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11 faith-based predictions for 2011

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© Unknown
To open 2011, CNN's Belief Blog asked 10 religious leaders and experts - plus one secular humanist - to make a faith-based prediction about the year ahead.

Have a faithy prediction of your own? Share it in comments.

Here's what those in the know are predicting:

1. With the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" there will be a more concerted effort by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community for gay marriage, uniting conservative evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox Jews in a much more civil but principled resistance. Respectful debate will produce more precise and pluralistic solutions.
- Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, a Church Distributed, in Orlando, Florida

2. A new generation of Muslims will bust out of their culturally and politically isolated cocoons and passionately reclaim their voice and narratives; one that has been stolen, used, abused and hijacked by extremists, terrorists and fear-mongering propagandists. Watch out for a major cultural renaissance as a new generation of Muslim artists and storytellers grab the mic, enter the arena and speak their voice with a revived passion and purpose.
- Wajahat Ali, Muslim playwright and attorney

X

A House of Horrors: West Philadelphia abortion doctor killed 7 babies with scissors

A doctor whose abortion clinic was described as a filthy, foul-smelling "house of horrors" that was overlooked by regulators for years was charged Wednesday with murder, accused of delivering seven babies alive and then using scissors to kill them.


Dr. Kermit Gosnell was also charged with murder in the death of a woman who suffered an overdose of painkillers while awaiting an abortion.

In a nearly 300-page grand jury report filled with ghastly, stomach-turning detail, prosecutors said Pennsylvania regulators ignored complaints of barbaric conditions at Gosnell's clinic, which catered to poor, immigrant and minority women in the city's impoverished West Philadelphia section.

Prosecutors called the case a "complete regulatory collapse." "Pennsylvania is not a Third World country," the district attorney's office declared in the report. "There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago."

Alarm Clock

Recognizing the Language of Tyranny

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© Ninja M.
Empires communicate in two languages. One language is expressed in imperatives. It is the language of command and force. This militarized language disdains human life and celebrates hypermasculinity. It demands. It makes no attempt to justify the flagrant theft of natural resources and wealth or the use of indiscriminate violence. When families are gunned down at a checkpoint in Iraq they are referred to as having been "lit up." So it goes. The other language of empire is softer. It employs the vocabulary of ideals and lofty goals and insists that the power of empire is noble and benevolent. The language of beneficence is used to speak to those outside the centers of death and pillage, those who have not yet been totally broken, those who still must be seduced to hand over power to predators. The road traveled to total disempowerment, however, ends at the same place. It is the language used to get there that is different.

This language of blind obedience and retribution is used by authority in our inner cities, from Detroit to Oakland, as well as our prison systems. It is a language Iraqis and Afghans know intimately. But to the members of our dwindling middle class - as well as those in the working class who have yet to confront our new political and economic configuration - the powerful use phrases like the consent of the governed and democracy that help lull us into complacency. The longer we believe in the fiction that we are included in the corporate power structure, the more easily corporations pillage the country without the threat of rebellion. Those who know the truth are crushed. Those who do not are lied to. Those who consume and perpetuate the lies - including the liberal institutions of the press, the church, education, culture, labor and the Democratic Party - abet our disempowerment. No system of total control, including corporate control, exhibits its extreme forms at the beginning. These forms expand as they fail to encounter resistance.

Cloud Lightning

US: Farmers Watch Harsh Winter Crush Their Livelihoods

winter forecast 2011 US
© accuWeather
Hartford, Conn. - For Northeastern farmers long used to coping with all sorts of cold-weather problems, this winter presents a new one: snow and ice that's bringing down outbuildings, requiring costly repairs, killing livestock and destroying supplies.

Farmers in Connecticut alone have lost at least 136 barns, greenhouses, sheds and other structures as snow measured in feet, not inches, accumulated while January passed without a thaw.

"We've had other challenges," said Joe Greenbacker, a partner at Brookfield Farm in Durham, where a fabric-covered "hoop house" caved in and killed a calf. "But this is the most snow I can remember on the ground and the biggest problem with roof issues I can remember."

Losses still are being totaled by the state Agriculture Department. Commissioner Steven Reviczky says no one can remember a more destructive winter.

The Northeast is suffering through one of its most brutal winters in years, with cities all along the seaboard reporting snow piling up at a record-setting pace. Connecticut has been especially hard-hit, with Hartford reporting 81 inches since Dec. 1, compared with an average of 46 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Arrow Down

Vietnam : 9 friends die at New Year party

Vietnamese police say nine friends died during a lunar New Year party after they started a car parked inside a house to play music following an electricity outage.

Police in Hai Phong said Monday that seven men and two women, all in their 20s, died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning early Sunday.

A police officer says the car was started after the power went out. Its headlights and stereo were turned on inside the 20-square-meter (215-square-foot) house, which had all windows and doors closed. The officer identified himself only as Le because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Dollar

US: Bank of America to pay $410 Million to Settle Overdraft Lawsuit

Bank of America
© Bank of America
Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) has agreed to pay $410 million to settle lawsuits accusing it of charging customers with excessive overdraft fees, court documents show.

The largest U.S. bank by assets is among the more than two dozen U.S., Canadian and European lenders named as defendants in the class-action litigation, which in 2009 consolidated lawsuits filed across the country.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) are among the other defendants named in the case, court records show.

Bank of America spokeswoman Anne Pace in an email said the bank has already changed its overdraft practices, eliminating fees for debit transactions and significantly lowering fees for customers who overdraw excessively.

She also said the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has "fully accrued funds" to cover the settlement.

Notice of the January 27 accord with Bank of America was filed on Friday with the U.S. district court in Miami. The settlement requires court approval.

Laptop

Anti-Berlusconi hackers block Italy government website

Rome - The Italian government's website came under attack from computer hackers on Sunday, police said, after opponents of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said they would target the site to protest against curbs to media freedom.

The action was the latest against Berlusconi, who has faced protests since prosecutors opened an investigation last month into wild parties at his Milan villa, accusing him of illegally paying for sex from a prostitute who was under 18.

Access to the website www.governo.it appeared to be blocked briefly during the afternoon, although it was working normally by evening.

The hackers, calling themselves Anonymous Italy, criticized a number of Italian government policies and said they were responding to a cable leaked by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks from the U.S. embassy in Rome.

Stormtrooper

Police evict indigenous Easter Island protesters

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© EPA
The results of the Easter Island Native dispute with the Government and Police in Dec. 2010. Islanders said the police used batons and pellet guns against them.
Buenos Aires, Argentina - Police on Easter Island raided the grounds of a luxury hotel Sunday to evict the last of dozens of indigenous protesters battling for ancestral lands and a larger share of profits from the tourists who come to see the Pacific Island's mysterious statues of giant heads.

A Rapa Nui clan's claims to the land under the new, $800-a-night Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa has won support from international human rights agencies, and it poses legal and political dilemmas for a Chilean government already criticized for its treatment of indigenous people on the mainland.

The Hito clan's attorney, Rodrigo Gomez, said the last handful of about 50 squatters were hauled off and jailed by police Sunday after they had tied themselves down in the lobby.

Police Maj. Fernando Lobos said all the Hitos were processed and freed pending a court hearing. He said officers were following an order to empty the property so that federal investigators could survey its condition.

Members and supporters of the Hito clan had been squatting on the grounds of the $50 million development since August, claiming the land was swindled from their illiterate grandmother and then illegally sold into private hands by Gen. Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.

Bomb

Airliner evacuated in Chile after bomb threat

Chilean authorities have evacuated passengers and crew from an Iberia airline flight to Madrid, Spain, following a bomb threat.

Authorities say a team from Chile's civil aviation agency have searched the airliner and ruled out the presence of explosives. Police investigators are trying to determine the origin of Sunday's threatening phone call.

The civil aviation agency says 312 people were removed from the plane after the police communication center received the threat shortly before the aircraft was to take off.

Officials say passengers have been taken to a nearby hotel and will be put on a new flight to Madrid on Monday.

Bizarro Earth

Asia faces climate-induced migration 'crisis'

asiafloods
© AP

Singapore - Asia must prepare for millions of people to flee their homes to safer havens within countries and across borders as weather patterns become more extreme, the Asian Development Bank warns.

A draft of an ADB report obtained by AFP over the weekend and confirmed by bank officials cautioned that failure to make preparations now for vast movements of people could lead to "humanitarian crises" in the coming decades.

Governments are currently focused on mitigating climate change blamed for the weather changes, but the report said they should start laying down policies and mechanisms to deal with the projected population shifts.