 11th…

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The Calm Man who did his best at reporting

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A photo from April of 1971 of the towers

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The Man who changed us all

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The Man who gave his life for his faith

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Evangelicals Fear Thompson Too Soft On Gays

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SEE: God’s Warriors – Christianity

This is the exact kind of Religious SHIT that I hate – HATE about Christian Fundamentalists. That you believe that you hold sway over the government any more than the rest. This is why America needs a clear SEPARATION between CHURCH and STATE.

In the year 2007, Straight Evangelical Minions are so concerned with Gay Rights, Hate Crimes Legislation, AIDS funds, Gay Marriage, that you are going to spend millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of lobby time to sway the electorate to elect a God Damned President?

Oh the Gays are gonna come and get us, they threaten the sanctity of marriage, Oh the gays want Special Treatment, Rights, and Protection from Hate Crimes!! Oh Oh Oh….

The Evangelicals are on another Witch Hunt. They are going to press the Gay Issue on the Candidates and they will attempt to KILL any nomination of any candidate who is soft on the Homosexuals, Gays and Lesbians. I guess we are not past the wedging of Sexual Orientation or Sexual Orientation issues into a Presidential Campaign.

It is really sad when you think that all Evangelicals do with their spare time is THINK about all things GAY!!! Does this strike anyone as problematic for them and informative for us?

God, We pray for Salvation from Evangelical…

Meanwhile,

  1. Osama Bin Laden is still alive [See Video]
  2. The United States is engaged in a war [Read:IRAQ] that they cannot win
  3. President George Bush is an idiot – And needs to be IMPEACHED
  4. Your foreign policy needs work
  5. People need health care
  6. There are children going without food
  7. There is not enough money for People with AIDS across the board
  8. All you Christians can think about is the GAY AGENDA!! Pardon me while I THROW UP!!! You limey bastards…And God Wept!!!

by The Associated Press

Posted: September 9, 2007 – 3:00 pm ET

(Washington) Prominent evangelical leaders who spent the summer hoping Fred Thompson would emerge as their favored Republican presidential contender are having doubts as he begins his long-teased campaign.

For social conservatives dissatisfied with other GOP choices, the “Law & Order” actor and former Tennessee senator represents a Ronald Reagan-like figure, someone they hope will agree with them on issues and stands a chance of winning.

But Thompson’s lack of a full endorsement of a federal gay marriage amendment and his delay in entering the race are partly responsible for a sudden shyness among leading evangelicals.

“A month or two ago, I sensed there was some urgency for people to make a move and find a candidate,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based conservative Christian group. “Right now, I think people are stepping back a little and watching. The field is still very fluid.”

A loose network of influential evangelical leaders known as the Arlington Group met privately Wednesday and Thursday in Washington to discuss presidential politics and other issues, participants said.

Although the group does not endorse candidates, individual members have done so in the past, and one of the organization’s founding principles is to get the movement’s leaders on the same page when possible.

Some in the meeting shared their presidential leanings, but the consensus was that more time is needed to gauge Thompson’s performance, according to a participant.

A clearer picture may develop Oct. 19-21 during a “Values Voter Summit” in Washington that will include a presidential straw poll.

In June, Thompson met privately with several Arlington Group members, many of whom are uncomfortable with the GOP top tier for various reasons: Arizona Sen. John McCain for championing campaign-finance overhaul and labeling some evangelical figures “agents of intolerance”; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for backing abortion rights and some gay rights; and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his social-issue policy reversals and – for some members – his Mormon faith.

With the post-Labor Day primary push under way, the 65-year-old Thompson faces a crucial month to prove he is the best alternative for a key GOP constituency.

“He’s got a real opportunity to be the most credible conservative candidate across the board,” said Gary Bauer, a one-time presidential aspirant who heads the advocacy group American Values. “Whether he can put it all together remains to be seen. But he’s got a real chance to emerge as the major conservative alternative to Giuliani.”

Others are skeptical about whether Thompson can fill that role.

Rick Scarborough, a Southern Baptist preacher and president of Texas-based Vision America, said that while he is encouraged by Thompson’s strong voting record in the Senate against abortion, he questioned the candidate’s commitment to social issues.

“The problem I’m having is that I don’t see any blood trail,” Scarborough said. “When you really take a stand on issues dear to the heart of social conservatives, you’re going to shed some blood in the process. And so far, Fred Thompson’s political career has been wrinkle-free.”

Thompson’s long-delayed entry is another concern, Scarborough said. “The hesitancy has made us wonder whether he has the stomach for what it’s going to take,” he said.

Earlier this summer, doubts crept in following reports on Thompson’s role in crafting campaign finance reform and stories that he lobbied for an abortion rights group.

More recently, Thompson has come under scrutiny for his position on a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, a defining issue for the Christian right.

Thompson over the past month has stated on more than one occasion that he supports an amendment that would prohibit states from imposing their gay marriage laws on other states. (story) That falls well short of what evangelical leaders want: an amendment that would bar gay marriage nationwide.

Thompson’s position surprised evangelical leaders who say they met with him in June and came away thinking he shared their desire for a more sweeping constitutional change. Now, they wonder if he is flip-flopping.

One person in attendance – Mathew Staver of the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based conservative legal group – said Thompson described going back and forth about the merits of an amendment prohibiting gay marriage nationwide.

“At one time, he said he was against it,” Staver said. “Then he said in June he was for it. So if now he’s saying he’s against it, to me that’s a double-minded person. And that would be a real concern for religious conservatives.”

Messages left with Thompson campaign were not returned.

Several Christian right leaders said opposition to a broad amendment would hurt Thompson with evangelicals, but not necessarily cause irreparable harm. Others played down the issue, pointing out that their favored approach was politically impossible anyway because Democrats control the House and Senate.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Thompson’s position is consistent with the former senator’s support for limited federal government and giving power to the states.

Land said it is healthy that expectations for Thompson have diminished from unrealistic levels and he does not think evangelical excitement has dimmed for a man he described as a “masterful retail politician.”

Many evangelical leaders said one of Thompson’s biggest draws is his perceived electability. Some are watching whether former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, can build on his second place finish last month in the Iowa straw poll.

Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association, said that while he likes Huckabee, Thompson’s better name recognition and fundraising potential is a strong draw for evangelicals.

“This is a dilemma a lot of people have,” Wildmon said. “They want to support the candidate that most reflects their values. “But at the same time, you have to balance that against finding someone who can actually win.”

©365Gay.com 2007


ACLU Charges TSA Official and JetBlue With Racial Profiling

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Website link and story here: 

JetBlue and a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official, identified as “Inspector Harris,” would not let Raed Jarrar board his flight at John F. Kennedy Airport until he agreed to cover his t-shirt, which read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic script. Harris told Jarrar that it is impermissible to wear an Arabic shirt to an airport and equated it to a “person wearing a t-shirt at a bank stating, ‘I am a robber.’” The American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the TSA official and JetBlue Airways.

It is a dangerous and slippery slope when we allow our government to take away a person’s rights because of his speech or ethnic background,” said Reginald Shuford, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “Racial profiling is illegal and ineffective and has no place in a democratic society.”

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Learn More >>

I’ve had this blogger on my read list for some time, along with Baghdad Burning, since the war in Iraq began. I happened upon Raed’s blog today and saw this latest entry and I thought I’d share it with you, since it is relevant and appropriate. You can click on the link above and find out more.


Resistance is Futile… You will be Assimilated

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I needed a day off. I needed to regenerate because I was tired. Too many thoughts going on in my head, baggage that is not mine, responsibility that has been thrust upon me as of late, friends in difficulty, what’s on television. Disaster, mine collapses, hurricanes, fires and floods. It’s the god damned Armageddon!

Icheb is our guide.

It seems that some of my blogging brothers are creating drama for one of my friends, who happens to be dealing with a medical situation that I am all too familiar with. And I tell them now, this too shall pass. The internet is fickle and people will find something else to focus on eventually. Just remember that when you write, you are responsible for what you write. The truth or lies, the facts or the fiction. You are also responsible for the reactions because of what you write. We call that publishing responsibility. YOU are RESPONSIBLE for what you write, every word, every feeling every opinion. So beware what you write.

Over the last few days I have written a great deal about God’s Warriors and I have to say that I have reached new highs in traffic that this blog has ever seen. I taped the first segment of Judaism from Wednesday night. The more I think about it, in watching the documentary again, I find myself wanting to learn more about the conflict. Something to bring up in my theology classes in the coming months. I am still a strong Christian Zionist.

Last night I watched a two hour documentary about “Surviving Katrina” on the Discovery Channel. I remember we sat here that week and watched on live television the march of hurricane Katrina over New Orleans. We lived it here as they lived it there, minus the direct one on one experience. It was hell. Discovery took the time to explain the minutiae of what happened, even to employ “brownie” to explain his role in the failure of all levels of government to adequately take responsibility and care for those in New Orleans and in other hurricane affected areas. I was mortified to say the least.

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Of Special Remembrance: August 24th, Friday, was the one year anniversary of the death of the sainted woman, my great aunt Sister Georgette Cote. There was no call from the mother house, no memorial mass, one year on. I knew the date was coming and I did my best to ignore it because that meant I’d have to write about one truly painful time in my life, since coming to Montreal:

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August 24 2006 – Blog Entry

At 11:30 a.m. this morning, Sister Georgette Cote peacefully met the Lord and entered into her heavenly inheritance.

I had literally just went to take a nap, and the phone rang, it was the hospital.

She waited for me to leave.

Blessed be the Lord our God

Eternal Rest grant her and may perpetual light shine upon her.

Blessed be Marguerite D’Youville.

I had spent the previous 18 hours with her in the ICU ward of the General up the hill. It was me, sister Agathe and sister Monique that last night of her life. The buzzing and whistling of the machines were upsetting her with that huge oxygen mask on her face, she just wanted everything off. So it went. They hooked up the Morphine drip and the clock started ticking.

By midnight the sisters thought that they should get back to the Mother House, so it was just the two of us. I sat reading the Tibetan Book of the dead, while the single nurse came and went without a word. It was dark, quiet and morbid. I had walked home to shower and change out and get some food before the last conversation at 3 a.m. when her surgeon came in to check on her, a very sainted woman, strong of character and voice. You will be ok Ms. Cote. I am here with you. Sister Georgette was fading, her hands waving in front of her face. The surgeon left after bidding us a good night.

Sister Georgette has said to get to devil away from her and to find a priest – well it was 3 a.m. in the morning, who was I going to call then? So I grabbed my rosary and I began to recite prayers over her. She said that “I was a good boy and that God would bless me” then she closed her eyes, and that was the last thing she said. That would be our very last conversation.

As the sun rose – we had a great view out th windows to the South Shore and the Victoria Bridge. She was gone, mentally and emotionally. The male nurse that came on shift started to clean her up and bathe her and change her dressing gown. It was around 9 in the morning. The two sisters had come back from the mother house and around 10 am I set off for home to rest.

I got home and changed out. Had a bite to eat and crawled into bed. While I was lying there, I could smell her and it waifed through my room. A few minutes later the phone rang – it was the hospital, Sister Georgette was dead. She waited for me to leave. It has been a year. I miss her more than most will know.

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When I entered the world of mentoring and the foster parent program I nested. I learned that I was exceptionally maternal in my motivations, yet I kept very manly counsel. I found myself channeling my father at times. I have few rules. Do not lie to me, Do not steal from me or anyone else. If you need something you ask and if I can help you I will. All of my boys know the ground rules. The ground rules are set in stone. If I catch you in a lie or you manipulate me into a position then you have lost my support and your right to be trusted.

He lies to us and he cheats and he is dishonest. He manipulates us and forces us to the wall with his tests to see how far we will go to punish him and stop his manic anger tantrums.

I am not going to have any of this. As of late, I take this boy to bed with me and I ruminate in my head at night, because I want to be a good example. Now I am parent and I am setting the law of the land. And this child has cheated, lied and manipulated. This is a waste of my time. His behavior is unacceptable. If he thinks he is going to push me to anger myself, then he is getting nothing from me until he learns that there are rules in my house and failure to follow these rules will be met with swift execution of consequences.

I have accepted this “location” because mom has failed to exact rules and regulations on her son so I have to step in and set the rules down and play daddy. While the biological father, who has NO RIGHTS, who gave up his parental rights long ago works behind the scenes to manipulate him and he works against everything that we (mom and I) have been working for. And for what? Jesus H. Christ…

Now I have contracted for daily visits with the “wild child” and I have a schedule book to make sure I can fit him into my schedule when school starts. If he thinks I am going to put up with his bullshit – he can think again. I must be patient and understand that he is not like all other normal kids. I get that. And I am patient and kind, but what do I have to do to get him to understand that this is NOT a game.

I am not in this to play games.

Fuck with me and you will learn what it feels like to get on my bad side. And I promise you that I am not fucking around here. Do Not Test me young man because if you do, You will Loose, I promise you, there will be certain consequences for pushing me to the limit of my patience. I am not going to be taking extra baggage to bed with me at night and I surely am not going to waste my time working with kids who do not listen or cannot learn.

You know what I am talking about and you sure as shit know when you are manipulating us and when you LIE to us as well. We know where the money is coming from, and if this happens again, we will bring the law down and you won’t be able to access the daddy bank again. You are smarter than you look, and you know I mean business. I sure as shit am not going to waste my time and talent trying to help you – while you back-stab us and continue to push us to the brink of insanity. I am not going to have this, PERIOD!!!

I am starting to get resentful and angry because you fuck with me, You will not fuck with me. If I am in the role of parent, then you will see what it means to suffer consequences for your behavior.

Jesus, the drama… end of rant…

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It seems that Mother Teresa has brought traffic to this blog that has never been seen before, more than the God’s Warriors traffic. If you look in the PAGES section of this blog you will find that I have written much on the topic of Mother Teresa. I believe that every Christian goes through the Dark Night, and at some point questions, “what the hell am I doing here, and why do I waste my time? (Read above)

Is there a God and if there is He needs to make himself present to me before I loose my mind! It is interesting to see how traffic changes every twenty four hours. I mean it is great that traffic has doubled in recent days. That means that religious writing has changed again. That what I do here is important to many readers and I thank you for stopping by. No one I know has written one word on any topic that I have addressed from my blog list in recent days.

Yet there are blogs that have stopped by that I have never seen before, and I get closer to the Top List blogs. Those who are really knowledgeable about world events, they are critical of writers and they know things that I don’t which is in itself very educational because I know there is a slant in cable news reporting, but what I did not know from this writer – “Right Truth,” helped to inform me to a level I had not been aware of.

As a writer, I am responsible for what I write, and I accept that. I took a step to write about topics that I am educated about, and others come by to read and they impart certain knowledge that I did not have before. Which raises the bar for me as a writer. The more I study and the more I write the higher up the level of professional blogging I rise to. It’s all about being informed and educated on the topics we write about and it is up to us to take the time to read other bloggers points of view so that we can more roundly write on what we are writing about. The article at Right Truth, linked above is very informative. Take some time to visit that blog because they are a great Blog and the writing is incredible.

Well, that is a lot of writing for today, So I am going to close and bid you all a good night.


Churches That Won't Bury Gays?

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Let’s Hold A Funeral For Misguided Principles

by Rev. Lea Brown 

[BACKGROUND: In August 2007, a fundamentalist mega-church in Texas refused to conduct funeral services when it found out the deceased man was gay. Rev. Lea Brown, the openly lesbian pastor of Wichita Falls Metropolitan Community Church (Texas) and a veteran of the U.S. Army, has a few thoughts about that.]

Whew. I don’t know about you, but I sure sleep better at night knowing the Christian churches in Texas are standing by their principles.

Take the High Point Church in Arlington, Texas, led by Rev. Gary Simons (brother-in-law of mega-church pastor Joel Osteen). The church believes that homosexuality is a sin. When they recently found out that they had inadvertently (according to their version) agreed to provide a funeral for a gay man, they withdrew their invitation 24 hours before the event on the principle that they didn’t want to appear to be endorsing “that lifestyle.” Sure, the grieving family was left scrambling to find an appropriate venue in which to say goodbye to their loved one, and then contact 100 expected guests about the change of location in their time of sorrow. But hey, principles are principles.

Aren’t you glad that at least in Texas there are church folks who are willing to risk looking like heartless bigots rather than betray what they believe to be their “Christian” beliefs?

I mean, let’s give credit where credit is due. They chose one principle that they believe is true (homosexuality and homosexuals must be rejected), when there are so many principles that they could have chosen instead. Let’s review a few, shall we?

First, there is the principle of compassion, which dictates that we seek to understand the suffering of others, and do what we can through kindness to help in times of need. Cecil Howard Sinclair, the gay man who died at the age of 46 from an infection prior to heart surgery, didn’t really need to have the funeral at High Point Church. But his mentally challenged brother probably did. Mr. Sinclair’s brother works as a High Point janitor, cleaning the toilets, dusting the pews, and sweeping the floors that church members soil each week. Perhaps saying goodbye to his brother in a familiar place would have been comforting to him, and would have given him some peace as he returned to work each day in the weeks and months after his brother’s passing. Perhaps all of Mr. Sinclair’s family, including his partner, might have been comforted by the knowledge that the 5,000-member church actually cared about them at such a difficult time.

We could say that the church acted with compassion when it offered to pay for a community center space for the funeral, and provide food and a video presentation for those attending the service. In fact, we could even say they came dangerously close to violating their principle by these actions. But thank goodness they didn’t offer to find another church space for the funeral. That would imply homosexuals and their loved ones actually deserve to grieve in a sacred place, as if God was actually with them in their pain. And we could probably agree that feeding homosexuals and their families is acceptable, but for heaven’s sake – don’t pray with them or stand with them at the graveside! Because that would certainly imply endorsement of two people of the same gender being in love with each other, wouldn’t it?

Then there is the principle of gratitude. Cecil Howard Sinclair was a veteran of the United States Navy, and he served in the first Gulf War. He was willing to risk his life for our country, and for principles like “freedom of religion” that High Point members enjoy each day. Perhaps their willingness to make a video presentation of Mr. Sinclair’s life for the funeral was the way they chose to express their gratitude. Thankfully, we can again be assured that they didn’t compromise their principles though, because they edited out the images that showed Cecil being affectionate with his partner. After all, we wouldn’t want a veteran’s image to be tarnished with pictures like that.

Finally, there is the principle of hospitality. In the Bible, in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 10 Jesus instructs his followers to shake the dust from their feet from any town that does not welcome them warmly and listen to what they have to say. It seems that hospitality was rather important to Jesus, because he said that any such town would actually be worse off than Sodom and Gomorrah at the day of judgment. (Funny, he never mentioned homosexuality as being the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah – just their lack of hospitality). How courageous of High Point Church (which has a larger population than many towns in Texas) to risk fire and brimstone. They could have considered entertaining the notion that perhaps being a Christian is more about love than about unbending principles, but they didn’t. Jesus would be so proud!

Now, it is true that not all churches in Texas are so principled. Right here in my own town of Wichita Falls there is a church that would have gladly received the family of Cecil Howard Sinclair. At Wichita Falls Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), we celebrate the lives of all of God’s people of all sexual orientations. In fact, we would even lovingly welcome anyone from High Point Church into our sanctuary. Lest we forget, even Jesus reached out with compassion to those who were the oppressors of his day, just as he did when he healed the Roman centurion’s son. The fundamental principle we live by is this one: Love your neighbor as yourself. We think that means loving all of our neighbors – straight, bisexual, transgender, Baptist, Muslim, lesbian, HIV+, poor, Latino, queer, disabled, Republican, veteran, peace-activist, immigrant, and gay.

So, I guess we could say that High Point Church doesn’t have the corner on principles – just on their particular principle, which does indeed put them at great risk of looking like heartless bigots. But like many others on a spiritual path, those of us at Wichita Falls MCC will love and pray for them anyway. We will pray, “Forgive them, God, for they know not what they do.” We will pray for their healing, that they might change their ways. We will pray that God will bless them and be with them, and that our actions would truly show that we desire to love those at High Point Church just as we love ourselves.

I guess we just have different principles.

Rev. Lea Brown is the openly lesbian pastor of Wichita Falls Metropolitan Community Church, Wichita Falls, Texas, and a veteran of the U.S. Army

©365Gay.com 2007


Italy probe unearths huge Iraq arms deal

By CHARLES J. HANLEY and ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writers 

PERUGIA, Italy – In a hidden corner of Rome‘s busy Fiumicino Airport, police dug quietly through a traveler’s checked baggage, looking for smuggled drugs. What they found instead was a catalog of weapons, a clue to something bigger.

Their discovery led anti-Mafia investigators down a monthslong trail of telephone and e-mail intercepts, into the midst of a huge black-market transaction, as Iraqi and Italian partners haggled over shipping more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into the bloodbath of Iraq.

As the secretive, $40 million deal neared completion, Italian authorities moved in, making arrests and breaking it up. But key questions remain unanswered.

For one thing, The Associated Press has learned that Iraqi government officials were involved in the deal, apparently without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad command — a departure from the usual pattern of U.S.-overseen arms purchases.

Why these officials resorted to “black” channels and where the weapons were headed is unclear.

The purchase would merely have been the most spectacular example of how Iraq has become a magnet for arms traffickers and a place of vanishing weapons stockpiles and uncontrolled gun markets since the 2003 U.S. invasion and the onset of civil war.

Some guns the U.S. bought for Iraq’s police and army are unaccounted for, possibly fallen into the hands of insurgents or sectarian militias. Meanwhile, the planned replacement of the army’s AK-47s with U.S.-made M-16s may throw more assault rifles onto the black market. And the weapons free-for-all apparently is spilling over borders: Turkey and Iran complain U.S.-supplied guns are flowing from Iraq to anti-government militants on their soil.

Iraqi middlemen in the Italian deal, in intercepted e-mails, claimed the arrangement had official American approval. A U.S. spokesman in Baghdad denied that.

“Iraqi officials did not make MNSTC-I aware that they were making purchases,” Lt. Col. Daniel Williams of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), which oversees arming and training of the Iraqi police and army, told the AP.

Operation Parabellum, the investigation led by Dario Razzi, anti-Mafia prosecutor in this central Italian city, began in 2005 as a routine investigation into drug trafficking by organized-crime figures, branched out into an inquiry into arms dealing with Libya, and then widened to Iraq.

Court documents obtained by the AP show that Razzi’s break came early last year when police monitoring one of the drug suspects covertly opened his luggage as he left on a flight to Libya. Instead of the expected drugs, they found helmets, bulletproof vests and the weapons catalog.

Tapping telephones, monitoring e-mails, Razzi’s investigators followed the trail to a group of Italian businessmen, otherwise unrelated to the drug probe, who were working to sell arms to Libya and, by late 2006, to Iraq as well, through offshore companies they set up in Malta and Cyprus.

Four Italians have been arrested and are awaiting court indictment for allegedly creating a criminal association and alleged arms trafficking — trading in weapons without a government license. A fifth Italian is being sought in Africa. In addition, 13 other Italians were arrested on drug charges.

In the documents, Razzi describes it as “strange” that the U.S.-supported Iraqi government would seek such weapons via the black market.

Investigators say the prospect of an Iraq deal was raised last November, when an Iraqi-owned trading firm e-mailed Massimo Bettinotti, 39, owner of the Malta-based MIR Ltd., about whether MIR could supply 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 10,000 machine guns “to the Iraqi Interior Ministry,” adding that “this deal is approved by America and Iraq.”

The go-between — the Al-Handal General Trading Co. in Dubai — apparently had communicated with Bettinotti earlier about buying night visors and had been told MIR could also procure weapons.

Al-Handal has figured in questionable dealings before, having been identified by U.S. investigators three years ago as a “front company” in Iraq’s Oil-for-Food scandal.

The Interior Ministry’s need at that point for such a massive weapons shipment is unclear. The U.S. training command had already reported it would arm all Interior Ministry police by the end of 2006 through its own three-year-old program, which as of July 26 has bought 701,000 weapons for the Iraqi army and police with $237 million in U.S. government funds.

Negotiations on the deal progressed quickly in e-mail exchanges between the Italians and Iraqi middlemen of the al-Handal company and its parent al-Thuraya Group. But at times the discussion turned murky and nervous.

The Iraqis alternately indicated the Interior Ministry or “security ministries” would be the end users. At one point, a worried Bettinotti e-mailed, “We prefer to speak about this deal face to face and not by e-mail.”

The Italians sent several offers of various types and quantities of rifles, with photos included. The negotiating focused on the source of the weapons: The Iraqi middlemen said their buyer insisted they be Russian-made, but the Italians wanted to sell AK-47s made in China, where they had better contacts.

“We are in a hurry with this deal,” an impatient Waleed Noori al-Handal, Jordan-based general manager of the Iraqi firm, wrote the Italians on Nov. 13 in one of the e-mails seen by AP.

He added, in apparent allusion to the shipment’s clandestine nature, “You mustn’t worry if it’s a problem to import these goods directly into Iraq. We can bring the product to another country and then transfer it to Iraq.”

By December, the Italians, having found a Bulgarian broker, were offering Russian-made goods: 50,000 AKM rifles, an improved version of the AK-47; 50,000 AKMS rifles, the same gun with folding stock; and 5,000 PKM machine guns.

The Iraqis quibbled over the asking price, $39.7 million, but seemed satisfied. The Italians were set for a $6.6 million profit, the court documents show, and were already discussing air transport for the weapons. At this point prosecutor Razzi acted, seeking an arrest warrant from a Perugia court.

“The negotiation with Iraq is developing very quickly,” he wrote the judge.

On Feb. 12, in seven locations across Italy, police arrested the 17 men, including the four alleged arms traffickers: Bettinotti; Gianluca Squarzolo, 39, the man whose luggage had yielded the original clue; Ermete Moretti, 55, and Serafino Rossi, 64. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

The at-large fifth man, Vittorio Dordi, 42, was believed to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he apparently is involved in the diamond trade. Italian authorities were seeking information on him from the African country.

In the parallel Libya case, the Italians allegedly paid two Libyan Defense Ministry officials about $500,000 in kickbacks to speed that transaction for Chinese-made assault rifles. It isn’t known whether such bribes were a factor in the Iraq deal. No Libyans or Iraqis are known to have been detained in connection with the cases.

Al-Handal’s operations have caught investigators’ notice before. In 1996-2003, the company was involved as a broker in the kickback scandal known as Oil for Food, the CIA says.

In that program, Iraq under U.N. economic sanctions bought food and other necessities with U.N.-supervised oil revenues. Foreign companies, often through intermediaries, surreptitiously kicked back payments to officials of Saddam Hussein‘s Iraqi government in exchange for such supply contracts.

Those Iraqi middlemen also engaged in “misrepresenting the origin or final destination of goods,” said the 2004 report of the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group, which investigated both Iraq’s defunct advanced weapons programs and Oil for Food.

That report also alleged that during this period Al-Handal General Trading, from its bases in Dubai and Jordan, secretly moved unspecified “equipment” into Iraq that was forbidden by the U.N. sanctions.

Reached at his office in Amman, Jordan, Waleed Noori al-Handal denied the family firm had done anything wrong in the Italian arms case.

“We don’t have anything to hide,” he told the AP.

Citing the names of “friends” in top U.S. military ranks in Iraq, al-Handal said his company has fulfilled scores of supply and service contracts for the U.S. occupation. Asked why he claimed U.S. approval for the abortive Italian weapons purchase, he said he had a document from the U.S. Army “that says, ‘We allow al-Thuraya Group to do all kinds of business.’”

In Baghdad, the Interior Ministry wouldn’t discuss the AK-47 transaction on the record. But a senior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity, acknowledged it had sought the weapons through al-Handal.

Asked about the irregular channels used, he said the ministry “doesn’t ask the supplier how these weapons are obtained.”

Although this official refused to discuss details, he said “most” of the 105,000 weapons were meant for police in Iraq’s western province of Anbar. That statement raised questions, however, since Pentagon reports list only 161,000 trained police across all 18 of Iraq’s provinces, and say the ministry has been issued 169,280 AK-47s, 167,789 pistols and 16,398 machine guns for them and 28,000 border police.

A July 26 Pentagon report said 20,847 other AK-47s purchased for the Interior Ministry have not yet been delivered. Iraqi officials complain that the U.S. supply of equipment, from bullets to uniforms, has been slow.

A Pentagon report in June may have touched on another possible destination for weapons obtained via secretive channels, noting that “militia infiltration of local police remains a significant problem.” Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq’s civil war have long been known to find cover and weapons within the Interior Ministry.

In fact, in a further sign of poor controls on the flow of arms into Iraq, a July 31 audit report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the U.S. command’s books don’t contain records on 190,000 AK-47s and other weapons, more than half those issued in 2004-2005 to Iraqi forces. This makes it difficult to trace weapons that may be passed on to militias or insurgents.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has described the Interior Ministry’s accounting of police equipment as unreliable.

Here in Italy, Razzi expressed puzzlement at the Iraqi officials’ circumvention of U.S. supply routes.

“It seems strange that a pro-Western government, supported by the U.S. Army and other NATO countries on its own territory, would seek Russian or Chinese weapons through questionable channels,” the anti-Mafia prosecutor wrote in seeking the arrest warrant that short-circuited the complex deal.


Custodians of a Living Earth …

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I’m reading again, “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” and I am in the mindset to write about the custodianship of the living earth. The earth is in a shift, I think we can all agree on that – and attention is now on prevention and maintenance of the earth as it exists today. I have written recently about the fact that many people in my own community are not “Being Maintained” by anyone, they are lost among the crowd, banished to sidewalks, doorways and shelters. What can I do to change that? Write…

What if the governments of the world decided to stop warring and fighting amongst themselves? How much money would we have to spend on other things like food, shelter and water? I heard a comment on late night radio last night that

“There will be wars fought over drinking water!”

I am sure that there are some who think about the Order who seek to bring down the number of earths inhabitants by the millions. There is a surplus in population in certain areas of the world, and for some that is too much, and they would rather see them eradicated than to house and feed them.

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The earth is sputtering on its axis. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Hurricane, Oceanic changes to salinity and food source and the cooling of warm water fisheries all over the globe are causing catastrophic changes to major areas of the worlds oceans. How many more signs do we need from Mother Earth to tell us that something is wrong? And if we don’t stop with our preoccupation with war, division, killing and ignorance, that when “IT” happens we will not survive whatever IT will unleash.

I know better than to sit in my what if’s and coulda, woulda, shoulda! I can look out my windows from here and see trees and grass and the mountain off to the North. We can look out at our world and know that there are forests and people and animals who live amongst that forest. Forests are burning – trees are dying – infestations of beetles are killing swaths of forest across Canada, borne on the winds moving West to East. But I wonder what haven’t we done as custodians of the earth to try and mitigate these things from happening.

What if, The Almighty came down from heaven and told warring factions to lay down their arms, and those in power were removed and power was granted to the masses to govern themselves and the wars stopped all over the earth, not just in certain areas. All the warring areas on the globe. What if we heard from on high that “they” believe that wars fought over ideologies and factions needed to end today, right now, for us to stop killing each other and become custodians to one another. How would that change the face of the earth?

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Is there a way for the world to get up and state unanimously that the wars should end? Can we impeach presidents around the world, in countries that are sponsoring, funding and are waging wars on other peoples? Do you see what I am asking here?

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We truly need to depose several key world leaders, and the American President AND his entire cabinet need to be removed from office, sooner than later. Because America has been hijacked and “Nazi Control” is becoming an adjective to explain George W. Bush.

Mr. Bush, we are not With you -
And We Stand Against You!! It is time to leave Office…

 

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DO WE want to maintain another Hitler in office? Do we want this man making law and imposing unconstitutional amendments upon his people and the world? Because if he does it – the world is watching and you know, the only reason Hitler was so successful at what he did in the Holocaust, was because the people listened to him, and if the American President can do what he is doing, that gives free reign to other leaders to do the same!!! Bush still has the ears of many world leaders, who are not MAN or WOMAN enough to say NO! We will not follow you. So what do we do?

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There are some in power who would see people determined to be locked down and subjugated. That is already happening all over the globe, in many countries. Darfur, Sudan and in other areas of Africa, people are corralled into camps, with no water, electricity or better yet SHELTER. People are being slaughtered by militia men. We need to stop them and the killing needs to end. Genocide is happening in OUR time once again, and on many fronts, we must stop the genocide because:

 

 

 

“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”

In the Middle East, the most contentious area of the globe, not to mention Iraq and the Fertile Crescent area of the world including Afghanistan, the militias and the Taliban are trying to eradicate (on a mass scale) entire peoples akin to the likes of Adolf Hitler. If we prayed for the savior to come again and save us, this would be the time and the place.

We must now act, decisively and verbally. We need to lobby those who are in power to do the right thing. We need to Impeach the President. We need to stop the killing in Darfur, we need to stop the wars in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. We need people on the ground who can be trusted to help reconcile the factions that are fighting with each other and those factions who have fighting going on within themselves. We need ambassadors to get in the game and negotiations must be made to end the worlds strife and wars. If we don’t start this now, WHO is going to take our place later to hold those in office accountable for

“Crimes Against Humanity”

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It’s not about who – but What is in this photo, read on…

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There are too many people around the globe, being ignored. There are entire continents and nations of people that need to be cared for, not to forget those people in warring countries who need to be fed, re-housed and repatriated back to where they came from, those who had to flee to save their own lives. Rich countries sit back and say “we are doing all we can for those inside our borders.”

Yet on the European continent we know for a fact that there are disenfranchised peoples, in the millions, who are not being cared for properly because of the arrogance of status, ethnic superiority and ignorance to accept everyone for who they are not what form of dress or religious affiliation they identify with.

It comes down to the people to start the tide of Anarchy and Dissension. It is time to take back our land and our government from those who have taken it from us. They have been poor stewards of the land, the environment and of peoples. We must stop this – there is too much conflict in the world, so much that any “other” needs are being ignored at the expense of the whole, for a chosen few.

It Is Time to:

Bring the Soldiers Home – Stop the Wars. You either follow certain prescriptions here: (1) You bring ALL warring leaders to Justice, (2) Let them kill each other and save us the headache, or (3) You bring ‘Just’ Diplomatic Solutions to Warring Factions and Areas – and Sit Down and HAMMER out Peace Agreements and Co-Existence Clauses.

Isn’t it time to sit down and think and come to the realization that what war has done for the last 4 years has NOT worked, so let’s allow the Diplomats to work on Peace.

The Mission is NOT Accomplished.

Peace and Democracy has not been attained and WON’T be attained with the present course of action. WAR does not create Democracy – it Breeds Contempt, Rancor, Hatred and brings Division instead of creating Unity.

In Stopping Wars, Governments Agree to Equal care to all Soldiers repatriated home and for their families. And Agree to Rebuild war torn areas with the funds used to carry out war, and Care for those most affected by the war in their Respective regions.

This applies to Canada and the United States and All Countries involved in wars worldwide. It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against WAR!! It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against a President or a sitting Prime Minister.

 

 

Democracy is built on the premise of government for the people by the people !! Well People need to start speaking out for Change…

 

 

The ‘People’ are being AND have been hugely ignored, save those who support the puppet in office and his cronies he protects. The Ship is Sinking – and is Going down. Who is going to save us? It comes down to us, those of us who are writing around the world, to speak up and ask each and every one of our readers to join this movement. To call your leaders and rulers to task, to make them accountable not only to you the citizens of the country that you reside in, but also to the immigrants who have resettled there as well. Leaders need to be accountable to the earth as well.

Or We Shall Pay when Catastrophe Occurs

 

We cannot remain self absorbed and self centered. We must step beyond the borders of nationalism and ethnic superiority. We all must be made equal, in that we must begin to love and take care of each other and to become custodians of the world at large, and it begins with me. It begins with you. It continues with US. We must, with a resounding voice say “we have had enough of this…” It is time to end this.

Before We Kill Each Other Trying to create Peace !!!

 

 

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We must become better custodians to the earth. If we stop the raping and pillaging of the land, we must stop the wars, we must stop the killing of innocents. We must stop the tide of suicide bombers. West and East must come together. The West and The East must agree NEVER to wage war again, however possible that is… We must find peaceful and RIGHT means to the future sustaining of the worlds populations. We MUST find an earthly solution, if we must, a heavenly solution.

“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”

 

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You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


Pope renews call to end all wars

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By TRISHA THOMAS, Associated Press Writer 

LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI called Sunday for an end to all wars, describing them as “useless slaughters” that bring hell to Earth.

Benedict, speaking from this small mountain town where he has been vacationing, recalled that 90 years ago his predecessor Pope Benedict XV urged a similar end to the first World War, then ravaging this part of northern Italy.

“While this inhuman conflict raged, the pope had the courage to affirm that it was a ‘useless slaughter,’” Benedict said. “These words — ‘useless slaughter’ — contained a fuller prophetic value that can be applied to so many other conflicts that have cut off countless human lives.”

Benedict did not cite any particular conflicts in his comments to several hundred faithful who gathered in Lorenzago di Cadore’s main piazza for his traditional Sunday blessing.

“From this place of peace, where one still senses how unacceptable the horrors of ‘useless slaughters’ are, I renew the appeal to pursue the path of rights, to strongly refuse the recourse to weapons and refuse to confront new situations with old systems,” he said.

He reminded the faithful that God put man on Earth to take care of his “paradise,” but that man sinned and began making war.

Benedict has been stepping up his peace appeals, issuing a major call June 17 in the hillside town of Assisi, known for St. Francis’ message of peace. A week earlier, Benedict told President Bush he was greatly concerned about the fate of Christians in Iraq — a concern he repeated in subsequent audiences and speeches.

Benedict’s blessing Sunday was attended by several top prelates as well as Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, an outspoken critic of China’s treatment of Catholics in the underground church. Last month Benedict issued a letter to China’s 12 million Catholics, urging them to unite under his authority.


Buchenwald marks 70th anniversary

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WEIMAR, Germany – Holocaust survivors on Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of the Buchenwald concentration camp’s founding by honoring more than 38,000 victims whose identities had previously been unknown.

Buchenwald researchers spent the past decade scouring archives from the United States to Israel and across Germany in an attempt to identify tens of thousands of the estimated 56,000 prisoners who lost their lives at Buchenwald between 1937 and 1945, but had been known only by their camp-assigned numbers.

Archivists at the camp, perched on a hillside overlooking the eastern city of Weimer, were able to identify 38,049 victims and enter their names into a memorial book.

“The Nazis tried to reduce humans to numbers, to rob them of their identity,” said Jens Goebel, culture minister for the state of Thuringia, upon handing copies of the book to representatives of survivor groups. “That should not be the last word.”

About 8,000 Soviet prisoners of war, as well as some 9,000 who died in death marches as the Nazis tried to evacuate the camp late in World War II, remain unknown.

Most of the early inmates at Buchenwald were political prisoners. But following Kristallnacht — Night of the Broken Glass — in 1938, some 10,000 Jews were sent to the camp. Over the course of World War II, criminals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman and German military deserters were also interned at the main camp and its many sub and labor camps.


I Accuse You Mr. President …

Keith Olbermann Special Comment, Bush and Cheney…Resign

WATCH THIS VIDEO!!


Pardon me Doctor, but "Are you a terrorist???"

 

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Prior to 9-11, terrorists embedded into Western society. They got piloting lessons and then with a group of men, flew two airliners into the Twin Towers. One hit the Pentagon and a third plane crashed in Shanksville, P.A. And they got in undetected but the U.S. did nothing to screen them out nor at the airports.

 

Now, lookout terrorists from the East have come to the West and they are trained in the medical field. Doctors who took the Hippocratic Oath to help the sick and to do no harm. And now we see in the U.K. how many of these suspects worked as doctors and lab technicians in places of healing of the British population. “Pardon me doctor, but before you treat me, I need to know if you are a terrorist?”

 

Are we going to start religiously profiling our doctors at hospitals around the world? Do we need to fear those who work in the medical profession, because I rely on these medical professionals to help keep me alive. And I fear that in the U.K. people are going to think twice about seeking treatment in hospital because of these developments that are listed below in the BBC News Report.

 

As a Religion Major, I am told to stay on the middle ground and not pass judgment on those of Muslim faith, that not all Muslims are bad people, that we should not profile religiously nor ethnically. This latest terror plot in the U.K. has forced me to rethink my position on Muslim extremism. When husband and wife teams are plotting to wreak havoc on the general public, we are forced to look at them more fiercely. To regard them more closely. To scrutinize them even closer. It seems that Terrorists have found new avenues to infiltrate populations to gather intelligence, to form cells of connected peoples to do horrific things to law abiding citizens.

 

Now we do not know where the next “cell” of extremists are lying in wait, to start another round of terrorist attacks somewhere in the world. I think we all need to consider how we are going to move forward. There are a lot of factors in reasons that the West is so reviled in the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent.

 

The Muslim extremists want to wipe out the infidels and kill all those who are not of the Muslim faith. To convert the infidel to the life of a Muslim, but not everybody can walk into a mosque and become a Muslim. It doesn’t work that way. But they are angry at the West, so killing as many as possible on a “single go at it” deprives the just of life, and brings the Muslim extremist closer to his 72 virgins and a free ticket to paradise. Martyrdom is the second option. Because “Martyrdom” is “in” in the Middle East. It is a way of life, a religious act, that brings paradise to those who would die for the extremist cause.

 

It is a fact that Muslims who emigrate West are not being treated fairly in many European countries because of the ethnic and religious divide and this only furthers the anger and the cause for terrorism and violence as we have seen in Spain, the UK and France. But the more acts of terror these people perpetrate on foreign soil just furthers the divide between them and US. Act responsibly, follow the law of the country you live in and assimilate without forgetting what you are religiously.

 

I’m just disgusted with terrorism and those who perpetrate such carnage and terror on those who are innocents. May they rot in hell … You don’t like where you live, well we can surely deport you and repatriate you to the country of your origins.

 

If you are so god damned angry – then get the fuck out !!!

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Terror suspects all linked to NHS

Police at Royal Alexandra Hospital accommodation

Police made two arrests at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley

Eight people arrested in connection with failed car bombings in Glasgow and London all have links with the National Health Service, the BBC has learned. Seven are believed to be doctors or medical students, while one formerly worked as a laboratory technician.

A suspect in hospital after the Glasgow attack has been named as Khalid Ahmed, who is believed to be a doctor.

A man arrested in Liverpool on Sunday has been named as Sabeel Ahmed, 26, who trained as a doctor.

Airport chaos

Two men have been arrested in Blackburn under terror laws but police have not confirmed a link with the car bombs.

The pair were detained on an industrial estate and are being held at a police station in Lancashire on suspicion of offences under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Car at Glasgow mosque

Controlled explosions were carried out on a car in Glasgow

Security alert at Heathrow

Who are bomb suspects?

Vetting foreign doctors

Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4 has reopened after a suspect bag sparked a security alert.

BAA said the departure lounge was partially evacuated and departing passengers are being rescreened, leaving thousands of people facing delays.

Tube trains on the Piccadilly Line were not stopping at Heathrow Terminal 4, but the station serving terminals one, two and three remained open.

Seven doctors or medical students have been arrested in England, Scotland and Australia in connection with the attacks. All worked in NHS hospitals.

Australia arrest

Australian media have identified a man arrested at Brisbane Airport as Dr Mohammed Haneef, 27, who has worked at Halton Hospital in Runcorn, Cheshire. He was detained while trying to board a plane to India.

On Wednesday morning, the Metropolitan Police said a counter-terrorism officer was travelling to Australia to liaise with authorities.

ARRESTS TIMELINE

 

30 June Two men arrested at Glasgow airport after burning car driven into doors of main terminal

30 June A 26-year-old-man, Dr Mohammed Asha, and a 27-year-old woman arrested on the M6 near Sandbach, Cheshire

30 June/1 July A 26-year-old man arrested near Liverpool’s Lime Street station

1 July A 28-year-old man and a 25-year-old man arrested in Paisley

2 July A 27-year-old male doctor is detained in Australia, and a second doctor is questioned

3 July Second doctor questioned in Australia is released without charge

Police response to attacks

Timeline: Failed bomb attacks

Send us your comments

Dr Haneef worked at the Gold Coast Hospital in Southport, eastern Queensland, and was previously based in Liverpool.

A second doctor who was being questioned in Australia over the failed attacks has been released without charge.

Marwah Dana Asha, 27, who was arrested on the M6, is thought to have worked as a lab technician at an NHS hospital in Shrewsbury.

She was arrested with her husband, Dr Mohammed Asha, 26, who worked at North Staffordshire NHS Trust’s University Hospital.

Armed guard

Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdullah, arrested at Glasgow Airport on Saturday, and two men, aged 28 and 25, arrested at accommodation at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley on Monday have been handed over to the Metropolitan Police. Dr Abdullah was employed as a locum at the hospital.

A forensic team was at the scene of the Glasgow Airport attack

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Khalid Ahmed, detained at Glasgow Airport along with Dr Abdullah, suffered severe burns and remains in a critical condition under armed police guard at the Royal Alexandra.

The man arrested in the Lime Street area of Liverpool trained as a doctor at the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Bangalore, India, the same place as Dr Haneef.

Six of the eight people arrested are now being held at London’s Paddington Green police station.

Sian Thomas, deputy director of NHS Employers, said she wanted to reassure the public there were “thorough and robust checks” in place before doctors were employed by NHS trusts.

In other developments:

  • Controlled explosions were carried out on a car at a mosque in Glasgow and on three fire extinguishers on a pavement in Hammersmith, London
  • Muslim Council of Britain general secretary Dr Muhammed Abdul Bari said those who sought to harm innocent people were “enemies of all of Muslims and non-Muslims”
  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown praised the “heroism and vigilance” of the public, police, and security and emergency services
  • Gas cylinders

    A green Jeep Cherokee loaded with gas cylinders crashed into the doors of Glasgow Airport’s main terminal and burst into flames on Saturday afternoon.

    The previous day two Mercedes containing petrol, gas cylinders and nails were found outside a nightclub in London’s Haymarket and at a vehicle pound after being towed from a nearby street.

    Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said 19 locations had been searched by police including premises in Houston near Glasgow, Merseyside and Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

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    Trio fuelled al-Qaeda propaganda

     

    Three men have become the first people to be convicted in the UK of inciting terrorist murder via the internet. They helped conduct a propaganda campaign for al-Qaeda. They distributed films of beheadings and bomb-making instructions which were to be used for attacks on non-Muslims.

    Frame from video seized in Bosnia


    Clip seen in court

    Al-Qaeda has its share of propaganda specialists who stoke up the violence with their incessant exhortations to “good Muslims” to obey the call to martyrdom and their twisted version of “jihad”.

    Tariq Al-Daour, Younes Tsouli and Waseem Mughal ran such an operation in the UK and were brought to justice at Woolwich Crown Court on Wednesday. They all admitted inciting terrorist murder. They also admitted conspiring to defraud banks, credit card companies and charge card companies.

    They ran a series of Islamist extremist websites and also made videos in support of “jihad”.

    Suicide vest

    When police raided Mughal’s flat in Chatham, Kent in October 2005 they found a Powerpoint slideshow entitled The Illustrated Booby Trapping Course.

    THE GUILTY MEN

    The defendants at Woolwich Crown Court

    Younes Tsouli, 23, from Shepherds Bush, west London

    Waseem Mughal, 24, from Chatham, Kent

    Tariq al-Daour, 21, from Paddington, west London

    It had details about constructing a suicide vest, including making the explosive charge and attaching ball bearings to act as shrapnel.

    All three men wanted to be “in the trenches” fighting the British and Americans in Iraq.

    In one cyber chat Tsouli, whose online nickname was Irhabi007 (Arabic for Terrorist007), told Mughal: “It sucks we are here and not there. But I suppose someone has to be here.”

    Mughal urged him to continue with his “media work” which was “very, very important”.

    ‘Important media work’

    The “media work” involved producing and editing video clips of beheadings by insurgents in Iraq, instructions on how to make bombs and other advice for budding terrorists.

    In on exchange Mughal said: “A lot of the funding that the brothers are getting is coming because of the videos. Imagine how many have gone (to Iraq) after seeing the videos. Imagine how many have become shahid (martyrs).”

    Tsouli told Mughal he had been asked by “AQ” (al-Qaeda) to translate their official “e-book”, known as Thurwat Al Sanam, or the Tip Of The Camel’s Hump, into English.

    Abu Musab Zarqawi

    It led to a close affiliation with al-Qaeda in Iraq by a man known as Zarqawi (pictured) who gained notoriety for the gruesome killing of those it branded disbeliever enemies

    Mark Ellison, prosecutor

    Mark Ellison, prosecuting, said the three men were closely affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    Zarqawi, who was later killed by a US air strike, was the man responsible for the beheading of British hostage Ken Bigley.

    Tsouli and Mughal had Ken Bigley execution footage as well as film of US journalist Daniel Pearl being beheaded.

    Mr Ellison said: “Since the coalition forces entered Iraq each of the defendants developed a particular interest in the application and promotion of ideology and the call to join it in Iraq and to some extent Afghanistan.

    Al-Qaeda logo design

    “It led to a close affiliation with al-Qaeda in Iraq by a man known as Zarqawi who gained notoriety for the gruesome killing of those it branded disbeliever enemies.”

    Tsouli reportedly helped design a logo for al-Qaeda in Iraq.

    But it was not just Iraq that the trio’s message was being delivered.

    In October 2005 a Swedish national called Mirsad Bektasevic was arrested at a house near Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    The authorities also found 18kg of explosives, electrical wiring, timing devices and detonators and a suicide bomber’s belt loaded with explosives.

    A video found at the house had been prepared by the three men and they were also in a “buddy list” on Bektasevic’s computer.

    ‘Prepared to attack’

    A voice-over on the video says: “Here are the boys preparing for the attacks.

    “They are showing us the stuff they are going to use for the attack. These boys are prepared to attack and Inshallah (God willing) they will attack kuffar (non-believers) who are killing our brothers and Muslims in Iraq, in Afghanistan, Chechnya and many other countries.”

    All three were charged under the 2000 Terrorism Act of possessing documents or records likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

    Tsouli, 23, from west London, and Mughal, 24, from Kent, changed their pleas to guilty halfway through the trial but Al-Daour, 21, from west London, changed his plea to guilty on Wednesday.

    Tsouli, who was born in Morocco, had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK only shortly before his arrest.

    The three men will be sentenced on Thursday.


    Summer Transition

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    The blog world gets smaller over the Summer as friends and fellows depart on their sabbaticals, and people go on vacation for extended periods of time. I have paired down my read and blog list as bloggers go off line. With the decision to remove myself from the anchor position at my home group, I am pairing down my volunteer work as well. I’ve given all the free advice and religious education that I can take for now.

    I’ve spent the last two years working closely with people who have no desire to change and I can’t protect people forever, nor can I expect to affect change where people are constantly working against me. That has disappointed me the most. That people who know the rules about taboo are so readily motivated to break those taboos.

    Some people are sicker than others.

    I think it is important to refocus my attentions on projects that demand more of my time, so that I can do my work completely and confidently. This Summer I will be working with my kids very closely as the building of my ministry starts to grow. I have work that has been asked of me, and I must respond to that call.

    As we transition from classes to the living of life and as well, my transition into the work field in advisement and counseling takes center stage. I realize that sitting where I have been for so long in the rooms has not moved anyone forward, but I have. I have been told that the only way to allow people to grow for themselves is to allow them to do so without my enabling them to remain where they are. I have said all that I can say to help those who are listening. And I can’t be part of a community that has worked so hard to disrupt the calm, safe and sacred space that my home group had become – but is now gone.

    We will continue to write over the Summer as I work on my new manuscript and get that finished by Summers end. I want to write something really great, that will present the work that I have done over the last decade of my life and the lessons I have learned.

    Today I received an invitation to become part of the Alumni Society at Concordia. As graduation looms ever closer, the nerves are starting to ignite. I have to get my gown next week and take photos for my Alumni Card and get ready for graduation.

    I still have a paper to write for my Theology class, which I have to seriously work on over the next week for a Friday completion deadline, I will be concentrating on that over the weekend.

    We are all evolving in our own special ways and some of us are taking time to reassess our blogs and the future of writing. I am doing the same here. I am pulling away from the drama and those people who seem to be stuck in ruts that all the words in the world will not remove them from, until they decide they’ve had enough.

    Stay tuned and please come and read – there are a multitude of posts to read over in the pages section of the blog as well as the archives. We will be walking a spiritual journey as we continue our training for Spain in 2009.

    I start the new HIV meds next week so look forward to that info for those of you who are HIV positive and are thinking about a medication change. I will also be dropping some serious labs to start the new regimen they told me last week.

    This is the last week of school for Summer Session 1 – I will have more time to dedicate to writing and ministry work, as graduation quickly approaches. Thank you for your readership and I hope that you will all stick with us over the Summer.

    **** Summer Events ****  

    1. We will begin Christian Meditation on Wednesday Nights at the Christian Meditation Center located within the Padua Center at the Georges Vanier Metro below the tunnel, not far from here. That meditation session begins at 8:00 p.m. and a $5.00 donation is requested for attendance.  
    2. If you want to join us on walks up the mountain as part of the Camino Santiago de Compostela training group, do let us know. As weather permits we will be walking the mountain and also, we will be adding different walking tours of Montreal including the Old Port and on up the Orange line from Berri through St Denis and St. Laurent.
    3. The Harry Potter Party will take place on the 21st of July. A huge party is planned at Indigo Book shop in Downtown Montreal. Also the release of the 5th Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has its opening on July 11th, 2007.
    4. The L’international des Feux Loto-Quebec opens on the 20th of June with the first performance by Spain at La Ronde here in Montreal. We usually walk the Jacque Cartier Bridge to the end of the Superstructure to watch them from above the park. The fireworks begin promptly at 10:00 p.m. rain or shine. 
    5. The Festival International de Jazz de Montreal takes place this Summer from June 28th through July 5th, around the Place des Arts Center in Downtown Montreal.
    6. The Montreal Divers/Cite Gay Pride Festival takes place in the village on the East End of the city from August 1 to August 5th, 2007. Not as big as last years event due to the lack of government funds this year.

    Another Day

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    The ladder of the Monks calls for Reading, Praying, Meditating and finally Contemplation. I have been working on my spiritual journey over the last few months. The added component to this ladder is ‘action.’

    I wrote to a few sober members about last nights awakening, none of them responded. So I am either crazy or they don’t have to time to participate in this forum. Their loss… I did not go into this decision without prayer and meditation.

    I went to bed with Paulo and some more reading on The Pilgrimage. He writes of his spiritual journey and the meditation practices his guide employs for him. I have started working with these meditations. I love reading books with substance and power.

    Today we had our mid term exam in Theology and we had two essays to write on. I chose to write on The nature of prayer and ritual communally and personally. This experience I draw from my seminary time and the years afterwards in coming to know God on a more personal level. Going to mass, being part of community in seminary and in life. I also talked about my desire to be alone with my God. That was the one real dig that the rector of the seminary had for me. Because I was not “one of the boys!” No, I wasn’t hurting anyone or had I sexually identified at that time as a gay man who was out to party and be drunk and irresponsible.

    I was a young man in seminary. Who wanted to serve the church and God as I felt called to do, so I stayed away from community because they made me feel like an outsider. So I didn’t fit in. So be it.

    Anyways, I digress…

    So over the lat 15 years I have searched for seed for my garden and I have planted them and now they are beginning to come to full flower. Some seeds sat in the ground for a long time, until the right time to bloom. I like my personal spirituality. And I can get into communal practice as well. There is a great Wednesday Christian meditation right near here that I will be attending when school gets out.

    The second question was on the contemplative practice. I spoke about the Jesuit teaching that I have followed since I got out of Seminary. I have entertained the path of Ignatius. This process of discernment was the path I walked into seminary. And it is the practice that many young men follow at the Ignatian Center here in Montreal.

    At the major Seminary just up the street from home is the reflection pool behind the building with a walking path around it which I have walked countless times over the past few years. There is also the Labyrinth that is always a wonderful experience. Contemplative prayer asks us to get quiet but also to listen for the voice of discernment.

    I rocked on the essay questions, and with those writings today, I feel much better about the decision and the spiritual awakening that has taken place. I am not resentful or angry, I am over the fed up today because it is not about me. But I feel misled, used and disrespected, because I have worked so hard to create a safe space for newbies and that safe space has been defiled and I can’t be a supporter of a group that works against the grain. So that’s that…

    The journey calls us to commit to our beliefs and convictions. The journey takes from us that which is useless to us and asks us to step on a path with what we have and to trust that God will provide. Sometimes we must walk alone. Sometimes we must be pruned in order to grow. I am through with doing all the work for everybody for free…

    For that was what I was called to do. And I did it gratefully and thankfully. But for the last month I have been feeling a knot in my stomach every time I went to that church, now I know why. My gut was trying to show me something. Finally the message came through loud and clear. The bees are disappearing. So are my friends I wanted to know why, I asked the universe and in a matter of hours, I had my answers.

    Something is happening, and I must follow the spirit and the voice.

    So the Pilgrimage continues.


    Howl's Moving Castle

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    Today I spent the afternoon with Jacob. We went out for lunch and did a little shopping in the Underground City. We stopped in at Indigo where I picked up a couple of books by Paulo Coelho – The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist. I once read The Alchemist many many years ago, just after my diagnosis. Well, a LONG time ago actually!!

    I wanted to read The Pilgrimage since I have decided to set my sights on the Santiago de Compostela.

    The Pilgrimage” holds an important place in Paulo Coelho’s literary canon. His first book, it not only paved the way for his phenomenal novel The Alchemist, but it also fully expresses his humanist philosophy and the depth of his unique search for meaning.”

    “Here Paulo Coelho details his journey across Spain along the legendary road of San Tiago, which pilgrims have traveled since the Middle Ages. On this contemporary quest, he encounters a Chaucerian variety of mysterious guides and devilish opponents and learns yo understand the nature of truth through the simplicity of life.”

    As you can see above, I’ve listed another Hayao Miyazaki film that I added to my collection today. I’ve been searching for a copy for some time now, so Metro Video had a few on the shelf, So I had to buy it. If you are a movie buff like me, you will appreciate and love the art that is Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away is one of his finest films he has created.

    If you watch these two films in any order, you will see aspects of both films in each of the films in and of themselves. Little signs and decor find themselves from one film to another. The stories are timeless and the characters are wonderful. Hayao is one of the finest film makers on the planet.

    It was a beautiful day had by all.


    Prayers for the Day

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    Tantum ergo Sacramentum
    Veneremur cernui:
    Et antiquum documentum
    Novo cedat ritui:
    Praestet fides supplementum
    Sensuum defectui.

    Genitori, Genitoque
    Laus et iubilatio,
    Salus, honor, virtus quoque
    Sit et benedictio:
    Procedenti ab utroque
    Compar sit laudatio.
    Amen.

    V. Panem de coelo praestitisti eis.
    R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem.

    Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriamreliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacramysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus.Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

    R. Amen.

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    Down in adoration falling,
    Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
    Lo! oe’r ancient forms departing
    Newer rites of grace prevail;
    Faith for all defects supplying,
    Where the feeble senses fail.

    To the everlasting Father,
    And the Son Who reigns on high
    With the Holy Spirit proceeding
    Forth from each eternally,
    Be salvation, honor blessing,
    Might and endless majesty.
    Amen.

    R. Thou hast given them bread from heaven.
    V. Having within it all sweetness.

    Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.

    R. Amen.


    Pilgrimage – The Decision

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    I’ve been in a strange mood the past few days. I can’t sleep at night. I’ve got so much on my mind as of late. The full moon is approaching, I can tell that this is going to be a low cycle instead of a high cycle. Issues at hand have depressed my desires and my emotions.

    But I am praying and meditating. I’ve been praying about pilgrimage, and I’ve decided that yes I am going to make this trip. That I am worthy of this and that this sabbatical will be useful to me spiritually. The other note to mention is that I have also been praying about a pilgrimage partner. Who would I most want to take with me? That answer came over the past few days. So I called Beverly today and asked her to tell Sam to come and read. I also sent him a written invitation to pilgrimage.

    I think that with this much time until Spring 2009, that we can raise the funds for pilgrimage through the spiritual communities we both belong to. I am sure that people in our respective church communities would love to sponsor someone on a pilgrimage of this great an adventure.

    I am taking this opportunity to say Yes to pilgrimage, and Yes to my feelings that I think this might be the most important journey I will make in the coming years, not to say that life has not been an incredible journey, but I think Sam and I will make a great team. It would take him into new heights and give him an incredible experience, and it will give he and I some great one on one time. I think he’d enjoy the trip immensely…

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    I’ve made some decisions regarding my ministry. I have always been very hard on myself. And I am not used to recognizing that I have abilities. Yet I know I have abilities. I have known this for many years beginning with my tarot teaching and my visionary empathic abilities. Having a gift is a curse and a blessing. I don’t usually operate on the assumption that I am using all of my gifts properly and when necessary. My bad…

    I do have a spirituality that is specifically my own. I have cultivated my garden very carefully over the last 15 years. My beliefs may not be the same of your beliefs, but my life experience and my Religious Experience, has definitely impacted my desire to try and find my place in the grand scheme of things.

    Now that I have achieved the greatest achievement in my life, that of completing a four year degree in Religious Studies, I know more now, than I did years ago. My understanding of Religion has helped me redefine my own beliefs and practices. Now it is time to put that well earned knowledge into practice professionally. This has been a long hard fight to admit that I have earned this and that I am worthy of great things and that I truly have something to offer the men, women and young people I work with.

    I have continued to work with young people in any capacity that I can. I believe that having a mentor to help one along the path is better than traveling it alone. I have decided that I can take what I have learned and what I have lived and try to help some new young people today. I have been working with my gifts and adding to my education over the years in the ways of academia and as well, in studies on my own. I have a wealth of spiritual knowledge that came by way of the hundreds of books I have read over the years, studying the spiritual journeys of many men who desired to find answers to their questions. I know all of this stuff. I have knowledge of the spiritual path, I also have knowledge of the Religious path.

    This knowledge is a very important component when working with others. Because I can appreciate different religious beliefs and I can also appreciate the Christian journey and how important a component that is for so many people. I can give support, I can share love and I can teach what I know – because what I know is tangible.

    I think about sabbatical – and pilgrimage and I ponder what it would be like to be on that journey and the first logical thought that came to mind today was that Sam and I need to do this. What an incredible experience it would be for both of us to walk the journey and how bringing someone along with me is going to be so kewl!!

    So I am working on Acceptance.

    Acceptance that I am worth it
    Acceptance that I am worthy
    Acceptance that I can do whatever I set my mind to
    Acceptance that I can work for a living
    That what I know is useful and that I can help people
    Acceptance that there are people who want to help me
    Acceptance that I can be helped because I help them

    Ok, I need to work on my Acceptance totally !!


    El Camino – Santiago de Compostela

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    This evening I went to a lecture about El Camino – Santiago De Compostela by a member of the United Theological College here in Montreal. I have to say that I have been interested in this topic for some time. I have had friends walk part of the journey and bring me back mementos from their journeys.

    Our guide began his journey in St. Jean Pied De Port – A little farther East of Pamplona on the French side of the mountains…

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    On the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains climbing Westwards into Spain. This is a six week journey, about 40 to 45 days.

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    St. Jean Pied De Port. This quite an exhaustive journey and many make the pilgrimage for many reasons. I have often thought in the past to make this journey. I spoke to our host this evening about making the journey being HIV positive. He said if my doctor would clear me to make the journey, that he didn’t see why I could not do it. He also told us that there might be a group returning to Compostela in 2009, and I would have to be not only physically prepared, but mentally and spiritually prepared as well.

    He had a preparatory plan in his mind which he shared with us, the few that were there and were honestly interested in finding out more about this pilgrimage. He spoke about this pilgrimage as a journey. Every ounce you carry – may keep you from making it to the end. Leaving every comfort of home behind and not carrying what you don’t have to is crucial. Every day you walk, as the sun rises. I cannot recall everything he said verbatim, but the thoughts come to me as this: If you can live with very little, carrying only that which you need, and if you can make the journey with no expectations, and if you can make the journey “not knowing everything” you could complete the pilgrimage.

    He told us about people he met on his journey and some of the issues that they were dealing with, to give us insight to how it went for him. Ms. New Jersey who carried a suitcase on her back, and had to jettison items as she walked because they were holding her back. Those who were not prepared for the sacrifice of the journey and those who had serious medical issues along the way.

    I know that there is a journey still left in me, I just don’t know which one it will be. But this is now, several times I have crossed paths with Compostela. This is where I begin to pray for discernment. I know that I want to make a pilgrimage because I feel for me, religiously and spiritually, that I am meant to make one pilgrimage that I will pray to find my way into.

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    I guess this is an invitation to you my readers who might be inclined to take a journey of this magnitude. We are setting our sights towards a Spring 2009, (May – June) departure.

    I know that hubby would never make this journey with me. He told me on the way out that he was (Patsy) of Edina and Patsy. That he would ride along side in a car eating bon bons and cheering me on. He is not inclined to make a spiritual pilgrimage because he is not as “spiritual” in that sense as I am. But he’d support me going. So this is where I put it out there and ask you to pray for me and maybe someone out there would decide to walk with me as well…

    Where there’s a will – there’s a way…


    Bhaddekaratta Sutta

    Buddha with a view

    ‘Do not pursue the past.
    Do not lose yourself in the future.
    The past no longer is.
    The future has not yet come.
    Looking deeply at life as it is
    in the very here and now,
    the practitioner dwells
    in stability and freedom.
    We must be diligent today.
    To wait until tomorrow is too late.
    Death comes unexpectedly.
    How can we bargain with it?
    The sage calls a person who knows
    how to dwell in mindfulness
    night and day
    ‘one who knows
    the better way to live alone.’

    Text: Adapted from the Bhaddekaratta Sutta,
    translated by Thich Nhat Hanh
    Seen over at: All Things But None 


    Give me …

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    Seen over at The Ministry of Pleasure… 


    Vote for the 2007 Weblog Awards

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    Vote HERE for your favorite weblog.

    One of the contenders is our very own “Scott-O-Rama.”


    Skate Canada Review: Men's Final

    And the Medals are as follows:

    1st Place Jeffrey Buttle 232.83
    2nd Place Chris Mabee 209.31
    3rd Place Emmanuel Sandhu 207.49
    4th Place Shawn Sawyer 199.24

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    After 10 months off for a back injury, Jeffrey Buttle returned to the rink, with a magnificent skate. He was beautiful and technically superior with his amazing jumps and footwork. Jeffrey is a great skater and will go to Worlds in Tokyo. Jeffrey has been a very technical skater going into the Winter Olympic, where he earned a Bronze Medal for Canada in the Men’s Skate Competition. That was a great performance, he said tonight that “the bronze medal win gave him courage” coming into tonight’s skate after being away due to his back injury. His skate was technically excellent. Maybe Jeffrey will get that Quad into his program by Worlds in Tokyo.

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    Chris Mabee, of Ontario, places Second in this competition. He skated very well and with his points from his short program, skated his way to a second place finish behind team mate Jeffrey Buttle. His choice of Big Band sounds worked well to his advantage in that, he brought this program forward from his collection of routines.

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    The Artistic Award for the night goes to Shawn Sawyer. I LOVE to watch Shawn skate. He is, hands down, THE BEST artistic skater in the competition. Not one of the skaters from tonight’s comeptition, had the artistic beauty that Shawn captures in his skating. He is an amazing skater and his strength comes in his presentation. His lines are sharp, his jumps are thrilling. Shawn has been in the back of the pack and comes in Fourth in tonights final competition. I just LOVE this man’s ability to skate beautifully. He is just amazing.

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    He may not have the marks technically to be at the top of the order, but what he lacks in that area, is truly made up in his artistry as a skater. Did I mention he hails from Edmonston, New Brunswick!! I love your abilities Shawn. You are a fantastic skater.


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