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Excellent Read: "5 People Who Bravely Fought Christian Takeover of America"


By Rob Boston

5 People Who Bravely Fought Christian Takeover of America
At crucial points when the church-state wall was most threatened in America, there were people who rose up to defend it.

August 14, 2012 |

- snip -

Here are five unsung heroes of church-state separation:

1. Charles Pinckney: It was difficult to be a religious dissenter in colonial America. Prejudice ran rampant. Many state constitutions limited public office to Christians or even certain types of Christians, such as “Trinitarian Protestants.” Such “religious tests” were seen as a way of ensuring that the men who held public office were of sound morals.

After the Revolution, when the federal Constitution was being drafted, a delegate from South Carolina named Charles Pinckney decided that there should be no such religious qualifications for federal office. He added a line to the end of Article VI – a provision that makes it clear that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and that judges and elected representatives are bound to follow it – that read, “[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

- snip -

2. Joel Barlow: During the early years of the American republic, U.S. ships traveling near north Africa were frequently attacked by pirates operating out of Algiers and Tripoli. Many American sailors were kidnapped and held for ransom. The pirates, who were Muslim, often taunted the sailors for their Christian beliefs.

- snip -

3. Gulian C. Verplanck: The year was 1832, and a cholera epidemic was ravaging the countryside. Doctors at the time where helpless, as there was no reliable treatment against the dreaded disease. As bodies piled up, Congress decided to appeal for divine intervention, and a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer was proposed.

President Andrew Jackson was skeptical. Asked if he would issue such a proclamation, Jackson said no. Advising people to pray, Jackson asserted, fell outside of his job description.

- snip -

4. Ulysses S. Grant: U.S. Grant is best known for being a hard fighting (and hard drinking) Civil War general and later a scandal-plagued president. His advocacy of church-state separation is less well known.


Juan Cole: Ayatollah Cameron Threatens to Invade Ecuador Embassy


Ayatollah Cameron Threatens to invade Ecuador Embassy re: Assange (or, Whitewashing Iran for the US National Security State)

Posted on 08/16/2012 by Juan

The British government’s menacing of the Ecuadorean embassy in London on Thursday morning, with its threat that its police might well come on to the embassy grounds to arrest wikileaks leader and fugitive Julian Assange, resembles nothing so much as the Iranian regime’s cavalier attitude to the supposed inviolability of embassies. To be sure, Assange does not himself have diplomatic immunity. But the ground on which the Ecuadorean embassy sits is considered in international law to be Ecuadorean territory, and breaching it is tantamount to an invasion.

There is no question in my mind that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have pressured British Prime Minister David Cameron into taking this step. The Obama administration’s reaction to the Wikileaks release of State Department cables with a relatively low level of classification has been astonishingly wrong-headed. The Pentagon Papers case in the 1970s established the principle that the US government had a right to try to keep its documents secret from us, but that if the documents were revealed, they could be freely published and cited by the public. In contrast, the current stance of the US government is that classified documents remain classified and US government property even if they have been published! And, State Department spokesmen have actually tried to threaten college students about talking about the documents on social media sites, since if they ever wanted to work for the US government, that sort of thing might be held against them. The Tomdispatch.com site has been banned on US government computers via filtering software because of its use of the Wikileaks cables. These measures are petty and ostrich-like. The cables have been released. Get over it.

- snip -

In the wake of the embassy invasion, then UK ambassador to Iran Dominick Chilcott told the Washington Post, “as a foreign diplomat, you can’t work in a country that does not respect the norms of the Vienna Convention.”

- snip -

Moreover, Assange did not commit a crime in the UK, and what he is accused of in Sweden isn’t even a crime in Britain. Violating an embassy merely to support an extradition request by a third party is excessive any way you look at it.


Statement on UK Threat to Storm Ecuadorian Embassy and Arrest Julian Assange

(on 2012-08-16)
Statement on UK threat to storm Ecuadorian embassy and arrest Julian Assange

Thursday 16th August, 3:00am UTC

In a communication this morning to the government of Ecuador, the UK threatened to forcefully enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrest Julian Assange.

The UK claims the power to do so under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.

This claim is without basis.

By midnight, two hours prior to the time of this announcement, the embassy had been surrounded by police, in a menacing show of force.

Any transgression against the sanctity of the embassy is a unilateral and shameful act, and a violation of the Vienna Convention, which protects embassies worldwide.

This threat is designed to preempt Ecuador’s imminent decision on whether it will grant Julian Assange political asylum, and to bully Ecuador into a decision that is agreeable to the United Kingdom and its allies.

WikiLeaks condemns in the strongest possible terms the UK’s resort to intimidation.

A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide.

We draw attention to the fact that the United Nations General Assembly has unanimously declared in Resolution 2312 (1967) that

"the grant of asylum. . . is a peaceful and humanitarian act and that, as such, it cannot be regarded as unfriendly by any other State."

Pursuant to this resolution, a decision to grant asylum cannot be construed by another State as an unfriendly act. Neither can there be diplomatic consequences for granting asylum.

We remind the public that these extraordinary actions are being taken to detain a man who has not been charged with any crime in any country.

WikiLeaks joins the Government of Ecuador in urging the UK to resolve this situation according to peaceful norms of conduct.

We further urge the UK government to show restraint, and to consider the dire ramifications of any violation of the elementary norms of international law.

We ask that the UK respect Ecuador’s sovereign right to deliver a decision of its own making on Julian Assange’s asylum bid.

Noting that Ecuador has called for emergency summits of OAS and UNASUR in response to this development, WikiLeaks asks those bodies to support Ecuador’s rights in this matter, and to oppose any attempts to coerce a decision.

We note with interest that this development coincides with the UK Secretary of State William Hague’s assumption of executive responsibilities during the vacation of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Hague’s department, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has overseen the negotiations to date with Ecuador in the matter of Mr Assange’s asylum bid.

If Mr Hague has, as would be expected, approved this decision, WikiLeaks calls for his immediate resignation.

Australian Documentary on Julian Assange’s situation: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/07/19/3549280.htm

Friends of WikiLeaks Support Network: https://wlfriends.org

Justice for Assange: http://justice4assange.com

Saudi Arabia Orders CItizens to Leave Lebanon "Immediately" - Saudi State News Agency

Source: Reuters

Saudi Arabia tells citizens to leave Lebanon immediately - SPA

Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:31pm BST

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon "immediately", the state news agency reported in an SMS alert on Wednesday.

"The Saudi Arabian embassy in Lebanon calls all Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon immediately," the alert said, without elaborating.

Read more: http://uk.www.reuters.com/article/idUKBRE87E0SZ20120815

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman Says Presidential Pardon is "Last Hope for Freedom"

Source: Al.com Montgomery Bureau

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman says presidential pardon is "last hope for freedom"

Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 10:42 PM Updated: Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 11:07 PM

By Kim Chandler -- Montgomery Bureau

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Former Gov. Don Siegelman, who was sentenced to six and a half years in prison, told the Fox Business Network that a presidential pardon is his "last hope for freedom" and continued to criticize the 2006 case in which he was convicted.
Siegelman said a flaw in the law allowed a jury to infer a crime was committed when it didn't happen.

"Yes, we are asking the president, whomever it may be this November, to issue a clemency or a pardon or commute my sentence," Siegelman told the Fox Business Network in a Monday interview.

"Not only to set me free but also to draw attention to the courts and to Congress and to the president of this flaw in the law that allows juries to convict business men and women and politicians on the basis of an inferred or an implied deal. Businessmen and women ought to be trembling over the impact of this decision," Siegelman told Fox Business Network.

Siegelman will be headed back to prison Sept. 11 after an unsuccessful six-year fight to overturn his 2006 conviction in a bribery case. The Democrat said he is innocent of charges that he sold a seat on the Certificate of Need Review Board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in campaign donations to his 1999 lottery referendum.

"So we are being sent to prison for something, one, that didn't happen. Nobody wants to go to prison but certainly nobody wants to go to prison for something they didn't do," Siegelman told Fox Business Network.

Read more: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/08/former_alabama_gov_don_siegelm_3.html

'Stars Earn Stripes,' NBC Reality Show, Criticized by Veterans, Military Reporter

Source: Huffington Post

'Stars Earn Stripes,' NBC Reality Show, Criticized By Veterans And Military Reporter

HuffPost Live's Ahmed Shihab-Eldin was joined by military veterans and HuffPost's Pulitzer Prize winning Senior Military Correspondent reporter David Wood Tuesday morning for a discussion on NBC's new reality show, "Stars Earn Stripes." The veterans, including US Army veteran Jennifer Hunt, Afghanistan veteran Matt Zeller, and retired US Army infantry soldier Joshua Flashman, criticized NBC for the show, which puts celebrities into quasi-basic training-like situation and features Todd Palin among its contestants.

"I hope it's canceled, and I hope it's replaced with a nightly review of the casualties lost that day," Zeller said, while Hunt focused her critique on the disservice the show pays to female service members.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/08/14/stars-earn-stripes-nbc-re_n_1776653.html

Julian Assange Will Be Granted Asylum, Says Ecuadorean Official

Source: Guardian

Julian Assange will be granted asylum, says official

Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has agreed to give the WikiLeaks founder asylum, according to an official in Quito

The Guardian, Tue 14 Aug 2012 19.42

Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has agreed to give Julian Assange asylum, officials within Ecuador's government have said.

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up at Ecuador's London embassy since 19 June, when he officially requested political asylum.

"Ecuador will grant asylum to Julian Assange," said an official in the Ecuadorean capital Quito, who is familiar with the government discussions.

On Monday, Correa told state-run ECTV that he would decide this week whether to grant asylum to Assange. Correa said a large amount of material about international law had to be examined to make a responsible informed decision.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/14/julian-assange-asylum-ecuador-wikileaks

7 Scandals That Reveal the Real Mitt Romney


AlterNet / By Steven Rosenfeld

7 Scandals That Reveal the Real Mitt Romney
Some great reporting reveals a self-serving man who is often tone-deaf to his impact on others and whose internal compass seems to spin wildly.

August 14, 2012 |

- snip -

But a more complete picture of Romney is emerging this summer. Some great reporting by journalists reveals that the man behind the smile isn’t just a political flip-flopper who can't be trusted, but a self-serving man who is often tone-deaf to his impact on others and whose internal compass seems to spin wildly.

These seven recent reports reveal the real Romney—starting with a young man who didn’t care how he made money, as long as he made it.

1. Bain Capital Launched with Funds Tied to Salvadoran Death Squads

People who start new businesses are always hungry for investors. But as Huffington Post reporters Ryan Grim and Cole Stangler found in their report, “Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied To Death Squads,” there was no possible way that anybody in 1984 could "check out" these families and be convinced this money was clean, as Grim told Democracy Now.

- snip -

2. Romney Wants Tax Cuts For the Rich Paid By Higher Middle-Class Taxes

- snip -

The proposals, in an analysis cited by the Washington Post and others, would cut taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent but raise taxes on everyone else. Extreme Liberal's blog posted a graphic that shows exactly how it would work, saying, “You may notice that everyone pays more in taxes right up until you get to the top 5 percent of the population. According to the analysis, those who make $3 million dollars a year would get a TAX CUT of $250,000.”

- snip -

5. Intolerant Then, Intolerant Now

There is always the question of how much people change—or don’t—over a lifetime. Before Romney entered business and politics, he was an active member of the church who took his pastoral role seriously, even as a graduate student at Harvard University.

This Washington Post profile of Romney from that time—as the young but highest-ranking Mormon in Boston—notes how he told an older, recently divorced women who had converted to Mormonism not to have premarital sex. At the time, the Post said many Mormon couples were at Harvard and the women were curious about feminism. The report goes on to say that Romney tempered his views by the time he became Massachusetts governor—which the 2008 McCain campaign opposition research reports shows. Another report from that period in Vanity Fair notes how Romney told a Mormon single mother who became pregnant to put her child up for adoption—which she refused. When she faced serious medical issues, he refused to come to her hospital bedside.


Steven Rosenfeld covers democracy issues for AlterNet and is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).

Deep earthquake with 7.5 Magnitude Hits Off Eastern Russia, North of Japan: USGS

Source: Reuters

Deep magnitude 7.5 quake off Russia, north of Japan

Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:19pm EDT

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 struck off the eastern Russian coast to the north of Japan, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Tuesday, but no tsunami warning was issued by Japanese authorities.

The quake was measured very deep at around 580 km (360 miles) below the earth's surface. Japanese television said the quake was measured at 7.3.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE87D03820120814?irpc=932

Romney Campaign Event at Miami Restaurant Leaves Bad Taste (Convicted Drug Dealer's Restaurant)

Source: Reuters

Romney campaign event at Miami restaurant leaves bad taste

By Tom Brown
MIAMI | Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:09pm EDT
(Reuters) - A campaign stop by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Miami on Monday was held at a restaurant owned by a convicted drug trafficker.

Romney, hoping to get support from the Cuban-American community in Miami, held an event at El Palacio de los Jugos, famed for its tropical juices, fruits and Cuban-style snack food.

Court documents show restaurant owner Reinaldo Bermudez pleaded guilty in 1997 to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The case in federal court in Miami led to a three-year prison sentence for Bermudez.

His plea was part of a drug conspiracy case that involved 11 other suspects with aliases including "Fat Boy," "Ali Baba," "Skeletor," "Mogley" and "Buckwheat."

Bermudez's criminal past was first reported on the website of the Miami New Times newspaper. It said the charge stemmed from a conspiracy involving more than one ton of cocaine imported from Trinidad to ports in south Florida.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/14/us-usa-campaign-romney-convict-idUSBRE87D01220120814

GD Thread: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021126681
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