Killed Ferguson, Missouri, teen Michael Brown had a lengthy arrest record.

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Read Time:2 Minute, 9 Second
After Ferguson, Missouri teenager Mike Brown was shot and killed by a police officer on 9 August 2014, a great deal of information and speculation spread on the internet and in the media about the the incident and involved parties. As Brown, who had graduated high school just over a week earlier, was unarmed, public reaction to his death was both intense and polarizing.

Among the and most frequently repeated claims about Brown circulating in the weeks after he was killed involves his purported prior criminal behavior. Allegations ranged from simple, single-statement claims that Brown had been arrested and/or convicted of an array of crimes to a lengthy list of specific criminal counts with which the teenager had reportedly been charged and/or convicted.

As the rumors regarding Mike Brown's arrest record became more variable and extreme, local news outlets began to examine the claims. Brown had turned 18 only three months before his death, making the array of rumors far harder to verify due to the manner in which juvenile records are handled in the state of Missouri. On 3 September 2014, a judge heard several arguments from media outlets hoping to determine whether Brown had been arrested or convicted of any criminal acts prior to his 18th birthday in May 2014.

Cynthia Harcourt, the St. Louis County juvenile office's attorney, said that the "court of public opinion does not require the release of juvenile records," adding that "simple curiosity" was not an adequate reason to violate the privacy of Brown and his family.

Harcourt did provide the largest amount of information regarding Brown's legal history, noting that the nature of the crimes with which Brown had reportedly been involved would not necessarily have been protected by laws that shield minors from publicizing their criminal records:

Cynthia Harcourt, a lawyer for the juvenile officer of St. Louis County Family Court, said after the hearing that she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a juvenile record for Mr. Brown. Missouri state law prohibits the records of most juvenile court proceedings from being released to the public. But she said Mr. Brown had no juvenile cases involving serious felony charges or convictions, including murder, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Those felony records would not be required to be confidential and would have been released, but none exist for Mr. Brown, Ms. Harcourt said.
 

Additionally, local news sources confirmed that Mike Brown was not facing any criminal complaints at the time of his death.
 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Major cities harbor rodent populations equivalent to one rat per person

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Read Time:5 Minute, 19 Second
Rats (at least the kinds commonly kept as pets) are for the most part intelligent, clean, quiet, sociable, and even affectionate. Still, there are many people who are absolutely repulsed at the sight of any rat and will run screaming even from the tamest Rattus norvegicus. This reaction is due in large part to our culture's association of rats with filth, poverty, disease, and death. Rats are the furtive invaders who hide in the dark, dank spaces of our buildings and towns, emerging en masse after dark to feed on garbage and food scraps. They can carry disease, either directly or via the insects that feed on them (such as the fleas whose bite spread the bubonic plague). Although in the wild they're shy and prefer to avoid contact with humans, they have long, narrow teeth housed in strong jaws that can deliver powerful defensive bites when necessary.

Rats tend to live where humans live, since the presence of man generally creates an abundance of food and shelter. Because rats live for the most part out of the sight of people and usually emerge from their dwelling places when we're either asleep or not around to see them, it's easy to imagine that far more of them are lurking in those impenetrable dark spaces than really are there. We create maxims that are far more reflections of our anxieties and fears about feeling surrounded by unseen crawly things than they are accurate estimators of populations — sayings such as "You're never more than six feet away from a rat" and "For every cockroach you see, there are ten more you don't see."

Another statistic in this vein is the "one rat per person" rule — the claim that in any sufficiently large urban area, the rat population is as large as the human population. It reflects the frightening belief that no matter how much we may try to trap, poison, or otherwise chase away those fearsome rodents, we cannot vanquish them; they will always be able to field an army of insurgents equal in number to our own. But, according to Robert Sullivan, the author of Rats, this statistic is based upon a nearly century-old misunderstanding and greatly exaggerates the true number of rats to be found in a typical city.

The "one rat per person" claim stems from a study of rats conducted in England by W.R. Boelter and published in 1909 under the title The Rat Problem. Boelter surveyed the English countryside (but not villages, towns, or cities) and came up with an educated guess, estimating that England had one rat per acre of cultivated land. Since England had 40 million acres of cultivated land at the time, Boelter pegged the country's rat population at 40 million. And since England also had a human population of 40 million at the time, there was some basis for claiming that the country was host to one rat per person.

But Boelter's estimate may have been way off the mark, and even if it was accurate, the putative 1:1 ratio between people and rats derived from it was merely coincidental, an artifact of England's just happening to have a human population equal to its number of cultivated acres. "One rat per person" was a figure unique to the time and place in which Boelter conducted his study, not a generalized figure that could be applied everywhere. Nonetheless, as Sullivan noted, "People loved that statistic, maybe because they abhorred it," and the figure is still frequently cited in news articles dealing with rat control efforts in large metropolitan areas, particularly New York City:

E. Randy Dupree, who oversees the [New York City] Health Department's Bureau of Pest Control, says his agency is taking a closer look at the problem. But he said people must take some responsibility for making the city a place where rats thrive. "If people took better care of their garbage and their property, there just wouldn't be as many rats as there are," he said.

He added that there are about eight million rats living in the five boroughs. "That's about one rat per person," he said.2

Even figures several orders of magnitude higher than "one per person" are sometimes quoted in reference to New York's rat population:

Life in the big city is a rat race, and it looks as if the rats are winning.

City health officials believe there are several times as many rats in New York City as people — and the human population of the Big Apple is slightly more than 7 million, according to the 1990 U.S. Census.

"There's no official rat census," says Pamela Miller, a deputy city health commissioner. "The estimates are anywhere from one rat per person to 10 rats per person. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle."3

Just how many rats are to be found in a large city like New York? Far fewer than one might think:

In 1949, [rodent control expert] Dave Davis analyzed New York's rat population and called the one-rat-per-human statistic "absurd." He had just completed a precise calculation of the rat population of Baltimore — by trapping, counting burrows, and measuring such things as rat runways and rat droppings. In New York, he began his work on six blocks in East Harlem. He brought in an experienced trapper to trap rats in East Harlem apartments for a week. Davis determined there were an average of three rats per apartment in infested Harlem buildings, mostly living in the kitchen and bathroom but traveling through many floors. He further determined that more people thought they had rats than actually had them — about 10 percent more. But when he added up his calculations, New York's rat population was nowhere near eight million. Even the New York waterfront, which was mythically associated with rats, was less infested than assumed. In all, Davis put the rat population of New York at one rat for every thirty-six people, or 250,000 rats.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Steven Davis, Australian negotiator is self-appointed – DSS

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Read Time:3 Minute, 14 Second

The Department of State Services, DSS, has denied being the source of the information credited to Australian Boko Haram hostage negotiator, Dr Steven Davis, describing him as “a self-styled and self-appointed negotiator.”

Deputy Director, DSS Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar, nevertheless said the body was investigating Davis claims and has invited former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff to answer some questions bordering on the fresh allegations linking him with the sponsorship of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

Dr Stephen Davis

However, the department said it couldn’t be true that the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika was a financier of the deadly Boko Haram, saying it would be wicked of anyone to link him with the sect.

Davis had listed Sheriff and Ihejirika as Boko Haram sponsors.

Ogar, spoke in Abuja while parading the alleged co-mastermind of the Nyanya blast, Sadiq Ogwuche, along with other suspects, Ahmed Abubakar, Muhammad Ishaq, Yau Saidu, Anas Isah and Adamu Yusuf.

But Ogwuche, the alleged mastermind of the bloodiest bomb blast at the El-Rufai Motor part Nyanya,  denied any link with Boko Haram and involvement  in the deadly explosions which killed over 100 peoples and injured many others.

While dismissing the allegations by Davis on Azubuike Ihejirika, the DSS spokesperson said, it was “uncharitable for Nigerians to reward someone who laid down his life, to associate him with the sponsorship of the sect.”

She said it was through the doggedness of the military under Ihejirika that insurgents were dislodged from the major cities like Okene, Kano to the Sambisa forest and that “it is wicked of anyone to link him to the sponsorship of the sect.”

On the former Borno State governor,  Ogar said, “Sheriff has been invited twice and he has been invited again (over his alleged sponsorship of Boko Haram). Investigation is ongoing to review every aspect of Davies allegations.”

She also noted that contrary to claims by Davies that the CBN official who handled the funding of Boko Haram, is an uncle to three of those arrested in connection with the Nyanya bombings, none of the six suspects in the agency’s custody was related to another.

“In other words, none is a cousin or nephew to any other and only two suspects namely Yau Saidu and Anas Isah have ever lived together at the makeshift clinic called ‘Kishi Clinic’ operated by Rufai Tsiga, a co-mastermind of the bomb blast who is still at large,” she explained.

She added that further interrogation of suspects indicated that none lived with or has any relationship with any staff of the CBN, noting that the clarification was necessary to correct the erroneous impression in the media.

I’m not Boko Haram member

But Ogwuche, who was repatriated to Nigeria from Sudan recently, denied being a member of Boko Haram. He stressed while speaking in an interview with journalists that he had no hand in the Nyanya bombings as he was in Sudan at the time of the incident.

The suspect, however, admitted to have donated N30,000 to widows of Boko Haram members through Tsiga, who had been declared wanted for his roles in the Nyanya blast.

On his deserting the Nigeria Army, Ogwuche said that he did it in order to go and study Arabic in Sudan even as he admitted receiving lectures and taking demonstrations with a Jihadist group in Britain before he came back to Nigeria to which he blamed for his arrest by the security operatives earlier.  According to him, “I am not a member of Boko Haram and I don’t know anything about the Nyanya blast. I deny it because I was studying in Sudan when the incident happened.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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CDC whistleblower’s confession: his personal safety is still an issue

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Read Time:8 Minute, 52 Second

On August 27, CDC whistleblower William Thompson came out of the shadows and admitted he had omitted vital data from a 2004 study on the MMR vaccine and its connection to autism.

Thompson’s official statement was released through his Cincinnati attorney, Rick Morgan.

The key piece in Thompson’s statement is:

“I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”

“My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.”

Everything else in Thompson’s statement is backfill and back-pedaling and legal positioning and self-protection.

But this part, this is big. Within Thompson’s community of researchers and the general world of medical research and publishing, people know what it means.

It means major fraud.

Thompson, a co-author of the 2004 study, published in the prestigious journal Pediatrics, is admitting to egregious fraud. Cooking the data.

(Here are the authors and the name and reference number of the study in question: DeStefano F, Bhasin TK, Thompson WW, Yeargin-Allsopp M, Boyle C. “Age at first measles-mumps-rubella vaccination in children with autism and school-matched control subjects: a population-based study in metropolitan atlanta.” Pediatrics. 2004;3:259–266. The link to this study is here.)

In particular, omitting data which showed that African-American male babies who received the MMR vaccine were at a 340% increased risk of autism.

Omitting the data concealed this alarming fact from African-American families; and it also skewed the overall conclusion of the study, in order to exonerate the toxic MMR vaccine and give it a free pass.

You would be hard-pressed to find a researcher of Thompson’s reputation and position who has ever come out and confessed: My colleagues and I committed fraud; we published the fraud; we stood by the fraud for 10 years.

Scandal.

Major scandal. It directly indicts Thompson’s co-authors of the 2004 study, including the lead author, Frank DeStefano, who is also a CDC executive in charge of vaccine safety issues.

Now add to that: concealing the dangers of the MMR vaccine for ten years has resulted in untold numbers of cases of autism that could have been prevented.

Damaged lives of children. Damaged families.

Again, this is not someone coming in from the outside to criticize a published study. This is one of the co-authors of the study.

Thompson was there in 2004. He knows what happened. He participated, along with his colleagues, in a cover-up.

His co-authors are all recognized figures in the world of vaccine research: DeStefano; Tanya Karapurkar-Bhasin; Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsop; and Coleen Boyle.

They have all defended the safety of vaccines in other studies, which are now thrown into doubt. As in: dominos falling.

Add these factors up and you get: front-page news.

You get a retraction of the 2004 study by Pediatrics, the journal that published it.

You get at least a cosmetic investigation of CDC practices by an outside special prosecutor.

You at least get a cosmetic Congressional hearing.

You get statements from Thompson’s co-authors. (So far, only Frank DeStefano has commented publicly, to reporter Sharyl Attkisson. His stuttering remarks are so garbled and nonsensical, they belong in a bad parody of science-speak. See the written transcript of the interview here.)

What have we gotten as a result of whistleblower Thompson’s confession?

From official sources: nothing of note. Zero.

From the mainstream press: nothing. Barely a whisper of coverage.

As I reported two days ago, CNN ran a piece in which they called on co-author-of-fraud, DeStefano himself, to comment on the fraud, as if he were an outside objective expert. That’s quite a piece of journalism. DeStefano promptly invented a yarn about autism developing in utero, thus “proving” that vaccines couldn’t be responsible for autism.

William Thompson still has his job at the CDC. He has his lawyer, Rick Morgan. He undoubtedly has more knowledge and leads concerning fraud and lying about vaccines at the CDC.

Now we come to the issue of Thompson’s personal safety.

Apparently, there are people who take him seriously when he writes in his August 27 confession: “My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted from the building, as some have stated.”

Thompson’s colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been “entirely professional” because they’re in a box. Thompson’s name is out there. Even before his name was out there, his anonymous audio confession was available online, and Dr. Brian Hooker, to whom he confessed, and Andrew Wakefield knew who he was.

(The Brian Hooker study is: Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data. Transl Neurodegener. 2014; 3: 16. Published online Aug 8, 2014. doi: 10.1186/2047-9158-3-16. The link to the NIH archive of this paper is here. The link on the Translation Neurodegener site were the paper was originally published (and then later removed) is here.)

In fact, many people knew the title of the fraudulent 2004 study, and anyone could read the names of the authors and figure out the identity of the whistleblower.

Thompson was actually getting protection from online alternative media.

Making it more difficult for the CDC to take punitive action against him.

And what about Thompson’s claim that he received a performance-based honorary CDC award since “the story came out”? An award based on what? His exposure of fraud at the CDC? You mean someone took an old photo of Thompson and typed under it, “Good work, Bill”?

If this award referred to other work Thompson did before the scandal blew up, it was given to him, rather than canceled, for appearance’s sake only. As if to say: “The CDC welcomes internal criticism from its own employees.”

If you believe that, I have condos for sale on Jupiter.

Thompson claims he was not escorted from the campus at the CDC, once the scandal began to blow up. I wrote that he was escorted off the scene. I consider the source on this reliable. I relayed this information to another source close to Thompson, who said he hadn’t heard that, but that Thompson “had a problem with security guards” at the CDC campus.

There are actually people who believe Thompson has sailed through this whole scandal, so far, with nary a single problem at his workplace, the CDC, and that the CDC is a peachy keen place for employees and is eager to correct its own mistakes.

It’s all very professional and wonderful, and when an internal whistleblower confesses to a very serious crime of fraud, the boys and girls gather around a table and say, “Gee, Bill, show us exactly where an error was made in this study, so we can examine it. We just want to get things right.”

If that were true, why was William Thompson hiding in the shadows for 10 years? Why did he only come out when his identity was revealed by others?

Yes, revealed by others.

Here are Thompson’s own words on that subject, from his August 27th public statement:

“…nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.”

Thompson is admitting he was outed. This is very much like saying, “I would have stayed anonymous forever, if I hadn’t been dragged into the light.”

Now, look at yet another remark Thompson made in his public confession, and decide whether this is sheer PR, written to assuage his employers at the CDC and protect himself from blowback and harm: “I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race.”

Really, Bill? Let me get this straight. You buried data which showed a 340% increased risk of autism, in African-American male babies, after they received the MMR vaccine—but African-American parents should continue to submit their babies to the MMR vaccine. Right?

Because of Thompson’s claim that he and the CDC are on the same page, others have concluded that Thompson is in no danger. “The professionals are working out the scientific problems and all is well.”

How naïve. How incredibly naïve.

The CDC is a PR agency for the pharmaceutical cartel. That is its real function. You can bet CDC executives are keeping their pharmaceutical betters in the loop on “The Thompson Affair.”

Hundreds of billions of vaccine dollars are at stake.

Thompson knows, by going public, he has done something no researcher is supposed to do. He’s cast grave suspicion on his co-authors and on the CDC, to whom he’s taken an oath of silence. He’s broken that oath.

Violating omertà carries consequences.

William Thompson is claiming he won’t talk to reporters. That was also part of his August 27th statement. We’ll see if he holds to this promise. He and his lawyer may discover talking to reporters is his only option. For the sake of protection.

If Thompson comes out, he’d better insist on a live, uncensored, uncut video interview—done simultaneously in front of several different crews, uploaded in real time to dozens of sites, whereupon it can travel around the world in a matter of seconds.

And his security had better be excellent.

If he plans to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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A nine-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting instructor with an Uzi at a gun range in Arizona

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Read Time:1 Minute, 51 Second
On 25 August 2014, shooting instructor Charles Vacca died in an accident at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona. Vacca, a shooting instructor, was working with a family at the gun range when he was shot in the head by a nine-year-old girl firing an Uzi.

According to police reports, Vacca initially helped the child — who has remained unnamed in the news — fire the submachine gun. However, when the girl fired the weapon alone the recoil tilted the gun upwards. Initially, her parents believed that the recoil had injured the child, failing to immediately realize Vacca had been shot.

Frantic 911 calls placed by witnesses at the gun range in the aftermath the Uzi accident document a valiant effort to stabilize Vacca and save his life. Although Vacca was evacuated by helicopter to a trauma center, he died a few hours later.

Sam Scarmardo, operator of the Last Stop range in White Hills, confirmed on 2 September 2014 that children over the age of eight were typically permitted to fire guns at the range if their parents or guardians signed waivers. Scarmardo denied that any safety problems resulted from the policy prior to the incident involving the nine-year-old girl and the Uzi, but added that the range is reviewing the policy in light of Vacca's death.

After Vacca's died of his injuries, the girl's family released a statement expressing their sorrow. Via a lawyer, the child's parents said:

"[The family is] devastated by this accident that turned what was supposed to be a unique and brief excursion from their summer vacation into a life changing tragedy. Words cannot express the family's sadness about the accidental shooting of Charles Vacca. They prayed day and night that he would survive his injury, and they continue to pray for his family during this terribly difficult time."
 

 

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the nine-year-old's mother inadvertently captured video of the fatal shooting of Charles Vacca with her iPhone. A portion of the footage, shown above, has been released to the public.
 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Darren Wilson Injury Photo following an altercation with shooting victim

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Read Time:1 Minute, 26 Second
Graphic image depicts Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson gravely injured following an altercation with shooting victim Mike Brown.
 

The shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on 9 August 2014 has led not only to widespread national debate, but also to a laundry list of rumors about the incident and the events leading directly up to it. Among the claims heavily circulating are that Officer Darren Wilson, Brown's shooter, sustained serious and perhaps life-threatening injuries in the moments before he fatally shot the teenager.

Police initially stated that Brown had been shot by Wilson following a "physical confrontation," and some rumors stated that Wilson had sustained a broken facial bone during the incident. While the officer was taken to a local hospital following the shooting, no specific injuries have been confirmed by Ferguson police.

In the weeks following the shooting, tensions flared in Ferguson and elsewhere. Rhetoric intensified, and one particular rumor involving Wilson's "eye socket" was heavily repeated. On 21 August 2014, CNN reported that the specific claim was false:
 

 
 

The rumor about Wilson's purported broken facial bone resurged between 2 and 3 September 2014, after a handful of well-trafficked social media users began to circulate the photo above with an attached claim that the image depicted Wilson's injuries. Among them was syndicated columnist Larry Elder, who later deleted the image.

In fact, the photo above is not of allegedly battered Officer Darren Wilson, but rather of now-deceased motocross rider Jim McNeil. McNeil, who was killed in an accident in 2011, sustained the injuries seen in the image above back in 2006.
 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Why so many Christians won’t back down on gay marriage

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Read Time:5 Minute, 52 Second

A traditional view of marriage is about much more than today's politics. It's deeply woven into the 2,000-year-old ethic at the heart of our faith.

A majority of Americans already favor same-sex marriage — and most everyone agrees that same-sex marriage will continue to be accepted by an ever-bigger majority.

In many urban and progressive circles, it's beyond impolitic to oppose gay marriage. Indeed, there's a movement underfoot to make opposition to same-sex marriage akin to support for racism. That is to say, anyone who expresses opposition to same-sex marriage would be ostracized, with many progressives hoping to employ a variety of social and governmental means of coercion to force gay-marriage opponents to the margins of society. Whether this movement will succeed or not is an open question. But regardless, it's important to understand that this movement is based on a premise that is based on a misreading of history. And this misreading could drive the movement to ends it wouldn't desire.

The false premise goes something like this: Christianity, as a historical social phenomenon, basically adjusts its moral doctrines depending on the prevailing social conditions. Christianity, after all, gets its doctrines from "the Bible," a self-contradictory grab bag of miscellany. When some readings from the Bible fall into social disfavor, Christianity adjusts them accordingly. There are verses in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, but there are also verses that condemn wearing clothes made of two threads, and verses that allow slavery. Christians today find ways to lawyer their way out of those. Therefore, the implicit argument seems to go, if you just bully Christianity enough, it will find a way to change its view of homosexuality, and all will be well. After all, except for a few shut-ins in the Vatican, most Christians today are fine with sexual revolution innovations such as contraception and easy divorce.

Look, there's obviously some truth in all that. Not every single bit of Christian morality has held constant over a history that spans two millennia, every continent, and almost every culture. And as Christians will be the first to admit, many strands of Christianity have been very accommodating of the idiosyncrasies of its host societies.

But this premise is also fundamentally mistaken, because the history of Christian ethics actually shows that the faith has been surprisingly consistent on the topic of sexuality. Christian opposition to homosexual acts is of a piece with a much broader vision of what it means to be a human being that Christianity will never part with.

The story Christians have been telling for 2,000 years goes something like this: The God who made the Universe is also, by his very nature, Love, and he made human beings with a very lofty vocation. Humans are meant to reflect His glory in the world; to be like God, that is to say, to be lovers and creators. Everything in the Universe has been put here to be used by God's children to reflect his loving glory — and to teach them about God's love. This is particularly true, or so the story goes, of the unique sexual complementarity between men and women. The sexual act is meant to reflect God's love by fostering a union at once bodily and spiritual — and creates new life. The complementarity of the persons in a marriage reflects the complementarity of the Persons of the Trinity, and the bliss of marital union is an inkling of the bliss of the union of the Persons of the Trinity. The fruitfulness of the marriage act reflects that God is a creator and has charged man to be an agent of his ongoing work of creation. And, finally, if God's love means total self-giving unto death on a Cross, then man and wife must give themselves to each other totally — no pettiness, no adultery, no polygamy, no divorce, and no nonmarital sexual acts. According to the story that Christianity has been telling for 2,000 years, Christianity's view of sexuality isn't some encrusted holdover from a socially conditioned patriarchal era on its way out, but is instead deeply connected to its understanding of who God is and what human beings exist for.

Christianity's opposition to homosexuality is not the product of some dusty medieval exegete poring over obscure Old Testament verses. From the beginning, what set apart the new and strange sect called Christians from the rest of their culture was their strange sexual ethic. They refused polygamy. They refused the sexual exploitation of slaves by their owners. They refused prostitution, premarital sex, divorce, abortion, the exposure of infants, contraception — and homosexual acts.

As the British philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe noted, in this Christianity was a great equalizing force: Because of the fact of pregnancy, most premodern cultures enforce sexual restraint on women. Where Christianity's bizarreness lay is that it insisted on the same restraint on the part of men — whether gay or straight. Christians held a bizarrely exalted view of (lifelong, monogamous, fertile, heterosexual) marriage as reflecting the image of God himself, but, even more bizarrely, held up lifelong celibacy as an even more exalted state of life. From the start, alongside the refusal to worship the Roman emperor as a god and Christians' supererogatory care for the poor, this was what set Christians apart, and goes a long way toward explaining why Pagan writers could scorn Christianity as a religion of "slaves and women."

Of course, like all ideals, this was very often observed in the breach, but such is the lot of human nature. Human beings, societies, cultures, and religions have a worldview that includes moral "oughts," and that they only partially live up to, as anyone who has tried to stick to a diet knows.

But the point is clear: From the start, Christians embodied a different way of life. From the start, they understood a particular sexual ethic to be a keystone of this way of life. And they understood the logic of this ethic as prohibiting (among other things) homosexual acts.

Over its 2,000 years of existence, Christianity has been surprisingly consistent in holding the line on what our faith views as fundamental precepts of Christian ethics, some of which make same-sex marriage an impossibility.

Today, many gay-marriage proponents don't just want a live-and-let-live relationship with Christianity — they want to force Christianity to affirm same-sex marriage. They do this, I think, because they believe very strongly in the rights of gays to marry, but also largely because they think that it will only take moderate prodding to get Christianity to cave in. History and Christianity's own self-understanding suggest, however, that such an outcome is not in the cards.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Influx of African Immigrants Shifting National and New York Demographics

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Read Time:5 Minute, 41 Second

Threatened with arrest in 2009, Lamin F. Bojang fled Gambia after publicly contradicting its president’s claims that he could cure AIDS. Now 31, Mr. Bojang lives in Concourse Village in the Bronx with his wife and 2-year-old son and works as a receptionist at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, while working toward a bachelor’s degree in political science at City College.

With educational and professional opportunities in Gambia scarce for his generation, “the rest will have to find ways of leaving,” he said, “and African migrants here, just as previous migrants, are likely not going to return to their countries of origin.”

Niat Amare, 28, graduated from law school in Ethiopia where she grew up, she recalled, “watching the media portray the U.S. as the land of opportunities.” She arrived here in 2010, lives in Harlem and said she felt welcome in New York. “Anyone would find one’s countryman here, which eases the strange feeling we all have the first time we leave home,” said Ms. Amare, a legal advocate for the African Services Committee, a nonprofit organization that assists new immigrants.

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Lamin F. Bojang with his son, Ebrahim Bah, at his home in the Bronx. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

While the migration of black Africans is not new, the number of sub-Saharan immigrants has grown swiftly, an influx that is shifting the demographic landscape across the country, including in New York City.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of legal black African immigrants in the United States about doubled, to around one million. During that single decade, according to the most reliable estimates, more black Africans arrived in this country on their own than were imported directly to North America during the more than three centuries of the slave trade.

And while New York State is home to the largest proportion and many have gravitated to ethnic enclaves like Little Senegal in West Harlem or the Concourse Village section of the West Bronx, to live among fellow Ghanaians, black immigrants from Africa have tended to disperse more widely across the country — to California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas and Virginia — than Caribbean-born blacks.

About a third of black New Yorkers were born abroad, mostly in the Caribbean. Africans constitute about 4 percent of the city’s foreign-born population, but as much as 10 percent in the Bronx. At last count, according to an analysis of census estimates by the Department of City Planning, from 2000 to 2011 the African-born population increased 39 percent to 128,000, although other estimates suggest that many more are living here without legal residency.

“They’ve been doubling every 10 years since 1980,” said Kim Nichols, an executive director of the African Services Committee, which is based in Harlem. “There’s a more established family and community network here to come to.”

Some come as refugees, some with work visas or special skills, many to stay and others to hone their talents and eventually apply them back home.

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Worshipers, including many from Africa, at the Holy Fire Dynamic Word church in the Bronx. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

The yearly flow can be affected by wars and epidemics.

“They’re a self-selected population,” Ms. Nichols said. “They have to be the most ambitious and have the means to get here — at least one plane ticket — and a fearlessness about coming to a new place.”

She recalled a boy who was 13 and fluent only in Soninke when he arrived alone from Mali after his family had finally scraped together enough money to pay for his airfare. The young man, now 18, just got his green card.

“His parents saved everything for years to buy a plane ticket,” Ms. Nichols said. “They have this dream. They’re dirt poor and the only way their kids are going to get ahead is to get them here by hook or crook.”

An analysis of the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, which ended in 2012, found that 30 percent of African-born blacks in the city had a college degree, compared with 22 percent of native-born blacks, 18 percent of Caribbean-born blacks and 19 percent of the nonblack foreign born.

Immigrants like Mr. Bojang and Ms. Amare say they still identify more as African than as black or African-American.

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Niat Amare at her office in Harlem. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Many black immigrants do not identify with the historical experiences of discrimination encountered by blacks in the United States,” said Kevin D. Brown, a law professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.

Two generations removed from colonialism and legal segregation, said Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, “the younger African immigrants tend to be less consciously ‘black’ and are somewhat reticent to link their fates with the history and contemporary protest traditions of African-Americans.”

“Selma doesn’t exactly cut it for them,” he said.

Kobina Aidoo, director of “The Neo-African-Americans,” a documentary, said, “I’ve heard people refer to themselves as everything from ‘African African-American’ to ‘Halfrican American’ to ‘White African-American’ to ‘Real African-American’ to ‘American African” to ‘Just black.’ ”

Dr. Muhammad, recalling the shooting by the police of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant from Guinea in the Bronx in 1999, and of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., last month, said color still trumped place of origin.

“Diversity among African-descended communities remains a black box and a mystery to most Americans,” he said. “Where public safety is concerned, black is all that matters.”

Mr. Bojang, who hopes to study law here after graduating from City College, said it might seem paradoxical that young Africans, who centuries ago arrived in chains, now dream of coming to America — but largely because the educational and economic opportunities are so much better than back home.

“So, if you look at the factors in place and contrast that with the conditions of the continuous struggle of the African-Americans for economic and social justice, it will be an error in judgment to say that the U.S. is becoming the Mecca for Africans.

“After all,” he said, “we are all Africans.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Transgender Teacher Sues School Board; Wants To Share Bathroom With Children

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Read Time:3 Minute, 18 Second

MONTPELIER, Vermont – 

A male-to-female transgender elementary school teacher is suing her school district after being denied access to the female bathroom facilities. Ronda McCracken, born Robert McCracken, a post-op third grade teacher for Montpelier Public Schools, has filed a civil suit claiming discrimination and emotional damages. Named in the suit are Montpelier Public Schools and Superintendent of Education Marshall Peterson.

“Until this year, Ronda McCracken was employed by Montpelier Public Schools under the name ‘Robert McCracken.’ Over the break, Mr. McCracken underwent gender reassignment surgery and reported in to last weeks Board of Education meeting as a female,” said Principal Richard Belding. “Being an equal opportunity employer, and in appreciation of McCracken’s years of service to the school system, Superintendent Peterson informed Ms. McCracken that Montpelier Schools would be glad to allow her to retain the position that she had previously held as a man. The one condition was that Ms. McCracken would refrain from using the women’s restrooms on school grounds. The Board felt that it would be more appropriate for Ms. McCracken to use the unisex restroom located in the teacher’s lounge. Ms. McCracken seemed to be fine with the decision initially, but later placed a call to the Superintendent stating that she felt she was being discriminated against. She was informed that, unfortunately, the Board could not see fit to reverse the decision for fear of public backlash. Ms. McCracken then filed suit against the Board.”

According to the Associated Press, when asked about the suit, Ms. McCracken had no problem sharing her opinion.

 

“I just felt like they [Montpelier Public Schools] were discriminating against me for something that was beyond my control. I was born a woman, I just had the wrong equipment. There is a long history of discrimination in this country, and I feel these people need to be held accountable for their bigoted actions. There is no reason, besides unwarranted prejudice, that a woman should not be allowed to use the restroom with other females.”

Some of the Montpelier parents had a different point of view. Carl Mitchum, father of two elementary age students in Montpelier Schools, shared his opinion with Empire News.

“Robert McCracken was born a man. All this gay and lesbian equal rights talk is fine by me, but at the same time, I don’t want a grown man winding up in a bathroom with my eight year old daughter. It’s not safe, and it is a precedent that we can not allow to be set.”

Other parents of children at the school were not nearly as kind in their opinions.

“I don’t want that freak in the bathroom with those poor girls. There is too much risk. If God had wanted a Ronda McCracken, then Ronda McCracken would have been born, not made by soulless doctors. She should have her teaching license pulled,” Said Michael Baxter, a local Baptist minister. “The Lord will not abide this type of sin.”

The suit is set to be heard before Circuit Judge Jasper Billings on the first of next month.

“I just hope this can all be resolved,” Ms. McCracken said. “Sure, I had a penis, and sure I’ve had sex with women, but that is no reason to keep me from being in the same bathroom as little girls. Maybe people don’t understand my lifestyle, but they don’t have to me so mean. The idea that we should tell our children what gender they are is outdated. These people are ignorant bigots. Maybe my vagina is man-made, and maybe I have different ideas about what turns me on, but maybe your daughters do, too. Maybe I can talk to them about it in the bathroom.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Actress Betty White has died.

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Read Time:1 Minute, 40 Second

On 3 September 2014, Empire News published a punning article positing that long-time actress and television personality Betty White "dyes" her hair in the privacy of her home:

In a press release from her long-time manager Jeff Witjas, it has been confirmed today that actress Betty White, best known for her roles on TVs The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland, is not a natural blonde.

“Betty is a solitary kind of person,” said Witjas. “She likes to relax in her home with her animals, and she rarely likes to discuss the fact, at least in public, that she is actually a brunette. She has been dying her own hair in her home for decades. Betty has often told me she feels it is relaxing and soothing to dye her own hair, peacefully in her home, where she can laugh and enjoy time with her animals. She’s said on more than one occasion that as a blonde, she has had ‘more fun’ in her roles, and in life.”

 

The punning headline reference to "Betty White Dyes Peacefully in Her Los Angeles Home" was taken by many readers who didn't read the article itself (and glossed over the die/dye homophone) as a proclamation that White — the subject of many celebrity death hoaxes over the years — had passed away; and soon afterwards links and excerpts referencing this article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered the item mistaking it for a genuine news item. However, the article was just a spoof from Empire News, one of many fake news sites that publishes outrageous fictional stories such as "Cure for Cancer Discovered; 'Amazingly Simple' Says Researcher," "College Student Excused from Classes After Dog Eats Grandmother," and "Woman Gives Birth, Confuses Doctors by Asking for Maternity Test."
 

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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