A pastor in Iran who has twice refused to renounce his Christian faith may be executed within days, reported Baptist Press News. It would be the first time in over 20 years that the Iranian government has executed someone for apostasy against Islam. The Baptist news site reported that “Yousef Nadarkhani, who leads a 400-person house church movement, refused in court on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 to recant Christianity and was scheduled to get two more chances on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, according to the British-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which monitors religious freedom.” The organization noted in a press release that without recanting, Nadarkhani would most likely be put to death. While the plight of two American hikers imprisoned in Iran garnered worldwide media attention, and their release came following the intense efforts of an American interfaith alliance, no such campaign has been pushed for the lone Iranian minister. “The American interfaith delegation ... who made headlines when they traveled to Tehran and secured the release of the two American hikers last week should pack their bags again,” wrote Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute’s Center on Religious Freedom on September 26th. “They need to make a return trip. And they better hurry.”
Liberal comedian Jon Stewart has been one of the most sympathetic television personalities to Ron Paul and his cause, and as a result, Stewart has come to Paul’s defense a number of times, even calling out the mainstream media for its failure to provide fair and accurate reporting of Paul’s campaign success. Likewise, Stewart has featured Paul on his Comedy Central television program, The Daily Show, on several occasions. In Paul’s most recent appearance, which aired on September 26, Paul was asked by Stewart why the media has chosen to ignore him. Paul answered: “I’m a threat to the Establishment.” Stewart appeared genuinely confused as to why the mainstream media has wholly ignored Paul and treated him as an unviable candidate. He asked Paul: Why do you think that is? You ran in 2008. You had a nice strong showing. You’ve improved upon that. You came in a very close second in the Ames Straw Poll. What is it about your candidacy that they so easily dismiss and are they right when they saw Ron Paul is not an electable figure? Paul responded by indicating that he is obviously electable as he has been elected to 12 terms in the House of Representatives. As to why he believes the media has disregarded him as a legitimate contender, Paul answered, “I think some people don’t want to hear the message because it’s a threat to them and I’m a threat to the Establishment.
A new online movie released September 26 by Christian apologist Ray Comfort is poised to radically change the abortion debate in the United States and beyond. Entitled 180 because of the complete change of heart eight “pro-choice” individuals in the film have just moments after being confronted with the truth about abortion, the movie had nearly 30,000 views on YouTube within 24 hours of its release, prompting some observers to predict that the free online movie is destined to go viral — meaning millions will log on to view it over the next few months. Shane Martin, who is managing the film’s social media sites, told the Christian Post that 180’s Facebook page had been receiving approximately 100 new “Likes” per hour shortly after the video’s online launch. “The response has actually been overwhelming,” he said. “We’ve had thousands of views on YouTube today and it’s just the first day that it’s live.” Comfort said he can understand how skeptical some might be at the film’s power to change minds so quickly and completely because he was surprised himself. Nonetheless, he told OneNewsNow.com, “knowledge is very, very powerful, and when we have knowledge, it can send information; it can change our whole perspective. That’s exactly what happens. The reason why we called it ‘180’ is because people do a 180-degree turn….”
With the announcement from the Commerce Department that the sale of new homes in August fell by 2.3 percent compared to July, the Los Angeles Times took on a decidedly gloomy tone, concluding, “Sales of newly built homes in the U.S. appear to be stuck at the bottom.” The report noted that the August numbers translated into an annual rate of 295,000 sales, which is close to the low of 278,000 recorded in August last year, and down from the 1.3 million new homes sold in 2005. Missing was any attention, however, to two important pieces of the economic housing puzzle in that report. First, the trend for new home sales has been flat for the last 16 months, and the 162,000 newly-built homes presently on the market represent a supply of six months and two weeks. A healthy housing market usually has a six months’ supply of new homes. Translation: The housing market in new homes has hit a bottom, and the supply/demand ratio is almost back to normal.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced recently that the Palestinian Authority intended to seek official recognition of statehood by the United Nations. The UN Security Council president announced Monday that the council would meet today to begin formal consideration of the Palestinian request for membership in the world body. Predictably, the United States has announced that it would veto any Security Council resolution accepting Palestine’s application for recognition. The exercise of the veto would prevent the proposal from being placed before the 193-member General Assembly for the needed two-thirds vote. A yes-no vote in the Security Council is not expected to occur for some time, perhaps a month. If the United States and Israel are successful in thwarting the Palestinian plan to gain full membership in the United Nations, the Palestinian Authority will likely recur to the General Assembly, where the possibility of a veto is obviated and there remain a few less desirable, though more likely, alternatives to official recognition of statehood.
Last week the President introduced his deficit reduction plan by saying that it would start to pay down “the big pile of IOUs” the government has issued in order to pay its bills, through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. He asserted, “We have to cut out what we can’t afford [in order] to pay for what really matters. We can’t just cut our way out of this hole. It is going to take a balanced approach.” And to make his point clear, he declared, I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. [Emphasis added.] One piece of his proposal, which has been dubbed the “Buffet rule,” would not allow millionaires to pay a lesser share of their income in taxes than middle-income earners pay, such as Warren Buffet’s secretary. And that is the first of several fallacies underpinning his proposal. When all the taxes that Buffet pays are taken into account, his share is vastly larger than Buffet publicly admitted. As noted by Richard Rahn, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, “Buffet appears to prefer to take much of his compensation in the form of capital gains rather than salary….
Although he currently receives only six percent of votes in those surveyed in the latest IBOPE/Zogby poll, Newt Gingrich is getting a lot of press over a recent endorsement. On Monday, the founder of Tea Party Nation, Judd Phillips, added his name and influence to the list of those backing the former Speaker of the House’s run for the Republican nomination for president. Phillips explains his decision in a blog post published on the Tea Party Nation website. Said Phillips: In choosing who is my candidate, there are some criteria I look at. First, the candidate must be electable. We can have the best candidate in the world but if they are unelectable, it does not matter. The candidate must be conservative... Finally, the candidate must have the vision to put forward plans to dismantle the massive government bureaucracy that we have seen grow under both Republican and Democrat administrations. Phillips goes on to praise Gingrich’s performance during the several debates with the other GOP candidates for that party’s nomination.
Military commissions have always been controversial in U.S. history, and no more so than in the past 10 years. Military commissions have traditionally been defined as executive branch courts, created by necessity under a system where ordinary courts are not functioning, such as during a rebellion or military occupation of a foreign country. They are distinct from ordinary criminal trials and the regular military system of justice, the courts-martial, the latter being generally required to “apply the principles of law and the rules of evidence generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the United States district courts” under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Constitutional problems with the Bush (and now Obama) military commissions were accurately explained by Chad DeVeaux of Western State University Law School: Such commissions, which may most accurately be categorized as “Article II courts,” deviate widely from civilian courts. Ordinarily inviolate procedural protections are disregarded. Juries are denied. The right of appellate review is circumscribed. The universal common-law prohibition against the admission of hearsay, even multiple hearsay, and un-sworn evidence is not honored. Most critically, the structural independence enjoyed by Article III courts and even state jurists is wholly absent. Military commissions are inquisitorial in nature. Military judges and even the commission members themselves fall within the direct chain of command of the President and his proxies and ultimately depend on favorable reviews from these superiors for promotion and career advancement.
Presidents Bush and Obama have created a vigorous public debate since the September 11 attacks over whether suspects in the “war on terror” are entitled to a regular criminal trial, court-martial (the regular military justice system), or a “military commission” trial, or whether they are entitled to a trial at all. A “military commission” is traditionally an executive branch (or Article II) court, created to try war criminals in a time and place where there are no criminal or ordinary military courts to try suspects. But Congress has explicitly authorized them twice since the September 11 attacks. Bush’s and Obama’s actions since 2001 raise a number of fundamental constitutional questions: Can the President — as Bush tried to do — detain an American citizen indefinitely without trial? Can the President — as Obama claims — kill American citizens without trial? Are Bush’s and Obama’s efforts to detain foreigners indefinitely without trial constitutional? When, if ever, is a “military commission” constitutional? Can U.S. citizens be subject to a military commission? How about foreigners? Do the Bush/Obama military commissions follow the Constitution? And finally, putting aside constitutional principles, are military commissions more effective on a practical level in punishing suspected terrorists? The following are 11 constitutional principles about the trial rights of Americans and foreigners during the “war on terror.”
What's the common thread between Europe's financial mess, particularly among the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), and the financial mess in the U.S.? That question could be more easily answered if we asked instead: What's necessary to cure the financial mess in Europe and the U.S.? If European governments and the U.S. Congress ceased the practice of giving people what they have not earned, budgets would be more than balanced. For government to guarantee a person a right to goods and services he has not earned, it must diminish someone else's right to what he has earned, simply because governments have no resources of their very own. The first order of business in reaching a solution to the financial mess in Europe and the U.S. must be the recognition that governments have been doing a class of unsustainable things, mostly giving people special privileges and things that they have not earned. It's a matter of not simply what's good or bad for the beneficiaries but what its effect is on society at large and the welfare of a nation.