The Obliging Priest

A distinguished young woman on a flight from Switzerland asked the priest beside her: “Father, may I ask a favor?” 

“Of course. What may I do for you?” 

“Well, I bought an expensive electronic hair dryer that is well over the customs limits and I’m afraid they’ll confiscate it. Is there any way you could carry it through Customs for me? Under your robes perhaps?” 

“I would love to help you, dear, but I must warn you: I will not lie.” 

“With your honest face, Father, no one will question you.” 

When they got to Customs, she let the priest go ahead of her. The official asked, “Father, do you have anything to declare?” 

“From the top of my head down to my waist, I have nothing to declare.” 

The official thought this answer strange, so asked, “And what do you have to declare from your waist to the floor?” 

“I have a marvelous little instrument designed to be used on a woman, but which is, to date, unused.” 

Roaring with laughter, the official said, “Go ahead, Father.” Next!

France’s Misconception and a Look at Palestinian Refugees

Beyond the Cusp


There has been the conference in Paris which claimed that it would arrive at the perfect solution that would restart the ‘Peace Process’ and lead to a final resolution based on fairness and recognition of both people’s desires and claims and settle all disputes over property based on the 1967 Lines, a term for the 1949 Armistice Lines, with the shared capital of Jerusalem which could become an international zone, another term for briefly protected and kept by United Nations or the European Union until the first terrorist attack kills some of their forces and then it would be surrendered to whoever could get there first. This was such a lovely idea and the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was explicitly informed that his presence was not required or desired and that he was basically persona non grata might make one just a tad suspicious. On the other…

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French Political Gymnastics and How to Help the Palestinians

The French government seems to be falling over itself to undo its craven vote in favor of a UNESCO resolution accusing Israel — referred to as the “Occupying Power” in Jerusalem — of destroying historic structures on the Temple Mount:

Prime Minister Manuel Valls apologized. “This UNESCO resolution contains unfortunate, clumsy wording that offends and unquestionably should have been avoided, as should the vote.”

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve apologized. [I do] “not take a supportive view of the text.” The resolution “should not have been adopted” and “was not written as it should have been.”

President François Hollande apologized. [The vote was] “unfortunate,” and, “I would like to guarantee that the French position on the question of Jerusalem has not changed… I also wish to reiterate France’s commitment to the status quo in the holy places in Jerusalem… As per my request, the foreign minister will personally and closely follow the details of the next decision on this subject. France will not sign a text that will distance her from the same principles I mentioned.”

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault did not quite apologize: “France has no vested interest but is deeply convinced that if we do not want to let the ideas of the Islamic State group prosper in this region, we must do something.”


The Reluctant Memoirist

It was in Miami, last December, while sitting on a panel at an international book fair, that I tried to piece together the chain of events that had brought me to a place I knew I did not belong.

I considered the writers sitting next to me, three women who had written memoirs from places close to their hearts—stories of loss, family, selfhood. The questions from the audience, also mostly women, focused on each author’s emotional awakening and growth. How did we feel about the spiritual journeys we had undertaken? What lessons had we learned along the way?

I had no idea how I was supposed to answer, for a simple reason: My book wasn’t a memoir. As an investigative journalist, I had been researching and visiting North Korea for over a decade. In 2011, armed with a book contract, I went undercover to work as an ESL teacher at an evangelical university in Pyongyang. My 270 students—the elite of North Korea, the sons of high-level officials—were being groomed as the face of regime change to come under Kim Jong-un.


Ted Cruz Holds Hearings on Obama’s Cover-up of Islamic Terror

Officials ignore congressional call to testify about radicalism

Senior Obama administration officials refused to appear before Congress on Tuesday to explain the recent decision to purge all references to “Islamic terrorism” and radicalism from public documents, according to disclosures made Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Top officials from the Justice Department and FBI declined to appear on Capitol Hill to answer questions from lawmakers about domestic terror attacks and an administration policy of scrubbing references to Islamic terrorism and similar terms from government materials, lawmakers said.

The policy has thwarted attempts by federal authorities to stop an increasing series of terror attacks from taking place on United States soil, according to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on oversight.

In the past year the Obama administration has twice ordered that mentions of the terror group ISIS and “Islamic terrorism” be purged “from highly significant public records,” Cruz said.


Noah’s Ark Opens its Doors to a Storm of Controversy

In two weeks, the doors to Noah’s Ark will open once again — but with a few key differences from the original Biblical story. This version of the “ark” is really an ark-like theme park in Northern Kentucky. Costing over $100 million, the park will be part entertainment and part religious education. Its owners established the Bible-themed park, called Ark Encounter, with the goal of convincing visitors that the Biblical story of the flood is a literal version of a historical event.

The new version of the ark was not intended to be a floating solution for divine flooding, since it has a concrete floor and is supported by concrete pillars anchored into the ground. Launching the ark would require a unique series of natural disasters culminating in a flood that engulfs landlocked Williamstown, Kentucky, 600 miles from the nearest beach. The ark is the showpiece for Ark Encounter, which educates visitors through elaborate exhibits and offers an adjacent Ararat zoo, zip lines, a 1,500-seat restaurant, and a gift shop.

The aptly named Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), built Ark Encounter just a few miles from his Creation Museum, which attracts nearly half a million visitors a year and teaches a young Earth theory of creation. Ham is a powerful voice in his circle of like-minded Biblical literalists. Young Earth Creationism played an essential role in the ark project.


Frexit: 61% of French Have Unfavorable View of EU

The Pew survey shows a split in EU favorability, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. EU approval is still fairly high in parts of Eastern Europe where it’s seen as a bulwark against Russia. On the other hand its popularity is underwater in Spain, Greece and the UK (no surprise considering Brexit) and it hits disapproval highs in France of 61 percent. Frexit would be a terrible portmanteau but it is on the radar.

And without the UK or France, the EU would consist of Germany bossing a bunch of smaller countries around. Not that Germans are all that high on the EU either. It’s got a 50 to 48 favorable.

What’s interesting about the numbers coming out of France is just how unpopular, across the board, the EU is with the left, the right and the center. And even among the youth, where approval tends to be highest, support taps out at 56 percent.


Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning.

Leadership manoeuvring is afoot in both the Labour and Conservative parties, although the prize is greater for whoever wins the Tory crown as they get to be Prime Minister as well. So ambitious Conservatives are having to get their bids together before nominations close at midday on Thursday, with the party’s ruling 1922 committee announcing an accelerated timetable which will see the new leader announced by September 2, a month earlier than expected. A faster election will inevitably favour the front-runners, Boris Johnson and Theresa May, as it gives less time for challengers to build up their profiles . A YouGov poll for the Times confirmed they are way out in front among Conservative voters, with the Home Secretary ahead of the former Mayor by 6 points. But that doesn’t mean the pair have locked the race down, as the last frontrunner who went on to win the Tory leadership was Ted Heath in 1965.

Johnson’s allies, we report, are doing what they can to get out in front, with efforts being made to court Cabinet ministers like Amber Rudd. If they can convince the Energy Secretary, who repeatedly insulted Johnson during the ITV referendum debate, then that would show how much of a unifier he could be. They are also increasingly confident that George Osborne, who ruled himself out of the running in an interview with the Times, will swing behind them in exchange for staying on as Chancellor or agreeing to be Foreign Secretary. Nick Boles has given Johnson the Cameroon blessing by formally endorsing his bid, while Jo Johnson has declared his support, thus avoiding any echoes of Labour’s fratricidal Miliband antics. The fiercest critic to have emerged so far is Jamie Oliver, who said if Johnson became Prime Minister: “I’m done. I’m out“.

May is shaping up to be a formidable challenger, with one senior source saying she has an “unbelievably good chance” and  MPs describing her as the “stop Boris candidate”.Gavin Williams, David Cameron’s parliamentary aide, is also understood to have joined her camp. Meanwhile, Work and Pensions secretary Stephen Crabb is discussing running on a joint ticket separately with both Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, and Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, in a bid to represent the 2010 intake. “The next Tory leader has to be able to keep the Labour Party pushed to the fringes of politics, with a style of Conservatism that combines economic credibility with a modern social liberalism to dominate the centre ground of political debate,” says William Hague in today’s paper.

The faster timetable will mean the Government cannot delay too long before triggering formal Brexit talks, and will give the leader time to call a general election for November in order to win a mandate from the British people. So in that light today’s Telegraph piece by Jeremy Hunt, who could be tempted to chuck his hat in the ring, is well worth reading. The Health Secretary touches on the hot Tory issue of Europe, suggesting that there should be a second vote on the terms of Britain’s exit “either in a referendum or through the Conservative manifesto at a fresh General Election.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s breakdown under Jeremy Corbyn continues apace, with the Labour leader forced to find replacements for two thirds of his shadow-cabinet. Angela Eagle, one of the “Jexiteers”, refused to rule out running against him, and – we report – is discussing  launching a formal bid to win the Labour leadership with aides over the coming days. After a tempestuous PLP meeting last night, up to 150 MPs are expected to join together in an effort to oust their embattled party leader. But Corbyn has vowed to fight on, tweeting a message that basically amounted to “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”, or in his words:  “Those wanting to change the Labour Party leadership will have to take part in a democratic election”. Labour-leaning papers have weighed in, with the Daily Mirror telling him on their front page to “go now”, while the Morning Star sticks with him, lauding Dennis Skinner for sticking two fingers up at anti-Corbyn “traitors”. As Labour MPs fight  to get Corbyn out, and top Tories vie for position, make sure to follow today’s events on our liveblog.