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Friday, February 26, 2010

France's Warship Sales to Russia "Very Risky"

The EUObserver wrote on February 19:
"Georgia on Thursday (19 February) warned Europe against a proposed French sale of warships to Russia, as it would allow Moscow to invade any former Soviet republic 'within hours,' echoing concerns raised by Baltic leaders that the deal is in breach of an EU code on arms trade. During a visit to London, President Mikheil Saakashvili said that the warship sale was 'very risky' and would 'reward' Russia's continued military presence in Georgia's breakaway provinces, in violation of a French-brokered ceasefire agreement after a brief war in 2008.

"Russia is negotiating a €500 million deal to buy at least one Mistral, an assault ship capable of carrying up to 16 helicopters and a 750-strong landing force. It has also expressed interest in three others.

"Mr Sarkozy has defended the sale, saying 'one cannot expect Russia to behave as a partner if we don't treat it as one.' The deal would be a considerable boost for France's Saint-Nazaire shipyard, which builds Mistrals...
"The Georgian leader also referred to remarks made last year by admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, the commander of Russia's navy, who said that if his country had such a ship in 2008, it could have won the war against Georgia 'in 40 minutes instead of 26 hours'... Vladimir Putin was now searching for a new conflict to underpin his bid to recapture the Russian presidency in 2012, Mr Saakashvili claimed.

"Baltic ministers last week also warned against the deal with Russia, which would be the first time a Nato country sells advanced military technology to the former Cold War enemy. There is no EU law governing arms sales by member states. But in 2008 the bloc adopted a political commitment not to sell weapons or components to countries which violate human rights, pose a risk to regional stability or hurt the security interests of EU allies. The code was signed into life by the French EU presidency four months after the Georgia war.

"Earlier this month, a Pentagon spokesman said the US's 'friends and allies' in Eastern Europe had 'good reason' to be nervous about the deal. On Wednesday, Moscow signed a military treaty with the Georgian breakaway province of Abkhazia, which has access to the Black Sea. The deal includes setting up a Russian military base for at least 45 years. Moscow has currently about 1,700 troops in the self-declared independent province, despite the ceasefire agreement stipulating a scale-back in its military presence."

Europe has had its history of signing pacts and making deals with Russia, only to break them later. There can be no doubt that Russia is on an aggressive course against nations which once belonged to the Soviet Empire. The Bible predicts that the relationship between the prophesied ten European nations or groups of nations and a power bloc under Russian and Chinese leadership will deteriorate and end in an out-right war.

Scientists Retract Global Warming Study

The most important aspect in the following article is the fact that scientists openly admit that they make mistakes of such a magnitude that they can have wide-ranging consequences. It is high time that our "modern" and "sophisticated" civilization begins to place its trust and belief in God--rather than in erring scientists--and that it rejects scientific "knowledge" when it is in clear contradiction to the revealed Word of God--the Holy Bible.

The Guardian wrote on February 22:

"Scientists have been forced to withdraw a study on projected sea level rise due to global warming after finding mistakes that undermined the findings.
"The study, published in 2009. confirmed the conclusions of the 2007 report.It used data over the last 22,000 years to predict that sea level would rise by between 7cm and 82cm by the end of the century.

"At the time, Mark Siddall, from the Earth Sciences Department at the University of Bristol, said the study 'strengthens the confidence with which one may interpret the IPCC results.' The IPCC said that sea level would probably rise by 18cm-59cm by 2100, though stressed this was based on incomplete information about ice sheet melting and that the true rise could be higher.

"Many scientists criticised the IPCC approach as too conservative, and several papers since have suggested that sea level could rise more.

"Announcing the formal retraction of the paper from the journal, Siddall said: 'It's one of those things that happens. People make mistakes and mistakes happen in science.' He said there were two separate technical mistakes in the paper, which were pointed out by other scientists after it was published. A formal retraction was required, rather than a correction, because the errors undermined the study's conclusion."

Germany Urges Catholic Church to Come Clean on Child Abuse

Deutsche Welle reported on February 21:
"German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger leveled criticism at the Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa, who she said was 'hiding behind polemic excuses instead of contributing to clearing up' the matter. The controversial bishop had previously told a local newspaper that the media and the 'so-called sexual revolution' were partly to blame for the problem of child abuse in society.

"The minister's comments come to a backdrop of a widening scandal involving allegations of sexual molestation at Catholic schools throughout Germany dating back to the 1960s...
"Hamburg Archbishop Werner Thissen said the scandal was the result of 'structural problems' in the church... An association of Catholic lay people... has also called on bishops to come clean, and admit that cases that have come to light are not isolated."

Der Spiegel Online added on February 24:
"The Catholic Church in Germany is under pressure as more and more cases of sexual abuse come to light. Now the government is demanding that the Church take rigorous action to investigate the incidents. But Benedict XVI remained silent.

"New allegations of abuse by members of the Catholic Church are emerging every day... Despite the apparent urgency of the situation, Germany's highest-ranking Catholic... had been unavailable for comment for weeks during the scandal.

"In reacting to what is probably the biggest scandal within their ranks in decades, German bishops have seemed helpless and dazed, sometimes concerned about the victims, but often stubborn, out of touch with reality or ignorant -- and generally confused.

"Even the German government is unequivocally calling upon Church leaders to take action -- an extremely unusual approach in the context of the relationship between Church and state... The prevalent view within the clergy, however, is still that sexual assaults are isolated cases, the regrettable transgressions of brothers gone astray... At the same time, the many new suspected cases indicate that abuse of children and adolescents was apparently widespread throughout the Catholic world.

"Given their experiences, however, many victims have little confidence in an investigation conducted by precisely the institution that concealed the abuse, sometimes for years or even decades."

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the Catholic Church will do to get itself out of this mess. Please watch our new StandingWatch program on this important issue, titled, "Why Catholic Sex Abuse?"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Youths circulate nude pictures on mobile phones (Sexting)

The Punch writes February, 19, 2010

The newest pastime in town among youths is ‘sexting‘. ‘Sexting‘ is the act of sending or exchanging sexually explicit text messages and nude pictures over mobile phones. The name was derived by combining sex and text, as in text messages.

Our correspondent gathered that this new fad is a common practice among youths, especially in tertiary institutions. The reason why youths do this range from their desire to keep their relationships to mischief. During the week, a soft sell magazine published semi-nude pictures of a young actress which a friend of hers circulated over mobile phones without her knowledge. Although she expressed regrets that it was published during an interview with an evening newspaper, she insisted that it was common.

A 26-year-old student of one of the federal universities in the South West, who pleaded anonymity, said, “My current relationship is about one and half years old. Though I have never sent my girlfriend any nude picture of myself, she sent me hers. I had a nude picture of myself on my phone which she saw. It was after that she sent me a nude picture of herself.”

“The final year Political Science undergraduate also admitted sending her sexually explicit text messages. According to him, ”If we are not together, we need to make each other happy. Texting nude pictures and suggestive SMS is a way of keeping the relationship going.”

Another student of a state university in the Eastern part of the country said she went along with the sexting tradition to please her boyfriend. “My relationship is about a year old. Though we have never sent nude pictures to each other but we do text sexually explicit messages. My boyfriend started it and I went along to make him happy.” The final year computer science student however admitted that sexting was among girls. “Most of them do it to keep their boyfriends happy.”

Twenty-nine year-old student of another federal university in the East, who also pleaded anonymity, said, “I am not currently in a relationship but in my last relationship, I sent my girlfriend sexually explicit text messages. I did it each time I missed her, kind of like an emotional eruption.”

Very few, it seems, consider the fate of the nude pictures when the relationship goes awry or the phone gets stolen as was in the case of the scandal last year where some nude pictures of a couple working in a major telecommunications firm was published on Facebook. There is always the danger, of course, of such pictures going into the wrong hands like the case of Natasha Obetan, a Port Harcourt ex-beauty queen whose nude pictures made the rounds.

“I don’t know of any guy who used his girlfriend‘s nude pictures against her. The only person I know of that did something akin to that, his ex-girlfriend wasn’t even aware of what he did. She thought he had deleted all her nude pictures but he had one left. It was his friends that got to see it,” the student from a federal university in the South West said.

A psychiatrist at the Federal Psychiatrist Hospital, Yaba, Dr. Oladapo Adepoju sees the practice as a reflection of the moral decadence in the society. “Sexting is a social ill. It just shows that young people have taken romantic involvements to another level. I cannot call it a sexual disorder, except if it causes the person to harm himself and others too. On the other hand, however, deriving sexual satisfaction from viewing nude photos is a sexual disorder.” Disagreeing with the idea that sexting keeps the flame of love burning, he said, ”Sexting does not promote faithfulness in the long run. The danger of sexting is that both parties are likely to get sexually aroused. By the time this happens, they will want sexual satisfaction. If your partner is absent, the person might then resort to masturbation or engage any willing member of the opposite sex to achieve that sexual satisfaction.”

A concerned parent who didn‘t want to be named said, ”I have a teenage daughter in school. I would be very sad if I find out she is doing something like that. You really don‘t have to send amorous text messages or nude pictures to keep any relationship alive. There is a time for everything. All sexting does is to distract the parties involved from what they should actually be doing which is studying.”

The article is credited to Comfort Oseghale, the Punch Columnist. 
To read more check Sexting 

Israel In Trouble Again

The EU Observer wrote on February 18:

"The Israeli ambassadors to the UK and Ireland have been summoned to explain the use of fake passports by the hit squad that killed a senior Hamas leader in Dubai three weeks ago... the British Foreign Office has requested that the country's ambassador to the UK 'share information' on how it was that six counterfeit versions of passports held by dual British-Israeli citizens came to be used in the operation...

"On 20 January, Mohammed al-Mabhouh, who was attached to the al-Qassam Brigades, the group's military wing, and, according to Israeli sources, was the lead gun-runner from Iran to Gaza, died in mysterious circumstances in a Dubai hotel. The Dubai police investigating his death have revealed that Mr al-Mabhouh had been poisoned by eleven individuals travelling on European passports from the UK, Ireland, France and Germany...

"Separately, the case has widened to Austria, with Vienna on Wednesday announcing an investigation into the assassination after it was revealed that the killers used mobile phones with Austrian numbers.

"Israeli officials are concerned that the incident has opened a diplomatic rift between the Jewish state and the UK and that similar summonses could occur in Paris and Berlin, according to Haaretz, the Israeli daily newspaper. Dublin has suggested to London, Paris and Berlin that a joint investigation be carried out, according to one Israeli official.

"Meanwhile, foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said there was no proof that the Mossad was responsible for the murder, noting nevertheless Israel's "policy of ambiguity" regarding its intelligence service. At a memorial rally for the slain Palestinian in Gaza on Wednesday, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal called on EU states to hold Israel to account... 'Israel deserves to be placed on the terror list.'"

The Bible shows that Israel will be forsaken by all the nations, including its closest allies, the USA and Great Britain. Contrary to a wide-spread belief in a friendship agreement between Europe and Israel just prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation, the Bible nowhere prophesies that there will ever be such an agreement.

US agency to probe Blackberry and iPhone makers

By Agency reporter, Published: Friday, 19 Feb 2010 

The US International Trade Commission has said it will investigate the makers of the iPhone and Blackberry, over technology used in their handsets.

According to British Broadcasting Corporation News on Thursday, the case was prompted by a complaint by camera firm Kodak against Apple and Research In Motion, the makers of the smartphones.

Kodak alleges the iPhone and Blackberry use technology for previewing pictures that infringe Kodak patents. Kodak has asked the ITC to bar both firms from shipping the phones.

The camera firm said in January, when it filed the complaint with the ITC, that it had been in talks with both firms ”for years” to try to resolve the matter ”amicably”.

Both RIM and Apple declined to comment on the investigation.
The technology has previously been scrutinised in court.

On December 17, 2009, an ITC judge ruled that camera-enabled phones made by Samsung infringed upon the Kodak patent.

Kodak has also filed two separate lawsuits against Apple in US courts.

They were filed on the same day as the complaint to the ITC and claim Apple products infringe patents relating to digital cameras and certain computer processes.

Iran and Saudi-Arabia's Ambiguous Stance

The Associated Press reported on February 15

"Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Monday expressed doubts about the usefulness of more sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Prince Saud al-Faisal told a news conference in the Saudi capital that the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions demands a more immediate solution than sanctions. He described sanctions as a long-term solution, and he said the threat is more pressing.

"The Saudi minister spoke at a joint appearance with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is in the Persian Gulf to shore up support for new sanctions against Iran. The Saudi minister also said efforts supported by the U.S. to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons must apply to Israel... He didn't identify a preferred short-term resolution.

"U.S. officials traveling with Clinton said privately they were uncertain what al-Faisal meant, since the Saudi government has been explicit in its support of sanctions against Iran. They said he appeared to be suggesting that sanctions may not be effective and that other action could be required."
If he implies military actions against Iran, is he also implying military actions against Israel?

Scientists develop fridge-free vaccines

Agency reporter, Published: Friday, 19 Feb 2010
Scientists at Oxford University in the United Kingdom have found a way of keeping vaccines stable without refrigeration.
Writing in Science Translational Medicine, they say the breakthrough could significantly help efforts to immunise more children in rural Africa.
According to the BBC, the researchers mixed the vaccines with two types of sugar before slowly drying them on a filter paper.

This preserved the jabs, which were then easily reactivated when needed for injection.
Reacting to the development, the Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Adedamola Dada, said that it would revolution immunization programmes in developing countries.
He stated that one of the problems of immunization was how to store vaccines, particularly in developing countries where power supply was not regular.

”It is a revolution. It increases access to vaccines, particularly in countries where energy is in crisis,” he added.
The need to keep vaccines cool - to stop them deteriorating - is often difficult in developing countries where fridges, clinics and an electricity supply cannot be taken for granted.
Writing in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the scientists describe how they managed to keep vaccines stable for up to six months at 45C.

War in Afghanistan

Reuters reported on February 15:

"U.S. Marines leading one of NATO's biggest offensives against Taliban Islamic militants in Afghanistan are facing fierce resistance in some areas, bogged down by heavy gunfire, snipers and booby traps. Marine units have tried twice since Sunday to reach a bazaar in Marjah, the last militant stronghold in the country's most violent province, Helmand, only to be pushed back. Coming under heavy gunfire and sniper attacks -- one assault lasted over an hour -- they were forced to call in Harrier jets and attack helicopters with Hellfire missiles.

"There have been conflicting assessments of how much progress NATO has made, but it seemed clear that the campaign to seize insurgent-held areas before a planned 2011 troop reduction could drag on for weeks... The assault, one of the biggest in the eight-year war, is the first test of U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, where the Taliban have made a steady comeback since a U.S.-led invasion ousted them in 2001.

"The Marines' efforts to close in on Taliban snipers in Marjah's bazaar came a day after the compound the U.S. troops are holding in the heart of the town was attacked several times, showing the Taliban are not confined to one area. Afghanistan is a top foreign policy issue for Obama so failure here could be seen as damaging to his presidency. Much of the operation's success in Helmand province depends on whether the administration wins residents' trust and Afghan troops are able to keep the Taliban from returning...

"NATO and the Afghan government's credibility rests on limiting civilian casualties, and NATO commanders told Marjah residents to stay at home during the offensive. NATO rockets killed 12 civilians by accident on Sunday in the attack on Marjah, a farming area criss-crossed by canals, a breeding ground for insurgents and lucrative opium poppy cultivation, which Western countries say funds the insurgency."

The Washington Post wrote on February 18:

"Although U.S. and Afghan forces have made steady inroads here since beginning the largest joint military operation of the war four days ago, they control only a few modest patches of this farming community, principally around the two biggest bazaar areas. Much of Marja has not yet been patrolled by troops on the ground, and video images from surveillance drones have shown Taliban fighters operating with impunity in those places.

"U.S. and NATO commanders were not certain whether the insurgents who have lorded over Marja for the past three years would stay and fight, or flee to parts of Afghanistan with fewer international security forces. It appears clear, however, that many Taliban members here have opted to stay -- at least for now.
"That may mean many more weeks of arduous house-to-house clearing operations for Marines and Afghan forces in this 155-square-mile area, making this a far more complex and dangerous mission than initially envisaged..."

The Afghan war is dragging on. Conditions in the country are worse than they were before the invasion began eleven years ago.

President Obama Preparing to Use His Executive Power

The New York Times wrote on February 13:

"With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities. Mr. Obama has not given up hope of progress on Capitol Hill, aides said, and has scheduled a session with Republican leaders on health care later this month. But in the aftermath of a special election in Massachusetts that cost Democrats unilateral control of the Senate, the White House is getting ready to act on its own in the face of partisan gridlock heading into the midterm campaign.

"Any president has vast authority to influence policy even without legislation, through executive orders, agency rule-making and administrative fiat. And Mr. Obama’s success this week in pressuring the Senate to confirm 27 nominations by threatening to use his recess appointment power demonstrated that executive authority can also be leveraged to force action by Congress.

"Mr. Obama has already decided to create a bipartisan budget commission under his own authority after Congress refused to do so. His administration has signaled that it plans to use its discretion to soften enforcement of the ban on openly gay men and lesbians serving in the military, even as Congress considers repealing the law. And the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with possible regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for climate change, while a bill to cap such emissions languishes in the Senate.

"The use of executive authority during times of legislative inertia is hardly new; former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush turned to such powers at various moments in their presidencies... But Mr. Obama has to be careful how he proceeds because he has been critical of both Mr. Clinton’s penchant for expending presidential capital on small-bore initiatives, like school uniforms, and Mr. Bush’s expansive assertions of executive authority, like the secret program of wiretapping without warrants.

"Another drawback of the executive power strategy is that actions taken unilaterally by the executive branch may not be as enduring as decisions made through acts of Congress signed into law by a president..."
Those who might have thought that in times of crises, the USA could never become a dictatorship ruled by a few in office should perhaps reconsider.

Catholic Church Scandal in Ireland

Deutsche Welle reported on February 15:
"Pope Benedict XVI began talks on Monday with a delegation of Irish bishops summoned to the Vatican to discuss a child sex abuse scandal, which has shaken the Catholic Church in Ireland.
"The talks, which are to last two days, stem from a report last November about unchecked child abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin over a period of nearly 30 years. The Murphy Commission report detailed a litany of abuse perpetuated by priests against more than 300 victims and strongly criticized the Irish church's handling of the situation...

"Revelations of pedophile priests also have rocked the Church in recent months after similar scandals in the United States and Australia... Anti-abuse campaigners, meanwhile, have called on Pope Benedict to visit Ireland to meet the victims of the pedophile scandal. Christine Buckley, herself an abuse survivor... criticized that many of the accused Irish priests had left Ireland and gone to countries such as Australia and America, where they continued their abuse."

BBC News added on February 16:
"As the Roman Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the penitential rites of Lent, during which the faithful beg forgiveness for their sins, an unprecedented act of private penance has been held behind closed doors at the Vatican.

"Pope Benedict spent two days in one of the Vatican's sumptuous marble audience halls closeted with 24 Irish bishops who both individually and collectively confessed to him their shortcomings and omissions in the paedophile clergy scandal which has shocked the entire Catholic world.

"... we know from the official Vatican communique issued at the end of this extraordinary crisis meeting that the Pope strongly condemned the child abuse scandal which has been the subject of an official Irish government inquiry... Pope Benedict did not spare his words in addressing his Irish bishops. He said that child abuse was a 'heinous crime' as well as a 'grave sin'. He lambasted the bishops for failing to act effectively over cases of sexual abuse of young people.

"Seated at two long tables, the red-clad bishops were invited by the Pope to describe individually... how they had dealt with cases of priestly paedophilia in their own dioceses, and to explain why so many cases had been systematically covered up during a period of decades. Although four Irish bishops have tendered their resignations over the scandals, only one of them has had his resignation accepted by the Vatican...

"At stake is not only the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, but also a lot of Church money... The Vatican fears that just as in similar scandals of priestly paedophilia in other parts of the world, including the United States, claims by paedophilia victims in Ireland could eventually bankrupt several religious orders as well as individual dioceses...

"The sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy has been reported from many countries, and dealing with these scandals has in fact been a worldwide problem for the Pope... But the crisis within the Irish church goes deeper perhaps than in any other country with a significant Catholic population."

The Associated Press and USA Today reported on February 18:
"Pope Benedict XVI told Irish bishops at a special summit meeting Tuesday to be courageous in confronting the pedophile priest scandal that has rocked that Catholic nation's church, but took no action on victims' demands the Vatican take some responsibility... activists troubled by what they contend is a pattern of Vatican denial of responsibility were branding the talks a failure...

"Victims had already warned the talks would be a failure unless the pope demanded resignations of bishops who had any role in concealing wrongdoing. They also demand that the pope accept in full the findings of the Irish investigations, which some church officials in Ireland have criticized as unfair.
"[Irish Church leader Cardinal Sean] Brady said Irish church leaders needed to do penitence for the scandal that would be 'the equivalent of sackcloth and ashes' and have a 'change of heart.'"

Catholic Church Scandal Widens in Germany

Deutsche Welle reported on February 15:
"A lawyer representing victims of a sex abuse scandal at Catholic schools in Germany said on Monday that the number of cases was three times higher than at first believed. News of the abuse allegations involving around 30 former pupils first surfaced in late January, when a former priest admitted that he forced boys to have sex at the elite Canisius College in Berlin from 1975 to 1983. 

"Since the revelation, many more former pupils have come forward with allegations against clerics and laymen at Jesuit colleges and other Catholic schools across the country. The Jesuits have since issued an apology, admitting they covered up abuse that had taken place at schools in Berlin, Hamburg, St. Blasien, Goettingen and Hildesheim in the 1970s and 1980s. The worldwide order also confirmed cases in Spain and Chile."

The San Diego Tribune reported on February 10:
"The Catholic Church faces yet another child abuse scandal, this time in Pope Benedict XVI’s native Germany. The scandal began last month with allegations that three priests at the elite Canisius Jesuit high-school in Berlin had sexually abused students in the 1970s and ‘80s. The magazine Der Spiegel also published an article last weekend that said nearly 100 clerics and lay people had been suspected of abusing children and teenagers nationwide since 1995."

Britain Rejoices Over Decline of Euro

The LATimes wrote on February 13:

"It's not hard to find some smug smiles in Britain these days as the rest of Europe grapples with a debt crisis that has cast doubt on the future of the euro. This island nation has fiercely resisted adoption of the single regional currency and has clung to the pound as a symbol of tradition and independence.
"Before a summit of European Union leaders this week, his usual Scottish dourness barely succeeded in masking Prime Minister Gordon Brown's schadenfreude when he declared that the euro's problems were for euro-using nations such as France and Germany to solve, not British taxpayers.
"But Britain is in no position to sit back and relax, much less crow, analysts say, not when its own economy is still in such shaky condition, its credit rating in danger of an embarrassing downgrade and its government sinking deeper into debt.

"The global downturn has hit Britain particularly hard, in part because of London's status as an international financial center. Britain's was the last of the major economies technically to emerge from recession, and that only barely: It grew by a tiny 0.1% in the final quarter of last year, and economists fear it could just as easily start contracting again.

"Like many other countries, including the United States, Britain went on a spending spree to stimulate demand during the recession's darkest days, funding infrastructure projects and cash-for-clunkers-style rebates. And as elsewhere, that has compounded a budget deficit now at a level not seen since World War II.

"In fact, as a percentage of gross domestic product, Britain's yawning deficit is close to that of Greece, whose 12.7% shortfall triggered the euro crisis. Athens' deficit is more than four times the prescribed limit for countries in the so-called Eurozone and investor panic over a possible default has hammered the euro's value...
"Just as Greece has unveiled an austerity plan to get its finances in order, Britain must soon bite the fiscal bullet as well. Exactly what and how deeply to cut is already shaping up as the dominant issue in the national election that must be held by early June. The opposition finance spokesman, George Osborne of the Conservative Party, caused a minor stir in December when he said that Britain might be on the same path to misery as Greece...

"As for Greece, Britain may yet be on the hook for bailing it out, despite distaste for the idea. If the EU as a whole, instead of just the Eurozone, decides to give credit assurances for Athens or to issue EU-wide bonds, then British taxpayers will have no choice but to be involved because Britain remains one of the 27 EU member states."

In addition, BBC News reported on February 17 that the "UK inflation rate rose to 3.5% in January - the fastest annual pace for 14 months - from 2.9% the month before." And Times on Line added on February 18 that "The [British] Government is on course to run up a higher budget deficit this year than Greece after dire figures on the public finances today showed that it borrowed £4.3 billion more than it received in taxes in January, the first time this has happened."

This information is courtesy Church of the Eternal God.

Summary of Internet Usage in year 2009

 The report on 2009’s INTERNET survey was out recently stated below are some of the way it being presented:

Email usage:

1. The total number of emails sent and received counted to 90 trillion.
2. In a day an average of 24.7 crore emails were sent all over the world.
3. A total of 140 crore people used email services in 2009.
4. A total of 10 crore new email users joined and sent mail.
5. An amazing fact is out of the total mails sent 81 percent were spam.
6. The Spam mail count is increased by 24 percent from the previous year (2008).
7. In a day an average of 20,000 crore Spam mails were sent.

Websites and Blogs:

1. At the end of December 2009, there were 23.40 crore websites in the Internet.
2. 4.7 Crore new websites were started in 2009.
3. 8.18 crore websites were having the .com domain, 1.23 crore had .net domain, 78 lakhs had .org domain, the country named domains like .in counted 7.63 crore.
4. Compared to 2008, the number of Internet users is increased by 18% in 2009.
5. Total number of blogs in the Internet by the end of 2009 is 12.6 crore.
6. Interestingly, the number of female bloggers was 84 % more than male bloggers.
7. Number of Face Book users was 35 crores. 50% of them use it daily.

Number of Internet users as per region:

Asia – 73, 82, 57, 230.
Europe – 41, 80, 29,796.
America – 25, 29, 08, 000.
Caribbean and Latin American countries – 17, 90, 31, 479
Africa – 6, 73, 71, 700.
Middle East – 5, 74, 25, 046.
Australia – 2, 09, 70, 490.

Browser Usage:

Internet Explorer – 62.7 %
Mozilla FireFox – 24.6%
Google Chrome – 4.6%
Apple Safari – 4.5%
Opera – 2.4%
Others – 1.2%
This information is courtesy Indiastudychannel

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kenya suspends senior government officials over corruption

Next writes on February 15, 2010
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga suspended two ministers from his coalition government on Sunday for three months to allow further investigation into corruption scandals in the maize and education sectors.

In a statement, Odinga said Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Education Miniarwe Sam Ongeri should step aside to allow "fair, independent and comprehensive" inquiries.

Also, the president, Mwai Kibaki has suspended eight senior officials over corruption allegations in a move that will please donors but only underlines divisions at the top of the country's fragile coalition.

Gaddafi among 188 libyans barred from Switzerland

Next writes on Feb., 15th 2010
Muammar Gaddafi and his family are among 188 Libyan figures barred from visiting Switzerland, according to a decision made by Bern amid a diplomatic row, a Libyan newspaper has reported.

The private daily Oea, which is close to the Libyan leader's family, carried the report quoting an unidentified "high-ranking" official.

"Swiss authorities have taken a decision prohibiting 188 Libyan figures from entering Switzerland," the official was quoted as saying.

The report said among those blacklisted were lawmakers, people from the prime minister's office and "military, security and economic officials." There was no immediate reaction from Switzerland.

But the Libyan official warned in Oea that the decision would "undermine Swiss interests" and that "if it is not scrapped, (Tripoli) will respond with reciprocal measures." The newspaper did not say however when the decision was taken or when it was to take effect.

Libya has been embroiled in a diplomatic row with Switzerland since July 2008 after the brief arrest in Geneva of another Kadhafi son, Hannibal, and his wife when two hotel servants complained he had mistreated them.

Justice authorities in Libya later barred two Swiss businessmen from leaving the country and put them on trial for two separate cases of overstaying their visas and illegal business activities.

Fire gutted Jerry Rawling's house

 Next writes on Feb., 15, 2010

Fire gutted the official residence of Ghana's ex-President Jerry John Rawlings on Sunday.

Rawlings who ruled Ghana from 1981 to 2001, was on a trip outside the capital at the time of the fire. The former first lady and her daughter escaped the mostly wooden colonial-style bungalow unhurt.

"Not a single pin was salvaged," Kofi Adams, an aide to the former president told reporters.

The Ghana National Fire Service said it took them at least three hours to bring the fire under control and the cause was under investigation.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Germany's Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 8:
"The Catholic Church in Germany has been shaken in recent days by revelations of a series of sexual abuse cases. Close to 100 priests and members of the laity have been suspected of abuse in recent years. After years of suppression, the wall of silence appears to be crumbling...

"It started when Berlin's Canisius College, an elite Jesuit high school, recently disclosed the sordid past of a number of members of the order, who had abused students at the school in the 1970s and 1980s. After that, new victims began coming forward on a daily basis. By last Friday, at least 40 of them had accused three Jesuit priests of molesting children and adolescents, first in Berlin and later at the St. Ansgar School in Hamburg, the St. Blasien College in the Black Forest and in several parishes in the northern German state of Lower Saxony...
"For decades, German bishops tried to look the other way when their pastors engaged in sexual abuse, as well as to downplay the problem by characterizing it as isolated incidents. Now they are finally revealing their own figures, though hesitantly. According to a SPIEGEL survey of Germany's 27 dioceses conducted last week, at least 94 priests and members of the laity in Germany are suspected or have been suspected of abusing countless children and adolescents since 1995...
"A tremor is currently passing through the Catholic Church in Germany. It could be merely the beginning of an earthquake of proportions which have so far only been seen in the American and Irish Church. Tens of thousands of abuse cases were brought to light in both countries. Could Germany be next?
"The scandal is just beginning, and yet it has already made a deep impression: on parents, who expect Catholic schools to provide their children with moral guidance; on the victims, who are now confronting their dark past after living with it half their lives; and on the faithful, who now regard their church with dismay. Their shock stems not only from the fact that there are pedophiles in the church, as there are elsewhere in society. It also comes from the fact that the church systematically protected the perpetrators and ignored the victims, and that it repressed and covered up sexual abuse in its own ranks for decades -- and in doing so enabled pedophile priests to leave behind a trail of emotional devastation throughout Germany.
"... the clerics are still a long way from any sort of true self-criticism or far-reaching analysis, because it would require them to examine the Church's repressed sexual morality that is dictated from above. It would require an honest discussion about celibacy and its consequences, particularly when it comes to the Church's recruitment practices. In a church that is having trouble attracting men to the priesthood, particularly as a result of the ban on marriage, the number of good candidates has become so small that too many inappropriate candidates get admitted...
"In addition to the Canisius College and the schools in St. Ansgar and St. Blasien, there have now been revelations of abuse at the Jesuits' Aloisius College in Bonn's Bad Godesberg neighborhood, where entire generations of children of politicians and diplomats went to school... Many parents in Germany have long regarded Catholic schools as an attractive alternative to poor quality public education... But now cracks are beginning to appear in this carefully cultivated image...
"Whenever rumors surfaced in Catholic schools, parishes, youth groups and children's homes, or victims overcame their shame and reported the abuse, the church would downplay the cases, characterizing them as isolated, regrettable exceptions or the misconduct of an errant priest. This was the position taken by the Vatican and by German bishops, who were unwilling to accept that the problem could lie in the system itself. But what happens when the number of cases begins to rise, as it did in other countries?
"In the United States, it also began as a problem of individual priests who had molested altar boys or students. Like their German brothers, American Catholic bishops tried for years to protect the priests, downplaying the accusations and ignoring the victims -- until US courts, politicians and the public started demanding answers, and forced them to pay compensation. In the state of Delaware and elsewhere, for example, lawmakers lifted the statute of limitations, leading to a flood of new lawsuits. The resulting rulings forced dioceses to open their archives. More and more victims came forward, and in the end the Catholic Church in North America was overrun by the biggest scandal in its history.
"The US bishops concluded that there were credible accusations against around 5,000 priests involving the abuse of about 12,000 children and adolescents since 1950. Several dioceses, including Tucson, Arizona and San Diego, California, had to seek bankruptcy protection when they were unable to pay the financial settlements ordered by the court on hundreds of claims that had been filed. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles alone was ordered to pay more than $660 million (€470 million) in damages, which represented a substantial share of the more than $2 billion paid out by the US Catholic Church as a whole. A series of sex scandals also shook Ireland, where a commission concluded that about 35,000 children were beaten and abused in Catholic children's homes and orphanages between 1914 and 2000...
"The prevailing view at the Vatican is that the public outcry over abuse cases is used as an excuse to revive old animosities toward the Catholic Church as a whole, as well as to fuel the usual criticism of the pope by secular intellectuals and the disenchanted...
"Celibacy, which has only been a general requirement since 1139, is seen as the main reason for the repressed accumulation of sexual urges, which sometimes erupts in brutal ways, within the clergy. Celibacy and the prohibition of marriage are rigorous standards that not all members of the clergy can live up to. Although surveys and studies have produced a wide range of figures on the sexual behaviors of Catholic priests, they all arrive at the same conclusion: Very often, the sanctimonious show of chastity in the church is at odds with reality. According to a US survey, two-thirds of priests adhere to their vows of chastity, while the rest have sex in all shapes and forms: heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, monogamous, promiscuous.
"There is widespread agreement that this climate of repressed sexuality promotes sexual molestation of children in schools, homes and parishes. A number of studies in the United States conclude that about 2 percent of all Catholic priests are pedophiles. When applied to Germany, this figure suggests that of a total of 20,000 Catholic clergy, at least 400 could potentially be pedophiles...
"The Vatican's attitudes toward homosexuality are particularly inhibited, despite the fact that it is somewhat widespread within the church and appears to be relatively tolerated, as long as it is not discussed... many priests who become sex offenders have never learned to develop close and intimate relationships...
"In light of its recruitment problems, the church accepts almost anyone who decides to become a priest. However, few in the official church are willing to admit that the new recruits include more and more young men who find the priesthood so appealing in part because they believe it will allow them to conceal their sexual problems. It is a vicious circle... the official church stubbornly adheres to the vow of celibacy and the prohibition on marriage..."

These terrible scandals turn back the dark curtains from a worldwide church organization which, in order to protect its image and status, has been willing to ignore terrible crimes which were being perpetrated by pedophile priests on helpless young victims. As pointed out in the article above, enforced celibacy and the Catholic church's dubious and unbiblical stance on the holy institution of marriage are contributing largely to a culture where priests (and nuns) are trying to find fulfillment in the practice of homosexual conduct. However, the growing criticism of outraged parents and victims, as well as society as a whole, could back-fire. The Catholic church, being pushed more and more into a corner due to appropriate criticism, might respond by attacking its critics, in order to solidify the priesthood and the faithful within its own ranks. Historically, the Roman church has had its terrible episodes of incredible abominable crimes, perpetrated by popes and priests, which were oftentimes accompanied by violent attacks on their critics.

Iran's Chess Game With the World's "Super Powers"

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 8:

"Since 2004, the European Union has publicly claimed the united position that the row over Iran's nuclear program should be resolved diplomatically, but has reserved the right to back United Nations Security Council sanctions if Iran does not comply to international demands. Yet, consistently since that time, individual nations have indicated a willingness to establish independent relationships with Iran, both political and economic, which seemingly ignore Brussels' position. Europe claims to be united, but a closer examination shows that this unity is an illusion.

"For instance, Germany has developed deep business ties with Iran, with more than 50 German companies basing their offices there. Trade volume between the two has increased steadily over the last decade despite UN sanctions, with Germany having the largest share of Iran's export market. Italy also has developed a strong relationship, both political and economic, with Iran. Last year Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini met with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran to discuss a host of matters from the Italian, not EU, perspective. Italian companies also have frequently done business with Tehran, selling them goods and services that could have both military and civilian uses.

"These relationships have helped Iran to sustain and continue its nuclear program. As of Tuesday, Tehran plans to enrich uranium at a higher level than previously, prompting the United States to renew its call for heavy sanctions against Iran...

"The EU's public front masks internal disagreement and double-speak. Charting a course for allies to have a united front will be difficult, let alone getting countries like China and Russia, reluctant to punish Iran, to back stronger sanctions. And as the international community dithers over what action to take, Israel is looking to Europe to take the lead. The prospect of unilateral Israeli action looms...

"US President Barack Obama has followed through on his promise to diplomatically engage Iran, taking a much different approach than predecessor George W. Bush. But no progress has been made, despite promising talks last fall in which Iran appeared to agree to a deal to move nuclear fuel out of the country. Yet the deal was abandoned by the Iranians at the last moment...

"This lack of faith, combined with Iran's insistence that it would not retreat from what it deems its right to develop a nuclear program, has led to a recent escalation in tone from Washington. At the end of January, White House officials indicated that they would increase missile defenses in the Middle East to protect Gulf state allies against Tehran. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has publicly pressed China for tougher sanctions.

"The United States also has begun to pressure European allies to lessen business ties with Iran. It seems to have had an affect; last week, German manufacturer Siemens announced that it would cut future trade ties with Iran. Italian companies have yet to do the same, but Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi indicated last week that a nuclear Iran was not acceptable.

"France holds the UN Security Council's presidency this month and is widely expected to bring a resolution calling for strict sanctions...

"Even with the United States and its allies on the same page, Russia or China still need to support sanctions if they are to succeed. China has close energy relations with Tehran - energy which is needed to sustain China's economic growth - and is loath to do anything that risks them. Russia, meanwhile, has been Iran's loudest defender. It has provided Tehran with a number of materials, from weapons to heavy machinery with dual-use nuclear purposes. Moscow has consistently watered down sanctions in the past, and has yet to indicate whether it would be willing to revisit that stance...

"The United States did itself no favors by recently announcing a deal to sell weapons to Taiwan. But other factors in the Middle East might force China's hand and compel them to acquiese to sanctions supported by the United States and its European allies...

"Israel has used unilateral military force in similar situations in the past, taking out nuclear sites in Iraq and suspected nuclear sites in Syria. Iran presents a more unique challenge, as its nuclear sites are spread around the country and are difficult to target."

Even though Israel may be looking at Europe to lead in this controversy with Iran, Europe, due to their financial interests, may not be willing to do so. America, on the other hand, might not want to, either. So, Israel may face a situation where it alone might try to act decisively, even including using military force. This might be a fatal development.

Iran a Nuclear State

On February 11, Mail-On-Line reported:

"Iran is now a 'nuclear state', President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced this morning. As Gordon Brown warned that the world's patience is wearing thin, Ahmadinejad told scores of cheering Iranians that the Islamic Republic is capable of producing weapons-grade uranium.

"He spoke as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Tehran to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Despite fears of violence, opposition supporters found themselves largely overwhelmed by the clerical regime and pro-government demonstrators.

"The massive security clampdown appeared to succeed in preventing protesters from converging into a cohesive demonstrations."

Britain's Corrupt Political System

The Daily Express wrote on February 8:

"Britain’s standing in the world has fallen dramatically while our debts have soared. Our democracy has been corrupted, our economy shattered, our freedoms removed and our national identity weakened.

"Yet in the face of these disasters, support for the Labour Party [Democrats] remains remarkably strong. The bulk of the blame for Labour’s resilience is being heaped on Tory [Conservative] leader David Cameron, who is accused of being over-cautious and indecisive. There is some justification in these charges. The Conservatives seem to have neither a clear economic plan, nor any robustness on crime, immigration or Europe. But the weakness of the Tories’ prospects is not entirely Cameron’s fault. Even if he were a cross between Winston Churchill and Benjamin Disraeli, the Conservatives would still be struggling to make headway. For the truth is that for decades the entire political system has been outrageously biased in favour of Labour...

"In recent opinion polls, Labour’s support has consistently hovered at 30 per cent, no matter what the depth of the recession, the splits in the Cabinet, the expenses abuses of ministers or the politically correct idiocies of the Government. To some critics this seems utterly bizarre, a sign that the British public has taken leave of its senses. But in truth, the 30 per cent conundrum is easily explained. The fact is that Labour has developed three large voting blocs which guarantee that its vote will not fall much below a third of the electorate, no matter how dismally the government performs.

"These three blocs comprise public sector employees, immigrants and welfare claimants, all of whom are dependent on the state either for their living or their residency here. It is no coincidence that each of these three groups has massively expanded during the past 13 years of Labour rule, with crude party advantage playing a vital role in this policy.

"The public sector has grown by at least one million people since 1997, not counting all the staff in quasitate positions like contractors or GPs. Moreover, workers on the state payroll have enjoyed higher pay [raises], better pensions, shorter hours, longer holidays and greater job security than their counterparts in the private sector. In many Labour strongholds, the public sector is now by far the largest employer.

"Similarly, mass immigration has significantly helped Labour’s cause, especially since the Government is radically extending the franchise by dishing out more than 200,000 British passports a year. According to authoritative studies, around 80 per cent of migrants and ethnic minorities back Labour, while the pressure group operation Black vote claims that at least 70 marginal seats at the coming election will be decided by the ethnic minority vote.

"The full cynicism of Labour’s eagerness to exploit immigration for electoral ends was laid bare in the diaries of former minister Chris Mullin, who at one point privately bewailed the Government’s reluctance to tackle misogynistic abuses in Asian culture... But then added, 'At least 20 seats, including Jack Straw’s, depend on Asian votes.'

"The third great bloc is made up of benefits claimants, on whom over £180billion a year is now spent. Thanks to remorseless expansion of the welfare system under Brown, there are more than five million people of working age living on social security. They are hardly likely to vote for a tougher regime under the Tories."

Politics all over the world is dirty business. Political parties and politicians come to power and stay in power, not necessarily because of achievements and competence, but far too often because of political maneuvering, sickening compromise and the "buying" of necessary votes. This is true--not just in our political systems--but everywhere where a candidate for whatever office or position is dependent on the votes of others.

Iran's Duplicity

AFP wrote on February 7:Iran will begin enriching uranium to 20 percent from Tuesday, the Islamic republic's atomic chief announced on Sunday just hours after being told to do so by hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The decision raises the stakes in a dispute with the West less than a week after Iran had appeared to accept a UN-drafted nuclear deal on the supply of fuel for a research nuclear reactor in Tehran. Ahmadinejad's move drew fire from Britain and the United States, and analysts said it was a bid to exert pressure on Washington and drive a wedge between the six powers over attempts to impose new sanctions on Tehran...

"Britain and the United States condemned the declaration... US Defence Secretary Robert Gates called for mounting 'international pressure' on Iran... A Western analyst who asked not to be named said Iranian declarations such as Ahmadinejad's on Sunday were attempts to 'delay potential sanctions by dividing the six world powers without backing down on the nuclear programme.'"