GOP Holds Planned Parenthood Accountable For Spending →

September 27, 2011

House Republicans have begun an investigation into Planned Parenthood's use of federal funds, questioning whether the national network of abortion providers has proper checks in place to prevent violations of federal law. Under federal law, clinics that perform abortions can obtain federal money for health and contraceptive services but are not allowed to spend any of that money on abortions except in rare cases. Planned Parenthood reported $1.1 billion in revenue from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, of which $363.2 million was from federal, state or local grants and contracts. All of that money went to local affiliates.
- The Washington Times

US Wants China To Stop Undervaluing Its Currency →

September 27, 2011

The Senate will move forward next week on legislation that aims to encourage China to raise the value of its currency as a way to strengthen the U.S. job market. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate will take up the bi-partisan currency legislation next week, and that he feels "very comfortable" it will be passed. The Senate bill would require the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate if a country is undervaluing its currency, which would be regarded as a government subsidy under U.S. law. Affected U.S. companies would then be allowed to seek retaliatory tariffs on goods imported from the country.
- VOA News

Hunting For Russian Nuke Smuggler →

September 27, 2011

Authorities in the ex-Soviet republic of Moldova are hunting the alleged Russian mastermind of a failed plan to sell weapons- grade uranium on the black market, a new US Senate report said Tuesday. AFP reported in June that Moldova police had arrested six suspects and seized a sample of Uranium-235 in a sting that thwarted a potential customer, described by a top official as "a citizen of a Muslim country in Africa." But the report for the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee includes the alarming charge that the group also claimed to possess plutonium, far less of which is needed to make a bomb.

America Abundantly Taxes Its Rich →

September 21, 2011

In 2010, according to the TPC, Americans in the bottom 20 percent of income earners paid minus (-)3.8 percent of the total federal income tax burden. In other words, they got more back, in income tax credits and the like, than they paid in. Those in the middle quintile (with an average income of $44,000) paid 3.9 percent of the total federal income tax burden. And those in the fourth quintile (whose income ranged from $58,000 to $102,000) paid 15.1 percent of the total federal income tax burden. Meanwhile, Americans in the highest 0.1 percent of all income-earners — these are the very rich, with incomes of at least $1.974 million — paid 16.4 percent of the total federal tax burden. In other words, the top 0.1 percent paid more toward the workings of government than the bottom 80 percent did. That's despite the fact that the bottom 80 percent collectively made more than six times as much money as the top 0.1 percent did.
- The Weekly Standard


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2016 Strategic Perspectives Conference by Various Speakers


Home Bible Study Fined, Required To Get Permit - (Print)

A general practitioner in the coastal British town of Margate has been brought before the General Medical Council (GMC) for suggesting to a patient that Jesus could give him comfort and strength. Across the world in San Juan Capistrano, California, a home Bible study group has been told the home owners will be fined $500 per meeting unless the group obtains a Conditional Use Permit. Freedom of religion may not be directly under attack in most Western countries, but it can still be painfully taken hostage by ordinances and political correctness.

Margate, Kent:
Dr. Richard Scott spoke about religious matters with a 24-year-old patient in August 2010, much to the chagrin of the patient's mother. The patient himself continued to receive treatment under Dr. Scott at the Bethesda Medical Centre, a Christian-oriented practice in Margate. The mother, however, filed a complaint against Dr. Scott, accusing him of pushing religion on her son.

The medical center's page on the NHS Choices website states that the doctors are all practicing Christians who are interested in talking about their faith with patients, saying, "The Partners feel that the offer of talking to you on spiritual matters is of great benefit. If you do not wish this, that is your right and will not affect your medical care. Please tell the doctor (or drop a note to the Practice Manager) if you do not wish to speak on matters of faith."

The GMC forbids doctors to impose their personal beliefs on patients and religious questions are to be handled in a "sensitive and appropriate" manner. Paul Ozin for the GMC told the committee, "A line was crossed because Dr. Scott expressed his personal religious belief to a person who he knew as a vulnerable patient in a way that was plainly liable to cause the patient distress."

Dr. Scott holds that his conversation with the patient was appropriate and fell under GMC guidelines. He said he did not belittle the patient or engage in a persistent religious discussion as claimed, nor did he consider the 24-year-old man to be a "vulnerable" patient. Dr. Scott, a former medical missionary, describes the conversation as a "consensual discussion between two adults."

Simon Clavert of The Christian Institute said, "Are we really getting to a position where Christians are not allowed to speak about their faith at all in the workplace?"

The GMC Investigation Committee could issue Dr. Scott an official warning, blemishing his otherwise excellent professional record. The doctor intends to appeal the censure, but has been told he could be "struck off" (fired) if he does so.

San Juan Capistrano, California:
The City of San Juan Capistrano has fined residents Chuck and Stephanie Fromm $300 for holding regular Bible study meetings at their large home on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings without a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), a permit required for churches and other nonprofit organizations. The Fromms were told that meetings of more than three people require a CUP, and they have been threatened with a$500 fine per meeting if they continue to gather before they obtain the permit.

The Fromms have been accused of violating section 9-3.301 of the Capistrano Municipal Code which states that "religious, fraternal, or nonprofit" organizations are not permitted in residential neighborhoods without a CUP.

Brad Dacus, an attorney from the Pacific Justice Institute representing the Fromms, notes that the word "fraternal" is vague and could be construed to include groups who meet each week to watch Monday Night football. And why not? From the city's point of view, what is the difference between people gathering regularly to watch football or people gathering regularly to read the Bible together?

Obtaining the permit in question is not a simple matter. The Pacific Justice Institute has represented churches in the past who were forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the effort to acquire a CUP, getting things like traffic and engineering studies and seismic retrofits done. Public hearings are required, and, if granted, the CUP can still come with all manner of restrictions.

The Fromms have denied any code violation, in any case. They are not affiliated with any church, they say, nor are they starting one. They are also not causing any known public disturbance.  Between 20 and 50 people gather for the Bible studies, but many carpool, so there are fewer cars than people. The Fromms have a large home down a long driveway with six empty acres on the other side of them. There is no trouble with parking, and they do not have loud music at the meetings. In fact, except for one disgruntled neighbor, the neighborhood has been supportive of them, and some neighbors have even written letters on the Fromms' behalf.

"We have a neighbor that's cross at us and contacted the zoning department," said Chuck Fromm. "It feels sort of like a snitch system. There's no due process. It's arbitrary. We're reasonable, rational people, but we don't have a reasonable, rational system."

Dacus said, "It's an overabuse of authority and discretion for any local government to say a family like the Fromms must pay money to the city and get their prior consent to engage in such a fundamentally traditional use of their own home."

Government has an important job to do in maintaining peace and security for a people, whether it operates as a legal body or an oversight committee. We don't want crowds of people jamming a cul-de-sac with cars every Sunday morning, disturbing everybody around them. There's a place for zoning laws. However, there's an important balance that needs to be made between protection and meddling, between offering security and order and infringing on the fundamental rights of religion and speech and assembly. Both the Fromms and Dr. Scott are appealing to higher authorities to address the breaches of their essential freedoms, which is important in order to protect others from having their liberties violated as well.

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Neutrinos May Really Be Faster Than Light - (Print)

Neutrinos may indeed travel faster than the speed of light, according to three years' worth of data amassed at a huge underground lab in Italy. Physicists across the world are skeptical of course; Einstein's theory of relativity hinges on the speed of light and the fact that nothing goes faster. If a particle can shoot past light speed, then crazy science fiction dreams like time travel conceivably become possible. If other labs are able to duplicate the results, this discovery will cause theoretical physicists to wrestle once again with the most fundamental concepts about the nature of the universe.

Less massive than an electron, faster than a speeding photon, able to fly through thick rock without hitting a single quark. It's a lepton. It's uncharged. It's... it's... a neutrino!

Neutrinos are tiny subatomic particles without any charge, which makes it possible for them to speed through the earth without interacting with the atoms along the way. Neutrinos are so tiny and finicky to work with, they aren't even assigned a quantified mass. For example an electron has a mass of 9.11×10^−31 kg (which is exceedingly small), but a neutrino's mass is described simply as "non-zero." Just barely there.

The Opera Experiment:
Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory is buried deep under the ground, out of the way of the Sun's cosmic radiation. There a group of 160 physicists from 11 countries have been collaborating in an experiment called Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Tracking Apparatus, or "Opera" for short. The Opera experiment does not begin in Italy, though. Just over 450 miles away at the CERN Large Hadron Collider on the border of France and Switzerland, naked protons, stripped of electrons, are fired into a graphite target. There they turn into a pulse of smaller particles called mesons that decay into neutrinos and speed through the earth toward the Gran Sasso lab.

Much to their dismay, the Opera physicists found the neutrinos traveled a distance of 454 miles from the CERN particle accelerator to the underground lab in Italy about 60 nanoseconds faster than a beam of light. That's significant, because the margin of error was only 10 nanoseconds. In 2007, scientists at Fermilab in Chicago clocked neutrinos exceeding light speed, but their margin of error was higher - high enough to render the results inconclusive - high enough to protect the conceptual order and the sanity of the world's physicists.

The Opera scientists are not trying to prove a point, nor do they wish to upset Einstein. They were not even initially focusing on neutrino speed. Neutrinos can morph from one shape to another, and the scientists performing the Opera experiment have been trying to study the transformation of muon neutrinos to tau neutrinos. In the process, they measured the speeds of thousands of neutrinos, and came to the uncomfortable discovery that they were going too fast. After 16,000 neutrinos detected over three years, the physicists only detected one tau neutrino. While the speed of neutrinos is becoming the big issue, OPERA spokesperson, Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern, said, "We would like to see some tau neutrinos."

Skeptical physicists abound. Few are ready to believe that any particle, however small, surpasses the speed of light. Astrophysicist Martin Rees of the University of Cambridge reminds Scientific American readers that neutrinos and photos arrived about the same time from SN1987A, a supernova first observed in February of 1987. If neutrinos indeed travelled faster than light, then the neutrinos from the supernova should have beat the photons in their space race from the explosion by a good four years. The SN1987A neutrinos had lower energies than the particle accelerator neutrinos, but still. Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University voiced the same sentiments, also noting that the experiment appears to violate Lorentz invariance, "which is at the heart of so much known physics."

That's the struggle. So much known physics, tested over and over, depends on the speed of light as the max of the universe. The equations work. The numbers fit over and over again. So, if the speed of light can be surpassed, what does that really mean? Does it mean that neutrinos actually leapfrog forward in time? Or, is there something that physicists have missed?

Most theoretical physicists assume there must be a mistake somewhere. Is there a systematic error that the Gran Sasso team missed? Did they measure the underground distance with the necessary precision, accounting for the tidal bulges in the Earth's crust due to the location of the Moon?

Dr. Dario Autiero, of the Institut de Physique Nucleaire de Lyon in France declared that his group has been trying to explain the results for six months without success.

"We cannot explain the observed effect in terms of systematic uncertainties," Dr. Autiero told the physicists at CERN. "Therefore, the measurement indicates a neutrino velocity higher than the speed of light."

"This result comes as a complete surprise," confirmed Ereditato. "After many months of studies and cross checks we have not found any instrumental effect that could explain the result of the measurement. While OPERA researchers will continue their studies, we are also looking forward to independent measurements to fully assess the nature of this observation."

Physicists in other labs are jumping to see if they can repeat the Italian lab's results. Until others can repeat the experiment and get the same data, it's unwise to take a stubborn position on the issue. At the same time, an editorial in The Guardian warns against rejecting discoveries just because they're uncomfortable:

"[B]ut the history of science cautions against branding it unthinkable...Recall, too, that it was the then inexplicable Michelson-Morley experiment which encouraged the spread of Einstein's early ideas, and the baffling perihelion precession of Mercury which lent support to his general theory. The first thing in science is to face the facts; making sense of them has to come second."

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Netanyahu, Abbas, and The Day of Atonement - (Print)

"Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God." - Leviticus 23:27-28

This year, Jews in Israel celebrate the High Holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur during a time of uncertainty. On September 23, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian State without having made even the most basic of concessions toward peace with Israel – like recognizing Israel's right to exist or denouncing terrorism. Yasser Arafat may be gone, and Mahmoud Abbas may want to settle things peaceably, but the true heart of the Palestinian Authority has not changed over the decades. At the bottom of their hearts, the Arab world considers Israel an infected sliver that wants a good pinch.

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's speech leaves little hope for the future," said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) on Monday while meeting with Japanese Ambassador to Israel Haruhisa Takeuchi. Rivlin said, "[Abbas] cries over the loss of his home in Safed in '48, and not the establishment of the settlements in '67. Abbas's speech illustrates in the best way why today, 63 years later, there isn't peace between the sides."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed Abbas with his own speech, describing the dangers Israel faced to its security and calling for a return to negotiations. The United States has promised to veto the Palestinian statehood bid, but the whole charade demonstrates how futile attempts at negotiating have become. Everybody senses it. There are certain items on which neither Israel nor the Arabs are willing to budge.

East Jerusalem appears to be one of those items. Since 1967, the Jews have had control over all of Jerusalem, including the Old City with the Western Wall and Temple Mount. Although the Islamic Waqf controls the actual Temple Mount, the site remains Judaism's holiest as location of the ancient Temple that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. No Hebrew prayer is permitted on the Temple Mount, but many Jews don't mind; they do not want to accidentally tread across the spot that once held the Temple's Holy of Holies. The Palestinians may want East Jerusalem back as part of a peace agreement, but nobody should ask the Jews to give up the part of Jerusalem that holds the Western Wall or the ancient site of the Temple. For Netanyahu, it's not a remote option.

Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is the most holy day of the Jewish year. The Day of Atonement is observed on the 10th of Tishri, which this year starts at sunset on Friday, October 7th and ends at sunset on October 8th. All day on the 10th of Tishri, Jews will take off work and fast for this holy and most solemn day of repentance and reconciliation.

When the Temple still stood, it was on this day - the only day - that the High Priest was able to enter the Holy of Holies, and then only after elaborate ceremonial washings, offerings, and associated rituals. This was also the day that two goats were selected. One goat was killed as an offering to atone for sins, and one, the "scapegoat," had the nation's sins ceremonially placed on it and was sent into the wilderness in order to remove those sins far away from the people. The ceremonial acts that were to be carried out by the High Priest on Yom Kippur are described in Leviticus 16 (see also Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 23:27-31, 25:9; Numbers 29:7-11).

The Sacrificial Messiah In The Old Testament:
Yom Kippur traditionally ends with one long note of the Shofar, a musical instrument made from a ram's horn. The significance of the ram's horn is traditionally rooted in Genesis 22. Here God commands Abraham "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of," (Gen 22:2). Abraham is called upon by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, as a test of his faith. After God halts the sacrifice at the last minute, Abraham spies a ram trapped by his horns in a nearby thicket and offers the animal instead of his son.

It is interesting to note that this is the first instance in which the word "love" appears in Scripture. God commands Abraham to sacrifice "thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest." In this passage Isaac is identified as Abraham's only son, without mention of Ishmael. Isaac was the son of promise, and Abraham was acting out prophecy.

When Isaac asked his father where was the lamb to sacrifice for the burnt offering, Abraham said, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb…" That day, God provided a ram to take the place of Isaac, but He ultimately had another Lamb to take the place of Isaac and Abraham and the rest of us as well. It is suspected that the particular mountain Abraham took Isaac in the land of Moriah is the same mount on the eastern edge of what is now Jerusalem where Solomon built the Temple (2Ch 3:1), and the uppermost part of that mountain is believed to be the very spot where the "only Son" of God was later crucified.

Woven throughout the Old Testament feasts is the foreshadowing of God's plan for the redemption of mankind. Those of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ are able to enter behind the veil and stand in the Holy of Holies. We have forgiveness because of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. He is our scapegoat. Our sins are placed on him and sent far far away. His blood was sprinkled for our atonement, and because of him we are cleansed and made holy before God.

May Israel continue to trust in the LORD as did Abraham, and may the Messiah soon come and reign in torn and weary Jerusalem.   The heathen may rage and plot, but God is in charge.  He says, "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." - Psalm 2:6-7

[Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a three part series on the fall feasts of Israel. Next week's article will cover Succoth - the Feast of Tabernacles.]

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2011 Strategic Perspectives Conference - (Print)

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