GRIMES, Iowa – A Mennonite couple in Iowa has filed suit against the state’s Civil Rights Commission as they fear pending punishment for declining to host a same-sex ‘wedding’ at their business. As previously reported, Dick and Betty Odgaard operate The Gortz Haus Gallery, a bistro, floral and arts shop, and wedding facility in Grimes, Iowa. The location formerly served as a Lutheran church for over 60 years, and is now a popular location for couples to tie the knot. According to reports, Lee Stafford and his partner Jared recently visited the The Gortz Haus Gallery to obtain information about using the facility for their upcoming ceremony. However, when Dick Odgaard realized that the men were seeking to use the premises to host a homosexual “wedding,” he informed them that the venue does not host same-sex ceremonies. His wife Betty explained to local television station KCCI that the company policy reflects their Christian faith. “That decision is based on our religious beliefs,” she stated. “And we want to honor that. We want people to know that is our stand, [which] comes from our faith and convictions, and I think we should stand by those [convictions] no matter what.” More
Three volunteer Christian youth pastors have been temporarily banned from a Washington state middle school after parents heard from students that the three were proselytizing during lunch. KIROTV.com reports the Bainbridge Island School District has hired an outside contractor to conduct a “fact-finding” mission into the allegations concerning the three volunteer cafeteria supervisors. ”We can’t ignore this. There are just too many serious issues to consider here,” board president Mike Spence told KomoNews.com. “That’s pretty dangerous. It’s a pretty slippery slope I guess I would say.” Meanwhile, one of the volunteers denied the allegations. ”The only time church may have come in is when they say, ‘What do you do?’ my response is, ‘I’m a youth pastor.’ Even sometimes say I’m a leader because most of the kids don’t know what a youth pastor is,” said Danny Smith. ”I don’t wanna defend myself, I want to defend my motives. It’s not about me, it’s about why I’m there. It’s not for evangelizing and it’s not for proselytizing or recruiting, but it’s just there to be there.” The allegations concern what Smith and his cohorts said at Woodward Middle School. ”I think it’s a very dicey situation, I think they have to be really careful what they say,” Leslie Krantz, whose eighth-grade son attends Woodward, told KIROTV. Darryl Martin, another parent, told the station: “If some of those volunteers were not there, taking the opportunity to meet my son, and help introduce him to other students, my son would spend most of the year eating lunch by himself.” The district reportedly has said it might allow the pastors back on to campus, pending the investigation’s outcome. Meanwhile, Smith says he merely wanted to embolden the students — and assist in their maturation. ”I come here because I know that it’s important for every student to know that they each have value and a purpose,” he reportedly told a crowd of parents and school officials that recently convened to discuss the issue. Fox News
Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlap for the first time since 1888, Won’t happen again for another 79,000 YEARS
Move over Christmas. The big holiday buzz this year surrounds the convergence of two other major holidays, an event that won’t take place for another 79,000 years. What’s happening is that on Thursday, Nov. 28, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlap for the first time since 1888, creating what many are calling “Thanksgivukkah.” Dana Gitell, a care provider for the elderly at Boston’s Hebrew SeniorLife, decided to celebrate and market the rare occasion, so she came up with the mashed-up holiday name and registered the domain, a Twitter account and a Facebook page. “After seeing the response to the Facebook page, I realized there was a retail opportunity,” Gitell said. “People seemed to want a way to express their excitement for this phenomenon. Additionally, I saw promoting this convergence as an opportunity to really celebrate the Jewish-American experience and give thanks for America as a bastion of religious freedom.” Among the items Gitell is hawking is a Woodstock-style T-shirt with the catchphrase “8 Days of Light, Liberty and Latkes.” Latkes are potato pancakes often served throughout Hanukkah.More
Iran will not agree to send its stockpile of enriched uranium abroad, one of its chief negotiators said ahead of talks with world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. But Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Iran would be more flexible on other aspects of the country’s uranium enrichment. Iran will not agree to send its stockpile of enriched uranium abroad, one of its chief negotiators said ahead of talks with world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. see we will negotiate regarding the form, amount, and various levels of [uranium] enrichment, but the shipping of [enriched] materials out of the country is our red line,” Araqchi was quoted as saying on Sunday by Iranian state television’s website. Talks on Iran’s nuclear program are set to resume in Geneva next week with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, the US, China, the UK and France) plus Germany, the so-called P5+1 group. More
Angered by the closure of national landmarks due to the partial government shutdown, a crowd of conservatives removed barricades Sunday at the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial as they rallied against President Barack Obama and Democrats for their role in the ongoing stalemate. High-profile speakers with close ties to the tea party appeared at the event, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The rally, billed as the “Million Vet March on the Memorials,” drew far fewer than a million people and evolved into a protest that resembled familiar tea party events from 2009, with yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flags throughout the crowd and strong anti-Obama language from the podium and the audience. One speaker went as far as saying the president was a Muslim and separately urged the crowd of hundreds to initiate a peaceful uprising. ”I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up,” said Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, a conservative political advocacy group. More
China’s official news agency is calling for a “de-Americanized world,” in a blistering editorial characterizing the United States as a “meddling” and “hypocritical” nation that introduces chaos into the world for its own ends. “As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world,” writes the Xinhua News Agency. “Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders. “Under what is known as the Pax-Americana, we fail to see a world where the United States is helping to defuse violence and conflicts, reduce poor and displaced population, and bring about real, lasting peace.” More
At least 115 pilgrims including children were killed and more than 100 injured in a stampede at a temple in Madhya Pradesh. The stampede was allegedly caused by panic after worshipers thought a bridge at the temple was about to collapse. At least 50 of the victims were apparently crushed to death in the stampede itself, while others drowned in the river after jumping off the bridge, according to local officials, who fear the death toll will rise. It is not yet clear exactly what caused the panic on the bridge. Sources cited by NDTV claim that a group of people spread the rumor that a bridge was collapsing to cut in line at the temple. “We have counted 100 bodies so far. Several pilgrims died on way to hospital. The toll may rise manifold,”a senior police officer told the Times of India. Meanwhile, the Hindustan Times reported eyewitnesses as saying that the stampede started after policemen used their lathi batons to control the crowd. Some 50,000 Hindu pilgrims were on their way to the Mandula Devi temple to attend a ceremony during an annual festival to the goddess Durga. The temple is 60 kilometers from Datia, the capital of Datia District in Madhya Pradesh state. More
SAUDI ARABIA — As of today, the submarine eruption continues with the production of a steam plume of variable size, not always easily identifiable on satellite images. A SO2 plume is also visible on satellite data drifting from the eruption site. No ash can be seen on satellite imagery, only steam, and the area of discolored water (indicator of suspended particles) is small if not has disappeared. That suggests that the eruption is currently rather weak and probably has not yet entered the so-called surtseyan phase where solid fragments (ash, lava blocks) are ejected above the surface of the sea. Extinction Protocol
While Cyclone Phailin—at one point, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Indian Ocean—makes landfall in India, two other tropical storms are also menacing Asia. The images above show the cyclone and two typhoons now. The first is from Weather Underground; the second, from Quartz meteorologist Eric Holthaus.
Typhoon Nari tore through the Philippines with wind gusts up to 116 mph, killing at least 13 people and leaving 2.1 million people without electricity. The storm largely spared Manila, the capital city, which is prone to flooding. Now forming again in the South China Sea, Nari is expected to hit Vietnam on October 14 at a similar strength—Category 3—as when it passed over the Philippines.
Typhoon Wipha is a lesser storm at the moment, but it’s strengthening quickly and forecasted to turn north toward Japan. Wipha, which officially became a typhoon yesterday, could pass by Tokyo on October 15 or 16.
It’s unusual, though not unheard of, for three named storms to stalk the Eastern Hemisphere at the same time. Wipha is the 26th Pacific tropical storm of the year; an average year has 26. Here’s another view of the three storms: QUARTZ
WARNING – STRONG LANGUAGE VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED – Amid major problems reported Saturday all across America with the Electronic Benefits Transfer System (i.e., electronic food stamp debit cards), leaving consumers stuck with no way to pay at registers, many people took to Twitter to express concern. The Blaze
Atheist activists are responding to their evangelical critics with a new anti-religion billboard in New York City’s Time Square. It reads, “OMG, there is no god!” A direct response to Answers in Genesis’ (AiG) anti-secular “Thank God you’re wrong” billboard first displayed Monday, this new digital signage has created a holy war of sorts in one of the nation’s most popular tourist areas. The digital sign includes a picture of Julia Sweeney, an actress and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member. Next to Sweeney’s is the “OMG” quote declaring that God doesn’t exist. In announcing the signage, which premiered Friday on the very same digital billboard that the Christian message is being presented, FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor made her organization’s stance on theology perfectly clear. “A fifth of the U.S. population identifies as nonbelievers. We don’t thank a nonexistent god, we put faith in each other and human ingenuity,” she said in a news release. “We believe in deeds, not creeds. We believe the only afterlife that ought to concern us is leaving our descendants a secure and pleasant future.” More
Communities looking to reduce their teen pregnancy rates perhaps should consider one move before all the others: closing down any Planned Parenthood business. That’s because a new study of one region of the country shows that as Planned Parenthood operations shut down and moved out, the teen pregnancy rate plunged by almost half. The study comes from the pro-life American Life League, but it uses government figures to reach its conclusions. It analyzed one section of the nation – the Texas Panhandle region – where over the course of several years 19 Planned Parenthood businesses closed or left. The result? Teen pregnancies dropped from 43.6 per 1,000 girls to 24.1 among a stable population of about 13,000 teen girls aged 13-17. “People don’t realize that Planned Parenthood must work hard to replace the 43 percent of its customers it loses each year,” said Rita Diller, national director of ALL’s STOPP International project. “It normally does this by promoting sexual promiscuity to teens. This study suggests that when Planned Parenthood leaves, teens are more likely to embrace chastity.” She continued: “We know that the pro-abortion first-response will be ‘consider the source.’ But American Life League is not the source; the source is the officials records of 16 counties within the Texas panhandle. From 1994 through 2010, Planned Parenthood facilities in these counties went from 19 to zero. In the same period, the teen pregnancy rate dropped almost in half, from 43.76 per 1,000 to 24.1 per 1,000. … Those aren’t our numbers; those are government numbers.”More
Australia:1500 cars destroyed in wild fire/
Assange “A Surveillance Apparatus On Every Single Person Would Have Been The Dream Of East Germany!”