Month: August 2013

Voter’s Rights, Disenfranchisement, Racism, Disguised Hatred, Legal Hatred!!!

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Now comes the far-flung fallout from a Supreme Court decision in June blowing up a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday against a Texas voter identification law seems certain to be followed by a similar suit against one in North Carolina. Other states, too, could face federal legal challenges over their actions in the wake of the high court’s decision.

Congress, if it’s up to the task, could also get messy trying to partially restore the guts of the landmark 1965 law.

The fights to come will span many fronts, including several of the 33 states that have passed voter identification laws. The separate conflicts, moreover, will inevitably cross-pollinate. One key lawmaker, tellingly, believes the federal action in Texas will “make it much more difficult” to get Voting Rights Act revisions through an already divided Congress.

And, as in any global conflict, strategic thinking could pay dividends.

“I’m sure the Department of Justice will pick its spots carefully,” election law expert Daniel P. Tokaji, a professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, said in an interview Friday. “These aren’t easy cases.”

Beyond the legal debate, however, the controversy has political ramifications, as well.

In the Justice Department’s 15-page lawsuit targeting the Texas voter ID law, signed by Houston-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel D. Hu, the department deployed arguments potentially applicable against other states, as well. The Texas law, Hu wrote, would “deny equal opportunities for Hispanic and African-American voters to participate in the political process, resulting in a denial of the right to vote.”

The Texas law requires voters to present a government-issued photo identification; student IDs, for instance, no longer count. Critics say this effectively shuts out many, particularly the poor and minorities, who may have to travel a great distance to the Texas state offices that issue the identification cards.

Responding in turn, Texas officials, likewise, foreshadow a common state defense.

“Voter IDs have nothing to do with race,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott stated. “The Obama administration continues to ignore the 10th Amendment and repeated Supreme Court decisions upholding states’ authority to enforce voter identification and redistricting laws.”

The 10th Amendment declares that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution . . . are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” These state powers include “the power to regulate elections,” the Supreme Court has concluded.

Thirty-three states have passed various kinds of voter identification laws, and state legislators keep tinkering. Most recently, on Aug. 12, North Carolina’s governor signed an elections package that includes strict new voter ID requirements, as well as other changes that could make it harder to vote.

“While some will try to make this seem to be controversial, the simple reality is that requiring voters to provide a photo ID when they vote is a commonsense idea,” Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said on signing the North Carolina measure.

Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas, among other states recently freed from strict Justice Department control, have their own strict voter ID measures that could raise federal hackles, as well.

The coming conflicts reflect, in part, the decades-old tension between state and federal powers. Texas Gov. Rick Perry hit this nail on the head when he complained that the Justice Department seeks to “obstruct the will of the people of Texas.” The coming conflicts reflect, as well, political motives that are cast in dramatically different lights.

The stricter laws described by Republicans as a way to protect voting integrity are described by skeptics as an attempt to suppress minority voters who are predominantly Democrats. In turn, the Justice Department legal actions described by Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday as an effort to “prevent voter disenfranchisement” were recast by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn as a blatant attempt to “turn our state blue.”

The Supreme Court set everything in motion June 25, in a case called Shelby County v. Holder, in which the Alabama county south of Birmingham sued Holder over the constitutionality of parts of the Voting Rights Act.

The court’s 5-4 decision struck down the “coverage formula” section that determines which states and local jurisdictions require prior Justice Department approval before making electoral changes, from redrawing political boundaries to setting voting requirements. This is called preclearance.

Nine states had to submit to preclearance under the coverage formula struck down by the court: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Selected jurisdictions in seven states were also covered by the old formula, including parts of California, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and South Dakota.

“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote.

Until Congress rewrites the law, the court’s decision effectively frees states from needing prior approvals. One result, Tokaji predicted, is “there will be a great effort on the part of some states to impose new barriers to voting.”

That could change. As Roberts noted, “Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions.” The key word is “may.”

Some want Congress to wade in. The California state Senate on Thursday passed a resolution urging Congress to replace the missing preclearance coverage formula; the absence of which, Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco said, “has already made voting more burdensome and less accessible throughout the country.”

The legislative task, though, was tough enough even before the Justice Department acted. Now, some caution it could be impossible.

Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a key author of the last Voting Rights Act revisions, warned Holder this week that his lawsuits would exacerbate partisan tensions and undermine coalition-building in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

“The lawsuit would make it much more difficult to pass a bipartisan fix to restore the heart of the (Voting Rights Act),” he predicted in a statement.

An alternative view is that Republicans and Democrats alike already have figured out that Congress is unlikely to move voting rights legislation anytime soon. Democrats, then, have nothing to lose and potentially some symbolic and substantive victories to gain in court, while Republicans now have their own reasons to rally.

How Culturally Sound Is America On This Issue?

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Although Gosnell was charged with eight counts of murder, witnesses have testified he murdered over 100 babies over three decades. If true, this would rank Gosnell as one of the top five known serial killers worldwide of the 20th and 21st Centuries by victim count.

But if you only tune in to broadcast t.v. news, you will have never even heard the name “Gosnell.” According to an April 4 open letter demanding coverage of the Gosnell trial from 20 conservative leaders:

Since the Gosnell trial began three weeks ago, ABC, CBS, and NBC have given the story ZERO seconds of coverage on either their morning or evening news shows. They have not covered Gosnell once since his arrest in January 2011, and even then, only CBS did so.

Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified “It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” Here is the headline the Associated Press put on a story about his testimony that he saw 100 babies born and then snipped: “Staffer describes chaos at PA abortion clinic.”

The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial and The New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial’s first day. They’ve been silent ever since, despite headline-worthy testimony.

And about that AP story Newsbusters’ Tom Blumer noted something peculiar:

AP has not applied the “abortion” tag to any of its 19 “Big Stories” about Kermit Gosnell.

Thus, anyone who attempts to do a tag search on the AP’s web site looking for uses of “abortion” won’t see anything about Gosnell – but they’ll see all kinds of reports about how mean social conservatives, supposedly backward states, and GOP presidential candidates are trying to curb “reproductive rights.”

If there’s an explanation for this practice other than to deliberately minimize readers’ potential exposure to the horrific practitioners, practices, and procedures in the abortion industry as it really operates, I can’t imagine what it would be.

The verdict is in: the jury found Dr. Kermit Gosnell guilty of first-degree murder – murder of three babies born alive while under his care in a so-called clinic he ran in Philadelphia. Abortionists like Gosnell – and the hypocrites at Planned Parenthood who turned a blind eye to his heinous crimes – are united against the sanctity of life.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday to block a new Alabama law that would force three of the state’s five abortion clinics to shut down. The law, like measures passed in Mississippi and North Dakota that are under challenge, would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Proponents say it will protect patients in emergencies, but the clinics and prominent medical groups call it medically unnecessary and an unconstitutional effort to force the closing of the clinics in Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery, which rely on visiting doctors.

GAO opens investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer money

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office confirmed Thursday it is launching an investigation into how the country’s largest abortion provider spent millions of taxpayer dollars.

Planned Parenthood received more than a half billion dollars in federal funding last year. The GAO’s investigation is in response to a request made by more than 50 members of Congress in February who asked for a detailed report on how money is being used by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers across the country.

Specifically, lawmakers want to know what procedures and services they provided and the number of people who were served and how much it cost.

The GAO’s investigation comes on the heels of a settlement involving a Texas affiliate of the organization, which paid $4.3 million in July to settle allegations of fraud in billing to a health program for the poor. The settlement was $3 million more than what had been announced earlier by the Texas Attorney General.

The charges were they falsified patient records, fabricated records and billed for services not even provided.

$4.3 million is a drop in the bucket. The reason they settled is they knew they’d be found guilty and didn’t want the negative publicity.

But even if none of this happened, this is NOT something that tax-payers should have to foot the bill for. The government should not be using tax-payer dollars to subsidize baby murder.

Jesus on Current Events

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Luke 13

Repent or Perish

1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?

3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.

7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.

9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

Romans 2

God’s Righteous Judgment

1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a]

Did you hear about the Marine who declared he is a conscientious objector to the war in Iraq and went AWOL? He went to a press conference and said he did not believe in “peace through violence” and went on to blame his recruiter because his recruiter knew about his pacifist beliefs but failed to warn him of the violent nature of his training.

I don’t really want to talk with you about that Marine. I do want to talk about the nature of what I’ve just told you.

We like to have discussions like these. We like to talk about the things people do that don’t click with us. When I asked you if you heard about this “conscientious objector,” what was the real meaning of my question? Was I asking you to an open discussion about the validity of this guy’s actions? No. I’ve made up my mind. When you’re standing around the water cooler at work or out in the yard in the neighborhood and someone asks you if you heard about this thing or that on the news, they are most likely expressing their condemnation or bewilderment over what they’ve heard. Most often, it’s not that we’re looking for some honest dialogue to assess the situation. There is another meaning to our questions.

Most of the time, we bring up the outrageous or strange or fascinating or stupid things people do to shed light on them and take the spotlight off of us. We know the foolish things we do. Even more, we know the foolish things we think. So there is a sense, whether it be consciously or subconsciously, in which we are justifying ourselves by keeping before us and others the more outlandish things that other people do.

Why do people like Rush Limbaugh? Because he tends to say things they agree with. Why are Hollywood gossip columns and magazines so popular? Because the stars have everything in the world but still can’t make a relationship work. Doesn’t that make you feel better? The popularity of talk radio and sports radio and shows like Jerry Springer all point to the fact that we like to keep our eyes and divert everyone else’s attention to the people we think are a little more strange or a little more immoral than we are. It is a poor but popular means of self-justification.

I like the fact that the Holy Spirit saw fit to ensure that Luke was inspired to include the account in chapter 13. Someone in the crowd asked him about events that were happening in the world around him. It allows us to hear from Jesus about current events, tragedies, and evil dictators today.

Think about what questions we would ask him today? Is Operation Iraqi Freedom God’s way of judging Saddam Hussein for his tyranny? A militant Muslim would ask God the same about judgment on the United States. Was September 11 a warning of judgment against the United States, the city of New York, or capitalism? Can we look into the eyes of a camera with any kind of confidence and say, as Jerry Falwell did, “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen?” Can we say that? Is AIDS a plague from God to punish those who practice homosexuality? If so, what’s up with SARS, the new Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome? Does God want to punish the Asian people now?

Let’s make it more personal: “God, who’s right, me or my wife? Did you hear what she said to me? Did you see what he did to me?” Have you ever had that discussion?

When we ask these questions, are we really trying to submit to God’s will and sovereignty, or are we just trying to justify ourselves? Aren’t we just asking God to take sides or at least to condemn the actions of those whose behavior does not meet with our approval?

This all makes me think of all those times that the kids would come anxious to tell me what their brother or sister has done. “Dad, do you know what so-and-so did?” “Dad, you wouldn’t believe what she said to me!” You parents have any experience with this? Sometimes it happens when you’re a pastor too. “Pastor Jim, have you heard what brother so-and-so has been doing?”

I like to just look at my kids and say, “Really! How ‘bout if I beat ‘em? Would that make you feel better? You wanna watch?”

Sometimes I wonder if people would feel better if we bring back the stocks and put ‘em right up here in front of the church. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is cell leader Bob, and he failed to turn in his cell group report this week.” Then everyone else can sit in the church and feel better about themselves, thinking, “Whooooo, I’ve done some bad things but I’d never do that!”

It seems that someone in the crowd was looking for some self-justification when they caught Jesus’ attention in Luke 13:1. “Did you hear about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices?” Jesus saw right through their question. It may have sounded like they wanted to know if he knew about it and what he thought about it. His answer tells me he knew that they were looking for some condemnation—a little something that would divert his attention from their wickedness and on to the wickedness of others. They figured if Jesus would take a side, he would be on theirs.

But Jesus didn’t take a side. Instead, he answered the real meaning of their question. Notice what Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t condemn one side over another. He also didn’t comment on whether or not the tragedies were part of God’s judgment. Instead, he went straight to the heart of their question.

Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them– do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Lk 13:2-5, NIV)

Jesus was saying, “I know what you are trying to get me to say. You want me to condemn those Galileans as though the ones that died were picked out for judgment. You want me to tell you that those people crushed by the tower in Siloam were deserving of their fate. I’m not going to comment on them. Let’s talk about you. Unless you repent, all of you will also perish.”

That was not what they wanted to hear. He turned it around and addressed the real meaning of their question. He may very well have said, “whatever they’ve done will not justify you.”

What does Jesus’ answer say about you? First of all, it says that you are likewise sinful and guilty. You and I can point to all the Saddam Husseins in the world, but it would not make the stain of our sin any smaller. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” So, the truth is, we’re all lawbreakers in the eyes of God. Saddam is a lawbreaker. And likewise, so am I a lawbreaker. In that regard, we are no different. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

Jesus’ answer also points out that we will likewise perish. The original language Luke used here to describe what Jesus said is “you will similarly perish.” Jesus makes a link between death and unrepentance. But does Jesus mean all death is punishment for not repenting? Is all violent deaths like those Galileans and the victims of the tower tragedy the result of punishment? What does Jesus mean when he says we will likewise perish?

Death sometimes comes slowly. Sometimes it sneaks up on us. Death can be cruel, as it was for the Galileans at the hands of Pilate, or it can be tragic, as in the deaths of those who were crushed under the weight of the tower. When Jesus said we will all similarly perish, he was not talking about the manner of death but the finality of it. It is destined for man to die once, and after that to face judgment.

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 2:

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” (Rom 2:1-6, NIV)

Unless we repent, the finality of death will surprise us.

There is also a lesson for triumphant living in Jesus’ answer and in what Paul has written. His answer warns us not to compare ourselves to other people. We can never justify ourselves by comparing. We can only condemn ourselves. If I condemn sin in you, then the sin in me is likewise condemned. Worse yet, when we make ourselves out to be better than others, we show contempt for God’s kindness and love, which was poured out so generously on us in his Son Jesus.

Jesus’ answer seemed to bring condemnation. But like a doctor’s diagnosis opens the door for healing, Jesus turned the question back on them to open the door to his magnificent grace. That is why he immediately told them the parable of the fig tree.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ’For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “’Sir,’ the man replied, ’leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9, NIV)

I want to quickly summarize for you the lessons of grace we learn from the fig tree.

First of all, you were planted in God’s world to bear fruit for him. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8, NIV) We are here to live purposeful lives, showing ourselves to be followers of Christ.

Second, God has endured our barrenness for quite a while. “For three years now,” said the man who planted the tree, “I have not found any fruit.” We can be thankful that God is slow to anger and abounding in love.

Third, we learn that we deserve to be cut down. If we are not bearing the fruit we were created to bear, why should we use up the soil?

It’s at this point that Jesus wanted all who could hear him understand that he has come to offer another chance. “One more year” says the caregiver. “One more chance” says Jesus. We deserve to be cut off, but Jesus pleads before the Father to give us another chance at life. Jesus shed his blood to serve as a plea before the Father for you to be restored. He gives us another chance. Do we deserve that chance? No, we deserve to be cut off. But in his mercy he spares us and by his grace he secures for us another chance.

Which leads me to the fifth lesson from the fig tree. We must bear fruit or die. “Repent or perish.” Jesus said. Bear fruit or die.

But Jesus also teaches us that he will do what it takes to make us fruitful. There are two conditions on this incredible grace, and Jesus takes responsibility for them both. We cooperate with him by our repentance.

The first condition requires that Jesus dig around the roots of our belief. We cannot let Jesus dig around those roots until we lay them down and give him lordship over them all. Whatever beliefs, whatever prejudices, whatever biases we come to him with must become fair game for him to dig up and pull out so he can replace them with a better root system.

The second condition is that we have to allow Jesus to fertilize our soil. Do you understand what that means? Are you ready for this? First of all, it means that we have to be willing for Jesus to surround us with all sorts of poop. It is often in the fires of adversity that God is able to refine us into fruit-bearing followers. If we are anything other than open to God to work through the ugly circumstances surrounding our life, we will never bear fruit.

But the main purpose of fertilizer is to pass on nutrients. If we do not let God feed us through his word, we will never become fruitful for him.

Repentance means turning to Jesus to lay a new foundation of belief by weeding out the old attitudes and allowing his word to shape his worldview in us.

It is very tempting for us to say that the United States is acting as God’s agent for bringing punishment on Iraq. It may be true. But when we put our trust in Jesus Christ, we gave up our right to be American citizens before being citizens of God’s kingdom. Viewing the conflict in Iraq as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven gives us a different perspective than if we view it as an American. How can we apply what Jesus taught in these times?

1. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are no more sinners than any of us.
2. If this war is God’s judgment, then we too are under God’s wrath. Likewise, if September 11 is part of God’s judgment on America, then so are all men subject to God’s wrath.
3. If God uses us to exact punishment or discipline, it does not justify us. God often used kingdoms like Assyria or Babylon to topple the nation of Israel, and then later brought justice on those nations through Israel.
4. If justice is good for Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden (and don’t we all want to see justice done?), then it is good for us too.
5. Our only hope is repentance.
6. God’s response to repentance is grace.

Can you believe after all we’ve seen—after coming to the unfortunate conclusion that you and I are no better than Saddam Hussein—Jesus still pleads with the Father for another chance? Another chance to become one of his followers. Another chance to show ourselves faithful. Another chance to be reconciled to the One who created us and planted us in this world with a purpose. Another chance to do and be everything God created us to do and be.

Jesus has pleaded for another year. Jesus wants permission to dig up your roots and fertilize the soil of your heart. Are you willing? Unless you repent, you too will perish. If you repent, you too will live!

World’s first lab-grown burger is eaten in London

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shirmp graph
You may have to skimp on the shrimp this summer.

Shrimp prices are skyrocketing to all-time highs, amid a disease that’s plaguing the three largest prawn producers: Thailand, China and Vietnam. White shrimp prices are nearing $6 a pound, up 56% from a year ago, according to an Urner Barry index.

Interestingly though, the Cadillac of crustaceans is cheaper than it’s been in a long time. Lobster prices, while still a lot higher than shrimp, have fallen recently. But more about that later.

The world is facing an “acute shrimp shortage,” the worst of its kind since industrial shrimp farming emerged, say Rabobank analysts in a report aptly named “Shrimp in a crimp.”

A devastating global food crisis unlike anything we have ever seen in modern times is coming. Crippling drought and bizarre weather patterns have damaged food production all over the world this summer, and the UN and the World Bank have both issued ominous warnings about the food inflation that is coming. To those of us in the western world, a rise in the price of food can be a major inconvenience, but in the developing world it can mean the difference between life and death. Just remember what happened back in 2008. When food prices hit record highs it led to food riots in 28 different countries. Today, there are approximately 2 billion people that are malnourished around the globe. Even rumors of food shortages are enough to spark mass chaos in many areas of the planet. When people fear that they are not going to be able to feed their families they tend to get very desperate. That is why a recent CNN article declared that “2013 will be a year of serious global crisis“. The truth is that we are not just facing rumors of a global food crisis – one is actually starting to unfold right in front of our eyes. The United States experienced the worst drought in more than 50 years this summer, and some experts are already declaring that the weather has been so dry for so long that tremendous damage has already been done to next year’s crops.
Mr Schonwald said he missed the fat, but that the “general bite” was authentic

The world’s population is continuing to increase and an ever greater proportion want to eat meat. To meet that demand farmers will need to use more energy, water and land – and the consequent increase in greenhouse gas emission will be substantial.

The plan for lab-grown burgers has won support from some animal welfare and vegetarian groups, who feel it addresses their concerns about animal suffering.

But critics say technological fixes, whether it is lab-grown meat or GM crops address the symptoms rather than the causes of world hunger. What is needed, they say, are policies that enable more farmers to produce more food more efficiently and to distribute it more equitably.

And then of course there is the taste. Even those behind the stem cell project agree that the meat grown will never taste as good as that from an animal. But as prices rise, environmental pressures grow and concerns over animal welfare increase, they argue their approach is the only ethical and pragmatic way forward.

Scientists took cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle that they combined to make a patty.

One food expert said it was “close to meat, but not that juicy” and another said it tasted like a real burger.

Researchers say the technology could be a sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand for meat.

The burger was cooked by chef Richard McGeown, from Cornwall, and tasted by food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald.
Upon tasting the burger, Austrian food researcher Ms. Ruetzler said: “I was expecting the texture to be more soft… there is quite some intense taste; it’s close to meat, but it’s not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper.

“This is meat to me. It’s not falling apart.”

Food writer Mr. Schonwald said: “The mouth feel is like meat. I miss the fat, there’s a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger.

“What was consistently different was flavor.”

Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University, the scientist behind the burger, remarked: “It’s a very good start.”

The professor said the meat was made up of tens of billions of lab-grown cells. Asked when lab-grown burgers would reach the market, he said: “I think it will take a while. This is just to show we can do it.”

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, has been revealed as the project’s mystery backer. He funded the £215,000 ($330,000) research.

Prof Tara Garnett, head of the Food Policy Research Network at Oxford University, said decision-makers needed to look beyond technological solutions.

“We have a situation where 1.4 billion people in the world are overweight and obese, and at the same time one billion people worldwide go to bed hungry,” she said.

Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University, explains how he and his colleagues made the world’s first lab-grown burger

“That’s just weird and unacceptable. The solutions don’t just lie with producing more food but changing the systems of supply and access and affordability, so not just more food but better food gets to the people who need it.”

Stem cells are the body’s “master cells”, the templates from which specialized tissue such as nerve or skin cells develop.

Most institutes working in this area are trying to grow human tissue for transplantation to replace worn-out or diseased muscle, nerve cells or cartilage.

Prof Post is using similar techniques to grow muscle and fat for food.

He starts with stem cells extracted from cow muscle tissue. In the laboratory, these are cultured with nutrients and growth-promoting chemicals to help them develop and multiply. Three weeks later, there are more than a million stem cells, which are put into smaller dishes where they coalesce into small strips of muscle about a centimeter long and a few millimeters thick.

These strips are collected into small pellets, which are frozen. When there are enough, they are defrosted and compacted into a patty just before being cooked.

Because the meat is initially white in color, Helen Breewood – who works with Prof Post – is trying to make the lab-grown muscle look red by adding the naturally-occurring compound myoglobin.

An independent study found that lab-grown beef uses 45% less energy than the average global representative figure for farming cattle. It also produces 96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires 99% less land.
“If it doesn’t look like normal meat, if it doesn’t taste like normal meat, it’s not… going to be a viable replacement,” she said.

She added: “A lot of people consider lab-grown meat repulsive at first. But if they consider what goes into producing normal meat in a slaughterhouse, I think they would also find that repulsive.”

Currently, this is a work in progress. The burger revealed on Monday was coloured red with beetroot juice. The researchers have also added breadcrumbs, caramel and saffron, which were intended to add to the taste, although Ms Ruetzler said she could not taste these.

At the moment, scientists can only make small pieces of meat; larger ones would require artificial circulatory systems to distribute nutrients and oxygen.

In a statement, animal welfare campaigners People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said: “[Lab-grown meat] will spell the end of lorries full of cows and chickens, abattoirs and factory farming. It will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and make the food supply safer.”

Critics of the technology say that eating less meat would be an easier way to tackle predicted food shortages.

The latest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report on the future of agriculture indicates that most of the predicted growth in demand for meat from China and Brazil has already happened and many Indians are wedded to their largely vegetarian diets for cultural and culinary reasons.
worm burger
The most impressive pictures from the last seven days, including worm burgers.

Does The Background Check Cover Up The Absence Of Moral Turpitude and Corruption?

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Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced today to 30 months behind bars and his wife, Sandi, got a year in prison for separate felonies involving the misspending of about $750,000 in campaign funds.

The Jacksons will be allowed to serve their sentences one at a time, with Jackson Jr. going first, based on the wishes of the family as expressed by Dan Webb, an attorney for Sandi Jackson.

Jackson Jr. will report to prison on or after Nov. 1, the judge said.

In addition to the 2.5 years in prison, Jackson Jr. was sentenced to three years of supervised release. Sandi Jackson was ordered to serve 12 months of supervised release following her prison term.

The judge emphasized that Sandi Jackson was sentenced to exactly 12 months, not the year-and-a-day sentence that some criminals get. Defendants sentenced to a year or less cannot qualify for time off for good behavior in prison. But those sentenced to a year and a day can qualify, which means they may end up serving only about 10 months. Under this rule, Sandi Jackson must serve the full year.

If Jackson Jr. earns time off for good behavior in prison, he would serve about 25.5 months.
Cleaning up government:
Has something happened to the concept of public officials serving the public’s good?

In Argentina, the vice president has been caught up in allegations of using his influence to secure a friend’s control over a printing company that has multi-million dollar contracts with the government.
In Germany, the president of the country, Christian Wulff, opted to resign ahead of an official probe into allegations that – while governor of the German state of Lower Saxony – he used his position to secure a low-interest mortgage and free perks like full-paid holidays.

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In the United Kingdom, the expanding probe of alleged corruption committed by the British newspaper The News of the World has come to include public officials in the country’s defence ministry and police force.
In South Africa, a parliamentarian from the governing party was found guilty by the legislature’s ethics committee for failing to disclose her interests with a private leasing company that employed members of her family and renovated her own home.
According to people around the world, political parties and parliaments are among the top institutions that are the most prone to corruption. The results, compiled by Transparency International, show that 63 per cent of the more than 100,000 people surveyed consider political parties to be the most corrupt institution in their country. The national legislature follows a close second, as signaled by 57 per cent of those interviewed in 100 countries – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Yet these trends are not new.


Perceptions of corruption in political parties and parliaments have been consistent across time and countries, signaling a systemic mistrust on the part of citizens in the bodies that are supposed to represent them.

New findings from our recent study of 25 European countries show that these two institutions are also the weakest forces in promoting integrity. Parliaments have been blamed for not establishing and implementing anti-corruption safeguards, including codes of conduct. Of the 25 countries in the study, only eight have codes of conduct for parliamentarians.

Codes of conduct: Bringing ethics back into government
Whether for parliamentarians or public officials, codes of conduct help to build an atmosphere of ethics. For government officials, they offer a clear, concise frame of reference for an institution’s ethical principles in a single document. Member states of the European Union need to push to get these codes adopted and enforced. But these countries are not alone in lacking codes of conduct to help get the integrity of government back on track.

Within a government, codes of conduct strive to decrease corruption and increase accountability among public officials – whether elected or appointed. The aim of these codes, which may be voluntary norms or legally enforced, is to make sure that the public’s interest is protected. The recent passage of code of conduct for public officials in Delhi has been used as a recourse to rein in political campaigning by standing members. Similar codes have been used to look into potential conflict-of-interest violations by heads of state, from Canada to Israel.

When designed well, codes of conduct offer clear ethical standards and a reference point which citizens and governments can use to assess the behavior of public officials. Codes of conduct typically are combined with sets of penalties and other punishments for public officials found to be in violation of them.


But what exactly is a code of conduct? Is it a set of rules? Or it is more like an ethical Ten Commandments for public officials?

According to one handbook on the topic, codes of conduct are generally value-based guides on how public officials should behave, and outline what they should – and should not – do on the job.

Codes are written documents and generally are divided into three key parts: a statement of principles, rules, and a regulatory framework.

Statement of principle: The section sets out a benchmark for what is expected in terms of public officials’ conduct and ethical behavior.
Rules: Here, concrete issues and expectations for public officials are clearly presented. Topics typically include conflicts of interest, gifts and hospitality, abuse of authority and impartiality.
Regulatory framework: This part outlines the institutional structures available to the state to promote ethical behavior among its employees. It may also demand and establish an independent body to oversee the receipt, investigation and sanctioning of infractions of the code.

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Moreno Valley Councilman Marcelo Co has been arrested on suspicion of fraudulently collecting almost $15,000 in government assistance money to care for his mother, including during times she was not living in the United States, Riverside County district attorney’s officials said Monday, Aug. 12.

The eight felony charges, including fraud and grand theft, are unrelated to an ongoing political corruption probe that the FBI and district attorney’s office are conducting in Moreno Valley, District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said Monday night.


It’s been two weeks since the FBI descended on the city and raided the mayor’s house, the homes of four other city council members and a huge warehouse. And since that time, the FBI hasn’t anything about why they searched those locations or what they were hoping to find in the first place.

On April 30, FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents served search warrants at the homes of Mayor Tom Owings along with the homes of council members Victoria Baca, Marcelo Co, Jesse Molina and Richard Stewart. Agents also raided the corporate offices of Highland Fairview Developers and Realtor Jerry Stephens.

What were the agents looking for? Who do they have in their crosshairs? The answer to those questions lie at the terminus of a very open-ended ellipsis, as the warrants (both federal and state) are sealed.

“There are no updates, obviously,” said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. “Our investigation is pending. We’re seeking evidence based on accusations of wrongdoing.”

Is God Obligated?

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Jeremiah 7:1-11 (The Message)

1 The Message from God to Jeremiah: 2 “Stand in the gate of God’s Temple and preach this Message. 3 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, has this to say to you: 4 Don’t for a minute believe the lies being spoken here – “This is God’s Temple, God’s Temple, God’s Temple!” 5 Total nonsense! Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, 6 only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods – 7 only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple. 8 “‘Get smart! Your leaders are handing you a pack of lies, and you’re swallowing them! 9 Use your heads! Do you think you can rob and murder, have sex with the neighborhood wives, tell lies nonstop, worship the local gods, and buy every novel religious commodity on the market 10 – and then march into this Temple, set apart for my worship, and say, “We’re safe!” thinking that the place itself gives you a license to go on with all this outrageous sacrilege? 11 A cave full of criminals! Do you think you can turn this Temple, set apart for my worship, into something like that? Well, think again. I’ve got eyes in my head. I can see what’s going on.'” God’s Decree!

A friend sent me photographs of twenty beautiful churches through-out the world. Located as far apart as Iceland and India, each of them is architecturally unique. The most beautiful place of worship in Jeremiah’s day was the temple in Jerusalem, which King Josiah had recently repaired and restored (2 Chronicles 34-35). The people were fixated on the magnificent building (Jeremiah 7:4), and they foolishly thought that having the temple there meant that God would protect them from their enemies. Instead, Jeremiah pointed out the sin in their lives (vv.3, 9-10).

God is not impressed by beautiful buildings constructed in His name if there is no inward beauty in the hearts of those who go there. He is not interested in an outward legalistic worship that is not matched by inward holiness. And it is wrong to think that God protects people just because of the religious things they do.

Just because we’re reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers doesn’t mean that God is somehow then obligated to do something for us. He cannot be manipulated. The purpose of those external activities is to develop our relationship with the Lord and to help us live differently than those in the world around us.

Lord, with all the funny business associated with faulty doctrines and church leadership, help us to remember that you are most interested in an obedient heart. Change us when we think you’re obligated to us because of our religious acts of worship or service. Give us a pure heart Father in Jesus name Amen….

God cannot and will not be manipulated!!!!!!