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Solar-Powered Sermon Kindles from US Evangelical Church Found on Captured Ukrainian Soldiers

January 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Alex Ellefson, AlterNet

The Georgia pastor tells Ukrainian soldiers, who were run out of the Donetsk Airport, to not be afraid and have faith in God.

While clearing out the rubble of the recently captured Donetsk airport in Eastern Ukraine, separatist militia members discovered solar-powered Christian sermon players, reportedly from an Atlanta-based Baptist church, in the pockets of some of the dead and captured Ukrainian soldiers.

It’s not clear who gave the devices to Ukrainian soldiers but the sermons can be attributed to Pastor Charles Stanley, founder of In Touch Ministries, a Baptist group based in Georgia that broadcasts sermons on TV and radio stations around the world. On the recordings, translated in Russian, Stanley tells the Ukrainian soldiers to not be afraid and have faith in God.

“Hello my name is Charles Stanley, you are listening to a gift from ‘In Touch Ministries’ on a solar-powered audio player,” said Stanley. “I hope the themes will be of encouragement and support to you, I hope that they will help you in your spiritual growth and knowledge of Jesus Christ. May the truth of God’s Word fill your heart.”

On Twitter, In Touch Ministries commented on the revelations that they’re sermons were being listened to by Ukrainian soldiers.


At least a dozen Ukrainian soldiers were captured on Thursday after the Ukrainian Army retreated from the airport after days of intense fighting.

A commander of the Novorossiya Armed Forces (NAF), the pro-Russian separatist militia that captured the airport, played the recording for the Russian news service LifeNews.

“It just like hypnotizes them, such teachings, you start to believe that you can die and then everything will be great and they’ll welcome you with open arms. They’re simply zombifying them,” he said.

Check out the video below.

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When Wingnut Cavemen Attack: The Right Turns on Renee Ellmers with Stunning Misogyny

January 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Joan Walsh, Salon

Hell hath no fury, apparently, like a male conservative who feels betrayed when a GOP woman disagrees with him.

I never thought I’d be spurred to defend GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers, but the misogyny coming from the right, in the wake of her helping torpedo the 20-week abortion ban, is appalling.

The boys over at Red State are leading the charge, with sexually insecure sad sack Erick Erickson calling her “the GOP’s Abortion Barbie” (his sick nickname for Wendy Davis) and now another Red Stater, Aaron Gardner, asking “Is Renee Ellmers worthy of life?”

In a country where abortion providers have been murdered and clinics bombed, that’s a particularly ugly provocation.

Gardner justifies his threatening question by explaining he’s the product of rape – his biological grandfather apparently raped his grandmother — and that the rape exemption to the abortion ban that Ellmers supports somehow makes the case that he’s not worthy of life.

Tell me why you are worthy of this life you have been given, Representative. It might seem like an unreasonable request, I am sure that many will find it impolite…But when the pro aborts call me an extremist, when they say, “exceptions for rape”, I hear, “you are not worthy of life.” I feel compelled to justify myself and explain that it isn’t extreme to defend one’s own existence.

So the staunchly antiabortion Ellmers is transformed into a “pro-abort” through the magic of male hysteria. This is a particular kind of paranoia and narcissism that should get Gardner into therapy, not on the front page of RedState (where they’re also calling Hillary Clinton “an elderly unaccomplished crone,” by the way, but we’re used to the anti-Democrat misogyny.)

Now, Ellmers has been reliably right-wing and anti-women most of the time, leading the charge against the Affordable Care Act’s mandating that insurance policies cover pregnancy-related healthcare with the memorable war cry: “Has a man ever delivered a baby?” As I noted at the time, you might think that was the opening salvo in a defense of sharing the costs of childbearing, but no, it was a defense of protecting …read more


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Saudi Arabia as America's Frenemy: Obama to Visit 'Ally' Which Makes World More Dangerous

January 24, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The king has died. Long live the king. Saudi Arabia today is a medieval system whose horrid human rights practices match its antiquated political system. King Abdullah died Thursday; King Salman ascended the throne Friday. Official Washington breathed a sigh of relief at the swift and smooth transition. President Barack Obama will visit Riyadh on Tuesday to pay his respects—or, some would say, demonstrate his obeisance.

Abdullah’s body was still warm when the plaudits began to roll in. A “moderate” and “man of moderation,” he was a “shrewd” and “wily” operator and “cautious reformer.” Despite his access to great wealth he was “ascetic” and spoke plainly to commoners. Abroad the king talked of encouraging greater “tolerance” and “sincere dialogue” among different religions. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the late monarch “a vocal advocate for peace.” Secretary of State John Kerry termed the departed king a “man of vision and wisdom.” President Barack Obama declared of Abdullah: “he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions.”

U.S. officials long have celebrated their friendship with the Saudi royals, who sit atop vast oil reserves. Presidents have brought Saudi kings to intimate meetings at secluded retreats, walking hand-in-hand to address the press. President George H.W. Bush called then-Crown Prince Abdullah a “dear friend and partner.” Indeed, there was little the Bush family would not do for the House of Saud. Despite Riyadh’s unhelpfulness in the aftermath of 9/11, committed by a gaggle of Saudi terrorists, the George W. Bush administration spirited a planeload of Saudi nationals out of the country.

Even more important, the American military continues to act as the Saudi royals’ bodyguard. President George H.W. Bush inaugurated the first Gulf War as much to safeguard Saudi Arabia as liberate Kuwait. He left a garrison later targeted by the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers barracks in Dharan. And America’s presence on sacred Saudi soil was one of Osama bin Laden’s grievances: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz even justified the invasion of Iraq in part as allowing Washington to remove the U.S. forces which had caused so much trouble.

However, Riyadh has become more independent internationally as it has found it tougher to influence American policy. U.S. officials are conflicted by the tension between democracy and stability. The Saudis suffer no such indecision. Essentially a totalitarian dictatorship at home, the House of Saud favors whoever and whatever reduces threats to the monarchy abroad.

<blockquote …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The US' Dark Empire Has Secret Operations in Over 100 Countries

January 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Nick Turse, Tom Dispatch

The United States deployed special forces to 70 percent of the nations on earth.


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In the dead of night, they swept in aboard V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.  Landing in a remote region of one of the most volatile countries on the planet, they raided a village and soon found themselves in a life-or-death firefight.  It was the second time in two weeks that elite U.S. Navy SEALs had attempted to rescue American photojournalist Luke Somers.  And it was the second time they failed.

On December 6, 2014, approximately 36 of America’s top commandos, heavily armed, operating with intelligence from satellites, drones, and high-tech eavesdropping, outfitted with night vision goggles, and backed up by elite Yemeni troops, went toe-to-toe with about six militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  When it was over, Somers was dead, along with Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher due to be set free the next day.  Eight civilians were also killed by the commandos, according to local reports.  Most of the militants escaped.

That blood-soaked episode was, depending on your vantage point, an ignominious end to a year that saw U.S. Special Operations forces deployed at near record levels, or an inauspicious beginning to a new year already on track to reach similar heights, if not exceed them.

During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries — roughly 70% of the nations on the planet — according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).  This capped a three-year span in which the country’s most elite forces were active in more than 150 different countries around the world, conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises.  And this year could be a record-breaker.  Only a day before the failed raid that ended Luke Somers life — just 66 days into fiscal 2015 — America’s most elite troops had already set foot in 105 nations, …read more


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This Week in Religion: Pope Francis Tells His Flock to Stop Breeding Like Rabbits

January 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Dan Arel, AlterNet

The Pontiff also implies that those who insult religions should “expect a punch” in return.

Pope Francis remains as busy as ever. This week he announced it was time for his flock to stop with the rapid-fire procreation Catholics are known for. During a news conference the Pope said, “Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits — but no.” He added that the Church should instead be promoting “responsible parenthood.”

However, the Pope stopped well short of suggesting that Catholics use contraception for family planning, something the church still frowns on. Instead the Pope reiterated that the Church approves only natural methods of birth control, principally abstinence from sex during a woman’s fertile period, or what is better known as “the rhythm method.”

But the Pope may have raised more eyebrows when he compared ridiculing a person's religion to cursing their mother. He said that anyone who makes such an insult can ”expect a punch” in return.

The comments were made in response to questions regarding Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, which had not only been insulting to Muslims, but Christians as well.

“You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others,” the Pope said. “There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others. They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to [someone] if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit.”

The Pope said his comments were not meant to condone the actions the terrorists in France, but many saw his statement as and insulting to the memory of the slain Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists.

In the Huffington Post, blogger Ronald A. Lindsay wrote: “If Pope Francis does not want religious beliefs criticized, then he should advise all believers to keep their views private–as private as his relationship with his mother.”

Creation …read more


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Tennis Twirls and Page 3 Girls: The Week in Sexism

January 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

It's not your imagination — this was a bad week for women

Let’s just call this week a total wash and start again Monday, shall we, womankind? It’s been a real extravaganza for progress deferred – and I’m not even going to bother delving into Mike Huckabee’s strange Beyonce fixation here.

And it all started out so promisingly, too. Earlier this week, the News Corp owned Times reported authoratively that Murdoch’s notorious tabloid, The Sun, was ending its 45 year tradition of displaying topless young women on its Page 3, news that was greeted with enthusiasm by the activists who have justifiably argued that “boobs aren’t news.” But then, in a move that can only be regarded as a massive middle finger to readers who prefer their news without T&A, the paper swiftly turned around and offered a topless model with an apology that it had suffered “a mammary lapse.” And the paper’s head of PR, Dylan Sharpe, rather brattily tweeted a picture of a winking Page 3 girl to the No More Page 3 campaigners, journalists, and a female MP. As Gaby Hinsliff explained this week in the Guardian, the whole move felt like “an act of defiance, not generous acquiescence to the public mood.”

Things did not improve from there. There was the unveiling of the Carl’s Jr. “au naturel”west coast Super Bowl ad, featuring amply endowed model Charlotte McKinney strutting around seemingly in the altogether, obstructed by symbolic tomatoes and melons, while the men around her literally cannot control their hoses or their rhythmic, back and forth movements. Because breasts! Because the breast ogling segment of the audience is the most important demographic of them all! And who cares if women make up nearly half of the Super Bowl audience anyway? Not when there’s a hamburger-based teenage boy masturbation fantasy to be made!

But what else have you brought us, this week of suck? How about the new line of smart, dinosaur-themed Natural History Museum shirts and pajamas from UK retailer Marks & Spencer – available only for boys? In the wake of strong public criticism, the chain does now promise that moving forward, …read more