Nun: The Sign of Genocide

Aug. 1: a day of solidarity and prayer.
Nun (ن), the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet (the equivalent of letter N in our Roman alphabet), is the first letter of the word Nasara (نصارى : Nazarenes)…
It is the same name of the equivalent letter (נ) in the Hebrew alphabet (also a Semitic language), and it reminds us of the words of Jeremiah, also crying for an exile of his people sent to Mesopotamia:
Nun. The yoke of my iniquities hath watched: they are folded together in his hand, and put upon my neck: my strength is weakened: the Lord hath delivered me into a hand out of which I am not able to rise. (Lamentations, 1)
In their genocidal physical elimination of Christians from the Mesopotamian city of Mosul, Muslim terrorists marked each Christian-owned institution and building with this letter, for the extermination of holdouts and expropriation of their belongings:

 

 

 

 

They mean it as a mark of shame, we must then wear it as a mark of hope: Yes, we are in the army of the Resurrected Nazarene, the Master and Lord of the Universe, the Man who is God Almighty, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. You may kill our brethren and expel them, but we Christians will never go away.
.

“I changed it because of the lack of response.”

When asked why he changed his profile picture to the ن, political consultant Ryan Girdusky said, “I changed it because of the lack of response by our media and our president . . . We feel like the Christian community is being persecuted at the same time the Palestinians are being given constant attention. There is a Christian genocide and no one is paying attention.”

 

via National Review Online.

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“Obama’s Disdain For The Constitution Means We Risk Losing Our Republic”

Forbes openly calls for impeachment proceedings against President Obama:

The main responsibility the Constitution assigns to the President is to faithfully execute the Laws. If the President rejects this job, if instead he decides he can change or ignore laws he does not like, then what?

The time will come when Congress passes a law and the President ignores it. Or he may choose to enforce some parts and ignore others (as Mr. Obama is doing now). Or he may not wait for Congress and issue a decree (something Mr. Obama has done and has threatened to do again).

Mr. Obama has not been shy about pointing out his path. He has repeatedly made clear that he intends to act on his own authority. “I have the power and I will use it in defense of the middle class,” he has said. “We’re going to do everything we can, wherever we can, with or without Congress.” There are a number of names for the system Mr. Obama envisions, but representative government is not one of them.

If the President can ignore the laws passed by Congress, of what use is Congress? The President can do whatever he chooses. Congress can stand by and observe. Perhaps they might applaud or jeer. But in terms of political power, Congress will be irrelevant….

[…]

The shocking fact is that our whole system of representative government depends on it being led by an individual who believes in it; who thinks it is valuable; who believes that a government dedicated to the protection of individual rights is a noble ideal. What if he does not?

Mr. Obama is moving our government away from its traditional system of checks and balances and toward the one-man-rule that dominates third world countries….

[…]

The most important point is that Mr. Obama does not consider himself bound by the Constitution. He could not have made that more clear. He has drawn a line in the concrete and we cannot ignore it.

Those who currently hold political office, and who want to keep our system of government, need to act now. Surely, rejection of the Constitution is grounds for impeachment and charges should be filed. In addition, there are many other actions that Congressmen can and should take—actions that will tell Mr. Obama that we have seen where he is going and we will not let our country go without a fight.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government had been created. “A republic,” he replied, “if you can keep it.”

We are losing it. If Mr. Obama’s reach for unprecedented power is not stopped, that will be the end. Everyone who values his life and liberty should find some way to say “No!” “Not now!” “Not yet!” “Not ever!”

via Forbes.

“The high cost of corruption”

As he heads to federal prison for what could be decades, one important question lingers: How much did his extortion, kickback and bribery rackets contribute to the city’s financial crisis and its filing in July for the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history?

“Kilpatrick is not the main culprit of the city’s historic bankruptcy, which is the result of larger social and economic forces at work for decades,” federal prosecutors said in court documents. “But his corrupt administration exacerbated the crisis.”

…But much more difficult to quantify is the nonmonetary cost of corruption: the betrayal of the public’s trust. The honest contractors who were elbowed out of deals, even though their bids were lower. The businesses that refused to participate in pay-to-play schemes and just stayed away — or went somewhere else.

“The numbers don’t tell the gravity of the situation,” said Reid Schar, the former federal prosecutor who successfully prosecuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. “When you have public corruption cases, the things that are very difficult to gauge and are not captured are, ‘How much of public confidence is eroded by what the person has done? …

“How do you put a value on a company that didn’t bid or get the job?’ You don’t know.”

In 2002, for example, Kilpatrick killed a plan to add a House of Blues restaurant at Ford Field because the company that proposed it refused to hire Kilpatrick’s father and codefendant as its minority partner. Kilpatrick had pledged $10 million in city funds but changed his mind when the company refused to hire his dad.

In 2006, Ferguson used his relationship with the mayor to pressure a company into giving him 40% of a contract to renovate the Detroit police headquarters. The company offered 30%. Ferguson declined. The company then bowed out of the deal.

In 2001, minority contractor William Hayes was stiffed out of a $24.7-million sewer repair job that Kilpatrick steered to Ferguson instead. Six years later, Hayes closed his 40-year-old excavation business, claiming later that Ferguson and Kilpatrick made it impossible for him to compete for water and sewer contracts.

“He helped put me out of business,” Hayes told the Free Press in March, referring to Ferguson. “It said right in the text messages. He told Kwame to put me out.”

Meanwhile, Kilpatrick padded the city payroll with friends and family, including a cousin who admitted stealing nearly $20,000 from the Manoogian Mansion restoration fund. City payroll records show that more than two dozen of Kilpatrick’s appointees were relatives or close friends who got an average 36% in salary increases while other employees got 2%.

via Detroit Free Press

“Spitting on Their Graves: Democrats Leave Benghazi Hearing Before Testimony From Families of Victims”

During the second portion of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing about Benghazi Thursday on Capitol Hill, the majority of Democrats on the Committee left the room and refused to listen to the testimony of Patricia Smith and Charles Woods. Ms. Smith is the mother of Sean Smith, an information management officer killed in the 9/11 Benghazi attack. Charles Woods is the father of Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was also killed.

via Townhall.

Seems very disrespectful to me.

Unless I’m missing something?

Wish we could trust our news media to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. I’d like to know what (if anything) I’m missing.

” ‘Public Service’ Loan Forgiveness: A Flawed White House Aid Plan”

That proposed expansion would also extend the reach of something called the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which makes it possible for college graduates who take jobs in government or non-profit organizations to get big breaks on their student loan payments. While it may be an attractive program on the surface, it should not be expanded. Rather, it should be rethought altogether.

Originally passed in 2007 as part of College Cost Reduction and Access Act, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program makes it possible—if you take and keep a designated type of job—to make loan repayments for just 10 years, rather than 25, with the remainder of the interest and principal written off. That puts all taxpayers, rather than the borrower, on the hook. The program—which the President is hoping will attract more customers than it has to date—is quite specific about what types of jobs qualify as public service….

via Forbes.

Two problems with this.

The first is that we’re creating a moral hazard problem, as happens whenever we subsidize or reward unwanted behaviors (at the expense of those who were intelligent, frugal, careful, etc.) This is part of a larger problem in that we frequently solve our problems by simply paying off the people who behaved stupidly (mortgages come to mind, but also various other forms of default).

The second, larger problem is that we should not be encouraging people to take government or nonprofit jobs at a time when these areas are already costing more than we can afford, and when we have too few people creating the value that actually generates the economic growth that pays for such services.

If your soup is too salty, you don’t add more salt.

But the larger problem with the program—one that includes its provisions for non-profits as well as government—has to do with the concept of government seeking to influence the career choices of college graduates in the belief that some jobs do more than others to serve the public interest…

…Even those who are devotees of the non-profit sector—and this column, after all celebrates the virtues of American civil society and what it can do that government cannot—should be skittish about the Obama proposal. The program’s long list of qualified organizations raises the prospect that, at some point, Washington will decide to favor certain non-profits at the expense of others. We are already seeing something like this in the White House Social Innovation Fund, which encourages private philanthropy to invest in ameliorating a specific, and limited, set of social problems. Some, including some in Congress, have raised the possibility that the charitable tax deduction itself  should be confined to select types of non-profits.

via Forbes.

There’s no student loan forgiveness program for mothers who raise their own children, but there is for some daycare workers; and student loan forgiveness may be yours if you work for the government in some capacity, but not if you earn a low salary in the private sector.

via CNS News.

“Father of molested student talks about his outrage toward seven teachers who supported the rapist”

At 7 p.m. in the Ogemaw Heights High School auditorium, the Rose City community will learn the fate of seven West Branch-Rose City teachers who recently wrote letters in support of a colleague convicted of molesting a young student.

John and Lori Janczewski, the victim’s parents, want the teachers fired. They also want school board member Michael Eagan – who sat with the family of convicted child molester Neal Erickson during his sentencing – recalled from office.

“We had been quiet … and sat back and said nothing,” John Janczewski said of the investigation and arrest of their son’s teacher in an interview with EAGnews. “But when (the letters of support from teachers) came out in court we were angry and sick to our stomachs.

via EAGnews.org

Horrible.

School leaders are attempting to determine if the terminations would violate the teachers’ constitutional right to free speech, which could trigger lawsuits that would undoubtedly cost far more than the district can afford.

Meanwhile, hundreds of parents who are rallying behind the Janczewskis are threatening to pull their children from the district if the school board doesn’t act, a serious concern because of the potential loss of per-pupil state funding.

“It’s a huge decision, whichever road we go down,” WB-RC board president Jack Money said at the meeting. “Don’t underestimate how huge it is.”

They could try…doing what they honestly feel to be right?

There are things that matter as much as or more than $$$$…

“Four days after my wife was diagnosed, a state trooper came out to our house and we found out our son was molested,” said  Janczewski, who is also fighting his own battle with Multiple Sclerosis. “Somebody sent an anonymous email with pictures of my son to the board of education and the superintendent.”

The email and pictures proved Erickson “was a predator and he groomed our son to molest him,” he said.

Someone also posted the pictures online….

….

In all, 10 people, including seven WB-RC teachers, submitted letters of support for Erickson, most pleading for a reduced sentence. They included Campbell, Amy Eagan, Coe, Toni Erickson, Carol Rau, Marilyn Glover, Sandi Lee, Kathryn Weber, Kathleen Sheel and Kathleen Palmer, the Herald reports.

Judge Michael Bumgartner told Erickson he was “appalled and ashamed that the community could rally around, in this case, you,” according to the Herald.

“What you did was a jab in the eye with a sharp stick to every parent who trusts a teacher,” he said shortly before sentencing Erickson to 15-30 years in prison.

The Janczewskis felt betrayed, hurt, and angry.

Now they have made it their mission to ensure those who supported Erickson no longer work with the community’s children. They have vowed to recall Eagan from the school board if he didn’t willingly step down.

“They are all sick in the head,” Janczewski said of Erickson’s supporters. “They can do their freedom of speech, but their actions” have consequences, he said.

Until Erickson’s sentencing, the family members were “very private people,” Janczewski said. But the teacher support letters convinced them the problem was much larger than Erickson.

They shed their anonymity to demand the teachers and Eagan are held accountable, and the vast majority of the community rallied around them in support.

But obviously someone does not support the Janczewskis.

Days after the sentencing, the family awoke to a fire in their garage that nearly spread to their house. Someone had also scrawled the letters “ITY-YWP” on the side of their home, presumably a crude acronym for “I told you, you will pay.”

Attitudes about right and wrong – especially with regards to children and sex – appear to have changed drastically.

When Rose City middle school teacher Neal Erickson pleaded guilty to molesting one of his students a while back, most observers expected an open-and-shut case with the school community rallying around the teenage victim.

And in some ways it was. Erickson was sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for carrying on a sexual relationship with a boy in his young teens between 2006 and 2009. That should have been the end of the horrific tale.

But seven teachers kept the controversy alive by rallying behind the rapist, going so far as to write letters to the sentencing judge, seeking leniency on his behalf. The letters were posted on a local blog, WBRC Teachers.

Perhaps the most disgusting letter was written by Erickson’s wife, Toni Erickson, a 15-year educator currently teaching at Ogemaw Heights High School. While her pleas on behalf of her husband may not be surprising, her suggestion that the victim was unaffected by the abuse is more than a little disturbing, particularly coming from a teacher.

“As for punishment, because I know that is something the community expects, hasn’t he been punished enough? He is losing a job he has held for 17 years and losing all future career potential as a teacher. …

“I have seen many delightful students who have been damaged by horrible events in their lives. While I acknowledge that Neal’s conduct with [the victim] was wrong, I do not believe he was damaged by Neal’s actions and I base my opinion on my personal interaction with [the victim], both before and after Neal’s actions. However [my daughter] very likely could be. Please don’t punish her by his absence in her life.”

So the real victim in the case is the rapist’s daughter, not the young student who was assaulted? This lady needs her head examined, and perhaps her teaching license permanently revoked.

There were other troublesome letters, as well.

Rose City Middle School English teacher Sally Campbell wrote to the court, “Please take into consideration his pleading guilty so as not to put this student through any more than what has already occurred.”

How charitable of the rapist to not force his victim to testify. Perhaps he deserves the keys to the city for that one.

“Although Neal has pleaded guilty to a single charge of criminal sexual conduct, evidence of this being a one-time incident reaffirms the fact that he is not a sexual predator,” wrote 4th grade teacher Marilyn Glover.

The abuse occurred over a 3-year period, according to various news reports. Without getting into the physics of it all, it’s highly unlikely it was a “one-time incident.”

via EAG.org (different article)

“The NSA unravels a civil rights-era win”

In the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ communications, many have invoked citizens’ rights to speech and privacy. Tightly linked, also fundamental and equally under assault is the right of association. Rigorous protection of this right is a key legacy of the civil rights movement.

The First Amendment protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” but this was not initially interpreted by the courts as a general right of association. Instead, it was construed to indicate protection of specific efforts of people to assemble to appeal to the government for the correction of grievances. Only through the civil rights movement was the Constitution’s protection of assembly clearly defined by courts as “the right to associate,” regardless of “whether the beliefs sought to be advanced by association pertain to political, economic, religious, or cultural matters.”

The Supreme Court first formally identified a right to associate in NAACP v. Alabama , a 1958 case in which the state had tried to force out the NAACP with a string of measures, including a requirement that the unincorporated local associations disclose their membership lists. The court confirmed the right of associations to protect such lists and the right of individuals to participate anonymously in such associations. “It is hardly a novel perception that compelled disclosure of affiliation with groups engaged in advocacy may constitute [an] effective . . . restraint on freedom of association,” the justices wrote.

About that time, two municipalities in Arkansas tried to force the disclosure of NAACP membership lists through a tax provision. Again, the Supreme Court upheld the link between a right to anonymous participation and the right of association and, by invoking the 14th Amendment, required states to respect that First Amendment right. In 1960 in Bates v. Little Rock , the court cited its ruling in NAACP v. Alabama, saying, “It is now beyond dispute that freedom of association for the purpose of advancing ideas and airing grievances is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by the States. . . . Freedoms such as these are protected not only against heavy-handed frontal attack, but also from being stifled by more subtle governmental interference.”

In 1963, the court handed down NAACP v. Button . Here, too, a state government — Virginia — had sought to compel disclosure of membership lists and prohibit efforts to encourage litigation as a form of activism. In this case, the state courts were obliged to acknowledge that the compelled disclosure of members was unconstitutional. The question about advocacy through litigation was what moved on to the Supreme Court.

The men and women who marched in Washington in 1963 had formed extensive social networks in the preceding years, in part because they were protected by the court’s new articulation of a “right to associate.” It is this right, above all, that has been undone by the National Security Agency’s surveillance program. All of our memberships in social networks — which are no different from “associations,” except for not necessarily having a specific geographical locale — have been compulsorily disclosed. The Obama administration says that it’s not looking at the data but is acquiring information about our networks — who is talking to whom — in case it wants to look later. This reminds me of the child who puts his hands over his eyes and thinks you can’t see him.

In all of its decisions on the right of association in the civil rights era, the Supreme Court acknowledged that there may be compelling state interests that require overriding even citizens’ most precious rights. In NAACP v. Alabama, the court explained that in 1928 it had upheld the compelled disclosure of membership in a case from New York involving the Ku Klux Klan; the justices accounted for that decision as “based on the particular character of the Klan’s activities involving acts of unlawful intimidation and violence” — in other words, terrorism. The court identified the NAACP, by contrast, as a lawful organization; it had complied with the law in Alabama but for refusing to hand over its membership lists. In Button, the court similarly identified the NAACP as “advocating lawful means of vindicating legal rights.”

How should the government pursue instances that involve a compelling state interest? Only with narrowly targeted instruments. In Shelton v. Tucker, a related right of association case from Little Rock decided in 1960, the justices wrotethat “even though the governmental purpose be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties when the end can be more narrowly achieved.”

The NSA’s data collection program is anything but narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest. Instead, it treats every American as potentially a party of interest to unlawful activity. How can that not affect how I think about my associations from this day forward? I’m not sure this form of governmental interference is even all that “subtle.”

via The Washington Post.

This would be a better article if they pointed out that the government is, right now, demanding membership lists – the IRS in its targeting of certain groups (most of them “Tea Party” or fiscally conservative groups) has demanded to know not only membership lists but whether any of the people in the network (or the network’s network) has any intention of running for public office, and in one case even demanded to know the content of everyone’s prayers.

Intimidation is not a thing of the past. Free association is as much threatened today as it ever was in the USA. Any intimidation – regardless of which side of the political aisle it aims at – should be viewed as absolutely intolerable.

“The Only Way to Restore Trust in the NSA”

We need something like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where government and corporate employees can come forward and tell their stories about NSA eavesdropping without fear of reprisal.

The Atlantic calls for a special prosecutor.

The NSA has repeatedly lied about the extent of its spying program. James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has lied about it to Congress. Top-secret documents provided by Edward Snowden, and reported on by the Guardian and other newspapers, repeatedly show that the NSA’s surveillance systems are monitoring the communications of American citizens. The DEA has used this information to apprehend drug smugglers, then lied about it in court. The IRS has used this information to find tax cheats, then lied about it. It’s even been used to arrest a copyright violator. It seems that every time there is an allegation against the NSA, no matter how outlandish, it turns out to be true.

Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald has been playing this well, dribbling the information out one scandal at a time. It’s looking more and more as if the NSA doesn’t know what Snowden took. It’s hard for someone to lie convincingly if he doesn’t know what the opposition actually knows.

All of this denying and lying results in us not trusting anything the NSA says, anything the president says about the NSA, or anything companies say about their involvement with the NSA. We know secrecy corrupts, and we see that corruption. There’s simply no credibility, and — the real problem — no way for us to verify anything these people might say.

It’s a perfect environment for conspiracy theories to take root: no trust, assuming the worst, no way to verify the facts. Think JFK assassination theories. Think 9/11 conspiracies. Think UFOs. For all we know, the NSA might be spying on elected officials. Edward Snowden said that he had the ability to spy on anyone in the U.S., in real time, from his desk. His remarks were belittled, but it turns out he was right.

via The Atlantic.