SOUTHAMPTON, VA – About an hour’s drive south of Richmond, there’s a small congregation that doesn’t care about “material” things. They worship the same way we were all brought into this world, naked. Even in February, when temperatures can average in the 20s, members show up in various forms: some fully clothed, others topless, many still completely nude. Pastor Allen Parker says it’s not about the clothes, or lack thereof. He says it’s about baring his soul to Christ and leading his flock down that path of righteousness, no matter what they’re wearing. Every Sunday in the front few rows of White Tail Chapel, you’ll find Katie and Robert Church. Katie wasn’t a nudist when they first met, but quickly fell in love with both Robert and the resort. They married at White Tail Chapel and say the church has given them a sense of Christian community with none of the pretense of a traditional church. ”Once we were married, and we were here, this whole place became our family,” said Katie Church. “I feel like I can turn to anyone in this church, or even in this park, and they will be there to help me.” ”People are more open as far as hearing the word of God, and speaking the word of God,” agreed Robert Church. If you think anyone here finds church attendance titillating, you’d be wrong. They’re here to find inner peace and Pastor Parker believes that starts with accepting themselves. ”There’s not a feeling that you have to be better than one another, physically,” Pastor Parker said. “We’re humans, we have scars, we have what we have…it’s learning to love and accept that.” WNEM.COM
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said U.S. borrowing authority may not last past Feb. 27 and urged Congress to extend the debt ceiling as soon as possible. Extraordinary measures used by the Treasury to keep under the debt ceiling “are likely to be exhausted in less than three weeks,” Lew said today in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio. “Congress is scheduled to be out of session for part of that time, and it would be a mistake to wait until the last possible minute to act,” he said. “I respectfully urge Congress to move as quickly as possible, raise the debt limit, and provide certainty to the economy and to the financial markets.” House Republican leaders say they want concessions in exchange for raising the debt limit, though they’ve been unable to agree on exactly what. President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada have refused to negotiate on the issue. More
Iran spreads its war wings: Hezbollah deepens role in Syria. Israel, Syria, Lebanon “regions of conflict”
In a fundamental policy makeover, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) high command has resolved to deepen the Lebanese Hizballah’s intervention in the Syrian civil war, with wide repercussions on the stability of Lebanon and the Syrian and Lebanese borders with Israel. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s terrorist and intelligence arm, the Al Qods Brigades, was appointed to execute this policy of expanded regional intervention. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that it embodies the latest decision by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to strictly separate Tehran’s approach to international nuclear diplomacy opposite the US from its intervention in regional conflicts – Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians – and direct confrontation with Israel. Henceforth, Iran’s tactics in nuclear diplomacy for the relief of sanctions, and in the negotiations resuming in Geneva, Monday, Feb. 10 for ending the Syria war, will be sealed off in a separate policy compartment from the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of its regional goals in the “war arenas” of Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah were notified of this change last week. It first surfaced in a call to arms by Hizballah’s second in command Sheikh Naim Qassem, which is reported to have drawn 5,000 new Shiite volunteers in its first push. More
The United Arab Emirates has announced it is embarking on a drone project, which, if successful, will see government documents delivered to citizens by unmanned aerial vehicles. This will follow six months of testing. The prototype for the gadget was unveiled on Monday by Mohammed al-Gergawi, UAE’s minister of cabinet affairs. ”The UAE will try to deliver its government services through drones. This is the first project of its kind in the world,” al-Gergawi said, as cited by Reuters, specifying that the services would include delivery of identity cards, driving licenses and other permits. The vehicle, resembling a butterfly, is about half a meter (1-1/2 feet) across and has a section for small parcels on top. It’s colored white and has a UAE flag drawn on it. The drone is battery-operated and propelled by four rotors. Fingerprint and eye-recognition security systems will make sure the cargo lands in the right hands, according to the project designer, UAE engineer, Abdulrahman Alserkal. ”Within a year we will understand the capabilities of the system and what sort of services, and how far we can deliver. Eventually a new product will be launched across the whole country,” Gergawi said. More
LOS ANGLES, Ca – A shallow magnitude 3.0 earthquake that was centered near Hollywood and shook parts of the Los Angeles basin Saturday morning was the third temblor to hit the area in the last two weeks. The latest quake occurred at 10:13 a.m. at a depth of 5.0 miles and was felt from the Westside to East L.A., said Anthony Guarino, a seismologist at Caltech. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter was near the intersection of Melrose and Virgil avenues, on the eastern edge of Hollywood. It was the third magnitude 3.0 or greater quake to hit that area in the last 10 days. “It’s pretty standard for L.A.,” Guarino said. “There are a lot of different faults there.” Clusters of small quakes are common in the Los Angeles basin, and generally don’t signify that the “big one” is coming, Guarino said. Every earthquake has a one in five chance of being a foreshock for a larger quake, he added. The odds of that decline quickly as time goes by. The region remains overdue for a massive quake. The southern section of the San Andreas Fault, which starts near the Salton Sea and runs north to Palmdale, has historically caused a large earthquake every 150 years on average. It has not ruptured since 1680. “There is a very high probability that it will rupture in our lifetime or our children’s lifetime,” Guarino said. “We use these small quakes as a reminder: You need to be prepared with a week’s worth of food and water and have a plan of action,” he said. “Don’t run outside, don’t get in the doorway. Drop, cover and hold on to something.” Extinction Protocol
A puzzling “wasting disease” first observed along the west coast of the United States in June 2013 continues to kill millions of starfish. The gruesome disease causes the creatures to rot–and to rip their own limbs off. As one biology professor told PBS Newshour, two infected starfish he was observing “started ripping themselves apart. The arms just crawl away from the particular body.” Laura James, a diver and videographer from Seattle, Wash., and one of the first to notice starfish with the disease, described a recent dive to Newshour. “There were just bodies everywhere,” James said. “And they were just like splats. To me, it always looked like somebody had taken a laser gun and just zapped them and they just vaporized….We have had now occasional die-offs here and there, but it’s not like this. It’s not a mass mortality event.” Biologists aren’t sure what is causing the mysterious disease, which has now affected 12 starfish species. Pete Raimondi of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said he believes the starfish wasting disease is likely caused by a pathogen in the form of a parasite, virus or bacteria. One theory about the source of such a pathogen is that it came from the ballast water of foreign ships, as the disease has largely appeared along major shipping routes. Other theories for the cause of the starfish die-off include ocean acidification, warming ocean water making starfish more susceptible to infection and even radiation from the 2011 Fukushima power plant disaster.
Legislation unveiled Friday in California would require smartphones and other mobile devices to have a “kill switch” to render them inoperable if lost or stolen – a move that could be the first of its kind in the country. State Senator Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and other elected and law enforcement officials said the bill, if passed, would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the anti-theft devices starting next year. Leno and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, both Democrats, co-authored the bill to be introduced this spring. They joined Gascon, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other authorities who have been demanding that manufacturers create kill switches to combat surging smartphone theft across the United States. Leno called on the wireless industry to step up as smartphone robberies have surged to an all-time high in California. “They have a choice. They can either be a part of the problem or part of the solution, especially when there is one readily available,” Leno said. Leno and Gascon said they believe the bill would be the first of its kind in the US Gascon and Schneiderman have given manufacturers a June 2014 deadline to come up with solutions to curb the theft of smartphones. CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for wireless providers, says a permanent kill switch has serious risks, including potential vulnerability to hackers who could disable mobile devices and lock out not only individuals’ phones but also phones used by entities such as the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and law enforcement. The association has been working on a national stolen phone database that launched in November to remove any market for stolen smartphones. More
Something is brewing among American Protestants, and it has a decidedly hoppy flavor. For much of the last century in the United States, Protestant Christianity’s relationship with beer was cold or even hostile at times. Protestant organizations such as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League led the campaign to make alcohol illegal. Even after Prohibition ended, many evangelicals defined themselves by their abstention from alcohol, called “the beloved enemy” by televangelist Jack Van Impe. Drinking was, and in many cases still is, outlawed on Christian college campuses and among leadership of many churches and denominations. But in recent years, change has been fermenting. Taverns and beer halls, once dismissed as the domain of the “worldly” in need of reform, are today the meeting places for churches Consider the following:
● “Bar Church,” a self-described “nontraditional church,” which meets at Memories Bar in Abilene, Texas, and is an offshoot of Southern Hills Church of Christ.
● North Brooklyn Vineyard, which meets at Trash Bar in Williamsburg, New York.
● Fort Worth’s “Kyrie,” which advertises itself as “Church in a Pub” and meets at Zio Carlo bar on Sunday nights.
Other churches are starting beer-friendly Bible studies or ministries, such as:
● “Beer and Bonhoeffer,” at Southlands Church in Brea, California, which meets to discuss German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship,” while parishioners share their favorite craft brews. “I feel that real and honest discussions between men happen when we have a nice IPA or stout in our hands,” said group founder Pastor Kevin Meisch.
● “Beer & Hymns,” a gathering at First Christian Church in Portland, Oregon, where 100 or so mostly young people sing hymns like “Be Thou My Vision” while guzzling home-brewed beer from plastic cups. Similar “beer and hymns” events have occurred at churches in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Cincinnati.
● “Beer, Bible and Brotherhood,” an Oxford, Connecticut, group launched by the Rev. John Donnelly of Christ Church Quaker Farms, which studies Rick Warren’s ”40 Days in the Word,” while quaffing Sam Adams brews.More
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide this month whether to hear two cases seeking clarification on what the Constitution’s framers intended in granting citizens the right to not only own but also “bear” arms. Lyle Denniston, a National Constitution Center adviser, writes on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website that the National Rifle Association has, of late, brought two cases before the Supreme Court challenging prevailing legal wisdom that while the Second Amendment grants U.S. citizens the right to own or “keep” arms, that right does not necessarily extend to their ability to “bear” arms outside of their personal residences. In one case, rooted in Texas, the NRA is reportedly challenging a state law permitting minors to own guns, but stipulating all the same that they are, in fact, too young to apply for — and thus possess — the license necessary to carry them in public. “The explicit guarantee of the right to ‘bear’ arms would mean nothing,” the NRA’s filing in the Texas matter reportedly argues, “if it did not protect the right to ‘bear’ arms outside of the home, where the Amendment already guarantees that they may be ‘kept.’ More
FALLING AWAY – Pope’s global survey reveals more Catholics support abortion, divorce than previously thought
Roman Catholics are divided on issues such as divorce and birth control amid widespread resentment at Church teachings, two separate surveys have found. The Vatican sent out questionnaires to parishes worldwide in November, before a synod on the family this October. Results from several countries have now been released, showing that, in Switzerland, 90% of respondents called on the Church to lift its refusal to give communion to divorcees who remarry. In Germany, bishops said the survey showed that Catholics viewed the communion ban for divorcees as “unjustified discrimination and … merciless.” German respondents also rejected Church bans on premarital and gay sex and birth control The Church-backed news service SIR reported that Swiss respondents were in “dramatic disagreement” with the Church’s ban on contraception, while the Catholic Church in Luxembourg warned that results from the survey were “alarming” and showed the importance given to Church teaching was in “free fall.” More
The United States may deploy its B-52 strategic bomber to defend Japan’s administration of the disputed Diaoyutai islands (Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyu in China) in the East China Sea if China were ever to invade the islands, according to China’s state-run Global Times, citing Japanese media reports. The US B-52 bomber, the same aircraft spotted over China’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) last year, could potentially be deployed to the area once again to conduct strategic bombings against the Chinese from its airbase at Guam. Citing the Tokyo-based Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the paper said that the US Navy is also likely to replace the USS Denver, the Austin-class amphibious transport dock currently stationed in Japan, with the more advanced San Antonio-class landing platform dock, USS Green Bay, in 2015. With a displacement of 16,914 tonnes, the USS Green Bay is not only larger than the USS Denver, but also has the capability to carry up to five MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and 14 amphibious assault vehicles. More
Capitol Hill lawmakers said Sunday a planned sniper attack on a remote California power station was of grave concern, repeating similar responses about the strike and suggesting changes in the ways the United States protects its power grid. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., suggested the country has recently focused too much on cyber attacks. “Perhaps we’ve taken our eye off the ball,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” Schiff’s comments follow revelations last week about the 2013 sniper attack on the electrical substation in San Jose that lasted 52 minutes and knocked out 17 transformers. “It was a sophisticated attack,” said Schiff, who serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which has oversight on homeland security and energy issues. “I hope this wasn’t a dry run, but this is of great concern.” He suggested the United States rework how it protects power stations by placing a higher priority on the roughly 100 remote ones across the country. The April 16, 2013, attack on the Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf transmission station started when the snipers cut the telephone cables, then fired at least 100 shots into the facility. “Any time you have a power station under attack … it’s of grave concern,” Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told Fox News. “We have to be better fortified. … We have to do a better job.” More
China is likely to mobilize electromagnetic pulse weapons against the United States in any potential war over the Taiwan strait, according to a report prepared by F. Michael Maloof, a retired US defense department official for the WorldNetDaily, a conservative news website based in Washington. Given the possibility that the United States Navy will deploy its aircraft carrier to the Western Pacific in the event of China entering into a territorial conflict with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines over the East and South China Sea or launching any potential military action against Taiwan, Maloof indicated that the People’s Liberation Army is looking to use the electromagnetic pulse weapons as part of a “one-two punch” to knock out the defensive electronics aboard the US vessels. The electromagnetic pulses could be released through the explosion of a nuclear weapon at altitude over the region China wants to target. The damage to the US vessels or allied command center in the region would include a complete loss of electronics, computers, automated systems, communications, food, utility and even transportation services. Maloof hit out at the Pentagon for ignoring the development of Chinese electromagnetic pulse weapons. More
BANGUI, Central African Republic — Polin Pumandele was killed about 9:30 a.m. He was a Christian walking in a Muslim enclave, carrying wood to sell. In these tense days, that is enough reason to die in the Central African Republic. A Muslim mob confronted Pumandele, 23, on a side street and pushed him around. Then, they threw him into a ditch. At least one man stabbed him before his throat was slit. As the slaughter unfolded, some of his killers ordered a Washington Post journalist witnessing the attack Sunday to leave. “Allez, allez — go, go, ” one yelled, wagging his arms menacingly. Stationed nearby was a group of Burundian peacekeepers, ordered by the United Nations to protect civilians. But they didn’t know about the killing until some men — perhaps his killers — brought Pumandele’s mutilated body past them in a wheelbarrow. They dumped his body outside the Red Cross office across from the Burundian base. And just as swiftly, Pumandele was taken to the morgue, adding to the rolls of the dead in Africa’s latest war. More
WARNING: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED FOR GRAPHIC IMAGES AND VIDEO – Animal rights activists worldwide are fighting passionately to stop the horrific and inexplicable slaughter of dolphins and whales in the Faroe Islands, Denmark, an ancient tradition that has long lost its meaning. In late January of this year the images of the slaughter of hundreds of dolphins trapped in a bay on the Japanese island of Honshu triggered a controversy worldwide. However, few know that every year in a small archipelago in the North Atlantic is carried out the bloody festival called ‘grindadráp’ in the killing of the most brutal and cruel way to nearly a thousand pilot whales and dolphins or whales. The show starts death at sea, where players vie for whales and dolphins and then lead by boats and bikes to the coast, where the animals arrive terrified at bay. Once there, they are dragged into the shallows, being caught with a hook by the nasal trade. Then cut off their heads, so bled animals die in agony, turning the waters of the Bay of deep red. Participants in traditional barbarism make no exceptions and exterminate entire families: pregnant whales, mothers and offspring, none is saved from a terrible and agonizing death.
One of the last barriers of bigotry in all of professional sports will soon fall: Former Missouri star defensive end Michael Sam, an All-American and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, has come out as gay. Sam is expected to be a high-round draft pick in May, which would set a series of historic firsts in motion. He would be the first openly gay player drafted. Since most high-round picks make NFL rosters, he’d also likely be the first openly gay player in NFL history. ”I came to tell the world that I’m an openly, proud gay man,” he told Chris Connelly of ESPN’s Outside The Lines Sunday night. “Michael has shown great courage in taking this step and not only do we support him, we are incredibly grateful. His decision to welcome us all into his world as he embarks upon a professional NFL career is an honorable one. This moment will resonate in a unique and important way for countless people, particularly LGBT youth,” said former Baltimore Raven and human rights activist Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has been advising Sam and is a member of the Athlete Ally Board of Directors, a group that fights homophobia in sports. The announcement sets up a number of tests for the league, for Sam and for his fellow players. For one, there will be a dizzying scouting combine that starts Feb. 19 in Indianapolis, which Sam is expected to attend. No draft prospect in the history of the combine has been dissected or discussed like he will be. More
BREAKING NEWS: On February 8th Breitbart News reported that Iranian warships set sail for U.S. maritime borders to send “a message.” On January 9th, elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi spoke of sinking U.S. warships. According to The Washington Free Beacon, Fadavi said: “The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk with 5,000 crews and forces in combat against Iran and how they should find its hulk in the depths of the sea.” When the Iranian ships were “dispatched” toward the U.S. on February 8th, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad said it was in response “to Washington’s beefed up naval presence in the Persian Gulf.”
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei joined the conversation, saying, “The Iranian nation ought to pay attention to the recent [nuclear] negotiations and rude remarks of the Americans so that everyone gets to know the enemy well.” Brietbart
Waves of snow and ice will severely threaten travel and daily routines across the southern Plains and South through the first part of this week before a major winter storm attempts to take a run at the Northeast. The same storm that brought record snow to Seattle on Saturday will cause some snow and an icy mix to drop southward to northern Texas and the Tennessee Valley Sunday night through Monday. Initially through Monday, the ice will not be substantial. However, that does not mean residents and travelers should let their guard down. While the threat for the ice to weigh down power lines will be low through Monday, untreated roads and sidewalks will turn slick for motorists and those traveling by foot. Those in Dallas and Amarillo, Texas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., Little Rock, Ark., Tupelo, Miss., Huntsville, Ala., and Nashville, Tenn., should prepare for the possibility of such slippery conditions into Monday. As moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is tapped into, more substantial snow and ice will develop and spread from northern Louisiana and Arkansas to the Carolinas Monday night through Tuesday. Significant snow and ice is likely to continue through Wednesday across the Piedmont and mountains of the Carolinas and northern Georgia, potentially bringing travel to a halt. More
Report slams UK government’s counter terror policy
The Frightening Tactics The Israeli Army Uses On Palestinian Children
ISRAEL’S HOLOGRAM TECHNOLOGY
HOMOSEXUALS COULD REPRODUCE WITHOUT THE NEED OF THE OPPOSITE SEX
|Synthetic gametes could enable homosexuals to have children
With stem cell technology constantly advancing, the dream of artificial (or synthetic) gametes comes ever closer. Last September Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, hosted a conference on “Artificial Gametes: Science and Ethics” (no papers available at the moment).
The creation of artificial gametes would represent the triumph of technology over the limitations of natural reproduction. Now that it seems feasible to coax adult cells into reverting to a pluripotent state, women could make sperm and men could make eggs. Eventually it might be possible to make bespoke gametes from any tissue samples.
The latest contribution to this simmering debate is a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics by Timothy F Murphy, of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. He argues that artificial gametes are ideally suited for gay and lesbian couples. If they existed, one of the principal arguments against homosexual parenting disappears: that the children are not related to at least one of their parents. “Synthetic gametes do raise questions of ethics in regard to parenthood for gay men and lesbians,” he writes, “but these are largely questions of access and equity, not questions of parental fitness and/or child welfare.”
Of course, it is not “natural” to reproduce this way, but Dr Murphy cites the authority of a 2004 article in Science by British utilitarian bioethicist John Harris and Italian stem cell scientist Giuseppe Testa which contends that “there is no a priori reason to prefer the natural, for the natural per se is morally neutral. The whole practice of medicine is a comprehensive attempt to frustrate the course of nature.”
Dr Murphy’s reasoning makes this future seem all but inevitable:
Retired NASA Astrobiologist Will Present Evidence of Extraterrestrial Life at UFO Conference
Controversial astrobiologist Richard Hoover and his colleagues at the Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham have been making worldwide headlines for years due to their claims that scientist have already obtained valid evidence of extraterrestrial life. Hoover will be presenting some of this evidence at the International UFO Congress at the Fort McDowell Radisson in Fountain Hills, Arizona on Thursday, February 13.continue