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Pope Meets With Sudanese Woman Condemned for Apostasy

I am not Catholic, but what I love about this humble Pope shines through in these photos – the Pope, the revered leader of the Christian world, is standing, while the family sits in his presence. His loving actions speak loudly. You can see all the photos on AOL News by clicking here.

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ROME (AP) – Pope Francis met privately Thursday with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, blessing the woman as she cradled her infant born just weeks ago in prison.

The Vatican characterized the visit with Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband and their two small children as “very affectionate.”

The 30-minute encounter took place just hours after the family landed at Rome’s Ciampino airport, accompanied by an Italian diplomat who helped negotiate her release, and welcomed by Italy’s premier, who hailed it as a “day of celebration.”

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the pope “thanked her for her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity” during the half-hour meeting Thursday. Francis frequently calls attention to the suffering of those persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Lombardi said the presence of “their wonderful small children” added to the affectionate tone of the meeting. Ibrahim was presented with a rosary, a gift from the pope.

Ibrahim held her sleeping infant as she stepped off the plane from Sudan, which had blocked her from leaving the country even after the country’s highest court overturned her death sentence in June. An Italian diplomat carried her 18-month-old son and they were followed by her husband, Daniel Wani, who is a citizen of the United States and South Sudan.

Ibrahim and her family are expected to spend a few days in Rome before heading to the United States.

Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but whose mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy. She married her husband, a Christian, in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith.

The sentence was condemned by the United States, the United Nations and Amnesty International, among others, and both the United States and Italy – a strong death penalty opponent with long ties to the Horn of Africa region – worked to win her release.

Sudan’s high court threw out her death sentence in June, but she was then blocked from leaving the country by authorities who questioned the validity of her travel documents.

Lapo Pistelli, an Italian diplomat who accompanied the family from Sudan, said Italy was able to leverage its ties within the region. “We had the patience to speak to everyone in a friendly way. This paid off in the end,” he said.

July 24, 2014 Posted by | Character, Charity, Civility, Community, Faith, Family Issues, Interconnected, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Sudan, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

“In Other” to Serve Me Better

LOL, if you are a scammer, work a little harder on your grammar ‘in other’ to succeed!

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July 24, 2014 Posted by | Lies, Scams | , | Leave a comment

Celebrating Sainte Mary Magdalene

From today’s Forward Day by Day:

TUESDAY, July 22 Saint Mary Magdalene

John 20:18. Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”

The information about Mary Magdalene tantalizes the imagination. A Jesus groupie in an age when decent women did not leave home to follow itinerant men. One from whom seven demons, by Luke’s count, were exorcised. A woman of such low status that she was free to stand unchallenged at the crucifixion site. It is no wonder that, like other women who do not fit into boxes of conventional understanding, she is defined in terms of sex. By declaring her a prostitute, imagination satisfies the Bible’s thin facts and the human desire for predictability. She has become a sex symbol in every sense of the word.

In seeing her this way, we miss the single piece of information that connects Mary to us all: gratitude. She followed Jesus because he cast out the seven demons. Jesus gave her new life and hope, a fact she never forgot and carried as her banner through thick and thin. If one or more of the demons in her had a sexual manifestation, it does not matter to the bottom line. Mary Magdalene is witness to the power of gratitude, a power available to our lives as well as hers.

PRAY for the Church of Jerusalem and The Middle East and the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa

Today the Church remembers Saint Mary Magdalene.

July 22, 2014 Posted by | Charity, Faith | , | Leave a comment

“Perfect!” The Bridge Restaurant in Anchorage

Language changes, and usage changes, and one of the differences I heard on this trip was an increasing use of the word “Perfect!”

We had eaten at Mooses Tooth (see below) and we wanted to change up the pace for our last night in Anchorage, finishing with really really good seafood in Anchorage. We decided on The Bridge, and we decided to make reservations.

“I’d like a reservation for two at seven o-clock” I said and the lady taking the reservation said “Perfect!”

She asked our name and I told her and she said “Perfect!”

Our name is perfect? That we gave her our name is perfect? That she wrote it down perfectly?

I told her we would see her at seven and she said . . . well, you can guess what she said:

“PERFECT!”

It took us a missed exit and some driving around to actually find The Bridge, and oh, what fun. It is in the downtown most part of downtown Anchorage, on the banks of the river, spanning the river.

00TheBridgeExterior

There are a lot of parking lots with limited parking, limited to like two hours because they have so many people wanting to fish in this river. At seven at night, this river was PACKED. The river was packed with people, fishing! They had gorgeous weather, and the fish were biting.

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This is the kitchen at The Bridge:
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And this is a view of a part of the interior. There are a variety of seating areas; this area was for those who had reservations. There was seating on a patio, but this is a very brightly lit place on a hot, sunshiney day, and I am glad to be inside, out of the hot sun, hot sun at seven at night – it’s the equinox.

00TheBridgeRestaurantInterior

We loved this restaurant, and while we had many wonderful experiences on this trip, this would be one of my first choices going back. It’s a little off the beaten trail, (although we saw two tables of eight reserved for Orvis fisherpeople) and the people who worked there seemed to really love working there. At least half of the people were from Anchorage.

We ordered the Smoked Salmon Pate, not realizing we would also get more pate with our bread. The Bridge is like that; it gives you more than you expect. Sorry for the high contrast photos; there is a lot of bright sun I am working with here.

00TheBridgeSalmonSpread

AdventureMan also ordered crab legs, not realizing they came on the appetizer buffet you get with the full meal, which we ordered. We ordered too much food for our last night in Anchorage, when it didn’t make sense to take food back with us.

The Bridge has a fabulous appetizer buffet.

00TheBridgeCrabLegs

For his main course, AdventureMan had the grilled halibut, which he says was the best on his entire trip:

00TheBridgeGrilledHalibut

And I could not resist ordering The Bridge’s Alaska Cioppino – I am a sucker for Cioppino, and this was exquisite.

00TheBridgeAlaskanCioppino

They also had rhubarb crisp as a dessert, but I could not even think about eating another bite. Next time I hit The Bridge, I will start with the Rhubarb Crisp :-)

The Bridge is only open for the summer season. It is a total WOW.

It was (you guessed it!) “PERFECT!”

July 21, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Cooking, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Miscellaneous Around Anchorage

Anchorage bumper sticker:
 

00AnchorageBumperSticker

View from our hotel room:

00HotelRoomView

Live aquatic transportation:

00AquaticTransport

Moose crossing signs are everywhere; hitting a moose is a lot like hitting a camel, not good for your car and not good for the moose:

00MooseCrossingSign

We didn’t expect much from the Golden Palace on Tudor, near our hotel, and we were delighted at the quality of the meal. It was wonderful and spicy, and the flavors shone!

 

00GoldenPalaceonTudor

July 21, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment

Russians Told Flight 17 Full of Corpses, not People

Fascinating article from Digg, saying Russian press has totally different spin on the Shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17. All part of a big Western plot .  . .

 

When it was the Soviet Union and they told such whoppers, even their own citizens didn’t believe them. Now that they have access to cable news, and other inputs through the internet, how can they hope to pass this one along as truth?

JULY 20, 2014

The Russian Public Has a Totally Different Understanding of What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17And it’s more of a problem than you think.

By Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty

Did you know Malaysia Air Flight 17 was full of corpses when it took off from Amsterdam? Did you know that, for some darkly inexplicable reason, on July 17, MH17 moved off the standard flight path that it had taken every time before, and moved north, toward rebel-held areas outside Donetsk? Or that the dispatchers summoned the plane lower just before the crash? Or that the plane had been recently reinsured? Or that the Ukrainian army has air defense systems in the area? Or that it was the result of the Ukrainian military mistaking MH 17 for Putin’s presidential plane, which looks strangely similar?

Did you know that the crash of MH17 was all part of an American conspiracy to provoke a big war with Russia?

Well, it’s all trueat least if you live in Russia, because this is the Malaysia Airlines crash story that you’d be seeing.

As the crisis surrounding the plane crash deepens and as calls for Vladimir Putin to act grow louder, it’s worth noting that they’re not really getting through to Putin’s subjects. The picture of the catastrophe that the Russian people are seeing on their television screens is very different from that on screens in much of the rest of the world, and the discrepancy does not bode well for a sane resolution to this stand-off.

Western media has been vacillating for days between calling Putin a murdererand peppering their coverage with allegedlys, telling the heart-rending tales of the victims, scrounging for anonymous leaks to link the Russians to the downed jet, and punditizing about exit ramps.

But in Russia, televisionmost of it owned or controlled by the Kremlinis trying to muddy the water with various experts who insist that there is no way that an SA-11 missile system could possibly have downed a plane flying that high. And, mind you, this is not part of a larger debate of could they, or couldn’t they; this is all of Russian television and state-friendly papers pushing one line: the pro-Russian separatists we’ve been supporting all these months couldn’t have done this. Watching some of these Russian newscasts, one comes away with the impression of a desperate defense attorney scrounging for experts and angles, or a bad kid caught red-handed by the principal, trying to twist his way out of a situation in which he has no chance.

And that’s when they’re not simply peddling conspiracy theories, which have become a kind of symbiotic feedback loop between state TV and the most inventive corners of the Internet. The best of the bunch is, of course, an elaborate one: MH17 is actually MH370, that Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared into the Indian Ocean. According to this theory, the plane didn’t disappear at all, “it was taken to an American military base, Diego-Garcia.”

Then it was taken to Holland. On the necessary day and hour, it flew out, bound for Malaysia, but inside were not live people, but corpses. The plane was flown not by real pilots; it was on autopilot. Or take-off (a complicated procedure) was executed by live pilots, who then ejected on parachutes. Then the plane flew automatically. In the necessary spot, it was blown up, without even using a surface-to-air missile. Instead the plane was packed with a bomb, just like the CIA did on 9/11.

The theory also notes that the passports of victims at the crash site all look brand new even though there was an explosion and a fire. “That is, the passports were tossed in [after the crash].” And, most damingly, all the victims’ Facebook pages were created in one day and the media is not showing any of the victims’ families, just the crash site. Though this is not true of Western media, Russian television has not featured any of this. “There’s very little talk about the human cost of this catastrophe,” says independent television analyst Arina Borodina, formerly of the prominent Russian dailyKommersant. “Instead we’re seeing these unbelievable versions. For example, that someone had actually been hunting for the president or that some of the locals saw parachutists coming down from a height of 30,000 feet.”

But though it may look unconvincing to us in the West, that is because we have seen and read other things that contradict it. The Russian media space has become so uniform and independent voices so cowed and marginalizedthat there is no counterweight and, when there’s no counterweight, if you repeat a thing often enough, it becomes the truth.

 

This isn’t an innocent you-say-tomato moment; this is a very problematic development. The result of all this Russian coverage is that Russians’ understanding of what happened is as follows. At best, the crash is an unfortunate accident on the part of the Ukrainian military that the West is trying to pin on Russia, which had nothing to do with it; at worst, it is all part of a nefarious conspiracy to drag Russia into an apocalyptic war with the West. So whereas the West sees the crash as a game-changer, the Russians do not see why a black swan event has to change anything or they want to resist what they see is a provocation. To them, after a few days of watching Russian television, it’s not at all clear what happened nor that their government is somehow responsible for this tragedy. And the more we insist on it, the less likely the Russians are to agree.

Floriana Fossato, a longtime scholar of Russian media, says that this, coupled with the media’s conscious use of the Soviet language of crisis“traitors,” “fascists,” “fifth columns”quickly brings to the surface the psychological demons of a society massively traumatized by the 20th century, traumas that society has never adequately addressed. The result, she says, is a kind of collective PTSD-meets-Stockholm Syndrome.

In Russians’ view, “Americans have recreated the situation where they have excuse for intervention,” Fossato says. “No one admits that they are afraid, but they are. They are panicked. And they are right in being afraid because theyknow what happened, and they know there must be an answer to what is going on. And so they lock onto Putin for protection. This is why they don’t turn to Putin and ask him to do something.”

But in addition to the Russian public not clamoring for decisive action from Putin, there is a far more serious problem. As David Remnick noted in hiscolumn on the crash of MH17, Putin has become prisoner to his own propaganda machine, much as he’s become prisoner of the rebels he thought were doing his geopolitical dirty work in Ukraine.

After Putin’s ascent, media became the flexible element that could be readjusted for any twist or turn of the political rudder. “Today, it’s the opposite,” says Gleb Pavlovsky, a political consultant who helped Putin win his first election and was a Kremlin advisor for years afterwards. “It’s almost impossible to turn the rudder of the picture that’s formed on television because it would mean losing the audience they formed in this year” of sword-brandishing and imperialistic conquest.

This audience is now fired up and brandishing its own swords, and the propaganda apparatus, much like the rebels in eastern Ukraine, has rolled on an on, fed by inertia and paranoia, reproducing and magnifying itself with each newscast. The sensationalized newscasts are now neck-and-neck, ratings-wise, with the sitcoms. “It keeps people in a traumatized state,” Pavlovsky says. “It’s notable in media metrics, and in conversations with people. They lose their sanity, they become paranoid and aggressive.”

This has had a noticeable impact on the ruling class, Pavlovsky says, which has to watch this stuff in order to stay au courant. And they become less sane as a result, too, which limits their ability to adequately assess a situation such as this and devise a good way out of it.

“It’s noticeable that the Kremlin is much more tempered than Russian TV but can’t change it,” Pavlovsky says. “It’s fallen into a trap, so it’s now trying to function within the strictures of this picture.” He cites the example of the PR contortions the Kremlin had to use just to announce that it would not send troops into eastern Ukraine. “In this seemingly controlled media, any rational political arguments of the state have to be hidden and packaged in idiotic, jingoistic rhetoric,” Pavlovsky says.

None of this looks very good for the West, which is clearly hoping that MH17 is the thing that will bring Putin to his senses and get him to agree to some kind of off-ramp, or, at least, a deescalation. But that’s hard to do if neither your public nor your political class see it as a game-changer or as anything that should force Russia to end this game.

“Of course it gets in Putin’s way. He has to be the hero of this TV material, he’s not free from it anymore,” says Pavlovsky. “I have a feeling not very comfortable right now.”

July 21, 2014 Posted by | Political Issues, Relationships, Technical Issue, Transparency, Travel | Leave a comment

Ten Days of Thunderstorms

Today when I checked Weather Underground, I see ten days straight of thunderstorms predicted. I’ll take cloudy skies and less than 90°F temps any day, but we just had two really nice days, in the eighties but low humidity – so sweet. The thunderstorms help keep the air conditioning bills down . . . sigh . . .

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July 18, 2014 Posted by | Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather | 2 Comments

Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage, Alaska

“Well the wait time is only 20 minutes right now, but it’s going to get a lot worse” the person on the telephone at Moose’s Tooth told me when I called to ask if they take reservations (they don’t). It was only 5:00 pm, and only a Thursday night. I can’t imagine what a Friday night must look like.

We were lucky, we got a parking place. There were already crowds of people waiting. It’s good to be two; Moose’s Tooth has some small 2 person booths, so we only waited about 20 minutes.

00MoosesToothExterior

Moose’s Tooth is crowded inside, too. There is a bar area and a dining area, and while we were there, we saw every table taken. Many were groups, after work groups, birthday groups – and we were amazed at how efficiently everything was handled. It could have been chaos, but it wasn’t.

00MoosesToothInterior

00MoosesToothBar

Love the Moose’s Tooth plates:
00MoosesToothPlate

In all our days in Alaska, this was the first time I had seen rhubarb on the menu. This is rhubarb crisp, and it was delicious. Rhubarb is an acquired taste, for many it is too tart, or you have to add too much sugar to make it palatable. I grew up eating rhubarb; it was one of the earliest crops in our garden, so I like it just fine.

Yes, I started with dessert. It was a priority :-)

00MoosesToothRhubarbCrisp

AdventureMan’s salad:

MoosesToothAMSalad

My main course was Shrimp Louis, a west-coast specialty, I never see it anywhere else. It is only on the Moose’s Tooth menu seasonally, and I was delighted to see it!

ShrimpLouis

AdventureMan had a pizza, which he said was really, really good.
00MoosesToothPizza

Get there early! Moose’s Tooth is really a fun place, very active, nice atmosphere, lots of locals and great food.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips | , , , | Leave a comment

Qatar Bribed Officials to get 2022 FIFA World Cup ?

Ripped from the headlines at AOL News as reported on Al Jazeera:

Organizers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are certain that hosting rights to the tournament will not be taken away, despite a FIFA investigation into alleged bribery and corruption, according a report from Al Jazeera.

Qatari officials have denied misconduct, but allegations that the Gulf State bought the World Cup have persisted. Qatar 2022 communications director Nasser Al Khater told Al Jazeera that organizers are not concerned that the World Cup be stripped from the country:

“We are not worried, we are confident that the World Cup will take place in Qatar.”

Al Khater also said that Qatar has held itself to “the highest ethical standards” throughout the entire process.

Qatar was selected to host the 2022 World Cup in December 2010 over bids from the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea. Since FIFA made its selection, rumors have persisted that Qatar bribed its way to victory, allegations that gained steam in March when The Telegraph reported that Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam had paid millions of dollars to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner.

Since the report was released, pressure has mounted on FIFA to take action, or at least mount a serious investigation. A number of World Cup sponsors called on FIFA to look into the allegations, and politicians from both the United States and Britain have urged FIFA to take action.

FIFA’s ethics committee has been looking into the bribery allegations.

The 2022 World Cup has faced criticism for more than alleged corruption. Roughly 4,000 migrant workers in Qatar will die by time the 2022 World Cup starts if the current pace of worker fatalities remains stable. A number of media outlets, including ESPN and The Guardian, have published in-depth investigations into the country’s poor treatment of migrant workers, many of whom are building infrastructure and stadiums for the World Cup.

FIFA has also admitted that the 2022 World Cup may have to be played in the winter rather than the summer, as Qatar’s summer heat would be potentially dangerous for players.

Though FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup was “a mistake,” he also labeled allegations of Qatar 2022 corruption as “racism.”

July 17, 2014 Posted by | Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Qatar | , , , , | Leave a comment

For All Young Parents: I Salute You

Every time I see this commercial, it gives me a big grin. These little babies and children need so much attention, and we applaud the loving care their parents put into cherishing them, sustaining them, nurturing them, civilizing them, educating them, exercising them, and sharing with them until they can care for themselves.

Young parents, you are doing the toughest job in the world. We see you. We see your sacrifices, and the effects of sleep deprivation, we see you giving, giving, giving to those who cannot give back, and we are in awe of your loving patience to your children.

I also love it that men are also featured prominently as caregivers :-)

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Cultural, Family Issues, Generational, iPhone, Living Conditions, Parenting, Survival | | Leave a comment

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