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Sunday, October 21, 2007


Life Direction

Activity with no clear direction is little more than a waste of time and energy. Yet when you give direction to your efforts, they result in true achievement.

No matter how fast and furious you're going, if you don't have a consistent direction then you won't end up getting anywhere meaningful. Yet even the smallest, slowest steps, when they have a well-defined direction, can take you to the most ambitious and valuable goal.

Once you're clear about your direction, your thoughts and actions will begin to take you there. For your life is a swift arrow in need of a target.

Know what that target is, and that is where the arrow of your life will fly. People, places, conditions and events will work together to move you in whatever direction you have sincerely and intentionally chosen.

Your wisdom and experience, your knowledge and skills, your passions and resources all are made accessible and effective when they are well focused. Provide your life with direction, and your life will provide you with accomplishment.

Thoughtfully and lovingly choose your direction, then commit yourself to it. And each moment, each action will move you toward it.


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GOP hopefuls get fired up

Rudy fired up the crowd. John had them chuckling. Mitt spun family yarns. And Fred left them wanting more.

The leading Republican presidential candidates brought their own style, swagger and substance to an Orlando convention hall Saturday for a state party gala that solidifies Florida's spot on the political map.

The speeches served as a warm-up to Sunday's nationally televised debate (8 p.m., Fox News Channel) and held few surprises, except for Fred Thompson's unexpectedly short speech.

Their appearances underscored the political clout that comes with an early Jan. 29 primary. Candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Thompson ponied up $100,000 for the chance to address the 3,000 attendees, plus thousands of dollars more on snacks and giveaways for their supporters.

They may not have talked about issues dear to Floridians, like hurricane insurance and offshore oil drilling, but they told the crowd what it wanted to hear: Florida matters.

''The winner of the primary here in January will be the Republican nominee,'' said Giuliani, who leads in polls nationwide and in Florida. ``The Republican nominee will win Florida in November, and once again Florida is going to give us the next president of the United States.''

The candidates agreed on almost every issue: cutting runaway spending, supporting the Iraq War, talking tough on Iran.

But they never appeared on the same stage at the same time, never mentioned each other by name and took few swipes at each other, though Thompson noted he was a ''consistent conservative'' and wasn't a ''professional politician.'' And McCain took a jab at Romney for saying during a previous debate that he would check with his lawyers during a security crisis.

If there was a unifying issue, it was Hillary Clinton. The Democratic front-runner was name-dropped and drop-kicked more than anyone else, and the crowd roared every time.

The two-term incumbent? Nobody mentioned him.


Here's what they said and how they said it:

Giuliani was the first to speak, and he made the strongest impression, striding across the stage and pausing at just the right times for dramatic effect and applause.

The former New York City mayor didn't talk about social issues such as abortion and gay rights that separate him from some conservatives, but he did pitch himself as a results-driven executive marketable in traditionally Democratic states.

''We're going to run a 50-state campaign,'' he said. ``We're going to take the campaign to their territory, and we're going to take it back from them.''

What Giuliani lacked in policy detail, he made up for with bravado. ''Our goal in Iraq should be victory,'' he said. Later: ``I will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power. No how. No way.''

Thompson lost an opportunity to roll out a big-name endorsement when a family emergency forced House Speaker Marco Rubio to cancel the announcement. The powerful Miami legislator, who is positioning himself as the party's conservative leader, was sought after by all the campaigns.

Thompson, known more for his acting roles than his Senate tenure, was introduced by a video titled The Hunt for Red November, a spoof of one of his best-known movies, a Tom Clancy Cold War thriller.

His five-minute speech wasn't much longer than the video, in contrast to his rivals, who spoke for at least 15 minutes each. Dozens of people asked: ``Is that it?''

But Thompson is the only candidate planning to stick around after Sunday's nationally televised debate. He's going on a six-city tour over two days, his second extended campaign swing through Florida.

McCain was part war hero, part stand-up comic, drawing on his Vietnam imprisonment but sprinkling his speech with one-liners. Zsa Zsa Gabor was a punch line, and so was the Democratic-controlled Congress: ``When you're getting down that low in the polls, you're getting down to paid staff and blood relatives.''

He claimed repeatedly that the war was succeeding, and noted that he led the call for more troops in Iraq. In a statement that echoed his campaign's never-surrender theme, he declared: ``I will follow bin Laden to the gates of hell. I know how to get him, and I'll get him. We will win this struggle.''


Romney's presentation stressed his family-man image. His ''sweetie'' introduced him, and he noted that the oldest of his five sons was on stage along with prominent supporters.

He hit some wonky themes, such as harnessing alternative energy from ''blue-green algae'' and fighting radical Muslims who believe in a global ''caliphate'' that seeks to violently spread Islam throughout the world. He repeated his call for 100,000 more troops. ''A strong America has been the best ally peace has ever known,'' he said.

Romney promised that Florida's full slate of delegates would participate in the 2008 Republican nominating convention, despite national party rules that forfeit half of the seats as punishment for the early primary grab. Most of the Democratic candidates are boycotting the state.

But the benefits are clear for Republican voters, said David ''DJ'' Johnson, a veteran political operative not involved with any campaign.

''The campaign in Florida starts today,'' he said. ``This is the time where just a word or a turn of phrase or some little twist can change the outcome. Even though Giuliani's in the lead, anything can happen.''


Buyers win as market stumbles

October 19, 2007

Chris Sicks - Last month was the worst month to sell a home in more than 10 years. Only 4,423 existing homes were sold in the Washington metropolitan area, less than half of what we saw in September 2005.

As always, various jurisdictions, price ranges and housing types fared better than others.

"The District is pretty much flat compared to last year, but more expensive single-family homes are moving quickly — with prices up and sellers receiving multiple offers," says Holly Worthington, managing broker at Long & Foster's Chevy Chase and Woodley Park offices.

"An $800,000 house in Chevy Chase is not going to sit around. They just seem to continue to move. Inventory is actually down from where it's been. But in some of the less-expensive parts of the city, row houses and detached homes are not moving as well, generally speaking."

If the District is doing fairly well in a down market, what can we make of Prince George's County, where sales are less than half of what they were just one year ago?

"In part, Prince George's is a reflection of subprime mortgage market folding," Ms. Worthington says. "Many first-time buyers relied on those kinds of loans, and that's the segment that has been hardest hit. And some buyers with marginal credit have been cut out of the market because there now are fewer loan options available to them."

Some housing types are selling better than others. In most of the region in September, condominiums were a little easier to sell than attached or detached homes.

"Condos in the District are perking along," says Ms. Worthington. "It's certainly slower than it had been, with condo prices down 5 percent in some cases and 10 percent in others."

"But well-priced, well-staged condos will sell," she says. "A year ago, a condo didn't need to be staged to sell. But now, buyers are reluctant because of the negative media about the market. They are very careful, and therefore a property has to be very special for them to make a move. One reason they are careful is because in the condo market, people really evaluate the rent-versus-buy decision."

Despite how gloomy things are for home sellers these days, buyers have cause to rejoice.

"The time to buy is when no one else is," Ms. Worthington says. "Most people are more afraid of a loss in value than they are willing to take a risk to make a gain. That thinking affects people, so they bail out. But the reality is that people benefit more from moving up in a down market. A depreciating market is the time to move up, rather than an appreciating market."

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail (

The statistics in this story reflect a metropolitan area that includes the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Howard, Charles and Frederick; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford; the city of Alexandria; and the District.


Vultures Are Circling Over Distressed Properties

By Kenneth R. Harney
Saturday, October 20, 2007; F01

Call them grave dancers, vulture funds, turnaround specialists or the more euphemistic "opportunity investors." However you identify them, the deal is the same: When hyperactive real estate markets lose their sizzle, or property owners no longer can afford to hang on to their houses, well-capitalized investors smell blood and move in.

That's happening in most of the "bubble" areas of the country that saw heavy speculative activity and razzle-dazzle financing from 2001 through 2005. But it's also happening in less volatile markets where unaffordable mortgages and economic distress are producing record numbers of panic sales to investors at fractions of former values.

In Miami Beach and elsewhere in South Florida, for example, real estate consultant Jack McCabe said he is advising "hedge funds, high-net-worth individuals, Wall Street investment banks, and groups of doctors and lawyers" who all want a piece of the area's tottering condominium and townhouse sector, where some properties are selling for 50 cents on the dollar.

McCabe, chief executive of McCabe Research and Consulting in Deerfield Beach, Fla., said investment groups with capital "in the multiple billions" are already active in South Florida, searching for fire-sale prices on properties with good long-term prospects. In the greater Miami area, McCabe estimates, there are 25,000 unsold condos and townhouses on multiple listing services, which he calculates is a 35-month supply at current absorption rates. Another 22,600 units are under construction, and 4,000 more are to begin construction in the next year or two.

At one recent auction, McCabe said, investors walked away with three-bedroom condos for $300,000 that originally sold for $550,000 to $675,000. Though not all units are selling at giveaway prices, he says, Miami is an example for overbuilt, overpriced condo markets that were dominated by speculators during the boom, many of whom have simply sent back the keys and left.

McCabe declined to identify any of his roster of vulture-fund clients, "who prefer to fly under the radar." But they are out in droves to acquire entire buildings -- or floors or individual units -- then refurbish them, convert them to different uses, rent them, out or hold them and resell at the first sign that the local market is bouncing back. McCabe said that for many of these units, this might not happen until 2010 or 2011.

McCabe's segment of the market tends toward big bucks, but around the country, there are hundreds of smaller-scale investors on the prowl for turnaround situations in otherwise stable markets. The largest organization of such entrepreneurs is HomeVestors, a Dallas franchiser started in the mid-1990s. Its more than 260 franchisee partners are on track to buy more than 7,100 individual houses in 35 states this year at value discounts averaging 35 percent to 45 percent, said John Hayes, president and chief executive.

Best known for its advertising slogan "We Buy Ugly Houses," HomeVestors trains its franchisees to spot and capitalize not only on houses that need work, but also on what Hayes calls "ugly situations" -- people with problems who are motivated to sell for cash. Among the most common situations: divorce, death, job loss, problem tenants and mortgage delinquencies caused by unaffordable financing.

HomeVestor franchisees pay a $49,000 fee upfront and must have net assets of $200,000 in cash or cash equivalents. They also pay the parent company $775 for every house they acquire, plus interest on credit lines the company extends to enable them to buy multiple properties. Some HomeVestor franchisees buy, fix, rent or resell 100 or more houses a year, thanks in part to high volumes of potential sellers -- more than 200,000 this year, Hayes said -- who are driven to them by the company's advertising campaigns.

Subprime mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures are swelling those numbers significantly, he said, along with plunging prices in some local areas. Softening markets also are driving down the expected discounts on troubled houses. Whereas in past years, "we might offer 65 percent of a property's expected value after repair, now in some places we're looking at 50 percent," Hayes said.

A $100,000 starter home with a seriously delinquent mortgage and in need of renovation, for instance, might draw an offer of $50,000 to $55,000 cash from a HomeVestor franchisee.

"The owner might be offended at the low-ball offer, but then again, in some situations that might be the only offer they get," Hayes said.

Kenneth R. Harney's e-mail address is


By Tom Armitage Reuters - Saturday, October 20 11:25 pm

ZURICH (Reuters) - The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) is set to consolidate its position as the alpine nation's most popular grouping in a parliamentary election on Sunday, outstripping its rivals after a provocative campaign.


Polling booths in Switzerland are due to close around midday (11 a.m. British time). A large proportion of Swiss ballots are cast by mail in advance of election day. The first estimated national result is due at around 1900 local time (6 p.m. British time).

According to the last opinion poll conducted before the election, the People's Party are expected to win 27.3 percent of the vote, a slight increase over 2003 when they raced to the top of the polls amid accusations of xenophobia.

The SVP has again run a controversial campaign calling for the extradition of foreigners who commit serious crimes. It has been criticised by opponents and has ruffled the usually smooth waters of Switzerland's consensus-based politics.

Opposition to the SVP's campaign, which used posters calling for the "black sheep" of Swiss society to be booted out, spilled over into a rare outburst of violence on the streets of Berne earlier this month when police and left-wing activists clashed.

The SVP's nearest rivals, the Social Democrats, are expected to take around 21.7 percent of the vote, a decline from 2003, with the Christian Democrats seen winning 15.4 percent and the Free Democrats on 15.5 percent.


Pollsters Gfs.bern said in their last survey that the true winners of the election would be the Green party, whose share of the vote is expected to rise by 2.5 percent to 10 percent amid concerns about the environment and climate change.

The country's approximately 4.5 million voters cast their ballots to fill 200 seats in the National Council, the lower house, on a proportional basis. They also elect 46 cantonal representatives to the Council of States, the upper house.

Analysts do not rule out the SVP and its pugnacious leader Christoph Blocher using its showing in Sunday's election to justify calls for a change in the composition of the Federal Council, the seven-seat National Executive.

This would upset the so-called "magic formula" which in the past has given the three largest parties two seats each, with one for the smallest. This has traditionally ensured decisions are made by consensus.

Those with two seats on the Council, which is elected by parliament, are the SVP, the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats. The Christian Democrats have one seat.


YOUR GOVERNMENT AT WORK: Soldiers' pictures banished from hometown post officeSpokesman: 'It's not a place to post things or make displays'
Posted: October 20, 20075:11 p.m. Eastern
© 2007
Members of the U.S. military have been vilified for their service and have faced criminal charges for battlefield decisions and congressional accusations of rampant "hate crimes." Now a California post office also has banned photographs of local soldiers who are defending their country.
"It's an emotional issue and people look at their post office as a hub of the community, but the post office is there to do postal business and it's not a place to post things or make displays,” postal spokesman Richard Maher told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
The newspaper reported that "a customer" had complained that the display, which over the years has featured dozens of photos of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, including many whose relatives use the Paso Robles Post Office, was pro-war.
The "complaint" made its way to the regional post center, where officials asked Paso Robles postmaster Mike Milby to remove them, for being in violation of a rule against displays of non-postal business material.

Signs at the countor this week said: "We are being forced to remove the pictures from our wall of our boys and girls in the military. Please ask for your pictures back."
The newspaper reported clerks were facing a barrage of questions, mostly from people expressing dismay.
The action also caught the attention of U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.
"Supporting our local heroes' bravery and sacrifice is common sense. That is why I am troubled with the Paso Robles Post Office's removal of pictures honoring the sacrifice of our brave men and women serving in the Armed Forces," he said. "I am in contact with the Postal Service to get a clear answer of why this happened and determine what actions can be taken."
His spokesman, Nick Bouknight, said McCarthy will try to restore the photographs, even if it requires changing postal rules to do that.
Participants in a forum set up by the newspaper were fuming.
"What an outrage that because a person has an opinion that opinion takes precedent over everything else. I have an opinion that the person who made the statement causing the display to be removed is ignorant and completely without compassion. I think they should lose all the freedom that comes with being an American citizen. Oh but wait! That's just MY opinion!!!" wrote "lavenderbabe."
Added "Jmbreland," "No surprise here. As a JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, one of my jobs is to help soldiers resolve problems with their employers when they are deployed. Believe it or not, the U.S. Postal Service is one of the worst about giving its employees grief when they're called up to serve. I wouldn't expect anything better than this from them."
"This has the ACLU's filthy fingerprints all over it," said "DowntownBob."
A retired Marine, Melvin Leppla, called for simple humanity.
"There is one aspect that some are overlooking here. It's called the human factor. The pictures of our servicemen and servicewomen on display aren't propaganda posters promoting pro-war, these are pictures of human beings, fellow Americans, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, aunties, and uncles. They bleed, they cry, they miss their loved ones without measure and all those faces in those pictures have one commonality. They do not want to be forgotten.
There are those that [cry], we must follow the postal regulations, yes, just like we must follow the speed limit, feed the parking meter, and not fudge on our taxes. We are the most over-regulated society in the world, but please tell me what harm is there in having pictures of relatives, friends and neighbors of Paso Robles on display?"
Attacking members of the service has been popular of late. As WND reported, Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., recently trashed the collective reputations of millions of U.S. military service members in order to advance their "hate crimes" legislation, which would make it a crime to utter a negative opinion about homosexuals or their lifestyle, a pro-family group says.
The U.S. Senate has approved an amendment by Kennedy and Smith to install in federal law a ban on such expressions of religious and personal opinion. The amendment was added to the Department of Defense Authorization bill, which is needed to keep funding worldwide U.S. military operations.
"[The] senators humiliate[d] our brave men and women in uniform by alleging that America's military is a haven for bigots committing 'hate crimes'," said Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America.
"The Defense Authorization bill has been twisted to shamelessly smear our military. Alleged crimes by military members are already prosecuted, so the point of an amendment accusing military members of committing 'hate crimes' is to create the perception that America's military is rife with violent bigots," Wright said.
The "hate crimes" plan has been pending for some time, but to make the plan pertinent to the military spending plan, the senators cited the immediate need for such remedies in the military.
WND also reported that a number of Marines are facing court hearings from their battlefield decisions in Haditha, Al-Anbar province, Iraq, after U.S. Rep John Murtha, D-Pa., incited by an inflammatory "Time" magazine headline accusing Marines of "massacring" civilians, described the Marines as killers.
WND also reported when former president candidate John Kerry used soldiers' funerals to solicit campaign help.
He solicited the families of slain soldiers at their sons' funerals as part of his campaign to undermine the president's policy in Iraq, charged Melanie Morgan and Catherine Moy in their new book "American Mourning".
Moy said the book documents an April 2004 incident in which a Kerry campaign representative visited parents of a fallen U.S. soldier at his funeral to ask them to speak out against President Bush.
"A woman, who had also lost her son in the war and who represented the local Kerry campaign, approached the Johnsons at their son – Justin's – wake. Justin was laid out in his Army uniform as the woman began her speech about hating Bush and helping Kerry. She asked the Johnsons to speak out against President Bush," the authors said.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


A Must Read! One of our friends shared this with us and we didn't want it to get lost in the "Shuffle."
Always Faithful
This young soldier tells it like it is! As he so eloquently points out, pasting yellow ribbons on your car while publicly protesting "The War is lost" isn't supporting our troops! Moreover, he accurately proclaims that the country is NOT at war...only the military and their families!! The public opposition to the war is demoralizing to the troops and borders on treason! I wanted to share an article my son Eddie sent me from ..:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 />Iraq . I was not going to send it out through the usual means; I'm looking to have this published somehow. I just felt after reading it again this morning that I wanted people to begin reading it and begin/continue to pray for our brave men and women in uniform.I'm not sure how many letters or articles you've ever read from the genre of "News from the Front," but this is one of the best I've ever read, including all of America 's wars. As I was reading this, I forgot that it was my son who had written it. My emotions range from great pride to great sorrow, knowing that my little boy (22 years old) has become this man.He is my hero. Thank all of you for your prayers for him; he needs them now more than ever. God bless.David JeffersHope Rides AloneBy Eddie JeffersI stare out into the darkness from my post, and I watch the city burn to the ground. I smell the familiar smells, I walk through the familiar rubble, and I look at the frightened faces that watch me pass down the streets of their neighborhoods. My nerves hardly rest; my hands are steady on a device that has been given to me from my government for the purpose of taking the lives of others.I sweat, and I am tired. My back aches from the loads I carry. Young American boys look to me to direct them in a manner that will someday allow them to see their families again...and yet, I too, am just a age not but a few years more than that of the ones I lead. I am stressed, I am scared, and I am paranoid...because death is everywhere. It waits for me, it calls to me from around street corners and windows, and it is always there.There are the demons that follow me, and tempt me into thoughts and actions that are not my own...but that are necessary for survival. I've made compromises with my humanity. And I am not alone in this. Miles from me are my brethren in this world, who walk in the same streets...who feel the same things, whether they admit to it or not.And to think, I volunteered for this...And I am ignorant to the rest of the world...or so I thought.But even thousands of miles away, in Ramadi , Iraq , the cries and screams and complaints of the ungrateful reach me. In a year, I will be thrust back into society from a life and mentality that doesn't fit your average man. And then, I will be alone. And then, I will walk down the streets of America , and see the yellow ribbon stickers on the cars of the same people who compare our President to Hitler.I will watch the television and watch the Cindy Sheehans, and the Al Frankens, and the rest of the ignorant sheep of America spout off their mouths about a subject they know nothing about. It is their right, however, and it is a right that is defended by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls scattered across the world, far from home. I use the word boys and girls, because that's what they are. In the Army, the average age of the infantryman is nineteen years old. The average rank of soldiers killed in action is Private First Class.People like Cindy Sheehan are ignorant. Not just to this war, but to the results of their idiotic ramblings, or at least I hope they are. They don't realize its effects on this war. In this war, there are no Geneva Conventions, no cease fires. Medics and Chaplains are not spared from the enemy's brutality because it's against the rules. I can only imagine the horrors a military Chaplain would experience at the hands of the enemy. The enemy slinks in the shadows and fights a coward's war against us. It is effective though, as many men and women have died since the start of this war. And the memory of their service to America is tainted by the inconsiderate remarks on our nation's news outlets. And every day, the enemy changes...only now, the enemy is becoming something new. The enemy is transitioning from the Muslim extremists to Americans. The enemy is becoming the very people whom we defend with our lives. And they do not realize it.But in denouncing our actions, denouncing our leaders, denouncing the war we live and fight, they are isolating the military from society...and they are becoming our enemy.Democrats and peace activists like to toss the word "quagmire" around and compare this war to Vietnam . In a way they are right, this war is becoming like Vietnam . Not the actual war, but in the isolation of country and military. America is not a nation at war; they are a nation with its military at war. Like it or not, we are here, some of us for our second, or third times; some even for their fourth and so on. Americans are so concerned now with politics, that it is interfering with our war.Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the Internet...and there is no outrage, but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even jailed...for doing their job.It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this. Why are we so obsessed with the bad news? Why will people stop at nothing to be against this war, no matter how much evidence of the good we've done is thrown in their face? When is the last time CNN or MSNBC or CBS reported the opening of schools and hospitals in Iraq ? Or the leaders of terror cells being detained or killed? It's all happening, but people will not let up their hatred of Bush. They will ignore the good news, because it just might show people that Bush was right.America has lost its will to fight. It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing. It's not like World War Two, where people rationed food, and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Unless you are in the military or the family member of a service member, its life as usual...the war doesn't affect you.But it affects us. And when it is over, and the troops come home, and they try to piece together what's left of them after their service...where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives, most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends? They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can't touch them. Somewhere where they can complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their shoulders.We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped, and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause, and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor...we cannot place the burden on our military alone. We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not. And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars. It's supporting our President, our troops and our cause.Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't.Let's stop all the political nonsense, let's stop all the bickering, let's stop all the bad news, and let's stand and fight!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Descendants of ‘Holy Grail’ knights demand an apology from the Pope
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
A British order of Templars that claims direct descent from the original Knights Templar is calling on the Pope to apologise after the recent discovery of an ancient Vatican document showing that the knights had been absolved of the charges laid against them seven centuries ago.
The accusations of heresy led to the disbandment of the order and the burning at the stake of Jacques de Molay, the order’s grand master.
The Vatican will next week publish a 5,900-euro (£3,925) collector’s edition of its documents on the Knights Templar, the wealthy medieval order formed to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem after the holy city was captured in the Crusades.
The knights remain at the centre of numerous Holy Grail conspiracy theories and intrigues, including the plot of the novel, The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. One of the documents, the Chinon Parchment, shows that in the early 14th century, Pope Clement V’s investigation of the order absolved the knights of the heresy charges that led to many of them being tortured and burnt.
Ben Acheson, a member of a Templar order based in Hertford, Hertfordshire, which claims direct descent from the original Poor Fellow Soldiers of Jesus Christ and the Temple of Solomon Grand Preceptory, called for Pope Benedict XVI to apologise formally.
He said: “The word ‘sorry’ is conspicuous by its absence. But basically, they have said we were absolved, which is an historic admission. For me, that makes it all the more astonishing that the tortures and executions were allowed to continue. For me, that is why the apology is still the missing piece of the puzzle.
“Nevertheless, I would like to think that this could be a turning point.” In 2004 the order wrote to the Pope, requesting an apology “for the torture and murder of our leadership, instigated by Pope Clement V” in advance of the 700th anniversary of “the persecution of our order on October 13, 2007”.
At the time, Ben Acheson’s brother Tim, told The Times: “The Papacy and the Kingdom of France conspired to destroy the Order for reasons which modern historians judge to be primarily political. Their methods and motives are now universally regarded as brutal, unfair and unjustified. “The Knights Templar officially ceased to exist in the early 1300s, but the order continued underground. It was a huge organisation and the vast majority of Templars survived the persecution, including most of their leaders, along with much of their treasure and, most importantly, their original values and traditions.”
The Vatican is understood to have given serious consideration to the request for an apology. It has previously apologised formally for the persecution of Galileo and for the Crusades.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


The New Cult in Washington
- Edith Kermit Roosevelt, The New Hampshire Sunday Times News, April 1, 1962 (© Edith Kermit Roosevelt Syndicate)
From Robert Keith Spenser's The Cult of the All-Seeing Eye, pp. 43-46.
A temple will be erected in Washington, D. C., for "the citizen of the world" to develop "universal understanding" in place of his "national limitations."
Planners for this $5 million edifice, called "The Temple of Understanding," say endorsers include Swami Prabhavananda of the Vedanda Society, Hollywood; Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, Socialist leader Norman Thomas, Chester Bowles, special advisor to the President; Swami Bhaskaranand Paramhamsa of "UNISM," New Delhi, India; Thomas B. Watson, president of International Business Machines; Eleanor Roosevelt, the United Lodge of Theosophists, New York City, and others.
The futuristic building, characterized as a "spiritual UN" will be a "symbol of the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind," according to the brochure issued from Temple headquarters, Greenwich, Conn. A wing of this modern-day Tower of Babel will be accorded to each of the six international faiths: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity and Islam.
AMONG OTHER endorsers listed are Jack Benny, Douglas MacArthur II, ambassador to Japan; Max Lerner of the New York Post, Prof. J. B. Rhine of Duke University; Roland Gammon of the Laymen's Movement and World Parliament of Religions; Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes, president of Guatemala; Sir Roy Welensky, prime minister, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; Rev. Fred Jordan, president, International Spiritualists, Norfolk, Va.; Philip S. Linnik, director Universal Brotherhood Center, Glen Cove, Long Island, N. Y.; James A. Linen, president Time-Life Inc., and S. A. Mohamed, cultural attache of the United Arab Republic, Washington, D. C.
A "world publicity campaign" for donations is being launched. The names of the donors are to be enscribed on the stone walks of the temple.
THE SYMBOLISM planned for the building dates back to the black magic practised by the high priests of ancient Egypt. The building will contain a giant eye -- a circular pool of water which reflects light beamed onto it by a dome faceted to resemble a many-colored diamond. The Temple brochure states:
“The dome will be illuminated all night in order to indicate, symbolically, that even while the world sleeps, the light of understanding continues to shine.”
WHILE TEMPLE publicists proclaim the idea for the temple arose quite spontaneously out of a talk between two woman friends, shrines for "the brotherhood of man" have been systematically used throughout history to create a mystique of collectivity.
Money was raised to build a similar shrine in London by the occultist, the late Mrs. Annie Besant. A sort of Eleanor Roosevelt of her day, Mrs. Besant worked closely with [Jawaharlal] Nehru and Krishna Menon and was a founder of the Fabian Parliamentary League, a British socialist group in which Sidney Webb, Hubert Land, H. H. Champion and Bernard Shaw were active.
MRS. BESANT'S temple featured six symbolic presentations of the six great international faiths in the lecture hall. Visiting "adepts" contemplated a mural of a six-pointed Theosophical star made of two interlocking triangles connected by a serpent.
This theme is repeated in the "Temple of Understanding." The brochure informs us that the temple's six wings "will contain the cultural facets of the 'diamond of truth.'"
IN NEW YORK the "Friends of the Meditation Room" have long met regularly in the United Nations' Meditation Room. In the center of this shrine a beam of light plays of polished ore. On April 24, 1957, when the Meditation Room was reopened, the late Dag Hammarskjold, UN Secretary General, described this pagan stone as an altar to universal religion.
"The altar is the symbol of the God of all," he said.
The Temple of Understanding also will have its meditation room, to be known as the "Hall of Illumination." There, it is planned that the Illuminati, Masters of Wisdom, Our Leaders of the Temple of Understanding, will train the public in the new humanistic cult.
Meetings, film showings and courses of study in the world's great religions will be held in the "Hall of Illumination."
IT IS INTERESTING to note that for some time now a group who call themselves "the New Group of World Servers" have been holding "full moon meditation meetings" at the Carnegie Endowment International Centre in New York. On Dec. 21, 1961, this writer attended one of these meetings where pamphlets were distributed describing "the New World Religion." One " World Goodwill" booklet described what some of the backers of "The Temple of Understanding" may have in mind.
“A new type of mystic is coming to be recognized . . . he distinguished by his lack of interest in his own brand of religious beliefs.”
WHERE THE internationalist would-be elite gather to plan and plot world government I heard a determined group of "World Servers" led by Foster Bailey chant in unison their eerie Great Invocation.
“Let purpose guide the little wills of men—“The purpose which the Masters know and serve.”
Is the real purpose of the world-minded Masters of Unism to guide and control us by pagan rites?
The Temple of Understanding
- Edith Kermit Roosevelt, The New Hampshire Sunday Times News, October 21, 1962 (© Edith Kermit Roosevelt Syndicate)
Unwrapping her gauzy veils a "White Madonna" danced on the podium. She symbolized "Christianity" or the "Mother of the World encompassing forms of the creative feminine spirit which has unfolded over the centuries from Egypt, Babylonia, China and Europe," said a program distribute at the Temple of Understanding's benefit dinner.
The dinner, held Oct. 12 at the Waldorf Astoria, featured this dramatic skit on "Christianity" and five other skits on the major faiths to commemorative $5,000,000 Temple to be built on 50 acres by the Potomac River, Washington, D. C.
The Temple brochure describes the edifice as a "Spiritual United Nations" designed to fulfill the rituals of the six major faiths and replace "nationalist limitations" with "universal understanding" for "citizens of the world!"
PUBLICISTS for this tax-exempt "Project Understanding" claim support from the "pennies donated by hairdressers, taxicab drivers and workers all over the world." But judging from the Temple's printed list of sponsors it can count on more influential backing. For instance:
John D. Rockefeller IV, Socialist leader Norman Thomas, Rt. Rev. James A. Pike of San Francisco, Cary Grant, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, a founding member of the Fund for the Republic's Center for Democratic Institutions; militant pacifist and Nobel Peace Prize and Nobel Peace Prize winner Philip Noel Baker; Holland D. Roberts of the Academic Freedom Committee, a former head of the Communist party's California Labor School who was identified as a "party member" at a Jan. 22, 1956 hearing of the Subversive Activities Control Board; U. Alexis Johnson, depute undersecretary of state for political affairs; Sen. Kenneth B. Keating (R-N.Y.), Prof. Pitirim A. Sorokin, director of Harvard University's Research Center for Creative Altruism and Brooks Hays, special assistant to President Kennedy.
AT THE WALDORF'S Starlight Roof I heard Mrs. Dickerman Hollister, president of the Temple of Understanding (P. O. Box 191, Greenwich, Conn.), address some 500 UN delegates and socialites. In a voice choked with fervor, she said:
“We are sending an idea to create a global symbol of the world.”
Then she struck with a wand an egg held aloft by a child. Out popped a "magic" golden tree with six branches on either side.
THE SYMBOLISM is not surprising in view of the mystic appeal of the internationalist dream. For example, one of the Temple sponsors is Roland Gammond, former director of the Laymen's Movement, World Parliament of Religions. This international, non-sectarian group of big businessmen, psychiatrists and other professional men meet in the seclusion of Wainwright House, Milton Point, Rye, N. Y., to study scientific mind control.
I secured the texts of some of the Wainwright House seminars which treat of such topics as "clairvoyance," "automatic writing," "hallucinations," "religion as part of an enlarged science" and "the psychic content of the alchemical symbols."
According to this year's Sept.-Oct. issue of the Laymen's Review published at Wainwright House, the Movement "spearheaded" the establishment of the UN Meditations Room which happens to contain some of those "alchemical symbols."
THE UN MEDITATION Room mural is divided into 72 separate sections—the tetragrammaton or Divine Name of 72 words. It depicts triangles and pyramids representing "the deity" in accordance with the ancient Babylonian symbols. Also a part of this mural is a spiral figure intertwined with a diagonal line which may represent Hermes' wand, the Cadeuces, traditional symbol of the sex forces or Kundalini.
The mural's center sphere and outer circle roughly form an eye. The "all seeing eye" of the deity theme is to be repeated in the Temple building by a glass eye faceted like a diamond to reflect the rays of the sun through the six wings.
IT IS INTERESTING to note that the Interparliamentary Union—Temple of Understanding sponsor Sen. Keating is IPU secretary—adopted a few weeks ago as its emblem: "A Temple of Law with six columns for the six continents to show the Universality of the Union." The IPU, which has been financed in part by the tax-exempt Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, consists of a training corps of legislators who meet regularly with their Communist "counterparts" to set up a world parliamentary government.
WHILE SOME PEOPLE may dismiss these humanistic temples as another example of "goofy" internationalism, apologists for Moscow view them as a serious component in their drive to promote the "Social Gospel."
TWO TEMPLE sponsors are included in the Senate Internal Security's "list of the most typical sponsors of front organizations" published April 23, 1956. They are:
Jerome Davis, New Haven, Conn., educator who heads Promoting Enduring Peace, a group whose literature whose literature is distributed by the Arcane School (operated by the tax-exempt "non-political" Lucis Trust on the 32nd and 33rd floors of 11 W. 42nd St., N. Y.) The international Lucis Trust network, which has substantial financial backing, regularly holds "Full Moon Meditation Meetings" at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to promote UNESCO and the "New World Religion."
Prof. Kirtley Mather of the Geologic Museum, Cambridge, Mass., who has served on a four-man panel evaluating "physical research" at Wainwright House.
ANOTHER TEMPLE backer is Rev. Lee H. Ball, executive secretary of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, an organization cited as a front by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee on April 23, 1956. On July 7, 1953, Ben Gitlow, former secretary of the Communist party, testified under oath that Ball was one of "the principle individuals involved in the Communist conspiracy to subvert the church for Communist purposes."
Shouldn't they add the hammer and sickle symbol to the second "Meditation Room" slated for the new Washington Temple?


There’s A Reason They Choose SchoolsA familiar story.By Timothy Wheeler
Wednesday’s shooting at yet another school has a better outcome than most in recent memory. No one died at Cleveland’s Success Tech Academy except the perpetrator. The two students and two teachers he shot are in stable condition at Cleveland hospitals.What is depressingly similar to the mass murders at Virginia Tech and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania and too many others was the killer’s choice of venue — that steadfastly gun-free zone, the school campus. Although murderer Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech and Asa Coon, the Cleveland shooter were both students reported to have school-related grudges, other school killers have proved to be simply taking advantage of the lack of effective security at schools. The Bailey, Colorado multiple rapes and murder of September 2006, the Nickel Mines massacre of October 2006, and Buford Furrow’s murderous August 1999 invasion of a Los Angeles Jewish day-care center were all committed by adults. They had no connection to the schools other than being drawn to the soft target a school offers such psychopaths.This latest shooting comes only a few weeks after the American Medical Association released a theme issue of its journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. This issue is dedicated to analyzing the April 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, in which 32 people were murdered. The authors are university officials, trauma surgeons, and legal analysts who pore over the details of the incident, looking for “warning signs” and “risk factors” for violence. They rehash all the tired rhetoric of bureaucrats and public-health wonks, including the public-health mantra of the 1990s that guns are the root cause of violence.Sheldon Greenberg, a dean at Johns Hopkins, offers this gem: “Reinforce a ‘no weapons’ policy and, when violated, enforce it quickly, to include expulsion. Parents should be made aware of the policy. Officials should dispel the politically driven notion that armed students could eliminate an active shooter” (emphasis added). Greenberg apparently isn’t aware that at the Appalachian School of Law in 2002 another homicidal Virginia student was stopped from shooting more of his classmates when another student held him at gunpoint. The Pearl High School murderer Luke Woodham was stopped cold when vice principal Joel Myrick got his Colt .45 handgun out of his truck and pointed it at the young killer.Virginia Tech’s 2005 no-guns-on-campus policy was an abject failure at deterring Cho Seung-Hui. Greenberg’s audacity in ignoring the obvious is typical of arrogant school officials. What the AMA journal authors studiously avoid are on one hand the repeated failures of such feel-good steps as no-gun policies, and on the other hand the demonstrated success of armed first responders. These responders would be the students themselves, such as the trained and licensed law student, or their similarly qualified teachers.In Cleveland this week and at Virginia Tech the shooters took time to walk the halls, searching out victims in several rooms, and then shooting them. Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Fierro describes the locations of the dead in Virginia Tech’s Norris Hall. Dead victims were found in groups ranging from 1 to 13, scattered throughout 4 rooms and a stairwell. If any one of the victims had, like the Appalachian School of Law student, used armed force to stop Cho, lives could have been saved.The people of Virginia actually had a chance to implement such a plan last year. House Bill 1572 was introduced in the legislature to extend the state’s concealed-carry provisions to college campuses. But the bill died in committee, opposed by the usual naysayers, including the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the university itself. Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was quoted in the Roanoke Times as saying, “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty, and visitors feel safe on our campus.”It is encouraging that college students themselves have a much better grasp on reality than their politically correct elders. During the week of October 22-26 Students For Concealed Carry On Campus will stage a nationwide “empty holster” demonstration (peaceful, of course) in support of their cause.School officials typically base violence-prevention policies on irrational fears more than real-world analysis of what works. But which is more horrible, the massacre that timid bureaucrats fear might happen when a few good guys (and gals) carry guns on campus, or the one that actually did happen despite Virginia Tech’s progressive violence-prevention policy? Can there really be any more debate?AMA journal editor James J. James, M.D. offers up this nostrum:
We must meaningfully embrace all of the varied disciplines contributing to preparedness and response and be more willing to be guided and informed by the full spectrum of research methodologies, including not only the rigid application of the traditional scientific method and epidemiological and social science applications but also the incorporation of observational/empirical findings, as necessary, in the absence of more objective data.
Got that?I prefer the remedy prescribed by self-defense guru Massad Ayoob. When good people find themselves in what he calls “the dark place,” confronted by the imminent terror of a gun-wielding homicidal maniac, the picture becomes clear. Policies won’t help. Another federal gun law won’t help. The only solution is a prepared and brave defender with the proper lifesaving tool — a gun.— Timothy Wheeler, M.D. is director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Claremont Institute.