San Francisco-based Craigslist making millions on "adult" ads

April 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I know plenty of decent people who use Craigslist, innocently looking for a job, or to sell a car, or for a good deal on used books, furniture, and the like. There are some great buys available there, from what they tell me. But there is also a dark underworld to Craigslist, seething beneath the bland surface of ads for housing, stuff for sale, jobs, and services. Beneath that mundane patina lies the dank and dangerous basement of sex for sale.

California Catholic Daily has just posted a revealing article about what actually happens at Craigslist that you probably never knew about. Caveat emptor!

“Biggest online hub for selling women against their will”

San Francisco-based Craigslist, the international online classified advertising network, earned millions last year from selling “adult advertising,” ads that have prompted law-enforcement probes in at least 40 states.

“The ads, many of which blatantly advertise prostitution, are expected to bring $36 million this year, according to a new projection of Craigslist’s income,” the New York Times reported April 25. “That is three times the revenue in last year’s projection.”

“Law-enforcement officials have been fighting a mostly losing battle to get Craigslist to rein in the sex ads,” said the Times. “At the same time, officials of organizations that oppose human trafficking say the site remains the biggest online hub for selling women against their will.”

“Last week, in the latest example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 14 members of the Gambino crime family on charges of, among other things, selling the sexual services of girls ages 15 to 19 on Craigslist,” the Times reported.

“Sex Trade Big Business for Craig,” reported KNBC-TV, Channel 11 in the Bay Area, referring to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. The television station said in a headline on its website, “Money charged for formerly free ads estimated to bring in $36 million.”

“Craigslist revenue grew 22 percent last year, to $122 million, largely on the strength of increasing fees for ‘adult’ advertising and no longer sending that money to charity,” said NBC Bay Area.

The revenue estimates for Craigslist come from the Advanced Interactive Media Group, which, said NBC Bay Area, “regularly calculates revenue estimates for the private company by tracking the number and nature of ads posted to the site.”

Craigslist originally promised to donate revenues from ‘adult’ ads to charity, but “announced that it would no longer disclose its plans with that money last year, suggesting it’s now going to the bottom line,” said the NBC Bay Area report.

According to the Times, Craigslist “had seemed to put the conflict over its sex ads to rest” last May when it agreed to monitor ‘adult’ postings for illegal activity. “Attorneys general in 40 states, including New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut, investigated the company for facilitating criminal activity, after a wave of publicity about prostitution and violent crimes linked to the site,” the Times reported. . . . (Continue reading)

Say hello to my little friend

April 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Habemus novum nepōtem!
Eminentissimum ac pulchrum puerum
Qui sibi nomen imposuit PAULUS IOSEPH.

I announce to you a great joy:
We have a new grandson!
The most eminent and most beautiful boy
Who takes to himself the name of PAUL JOSEPH (MADRID).

Nancy and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our 8th grandchild, Paul. The little lad is the fifth child of our oldest son, Jonathon, and his lovely wife Kelly.

He was born yesterday, Wednesday, April 28, in the year of Our Lord 2010, weighing in at 6 lbs., 15 oz., and measuring 20″. He is healthy in every respect and everyone in the family is delighted to finally meet him in person. My thanks to all of you who have been praying for Kelly and baby during her pregnancy.

P.S. For those who are interested in such things, our grandsons now outnumber our granddaughters, 6 to 2.

My view from the pew on aspects of the sex-scandal crisis

April 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I was interviewed recently by Greg & Jennifer Willits of “The Catholics Next Door” radio show fame (heard on Sirius Radio’s Catholic Channel). We discussed a variety of issues surrounding the ongoing sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, including the wisdom of priestly celibacy, how Catholics should respond to those who raise the scandals as a challenge, how the scandals are more like a tsunami than a tidal wave, what we can practically do to facilitate genuine healing, whether bishops who are implicated in these scandals should be prosecuted by the law, and more. To listen, click the mitre above or click here.

So, you want to go to heaven, do you?

April 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Then heed this wise advice from St. John Vianney, as explained and amplified by Father Roger J. Landry of New Bedford, Massachusetts. It might startle you. The message is simple to understand, if not easy to put into practice. St. John Vianney, pray for us!

For a Christian who wants to be saved, charity is not optional. “All of our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions, and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God,” he declared emphatically, “unless we have universal charity for everyone, for the good and for the bad, for the poor people as well as for the rich, for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good” . . . .

The obligation we have to love our neighbor is so important that Jesus Christ put it into a commandment that he placed immediately after that by which he commands us to love him with all our hearts. He tells us that all the law and the prophets are included in this commandment to love our neighbor. Yes, my dear brethren, we must regard this obligation as the most universal, the most necessary and the most essential to religion and to our salvation. In fulfilling this commandment, we are fulfilling all the others”

“Dear Lord, how many Christians are damned through lack of charity! No, no, my dear brethren, even if you could perform miracles, you will never be saved if you do not have love. Not to have charity is not to know your religion. It is to have a religion of whim, mood and inclination. … Without charity, you will never see God. You will never go to heaven!” . . . . (continue reading)

One lawyer behind many allegations of Catholic Church abuse

April 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Here’s an angle of the ongoing priest-&-bishop scandals that, I must say, I am surprised to see the mainstream media covering.

On one hand, I’m glad that there are assiduous lawyers like this one who pursue the cause of justice for the victims. Some would never find justice, or even just a semblance of it, if not for the efforts of a relentless lawyer.

But on the other hand, something doesn’t sit quite right when it is revealed that a single lawyer is personally responsible for generating such a massive wave of lawsuits against the Catholic Church. Maybe he’s just a dedicated lawyer who, through skill and hard work, has gained such a wide and well-deserved reputation in this area that victims flock to him (and how very, very sad that there are flocks of victims to begin with!). Or maybe he’s an ambulance chaser. Or maybe he’s both.

The last month has seen a blizzard of new sex abuse accusations against the Catholic Church from across the United States. Almost all of them — and the intense media attention they’ve garnered — can be trace d to one man: a Minnesota lawyer named Jeff Anderson.

Last week, an alleged victim of priest abuse in Wisconsin announced a lawsuit against the Vatican itself. Anderson is representing the alleged victim.

A couple of days earlier, a Mexican man who alleged abuse by a priest years ago filed suit against Mexico’s top Catholic cleric in a U.S. court. The plaintiff is another Anderson client.

And throughout April, new documents have come to light suggesting that the current pope may have played down warnings about abusive priests in the United States. Those documents came from Anderson’s St. Paul, Minnesota, office.

For decades, Anderson has won settlements from Catholic archdioceses across the country for abuse victims and, more than any other attorney in the country, has driven American media coverage of the church abuse scandal.

Now, with the church abuse crisis embroiling Europe for the first time and raising questions about whether the pope himself did enough to respond to church abuse, Anderson is employing novel legal tactics in an attempt to take his campaign all the way to the Vatican.

“I’m getting far more aggressive because all roads are leading to Rome,” Anderson, 62, said last Thursday, after filing suit against the Vatican on behalf of the alleged Wisconsin abuse victim.

“I’m pessimistic that the Vatican is capable of changing itself but I’m optimistic that external pressure will,” Anderson said. “We’re at a tipping point.”

Anderson’s last sex abuse suit against the Vatican, filed in 2002, has wound its way through the courts, with the U.S. Supreme Court now considering whether to hear the case.

But Anderson’s critics say that last week’s suit against the Vatican, along with much of his other work, is aimed more at attracting publicity than getting justice.

“Anderson has sued the Vatican many times, and has never won,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. “He knows he will lose again this time, but that means nothing to him. What this is all about is grandstanding: getting more PR for himself and throwing more mud at the Catholic Church.”

Anderson’s firm — Jeff Anderson & Associates, which employs four other lawyers — has filed hundreds of sex abuse suits against the church. Though he won’t disclose how much he has won in settlements, Anderson is thought to be responsible for a good chunk of the roughly $2.5 billion that, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Catholic Church has paid to sex abuse victims to date.

He was among the lawyers representing abuse victims in the $600 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2007, the church’s largest payout ever. . . . (continue reading)

Antony Flew, a former atheist who discovered God, RIP

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

World Pays Tribute on Death of Atheist Turned Believer

Leading academics, philosophers and members of the Christian faith across the world continue to pay tribute to Antony Flew, the famed British atheist and thinker who discovered God at the end of his life.

The renowned rationalist philosopher died earlier this month at age 87 and continues to be remembered in obituaries and tributes world-wide.

Those paying tribute to him include Catholic Theology professors from the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, well known American rabbis such as Rabbi Brad Hirshfield from New York and leading philosphers from academia such as Dr Gary Habermas.

Describing Flew as one of the great intellectuals of his time, Rabbi Hirschfield lauded the Englishman’s “intellectual generosity.”

The son of a Methodist minister, Antony Flew spent most of his life denying the existence of God until just six years before his death when he dramatically changed his mind after studying research into genetics and DNA.

“The almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, show that intelligence must have been involved,” he announced in 2004 and went on to make a video of his conversion called : “Has Science Discovered God.”

Ironically, although modern day atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens claim in the rational world of science there is no proof of God exists, it is from the world of science that Antony Flew in his final years discovered “empirical evidence” that God exists, which overturned beliefs he had held for more than 60 years.

Like Einstein before him, Flew found that God was the only possible answer when it came to increasingly complex discoveries from sub atomic particles to the human genome to the very origins of the Cosmos.

“How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self replication capabilities and ‘coded chemistry’?” he asked, giving this as the main reason for his discovery of God in his final decade.

Flew’s conclusion that there was in fact a God in his 81st year came as a shock to his fellow atheists, particularly Dawkins and Hitchens two of the world’s most outspoken proponents of atheism.

But Flew refused to back down even when some of his former followers decided his volte-face on God was the result of old age dementia and confusion rather than scholarly research and intellectual rigour.

Flew’s late life change of mind about God’s existence was remarkable because of the huge volume of his writings which until then had embraced the atheist cause. Throughout most of his academic life he was adamant that one should presuppose atheism until there was empirical evidence to the contrary. Then in his final decade through as DNA and the human genome began to be understood along with the complexities of life, Flew found evidence which proved to him God exists and is the Creator of life. And from being a rationalist philosopher and non-believer for most of his life, one of the world’s leading thinkers suddenly became a staunch believer.

“The most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries,” he said. . . . (continue reading)

Bishop Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium, resigns

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Another episcopal domino topples as public awareness of and outrage at the clergy sexual abuse problem increases in Europe. I wish this problem would evaporate quickly, like waking up from a nightmare, but my guess is that the more likely scenario will be a protracted agony of more dominoes falling for some time to come.

“When I was still just a priest, and for a certain period at the beginning of my episcopate, I sexually abused a minor from my immediate environment. The victim is still marked by what happened. Over the course of these decades I have repeatedly recognised my guilt towards him and his family, and I have asked forgiveness; but this did not pacify him, as it did not pacify me. The media storm of recent weeks has increased the trauma, and the situation is no longer tenable. I profoundly regret what I did and offer my most sincere apologies to the victim, to his family, to all the Catholic community and to society in general. I have presented my resignation as bishop of Bruges to Pope Benedict XVI. It was accepted on Friday and so I retire”. . . . (continue reading — more coverage here)

How the Nazis engineered a pedophile-priest scare in the 1930s

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Italian Catholic intellectual Massimo Introvigne (whom I met on a couple of occasions when in Rome for speaking engagements), has contributed an important and eye-opening article about the phenomenon of priest scandals, as seen through the lens of history. Fairly recent history, to be more specific.

Introvigne provides an historical overview and analysis of a precursor to the current priest scandal — one that was concocted by minions of the Third Reich in the late 1930s as a gambit against the Catholic Church. They sought to incite a “moral panic” that would sway public opinion against the Church, which the Nazis rightly understood to be a formidable obstacle to their hegemonic designs.

As the present crop of Catholic moral scandals is relentlessly sifted and sieved by a media in search of even the most minute gleanings of priestly prurience, take note that this has happened before, as Introvigne points out, in Hitler-era Germany. The New York Times and like-minded organs of modern-day antipathy toward the Catholic Church have learned to exploit Marie Bashkirtseff’s maxim, “The weak brood over the past; the strong take their revenge on it.”

“There are cases of sexual abuse that come to light every day against a large number of members of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately it’s not a matter of individual cases, but a collective moral crisis that perhaps the cultural history of humanity has never before known with such a frightening and disconcerting dimension. Numerous priests and religious have confessed. There’s no doubt that the thousands of cases which have come to the attention of the justice system represent only a small fraction of the true total, given that many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

An editorial from a great secular newspaper in 2010? No: It’s a speech of May 28, 1937, by Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich. This speech, which had a large international echo, was the apex of a campaign launched by the Nazi regime to discredit the Catholic Church by involving it in a scandal of pedophile priests.

Two hundred and seventy-six religious and forty-nine diocesan priests were arrested in 1937. The arrests took place in all the German dioceses, in order to keep the scandals on the front pages of the newspapers. . . . (continue reading)

My dear friend was sexually molested by her father …

April 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I want her to read this powerful meditation — I am not really sure what else to call it — written by the very popular blogger Elizabeth Scalia, a brilliant writer known to First Things readers as “The Anchoress.” She wrote this piece three and a half years ago, and somehow I never noticed it, until today, until just now.

If you suffered sexual abuse at the hands of your father or mother, please read this. If you know someone who else who suffered it, please encourage them to read this. And everyone else, read it. Read it and weep.

. . . There is a strange displacement that occurs within a child who has endured sexual abuse by a parent. There is the dissociative element, of course. A child overwhelmed by what is happening to him or her tends to find a safe spot somewhere inside herself, from which she can almost “watch” the abuse, as though it is happening to someone else.

And there are recurring images that become meaningful to such a child in ways that others would never consider. When I think back on that time in my life, I see images of doorways. The doorway through which I would interiorly pray someone – anyone – would enter, to stop the terrible chaos surrounding me…the doorway I watched while cringing beneath my sheets and blankets, hoping no shadows would be moving within the dim light and heading my way.

The corner moulding of a doorway means little to most people. To me, it holds out hope of rescue, or fear of ruin. . . . (continue reading)

MADE (sterile) IN CHINA

April 21, 2010 by  
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This is outrageous even by Communist Chinese standards of outrageous crimes against humanity.

Doctors in southern China are working around the clock to fulfil a government goal to sterilise — by force if necessary — almost 10,000 men and women who have violated birth control policies. Family planning authorities are so determined to stop couples from producing more children than the regulations allow that they are detaining the relatives of those who resist.

About 1,300 people are being held in cramped conditions in towns across Puning county, in Guangdong Province, as officials try to put pressure on couples who have illegal children to come forward for sterilisation.

The 20-day campaign, which was launched on April 7, aims to complete 9,559 sterilisations in Puning, which, with a population of 2.24 million, is the most populous county in the province.

A doctor in Daba village said that his team was working flat out, beginning sterilisations every day at 8am and working straight through until 4am the following day.

Zhang Lizhao, 38, the father of two sons, aged 6 and 4, said that he rushed home late last night from buying loquats for his wholesale fruit business to undergo sterilisation after his elder brother was detained. His wife had already returned so that the brother would be freed.

Mr Zhang said: “This morning my wife called me and said they were forcing her to be sterilised today. She pleaded with the clinic to wait because she has her period. But they would not wait a single day. I called and begged them but they said no. So I have rushed back. I am satisfied because I have two sons.”

Thousands of others have refused to submit and officials are continuing to detain relatives, including elderly parents, to force them to submit to surgery. Those in detention are required to listen to lectures on the rules limiting the size of families. (continue reading)

Courtesy of New Advent.

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