Daily Archives: April 14, 2008

Pope to pray for terrorists to convert to Christianity at Ground Zero

evil pope

Aircraft will be banned from flying under 3,000 feet
while the Pope is at Ground Zero

Telegraph | Apr 14, 2008

By Malcolm Moore in Rome

The Pope will pray for the redemption of Islamic terrorists when he visits the site of the September 11 attacks in New York next week.

The pontiff will call for terrorists to convert to Christianity, saying: “Turn to Your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred.

“God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance”.

The prayer is likely to further incense the Muslim world, which has already attacked the Pope for publicly converting Magdi Allam, a journalist and one of Italy’s most high-profile Muslims, at Easter.

Osama bin Laden accused the Pope of trying to provoke “a new crusade” against Islam.

Aref Ali Nayed, a leading scholar and proponent of peaceful relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Islam, said that there were “genuine questions about the motives, intentions and plans of some of the Pope’s advisers on Islam”.

He said that religious conversion should not be “made into a triumphalist tool for scoring points”.

The Pope’s first visit to the United States begins on Tuesday. He will visit Ground Zero on April 20 and the prayer is expected to be the emotional high-point of his tour.

The Pope will also ask for “eternal light and peace to all who died” in the tragedy. His prayer will remember “the heroic first-responders: our firefighters, police officers, emergency service workers… along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy”.

Around 3,000 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Centre, including the 19 hijackers. The prayer will also mention the victims “on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania”.

The Pope will conclude: “Bring Your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth.” He will then sprinkle the crater with holy water and bless the site.

Security for the visit will be some of the tightest New York has seen. Ray Kelly, the city’s police commissioner, said it would be like having a UN general assembly, followed by a parade, followed by a presidential visit.

Aircraft will be banned from flying under 3,000 feet while the Pope is at Ground Zero. No-fly zones will also be set up above St Joseph’s Seminary and Yankee Stadium while the Pope is present.

The Pope’s itinerary includes a Mass at the baseball stadium, and he will also address the United Nations.

He will visit the White House on the first leg of his trip in Washington DC, although his spokesman said yesterday that he would not attend a state dinner given in his honour.

The Vatican did not offer a reason for his absence.

The Pope will hold talks with President George W Bush, but Cardinal Raffaele Martino, one of the Vatican’s most senior prelates, said the Holy See “cannot renounce its own beliefs on this visit, which are a rejection of the [Iraq] war and the constant encouragement of dialogue to resolve differences”.

All the venues on the Pope’s itinerary will be swept for bombs, while the authorities in New York said that there would also be divers in the East River, roof-top snipers, helicopters and undercover detectives carrying tiny radiation detectors on their belts. While he is in New York, the Pope will stay with Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the papal ambassador to the UN.

The street off Fifth Avenue where the archbishop lives will be closed and all residents “will be escorted to their homes by police officers”.

The Vatican has also announced that the Pope will confront the issue of paedophile priests while he is in the United States. Several Catholic organisations have protested that he will not visit Boston, the epicentre of the sex abuse scandal.

One group took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times.

However, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said that the Pope would address the issue in a speech and that the Church needed “constant purification” over the issue.

Obama angers midwest voters with guns and religion remark

The Guardian | Apr 14, 2008

Ed Pilkington in New York

Barack Obama was forced onto the defensive at the weekend over unguarded comments he made about small-town voters across the midwest.

Obama was caught in an uncharacteristic moment of loose language. Referring to working-class voters in old industrial towns decimated by job losses, the presidential hopeful said: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

The comments were seized on by his rival for the Democratic party candidacy, Hillary Clinton, who saw in them the hope of reviving her flagging campaign by turning voters in the important Pennsylvania primary on April 22 against what she classed as Obama’s revealed “elitism”.

“I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America,” she said on Saturday. “His remarks are elitist and out of touch.” Clinton campaigners in North Carolina handed out stickers saying: “I’m not bitter.”

Obama’s comments are potentially incendiary in the Pennsylvania rust belt. Analysts speculated that the remarks could give white working-class voters the excuse they needed not to vote for Obama, whose candidacy has been regarded with scepticism in the state but had shown some signs of growing momentum.

The comments came to light as a result of the Huffington Post’s groundbreaking experiment in citizen journalism, Off The Bus. The website runs a network of about 1,800 unpaid researchers, interviewers and writers.

One of those writers, Mayhill Fowler, broke the story, despite being a paid-up supporter of Obama. She attended a fundraising event in San Francisco on April 6 and recorded Obama’s speech.

Fowler sat on the material for days, conflicted about what to do with it. She only published the comments last Friday.

“She had some real reservations about the story as an Obama supporter,” Amanda Michel, the director of Off The Bus, told the Guardian. “But she thought as a citizen journalist she had a duty to report the event, despite her support for Barack Obama.”

Obama initially reacted to the resultant media firestorm over the weekend by trying to stand by his comments. But he later apologised, saying: “If I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that.”

Clinton will now hope the controversy will provide her with the break she desperately needs in Pennsylvania. She requires a substantial win to sustain her campaign, but recent polls have suggested Obama had eroded some of her advantage.

Soros: It’s like the Great Depression


“From now on, depressions will be scientifically created.”

– Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh Sr., 1913, following the passage of the Federal reserve Act.

The Austrailian | Apr 10, 2008

GEORGE Soros, billionaire, philanthropist and hedge fund legend, has characterised today’s situation in global markets as the most severe since the Great Depression.

Mr Soros said global financial markets were in a period of rapid, massive de-leveraging that would fuel volatility.

“We are in a period of financial wealth destruction … and now we have de-leveraging,” he said.

At the same time, Mr Soros said “the acute phase” of the crisis in the US banking system was past, thanks to the US Federal Reserve’s actions to increase liquidity in financial markets.

He was less fearful about the potential crippling of the US banking system and credited the Fed’s actions to boost cash reserves in financial markets and its role in a deal for JPMorgan Chase to take over Bear Stearns.

“I think the acute phase of the crisis is behind us in the sense that (fears that) the financial system will be allowed to collapse are unfounded,” Mr Soros said.

Mr Soros made his comments while promoting his latest book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means.

The billionaire blamed the lack of transparency in the credit default market, which he calculated at $US45 trillion, as the root of the curtailing of bank-lending, and hence the credit squeeze.

“That is an amazing figure,” Mr Soros said, noting that the size of the CDS (credit default swaps) market is equal to the total wealth of US households and five times the national debt level.

Mr Soros called credit default swaps – a sector in which he said hedge funds are particularly active – a “totally unregulated” market fraught with risks.

“You don’t know if their counterparties will meet their obligations,” he said.

Hedge funds have immense influence on the financial system, but they have used an enormous amount of leverage over the years, Mr Soros said, emphasising that their leverage has not been regulated.

“I have operated a hedge fund myself,” said Mr Soros, whose famous bet against the British pound earned his Quantum Fund $US1 billion in 1992.

“I have never used the kind of leverage others have employed and some of them have not proven to be sustainable.”

In that regard, Mr Soros said he believed the amount of leverage that hedge funds and other players are using needed to be regulated.

But, he said, that regulation should be done through the banks.

Mr Soros also agreed that the latest official forecast for $US1 trillion ($1.08 trillion) in global losses stemming from the US sub-prime crisis was a “fair estimate”.

When asked about the forecast for global losses by the International Monetary Fund, Mr Soros said: “I think that is a fair estimate, but that number is likely to still grow.”

He said house prices in the US and elsewhere would continue to come under severe pressure.

Even so, he noted, the financial crisis is beginning to have serious effects on the real economy, adding: “The extent of that is not, in my opinion, yet fully recognised.”

All told, investors are facing the “worst financial crisis of our lifetime”, Mr Soros said.

In mid-March, the Fed brokered JPMorgan’s takeover of Bear Stearns and also dusted off a Depression-era rule to let securities firms borrow directly through its discount window, which is usually reserved for commercial banks. That has significantly helped restore investor confidence.