Perry invites Obama to tour the border with him

The Houston Chronicle – By R.G. RATCLIFFE AUSTIN BUREAU

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry’s meeting at the Austin airport with President Barack Obama on border security lasted a mere 34 seconds, and Perry had to hand a letter on the issue to presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett because Obama declined to personally accept it.

That did not dissuade the governor from inviting Obama to come back to Texas and tour the border with him to get a first hand look at what Perry describes as the threat from Mexican drug cartels.

“Look, he’s got the letter. I suspect he’ll read it. I hope he responds to it,” Perry said. “This is way past partisanship or politics.”

Perry said Obama’s decision to send 1,200 troops to the entire border with Mexico was inadequate, particularly since only 286 are coming to Texas.

Perry said he would like a substantial meeting with Obama to discuss the need for 1,000 National Guard troops until 3,000 Border Patrol agents can be trained to take over.

“We need a substantial amount of boots on the ground. We need the technology in the air. The predator drones. The other technologies we’ve talked about: night vision equipment, cameras, motion-detecting equipment,” Perry said.

The governor said immigration reform is “a waste of effort until you secure the border.”

During their airport meeting, Perry applauded as Obama came down the steps from Air Force One.

“It’s the gracious thing to do. He’s the president of the United States,” Perry said later.

Obama and Perry shook hands for several seconds. Obama used his free left hand to give Perry two friendly slaps on the right arm.

When they released their handshake, Perry attempted to hand Obama a white envelope containing his letter on border security. Obama did not respond when Perry first held it forward. Then when the governor offered it up again, Obama turned to his right and motioned toward key adviser Jarrett. She took several quick steps toward the men and took the letter from Perry.

Obama then turned to a greeting of state Sen. Kirk Watson and state Rep. Mark Strama, both D-Austin. The lawmakers had been staunch supporters of Obama’s during his campaign for president.

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Churchgoers, strippers protest one another in Coshocton County


WARSAW, Ohio – Strip-club owner Tommy George rolled up to the church in his grabber-orange Dodge Challenger, drinking a Mountain Dew at 9 in the morning and smoking a cigarette he had just rolled himself.  Pastor Bill Dunfee stepped out of a tan Nissan Murano, clutching a Bible in one hand and his sermon in the other, a touch of spray holding his perfectly coiffed ‘do in place.

Inside the New Beginnings Ministries church, Dunfee’s worshippers wore polyester and pearls. Outside, George’s strippers wore bikinis and belly rings. Both men agree it is classic sinners vs. saints. But George says it is up to America to decide which is which and who is who. Dunfee says God already has chosen.

“Tom George is a parasite, a man without judgment,” Dunfee said. “The word of Jesus Christ says you cannot share territory with the devil.”

The battle that has heretofore played out in the parking lot of George’s strip club – the Foxhole, a run-down, garage-like building at a Coshocton County crossroads called Newcastle – has shifted 7 miles east to Church Street.

Every weekend for the last four years, Dunfee and members of his ministry have stood watch over George’s joint, taking up residence in the right of way with signs, video cameras and bullhorns in hand. They videotape customers’ license plates and post them online, and they try to save the souls of anyone who comes and goes.

Now, the dancers have turned the tables, so to speak. Fed up with the tactics of Dunfee and his flock, they say they have finally accepted his constant invitation to come to church. It’s just that they’ve come wearing see-through shorts and toting Super Soakers. They bring lawn chairs and – yesterday, anyway – grilled hamburgers, Monster energy drinks and corn on the cob.

They sat in front of the church and waved at passing cars but largely ignored the congregation behind them. Likewise, the churchgoers largely ignored the dancers. Except for Stan Braxton. He stopped and held hands with Lola, a 42-year-old dancer who made $200 on her Saturday night shift, and prayed for her salvation.

Lola, who wouldn’t give her last name, said she was grateful for Braxton’s prayers and his time. The women don’t come here, after all, without their own version of religion. They bring signs with Scriptures written in neon colors:

Matthew 7:15: Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing

Revelations 22:11: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still

Greg Flaig is executive director of the Ohio Owners Coalition, a group of showbar and club owners. He called the women’s protest extraordinary, saying he’s never heard of anything like it in the country. George said the protest has been a long time coming. He sued the church in federal court several years ago, claiming a violation of his constitutional rights, but he lost. Now, he said, turnabout is fair play.

“When these morons go away, we’ll go away,” George said. “The great thing about this country is that everyone has a right to believe what they want.”

He said his club operates within the law. Dunfee said it does not, that it must close at midnight instead of its regular 2 or 3 a.m. Coshocton County Prosecutor Bob Batchelor said Friday only that he, the sheriff and the city prosecutor are “aware of the situation.”

Gina Hughes spent the morning soaking up the sun in her striped bikini, mostly oblivious to the fire and brimstone being preached in the tidy church building.

The 30-year-old married mother of six said she has danced at the Foxhole for a decade and holds the title of “house mom.” That means that even though she still dances, she also watches out for the six other women who work there. She said she makes $2,000 a week.

“These church people say horrible things about us,” Hughes said. “They say we’re homewreckers and whores. The fact of the matter is, we’re working to keep our own homes together, to give our kids what they need.” Dunfee said it’s not that simple. He said he consistently offers the women help, a chance at redemption.

“I tell them, ‘I will put a roof over your heads, and your bills will be paid, and your children’s bellies will be full,'” he said. Yet they don’t come inside.

The first few weeks, Dunfee piped the sermon outside. But that “agitated” them, he said, and made them dance in the streets. He said their presence has united his church members and reinvigorated their mission to shut down the club.

“They have now seen the evil firsthand,” Dunfee said. “This has just made us stronger.” George laughed at that notion. “They’re just mad,” he said, “because their wives won’t let them come to my club.”

Related Video:  Watch the strippers’ protest in front of New Beginnings Ministries church

Catholic bishops, cardinals decry Arizona immigration law

By Bishop Gabino Zavala

The Catholic tradition often speaks of the “dignity of the human person,” and we hear it so often that it’s easy to lose sight of the pressing urgency and implications of this mandate. But the present controversy surrounding SB 1070 in Arizona prompts us to reconsider the immediate relevance of this tenet. As a Catholic, my faith emphatically tells me that honoring human dignity is essential to a just society.

This profound belief that God’s love and life are for everyone, especially the most vulnerable, compels me to action. Our tradition insists this commitment to the common good must inform our politics on a fundamental level. And it must inform our commitment both to advocating for comprehensive immigration reform and standing against SB 1070.

The Hebrew and Christian scriptures remind us time and again that God casts his tent among our most marginalized sisters and brothers. Throughout the Bible, God calls on us to stand with the outsider, the stranger, the excluded. Just last month, I stood with a young woman, Liliana, when she received a deportation order– an order that would separate her from her husband and her children, all of whom are US citizens.

Liliana is a hardworking wife and mother who has contributed to our society and is beloved in her community, and now she’s being forced to leave her life and her family. Today in our country, the outsiders and the excluded, those whose dignity is threatened daily, are the millions of immigrants living and working in the Unites States like Liliana, people “whose wages we have underpaid, whose provisions for healthcare we have resented, despite their back-breaking work to provide for our dinner tables,” as Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles reminded us recently.

At the end of July, when parts of SB 1070 went into effect, Interfaith Worker Justice, on whose board I serve, organized a nationwide weekend of prayer and action. Hundreds of people of faith rallied against the law, both in Arizona and in cities across the county.

Faith leaders preached about the need for a society that honors God’s commandment to love our neighbors, and made a plea for civility in our public dialogue. I was inspired to see the ways people continue to stand with the excluded and the marginalized, regardless of their immigration status.

While it was heartening that federal judge Susan Bolton temporarily barred the most egregious provisions in SB 1070 from going into effect, much remains to be done, particularly because the courts still need to decide which provisions will be permanently excluded.

We celebrate that police cannot insist that anyone they deem suspicious provide documents proving citizenship, as the legislation called for, and that authorities are not permitted to indefinitely detain people until their immigration status is resolved. Other troubling aspects of the law still stand however, and we continue to oppose them. For instance, it remains a crime to provide refuge for immigrants without documentation, and here our moral obligation to provide companionship and hospitality to those in need directly contradicts the law.

From my work with all the Lilianas in our communities, I know that too many families have already been ravaged by our dysfunctional immigration laws. Too many congregations and communities are paralyzed by fear and marginalized by increasingly hostile rhetoric.

We must remember that those who make the terrible and often life-threatening journey to the U.S. do so because they have insufficient opportunity in their native lands to provide for themselves and their families. Migration to another country is not something undertaken lightly. These people come to this country for a better life, and are met with inhumane and hostile laws like SB 1070. We cannot stand for this.

The challenge before us today requires that we discern and honor the dignity of each of our immigrant neighbors. As a community of faith, we are all people on a pilgrimage, a migrant people, hoping to arrive in the freedom of God’s love, a love that has nothing to do with terrestrial borders.

If we neglect the dignity of our immigrant neighbors, a dignity that issues directly from God, then we neglect our own and remove ourselves from the loving freedom that is the sure inheritance of us all.

Japan’s A-bombed Madonna becomes symbol of peace


When the atom bomb “Fat Boy” devastated Nagasaki 65 years ago on Monday, one of the buildings reduced to rubble was the city’s Urakami cathedral — then among the largest churches in Asia.

The blinding nuclear flash that would claim more than 70,000 lives in the city also, in an instant, blew out the stained glass windows of the church, toppled its walls, burnt its altar and melted its iron bell.

But, in what local Christian followers have likened to a miracle, the head of a wooden Virgin Mary statue survived amid the collapsed columns and scorched debris of the Romanesque church flattened on August 9, 1945.

The appearance of the war-ravaged religious icon is haunting. The Madonna’s eyes have become scorched, black hollows, the right cheek is charred, and a crack runs like a streaking tear down her face.

“When I first saw (the damaged statue), I thought the Virgin Mary was crying,” said Shigemi Fukahori, a 79-year-old parishioner at the church who remembers the statue before the explosion that destroyed the cathedral that is called St Mary’s in English.

“I thought it’s as if the Virgin Mary is telling us about the misery of war by sacrificing herself,” Fukahori said, quietly gazing at the statue. “This is a significant symbol of peace which should be preserved forever.”

The remains of the statue of the Virgin Mary have found a new home inside a rebuilt church, also called St Mary’s, built on the same site, only 500 metres (1,640 feet) from the bomb’s ground zero.

But the powerful relic has also travelled widely as a symbol of peace — most recently to New York for a UN nuclear disarmament conference in May, when it was also taken to a mass at the city’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

On their way, the Nagasaki religious leaders also carried the statue to the Vatican, where it was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI, and to a ceremony in Guernica, Spain to mourn the victims of Nazi air attacks during World War II.

“We travelled overseas with the statue, with the idea that we would like to ask the Virgin Mary to act for peace,” Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, the archbishop of Nagasaki, said in an interview with AFP.

“There are many ways to make such an appeal — through pictures, film or narratives about the horror — but the atomic-bombed Mary appears to have a different power to tell us about it.”

Nagasaki, a southwestern port city, was Japan’s sole gateway to the outside world during much of the Edo era (1603-1867) when the country retreated into self-imposed isolation.

The Edo era’s Tokugawa Shogunate imposed anti-Christian edicts in the early 17th century, oppressing Christians and banishing European priests.

Some believers were martyred and others secretly maintained their creed as “hidden Christians” for more than 200 years until Japan reopened under the Meiji era that began in the late 19th century.

Some 8,500 local Christians were killed in the Nagasaki bombing.

Brother Thomas Ozaki Tagawa, speaking for other local Christians, said many were puzzled by why the United States attacked Nagasaki, Japan’s largest Christian community: “Biting their lips, everybody was mortified.”

While many of the survivors try to see the tragedy as a tribulation handed to them by God, their agonies are still rooted deeply in their minds.

“I was too sad to cry because it was simply too merciless,” said Fukahori, who survived inside a Nagasaki factory when the mushroom cloud rose.

“Many survivors are still suffering the after-effects of the radiation,” Fukahori said. “All I can do is to pray for them. I hope Nagasaki will be the last place ever to fall victim to an atomic bomb.”

Many Americans believe the bombs were necessary to bring a quick end to the war and avoid a bloody land invasion, but the archbishop disagrees.

“Japan killed millions in Asia, but that doesn’t mean dropping atomic bombs is justified,” he said. “Possessing nuclear weapons in itself is a sin.”

Mayor Tomihisa Taue said: “People simply need to use the power of their imagination and consider how it would be if this happened to their family or friends. You can easily imagine that when you visit Nagasaki or Hiroshima.”

LB Comment:  The bomb was not called “Fat Boy”.  Per Wiki:

Fat Man” is the codename for the atomic bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, by the United States on August 9, 1945, at 10:47 PM (JSP). It was the second of the only two nuclear weapons to be used in warfare to date, and its detonation caused the third man-made nuclear explosion. The name also refers more generically to the early nuclear weapon designs of U.S. weapons based on the “Fat Man” model. It was an implosion-type weapon with a plutonium core, similar to the Trinity device tested only a month earlier in New Mexico.

“Fat Man” was possibly named after Winston Churchill, though Robert Serber said in his memoirs that as the “Fat Man” bomb was round and fat, he named it after Sydney Greenstreet‘s character of “Kasper Gutman” in The Maltese Falcon. The design of “Fat Man” nuclear assembly was substantially the same as “the gadget” detonated at the Trinity test in July 1945.

US State Dept Sends Mosque Imam to Mideast

Fox News – By: Jake Gibson

WASHINGTON– State Department officials on Monday confirmed Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, will soon be going on a trip of the Middle East and the U.S. government will be picking up the tab.

The planned construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City has set off a contentious national debate over religious freedom in the U.S., drawing impassioned opposition from some families of 9/11 victims.

Rauf has emerged as a controversial figure because of his refusal to acknowledge Hamas as a terrorist organization, which is how the U.S. government classifies the group. The imam also has been quoted as saying U.S. foreign policy was in part responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

“He is a distinguished Muslim cleric,” said State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley. “We do have a program whereby, through our Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau here at the State Department, we send people from Muslim communities here in this country around the world to help people overseas understand our society and the role of religion within our society.”

Rauf and his partners are preparing to build a $100 million Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, where on September 11, 2001 two airliners hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists, slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 innocents.

The project, known as Park 51, cleared a final hurdle on August 3rd, when decision by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission cleared the way for construction. The tower could span up to 15 stories and will house a mosque, a 500-seat auditorium and a pool.

The State Department has not yet divulged a detailed itinerary of Rauf’s trip, although Arab media is reporting he will visit the oil rich states of Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi.

“It is to foster greater understanding and outreach around the world, among… Muslim- majority communities,” said Crowley. “We’ve done this many, many times, with many leading figures… over the past few years.”

The project has also drawn outspoken criticism from Sarah Palin who famously tweeted, “Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation. It stabs hearts.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has forcefully defended the project as a symbol of America’s religious tolerance.

Related: Birmingham Radio Station Announces New BBQ Joint at Ground Zero

The Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime: extravagant and out of touch with the American people

Telegraph – By Nile Gardiner

What the great French historian Alexis de Tocqueville would make of today’s Obama administration were he alive today is anyone’s guess. But I would wager that the author of L’Ancien Régime and Democracy in America would be less than impressed with the extravagance and arrogance on display among the White House elites that rule America as though they had been handed some divine right to govern with impunity.

It is the kind of impunity that has been highlighted on the world stage this week by Michelle Obama’s hugely costly trip to Spain, which has prompted a New York Post columnist Andrea Tantaros to dub the First Lady a contemporary Marie Antoinette. As The Telegraph reports, while the Obamas are covering their own vacation expenses such as accommodation, the trip may cost US taxpayers as much as $375,000 in terms of secret service security and flight costs on Air Force Two.

The timing of this lavish European vacation could not have come at a worse moment, when unemployment in America stands at 10 percent, and large numbers of Americans are fighting to survive financially in the wake of the global economic downturn. It sends a message of indifference, even contempt, for the millions of Americans who are struggling just to feed their families on a daily basis and pay the mortgage, while the size of the national debt balloons to Greek-style proportions.

While the liberal-dominated US mainstream media have largely ignored the story, it is all over the blogosphere and talk radio, and will undoubtedly add to the President’s free falling poll ratings. As much as the media establishment turn a blind eye to stories like this, which are major news in the international media, the American public is increasingly turning to alternative news sources, including the British press, which has a far less deferential approach towards the White House.

The First Lady’s ill-conceived trip to Marbella and the complete disregard for public opinion and concerns over excessive government spending is symbolic of a far wider problem with the Obama presidency – the overarching disdain for the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise that have built the United States over the course of nearly two and a half centuries into the most powerful and free nation on earth.

It is epitomised above all by the President’s relentless drive towards big government against the will of the American people, and the dramatic increases in government spending and borrowing, which threaten to leave the US hugely in debt for generations.

It is also showcased by Barack Obama’s drive towards a socialised health care system, which, as I’ve noted before, is “a thinly disguised vanity project for a president who is committed to transforming the United States from the world’s most successful large-scale free enterprise economy, to a highly interventionist society with a massive role for centralized government.”

There is however a political revolution fast approaching Washington that is driven not by mob rule but by the power of ideas and principles, based upon the ideals of the Founding Fathers and the US Constitution. It is a distinctly conservative revolution that is sweeping America and is reflected in almost every poll ahead of this November’s mid-terms.

It is based on a belief in individual liberty, limited government, and above all, political accountability from the ruling elites. The Obama administration’s mantra may well be “let them eat cake”, as it continues to gorge itself on taxpayers’ money, but it will be looking nervously over its shoulder as public unease mounts.

House Republicans Suggest Names for Democrats’ Untitled, $26-Billion ‘Second Stimulus’ Bill

CNS News – By Susan Jones, Senior Editor

Washington Democrats are in such a rush to pass one more stimulus-type bill that the legislation to be voted on Tuesday doesn’t even have a name, Republicans note.

As CNET reported, a watchdog Web site on Sunday evening noted that the Democrats’ $26-billion spending measure includes a few blank spaces.

Congress’ official Web site calls it the ‘______Act  of____,’ and the Library of Congress’ Thomas Web site displays it as the ‘XXXXXX Act of XXXX.’

“A nameless bill for a hopeless cause is a fitting metaphor for a Democratic Congress that refuses to listen to the American people and abandon its job-killing agenda,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio). Boehner on Monday offered 10 possible names for what he called the “union-boss bailout” bill:

— Save Our ‘Stimulus’ (SOS) Act
— ‘Recovery Summer’ Bailout Act (Cash for Flunkers)
— Delivering Unions a Major Boost (DUMB) Act
— Helping Election Expenditures, Hurting American Workers (HEEHAW) Act
— Democracy is Strengthened by Clearly Leveraging and Optimizing Special-Interests’ Effectiveness (DISCLOSE) Act
— Holding Union Bosses Over Until Card Check Act
— Rescuing Incumbent Democrats Is Costly (RIDIC) Act
— Summertime Cash for Union Bosses Instead of Spending Cuts for Taxpayers Act
— Frivolous Act of Ineffective Largesse (FAIL) Act
— Naming These Things Hasn’t Gotten Us Anywhere, So Why Bother? Act

Boehner says the Republican Party is listening to the American people and is “offering better solutions to make government more responsive and accountable to the people it serves.” Republicans specifically object to what they call “out of control government spending” that they say is boosting deficits and stifling job-creation.

They also criticize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for calling the House back into session this week to pass a bill that will “create and save” – according to Pelosi — 290,000 American jobs, including “140,000 teacher positions and 150,000 police officers, firefighters, nurses and private sector jobs throughout our economy.”

Republicans say the bill is an election-year gift to teachers unions and public workers’ unions. The Senate passed the no-name legislation last week by a vote of 61 to 39, at a time when the House had already adjourned.

According to Boehner, House Democrats should reconsider “beating a path back to Washington to double down on the same ‘stimulus’ policies that have led to fewer jobs and more debt.  The American people don’t want more Washington ‘stimulus’ spending – especially in the form of a political season pay-off to union bosses,” he said.

“How about Washington Democrats do the right thing for a change and focus on helping small businesses?” Boehner asked. He says Congress should ease the uncertainty for employers by stopping the tax hikes Democrats plan to impose on families and small businesses.

The reason we don’t have new jobs is because of the job-killing agenda pursued by President Obama and his allies in the Congress,” Boehner said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“They really do have employers scared to death.  I’ve been all over my district over the last several days. … I talked to a lot of employers who just are fearful of what’s coming next out of Washington. It’s all the spending, it’s all the debt.  It’s their national energy tax. … More mandates, higher costs, more taxes.  It’s their health care bill: more mandates, higher costs and higher taxes.  If that’s not bad enough, they want to raise the taxes on the American people.  It’s no wonder that employers are frozen,” Boehner said.

According to the Associated Press, the bill to be voted on Tuesday provides $10 billion to school districts to rehire laid-off teachers or ensure that more teachers won’t be let go before the new school year begins.

The other half of the bill provides $16 billion for six more months of increased Medicaid payments to the states. That would free up money for states to meet other budget priorities, including keeping more than 150,000 police officers and other public workers on the payroll.