Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Wis. mom of dead girl: Sickness was test of faith
By ROBERT IMRIE, Associated Press
WAUSAU, Wis. – The mother of an 11-year-old central Wisconsin girl who died of undiagnosed diabetes as the family prayed for her to get better testified Tuesday that she believes sickness is caused by sin and can be cured by God.
Leilani Neumann told the jury in her husband's trial that she thought her daughter's March 2008 illness was a test of her religious faith and she didn't take the girl to a doctor because that would have been "complete disobedience to what we believe."
Dale Neumann, 47, is charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the 2008 death of his daughter Madeline Neumann, called Kara by her parents. His wife was convicted of the same charge this spring and faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 6.
Prosecutors contend Dale Neumann recklessly killed the youngest of his four children by ignoring her deteriorating health. They claim Neumann had a legal duty to take her to a doctor.
Leilani Neumann testified for nearly five hours Tuesday, describing the events leading up to her daughter's March 23, 2008, death on a mattress on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.
The mother said that she and her husband believed their daughter's deteriorating condition may have been the result of a falling out with another couple, and called them once the girl was unconscious and persuaded them to come pray for the girl.
The family does not belong to an organize religion, and Leilani Neumann said they have nothing against doctors. But, she said, she believes in spiritual healing and viewed Madeline's March 2008 illness as "something spiritual."
Leilani Neumann also said that she did not realize her daughter was seriously ill until the day before her death, when the girl was weak and pale and had trouble speaking.
"I asked her if she loved Jesus," the mother testified. "She might have said yes. I know for sure she was acknowledging it. What sounds came out, I don't remember. She was making noises. ... My focus definitely was to pray."
She said she never once believed the girl would die.
"We thought even the lifelessness was something that she would come out of," the mother said. "Everything for us is about faith. It is about trusting in God. We either believe in God's word or we don't."
A pediatric expert on diabetes told the jury Monday that even right before her death, doctors might have been able to save the girl's life had she been brought to a hospital.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
THE POINT: YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO VOTE! Don't Google his name if you do not want to see this photo--I DO NOT BLAME YOU--I DIDN'T WANT TO SEE IT EITHER...
BUT---YOU CAN VOTE as to whether you find the image offensive or not. (by selecting "confirm" or "not confirm") It's right by a row of four images related to Jack Hensley, and the first image is Jack Hensley's SEVERED head. Oh my, do we want to Google things, and without warning, and without an option to see or not to see graphic images, be subjected to such things? I will not ask you to vote, or tell you how, but I do say--think of what it does to his family--his children--to see that image, just by typing in "Jack Hensley". Also, what else is going to appear on search engine listings? My prayer is Google will remove this image from its simple search listings. One can easily find videos and this image I am sure on many sites, but for it to appear on simple search engine listings? If you decide to vote, be warned, it is one of those images you will find hard to forget--if ever.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Paris gang members who tortured and killed Jewish man to be retried
Members of a Paris gang who kidnapped a Jewish man and tortured him to death in one of France's most gruesome murder cases are to face a retrial on the grounds that their sentences were too lenient.
In a rare government intervention, the justice minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, asked the state prosecutor to appeal for longer jail terms against 14 of the 27 members of the so-called "gang of barbarians" after Jewish groups protested that the sentences last week were insufficient.
Ilan Halimi, 23, a mobile phone salesman, was found naked, with his head shaved, in handcuffs and covered with burn marks and stab wounds near rail tracks outside Paris in February 2006. In a state of shock and unable to speak, he died on the way to hospital. He had been tortured and beaten for three weeks, his eyes taped shut and fed through a straw, while the gang, who believed Jews were "loaded", demanded a ransom from his family.
The case sparked a wave of national soul-searching about antisemitism in France.
The gang leader and mastermind, Youssouf Fofana, 28, charged with murder aggravated by antisemitism, was last week sentenced to life – a minimum of 22 years in prison. On trial with him were 26 others, ranging from those who guarded Halimi in a windowless cellar to people who knew about the plot and failed to tell police. Sentences ranged from six months suspended to 18 years in jail. Two people were acquitted.
But Halimi's mother, who has already complained of a botched police investigation, said the sentences passed out to several gang members were not enough. Jewish groups also protested.
Those who now face a retrial include men who kidnapped and guarded Halimi, as well as the woman who agreed to ensnare him in a "honey trap" by suggesting they meet for a drink. Aged 17 at the time of the crime, she was sentenced to nine years in prison, while the prosecutor had sought a 10- to 12-year sentence.
The minister's intervention in the case has caused controversy among magistrates' unions, who accused the government of interfering in the justice system. Christophe Regnard, head of the biggest magistrates' union, warned of a "dangerous and worrying" precedent. "Justice is different from vengeance," said Emmanuelle Perreux, leader of another magistrates' union.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The 'unfathomable' arrest of a black scholar
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Boris Kodjoe owns a mansion in Atlanta. But when he goes to answer his door, the black actor knows what it's like to be an outcast.
"When I'm opening the door of my own house, someone will ask me where the man of the house is, implying that I'm staff," said Kodjoe, best known for starring in Showtime's "Soul Food."
It's a feeling some African-Americans say is all too common, even to this day in America: No matter your status or prominence in society, you're still typecast. That's why the recent arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's most prominent African-American scholars, has stirred outrage and debate.Jelani Cobb, an author and professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, says it's troubling on many levels when "one of the most recognizable African-Americans in the country can be arrested in his own home and have to justify being in his own home."
"It's really kind of unfathomable," Cobb said. "If it can happen to him, yeah, it can happen to any of us."
That's a sentiment echoed by Jimi Izrael. "If a mild-mannered, bespectacled Ivy League professor who walks with a cane can be pulled from his own home and arrested on a minor charge, the rest of us don't stand a chance," Izrael wrote Tuesday on The Root, an online magazine with commentary from a variety of black perspectives that's co-founded by Gates.
"We all fit a description. We are all suspects."
In an interview with The Root, Gates said he was outraged by the incident and hopes to use the experience as a teaching tool, including a possible PBS special on racial profiling.
"I can't believe that an individual policeman on the Cambridge police force would treat any African-American male this way, and I am astonished that this happened to me; and more importantly I'm astonished that it could happen to any citizen of the United States, no matter what their race," Gates said. "And I'm deeply resolved to do and say the right things so that this cannot happen again." Voices of black America: What it's like being black in AmericaGates was arrested last Thursday in broad daylight at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home for disorderly conduct -- what the arresting officer described as "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space." The charge was dropped Tuesday on the recommendation of police, and the city of Cambridge issued a statement calling the incident "regrettable and unfortunate."
Gates had just returned from a trip to China when a police officer responded to a call about a potential break-in at his home that was phoned in by a white woman. According to the police report, Gates was in the foyer when the officer arrived.
The officer asked Gates to "step out onto the porch and speak with me," the report says. "[Gates] replied, 'No, I will not.' He then demanded to know who I was. I told him that I was 'Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police' and that I was 'investigating a report of a break in progress' at the residence.
"While I was making this statement, Gates opened the front door and exclaimed, 'Why, because I'm a black man in America?' " Have race relations improved since the election of President Barack Obama?
According to the report, Gates initially refused to show the officer his identification, instead asking for the officer's ID. But Gates eventually did show the officer his identification that included his home address.
"The police report says I was engaged in loud and tumultuous behavior. That's a joke," Gates told The Root. "It escalated as follows: I kept saying to him, 'What is your name, and what is your badge number?' and he refused to respond. I asked him three times, and he refused to respond. And then I said, 'You're not responding because I'm a black man, and you're a white officer.'"
Known as Skip by friends and colleagues, Gates is the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, and an acclaimed PBS documentarian.
While Gates' arrest lit up talk radio and blogs, it prompted others to defend the police against charges of racial profiling.
"I'd be glad if somebody called the police if somebody was breaking into my house," neighbor Michael Schaffer told CNN affiliate WHDH.
For others, the incident symbolized something more. Seeing the police mugshot of Gates brought some African-Americans to near tears.
Kim Coleman, a Washington radio host, cultural commentator and blogger, said she grew numb when she saw the mugshot."I was not prepared for that," she said. "To see one of my heroes in a mugshot was not something that I was expecting. ... It just tells me we're not in a post-racial society."
She said there's a reason why you don't hear about prominent white people arrested in their homes: "because it doesn't happen."
It's time for America to have a long overdue national conversation about race, Coleman said. "When are we going to have that," she said. "When are we really going to sit down and strip down and say, 'This is what I feel about you and this is what you feel about me. Now, how are we going to get over that?' "
Rebecca Walker, an award-winning author, said the arrest was devastating to scholars, writers, and artists "who work so hard to keep a free flow of information."
"It seems eerily ironic Mr. Gates was returning from China, where surveillance is so high and freedom of speech and ideas so curtailed," Walker said. "To see the mugshot of Skip was a blow to all of us who feel some sense of safety based on our work to try to mend all of these broken fences in America -- to make ourselves into people who refuse to be limited by race and class and gender and everything else."
"To end up, at the end of the day, treated like a criminal, unjustly stripped of our accomplishments and contributions even if only for a moment, is profoundly disturbing. We must ask ourselves what it means, and to allow ourselves to face various scenarios regarding power and freedom and how these will intersect in the coming years."
Last week, President Obama spoke at the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, saying that while minorities have made great strides "the pain of discrimination is still felt in America."
"Even as we inherit extraordinary progress that cannot be denied; even as we marvel at the courage and determination of so many plain folks -- we know that too many barriers still remain," the president said.
Kodjoe, the actor, said Obama "has affected a change in people's consciousness regarding such issues as racism and prejudice." But he said the arrest of Gates underscores that there's more work ahead."I think we're moving in the right direction. But no doubt, there still is a lot of work to be done," Kodjoe said. "It's not just a problem here. It's a problem worldwide. Racism is universal." Gates said he has a newfound understanding of exactly what that means. "There's been a very important symbolic change and that is the election of Barack Obama," he told The Root. "But the only black people who truly live in a post-racial world in America all live in a very nice house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
Saturday, July 18, 2009
*Update: For some reason, ads came up through this article, for which I do apologize. Yuck. Hopefully it will not happen again.
As heat rises, so does need to reach the homeless
by Connie Midey, The Arizona Republic
As temperatures rocket over 110 degrees this weekend, Ken Curry and his homeless-outreach team from Southwest Behavioral Health Services
know what they'll find.
There will be people with mental illness experiencing heat-triggered reactions to their psychotropic medicines. Diabetics who have given up even trying to keep a supply of insulin on hand. Disabled people in scalding-hot wheelchairs. Older people whose thinning skin makes them more vulnerable than most to heat-related illnesses, and perhaps even a family sweltering in a car.
Team members will distribute seven to 10 cases of water to the people they find today, many of them wrestling not simply with homelessness but with mental illness
or substance abuse. This is work that continues day and night, whether the weather is balmy or sizzling.
"Our primary mission is to get them connected with medical care, housing or whatever services they need," said Curry, coordinator of the homeless-outreach team. "But in the summertime, we're basically trying to keep them alive."
He remembers a summer when extreme heat claimed the lives of 26 homeless people, and another when 19 succumbed to unbearable temperatures. Those memories drive him and his 12 team members to scour alleys, river beds, parks and other hidden corners of Maricopa County, carrying donated chilled water, sack lunches and supplies such as hats, sunscreen and hygiene kits for the people they find.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
*Talk about compromising the Word--no perhaps it is better said, discounting the Word of God. Where does it end? Read more from a CNN article below:
Episcopal Church moves to accept more gays and lesbians
(CNN) -- The Episcopal Church has moved decisively closer to full acceptance of gay men and lesbians, taking steps toward recognizing same-sex marriage and gay bishops.
A key committee voted overwhelmingly Monday to start putting together blessings to be used in same-sex marriages, the church's official newspaper reported.
Separately, the House of Bishops voted by a wide margin to allow gays and lesbians to become bishops, Episcopal Life reported.
Both measures must be approved by the church's General Convention before taking effect, but expert Mark Silk said there is "little reason" to think the changes will not "sail through."
"They basically decided to move forward on all fronts with regularizing the status of gays and lesbians within the church," said Silk, director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Connecticut.
A leading campaigner for gay rights within the Episcopal Church welcomed the vote on bishops.
"There is no question that today's vote in the House of Bishops was an historic move forward and a great day for all who support the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ," said Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA.
The vote shows the Episcopal Church "striving to actually become the church former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning called us to be nearly 20 years ago now ... a church where there are no outcasts," she said in a statement on the group's Web site.
The Episcopal Church created controversy in 2003 with its decision to ordain Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, as a bishop. The move raised the possibility of a split within the worldwide Anglican Church, the third-largest Christian denomination, with about 70 million members around the world.
The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Church, has not ordained another openly gay bishop since Robinson.
"The decision has been to kind of chill out on a bunch of things," Silk said.
But Monday's vote ends what had been, in effect, a moratorium, he said.
It was the Episcopal Church saying that "this wasn't an anomaly when we elected Gene Robinson. We affirm that partnered gay people do have callings [to be clergy], and we have to recognize them."
"It is bringing the church's position in line with the civil society's," Silk said.
The head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, declined Tuesday through a spokesman to comment on Monday's moves.
But on Monday, he expressed "regret" at the vote on gay and lesbian bishops, according to Episcopal Life.
"I regret the fact that the will to observe a moratorium is not the will of such a significant part of the church in North America," the paper quoted him as saying.
A number of Episcopal dioceses have broken with the official church structure over gay and lesbian issues, forming the breakaway Anglican Church in North America.
They say the mainstream Episcopal Church and the aligned Anglican Church in Canada "have increasingly accommodated and incorporated un-Biblical, un-Anglican practices and teaching."
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
*Nice spread. Sow your seeds to it today! Not.
Fleecing the flock
by George White, The Examiner
With unemployment being sky high and climbing it seems that a person who is looking for work need only look to the ministry to make his or her fortune these days. Take the case of one David Cerullo, the CEO of Inspiration Networks. According to the Associated Press, Cerullo is in the process of building a multi million dollar home estimated to be between nine and twelve thousand square feet on Lake Keowee in Lancaster county South Carolina. Cerullo has built Inspirations Networks out of what was left of the now defunct PTL network, which stood for Praise the Lord (or to some it meant Preachers Taking Loot) of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker fame.
Cerullo is building this mansion even as his ministry has begun as far back as 2008 to make deep cuts in it's operational budget. Thermostats have been cut back to 65 degrees in the winter, contributions to 401k retirement programs for employees have been cut back or curtailed, and many employees have been laid off, even as Cerullo has his family members on the payroll. Cerullo himself draws a 1.5 million dollar salary and compensation package which he has had to defend in the past and claims to have refused even more when the church board of directors offered it. The Charlotte Observer reports in a story from July 3rd that Inspirations Network was enticed to move to South Carolina and it's current headquarters from North Carolina by the state offering approximately 26 million dollars in undisclosed incentives.
It is estimated that the network will generate about 100 million dollars in revenue mostly from donations. Cerullo maintains that 80 percent of each dollar donated goes to spreading the gospel. That would leave about 20 million dollars to pay employees and keep the heat on during the cold months. These types of figures do not sit well with some members of the general public. Don Weaver, the President of the South Carolina Taxpayers Association said of this news, "If they've got these kinds of assets, does the state really need to offer tax breaks?" Mr. Weaver's frustration is not an isolated case. There have been many stories in the news over the past few years of this type financial finagling among clergy.
Here in the Memphis and Shelby county area, as well as across the state, one can see that churches are not doing to bad for themselves. Some of our churches resemble a major college campus, with ornate buildings and long winding driveways. Fancy trim adorns the doorways and windows, some made of expensive stained glass. There is one church in the area that has entrances on two major roads on the east and west ends of the grounds which span about 400 acres. The church boasts approximately 30,000 members and can seat 7,000 at a time. There are some churches in the area that are smaller but not by much. Bartlett Senior High School just held their commencement exercises in such a church.It might be interesting indeed to drive around on a Sunday morning and see what kind of cars are parked in the spaces reserved for the pastors of some of these churches.
According to the blog posted by Thaddeus Matthews on August 18th 2008, the widow of well known and recently deceased Bishop G. E. Patterson, of Bountiful Blessings ministries has filed a lawsuit against Milton Hawkins, the new church pastor in a dispute over money. Louise Patterson is attempting to preserve her salary of $27,000 a month, which she thought was to be a lifelong stipend, but apparently was only contractually promised to her for two years after her husband's death. She is also concerned about the approximately $20,000 that comes in each Sunday from contributions.
It seems that when Bishop Patterson died and Hawkins took over, the church had about four million dollars in it's coffers. Pastor Hawkins, whose salary is $33,000 a month, has purchased land for about $300,000 and is building his own 1 million dollar home on it. There is some concern, according to Matthews blog, that Hawkins is using church money for his own.
One is reminded of that old joke about the three preachers discussing how they pay themselves from the church donations. The first said, " I draw a circle in chalk on the floor of my office and toss the money in the air. What falls inside the circle is mine, the rest is for the church." The second says, " I draw a line down the middle of my office and toss the money into the air. What falls on the side I'm standing on is mine, the rest is the church's." The last preacher, who drove a new Cadillac and wore custom made suits said, " I just toss the money into the air. What God catches, he can keep." Another joke is that Sen. Charles Grassley (R) Iowa is investigating the finances of Cerullo and six other televangelist and stated that these non profit organizations should not be using viewers donations to lead an extravagant lifestyle. Imagine a politician saying this. Where else but for government, except for maybe the clergy it seems, can a person get elected to a $150,000 a year job and six years later be a multi millionaire? It would be funny if it were not so sad.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal'.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
“For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have a great time today!