Pageviews last month

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Snopes still perpetuating conspiracy theory of Dr. West delivering Barack Obama II

The birth certificate released by Barack Obama II names David A. Sinclair as the doctor who delivered him--not Rodney T. West. Oops.

UPDATE January 2013--Sometime since I posted this screenshot from Snopes, they took the entire page down and replaced it, using the same URL (the link from this post's title is still good) for an article about the alleged copy of Barack Obama's birth certificate which he released to the media electronically in April 2011.

One more reason not to believe "investigative reporters"

In case the link dies, here's the story:

BAR 37:03, May/Jun 2011
First Person: The Lion and the Flea
By Hershel Shanks

J’accuse! I accuse the television program 60 Minutes of unethical and irresponsible reporting.

As BAR readers know, we have reported extensively on the so-called “forgery trial of the century” in Jerusalem and the artifacts alleged to be forgeries, including a bone box, or ossuary, inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” an ivory pomegranate that may have been a scepter from Solomon’s Temple, and the Yehoash Inscription, which, if authentic, would be the first Israelite royal inscription ever found.

On March 23, 2008, 60 Minutes devoted a segment of the program to the alleged forgeries, focusing on the rumor that an Egyptian jeweler named Marco, who was a friend of Israeli antiquities collector Oded Golan, a leading defendant in the case, had made forgeries for Golan, among them the Yehoash Inscription.

60 Minutes accurately described, in the words of the Israeli police major who was in charge of the investigation, rumors that were swirling about the case: “Golan was not working alone. He had help from academics, [antiquities] dealers and an Egyptian craftsman ... So Golan was the head of the operation, and he had an Egyptian who did the actual forgery.”

60 Minutes set out to confirm these rumors. It sent a team to the serpentine Khan Khalili bazaar in Cairo to find Marco. And they were successful! They found him in his little workshop where he made jewelry for some shops below, as well as for private customers. Like most jewelers in the bazaar, he made replicas of ancient Egyptian jewelry and other artifacts.

As the television program admitted, they operated “under cover”—that is, they did not identify themselves, recording and filming the interview without telling Marco. (This is obvious from the photographs of Marco.) Only at the end of the process did they inform Marco who they were.

But before that, they got what they wanted: After they showed Marco a picture of the Yehoash tablet, he confessed! In Marco’s own words, as he purportedly mouthed them for millions of television viewers:

“I inscribed several stone slabs that looked just like this for [Oded] Golan ... Golan brought me the text and I carved it onto the tablet.”

From BAR’s first look at the 60 Minutes segment, it aroused suspicion, not about Marco, but about the integrity of 60 Minutes. It seemed odd that Marco would simply confess to making a forgery. And, if you look carefully at the faint image of Marco in the background making his confession, his lips do not seem to match the words supposedly coming out of his mouth. (Was he speaking in Arabic or English?)

So we wrote to 60 Minutes and asked to see the complete transcript of the interview. The reply: “I am afraid it is the policy of CBS News not to release the unaired transcripts of interviews.” They refused to make their outtakes available. All we could do was complain that 60 Minutes was very good at asking questions but not so good at answering them. The issue sank like a stone.

Then in January 2011 we were in Cairo on other matters. As long as we were there, why not try to talk to Marco? If 60 Minutes could find Marco, maybe we could too. And we did. We located the 44-year-old Christian bachelor Semah Marco in his small third-floor walkup workshop deep in the heart of the dense Cairo bazaar.

Marco was very clear. He did not confess to forging the Yehoash tablet. He did not make any forgeries. He denied forging the Yehoash Inscription. He had never written a sentence in Hebrew letters, he said. He was very angry with 60 Minutes. He would like to sue them, but he cannot afford a lawyer, he said.

In the next breath, however, he said he would be afraid to sue them. He does not want to get involved. He had already been taken to the police station and interrogated by the police. He did not want any more trouble. (This was two weeks before the Egyptian protests erupted in Cairo. A few weeks before that, 20 Christian Copts had been killed and a hundred wounded in an Alexandria church. Egypt was a land of corruption—from the policeman on the street to the highest level of government—and fear of government was palpable.)

Marco speaks halting English at best. I spoke to him largely through an Arab interpreter. Did he admit that he made things “just like this for Golan” when shown a picture of the 15-line Yehoash tablet? Marco explained that he did not know who these people were when they came into his shop and talked to him; he thought they were potential customers, so, to sell his services, he told them, when shown a picture of the tablet, that he could make them something “just like this.”

60 Minutes has a recording of the interview, so it is possible to find out exactly what Marco said—and did not say—and in what context. Is the 60 Minutes text a translation of Marco’s Arabic? If so, is it accurate? Did they doctor it? Or did Marco speak English? We do know that 60 Minutes paid someone with a slight Arab accent to voice the words Marco supposedly said, thus giving the impression that we are hearing Marco himself in the background. But, as previously noted, the spoken words don’t match Marco’s lips.

What we also know is that Marco very clearly and firmly denies having told 60 Minutes that he forged the Yehoash tablet—or anything else—for Golan.
That is the only thing in question here: the integrity of 60 Minutes.

Let us be clear what this article is not about:
This article is not about whether the Yehoash Inscription (or the James Ossuary Inscription) is a forgery. It is not about whether Oded Golan forged these inscriptions himself or had them forged by someone else.

Nor is it about whether Golan’s Egyptian friend Semah Marco forged the Yehoash Inscription. It is not even about whether Marco lied when he denied forging the Yehoash Inscription.

The only thing this article is about is whether 60 Minutes accurately reported what Marco said. Did Marco say that he made things “just like this [the Yehoash Inscription] for Golan.” Or did he say only that he “could” make something just like this, if that’s what his customer wanted?

There is no question that Marco denied to me that he ever said he forged the Yehoash tablet. He was firm and clear, as was his anger at 60 Minutes.

Moreover, what he told me is consistent with his denial of having forged the Yehoash tablet. Before 60 Minutes interviewed Marco, he was interviewed by a team of Israeli police. In the Hebrew report they submitted following their trip to Cairo, they quote Marco as denying that he did anything wrong.

The largest circulation Hebrew newspaper (Israel haYom) also interviewed Marco. According to their article, Marco denies any connection with the forgeries.

Why, then, would Marco tell 60 Minutes that indeed he did forge the Yehoash tablet? Or did he deny forging the Yehoash tablet and 60 Minutes twisted his words—or their context—to make it seem that Marco was indeed confessing to forgery?

60 Minutes supports and demands transparency in government. It seems that 60 Minutes is in favor of transparency except when it comes to 60 Minutes.

Why did 60 Minutes twist its story to make Marco the forger of the Yehoash tablet? 60 Minutes had a lot of time and money in this story. It sent a crew to Egypt. If Marco denied making forgeries for Oded Golan, that would hardly be a story. Only if 60 Minutes could get a confession from the elusive Egyptian forger would it be a story—indeed, a blockbuster. So apparently 60 Minutes was determined to get the story—whether it was true or not.

Apparently, 60 Minutes had no concern for the effect of this charge on the life of a dinky little Egyptian jeweler—nor on the life of Israeli antiquities collector Oded Golan. The only question for 60 Minutes was whether it could get its story. And it was a story only if they could get a confession from Semah Marco.

The only remaining question is whether 60 Minutes will now release its interview with Marco. Or will this be another case of the flea biting the lion?

A flea went into a lion’s cage and bit that lion good
And then he stood on that lion’s mangy mane as a conquering hero should ...
Now concerning this flea, one sad thing must be written.
That lion didn’t even know that he’d been bitten.
From the 1957 Broadway musical “Archy and Mehitabel”

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Hot news! Obama Birth Certificate released! But is it yet another forgery?

We now have two entirely different birth certificates for Barack Hussein Obama II. Both are agreed on the essentials: parentage, date and time of birth, race. But one is from Kenya; the other from Hawaii. Obviously, one was created fraudulently. But which one?
I would be willing to bet a year's allowance that the doctor who signed this form is safely dead.
(I just checked. He is.) And his widow is a consultant to the Hawaiian Heath Department.

Okay, first of all, let me say that releasing this long form birth certificate was a carefully calculated political move. As President Obama himself said when he released it, this won't convince everyone that he's a natural born US Citizen, but he hopes it will convince most people. In other words, he's responding to polls that show a shocking majority of Americans don't believe he was born in the USA. As one of those people, I must admit that I'm still not convinced that he was. He could have settled this issue 2½ years ago by releasing his birth certificate, and stubbornly refused to. Whatever his reasons--whatever he had to hide--haven't changed. As Aesop famously pointed out in "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," nobody believes a liar, even when he's telling the truth.

Secondly, I will admit that I was duped. There is no reason now to believe that the short form COLB released in 2008 was a forgery, as I had been led to believe. The information on it is all backed up by the long form. Again, President Obama is responsible for my false belief by refusing to allow the media to actually see the COLB, thus fueling speculation that it was a Photoshop document.

BREAKING NEWS!!! May 17, 2011: This post contains links to sites showing that, when subjected to the same electronic scrutiny, the Long Form Obama Birth Certificate shows even more evidence of forgery than the Short Form. So I take back any concessions made in the previous paragraph: the long form was apparently based on the previously forged short form, so of course it had to contain the same forged information, and then some.

So, the evidence so far resolves into two roughly equal possibilities:

1) The Kenyan certificate is authentic; Stanley gave birth to Barack in Mombasa and traveled to Hawaii three days later, where the family conspired with Dr. Sinclair to file a fraudulent birth certificate form stating that Barack had been born at the Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital three days earlier, in order to guarantee him the U.S. citizenship for which they knew he didn't otherwise qualify. 

2) The Hawaiian certificate is authentic; staffers at the Mombasa Hospital put together a forged birth certificate in 2008/9 to present to the highest bidder to come snooping around looking for it; Lucas Smith turned up at the right time, and took the bait.

Happily, the Kenyan birth certificate is very easy to prove fraudulent. It contains a clear imprint of a child's right foot. All President Obama has to do is get his right footprint taken on live TV at a press conference, and have the camera zoom in on the print as soon as he removes his foot from the paper. Anyone with a computer file of both images can then compare them and, should the Kenyan certificate not have been produced at Obama's birth, it will hopefully be clear that the prints don't match.

The other possibility, should the footprint remain inconclusive, is to produce birth or postnatal records from Hawaii. Any forgers in Kenya would have had to make up the bodily dimensions listed on the certificate they produced, so they can't be expected to match those on Barack Obama II's actual medical record. Any discrepancy would lead to the conclusion that a Kenyan stand-in provided the information and impression on Barack's alleged Kenyan birth certificate.

That, my friends, would bring my puzzlement to an end; I guarantee it. Obama would then be my own president.

Every bit of information brought out into the sunshine makes the picture clearer, so I thank President Obama and his political advisers for taking this important step. It should be obvious, however, that it's still too little, too late to convince me that he's a natural born American. He needs to do more, and I suggest he do it soon.

According to Gallup, a majority of Americans still aren't convinced that Barack Hussein Obama II was born in the United States. I remain one of that number. I really do want to know where my alleged President was born, but yet another forged birth certificate, added to the two already released, won't do anything more to convince me.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Kidnapping: a new task assigned to the FBI

Back when the FBI was in its infancy, one of the federal crimes with which it was given jurisdiction over was transporting an abducted child across state lines. Now, less than 100 years later, one of the jobs being assigned to FBI agents is abducting children and transporting them across state lines. This is a very new role for them; ten years ago it was still being outsourced to private investigators.

We begin this particular story in 2002, when Lisa Miller gave birth to a daughter, Isabella. Before she was even born, the father had waived all parental rights, so he never enters the legal picture. The mother, however, did not waive any parental rights--and refuses to do so to this day, despite the FBI's attempts to arrest her for enjoying them.

This is how it happened. A woman named Janet Jenkins--no relation to either Lisa or her daughter, but who was living with them at the time--asked Lisa to move out in 2003. But Janet had become so attached to little baby Isabella that she insisted on being able to keep her, or at least have daily contact with her. Lisa, on the other hand, wanted nothing further to do with Janet. Janet pursued the case for the next 6 years, aided by donations from pro-homosexual people and organisations. By November 2009, she had been granted full custody of Isabella--a legalized kidnapping by every definition of the word. But by this point Lisa and Isabella left the country, and don't dare return until Isabella turns 18 in 2020.

Note: Lisa still had custody of Isabella at this point, and was not considered a fugitive until her custody ended in 2010, and her leaving the country in September became a crime retroactively, through demonstration of "intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights." This, even though the order to deny her the lawful exercise of her parental rights only dated to November 22nd.

Here's where the FBI entered the scene
. Because Lisa did not hand over her daughter on January 1, 2010, she now was defined as the kidnapper of her own daughter, and the FBI was sent out to tear Isabella away from her mother and hand her over to Janet Jenkins--if they could find her.

The FBI hasn't managed to abduct the fugitive couple, but they are still hot on the case. This week they arrested Rev. Timothy Miller upon his entry into the United States (this was cheaper than tracking him down and extraditing him from where he lives in Nicaragua). He was charged with aiding and abetting in a kidnapping, due to evidence confiscated from numerous email and/or facebook accounts that he was involved in the disappearance of Lisa and Isabella. It looks like he is going to be in jail for a long time.

At least he won't have to spend the rest of his life registered on a watchlist. Giving shelter to a mother and her non-custodial daughter is not yet considered a violent crime.

The Miller Family

UPDATE April 25: I'm going to be following this case as it progresses. So I won't be making any more edits to the text above, but rather adding lines to the bottom. Latest news: Rev. Miller was released on $25,000 bond today, but restricted from leaving the state of Vermont, other than to travel to Pennsylvania. This could be rather difficult, as--last I checked--the state of New York intervenes between Vermont and Pennsylvania. If the order did not specify the state of New York as the only permissible thoroughfare, then I can think of many different routes that could be traveled between Vermont and Pennsylvania, including one through Ontario. He won't be able to cross that border, though, on his own passport; we can be sure of that.

Rev. Miller is also forbidden to discuss the case with his wife, as she is expected to be called to testify against him. If she refuses, we can expect one more person behind bars in this case--a mother of four young children. Yes, a judge will separate a married mother from her babies in order to coerce her to testify against her own husband in the case of a single mother being forcibly separated from her baby.

UPDATE April 26: The White Man's reporter on the scene states that the Vermont judge imposed a ban on travel outside of Pennsylvania, other than for traveling to and from court appearances in Vermont. This smacks of unconstitutionality, that a judge in one state could take jurisdiction over a defendant's presence in another state. Having released him from his own jurisdiction, he really has no control over Rev. Miller's presence or absence in any other state.

UPDATE May 4: Both hearings for tomorrow have been canceled. Mrs. Miller has claimed, and received, spousal privilege; she won't be required to testify against her husband. And by the way, Dana Kaegel didn't do her homework: she relied on Janet Jenkins for the name of Lisa Miller's husband--and got it wrong. It's a shame that our nation's defense is in the hands of such incompetents; ten minutes on the internet would have provided the right name, even quicker for an extra couple bucks.

UPDATE May 7: Rev. Miller was granted permission to leave the state to attend the wedding for which he had risked arrest by returning to the USA. The family sang a touching tribute to the bride and groom.
UPDATE May 12: Rev. Miller was indicted by grand jury for aiding in kidnapping Isabella Miller.

UPDATE May 17: The FBI have tracked down Lisa Miller in Jinotega, Nicaragua, but she was one step ahead of them and already fled to a new hideout. Nicaraguan police are threatening locals with torture to try to pry information out of them as to her new whereabouts.

UPDATE May 20: Sorry, please scratch the most recent update. Apparently it was all hearsay and rumour. If you've ever been to Jinotega, you know how remote that area is. Cell phone coverage is often only available up in a tree at the top of the hill. I'll hold off on future updates about the Nicaragua side of the story until I get independent confirmation. Since the FBI are covertly monitoring an unknown number of email accounts in Nicaragua, it makes it even harder to get a straight story out of the region. Agents are welcome to submit any information they have as comments.

UPDATE May 25: Rev. Miller tendered a "not guilty" plea today through one of his attorneys. It will be 3 months before the next hearing, and until the next update, unless Sarah and Lydia are brought to ground in Central America.

UPDATE July 31: During Tent Meetings held the past week in Lancaster County, PA, Timo was invited to speak. Pablo Yoder reports: "It was also encouraging to hear Timo and Joanna tell the story of the day of the arrest. Timo’s witnessing for hours with fellow prisoners during his stay in the prison really blessed me. Also, it was refreshing to hear how God used him to bring cheer into a sad house called: Jail. A picture that will ever be etched in my mind was when he told me how they took him and his new buddies to the courtroom. A chain was circled around each prisoner’s waist, their handcuffs linked to the chain in the front. They also shackled their feet in a chain. Bound hand and feet, it was hard for the whole row of men to walk. So they slowly hobbled to the courtroom, Timo, as a dangerous criminal like the rest. As the picture was drawn in my mind, I couldn’t help but think of the Apostle Paul. He was also treated like a criminal for the cause of Christ.”

UPDATE October 18: I went through and made a few corrections to this blog, having reviewed all information on the case. This post and this one contain the latest available updates.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Raisin' Cain, or Let Them Eat Cake: The NIV and the "wordplay" of Kir Hareseth

Inasmuch as I can't seem to lay my hands on a 1978 NIV of the Old Testament, I'm going to have to assume, until further notice, that it reads the same as the 1984 [FURTHER NOTICE: SEE END OF POST].

The question is how to translate the Hebrew words `ashiysh and its feminine form `ashiyshah (plurals `ashiyshim and `ashiyshoth). It comes from a root word with the same spelling as ish and ishsha, the Hebrew words for 'man' and 'women' respectively. But it occurs most often in a context of food items. The word is found in all forms only five times in the OT. Here are the places, and the meanings assigned in each place by the earliest translators of the OT, the LXX:

Feminine singular:
2 Sam 6:19 and 1 Chron 16:3 (parallel passages)-- a fried cake

Feminine plural:
Song 2:5-- perfume

Masculine plural:
Isaiah 16:7-- them
Hosea 3:1-- cooked meats

Wow. It is clear that the LXX had no idea of the meaning of this word, except that it could refer to 'men' whenever the form was masculine and the context wasn't one of it being eaten!

Had things cleared up any by 1611, when the KJV was released? Let's see:

Feminine singular:
2 Sam 6:19 and 1 Chron 16:3 (parallel passages)-- a flagon of wine

Feminine plural:
Song 2:5-- flagons

Masculine plural:
Isaiah 16:7-- foundations
Hosea 3:1-- flagons

So we see that although they were closing in on just two possible meanings for the word--still depending on whether it was being eaten or not--the KJV translators did not distinguish any difference in meaning between the masculine and feminine forms of the word. Whenever the context was food, they consistently translated both words as 'flagon' with the implication that, by metonymy, wine was what was being talked about. But when the context wasn't food, they went with an entirely different meaning altogether (apparently from the masculine plural word's similarity to the feminine plural word `ashioth, the Qere for an hapax legomenon used in Jeremiah 50:15, which they also translated 'foundations').

Let's see if the NIV 1978 1984 was any improvement:

Feminine singular:
2 Sam 6:19 and 1 Chron 16:3 (parallel passages)-- a cake of raisins

Feminine plural:
Song 2:5-- raisins
also, Jeremiah 50:15-- towers

Masculine plural:
Isaiah 16:7-- men
Hosea 3:1-- sacred raisin cakes

Huh. The NIV has consistently supplied a significantly different word than the KJV for all references to food, and yet another totally different word for the other reference, and a new term for the word used architecturally. In this we find them not much different than the 1901 ASV, which reads 'raisin/+cakes' for all four references, while allowing for the marginal possibility of 'foundations' in Isaiah, and reading 'bulwarks' in Jeremiah. Enough about the word in Jeremiah, though. Of modern versions, only the NKJV retains 'foundations' in both places.

So what is it about this word that it means "raisin cakes" whenever food is in the context, but something entirely different (no one is sure what) when it isn't?

Well, we get some sort of a clue from the NIV 1978 1984 footnote, which reads:
a. Isaiah 16:7 Or “raisin cakes,” a wordplay

How 'raisin cakes' can refer to 'men', wordplay or no, is beyond me. It was obviously beyond the capacity of readers of British English, as the CBT deleted the footnote in the NIV-UK 1984. And of course it was beyond the ability of a third-grade reader to understand, so it wasn't in the NIrV 1996 edition either. But what was that pesky word 'men' doing in these two supposedly gender-neutral editions? It must have really irked a later generation of CBT members, who went through the OT with an electronic scalpel to remove every superfluous occurrence of the word. Voilà, no more wordplay:

"Lament and grieve for the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth." --TNIV 2005, NIV 2011

Whew. To think that the word always meant "raisin cakes" all along. Who knew?

UPDATE May 27, 2011. I got my hands on a 1978 NIV, and there is a difference. Isaiah 16:7 just reads "raisin cakes," with no hyphen, modifier, or footnote; Hosea 3:1, on the other hand, reads "sacred raisin-cakes." So my final word stands. UPDATE March 37, 2012. Okay, I finally get the 'wordplay' in Isaiah 16:7. "Men" and "UFI" (unidentified food items) can supposedly be spelled the same way in Hebrew--אֲשִׁישֵׁ. Except that I have yet to find any examples in Scripture of 'men' actually spelled this way . . .

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Not getting paid to sleep???

New Anti-Fatigue Rules for Air Traffic Controllers
Longer breaks between shifts for air traffic controllers are among the new anti-fatigue rules announced by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration following a series of incidents in which air traffic controllers fell asleep on the job.

Air traffic controllers will now have at least nine hours off between shifts instead of the current eight-hour minimum, under the new rules. In addition, controllers will not be allowed to switch shifts with another controller unless they have had at least nine hours off, and FAA managers will be working more late-night and early-morning shifts to better monitor controllers, USA Today reported.

But allowing controllers to have naps during a shift doesn't appear to be under consideration, even though some experts believe it's a good idea.

"On my watch, controllers will not be paid to take naps," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Fox News Sunday, according to USA Today. "We want to make sure they're well rested. We want to make (sure) that in the workplace there's the ability for them to do their job, but we're not going to pay controllers to be napping. We're not going to do that."
I have a hard time commenting on this civilly. What Mr. LaHood isn't saying is that controllers are currently allowed to read, play video games, talk and text on their cell phones, and smoke cigarettes during their paid breaks--but not sleep. As if "being paid to sleep" is somehow worse than being paid to do any of the above--when research has shown over and over again that being allowed to sleep during a break makes for a much safer rest of the shift. Mr. LaHood, you're not at all interested in making sure that your controllers are well rested--you're only interested in covering your own assets.

I'm not at all impressed.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Did the Apostle John die a natural death?

From the Chronicon of George Hamatolos (the sinner), codex Coislinianus 305 (Lightfoot-Holmes 6):

Μετα δε Δομετιανον εβασιλευσε Νερουας ετος εν, ος ανακαλεσαμενος Ιωαννην εκ της νησου απελυσεν οικειν εν Εφεσω. μονος τοτε περιων τω βιω εκ των δωδεκα μαθητων και συγγραψαμενος το κατ αυτον ευαγγελιον, μαρτυριου κατηξιωται. Παπιας γαρ ο Ιεραπολεως επισκοπος αυτοπτης τουτου γενομενος εν τω δευτερω λογω των κυριακων λογιων φασκει οτι υπο Ιουδαιων ανηρεθη, πληρωσας δηλαδη μετα του αδελφου την του Χριστου περι αυτων προρρησιν και την εαυτων ομολογιαν περι τουτου και συγκαταθεσιν.

And, after Domitian, Nerva ruled as king for one year[18 September 96 – 25 January 98], who, having called John back from the island, released him to house in Ephesus. Being then the only one still alive from the twelve disciples, and having composed the gospel according to himself, he was held worthy of martyrdom. For Papias, the bishop of Heirapolis, who was the eyewitness of this man, in the second volume of the lordly oracles claims that he was done away with by Jews, having clearly fulfilled with his brother the prediction of Christ about them and their own confession about this and submission.

Ειπων γαρ ο κυριος προς αυτους· δυνασθε πιειν το ποτηριον ο εγω πινω; και κατανευσαντων προθυμως και συνθεμενων. το ποτηριον μου, φησι, πιεσθε και το βαπτισμα ο εγω βαπτιζομαι βαπτισθησεσθε. και εικοτως, αδυνατον γαρ θεον ψευσασθαι. ουτω δε και ο πολυμαθης Ωριγενης εν τη κατα Ματθαιον ερμηνεια διαβεβαιουται ως οτι μεμαρτυρηκεν Ιωαννης, εκ των διαδοχων των αποστολων υποσημαιναμενος τουτο μεμαθηκεναι. και ο πολυιστωρ Ευσεβειος εν τη εκκλησιαστικη ιστορια φησι· Θωμας μεν την Παρθιαν ειληχεν· Ιωαννης δε την Ασιαν, προς ους και διατριψας ετελευτησεν εν Εφεσω.

For the Lord said to them: Are you able to drink the cup that I drink? And they assented desirously and agreed. My cup, he says, you shall drink, and you shall be baptized the baptism with which I am baptized. And reasonably, for God is unable to pass falsehood. And thus also the very learned Origen in the interpretation according to Matthew confirms as that John has been martyred, having signaled that he learned this from the successors of the apostles. And the well-read Eusebius in the ecclesiastical history says: Thomas was allotted Parthia, and John Asia, where also, having passed his time, he came to his end in Ephesus.

Here we see that Papias is the only named firsthand testimony to John having been martyred. But, in that he gives no details whatsoever--other than blaming it on Jews--historians now generally claim, on the sole basis of tertiary witnesses, that John died a natural death. What's interesting, though, is that the ancient historians who commented on this saw it as a fulfillment of prophecy: that John had to die a martyr, due to Jesus having said that he would indeed drink of His cup, and be baptised with His baptism.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Three Levels of Numerical Precision in Published Report

Headline: "Libyan forces pound Misrata, 1,000 evacuated by sea"

Dateline: "BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – A chartered ship evacuated nearly 1,000 foreign workers and wounded Libyans from Misrata on Monday"

Copy: "The Ionian Spirit steamed out of Misrata carrying 971 people, most of them weak and dehydrated migrants mainly from Ghana, the Philippines and Ukraine, heading for the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya."

Thus we see three accepted levels of precision, all in the space of a single article. We could go even further and count the exact number of souls on board, which would include all those in utero. Interestingly enough, this would probably be within the range already outlined; a different number from the third listed, equally precise, yet both perfectly accurate.

This is something to keep in mind when dissecting the Four Gospels.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Defending the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and miracles from the Scriptures--way back in the early 1840's

From the Autobiography of Peter Cartwright:

On a certain occasion I fell in with Joe Smith, and was formally and officially introduced to him in Springfield, then our county town. We soon fell into a free conversation on the subject of religion, and Mormonism in particular. I found him to be a very illiterate and impudent desperado in morals, but, at the same time, he had a vast fund of low cunning.
In the first place, he made his onset on me by flattery, and he laid on the soft sodder thick and fast. He expressed great and almost unbounded pleasure in the high privilege of becoming acquainted with me, one of whom he had heard so many great and good things, and he had no doubt I was one among God’s noblest creatures, an honest man. He believed that among all the Churches in the world the Methodist was the nearest right, and that, as far as they went, they were right. But they had stopped short by not claiming the gift of tongues, of prophecy, and of miracles, and then quoted a batch of Scripture to prove his positions correct.

As military chaplains are increasingly forbidden to offer actual spiritual counsel, this sort of thing can only increase.

Ex-Marine, advocate kills self after war tour
Yahoo News
By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press – Fri Apr 15, 3:47 am ET
WASHINGTON – Handsome and friendly, Clay Hunt so epitomized a vibrant Iraq veteran that he was chosen for a public service announcement reminding veterans that they aren't alone.
The 28-year-old former Marine corporal earned a Purple Heart after taking a sniper's bullet in his left wrist. He returned to combat in Afghanistan. Upon his return home, he lobbied for veterans on Capitol Hill, road-biked with wounded veterans and performed humanitarian work in Haiti and Chile.
Then, on March 31, Hunt bolted himself in his Houston apartment and shot himself.
Friends and family say he was wracked with survivor's guilt, depression and other emotional struggles after combat.
Hunt's death has shaken many veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who knew him wonder why someone who seemed to be doing all the right things to deal with combat-related issues is now dead.
"We know we have a problem with vets' suicide, but this was really a slap in the face," said Matthew Pelak, 32, an Iraq veteran who worked with Hunt in Haiti as part of the nonprofit group Team Rubicon.
After news of Hunt's death spread, workers from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors met with veterans visiting Washington for the annual lobbying effort by the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, or IAVA. A year earlier, Hunt had been with other veterans in dark suits calling on Congress to improve the disability claims process.
He had appeared in the group's ads encouraging veterans to seek support from an online network of fellow veterans.
Snapshots posted on Facebook reflect a mostly grinning Hunt. In one, he has a beard and is surrounded by Haitian kids. A second shows him on the Capitol steps with fellow veterans. There's a shot of him from the back on a bike using his right arm to help push another bicyclist who is helping to guide an amputee in a specially modified bike.
Friends and family say Hunt suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. But with his boundless energy and countless friends, he came across as an example of how to live life after combat.
"I think everybody saw him as the guy that was battling it, but winning the battle every day," said Jacob Wood, 27, a friend who served with Hunt in the Marines and in Haiti with Team Rubicon.
But some knew he was grieving over several close friends in the Marines who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"He was very despondent about why he was alive and so many people he served with directly were not alive," said John Wordin, 48, the founder of Ride 2 Recovery, a program that uses bicycling to help veterans heal physically and mentally.
In 2007, while in Iraq with the Marine's 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment, Hunt heard over the radio that his 20-year-old bunkmate had died in a roadside bombing. Hunt later wrote online about sleeping in his bunkmate's bed. "I just wanted to be closer to him, I guess. But I couldn't — he was gone."
A month later, Hunt was pinned by enemy fire in his truck as a fellow Marine, shot in the throat by a sniper, lay nearby. Hunt wrote that seeing his friend placed in a helicopter, where he died, is "a scene that plays on repeat in my head nearly every day, and most nights as well."
Three days later, a sniper's bullet missed Hunt's head by inches and hit his wrist. He didn't immediately leave Iraq. His parents say Hunt asked to fly to a military hospital in Germany a day later so he could accompany a fellow Marine who was shot in both legs.
"I know he's seen some traumatic stuff in his time and I guess he holds that to himself," said Marine Sgt. Oscar Garza, 26, who served with Hunt in Iraq. "He was a very compassionate Marine, a very passionate person, one of the few people that I know that has a big heart and feels a lot of people's pain and makes it his own."
Hunt's mother, Susan Selke, said after Hunt was wounded, she'd hoped her son would get out of the military. Instead, he went to school to be a scout-sniper and went to Afghanistan. He seemed to do well. He was honorably discharged in 2009, married and enrolled at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
He was frustrated by the Veterans Affairs Department's handling of his disability claim. He also piled up thousands of dollars in credit card debt as he waited for his GI Bill payments. Hunt found an outlet to help improve the system by doing work with IAVA. He helped build bikes for Ride 2 Recovery and participated in long rides.
Using his military training, he went to Haiti several times and Chile once to help with the countries' earthquake relief efforts. He proudly told his parents of splinting an infant's leg, and after meeting a young orphaned boy in Haiti named D'James, tried to persuade his family to adopt him.
"If I had one thing to say to my fellow veterans, it would be this: Continue to serve, even though we have taken off our uniforms," Hunt wrote in an online testimonial for Team Rubicon. "No matter how great or small your service is, it is desired and needed by the world we live in today."
Hunt's friends say he was an idealist and voiced frustration that he couldn't make changes overnight. He also questioned why troops were still dying.
"He really was looking for someone to tell him what it was he went over to do and why those sacrifices were made," Wood said.
Last year, Hunt's life took a downward spiral. His marriage ended, he dropped out of school and he began to have suicidal thoughts, his mother said. She said Hunt sought counseling from the VA and moved in temporarily with Wordin in California.
Things seemed to improve for Hunt in recent months after he returned to his hometown of Houston to be near family.
He got a construction job, leased an apartment, bought a truck and began dating. He called friends to discuss the possibility of re-enlisting. In the days before he died, he hung out with friends, and he had plans the following weekend to do a Ride 2 Recovery bike ride. He even told Garza he couldn't wait to see him at a Fourth of July reunion with other Marines.
Then he was dead.
"Clay was always a fighter," Wordin said. "He was always a guy to stick things out and he basically quit life, and I was mad that he felt he had to do that at that particular time."
Hunt's friends and family count him a casualty of war — just like his buddies who died in the battlefield.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

NATO intervention in Libya: The first step in a wrong direction

CounterLibyan rebels sold Hizballah and Hamas chemical shells
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

31 March: Senior Libyan rebel “officers” sold Hizballah and Hamas thousands of chemical shells from the stocks of mustard and nerve gas that fell into their hands when they overran Muammar Qaddafi’s military facilities in and around Benghazi, DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report. The rebels offloaded an estimated 2,000 artillery shells carrying mustard gas and 1,200 nerve gas shells for cash payment amounting to several million dollars negotiated by Iran. The consignments may still be in Sudan en route for Lebanon and Gaza.
Tehran threw its support behind the anti-Qaddafi rebels because of this unique opportunity to get hold of the Libyan stock of poison gas and arm Hizballah and Hamas with unconventional weapons without Iran being implicated in the transaction.

I've studied the history of the Muslim conquest of Spain, and the Spanish re-conquest, and one thing stands out: when non-muslim nations start taking sides in a dispute between muslim nations, inevitably it results in the defeat of the non-muslims, once the muslims patch up their differences and once again join forces against the infidel.