August 31 - September 6. 2009 
 News In Review
 Vol 4, Issue 17
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The News In Review newsletter is a service provided by Understand The Times that is a compilation of the news articles previously posted on our site .

 August 28 - Tony Blair: Society Needs to Give Space to Faith
 Article: One World Religion

Britain's former prime minister, Tony Blair, believes that "to be harmonious, a society must leave room for faith."
In fact, he said, when he was "preparing to enter the Catholic Church, he had the feeling he was returning home." His conversion, he added, was made easier by his wife; moreover, he realized that the Catholic Church was his home not "only because of its doctrine and magisterium, but because of its universal nature."
If a globalized world is not to be dominated by power, it must have a counter-weight that seeks the common good, he stressed.
In this connection, Blair explained that the universal Church, which is a model of a global institution, must come into play to address the problems posed by globalization. 
He also referred to the question of the process of peace in the Middle East and stated that "Israel must have its security guaranteed and Palestinians must be able to have an independent State."
Blair ended his addresses affirming "it would be a great sign of reconciliation and hope if the Holy Land were a place for reconciliation and peace."

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 August 28 - Episcopal Head Clarifies 'Heresy' Comments
 Article: Misc.

In her opening address to the General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., in July, Jefferts Schori spoke about the crisis facing The Episcopal Church as its members remain divided over the authority of Scripture and homosexuality and as its relationship with some Anglican provinces overseas is impaired.
She said the "overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy - that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God."

"It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus," she told Episcopal delegates. "That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being. That heresy is one reason for the theme of this Convention."

Her statements shocked many in the Christian community who believe the presiding bishop was dismissing the importance of a personal confession of Jesus Christ as Savior.

"We never say that an individual's very personal relationship to God is not important," he stated. "What we do say is that individual salvation is not enough." Clarifying her comments, Jefferts Schori explained that the theme of the General Convention - "ubuntu," which means "I am because we are" - was intentional in focusing on restoring relationships with their neighbors rather than just the individual relationship with God.

"Salvation cannot be complete, in an eternal and eschatological sense, until the whole of creation is restored to right relationship ... We anticipate the restoration of all creation to right relationship, and we proclaim that Jesus' life, death and resurrection made that possible in a new way."

During the convention, The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies approved a resolution that declares the denomination's ordination process open to all individuals, including practicing homosexuals. The Episcopal Church - the U.S. branch of Anglicanism - had widened rifts in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop.

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 August 28 - Church Unity Remains Top Priority for WCC
 Article: One World Religion

The newly elected general secretary of the World Council of Churches said that fulfilling Jesus' prayer "that they may be one" remains the global ecumenical body's primary task and can not be separated from its concern for justice, peace or creation.
"We are living in a time when there is a strong need for inter-Christian solidarity in this world," Tveit said on Friday.

He said the call to unity is for all Christians, not only members of the WCC, and affirmed his commitment to working with Christian traditions still outside the WCC fold, including the Roman Catholic Church, Pentecostals, Evangelicals and charismatics. The Global Christian Forum, he said, was one opportunity for leaders of different Christian communities and churches to speak together.

Turning specifically to the WCC's relations with the Roman Catholic Church, Tveit said he hoped the two could develop structural and personal relationships "that will be of benefit for all of us" but refused to be drawn on the question of the Roman Catholic Church becoming a member.

"I don't want to comment on the membership of the Roman Catholic Church in the WCC at this point but it is important to say that there are many ways for us to work together and some of them we already have and they can be strengthened and we can find new ways also," he said.

Tveit also stressed the importance of fostering good relations between the WCC and Muslim leaders.

It is important, he said, that Muslims and Christians see one another "not primarily as this or that, but as human beings needing safety, needing their rights to be taken care of, and also just regular love and acceptance between us as human beings.Our faiths call us to that whether we are Jews, Muslims, Christians or whatever," he said.

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 September 1 - U.N. chief calls for urgent action on climate
 Artilce: Signs Of The Last Times

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on world leaders on Monday to take urgent action to combat climate change for the sake of "the future of humanity."

Ban said he wants leaders "to agree a global deal that is comprehensive, equitable and balanced for the future of humanity and the future of planet Earth."

Ban said that Arctic ice was disappearing faster than glaciers in other parts of the world, quickly removing the reflective white shield that prevents the earth's north and south polar regions from absorbing more of the sun's energy. If Arctic sea ice disappears, the darker water underneath will absorb more solar energy, accelerating climate change, scientists say.

"The polar ice caps are the world's refrigerator, helping to keep us cool because they reflect so much heat," Lars Haltbrekker, head of environmental group Friends of the Earth Norway, told Reuters.

"Some scientists believe that we are already at a tipping point, that the concentration of man-made (heat trapping) gases already in the atmosphere will melt the Arctic sea ice during the summer by 2050," he said.

The area covered by Arctic sea ice fell to its lowest recorded level in summer 2007, increased slightly last year, and will probably be the third lowest on record this year, scientists say.

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 August 31 - State preps to relocate quarantined H1N1 victims 'Your home and other less restrictive alternatives are not acceptable'
 Artilce: Signs Of The Last Times

A blank document from the Iowa Department of Public Health has been discovered online, designed to be filled in with the name of an H1N1 virus victim who is required to relocate from his or her home to a quarantine facility.

The form, which began appearing today in e-mails and on the Internet, has concerned a confused public already swimming in conflicting reports about the severity of the swine flu and intrusive government measures that many fear may be taken if the disease becomes a pandemic.  The Iowa document, which WND confirmed with state officials is authentic, has done little to calm the public's fears.

"The Iowa Department of Public Health has determined that you have had contact with a person with Novel Influenza A H1N1," the form reads. "The Department has determined that it is necessary to quarantine your movement to a specific facility to prevent further spread of this disease.

"The Department has determined that quarantine in your home and other less restrictive alternatives are not acceptable," the document continues, before listing mandatory provisions of compliance with relocation to a quarantine facility.

The blank-form document, which has no name or case number listed, is titled a "Facility Quarantine Order," and though Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk confirmed the state has the form, she told WND it's highly unlikely it will ever be used.

"We've had these kinds of template orders for years, but we hardly ever use them," Quinslick said. "I can count on two hands the number of times - in 20 years - that we've had to relocate a person because of quarantine."

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 September 2 - Obama praises Islam at Ramadan meal
 Article: Misc.

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised American Muslims for enriching the nation's culture at a dinner to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The president joined Cabinet secretaries, members of the diplomatic corps and lawmakers to pay tribute to what he called "a great religion and its commitment to justice and progress."

Obama also noted the contributions of Muhammad Ali, who was not in attendance, though the president borrowed a quote from famous boxer, explaining religion. A few years ago," Obama said, "he explained this view - and this is part of why he's The Greatest - saying, 'Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams - they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do - they all contain truths.'"

Obama has made a special effort since taking office to repair US relations with the world's Muslims, including visits to Turkey and Cairo. In a June speech at the Egyptian capital, as well as in one to another important Muslim audience, in Turkey, Obama said: "America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam."

Obama also released a video message to Muslims before the start to Ramadan. In the video, he said Ramadan's rituals are a reminder of the principles Muslims and Christians have in common, including advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

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 September 1 - Cops jump on swine-flu power: Shots heard 'round the world
 Article: One World Government

A "pandemic response bill" currently making its way through the Massachusetts state legislature would allow authorities to forcefully quarantine citizens in the event of a health emergency, compel health providers to vaccinate citizens, authorize forceful entry into private dwellings and destruction of citizen property and impose fines on citizens for noncompliance.

If citizens refuse to comply with isolation or quarantine orders in the event of a health emergency, they may be imprisoned for up to 30 days and fined $1,000 per day that the violation continues.

"Pandemic Response Bill" 2028 was passed by the Massachusetts state Senate on April 28 and is now awaiting approval in the House.

As stated in the bill, upon declaration by the governor that an emergency exists that is considered detrimental to public health or upon declaration of a state of emergency, a local public health authority, with approval of the commissioner, may exercise the following authorities (emphasis added):

  • to require the owner or occupier of premises to permit entry into and investigation of the premises;
  • to close, direct, and compel the evacuation of, or to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated any building or facility, and to allow the reopening of the building or facility when the danger has ended;
  • to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated, or to destroy any material;
  • to restrict or prohibit assemblages of persons;
  • to require a health care facility to provide services or the use of its facility, or to transfer the management and supervision of the health care facility to the department or to a local public health authority;
  • to control ingress to and egress from any stricken or threatened public area, and the movement of persons and materials within the area;
  • to adopt and enforce measures to provide for the safe disposal of infectious waste and human remains, provided that religious, cultural, family, and individual beliefs of the deceased person shall be followed to the extent possible when disposing of human remains, whenever that may be done without endangering the public health;
  • to procure, take immediate possession from any source, store, or distribute any anti-toxins, serums, vaccines, immunizing agents, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies located within the commonwealth as may be necessary to respond to the emergency;
  • to require in-state health care providers to assist in the performance of vaccination, treatment, examination, or testing of any individual as a condition of licensure, authorization, or the ability to continue to function as a health care provider in the commonwealth;
  • to collect specimens and perform tests on any animal, living or deceased;
  • to care for any emerging mental health or crisis counseling needs that individuals may exhibit, with the consent of the individuals

Local public health authorities will be required to keep records of reports containing the name and location of all people who have been reported, their disease, injury, or health condition and the name of the person reporting the case. In addition, citizens may be subject to "involuntary transportation."


Law enforcement authorities are authorized to "arrest without warrant any person whom the officer has probable cause to believe has violated an order for isolation or quarantine and shall use reasonable diligence to enforce such order. Any person who knowingly violates an order for isolation or quarantine shall be punished by imprisonment of not more than 30 days and may be subject to a civil fine of not more than $1,000 per day that the violation continues."

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 September 1 - Scholars to Revise Popular NIV Bible
 Artcile: Misc.

The popular New International Version (NIV) of the Bible will be revised for the first time in 25 years, global ministry Biblica announced on Tuesday. The updated version is slated for release in 2011.

Although the NIV has become the most popular of all modern translations, it is becoming increasingly dated as time passes, Danby noted. "If we want a Bible that English speakers around the world can understand, we have to listen to, and respect, the vocabulary they are using today," he said.

An earlier attempt to update the NIV failed in 1997 after conservatives denounced plans to use gender-inclusive language, which would rid the Scriptures of male pronouns.

Those on the revising team cannot predict what will happen with gender usage when they begin their work on the new NIV. But along with re-examination on gender-related decisions, the team will be seeking feedback from the general public (nivbible2011.com).

"The new 2011 NIV is all about maintaining and enhancing the original values of the NIV for today's readers," said CBT Chairman Professor Douglas Moo.

"We're looking for a translation that is above all accurate - that says what the original authors said in the way they would have said it had they been speaking in English to the global English-speaking audience today. We're looking for a translation that offers clarity - where understanding comes naturally and readers can quickly grasp the original authors' ideas and the cadence of their language. We're looking for a translation that is suitable both for in-depth study and for outreach - a translation that Christians can share with their neighbors without hindrance whether they are experienced Bible readers or interested newcomers."

More than 300 million copies of the NIV have been sold to people worldwide. Once the CBT completes its translation, Christian publisher Zondervan will produce print and digital versions of the updated NIV.

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 September 2 - Normalizing transgenderism in schools
 Article: Perilous Times

A New England-based pro-family organization is concerned about a situation in Vermont involving bathroom arrangements at schools. 

Brian Camenker of MassResistance says the homosexual movement in Vermont is using a transgender-rights law to force middle schools and high schools to provide unisex bathrooms. He notes that a 16-year-old transgendered teen has asked the Vermont Human Rights Commission to lend its support to the effort.
According to an Associated Press report, the student claims that she and others like her need the unisex bathrooms in order to avoid bullying and ridicule. A homosexual activist with Outright Vermont is quoted in the story as saying their "hope is that this is the first statewide gender-neutral bathroom campaign in the country."
Camenker is concerned that a similar effort could take place in Massachusetts should that state's transgender rights and hate crimes bill [H1728] pass.
"Well, it's a huge problem," he explains. "Number one...it legitimizes the concept of transgenderism among middle-school kids, which is completely absurd and offensive and medically dangerous. The medical community recognizes gender-identity disorder as something that needs psychological help, you know -- not this politically correct pandering that actually causes more self-destruction."

Camenker also argues that activists
will use the unisex bathroom argument to get their foot in the door and then that will lead to more transgender indoctrination and diversity training within America's middle and high schools.

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 September 2 - Religious Communities Unite for Interfaith Service Week
 Article: Ecumenical Movement - Christians Uniting With Other Religions

Religious communities across the country are uniting in service projects this week to honor one of President Obama's faith-based initiatives. More than 3,000 interfaith projects have come out of the United We Serve Initiative, an interfaith effort of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, this summer.
To recognize its accomplishments, President Obama designated Aug. 31-Sept. 6 as Interfaith Service Week during which Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and people of other faiths are working together to overcome religious divides while strengthening local communities.

"Communities of faith are responding to President Obama's call to service in historic numbers and working together to strengthen our nation," said Joshua DuBois, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. "President Obama applauds their service and looks forward to their continued engagement, through the United We Serve initiative and beyond."

Some of the highlighted interfaith projects this week include Jewish, Hindu, and evangelical Christian college students joining with the Muslim Students Association to hand out food, clothing and hygiene kits to the homeless in downtown Orlando.

In Washington, D.C., the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue will host "Fast 2 Feed," an interfaith Iftar, on Sept. 3 . People of diverse faiths will share the traditional meal that ends the daily fast during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. As people share the Iftar dinner, participants will talk about how they can better work together on existing as well as potential projects to serve the greater Washington community.

"For religious organizations, serving people in need is an integral part of their mission," said Nicola Goren, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "United We Serve builds on that reality by encouraging interfaith cooperation to continue and expand the important service that is currently being accomplished."

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 September 2 - WCC Calls on Israel to Dismantle Settlements
 Article: Israel And The Last Days

On Benedict XVI's behalf, the Apostolic Penitentiary is granting a special plenary indulgence to those who pray before the remains of St. Celestine V during the year dedicated to him.

His remains will be on pilgrimage during this year throughout the dioceses of the region where people were affected by the quake, so that the faithful, having fulfilled the other requirements, can receive the indulgence.

Now a saint, Celestine V is also remembered for promulgating the "perdonanza" [pardon].

It began shortly after he was elected as Pope, and arrived to L'Aquila where he was crowned on Aug. 29.

As a gift to all the people, he decided that
those who confessed and were sincerely repentant, and visited the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in that city, between Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, would receive the remission of sins and the absolution of punishment.

Until then, a plenary indulgence was only granted to those who went to the Holy Land as crusaders and to pilgrims who visited the Portincula of Assisi.

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 September 3 - 'Russia confirms MiG jet sale to Syria'
 Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

Russia has a contract to provide Syria with powerful MiG fighter jets but has not begun delivering the planes, according to a Russian newspaper report. 

The speedy MiG-31E can fire simultaneously at several targets up to 180 kilometers away. Deliveries to Syria would be liable to alter the balance of power in the region. 

In May, outgoing head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency Lt.-Gen. Michael D. Maples told the Senate that Damascus will take receipt of advanced MiG-31E fighter jets in the near future. 

In his "annual threat assessment" testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Maples provided the first official confirmation that the advanced fighter jets will be delivered to Damascus soon. 

"With regard to its external defense, Syria's military remains in a defensive posture and inferior to Israel's forces, but it is upgrading its missile, rocket, antitank, aircraft and air defense inventories," Maples told the committee. "Recent Syrian contracts with Russia for future delivery include new MiG-31 and MiG-29M/M2 fighter aircraft." 

Israeli defense officials said they were not surprised by Russia's intention to sell Syria the advanced jets but expressed concern that if the deal went through it would alter the balance of power in the region. "Syria currently has an obsolete air force based on outdated MiGs," one official explained. "If Syria gets new MiG-31s then this will pose a definite threat to our air force." 

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We hope the Weekly News In Review has been a blessing to you.

Ron Pierotti

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