Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pope and Birds

Pope Francis has been on the news lately regarding birds.  First there was a big commotion with the event of sea gulls attacking peace doves released at the Vatican by Pope Francis.

Some even went as far as calling it an "omen" of sorts.  Other groups called for Pope Francis to stop releasing doves completely ignoring the fact that the doves were not released to be intentionally attacked.  Lastly, the Pope blessed a parrot named "Amore" as he rode in his open-air "pope mobile."  The parrot repeated 'papa' as he was holding onto the Pope's finger.

The media immediately jumped on it making comparisons with Pope Francis and St. Francis who is
often pictured holding birds.  Moreover, the media is now making a second story on this by revealing that the parrot's owner is a male stripper and porn actor.  They seem to be persistent in enforcing the false idea that our Pope is this 'liberal.'

My Thoughts:

The releasing of doves is a cultural symbol of peace or celebration of a milestone.  Most likely it originated from Genesis 8:6-10  which is the account of Noah releasing a dove to see if there
was dry land.  By releasing doves, Pope Francis was making a gesture of peace and celebration.  He was not intentionally putting the doves in harm's way.

Animal rights group who are calling on him to stop the practice obviously
do not understand that in nature animals attack each other.  Some animals are predators and others are preys.  This is just how nature operates.  Human beings are animals as well and often attack each other.

Animals are God's creation as well.  Human beings share Earth with other non-human animals.  They deserve to be blessed as well.  Pope Francis kindly extended his blessing on a parrot belonging to a man who is now revealed to be very active in an immoral industry.  The media is making a big fuss about this, but they forget that the Church is for sinners and saints.  Whether the man was a porn actor, stripper, gay, liar, murderer, glutton etc, he is still a child of God and it should not be scandalous that he is seeking a blessing.  Conversion takes steps.  We should pray for this man that he will leave his immoral lifestyle and like Mary Magdalene, turn to Christ completely.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

'Super Pope!'

It's a bird... it's a plane... no... it's 'Super Pope!'  A graffiti image of Pope Francis was found in the streets of the Vatican City in Rome.  Pope Francis is featured in a flying pose similar to that of 'Superman.'  He has his white papal cassock, his pectoral cross with chain resembling a Rosary, and his black bag with the spanish word "Valores" which means values or morals.

The Vatican seems to have approached of the work and even tweeted a photo of it:

The popularity of our Holy Father continues to make news.  I hope his teachings are given the same attention.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State of the Union 2014

President Obama just gave his State of the Union address.  The speech was pretty much a lot about nothing.  It was set in an optimistic tone possibly in an attempt to offset the 'depressed mood' of America.  The United States of America has being going downward fast and the president needed to keep people hopeful.  The government closed for nearly a month, unemployment has continued to rise, Congress has focused more on political differences than taking care of the people's business, the famed health plan dubbed "Obamacare" has been a flop with its failed website and policies; the list goes on and on.

The President has vowed to take the initiative to increase wages, save the enviroment, increase more access
to education, immigration, and focus on the middle class' needs.  He will of course do this by working around Congress, but maintained that he wants to work with them.  The highlight of the speech was when Obama presented a veteran wounded at war.  Corey Remsburg was severely wounded by a roadside attack that left him blind in one eye as well with loss of mobility, speech and other functions.  He has been in occupational and speech therapy which helped him relearn how to speak and have basic motor functions.  Those in attendance gave him a standing ovation that lasted over four minutes.

The Republicans gave their responses basically countering Obama's ideas and calling out his inability to really get things done.  For the first time, there were multiple responses from Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Sen. Mike Lee.  This demonstrates the many divisions within the GOP.

Here is the text of Obama's speech:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:
Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.
An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup, and did her part to add to the more than eight million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years.

An autoworker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world, and did his part to help America wean itself off foreign oil.
A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after twelve long years, is finally coming to an end.
Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.
Here are the results of your efforts: The lowest unemployment rate in over five years. A rebounding housing market. A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. More oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world – the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years. Our deficits – cut by more than half. And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.
That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.
The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress. For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government. It’s an important debate – one that dates back to our very founding. But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy – when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States – then we are not doing right by the American people.
As President, I’m committed to making Washington work better, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here. I believe most of you are, too. Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, this Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way. But the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.
In the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together. Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want – for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations. And what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all – the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.
Let’s face it: that belief has suffered some serious blows. Over more than three decades, even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.
Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.
Our job is to reverse these trends. It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.

As usual, our First Lady sets a good example. Michelle’s Let’s Move partnership with schools, businesses, and local leaders has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years – an achievement that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come. The Joining Forces alliance that Michelle and Jill Biden launched has already encouraged employers to hire or train nearly 400,000 veterans and military spouses. Taking a page from that playbook, the White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit where already, 150 universities, businesses, and nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education – and help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus. Across the country, we’re partnering with mayors, governors, and state legislatures on issues from homelessness to marriage equality.
The point is, there are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments, and are moving this country forward. They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. That’s what drew our forebears here. It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker; how the son of a barkeeper is Speaker of the House; how the son of a single mom can be President of the greatest nation on Earth.

Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.
We know where to start: the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job. With the economy picking up speed, companies say they intend to hire more people this year. And over half of big manufacturers say they’re thinking of insourcing jobs from abroad.
So let’s make that decision easier for more companies. Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad. Let’s flip that equation. Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs here at home.
Moreover, we can take the money we save with this transition to tax reform to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, unclogging our commutes – because in today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure. We’ll need Congress to protect more than three million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer. But I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible.
We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies. Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year. Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create. So get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work.
Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America. Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. And when ninety-eight percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.” China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines. Neither should we.
We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery – whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel. And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.
Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.
One of the reasons why is natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. My administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.
It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too. Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.
And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.
Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.
Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.
The ideas I’ve outlined so far can speed up growth and create more jobs. But in this rapidly-changing economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs.
The good news is, we know how to do it. Two years ago, as the auto industry came roaring back, Andra Rush opened up a manufacturing firm in Detroit. She knew that Ford needed parts for the best-selling truck in America, and she knew how to make them. She just needed the workforce. So she dialed up what we call an American Job Center – places where folks can walk in to get the help or training they need to find a new job, or better job. She was flooded with new workers. And today, Detroit Manufacturing Systems has more than 700 employees.
What Andra and her employees experienced is how it should be for every employer – and every job seeker. So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.
I’m also convinced we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy. But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people.
Let me tell you why.
Misty DeMars is a mother of two young boys. She’d been steadily employed since she was a teenager. She put herself through college. She’d never collected unemployment benefits. In May, she and her husband used their life savings to buy their first home. A week later, budget cuts claimed the job she loved. Last month, when their unemployment insurance was cut off, she sat down and wrote me a letter – the kind I get every day. “We are the face of the unemployment crisis,” she wrote. “I am not dependent on the government…Our country depends on people like us who build careers, contribute to society…care about our neighbors…I am confident that in time I will find a job…I will pay my taxes, and we will raise our children in their own home in the community we love. Please give us this chance.”
Congress, give these hardworking, responsible Americans that chance. They need our help, but more important, this country needs them in the game. That’s why I’ve been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at that new job and new chance to support their families; this week, many will come to the White House to make that commitment real. Tonight, I ask every business leader in America to join us and to do the same – because we are stronger when America fields a full team.

Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education.
Estiven Rodriguez couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age nine. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates – through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors – from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall.
Five years ago, we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it’s worth it – and it’s working.

The problem is we’re still not reaching enough kids, and we’re not reaching them in time. That has to change.

Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every four year-old. As a parent as well as a President, I repeat that request tonight. But in the meantime, thirty states have raised pre-k funding on their own. They know we can’t wait. So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year, we’ll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children. And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need.
Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit.

We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career. We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education. We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt. And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.
The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete – and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise – unless we do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.
Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs – but they’re not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages. Americans understand that some people will earn more than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.
In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs. Many businesses have done it on their own. Nick Chute is here tonight with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. Only now he makes more of it: John just gave his employees a raise, to ten bucks an hour – a decision that eased their financial stress and boosted their morale.
Tonight, I ask more of America’s business leaders to follow John’s lead and do what you can to raise your employees’ wages. To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on. And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example. Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.
Of course, to reach millions more, Congress needs to get on board. Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn’t involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise.
There are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit. Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. But I agree with Republicans like Senator Rubio that it doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids. So let’s work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, and help more Americans get ahead.
Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks. That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans. Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can. And since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations of Americans.
One last point on financial security. For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. And in case you haven’t heard, we’re in the process of fixing that.
A pre-existing condition used to mean that someone like Amanda Shelley, a physician assistant and single mom from Arizona, couldn’t get health insurance. But on January 1st, she got covered. On January 3rd, she felt a sharp pain. On January 6th, she had emergency surgery. Just one week earlier, Amanda said, that surgery would’ve meant bankruptcy.
That’s what health insurance reform is all about – the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don’t have to lose everything.

Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans.
More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.
And here’s another number: zero. Because of this law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer. No woman can ever be charged more just because she’s a woman. And we did all this while adding years to Medicare’s finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat, and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.
Now, I don’t expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people aren’t interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choice – tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first forty were plenty. We got it. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.

And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight. Kentucky’s not the most liberal part of the country, but he’s like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families. “They are our friends and neighbors,” he said. “They are people we shop and go to church with…farmers out on the tractors…grocery clerks…they are people who go to work every morning praying they don’t get sick. No one deserves to live that way.”

Steve’s right. That’s why, tonight, I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st. Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It will give her some peace of mind – plus, she’ll appreciate hearing from you.

After all, that’s the spirit that has always moved this nation forward. It’s the spirit of citizenship – the recognition that through hard work and responsibility, we can pursue our individual dreams, but still come together as one American family to make sure the next generation can pursue its dreams as well.
Citizenship means standing up for everyone’s right to vote. Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened. But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it; and the bipartisan commission I appointed last year has offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote. Let’s support these efforts. It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy.
Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook.
Citizenship demands a sense of common cause; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities. And I know this chamber agrees that few Americans give more to their country than our diplomats and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
Tonight, because of the extraordinary troops and civilians who risk and lay down their lives to keep us free, the United States is more secure. When I took office, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, all our troops are out of Iraq. More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan. With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over.
After 2014, we will support a unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future. If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces, and counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al Qaeda. For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country.
The fact is, that danger remains. While we have put al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we’ll keep strengthening our defenses, and combat new threats like cyberattacks. And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform, and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions.
We have to remain vigilant. But I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on our military alone. As Commander-in-Chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office. But I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it’s truly necessary; nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts. We must fight the battles that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us – large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.
So, even as we aggressively pursue terrorist networks – through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners – America must move off a permanent war footing. That’s why I’ve imposed prudent limits on the use of drones – for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence. That’s why, working with this Congress, I will reform our surveillance programs – because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated. And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay – because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world.
You see, in a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depends on all elements of our power – including strong and principled diplomacy. American diplomacy has rallied more than fifty countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles. American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve – a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear. As we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.
And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium. It is not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify, every day, that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
These negotiations will be difficult. They may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away. But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.
The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed. If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.
Finally, let’s remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats, but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe – to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want. And no one is better positioned to take advantage of those opportunities than America.

Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known. From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy. In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country’s future. Across Africa, we’re bringing together businesses and governments to double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty. In the Americas, we are building new ties of commerce, but we’re also expanding cultural and educational exchanges among young people. And we will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific, where we support our allies, shape a future of greater security and prosperity, and extend a hand to those devastated by disaster – as we did in the Philippines, when our Marines and civilians rushed to aid those battered by a typhoon, and were greeted with words like, “We will never forget your kindness” and “God bless America!”
We do these things because they help promote our long-term security. And we do them because we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation. And next week, the world will see one expression of that commitment – when Team USA marches the red, white, and blue into the Olympic Stadium – and brings home the gold.
My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might – but because of the ideals we stand for, and the burdens we bear to advance them.
No one knows this better than those who serve in uniform. As this time of war draws to a close, a new generation of heroes returns to civilian life. We’ll keep slashing that backlog so our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned, and our wounded warriors receive the health care – including the mental health care – that they need. We’ll keep working to help all our veterans translate their skills and leadership into jobs here at home. And we all continue to join forces to honor and support our remarkable military families.
Let me tell you about one of those families I’ve come to know.
I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program – a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.
A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.

For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.

Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again – and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.

“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”

Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.

My fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress – to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice, and fairness, and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen. The America we want for our kids – a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us – none of it is easy. But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow – I know it’s within our reach.

Believe it.
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Rolling Stone - Pope Francis

Protestants often distort Aramaic and Greek in regards to Peter being the 'rock' and instead call him a stone or pebble.  Well St. Peter's successor today made it to a 'stone' magazine.

Pope Francis is portrayed on the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine.  He received this 'honor' for the same reasons he has been featured on other worldly media; namely his new approach to things which they interpret as "change."


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Supreme Court Sides with Religion

The Supreme Court has sided with religion for the moment it seems.  On Friday, SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the U.S.) extended an exemption for the Little Sisters of the Poor from the Obamacare mandate that would force religious institutions to go against conscience by paying for contraception and abortions.

The fight is not yet over.  This gives the sisters time to present their case in court and hopefully make it permanent.

Obamacare has been nothing but a disaster for everyone.  Let us see what happens in regards to religious liberties it is oppressing.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Brain Dead" and Pregnant

A news story about a pregnant woman who is brain dead has nearly taken the media by storm almost as much as Terri Schiavo.

Marlise Munoz was found by her husband Erick Munoz when she was 14 weeks pregnant unconscious on November 26. Hospital officials believed it was due to a blood clot.  Marlise became brain dead and this has brought up a big debate.  Since she was pregnant and the unborn child is still alive, the hospital left her on life support despite wishes from her husband to remove her.

Many supporters on both the pro-life and pro-abortion movements have voice their opinions on the story. The pro-life side says the unborn child is still alive and a patient and should not be killed.  Moreover, the pro-abortion side claims that this is an affront on bodily autonomy.

The issue is extremely complicated because it brings to questoin what death is exactly and what can be and should be done if a brain dead woman is pregnant. Priests For Life director, Fr. Frank Pavone made a statement on the issue:

“The lawsuit launched by Erick Munoz is nothing less than an attempt to kill his wife and #unborn child. It’s a sad mockery of the meaning of fatherhood and of love, life and law.”

This statement brought outrage from pro-abortion supporters and media personalities on Fox New and elsewhere who considered them to be harsh and out of touch with reality. Erick Munoz claims that his wife is dead and is literally decaying before his eyes.  A judge recently ordered that the life support be removed after doctors stated that the unborn child had severe defects and would not survive outside of the womb.

This story is tragic and I feel for everyone. The Catholic ethics teach that the normal essentials (food/drink) be provided in order to allow a natural death and that no one should be kept alive by extraordinary means or artifical means if there is no chance of recovery. It acknowledges that brain dead people are in fact dead.


Avonte Funeral

The day the Oquendo family saw in their nightmares became a reality.  Young 14 year old autisticm child Avonte Oquendo was remembered at a funeral Mass at St. Joseph's in the Greenwich Village of New York City.  The Mass was presided over by former archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan.

Avonte went missing over three months ago after surveillance cameras captured him leaving his school. He was supposed to have at least three adults with him at all times, but they were nowhere.  He slipped right out of the school never to be heard from or seen again until his remains were found in College Point, Queens a week ago.

You Avonte was 14 years old, but had the emotional and intelligence quotient of a 6-8 year old. He was a mute autistic child on the spectrum and had some phobias, including a fear of dogs and water bodies. Moreover, he was fond of trains which brought volunteers to search subways to see if he went there out of curiosity to see his favorite thing.

Cardinal Egan describe Avonte as a strong, courageous young man who handled autism with immense grace and nobility.  He is correct indeed.  No one has a bad thing to say of this innocent child who bore his cross well and was called home by his heavenly Father.

The story of Avonte's disappearance touched many people including myself. As a student of psychology, I did work in regards to people with special needs. Moreover, as a pro-life Catholic, it is important to speak out and call to attention the needs of people who are born a bit "differently" than the rest. These people are human just like us, and are made in the Image and Likeness of God. It pains me to hear people even suggesting that we should "weed" the human species of these "genetic impurities."  Unfortunately this nonsense is propagated in many places especially universities. These rhetoric comes from psychopaths who think we are in the movie "Gattaca" which takes place in a world where eugenics is the rule of law and morals.

Moreover, the news of Avonte brought people together.  Funeral director Peter Deluca even offered his services free of charge to the Oquendo family.  Hundreds of others from all over felt compelled to attend the funeral as well. The Oquendo family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city. While the money they will get will not bring back Avonte, at least it can bring attention to the problem of unsupervised children.

Too many times, teachers are overly protected by unions who put salary over children. This has to change.  Teachers and their superiors must be held accountable whether they are in a union or not. A teachers' union must not be a force that no one can touch. It is subject to the law, common sense and simply: doing the right thing.    


Friday, January 24, 2014

Putin - Gays Pedophiles

Russia has been on the news lately due to the Sochi Oympic and recent terrorist bombings. However, it is also on the news due to supposed inflammatory comments made by its leader, Vladimir Putin.  He apparently equated homosexuals to 'pedophiles' and told them to 'leave our children alone' while stating that homosexuality must be wiped out of the nation.

From reading his actual words in context, I believe he was referring to the law in his nation that protects minors from the propaganda of homosexuality.  He is not calling homosexuals 'pedophiles' by saying to 'leave the children alone.'  He is merely saying to stop indoctrinating children with homosexual rhetoric.

It seems the media is at it again trying to ride the drama of the LGBT community against Putin and Russia.  The victim-card never gets old.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Obama Says Pot Okay

President Obama recently said that smoking pot is safer than consuming alcohol.  These are words he probably wants back for the mere fact that his suggestion is merely inaccurate.

The stigma of using pot is reversing itself from something that was bad - a drug- to something that is good - medicinal/fun.

As a kid growing up in the 90's, I remember my teachers constantly telling us to say no to drugs. They even had people come speak to us. I remember a police officer who came to my class and brought a red suitcase with him.  Inside this suitcase were samples of drugs which he informed us about. The message was again, "drugs are bad - stay away."  As you can tell, the message stuck with me since I remember the details of long ago well.

Moreover, I remember watching the cartoon special "All Stars to the Rescue" which for the first time had many popular cartoon characters in one cartoon show come together to save a kid tempted to use drugs.  It was aired on all networks.  As a kid and fan of cartoons, especially the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I naturally paid attention to the cartoon and its message sunk in.

Here is a video of it below:

However, today things are changing.  The "say no to drugs" is turning into "say yes to drugs."  This is scary indeed.  We now have a president even endorsing drug use.

I digress -

Marijuana, while it may be something natural - a plant - it is still dangerous.  It is the most used of illicit drugs in the United States and its effects come instantly once a person smokes it since the smoke enters the lungs and then the blood stream via the aveoli immediately.  These effects can last over three hours.

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug which means that it alters the mind and how it perceives reality.
It distorts what we hear, see, smell, taste and touch.  Our perception of time is disrupted. Marijuana also disrupts learning, memory and takes away coordination.

Users of the drug have trouble concentrating, cannot problem solve or think clearly.  The heartbeat increases while blood pressure drops dramatically.  So much for recreation/fun right?
These symptoms are due to the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC chemical which effects the nerve cells in the brain by disrupting anandamides because both have nearly identical molecular structures.  Anandamides ironically are natural marijuana-like chemicals that the brain produces.  It helps with pain relief.

Furthermore, use of marijuana weakens the immune system due to the presence of THC.  Smoking it also poses dangers to the lungs because it contains 50% more carcinogens than regular cigarettes. It will also bring about anxiety, panic attacks, depression and paranoia.

The verdict is that using marijuana for recreational reasons is not a good idea and hardly recreation or fun if you ask me. President Obama is obviously never paid attention during his health classes.

Our brains already makes its own "pot" called anandamides.  We don't need anymore chemicals that will harm us.

Say NO to drugs!


Chuder, Eric C., "Neuroscience for Kids: Marijuana," University of Washington, Revised 2008.

SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information. "Tips for Teens: The Truth About Marijuana," Revised May 2004.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know." Revised August 2007.

Tetrault, J.M., et al. "Effects of marijuana smoking on pulmonary function and respiratory complications: a systematic review." Archives of Intern Medicine. February 2007.

Mehra, R, et al. "The association between marijuana smoking and lung cancer: a systematic review."Archives of Internal Medicine. July 2006.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

March For Life 2014

It is freezing outside and a huge snow storm blanketed many states with over a foot of snow. Temperatures around the northeast range from about 5 degrees to 9 with a wind chill of -15 making it unbearable and dangerous to be outside with exposed skin.  Despite this, hundreds of thousands gathered at Washington DC for the annual March For Life event which serves to remind America of the most vulnerable and forgotten Americans: the unborn.

I will update this post as I learn more of what went on in today's march despite the media blackout and will rely on information from friends who went and EWTN.  Unfortunately, I was not able to personally attend but will hopefully make it next year.  This is an event I always try my best to attend.

Pope Francis has voiced his support via Twitter:


The March For Life was another success.  For what seems to be the first time, mainstream media outlets such as CNN made an appearance and covered the March For Life briefly.  This year's march was a bit difference.  The speeches were cut down to a few and there has been more connections made with social media.

Despite the snow and frigid temperatures, over 200,000 people showed up to march for the unborn.  In attendance were many pro-life groups as well as clergy from different denominations. The majority of attendees were young people which is a good sign.  The marchers celebrated life and the passing of over 200 pro-life laws limiting abortion as well as the closing of thousands of abortion mills throughout the country.



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Penny Lord - Rest in Peace

The Church Triumphant on Earth has lost a courageous soul full of evangelical zeal today.  Penny Lord along with her husband Bob are known for their work in teaching Catholics about the faith, saints and other facets of Christian life.  Penny has passed on to the Lord's presence today at 8:32 PM, according to the Bob and Penny Lord website and EWTN.

Bob and Penny Lord are known for their programs on EWTN as well as books, conferences and retreats. I have several of their books which have aided me in my own journey.  

She will be missed and is a role model for laypeople in the Church.  Penny Lord would always end the program with "we love you."  Well I think I speak for all catholics who have enjoyed her ministry by returning the saying, "we love you back."

Rest in peace, Penny Lord.  Eternal rest grant to her O' Lord and may perpetual light shine upon her.



Rest In Peace, Avonte Oquendo

I have extremely sad news to share.  The missing autistic teen who was assumed to be dead after remains were found at College Point is in fact dead.


The remains found at College Point, Queen do belong to autistic teen Avonte Oquendo.  DNA tests have accurate identified and confirmed this.  The Oquendo family is devastated, in particular the mother who has been hoping that the remains found were not that of her son.

A lawsuit will be filed against the city of New York for wrongful death.  Avonte was not supervised by his school allowing him to leave the property without notice.  He was supposed to have an adult with him at all times.

The news has broken all of our hearts especially his family and the many volunteers who spent hours looking for him.  Some speculate that Avonte may have been chased by a dog and fell into the waters of Queens where he would drown.  Nevertheless, the NYPD is still conducting an investigation to rule out foul play.

The video of Avonte running away from his school will remain as a haunting image of what will happen if special needs children are not cared for properly. I do hope the Oquendo family will be successful in their suit against the city.

While money will not bring back Avonte, a victory will keep the safety concerns of special needs children public and as a priority.

More needs to be done in order to protect these vulnerable creations of God. GPS tracking devices should be given free of charge to families of autistic children in order to keep track of their kids.

My condolences to Avonte's family and loved ones.  This is a sad day for all of us.  May the soul of Avonte rest in peace.


Selling the Social Soul

Today we are seeing a wave of strange ideas being passed into law.  From the legalization of mock marriages with same sex couples to the legalization of psychoactive drugs once thought of to be bad; the nation seems to have gone into the "Twilight Zone."

A few months ago, New Jersey's governor Chris Christie broke his integrity by calling off his state's appeal against a ruling that legalized so-called "gay marriage." He sold himself to a tyrannical minority subculture which seeks to undermine what has held society together since man walked the Earth. Like Judas, he out of despair of losing an upcoming election and greed to keep votes, sold himself in order to win favor with those on the wrong side of reason, morality and history.

Unfortunately for him, this transaction has backfired for he is now facing scandal after scandal. It is said that when one makes a deal with the devil all seems to go well and then that changes.  The devil is a liar and will not keep his promises. This is why Christ's temptation story is important. Christ was offered all in exchange for His renunciation of God the Father's plan.  Christ of course said "Go away Satan!" (Matthew 4:1-11)  Later on in His ministry, Christ asks "what will man gain if he loses his soul and gains the world?" (Matthew 16:26)  Governor Christie gained reelection with his betrayal against traditional marriage and now has lost himself in scandal after scandal.

Moreover, California is suffering its worst drought ever in its history.  Wildfires have claimed many areas and have left officials trying to figure out how to fight them.

While these fires are common in the state, the last few months have presented the state with fires that are extremely difficult to fight and which are more powerful than those of years ago.  Many structures have been burned down to ruins while religious structures have remained untouched.

As you may know, prop 8, or the ban on so-called "gay marriage" which was voted into law by the people of California was struck down by the Supreme Court for not being represented by the "right people," so to speak.  Immediately following this reversal, the fires and drought came.

We know from Scripture that God used fire to punish the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their immorality, in particular homosexual behavior which went so far that it disrespected the angels who accompanied Lot and his family (Genesis 19).

If that is not enough, most of the northeast has legalized so-called "gay marriage" and since then have face some of the worst storms on record. They have been getting hurricanes and snowstorms after snowstorms as well as temperatures that are unheard of.

"The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet."  Nahum 1:3

Moreover, the entire United States experience cold temperatures that are not typical for its position on the Earth.  Even Miami, Florida known for its year round 80 degree weather went down to below freezing.    

"See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked."  Jeremiah 23:19

Is God warning us?  While we as Catholics believe in the Divine Mercy, we must also remember that God is just.

St. John Vianney had this to say:
"In fact, my children, it is sin that brings upon us all calamities, all scourges, war, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, fires, frost, hail, storms - all that afflicts us, all that makes us miserable." (Chapter 14 paragraph 8)
Nature rebels when sin gets out of control. Nature ever since the fall has waited in frustration for the holy ones to rise up and bring about God's redemption and glory. (Romans 8:19-23)

St. Faustina wrote about an angel sent to punish a city in her diary:

"I saw an Angel, the executor of God's wrath... about to strike the earth...I began to beg God earnestly for the world with words which I heard interiorly. As I prayed in this way, I saw the Angel's helplessness, and he could not carry out the just punishment...."

Let us pause and reflect on what is going on.  Is it worth it selling the social soul to the dark side? Let's get America's soul back from the evil one.  Who's with me?    

Monday, January 20, 2014


Pro-Abortion 'superstar' Wendy Davis who made a name for herself for her silly filibuster antics over the summer of 2013 and is currently campaigning to be Texas governor is now under heavy scrutiny for deception.

It seems that her "resume/biography" that she has used to obtain pity and attention is not entirely accurate and instead is fictitious.  She has not tired of claiming to have 'struggled' in life by describing living in an RV camp, having difficulties in paying bills and a whole host of things. However, the facts show that she only lived at an RV camp for four months and her husband helped her pay her expenses.

During her divorce, she had a restraining order issued against her, a fact she left out of her biography. Like a typical pro-abortion feminist, she uses the 'victim-card' to obtain pity and fuel the fictitious "war against women" rhetoric.  I hope Texans do not vote for this charlatan.    

More posts on Wendy Davis:



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