"God Bless the Dream, the Dreamer and the Result." 

FaithWalk Clothing by William Renae

In today's world and in times past collaboration and partnering has been an instrumental strategy.  Partnering helps us to grow, learn, change and exchange ideas.  Even the Bible endorses partnering based on the scripture that says, "Where two or three are gathered, I am there."

I want to introduce to you a mother/son partnership, which currently launched a new clothing line.  The clothing line is called FaithWalk. The new line is created to encourage others to save themselves and to take control of their own destiny.

Renae Parker Benenson is a Mom, certified Chaplin (spiritual listener and encourager), writer and co-founder of FaithWalk.  William Marshall Parker II is a Son, entrepreneur, writer and co-founder of FaithWalk.  Together they compliment each other and have found support for their individual and collective growth and development.

They started FaithWalk because they get it.  They have figured out that their life is to get better spiritually, emotionally, financially, intellectually and physically it will be because they have prayed to God and believe that the Creator will equip them for the journey and fill them with unfathomable power to be and to do more than they can ever imagine.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yuto Miyazawa - 8-Year Old Japanese Guitar Phenom!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oscar-Worthy Comebacks

Some stars combust and others fizzle, but a few are reborn. Metromix honors the second wave:

The Wrestler was made for Mickey Rourke, the "one-time '80s sex symbol" turned professional boxer.
Drug habits wrote off Robert Downey Jr. until the Iron Man returned with back-to-back hits.
Dennis Hopper suffered Downey's blues for 15 years before re-emerging as pure evil in Blue Velvet.
Muscle man Jean-Claude Van Damme is surprisingly heartfelt in French film JCVD, about an action star's fall from fame.
Sly Stallone reinvented himself as a fat cop in Cop Land after Cliffhanger was anything but.
The urban cowgirl is back in Rachel Getting Married after a disappearance so long that a documentary was named Searching for Debra Winger.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wade Gives Displaced Family New Home

Christmas seemed destroyed for Dawn Smith’s family after her nephew accidentally burned down their Florida home, but Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has saved it. He helped Smith move into a new home on Christmas Eve, providing furnishings, clothes, and gifts for the holidays, the AP reports. Wade’s foundation will make payments while the Smiths get back on their feet.

“Hopefully, you’ll like it,” Wayne told an emotional Smith, who repeatedly thanked him as she sobbed. “It’s not about what you’re going to receive, but what you can give to others from what you’ve received,” he added.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Panhandling MIT Grad Gets Job

Out-of-work investment banker Joshua Persky gained a lot of publicity when he hung a sign around his neck reading “EXPERIENCED MIT GRAD FOR HIRE,” and passed out resumes on the streets of Manhattan—but no job offers. His wife and kids left New York to live with family, the Los Angeles Times reports. But Persky kept the faith, and a year later, he’s got a new job.

“By the end of the summer, they were frozen,” Persky, who was laid-off last December, says of would-be employers. When he finally got a job, “it was like a miracle,” his wife says. The couple says they’ve learned to keep hoping, to never give up—and that wearing a sign and begging for a job probably won’t work.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Creating your own niche

The very act of admitting that you want more puts the balance of your existence in jeopardy. You feel tension between wanting to maintain the security of sameness, however mundane and boring it may be, and the hope and excitement of having what you really want. No matter what the circumstances of your life may be, even it its painful, disrupting the sameness can be scary.

~ Dr. Phil

Everyday or just about every other day I surf my computer to look at job possibilities. Some times I become discouraged when I see the same ole positions and read the same ole postings. The fact that lots of people are unemployed and seeking employment also looms large. After going through a number of these sites, I sigh thinking that my chances are slim too none. My body tenses but I don’t lose faith. I search for ways to stay positive and hopeful.

Call me silly. However I am not ashamed. I want more. I admit there is an ache, a longing of my soul’s desire to help create a world and to be a better person. Just recently my soul spoke and urged me to revisit some papers I received at a workshop. The workshop was called “Creating your own niche.” As I reviewed the papers there was a tug at my heart. I felt both the sensations of risk and utter satisfaction. The papers encouraged me to review work skills and experiences. It also suggested that I write down those gifts and talents that made me unique. The presenter also requested that I research various companies that caught my interest. There were other questions and leadings too. The next step that she asked her reader to do was to write a basic business plan and an executive summary.

I have not gotten to the plan and summary yet. I am still clarifying what I believe about who I am. What I know for sure…. I am a dynamic person. I am a skilled listener. I am also adaptable, self-motivated, passionate, creative and a team player. What am I looking for in a company? I want to work for a company that is equally dynamic and progressive. I want to work for a company that truly cares about their employees, their customers and their community. I want to work for a company that is open to education, new ideas and the expertise of a professional.

I don’t know if this process will work. What is true for now is that this process feels exciting, liberating and empowering. If I don’t go after what I want now, then when will I ever get what I want or at least try? I am ready to reclaim my life and to create new experiences? If you are too, let us do it together with the Creator who walks with us.

I am grateful to the Creator who offers us resources daily and in enormous ways. Each and every one of us can enjoy the benefits of the Creator’s resources if we stay aware. I pray you never lose sight of the Divine.

Sarina Cliff

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Amazing Kyle Maynad

Kyle Maynard was born with short appendages where most people have arms and legs, but nothing seems out of reach for him. He chose to start attend the University of Georgia, he says, because of the prestigious academic reputation and because of the great athletic programs. The winner of numerous national awards and recognition, Maynard graduated from high school with a wrestling record of 35 wins and 16 losses and a 3.7 GPA. At UGA, he continues wrestling and working as a professional motivational speaker with one of the nation's largest speaker's bureaus. He loves to help other people realize their potential, and is currently writing an autobiographical, motivationally-themed book entitled No Excuses that will be published by Regnery Publishing Company.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Manning Brothers Pair Up to Make Pro Bowl History

The Pro Bowl picks have been announced and they include a pair of record-busting firsts, AP reports. Eli Manning of the New York Giants and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts will become the first quarterback-playing brothers to compete in the all-star game. Peyton's Giants teammate, 44-year-old kicker John Carney, will be the oldest Pro Bowl player ever.

The New York Jets have seven Pro Bowl picks, the most of any team. Behind the Jets with six picks each are the Giants, the Minnesota Vikings and the Tennessee Titans. The only rookie to make the roster this year is Chris Johnson of the Titans. Four teams, including the winless Detroit Lions, won't be sending any players to the Feb. 8 Honolulu game.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cleveland Clinic Performs First US Face Transplant

Doctors in Cleveland have successfully completed the nation’s first near-total facial transplant on a on a patient disfigured by traumatic injury, the Plain Dealer reports today. The hospital, which said the patient didn’t want to be identified, was the first in the US to approve the controversial procedure, which some consider too risky for a non-life threatening condition. Maria Siemionow, who led the operating team, argued that patients should be allowed to take their chances.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rapper Gravy Gets Another Shot at Fame, This Time as BIG

His debut album was shelved, but Jamal “Gravy” Woolard still has a shot a fame, the New Yorker reports. But he’s since been cast to portray the even more Notorious BIG on the big screen.

“Big called it best: ‘Mo money, mo problems,’” Woolard said. “I got jammed up. But the blessing is, later it put me in a better position.” Woolard worked hard for the role, doing serious time in “Biggie boot camp.” He took acting, choreography, and voice lessons—and had to strap on the feed bag to maintain his weight through it all. He won’t take success sitting down: After filming, he aims to drop the weight and stage a rap comeback.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recession Packs 'Em in the Pews

Hard times are emptying company payrolls and government coffers, but they’re big business for churches, reports the New York Times in a look at America's renewed Sunday-morning religious fervor. Since September, evangelical pastors in particular have reported a burst of interest and standing-room-only congregations. “It’s a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us,” says one.

One study found that the growth rate at evangelical churches jumped by 50% during recessions between 1968 and 2004. To capitalize, churches are offering special programs and sermons on how to cope with financial stress, while others hope to mount revivals rivaling the 19th century Great Awakenings. “We need to leverage this moment,” another pastor said.

Blind Comic Artist Battles On, Like Daredevil

Life as an independent comic artist is never easy. It's even harder when you’re legally blind, the Washington Post reports. Baltimore's Andre Campbell, vision-impaired since birth with a retinal-degeneration condition, has only sold about 100 copies of his company’s comics since the mid-'90s. But the artist, who idolizes the sightless superhero Daredevil, keeps plugging his Alpha Agents comics at conventions—blindly, some might say.

“I guess where things go, and they just seem to fall into place,” he says. His wife's work and his disability checks keep them afloat, and his business partner has hung in there. Still, a single distributor monopolizes the comic book market—and industry types say Campbell’s work just isn’t that good. "Do I get discouraged sometimes?" Campbell asks. "Yes, but it don't last that long."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kanye Pursues 'Fashion Dream'

Days after Kanye West wrote on his blog that he's taking a break from releasing singles to let his latest songs “soak into the culture,” the star rapper is heading in a different direction—toward the London fashion world. The rapper will move to England next year to unveil his clothing line, and he’s applying for internships to learn his new craft, the Mirror reports.

The normally arrogant star is taking an uncharacteristically modest approach to his latest venture, saying, “I’m going to go and take an internship and just do something that’s like completely normal.” Sources say Kanye has applied to work at Louis Vuitton, Raf Simons, and other top fashion houses. “Everyone is surprised at just how seriously Kanye is taking his fashion dream,” one insider said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vet Helps Cat Save Face After Car Mishap

Not quite done with her lives, a Boston cat is recovering from what would typically be a fatal encounter with a car, the AP reports. Edgar, a 4-year-old long-haired female, went missing from her home for 3 days last week. When she finally reappeared, part of her face was detached. Her horrified owner promptly passed out, then raced her to a vet, who reattached the face with 35 stitches yesterday.

Remarkably, Edgar suffered neither major blood loss nor any permanent nerve damage from what the vets surmise as an encounter with a fan belt, when she crawled under an automobile for warmth. "She was purring and sticking her head up so we could pet her," said a surgical technician. I'd never seen anything like it." Another vet notes that car fan belts usually kill cats instantly. “She may have problems later,” she notes, “but the cat was saying, ‘I may have lost this life but, by golly, I have eight more.”

Indian Woman, 70, Is Oldest First-Time Mom

A 70-year-old woman in India says she gave birth to her first child in late November, making her the world’s oldest new mother, the BBC reports. Rajo Devi underwent fertility treatment so she and her husband, Bala Ram, could realize their 50-year dream of having a child. Ram is 72.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

9-Year-Old's Dating Book Headed for the Big Screen

Alec Greven, 9, knows more than How to Talk to Girls: He knows how to land a movie deal. Fox has purchased the rights to the fourth-grader’s self-help book, which offers advice like combing your hair and acting less hyper, the Hollywood Reporter notes. Fox paid in the low-to-mid six figures for the book, which Alec originally wrote for a school book fair.

Newsweek in Hot Water Over Gay-Bible Story

Social conservatives are lashing out against Newsweek’s current cover story, “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage,” for what they say is a flawed take on both the Bible and the root of their argument against such unions. The story was “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity” and “full of holes,” said the president of a conservative group. A Newsweek editor said “we welcome the debate,” Politico reports.

The article posits that the Bible isn’t so clear on gay marriage as some critics hold. But religious conservatives highlighted passages that they say make the Bible’s stance clear, such as God’s coupling of Adam and Eve; and anyway, one notes, social conservatives' arguments against gay marriage have a secular foundation and seek to define ”a civic and a social institution.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Homeless dog tries to save dog hit by car in Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile – Chileans have a new hero: an apparently homeless dog that pulled the body of another dog through traffic off a busy highway.

A surveillance camera on a Santiago freeway captured images of a dog trotting past speeding cars to pull the lifeless body of the other canine, which had been run over by a vehicle, away from traffic and onto the median strip.

The scene was broadcast by Chilean television stations and then posted on Web sites such as YouTube.com, and hundreds of thousands of people had viewed versions of it by Monday.

Highway crews removed both the dead and live dogs from the median strip of the Vespucio Norte Highway shortly after the Dec. 4 incident. But the rescuer dog ran away.

Authorities say images of the rescue prompted some people to call and offer to adopt the dog, but neither highway workers nor a television crew could find they animal.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Detroit Churches Pray for ‘God’s Bailout’

The Sunday service at Greater Grace Temple began with the Clark Sisters song “I’m Looking for a Miracle” and included a reading of this verse from the Book of Romans: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Worshipers at Greater Grace Temple, a Pentecostal church in Detroit, prayed on Sunday for an automobile industry miracle.

Pentecostal Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, who shared the sanctuary’s wide altar with three gleaming sport utility vehicles, closed his sermon by leading the choir and congregants in a boisterous rendition of the gospel singer Myrna Summers’s “We’re Gonna Make It” as hundreds of worshipers who work in the automotive industry — union assemblers, executives, car salesmen — gathered six deep around the altar to have their foreheads anointed with consecrated oil.

While Congress debated aid to the foundering Detroit automakers Sunday, many here whose future hinges on the decision turned to prayer.

Outside the Corpus Christi Catholic Church, a sign beckoned passers-by inside to hear about “God’s bailout plan.” Roman Catholic churches in the Detroit area distributed a four-page letter from Cardinal Adam Maida, the archbishop, offering “some pastoral insights and suggestions about how we might prepare to celebrate Christmas this year when economic conditions are so grim.”

In the letter, Cardinal Maida acknowledged that “things in Michigan will probably never be the same” but encourages the region’s 1.3 million Catholics to maintain their faith. “At this darkest time of the year, we proclaim that Christ is our light and Christ is our hope,” he wrote.

Last week Cardinal Maida gathered 11 Detroit-area religious leaders, representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations, to call on Congress to approve the $34 billion in government-backed loans that the automakers have requested.

At Greater Grace Temple, an 8,000-member Pentecostal church in northwest Detroit, the Sunday service was dedicated to addressing the uncertainty facing workers whose livelihood depends on the well-being of General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler.

Greater Grace, the largest church in Detroit, invited officials from the United Automobile Workers union to speak before Bishop Ellis gave his sermon, titled “A Hybrid Hope.”

The S.U.V.’s on the stage, a Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Escape and Chrysler Aspen on loan from local dealerships, were all gas-electric hybrids, and Bishop Ellis urged worshipers to combat the region’s woes by mixing hope with faith in God.

Bishop Ellis encouraged the congregation to pray, not that Congress would “do the right thing” and approve loaning money to the car companies, but that Detroiters would “make it” through these tough times.

1st Vietnamese-American elected to US Congress

An election delay caused by Hurricane Gustav likely helped tip the vote away from scandal-plagued Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, whose nine-term Congressional career came to an unexpected end yesterday, the Times-Picayune reports. Republican newbie Anh "Joseph" Cao unseated the 2nd district’s incumbent African-American Democrat in an election marked by much lower turnout than November’s general election, considered a disadvantage for Jefferson despite the district’s large black population.

"Never in my life did I think I could be a future congressman," Cao, the first Vietnamese-American ever elected to Congress, told his supporters. "The American dream is well and alive.” Internal Democratic challenges to Jefferson, indicted last year on bribery and corruption charges, weakened his candidacy and drove his party rivals’ supporters to Cao.

Lebanon farmer grows super-sized spud

TYRE, Lebanon – A farmer from Lebanon couldn't believe his eyes when he discovered he had grown a prize-winning potato on his land, he told AFP on Saturday, saying he was hoping to enter the Guinness World Records.
"This giant weighs 11.3 kilos (24.9 pounds)," Khalil Semhat said at his farm in the Tyre area, 85 kilometres (50 miles) south of Beirut.
"I've been working the land since I was a boy, and it's the first time I've seen anything like it."
Semhat, 56, said he had not done anything special to cultivate such a super-sized spud. "I didn't use any chemicals at all," he insisted, adding that he had to ask a friend to help him haul the huge tuber out of the ground.
Now he hopes the find will get a mention in the famous Guinness Book of Records, and said he will send in the details for possible inclusion next year.
He said he was "very proud" to have grown the enormous specimen on his farm, which took a pounding in 2006 during the war between Israel and Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Happiness Spreads Like the Flu

Happiness is contagious and spreads through social networks in much the same way the flu does, says a landmark new study that followed the fate of 4,700 people over 20 years. The research shows that a person's happiness can lift the mood of loved ones, neighbors, and even strangers with whom they don't have direct contact, the Washington Post reports. What's more, the ripple effect can last up to a year.

"You would think that your emotional state would depend on your own choices and actions and experience," said one of the researchers. "It also depends on the choices and actions and experiences of other people, including people to whom you are not directly connected. Happiness is contagious."

Ky. Atheists Fight 'Foolish' Security Law

Atheists are kicking up an almighty fuss about legislation that states Kentucky's safety and security can only be achieved through reliance on God, the Chicago Tribune reports. Bluegrass State unbelievers have filed a lawsuit seeking to have the offending law repealed, saying they fear their security may be in the hands of "fanatics, traitors, or fools."

"It's as absurd to me as it would be to a fundamental Christian if you told them the security of Kentucky is in the hands of almighty Zeus," said one plaintiff. The state rep who sneaked the bill into law 2 years ago is a former Baptist preacher who has long battled the separation of church and state, arguing that removing references to God from public places is suppressing American history.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

German churches find 'chocolate Jesus' tasteless

BERLIN– Germany's churches criticized a businessman on Tuesday for selling thousands of Jesus chocolates.
Frank Oynhausen set up his "Sweet Lord" chocolate Jesus-making business saying he wanted to restore some traditional religious values to Christmas in Germany.

But the German Protestant Church criticized the idea as "tasteless" and the Roman Catholic Church was not amused.
"I started thinking about how I could reintroduce traditional religious values into this commercial world," said Oynhausen, who had been unemployed since losing a recycling business two years ago.

Together with a friend, a local chocolatier, Oynhausen, 54, developed the concept of "Sweet Lord." It is growing fast in his home town of Duisburg and on the internet (www.goldjesus.com).

Oynhausen said thousands of people have put in orders for the figures wrapped in gold foil.
But church associations expressed dismay.

"It is terrible that Jesus is being wrapped up in gold foil and sold along with chocolate bunnies, edible penguins and lollipops," said Aegidius Engel, a spokesman for the archbishopric of nearby Paderborn.
"This is ruining the symbol of Jesus himself," he added.

Oynhausen is now custom-producing the chocolate Jesus figures, but by Easter he hopes to have a partnership with a mass producer.

"We're hoping to be able to export them around the world one day," Oynhausen said. He reckons there are parts of the United States where they will be especially popular.

In 2007, a life-size chocolate sculpture of a naked Jesus caused an outcry from Roman Catholics when an art gallery in New York wanted to exhibit it in a window.

Melody LaLuz and Claudaniel Fabien abstain kissing until wedding day

CHICAGO – Won't kiss on the first date? How about waiting until marriage?

Chicagoans Melody LaLuz and Claudaniel Fabien shared their first kiss Saturday at the altar. The two teach abstinence at the city's public schools and practiced what they preached to their teenage students.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the couple had never kissed and that they had never been alone together in a house.
A friend of LaLuz says wedding guests cheered and stomped during the two-minute smooch between the 28-year-old bride and the 30-year-old groom.

LaLuz and Fabien say they have no worries about how they will spend their honeymoon in the Bahamas.

Surgeon Amputates Using Texted Instructions

A volunteer surgeon in a Congolese war zone followed texted instructions to perform an amputation that saved a 16-year-old boy's life. The teen's badly injured and infected arm required that his collar bone and shoulder blade be immediately removed, but Dr. David Nott had never conducted such a procedure. He contacted a British colleague back home via phone text, "and he texted back step-by-step instructions," the Guardian reports.

"I had to think long and hard about whether it was right to leave a young boy with only one arm in the middle of this fighting. But in the end he would have died without it," Nott says. The complicated surgery would ideally have been carefully planned and prepped, but the circumstances required swift action in a rudimentary operating theater. The teen has made a full recovery.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fans Get Prime Seats for Eternal Extra Innings

Die-hard baseball fans can now continue showing their team pride even in the afterlife. A Boston-area funeral home is offering its first-ever Red Sox casket, emblazoned with the team’s logo and accented with baseball-bat-type wood. “It's really a beautiful thing,” the funeral-home director, a Sox fan himself, tells the Globe.

The casket-making company unveiled its MLB-themed urns last year; Red Sox and New York Yankees fans have snapped up the most so far. An MLB exec insists the decision to allow the funeral products isn’t about money or branding, but about making customers happy. The funeral homes, he says, just “want to take care of the long-term fan.”

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reporter's Preteen Girl Gets Pirates to Talk

After a BBC reporter failed to get Somali pirates on the phone, her 12-year-old daughter begged for a chance to call them. "Mummy, mummy," she said from the back seat of their car. "I want to phone the pirates." At the end of her rope, the frazzled mother agreed—and soon heard her girl giggling on the phone with pirates on-board the Sirius Star. The next day, the reporter told a BBC producer, who was inspired to call the pirates again.

“We have no life. Our last resource is the sea, and foreign trawlers are plundering our fish,” a pirate said when the BBC called. He added that the crew was in good shape. "They can move from place to place. They can sleep in their own beds, they even have their own keys. The only thing they're missing is their freedom to leave the ship."

Zoo Makes Gifts from Reindeer Poo

Reindeer have found yet another way to give of themselves for our holiday benefit. An Illinois zoo is selling Christmas tree ornaments fashioned from the creatures' droppings, the Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph reports. The small droppings are dried, painted, and incorporated into whimsical designs. The $5 gifts have been dubbed “magical reindeer gem ornaments” by the Miller Park Zoo.

“Each one is unique—they are each a work of art,” said a zoo official, who anticipates the ornaments will be a hit. “We will meet the demand within reason.”

The 11th Commandment: 'Thou Shalt Not Forge

Fraudulent biblical artifacts come a dime a dozen, but reputable archaeologists are turning out to be far less common, Nina Burleigh writes in the Los Angeles Times. The latest example involves an Israeli collector who claimed to have relics from the time of Christ. Declaring the items forgeries, authorities prosecuted the man, but a judge’s doubt could undermine the case and threaten the integrity of the antiquities market.

One archaeologist said he felt the case put archaeology itself on trial. The case also shows that Israeli authorities are unable to spot fakes, writes Burleigh, and the Jewish state’s legal system shouldn’t have the final word on authenticity. Urging restraint, the author adds that "sober and serious biblical scholars need to take steps to shield the public from their more ruthless colleagues.”

Friday, November 28, 2008

Former NBA Big Man Wayman Tisdale Loses Part Of Leg To Cancer but Keeps his Faith

The “Associated Press” reported Tuesday that Wayman Tisdale who had a 12 year career in the NBA as a center/power forward had part of his right leg amputated on Monday.

Tisdale who has had a second successful career as a jazz bass guitarist, released a statement on his website that he was having the operation. Tisdale was found to have cancer in his leg after he suffered a break in February of 2007.

Tisdale’s wife Regina told reporters the operation “went well.”

Tisdale played for the Indiana Pacers from 1985-1989, the Sacramento Kings from 1989-1994, and finished his career in the Association with the Phoenix Suns retiring in 1997.

The 6′9” native of Tulsa, averaged over 15 points, 6 boards per game during his career. Tisdale in his statement wrote he expects to tour this fall.

Tisdale wrote “This may sound drastic, but I have put it in God’s hands and now have peace, knowing that this is the best way to put this disease in check.

I have complete faith that with the Lord’s blessings this surgery will eliminate the cancer from my body and I’ll soon be back on the road doing what I do best.”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kentucky boy embodies the power of one

Adam Bender is an 8-year-old boy who had cancer as an infant. The tumor that wrapped around his leg forced it to be amputated. But it has not stopped Adam, who competes in all types of sports -- baseball (as a catcher), football (as a quarterback), soccer and wrestling. He even has his own Web site on which he encourages that all children, no matter their ability, have a chance to play sports.

Jupiter, Venus, Moon Converge in Rare Reunion

Americans looking at the night sky this weekend will be able to see the three brightest celestial bodies come together for a Thanksgiving reunion, the AP reports. Jupiter and Venus will move closer and appear to be just a finger's width apart by Sunday. By Monday, the crescent moon will appear right next to them, forming a triangle of light not to be seen again until 2052.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Early On, Holiday Travel Going Smoothly

Travelers breezed through airport terminals and drivers cruised open roads today, the effects of a sour economy blamed for keeping people closer to home at the start of the annual Thanksgiving rush. Even though gas prices fell and airlines offered last-minute deals, many Americans appeared to be skipping trips this year.

Security lines were less than 10 minutes long at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, the world's busiest airport, and travelers found parking spots in the front row of the lot at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood. The Automobile Association of America says 41 million Americans were expected to travel more than 50 miles for the holiday, down about 1.5%, or 600,000 people, from last year. Flying is expected to be down more sharply, about 7%.

Prop 8 Reveals Churches' Fear of Strong Women

Churches led the charge against Proposition 8 and gay marriage because of their insecurities over the breakdown of heterosexual families and the consequent rise of independent women, says gay author and devout Catholic Richard Rodriguez. Gays are scapegoats because they—like feminists—threaten "an alternative to the traditional male-structured society."

Churches "want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things," says Rodriguez. But their actions smack of hypocrisy. "The real challenge to the family right now is male irresponsibility and misbehavior toward women," he says. "If the Hispanic Catholic and evangelical churches really wanted to protect the family, they should address the issue of wife-beating in Hispanic families and the misbehaviors of the father against the mother. But no, they go after gay marriage."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cancer Cases, Deaths Drop

Cancer researchers reported a good-news milestone today: Both the number of new cases and the number of cancer deaths are declining for the first time, USA Today reports. Scientists gave most of the credit to a drop in the number of smokers. “By preventing smoking, you can give someone 10 or 15 years,” one of the study’s authors said. Overall death rates are down 1.8% and new cases by .08%.

The statistics about new cases cheered researchers, who had seen almost the exact opposite trend between 1995 and 1999. Still, doctors think death rates and incidence can be much lower. “We discover breakthroughs, but we don't deliver them to everyone," an American Cancer Society official said. “We need to make sure all Americans have timely access to prevention, so the entire population can benefit.”

Alleged Abuse Victims Can Sue the Vatican

Alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests can move ahead with a lawsuit against the Vatican, the Wall Street Journal reports. A federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the Vatican can be held liable for negligence in the thousands of such cases reported in the US. A Vatican spokesman said it will probably not appeal to the Supreme Court.

It's possible, however, that the Vatican—recognized as a sovereign state—will argue that it has immunity from civil trials, the Journal notes. The court ruled that the church government is liable for actions taken by US bishops who were following church policy. The bishops allegedly tried to hush up the problem and failed to report cases. Catholic dioceses have paid out $1.5 billion in damages, but this decision could open up the Vatican's coffers as well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blind swimmer is true inspiration

Diamond Bar High's Andrew Luk, a 16-year-old sophomore who is blind, is shown through an underwater camera as he prepares for a junior varsity race during a meet at Villa Park High.

Luk is blind, and the fact he has the courage to compete for his high school swim team is emboldening teammates and opponents alike.

Luk's story is more than inspirational. It's a triumph of the human spirit.

Luk joined Diamond Bar's junior varsity swim team last month after much agonizing over what he should do with his life.

At 5, he lost his vision because a 1.1-centimeter tumor damaged his optic nerves. Radiation reduced the tumor's size, but its location on the brain stem made it too risky for surgery, leaving him blind and partially deaf. He can detect light and darkness from his left eye but nothing from his right eye.

As the years went by, he'd swim for fun, but making the decision to join a team was never considered, until last year.

With the urging of teachers and counselors, he enrolled last summer in a competitive swimming program at Mt. San Antonio College run by Jodi Lepp, an age-group instructor for Brea Aquatics.

She taught him fundamentals of swimming competitively, though she had never worked with a blind student before. Through repetition and learning to count his strokes, he figured out when he would be approaching a wall.

Luk joined Diamond Bar's swim team in February. He was a 16-year-old sophomore welcomed with open arms by Michael Spence, a dedicated, always positive veteran coach who has a Santa Claus-like white beard and a "big heart," as one parent put it.

Spence immediately endorsed the idea of Luk competing for Diamond Bar. And he assigned one of his varsity swimmers, senior Lynn Han, to serve as his mentor and personal coach.

Before each race, Han takes Luk by his arm and guides him to the pool rail, where he gingerly drops into the water for competition.

Han is one of two tappers who hold a 75-inch long white pole with a tennis ball fastened at the end to touch Luk as he nears each wall. It's the way he avoids banging his head when he loses count of his strokes.

Han has taught him how to refine his stroke and swim in a straight line within his lane.

In his first race this month, Luk's time in the 500 free was 9 minutes 55.14 seconds. Two days later, his time was 9:32.45. In his next race, it dropped to 8:54.28. The personal bests keep coming, and last week, he practiced for the first time diving into the water, a dangerous maneuver for someone who is blind but important toward improving his time.

Luk lives in Chino Hills. His older sister attends UCLA and is studying to become a doctor. He has two younger sisters, ages 11 and 8. His mother, born in Indonesia, and his father, a native of Vietnam, run a furniture business.

Luk lives in Chino Hills. His older sister attends UCLA and is studying to become a doctor. He has two younger sisters, ages 11 and 8. His mother, born in Indonesia, and his father, a native of Vietnam, run a furniture business.

Luk, 6 feet and 165 pounds, gets around Diamond Bar's campus with the help of a cane. He has a laptop that allows him to translate letters in Braille. He's visited once a week by a mobility instructor and has an aide lookings out for him during the school day. And then there are the many students who admire his commitment to participate in the high school experience.

Luk had a 3.8 grade-point average last semester and is well-versed in a variety of subjects, including politics, music and sports. He plays the piano and listens to countless radio programs. He said he might want to become a journalist because he likes to write and recently won a trip to Spain for one of his essays.

Crippled 9-year-old swimmer shocks crowd

DAYTON, Ohio -- A 9-year-old swimmer is leaving the competition in her wake even though she was born with a crippling disability.

Anna Amend has only one arm and a stunted leg, but that doesn't keep her out of the pool.

She competes for the YMCA in Dayton, Ohio, amazing her parents, coaches and spectators.

"I really liked the Olympics. I watched swimming the most. It was really cool," she said.Anna's parents had adopted her from a

Ukrainian orphanage when she was three, and doctors had told them she would never walk.

The speedy swimmer says someday, she might even go for the Olympic gold.

Girl Group Rocks Saudi Taboos

The Accolade sounds like a typical female rock band: Its members have teased hair and facial piercings, and their clothing shocks passers-by as they tell a New York Times reporter about their new song with lyrics about a failed relationship. But the Accolade’s home base is conservative Saudi Arabia, and its members have turned taboo-breaking up to 11.

Their native city of Jidda may be slightly less strict than other parts of the country—the girls can get away with wearing their abayas open to reveal jeans and shirts underneath—but their music remains underground. If the Accolade starts playing gigs, it’ll have to be inside private compounds. The religious police, while more lenient than a decade ago, haven’t gone away.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


We the People …can save our A$$ from harm’s way, can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and dig ourselves out of despair. Yes, we can.

Sarina Cliff

You acquire full power only by realizing that you have been using that power all along to thwart yourself. You are potentially the prisoner, the jailer, and the hero who opens the prison, all rolled into one.

Deepak Chopra, The Book of Secrets

Part of what existence means to me is knowing the difference between what I am now and what I was then. It is being capable of looking after myself intellectually as well as financially. It is being able to tell when I am being wronged and by whom. It means being awake to protect myself and the ones I love. It means being a part of the world community, and being alert to which part it is that I have joined, and knowing how to change to another part if that part does not suit me. To know is to exist: to exist is to be involved, to move about, to see the world with my own eyes.

Alice Walker, In Search Of Our Mothers’ Gardens
Dorothy pleads: "Don't go without me," but the mortal Wizard can only wave goodbye as he floats away - powerless to control it: "I can't come back. I don't know how it works." Dorothy cries: "Oh, now I'll never get home," although her friends wish her to stay. The Lion tearfully tells her: "Stay with us, then, Dorothy. We all love ya. We don't want ya to go." Dorothy loves them too but she is still homesick and depressed for Kansas - her home:

That's very kind of you. But this could never be like Kansas. Auntie Em must have stopped wondering what happened to me by now. Oh Scarecrow, what am I gonna do?

Before he can answer, he points to the Good Witch of the North ("Look, here's someone who can help you") who makes one final appearance. She descends to the ground in her familiar, shimmering, rainbow-hued bubble from the sky. Glinda steps out of the ball of light and kindly tells Dorothy that she has always had the power to go home with the magical power of her ruby slippers, but she had to discover it for herself.

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
Glinda: Because she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

Lyman Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

John, You Are Forgiven—and You Could Sing

he Vatican forgave John Lennon today for saying the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, Reuters reports. Calling the 1966 remark "a boast,” the Vatican's newspaper said it was made "by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success." The paper also praised the Beatles' music, saying "the songs of the Lennon-McCartney brand have shown an extraordinary resistance to the passage of time.”

Fatwa Bans Yoga for Muslims in Malaysia

Islamic authorities in Malaysia issued a fatwa today against Muslims practicing yoga, BBC reports. The chair of Malaysia's National Fatwa Council said Hindu elements are essential to yoga and could destroy a Muslim's faith. "We are of the view that yoga combines physical exercise, religious elements, chanting and worshipping for the purpose of achieving inner peace and ultimately to be one with god," he said, the AP reports.

Some activists and yoga practitioners in Malaysia defended yoga as non-religious. "What next? Gyms?" asked one activist. "Most gyms have men and women together. Will that not be allowed any more?" Today's move comes after two other recent edicts, and parliamentary losses by the conservative Malay Muslims. "They are making a stand," one expert said. "They are saying 'we will not give way.'"

Man's New Best Friend: Rats Ferret Out Land Mines, TB

Move over, Rover: Man has a new best friend that is helping to combat two scourges plaguing the developing world. Rats, normally reviled as filthy vermin, are sniffing out land mines and detecting tuberculosis bacteria. "Rats are usually considered pests or enemies of humanity,” said one Mozambican handler, but they’re “helping my country escape the shadow of death.”

The raccoon-sized rodents, which are too light to trip explosives, are cheaper than dogs, less emotionally attached, and are far less susceptible to disease, the Boston Globe reports. In labs, rats evaluate potentially infected saliva samples quicker than technicians. They’re also “really nice creatures” to boot, said the developer of both programs. “They are organized, sensitive, sociable, and smart.”

US Child Gets Prosthetic Iris

Surgeons in Cincinnati implanted a prosthetic iris this week in the eye of a 7-year-old boy, the first US child to get one. “It’s just like Mom’s,” said Nathaniel Brantley as he looked in a mirror. “Just like it’s supposed to be.” Born without irises, Nathaniel suffered a rare condition that prevented his pupils from contracting. Bright light hurt his eyes, he couldn’t focus well, and he suffered partial color blindness.

Nathaniel's family had to get special FDA permission to use the iris because it is still not approved in the US, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. If all goes well, doctors will repeat the process on his left eye in about a month. Nathaniel’s vision is improving so far; he was able to read the entire bottom line of an eye test after his surgery. “I can barely read those,” his mother said.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nepal's Buddha boy returns to jungle to meditate

A Nepalese teenager revered by many as a reincarnation of Buddha has returned to the jungle to meditate after emerging for less than two weeks, officials said Saturday.

Ram Bahadur Bamjan, 18, reappeared on Nov. 10 after several months of meditation to bless thousands of his followers, speaking to them on at least two occasions.

He made his last appearance on Friday and then returned to the jungle to meditate, said Biswo Prakash Newpane, a government administrator in the area. It was not clear when he would return again.

His followers lined up near the jungle of Ratanpur, about 100 miles south of Katmandu, to be blessed by Bamjan. He tapped the believers on their forehead but did not speak to them individually.

The followers believe he has been meditating without food and water since he was first spotted in the jungles of southern Nepal in 2005. Believers say he spent months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a tree.

Buddhism, which has about 325 million followers, teaches that every soul is reincarnated after death in another bodily form.

But several Buddhist scholars have been skeptical of the claims that Bamjan is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal roughly 2,500 years ago and became revered as the Buddha, or Enlightened One.

Rakesh, a Buddhist scholar, told the Associated Press last week that being Buddha means the last birth and the highest level that can be achieved and there can be no reincarnation of Buddha, even though Buddhists believe in life after death.

Princeton Team Adds Twist to Darwin's Theory

Princeton scientists say they have found evidence that organisms can essentially control their own evolution, a finding that could provide a fundamental shift in our understanding of Darwin's theory, reports the university's news service. The research suggests that evolution isn't entirely random, as Darwin believed. Rather, proteins within organisms constantly make self-correcting adaptations to bring about the fittest being.

The theory jibes with one in 1858 by Alfred Wallace, who articulated the theory of evolution independently of Darwin. "The discovery answers an age-old question that has puzzled biologists," said one researcher. "How can organisms be so exquisitely complex, if evolution is completely random, operating like a 'blind watchmaker'? Our new theory extends Darwin's model, demonstrating how organisms can subtly direct aspects of their own evolution to create order out of randomness."

Study Paves Way for 'Entrepreneur Pill'

A study that links entrepreneurial success to risky decision-making, a trait less prevalent among buttoned-up business managers, has scientists pondering whether a pill could boost enterprising behavior. Riskiness is associated with the hormone dopamine, which could inject chutzpah into hesitant managers, the Telegraph reports. Critics doubt chemicals are solely responsible, pointing out that older entrepreneurs—whose dopamine is depleting—remain risk-takers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Meet Mikaeel: Jackson Converts to Islam

Michael Jackson has followed the path of fellow entertainer Cat Stevens in converting to Islam, a source tells the British tabloid the Sun. Jackson—now called Mikaeel—recently went through a ceremony at a friend’s Hollywood Hills home, after being swayed by pals who said the faith had made them better people. Stevens, now Yousef Islam, stopped by to offer his congratulations.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Teen survives 4 months without heart

MIAMI – D'Zhana Simmons says she felt like a "fake person" for 118 days when she had no heart beating in her chest.

"But I know that I really was here," the 14-year-old said, "and I did live without a heart."

As she was being released Wednesday from a Miami hospital, the shy teen seemed in awe of what she's endured.

Since July, she's had two heart transplants and survived with artificial heart pumps — but no heart — for four months between the transplants.

Last spring D'Zhana and her parents learned she had an enlarged heart that was too weak to sufficiently pump blood.

They traveled from their home in Clinton, S.C. to Holtz Children's Hospital in Miami for a heart transplant.

But her new heart didn't work properly and could have ruptured so surgeons removed it two days later.

And they did something unusual, especially for a young patient: They replaced the heart with a pair of artificial pumping devices that kept blood flowing through her body until she could have a second transplant.

Dr. Peter Wearden, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh who works with the kind of pumps used in this case, said what the Miami medical team managed to do "is a big deal."

"For (more than) 100 days, there was no heart in this girl's body? That is pretty amazing," Wearden said.

The pumps, ventricular assist devices, are typically used with a heart still in place to help the chambers circulate blood.

With D'Zhana's heart removed, doctors at Holtz Children's Hospital crafted substitute heart chambers using a fabric and connected these to the two pumps.

Although artificial hearts have been approved for adults, none has been federally approved for use in children.

In general, there are fewer options for pediatric patients.

That's because it's rarer for them to have these life-threatening conditions, so companies don't invest as much into technology that could help them, said Dr. Marco Ricci, director of pediatric cardiac surgery at the University of Miami.

He said this case demonstrates that doctors now have one more option.
"In the past, this situation could have been lethal," Ricci said.

And it nearly was. During the almost four months between her two transplants, D'Zhana wasn't able to breathe on her own half the time. She also had kidney and liver failure and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Taking a short stroll — when she felt up for it — required the help of four people, at least one of whom would steer the photocopier-sized machine that was the external part of the pumping devices.

When D'Zhana was stable enough for another operation, doctors did the second transplant on Oct. 29.

"I truly believe it's a miracle," said her mother, Twolla Anderson.

D'Zhana said now she's grateful for small things: She'll see her five siblings soon, and she can spend time outdoors.

"I'm glad I can walk without the machine," she said, her turquoise princess top covering most of the scars on her chest.

After thanking the surgeons for helping her, D'Zhana began weeping.

Doctors say she'll be able to do most things that teens do, like attending school and going out with friends.

She will be on lifelong medication to keep her body from rejecting the donated heart, and there's a 50-50 chance she'll need another transplant before she turns 30.

For now, though, D'Zhana is looking forward to celebrating another milestone.

On Saturday, she turns 15 and plans to spend the day riding in a boat off Miami's coast.

Congress Is Ready to Accept a Single Mom

Rep. Linda Sanchez worries Washington may frown on her pregnancy because she isn’t married, but Patt Morrison, in the Los Angeles Times, thinks things have changed. “Twenty years ago, it simply wouldn't have been possible—pregnant, single and a member of Congress? Oh, the scandal! But the culture wars have been fought to a truce of exhaustion, and ‘unwed mother’ has been recast as ‘single mom.’”

“Who do we have to thank for that? Thousands, from Madonna to Dan Quayle,” Morrison argues. “And, of course, Bristol Palin. She and her boyfriend shushed a censorious chorus that appeared to believe the only thing more morally dangerous than unplanned single parenthood was Planned Parenthood.” The 39-year-old California Democrat, due May 21, says her pregnancy was planned, and she’s “unofficially” engaged to the baby’s daddy.

Scientists Identify Body of Copernicus

More than 400 years after Copernicus determined man's place in the universe, scientists returned the favor by pinpointing his grave in an old Polish cathedral. Using DNA from a tooth and a bone, scientists identified a 70-year-old man buried in an unmarked grave as the astronomer who determined that the Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice versa, Discover reports.

Scientists matched the DNA with a strand of hair found in one of the astronomer's books. Researchers knew he was buried among the many anonymous graves in the cathedral and used radar to scan all the bodies. When they found one of a man buried around age 70, they extracted DNA and found an old friend. Plans are in place for a tomb more befitting one of the world's scientific giants.

Blink-182 Makes Up After Travis' Close Call

The Blink-182 boys are hanging out again, ending a nearly 4-year hiatus after drummer Travis Barker dodged death in a fiery plane crash, E! reports. The trio met up for what vocalist Mark Hoppus calls “positive conversations,” deciding recent events trump the past. As for a reunion, “None of us know,” he writes on his blog. “Life is too short.”