Monday, 28 February 2011

Ancient Wari tombs discovered in Peru

This has nothing directly to do with this blog, but I find it interesting. As reported by Reynaldo Munoz of Agence France-Presse on February 25, 2011:

Archeologists have discovered a group of ancient tombs in the mountainous jungle of southeastern Peru they say is as important as the discovery of the lost city of Machu Picchu.

The tombs belonging to the Wari culture were found on the jungle-covered eastern slope of the Andes in Cuzco department at a long-abandoned city thought to be the last redoubt of Inca resistance to Spanish colonial rule.

The Waris, a pre-Inca civilization, had an enormous cultural impact in the Andean region between 600 and 1200. The Inca empire (around 1400 to 1532) was the largest pre-Columbian empire in the Americas.

"It is an impressive Wari find in the Cuzco jungle that opens a new chapter on archaeological research and forces us to re-write history," said Juan Garcia, the cultural director for the Cuzco region, as he announced the discovery late Wednesday.

"The discovery is one of the most important ever, and is comparable to Machu Picchu... and the Lord of Sipan," said Garcia, referring to the 1987 discovery of the tomb of an ancient Moche lord...

...It is a "spectacular, truly surprising" discovery, said archaeologist Luis Lumbreras, former director of the National Cultural Institute (INC).

"This will make us revise part of Inca history."

It is the first proof of Wari presence in the jungle, and proof that the Waris were in the area much earlier than the Incas, Lumbreras said.

Friday, 25 February 2011

35 years ago: The fall of Billy James Hargis becomes public knowledge

Oral Roberts isn’t the only televangelist to have been based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the 1950s and ‘60s there was a man named Billy James Hargis, who stood 6’ 6" and weighed almost 280 pounds. For several years in the ‘50s he collaborated with fundamentalist leader Dr. Carl McIntire in publicly opposing Communism, most famously sending 100,000 balloons containing Bible passages across the Iron Curtain into Communist countries. Mr. Hargis eventually went his own way, and at his peak his broadcasts were carried on more than 500 radio stations and 250 television stations, although he reached an audience that was mostly rural.

Mr. Hargis gradually receded from prominence after the 1960s, and he founded American Christian College in 1971 in Tulsa. In the mid-’70s he resigned the presidency of ACC after allegations of sexual misconduct, which became public knowledge when reported by Time magazine in an article titled The Sins of Billy James (February 16, 1976):

TIME Correspondent Anne Constable and Reporters Richard Walker and Tom Carter have learned that five students—four of them men—at his American Christian College in Tulsa have come forward and said that President Hargis has had sexual relations with them. Asked about the charges, Hargis declined to give any specific reply. Through a lawyer, he stated: "I have made more than my share of mistakes. I'm not proud of them. Even the Apostle Paul said, 'Christ died to save sinners, of whom I am chief.' Long ago, I made my peace with God, and my ministry continues."

That ministry centers on the Christian Crusade, which was founded by Hargis in 1950 to promote far-right political and religious causes, and includes radio and TV programs and the Christian Crusade Weekly...Though originally ordained in the Disciples of Christ, Hargis in 1966 organized his own independent Tulsa congregation, The Church of the Christian Crusade. It provided tax deductibility for Hargis contributors after the vocal Christian Crusade lost its tax exemption. Four years later, Hargis founded American Christian College to teach "antiCommunist patriotic Americanism..."

...It was at the college that Hargis' sexual troubles surfaced in October 1974, when the first of the five students confessed to then Vice President David Noebel. Noebel's account: Not long before, Hargis had conducted a wedding for the student; on the honeymoon, the groom and his bride discovered that both of them had slept with Hargis. Later, Noebel says, three more male students told him of having had sexual relations with Hargis over a period of three years. They said the trysts had taken place in Hargis' office, at his farm in the Ozarks, even during his tours with the college choir, the "All-American Kids." Noebel was told that Hargis justified his homosexual acts by citing the Old Testament friendship between David and Jonathan and threatened to blacklist the youths for life if they talked.

Noebel, a Hargis aide for twelve years, described how he felt when he first heard the students' accounts: "For two weeks, I couldn't sleep. I knew we had to get Hargis off campus or we were going to lose the whole school." Finally, on Oct. 25, 1974, Noebel and two other college officials confronted Hargis and two of his lawyers. According to two of those present, Hargis, who has a wife, three daughters and a son, admitted his guilt and blamed his behavior on "genes and chromosomes."

Two days later, Hargis preached a farewell sermon to his Tulsa congregation, then turned the presidency of the college over to Noebel. But Hargis stayed around the campus for weeks before he officially severed ties with the Christian Crusade and allied groups.

The Tulsa district attorney’s office found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Hargis, although I wonder how much of an effort they put in. Deprived of Mr. Hargis’ contacts and fund-raising ability, American Christian College closed in 1977. Mr. Hargis continued to produce radio broadcasts and publications, including an autobiography titled My Great Mistake (1985). Like Jim Bakker and Ted Haggard after him, he admitted to sin, but never admitted to what he was actually accused of. Mr. Hargis developed Alzheimer’s Disease, had several heart attacks, and died in Tulsa on November 27, 2004 at the age of 79. An entertaining--if unflattering--obituary was published in The Economist on December 16, 2004.

Additional articles from Time regarding Billy James Hargis are The Ultras (December 8, 1961); Heavyweight Champ (August 17, 1962); Confrontation in Tulsa (February 7, 1969); The New Crusader (August 29, 1969); and Tidings (January 22, 1973).

Here’s a YouTube clip of Billy James Hargis from the early 1960s, when he was in his prime:

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

40 years ago: U.S. Senate begins hearings on threats to privacy from computer data banks

On February 23, 1971 the United States Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, whose staff had been probing both federal government and private snooping via computer data banks, opened nine days of public hearings. The panel’s chairman, Senator Sam Ervin (Democrat--North Carolina), who saw an invasion of personal privacy in the use of modern computer technology, warned of the dangers to the U.S. "free society" because Americans’ fear of surveillance could lead to being "afraid to speak their minds freely to the government or anyone else."

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Government of Canada funds Muslim Brotherhood schools and a Muslim school that brands Israel as a terrorist state

From the blog Blazing Cat Fur, posted February 21, 2011 (links in original):

Your Tax Dollars At Prayer Part 3: Ottawa has used $53,540.00 of your tax dollars to fund École Ali Ibn Abi Talib in Montreal under the SIP, Security Infrastructure Program, the purpose of which is to "Improve and enhance the safety of Canadian communities at risk of hate-motivated crime through the enhancement of their security infrastructure."

A bit about the school: "ALI IBN ABI TALIB SCHOOL strives to preserve the culture and languages of the international Muslim community by seedling into the children a pride in their heritage. We put a great emphasis on Qur'anic teaching and a proper Islamic conduct. As well we enable children to master the Arabic language to provide access to the original sources of Islamic knowledge." Oooo! That's nice and MultiCulty.

This is the sort of "seeding" that goes on at École Ali Ibn Abi Talib ( see jpeg).

"l'invasion israelienne qui a permis a l'etat israelien de gagner le trophee de l'etat officiel du terrorisme de racisme et de crimes contre l'humanite" Roughly translated "The Israeli invasion has won (Israel) the trophy as the Offical State of Terrorism, Racism & Crimes against humanity"

"...elle fait maintenant l'objet d'attaques criminelles continuelles par les soldat de l'armee d'occupation israelienne qui mene un nouveau genocide contre les enfants et les civiles rappelant les massacres de kana,sabra, chatila..." Rough translation "...the Israeli army is conducting a new genocide against children..."

"...notre celebration cette annee prend une autre dimension a cause des evenements tragiques qui a resulte le terrorisme zionnistes racistes" Rough translation "our celebration this year takes another dimension because of the tragic events due to the terrorist racist zionists"

More fun with your tax dollars. This is rich. Saudi Arabia has removed Muslim Brotherhood Books from schools because they preach violence and extremism. Ottawa, perversely, funds Muslim Brotherhood schools...

... Ottawa has funded the Olive Grove School run by the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada, to the tune of nearly $10,000.00 dollars under the Security Infrastructure Program

The Muslim Association of Canada follows the teachings of Hassan al-Banna founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; "MAC adopts and strives to implement Islam, as embodied in the Qur'an, and the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Albanna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAC regards this ideology as the best representation of Islam as delivered by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). "

I don’t believe for one minute that the anti-Israel positions of these schools represent the views of the present Canadian government, which is notable for its pro-Israel stands. Nor is the hatred expressed by thses schools a rejection or the antithesis of Canada's policy of official multiculturalism. Rather, this is among the natural consequences and predictable results of the suicidal policy of multiculturalism which all Canadian governments have espoused for the last 40 years. Unfortunately, the present "Conservative" government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is as gutless, clueless, and suicidal as those of his predecessors. What passes for Canada in 2011 is really, to use Mark Steyn’s appropriate term, Trudeaupia. The policies of immigration and multiculturalism that have been in place since the days of Pierre Trudeau as Prime Minister (1968-1979; 1980-1984) are a rejection of the traditional idea of what a nation is, i.e. an identifiable people, usually united by such things as common ancestry, religion, or language.

"Multiculturalism" means that there’s no such thing as an identifiable Canadian culture. All cultures are relative, and it doesn’t matter what cultural prejudices people bring with them (and keep)--they’ll just automatically become Canadians because Canada is so wonderful. Of course, such policies ignore the fact that some of these cultures carry some pretty unpleasant baggage, which is not necessarily compatible with traditional Canadian ways. When it comes to citizenship, you can keep the citizenship of your old country, and just add Canada to the list of countries on your passport. Few will condemn such policies for fear of being called racist, and there isn’t an elected (or unelected) politician in Trudeaupia that I can think of (in contrast to some European leaders in recent weeks who can no longer ignore the obvious) who has the guts or wisdom to suggest scrapping policies that have destroyed a once-great and identifiable nation--which is a major reason I no longer vote in federal elections.

HT: The Blog of Walker

Friday, 18 February 2011

30 years ago: Illicit drug use by young people in U.S. levels off

A survey of high school seniors released on February 18, 1981 showed that the use of illicit drug use by young people in the United States ceased to rise in 1980. This was the first year since the beginning of the survey in 1975 that the upward climb had levelled off, and the number of students admitting to the use of marijuana had declined. Dr. Lloyd Johnston, the leader of the study for the National Institute of Drug Abuse, predicted that the rise in drug use among teenagers seemed to be at an end. A similar trend had been reported by the military.

40 years ago: U.S. Census Bureau report shows economic gains made by blacks

A report issued by the United States Census Bureau on February 18, 1971 showed that many blacks (then still commonly called "Negroes") were rising economically. The median income of Negro families in northern and western states was "more comparable to that of white families than was the case in the south," according to the study. The 532,000 young Negro couples under the age of 35 living outside the southern states had made the biggest gains, while the economic lot of all Negro families with both parents living in the home made substantial gains.

The biggest problem of Negro families, however, was not geographical location, but the broken home. The report indicated that almost 1/3 of the Negro families in the U.S. were headed by only one parent. These broken families, usually headed by the mother--with the father missing--had made virtually no income gain in the previous decade, and more than half had incomes below the officially recognized "poverty" line.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Those "missing links" may be missing because evolution may be going in the opposite direction

...avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: I Timothy 6:20b (KJV)
Turn away from godless chatter ad the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, I Timothy 6:20b (NIV)

Christians, of course, have no right to question any evolutionist dogma, since evolution is "science." However, a Université de Montréal biochemist questions whether evolution necessarily involves moving from the simple to the complex. As reported by EScience News, February 10, 2011:

Evolution is not a steady march towards ever more sophisticated beings and therefore the search for the living "missing links" is pointless, according to findings published by a team of researchers led by Dr. Hervé Philippe of the Université de Montréal's Department of Biochemistry. "Aristotle was the first to classify organisms – from the least to the most sophisticated. Darwin's theory of evolution continued this idea, with the concept of a hierarchy of evolution. This way of thinking has led researchers and skeptics alike to look for less sophisticated ancestors in order to prove or disprove evolution," Philippe explained. "What we now know is that evolution does not happen in a single direction – when people talk about a missing link, they're generally excluding the possibility of more sophisticated ancestors." The researchers compared the genomes of two kinds of marine worms with simple morphology – Xenoturbellida and Acoelomorpha – with those of other animals. They demonstrated that their previous position at the base of the bilateral symmetry animal group – that includes insects, mollusks and vertebrates – was inaccurate. "Instead, we determined that Xenoturbellida and Acoelomorpha are closely related to the complex deuterostomes, which is a major lineage containing sea urchins, humans and sharks," Philippe said. "I've put them in that order intentionally because it seems strange, which demonstrates our tendency to always put organisms in order of complexity." The findings mean that the worms had evolved from a more sophisticated ancestor through major simplifications.

Britain's "Conservative" government "permits" sodomite and lesbian "marriage" ceremonies in churches

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet...
...Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:26-27, 32

Today, sodomite and lesbian "marriage" ceremonies are "permitted" in British churches. Tomorrow they will be compulsory. Contributing to the issue, at least as far as the Church of England is concerned, is the union of church and state; the Church of England is "by law established." Please note that this latest development comes from an ostensibly "conservative" government. As reported by Agence France-Presse, February 13, 2011:

The British government said Sunday it was planning to change the law and allow same-sex couples to have civil partnership ceremonies in places of worship.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper said such ceremonies could be permitted to include religious elements for the first time.

The Sunday Times newspaper said the proposed marriage law reforms could also end the legal definition of marriage pertaining only to a man and a woman, in a highly symbolic move.

"The government is currently considering what the next stage should be for civil partnerships, including how some religious organisations can allow same-sex couples to register their relationship in a religious setting if they wish to do so," a Home Office spokesman said.

"Ministers have met a range of people and organisations to hear their views on this issue. An announcement will be made in due course."

While the changes will be welcomed by gay equality campaigners, they could provoke a strong reaction from some traditionalists and church groups.

The Church of England has already said it will not allow any of its buildings to be used for civil partnership ceremonies.

However, other groups including Quakers, Unitarians, and Liberal Jews are likely to be more sympathetic, The Sunday Telegraph said...

...Under current rules, ceremonies must be secular and cannot contain religious elements, such as hymn singing and Bible readings.

The Sunday Telegraph said equalities minister Lynne Featherstone was expected to outline shortly plans to lift the ban.

The weekly broadsheet warned that the new move could open a "legal minefield", with gay couples possibly taking action against faith groups if they were barred from tying the knot in their chosen place of worship.

Large numbers of New Agers won't be welcome in Bugarach on December 21, 2012

As reported by Henry Samuel in the Daily Telegraph on December 21, 2010:

The mayor of a picturesque French village has threatened to call in the army to seal it off from a tide of New Age fanatics and UFO watchers, who are convinced it is the only place on Earth to be spared Armageddon in 2012.

Bugarach, population 189, is a peaceful farming village in the Aude region, southwestern France and sits at the foot of the Pic de Bugarach, the highest mountain in the Corbières wine-growing area.

But in the past few months, the quiet village has been inundated by groups of esoteric outsiders who believe the peak is an "alien garage".

According to them, extraterrestrials are quietly waiting in a massive cavity beneath the rock for the world to end, at which point they will leave, taking, it is hoped, a lucky few humans with them.

Most believe Armageddon will take place on December 21, 2012, the end date of the ancient Maya calendar, at which point they predict human civilisation will come to an end. Another favourite date mentioned is 12, December, 2012. They see Bugarach as one of perhaps several "sacred mountains" sheltered from the cataclysm.

"This is no laughing matter," Jean-Pierre Delord, the mayor, told The Daily Telegraph.

"If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012."

The Isaiah 22:13 "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" award goes to Valerie Austin, formerly of Newcastle, England:

"It has a magnetic force in the scientific sense of the word. There is a special feeling here, but if I really believed the world were about to end, I'd have a whale of a time over the next two years" rather than look for salvation, she said.
May 14, 2012 update: As reported by Oliver Pickup in The Independent, March 25, 2012:

A mountain looming over a French commune with a population of just 200 is being touted as a modern Noah's Ark when doomsday arrives – supposedly less than nine months from now.

A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers – or esoterics, as locals call them – have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans near by and beam them off to the next age.

As the cataclysmic date – which, according to eschatological beliefs and predicted astrological alignments, concludes a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar – nears, the goings-on around the peak have become more bizarre and ritualistic.

For decades, there has been a belief that Pic de Bugarach, which, at 1,230 metres, is the highest in the Corbières mountain range, possesses an eery power. Often called the "upside-down mountain" – geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up – it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves.

Further, rumours persist that the country's late president François Mitterrand was transported by helicopter on to the peak, while the Nazis, and, later, Israel's Mossad, performed mysterious digs there. Now the nearby village is awash with New Agers, who have boosted the local economy, though their naked group climbs up to the peak have raised concerns as well as eyebrows. Among other oddities, some hikers have been spotted scaling the mountain carrying a ball with a golden ring, strung together by a single thread.

A grizzled man wearing a white linen smock, who calls himself Jean, set up a yurt in the forest a couple of years ago to prepare for the earth's demise. "The apocalypse we believe in is the end of a certain world and the beginning of another," he offers. "A new spiritual world. The year 2012 is the end of a cycle of suffering. Bugarach is one of the major chakras of the earth, a place devoted to welcoming the energies of tomorrow."

Upwards of 100,000 people are thought to be planning a trip to the mountain, 30 miles west of Perpignan, in time for 21 December, and opportunistic entrepreneurs are shamelessly cashing in on the phenomenon. While American travel agents have been offering special, one-way deals to witness the end of the world, a neighbouring village, Saint-Paul de Fenouillet, has produced a wine to celebrate the occasion.

Jean-Pierre Delord, the perplexed mayor of Bugarach, has flagged up the situation to the French authorities, requesting they scramble the army to the tiny village for fear of a mass suicide. It has also caught the attention of France's sect watchdog, Miviludes.

A genial sexagenarian, Mr Delord says: "We've seen a huge rise in visitors. Already this year more than 20,000 people have climbed right to the top, and last year we had 10,000 hikers, which was a significant rise on the previous 12 months. They think Pic de Bugarach is 'un garage à ovnis' [an alien garage]. The villagers are exasperated: the exaggerated importance of something which they see as completely removed from reality is bewildering. After 21 December, this will surely return to normal."

Masking his fears of what might happen on 21 December, Mr Delord jokes that he will throw a party and supply vin chaud and cheese. "I'm sure we'll have a little fete to celebrate that we're still alive," he smiles. "I suppose it's up to each of us to find our own way."

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Zechariah's tomb may have been discovered

As reported by Ari Rabinovitch of Reuters on February 2, 2011:

The pursuit of a gang of grave robbers has led to the discovery of an ancient church outside Jerusalem that may contain the burial place of the biblical prophet Zechariah, Israeli authorities said Wednesday.

The hill-top church was destroyed by an earthquake some 1,300 years ago and lay partly buried until detectives from Israel's Antiquities Authority, pursuing a gang of antiquity thieves, noticed an elaborate doorpost poking through the earth. The robbers got away -- they were caught a few months later at a site nearby -- but after weeks of digging, archaeologists uncovered the remains of the church. It was about the size of a basketball court and contained fallen marble pillars and a nearly pristine 10-meter-long mosaic floor.

Beneath the church's altar is a burial chamber that the Antiquities Authority said may have been the tomb of the prophet Zechariah, known from the eponymous book in the Bible, written around 520 BC.

The claim, which a number of experts have based on Christian sources and an ancient diagram known as the Madaba Map, has not been proved and is still being studied, they said.

Italy blocks European Union statement on religious persecution

As reported by David Brunnstrom of Reuters on January 31, 2011:

BRUSSELS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The European Union failed to agree on a statement against the persecution of religious minorities on Monday after Italy objected to the omission of any reference to the protection of Christians.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said a draft proposed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers expressing concern about increasing numbers of attacks on places of worship and pilgrims showed an "excess of secularism".

"The final text didn't include any mention of Christians, as if we were talking of something else, so I asked the text to be withdrawn, so in fact it has been withdrawn," he told reporters.

France backed Italy on the need to include references to specific minorities, including Christians and Shi'ite Muslims, diplomats said.