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Fri, 30 Sep 2022
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What Kind of Christianity Is This?

Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount.
© Painting by Carl Bloch
Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount.
Though founded by a pacifist, Christianity has justified some of the most brutal slaughters in human history, from the wars of the late Roman Empire to the Crusades to the Inquisition to world wars to genocides against "heathens," Muslims and Jews. Yet, Gary G. Kohls says the essence of Christianity can still be reclaimed.

From time to time, I read about condemnations of religion coming from non-religious groups, especially concerning the all-too-common violence perpetrated in the name of religious gods. Indeed there is plenty to condemn.

Altogether too many religions sects of both major and minor religions, despite verbally professing a desire for peace and justice in the world, are actually pro-war, pro-homicide and pro-violence in practice (or they may be silent on the subject, which is, according to moral theology, the same as being pro-violence).

Obvious examples include those portions of the three major war-justifying religions of the world: fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity.

Gear

Canada Extradites Phoney Rabbi Accused in 'Massive Immigration Fraud Mill'

Image
© unknown
A former New York lawyer who was posing as an orthodox rabbi in Toronto has been extradited to the United States, where he is accused of perpetrating a massive immigration fraud, raking in millions of dollars by processing up to 25,000 falsified immigration applications.

Earl Seth David, also known as Rabbi Avraham David, is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, and fled to Canada when authorities uncovered what prosecutors called "a massive immigration fraud mill."

But to many in the Jewish community around Toronto, he was known as a Torah scholar and author of Code of the Heart, a 2005 book claiming to decode the Torah, the Hebrew Bible.

His book uses numerology and other techniques to find hidden meaning that influence and foreshadow world events, including the war in Iraq, the 9/11 terror attacks and even the rape allegations against basketball star Kobe Bryant.

The book's promotional materials said the world would be hearing a lot more from Rabbi Avraham David. On Wednesday, it did.

Attention

Military Coup Reported in Papua New Guinea

There are unconfirmed reports that a military coup has taken place in the capital of Papua New Guinea.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. News in Australia is reporting that soldiers loyal to ousted former prime minister Sir Michael Somare have staged a bloodless mutiny.

ABC said that early Thursday morning, about a dozen soldiers are believed to have raided the defense force headquarters and placed the head of the army, Brigadier General Francis Agwi, under house arrest.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned Australians to limit their travel in the capital, due to what it described as "disturbances" at two barracks.

Eye 2

UK: Groupon Criticized For Literally Peddling Snake Oil

Groupon
© unknown
It's easy to laugh at the just released report from British advertising watchdogs scolding Groupon for selling snake oil after the company helped peddle an anti-aging serum last October. A complaint reviewed by the London-based Advertising Standards Authority scolded the Chicago-based deals site's U.K. affiliate, MyCity Deal, for falsely promoting the effects of "Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum" that the ad copy said offered "temporary freeze-like effects on the face muscles" and "leaves the skin looking younger." After what sounds like a pretty scientific study of the snake oil's effects, the ASA deemed the ad "misleading" and subsequently forbade Groupon from running it again.

This is funny for a couple of reasons. The first one is simply the idea that snake oil salesmen still exist in the world and still attempt to sell snake oil. It was over a hundred years ago that the Food and Drug Act regulated the sale of medicines, and while using snake oil as an anti-age serum is not the same as using it cure diseases, it's still a pretty lame way to take advantage of consumers.

Dollar

US, New Mexico: Man Awarded $22 Million After Two Years Spent in Jail for DWI

Stephen Slevin
© unknown
Stephen Slevin
A federal jury has awarded $22 million to a New Mexico man who was kept in solitary confinement for two years and forced to pull his own tooth after being arrested for drunken driving in Dona Ana County.

Civil rights attorney Matt Coyte said the jury awarded Stephen Slevin, 58, the damages Tuesday after a six-day trial in Santa Fe.

Jess Williams, spokesman for Dona Ana County, declined comment other than to say the county plans to appeal.

"We have believe we have strong legal issues to raise with the appeal," he said.

Slevin was arrested while driving through the southern New Mexico county in August 2005. He ended up in solitary confinement because he was suffering from depression and someone checked a box on a form indicating he was suicidal, Coyte said.

Bad Guys

Obama's "State of Delusion Address": Rebuilding America With War Crimes

king Obama
© n/a
From beginning to end, Barack Obama's State of the Union speech was replete with delusion and falsifications. His promise of building an "America that lasts" was predicated on a sentimental, but utterly disingenuous notion of selfless teamwork. The invocation of American military "heroes" and their "achievements" during nine years of waging war on Iraq as an exemplar of how to salvage his nation from economic and social catastrophe was both sickening and laughable.

"These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America's Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations," said Obama in praise of US troops fresh from their destruction in Iraq.

If that's what Obama and the American people believe will resolve the deep-seated problems of American society then good luck to them in harbouring such crass delusions.

But what is sickening is how a truly gargantuan criminal war and blot on humanity is deified as a paragon of virtue to provide inspiration.

Attention

Greece: Shocking Evidence on "New Homeless" Phenomenon Spreading in Athens

Homeless
© Greek Reporter
Deputy Health Minister Markos Bolaris, Athens mayor George Kaminis, and representatives of the Athens Holy Archdiocese and the National Committee for the Rights of Man have submitted shocking evidence casting light on the tremendous dimensions of the "new homeless" phenomenon spreading around in Athens.

According to the evidence, the continuous economic crisis has not only forced previously homeless people to return to the streets but has also created a new category of homeless, who were once well off and are now seeking shelter and food in charity.

The number of the "new homeless" remains yet unclear due to lack of substantial evidence.

The "new homeless" numbers are rising, while Greece is going through its fourth year of recession, with many families being directly affected by the financial difficulties and the harsh austerity measures, especially evident in the Greek capital, where the problem seems to be under no restraint.

USA

US: President Obama's State of the Union: Ten Skirted Issues

Congress/State of Union
© n/a
I confess; I expected to be bored out of my mind listening to President Obama's campaign - I mean, State of the Union - I mean campaign, speech. I kept hoping some truly earth shattering story would sneak in there beforehand, like say some discovery that Mitt Romney had been having an affair with Newt Gingrich's ex-wife while he was creating jobs at Bain capital, and we could all focus on that instead.

It turned out that my pre-determination proved accurate. I wonder if the members of Congress felt the same sense of same déjà vu that I did, as they were bopping up and down and applauding.

Obama's speech was a compilation of highlights from his past ones. One part optimism, two parts repetition equals one total uninspiring. Maybe it's so boring, because it matters so little at this point. Taking away popularity polls, our national threshold for belief in hope or change has been trampled, not just because of Obama or Romney, but of the whole political apparatus that thrives on deflection of reality and posturing. We don't have the same energy to expend listening to politicians, the endless spin that renders fact obsolete, responsibility absent, and true accomplishment, unnecessary.

Bizarro Earth

'Berserk' India Bus Driver Kills Nine in Pune

Bus accident/India
© n/a
A bus driver has smashed his vehicle into traffic and pedestrians in the western Indian city of Pune, killing nine people and injuring 27 others.

The driver damaged 40 vehicles before the bus was brought to a halt after 30 minutes and police arrested him.

The driver, named as Santosh Maruti Mane, "went berserk" on a 25km (17 mile) rampage during the morning rush hour, police said.

They are questioning the 30-year-old driver to try to determine a motive.

'Second life'

Mr Mane, who is a driver with the government-run state transport department, arrived at a bus depot early on Wednesday and drove off with an empty bus, police said.

2 + 2 = 4

US: State of the Union Registers at 8th Grade Reading Level

Obama speech
© Getty Images
President Obama's 2012 State of the Union address again rated at an 8th grade comprehension level on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test - the third lowest score of any State of the Union address since 1934.

The University of Minnesota's Smart Politics conducted an analysis on the last 70 State of the Union addresses and found that President Obama's three addresses have the lowest grade average of any modern president. "Obama's average grade-level score of 8.4 is more than two grades lower than the 10.7 grade average for the other 67 addresses written by his 12 predecessors," they conclude.

"The Flesch-Kincaid test is designed to assess the readability level of written text, with a formula that translates the score to a U.S. grade level. Longer sentences and sentences utilizing words with more syllables produce higher scores. Shorter sentences and sentences incorporating more monosyllabic words yield lower scores," the University of Minnesota's Eric Ostermeier explains.

Obama's use of simple language is in part a reflection of his audience: the American voter in an election year. And it's part of a larger trend in simpler State of the Union language as the speech as transitioned from a simple address to Congress into a prime-time televised event.