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EXCLUSIVE: George Pell, Father Anthony Bongiorno and the killing of Maria James – Independent Australia

Posted: February 9, 2020 at 6:50 pm

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40 years ago, Melbourne bookshop owner and mother of two boys Maria James was viciously stabbed 68 times with her ownkitchen knife. As a new inquest begins into these killings,contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence calls for Cardinal George Pell, former Premier Jeff Kennett and VictoriaPolice to be re-investigated.

Should incarceratedconvicted paedophile Cardinal George Pell be interviewed by Victoria Police about his relationship with fellow paedophile and close friend Father Anthony Salvatore Bongiorno, chief suspect in the bloody murder of Maria James on 17 June1980?

This nascent year marks the 40th anniversary of this heinous and still unsolved crime.

The Coroners Court of Victoria is now in the midst of an investigation into the ruthless killing of Maria James.

Should Cardinal George Pell be interviewed by coronial investigators and be called as a witness to the inquest?

New facts about the Maria James murder have come to light and Cardinal George Pell may be able to provide more information about Father Anthony Bongiorno and the brother whose requiem mass he officiated, Salvatore "Sam"Bongiorno.

We found this article by Keith Moor in the Sunday Herald Sun, 30August 2007, on the retrospective Wayback Machine, the internet archive. Whats it doing there?

Heres a quote:

'FORMER premier Jeff Kennett received written information in 1998 that nominated Father Bongiorno as a child molester. He gave the letter, which contained a photo of Father Bongiorno, to police.'


What did Victoria Police do with that letter and photo? Should former Premier Jeff Kennett be interviewed by the Coroner? What did the letter say? Who wrote it? Was the letter DNA tested?

Has Kennett, the former chairman of Beyond Blue, kept a copy of the letter and photo he received implicating Father Tony Bongiorno in the Maria James murder? Where is that material now? From where was it posted? Or was it delivered to Parliament House? Is there any CCV footage? Will the police give this material to the coronial investigators? If not, will the Coroner compel the police to produce this evidence? So many questions. So few answers.

Who signed that letter to Kennett? Was it anonymous? Why cant we see the letter and photo now that Father Bongiorno is dead; redact the senders name if needs be. Was the letter typed, handwritten? Had the sender sent a copy of the same letter and photo to Victoria Police? Did they bin this info?Just asking.

Here we should refer to the volatile and sometimes acrimonious relationship between now Cardinal George Pell and Jeff Kennett, both uber-powerful figures in Melbournes establishment, both notoriously capable of exercising extreme autocratic power and influence and still needy for both. No mistake should be made about any diminution of power and influence since Pells conviction and incarceration. He still has powerful friends in both high and low places.

Kennett less so, but nonetheless he occupies a prison of another kind; not dissimilar to that of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, incarcerated in cells of their own making within those invisible walls that sometimes entrap the once-powerful now languishing in a faraway galaxy of lessening consequence; Misters Who?

Few analysts will forget then Archbishop Pells edict to the non-Catholic Jeff Kennett that he was forbidden to receive communion at the Pontifical requiem mass for the state funeral of B A Santamaria in March 1998, where Pell delivered an eloquent and moving panegyric about his friend, who to this day surely remains Australias most powerful Catholic layman. Waddya reckon Jesus Jezza, to you and me wouldve said?

Pells spiteful rebuff to Kennett should be viewed in the shroud of hypocrisy worn by Pell. But hey, it was payback time for Pell against his nemesis, Kennett.

According to his conviction and the datelines of his crimes Archbishop George Pell was already a sexual abuser when he denied Kennetts request and yet the Host consecrated in Holy Communion would be served by the hands of a paedophile rapistas the defiled Host has been served a billion times to believers and parishioners by paedophile priests.

Rememberthat in this sacrament, the wafer of the Host is miraculously transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. To be specific, paedophile priests who administer Holy Communion are surely raping Jesus.

It should be noted that a couple of years beforehand, in 1996, Kennett told Archbishop George Pell to sort out the sex abuse issue within Victoria or possibly face a Royal Commission.

Whats wrong with this behind-closed-doors dictum? Everything. Kennett should have called a Royal Commission regardless, given the gravity and extent of the sex abuse. These criminal activities by priests and brothers within the Catholic Church were widely known.

By designating to the Catholic Church what should have been the role, duties of care and prosecution by thestate, Kennett undermined the role of the police and judiciary and failed to act in the public interest.

Moreover, he breached the protocols of the Separation of Powers. Kennett had no right to make this private pact with the Catholic Church or to make such a repugnant decision on our behalf.

Did Kennett discuss his decision with his colleagues;his cabinet?

In every sense, it was a pact made with the Devil; a pact that the Kennett-proxied State made with the perpetrators of industrial-strength sexual abuse of children. In its execution, it meant the State facilitated the subsequent cover-up. The Catholic Church, of course, typically did next to nothing.

Yes, a redress scheme panel of very important impressive names and police was set up. It made a great figleaf over the genitalia of paedophilic clergy.

As the Royal Commission revealed. Kennett had given Pell and The Church a free pass.

The Catholic Church did not clean up its act and Kennett did not call a Royal Commission.

Kennetts Napoleonic actions reflect the persistent diminution and disregard for the safety and welfare of victims in this case, little and vulnerable children. Instead of the Premiers guardianship of children, his actions reflected the states tacit collusion in protecting the reputation of the all-powerful Catholic Church.

Kennett did the victims and wider community a great injustice and much ongoing harm.

Thus, against the above backdrop, it was a blessed relief in more ways than one when Acting Coroner Iain West called a halt to the obfuscating nonsense surrounding the mysterious cold case of the Maria James murder.

Here is the full text:


Friday 30 November 2018

Coroners Court of Victoria


Acting State Coroner Iain West has today re-opened the coronial investigation into the death of Maria James.

Ms James, 38, was found murdered in her bookshop at 736 High Street, Thornbury on 17 June 1980.

On 25 November 1982, Coroner K.G. Mason held an inquest into the death of Ms James and found that her homicide was committed by a person unknown.

In July 2017, the Coroners Court of Victoria received an application from Mark James, Ms Jamess son, requesting that Coroner Masons finding be set aside and the coronial investigation into his mothers death be re-opened.

Following the introduction of legislative amendments to the Coroners Act 2008 on 28 October 2018, His Honour is empowered to set aside findings made under previous Coroners Acts of 1958 and 1985 and re-open investigations if new facts or circumstances make it appropriate to do so.

Having considered the application, His Honour has determined to set aside the 1982 finding and re- open the investigation.

As the investigation is ongoing, no further comment can be made at this time.

Strangely, I could not find Wests statement on the Coroners website and notified the department of this. At the time of writing, I understand this is being rectified. It is not the first time that IAhas discovered anomalies in court record keeping.

Independent Australia has learned that some senior police and personnel within the Department of Justice were bloody annoyed by Wests decision. Why? Because there are a number of egregious faultlines in the decades-long investigation(s) into the James murder, including what I assert is a deliberate failure to properly consider the relationship and overriding influence of the Catholic Church upon the establishment, the polity, the police, some media, judiciary, elite business and influencers, the top end of town indeed the wider community. That influence remains sans frontieres. Even today.

Such is the climate of fear carefully cultivated by the Catholic Church and its agents and representatives, that many whistleblowers are still too scared and too scarred to be named.

Moreover, the threat of legal action has made writing/publishing about the church, problematic; especially when it comes to George Pell. Without doubt, a chat with Cardinal Pell about his fellow perpetrator, Father Tony Bongiorno, could clarify some aspects of the latters connection and relationship with Maria James.

Did Pell ever hear Bongiornos confession? Has Pell ever heard confessions about the sexual abuse of children? Any priest or brother made such a confession to him? He could certainly answer that much. No question. Pell should also answer questions about how he responded to those who confess such criminal acts. Answering such questions doesnot break the Seal of Confession.

The 38-year-old mother of two young boys had been bound and viciously stabbed 68 times in her Thornbury secondhand bookshop, with her own Wiltshire kitchen knife, on that fateful Tuesday, evoking similarities with the frenzied stabbings in yet another decades-old unsolved crime against women the notorious Easey Street murdersof Suzanne Armstrong and Susan Bartlett, three years earlier.

Neither I nor Independent Australia make any inference whatever that George Pell was involved in the murder of Maria James in any way but it should be noted that Pell was a friend to Father Bongiorno long before the murder - and long after; including long after it was common knowledge amongst priests, the Vatican, the Catholic Church, in particular, the Archdiocese of Melbourne, within certain police circles and George Pell himself, that Bongiorno was a serial paedophile.

In fact, like so many other paedophile priests and brothers, aided and abetted in their crimes by the Catholic Church, whenever Bongiornos sexual abusing became obviously promiscuous, he was rewarded by his masters with being trafficked to new culling fields to enjoy "fresh new meat young veal".

In the Churchs despicable modusoperandi, Bongiorno was simply whored around to various parishes, who welcomed him with open palms and the usual blaspheming psalms. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. These unholy priests, brothers in alms. Their insatiable sexual appetites kept well-fed.

In the lexicon of the Church, these lambs were led to their sexual slaughter by predominantly White adult males who were in some cases, members of privileged, elite paedophile rings who raped their child victims in the name of their God.

Often, these "new"parishes already had a paedophile priest in situ, so assimilation was easy. Victims were shared, notes compared.

At the time of the James murder, Bongiorno was an assistant parish priest at the nearby St Marys Catholic Church, on the corner of Rossmoyne and High St the same street as the bookshop. Before it became known as "Bongiornos church"it once boasted a robust Italian migrant congregation and was known for its Italian mass.

On the Catholic Church websites, there is now a strange emptiness on the St Marys page(s).

Not even an acknowledgement or proud boast that the current Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, was once the parish priest in residence. No list of priests who have officiated at the parish. Nothing to see here. No list of victims of paedophile priests. No list of paedophile priests.

Certainly, nothing about Father Anthony Bongiorno who remains a key suspect in the James murder and who is now known to have sexually abused Maria James youngest son, Adam, then aged 11, who lives with cerebral palsy, Tourettes and his champion of a big brother, Mark, then 13-years-old and an altar boy.

Please watch this moving and compelling interview with Adam and Mark, posted on YouTube by the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALID) and witness the personal empowerment that comes with not only the telling of your story but also the validation that comes with being heard and believed by the community.

In a cruel twist of fate, Bongiorno was actually the person whom police asked to notify Mark of his mothers death. What is more, it was Bongiorno who officiated at Maria James funeral service. Galling. By any measure. But it is what we have sadly come to expect of insinuating Catholic paedophile priests and their facilitating church executives.

By all accounts, Maria James was fiercely protective of her children. She was a lioness of a mother when it came to her boys.

It is believed that on the very day she was murdered, Maria James was about to confront Father Bongiorno about sexually abusing Adam. Did he get in first? Did he kill her?

Or, was Bongiorno trying to protect someone else. His brother?

Anthony and Sam were close siblings. Did Sam know Maria James? Was he a suitor? Did he murder Maria James? Did Victoria Police check out Sam Bongiorno?

Is Sam Bongiorno a legitimate suspect?

Did George Pell also know Tony Bongiornos brother Sam well? And their sister?The same sister who refused to give her DNA to eliminate Father Bongiorno as a murder suspect? Why wasnt she prepared to eliminate her brother Father Anthony Bongiorno as a suspect?

Could it be by giving her DNA she might also implicate her other brother, Sam Bongiorno? Was the sister interviewed by the police about Sam? Was Sam Bongiorno every interviewed by police?

If Father Bongiornos body cant be exhumed can Sam Bongiornos body be exhumed are there other of his family members who can give permission to exhume Sam Bongiornos body?

An exhumation could move us closer to a DNA profile. Could Cardinal George Pell be asked to speak with the Bongiorno sister and gain permission from her to exhume Father Bongiornos body to take a DNA sample as an act of compassion for Mark and Adam James?

At the time of writing, I have not been able to establish if the Bongiorno sister is still alive. If she isnt, perhaps other family members could provide DNA samples present in any of her possessions even a hairbrush?

It should be further noted that in the 1960s, "Tony"Bongiorno was in the same seminary group and intake at Corpus Christi College (then at Werribee) as his mate George Pell. By all accounts, they became firm friends and spent much time together, according to our trusted sources.

Also in that group was another student priest who, like Pell, would go on to become Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart.

Someone else in that illustrious intake was none other than Father Sean OConnell who later became a parish priest at St Pauls in Coburg, a mere Magdalene stones throw from St Marys Thornbury. So FatherOConnell was just up the road from his old mate, Father Bongiorno.

OConnell was to conveniently provide his mate Father Tony Bongiorno with an all-day alibi at the time of the Maria James murder that contradicts other alleged sightings of a possible murderer (including of a bloodied priest) and various timelines.

In the 1850s, two famous and infamous Catholic rebels worshipped at St Pauls.

One was the now canonised, Sister Mary MacKillop, who ironically was once arguably excommunicated for reporting a priest for child sexual abuse and the other was the notorious bushranger, Ned Kelly, hanged and decapitated in1880.

OConnells former student priest classmate, Archbishop Denis Hart did the honourswhen he celebrated mass for the consecration of St Pauls on 3 July 2011after three years of restoration work. Why the restoration work?

In March 2008, a suspicious fire caused about $2 million worth of damage to St Pauls. The year before, the parish community hall opposite the church was razed.

But Ned Kelly was not the only criminal associated with St Pauls. Indeed, Father Sean OConnell found himself charged with harbouring one of Mark "Chopper"Reads mates.

Three years before the Maria James murder, on 9 May1977, notorious career criminal and Chopper-acolyte Jimmy Loughnan escaped from the bluestone fortress of Pentridge Prison and found himself in the grounds of St Pauls.

As documented in James Mortons book Maximum Security, Father OConnell was originally convicted of harbouring the injured Loughnan, but the conviction was quashed on appeal.

It should be noted that Anthony Bongiorno was one of the student priests who attended a holiday camp on Phillip Island during the time when George Pell, also a student priest, was accused of sexually abusing altar boys, in 1961/1962.

In fact, the allegations against George Pell were the subject of what is known as the Southwell Report, which Pell falsely claimed exonerated him.

As we have cited, itdid nothing of the sort.

It was a falsehood that Pell, the Catholic Church and its behemoth propaganda artillery had promulgated for years, yet again causing great damage to the veracity and reputations of complainants, victims/survivors of church, institutional and "civilian"child and adult sexual abuse alike, contributing to the great physical and mental harm done still to generations of victims.

The fake news of Pells assertions were compounded at the time by a dodgy headline in mainstream medias Sydney Morning Herald falsely proclaiming Pell exonerated over abuse claims, despite the articles anonymous writer actually pointing out among other things that:-

Mr Southwell's Report concluded that he accepted:

'... as correct the submission of [barrister Michael] Tovey that the complainant, when giving evidence of molesting, gave the impression that he was speaking honestly from an actual recollection. However, the respondent, also, gave me the impression that he was speaking the truth.'

Why was the writer anonymous? Grown-up journalists usually have a byline on such stories. Did the writer object to the headline and ask that his/her byline be removed?

The misrepresentation of the Southwell Report also proved a forceful deterrent to some victims coming forward and outright fisting to the courage of those who had already stepped forward naming their tormentors and abusers.

The 91-year-old Alec James "Ginger"Southwell QC died on January 26, 2018. He had impeccable legalcredentials.

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EXCLUSIVE: George Pell, Father Anthony Bongiorno and the killing of Maria James - Independent Australia

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February 9th, 2020 at 6:50 pm

8 Steps to Personal Empowerment

Posted: January 25, 2020 at 8:45 pm

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Step one to success is cultivating your ability to recognize opportunities most people can't see.

January 31, 2017 7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

How can you, as an individual, live the most empowered life possible? By working. Work to make a significant difference in this world. Focus on what you can control, which is your hope, your attitude, your drive, your willingness to hustle, your commitment to keeping an objective and empowered mindset. If youre individual life is empowered, it can only have an empowering impact on all those who surround you.

There is no such thing as Dooms Day unless you believe in it. You have the powerand the responsibility to find that place inside of yourself where everything is possible. The more open you are to possibility, the more creative you become and the more expansive of a world you create for yourself to succeed in. If you live with a hopeless, angry or defeated attitude, then that will be what you live. Negative minds are closed minds.Closed mindssimply refuse to see what is available. They over focus on what isnt right, whatisn't happeningand on the lack of opportunity. Why would you choose to live this way? Life is a direct reflection of your beliefs. If you want a better outcome, then create it.Your opportunities for new hope and change are boundless, and it all starts within you.

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Things are going happen that you dont like. Life and success are built around the unfair. There is much that you will encounter that is not right, unjust and incorrect. Focus on who you want to be in response to these challenges. People get into high positions without the right to be there, but you are totally capable of rising up to those things which defy logic. Without the things that defy logic you would never come to know so deeply what you stand for, what you value or how powerful you truly are. When you shift your focus onto yourself and wholeheartedly and non-violently live your answers, it is then that you are living a life of true authenticity and significance. How much money did Martin Luther King Junior have in his pocket when he died? How much money did Mother Teresa have in her pocket when she died? Work quietly and let your success do the talking.

Another persons success does not equate as your failure. Its your life, so focus on your race. Instead of worrying about the competition, focus on the ball that is directly in front of you. If you worry about the competition, what they are and arent doing, then you lose track of the importance of what youre doing. Empowerment has nothing to do with competition, it has everything to do with contribution. There is not a better example of this then the most recent summer Olympics with the Phelps beating out the South African swimmer who so focused on beating Phelps and slamming Phelps in the media. The South African swimmer wasnt focused enough on his own race. Phelps beat him because Phelps was focused on winning his own race.

Related:The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Setbacks, Obstacles and Defeats in Work and Life

Trust that you have what it takes to get the job done. Trust empowers you to move aggressively towards your goals. If you spend your time doubting your skills, the only thing you will be actively perfecting is your ability to doubt yourself. Your actions follow your thoughts. Shift all that time focusing on doubting yourself to believing in yourself. If you can dream something up, then it is in the realm of your possibility to make it happen. You must show yourself that you have what it takes to be resourceful when going for your goals. You will learn to trust yourself the most deeply through taking calculated action-driven risks. The more successful you become in taking risks, the easier it becomes and the more able you are to discern when your instincts are on and when theyre not. This empowers you to make better decisions.

To empower yourself, collaborate dont compete. Success is never a one man job. One of the smartest ways to move your mission forward is to network. Gather a team of people who have strengths to fill in where you have weaknesses. This allows you to delegate out to those who can best help you reach your goals. Collaboration is about inclusion. In collaborative environments, success is shared. It is people empowering other people. There is nothing more bonding to a team of people then the team effort that produced the successful result. Its bonding, and bonding is empowering. When you compete you create division, hatred, jealousy, and anger; none one of which help you build long standing relationships designed to make you more successful.

Related:How Startups Can BeEmpowermentTools for Women

Passion trumps failure. Love is the most powerful of all the emotions, which is why truly empowered people work in careers they love. Most will do almost anything for love. There is nothing that can get in your way when you want something badly enough that you are willing do anything to get it. Unexpected circumstances may knock you back or redirect you a bit along your path, but it will not have the power to take you from your goal. When you are deeply passionate about what you want, work doesnt feel like work, its more personal. When you love what you do, fears you may have of not succeeding will be outdone by the passion you have to never let failing be an option.

Success of any type will attract haters. What are you going to do with this? Use grace. If they go low, you go high or remain silent. Give grace, not to them, but because acting with grace says something empowering about you. Anger doesnt inspire change in anyone. Empowered and right action is the only thing which is inspires change. Have the self-discipline to have composure when face-to-face with haters. The one sure thing about haters is they hate you only until they want to be part of what youre doing, so they can say they knew you. Let them say whatever they want. You stay the course on the road less traveled.

The most empowered path to success comes through your experiences of failure. The late Mary Tyler Moore famously said, You cant be brave if youve only had wonderful things happen to you. Empowerment is most deeply cultivated during times of challenge. Failure and uncertainty are necessary structures for you to bump up against for the development of your own refinement. Without failure you would have nothing to improve upon. Choose to evolve rather than dissolve under pressure. Your imperfect moments provide the perfect trajectory for your growth up the mountain of success youre climbing.

To live an empowered lifeof great significance be open to possibility, cooperation, education, success and understanding that success is not a one man job. Love what you do so deeply that you are abel to include others in your dream and empower them in their success. Love what you do so deeply that there will be no roadblock or hardship that will take you from your desired direction. Empowerment means that you dont crumble under failure. You make the conscious choice to grow from the pressure to evolve yourself to that next level.

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8 Steps to Personal Empowerment

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

INTERVIEW: ‘Women’s empowerment is happening and heartfelt,’ says Saudi university head Einas Al-Eisa – Arab News

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If any of the aspirational young women of Saudi Arabia need a role model, they should look no further than Einas Al-Eisa, the rector of the Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh.

I caught up with her at Davos last week, at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), where she told me one of the most inspiring and heartwarming stories I have ever heard. She was reluctant at first to go on the record about her family history, but finally agreed, not least because I insisted. It was too good a story to leave untold.

Let me tell you something personal. Im a second-generation female doctor of philosophy. My mum went to the first school ever to open for girls in Saudi Arabia, and she continued to go all the way to be a university professor. She was able to pursue her dream in Saudi Arabia, and became a history scholar. Im 15 years on from my PhD, in anatomy and neurobiology, in Canada, she said.

Now my daughter is doing engineering. That just tells you all the evidence of the amount of empowerment and accelerating change in the Kingdom. Change is real, happening and heartfelt. We really have a good story to tell the world, she said while in Saudi Arabias headquarters overlooking the snowy Congress Hall of the WEF.

Princess Nourah University or PNU as Al-Eisa calls it is the biggest female academic institution in the world, with 35,000 students spread across 8 million square meters in the Saudi capital in 600 buildings. It grew out of the College of Education opened in 1970, and is named after the sister of King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, the founder of the Kingdom.

Her job carries a huge responsibility. Its a big challenge, not just for me, but globally. Empowering women is a challenge worldwide, she said.

She, and the Kingdom, are rising to that challenge. Recently the World Bank rated Saudi Arabia as the leading country in the world in terms of fostering female equality, after a raft of measures to give women essential rights to education, employment and mobility. A new generation of women like her daughter is growing up in the Kingdom, increasingly self-confident of their place in Saudi Arabia and in the world, under the Vision 2030 strategy to transform the country.

Al-Eisa is an enthusiastic supporter of the changes, and dismisses suggestions that some of the more conservative parts of the Saudi demographic oppose them.

Let me take a step back, and talk about the transformation. Its about opening new sectors that will build the capacity of society as a whole the quality of life, health, education, job opportunity, economic development so that we can develop sectors like entertainment, culture, and technology.


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Doctorate in anatomy and neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Canada

Harvard University Professional Development Programs, US


Dean, Department of Science and Medical Studies, King Saud University

Vice-dean, College of Nursing, Saudi Arabia

Rector, Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University

These are all perfect opportunities for the whole of society to engage in, and now with the rate of enrolment of women in the private sector increasing from 19 percent to 23 percent in just one year, that reflects the engagement of the whole of society. As a university, we study this progress, the implementation of the policies, and the impact of the reforms, she said.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the big changes underway in the Kingdom is the trend for women to study what have traditionally been regarded as exclusively male domains science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM disciplines. Of the 5,200 who graduated from PNU last year, 1,400 came from STEM faculties.

I predict a huge contribution from women in that sector in the very near future. One good story that comes from Saudi Arabia is the increased number of women engaging in the technology sectors, for example, versus the drop we see worldwide. Elsewhere women are moving away from these fields, whereas in the Kingdom, the number is going up constantly, she said.

Education in the Kingdom remains segregated in terms of gender, but she does not think that is a significant or fundamental issue. In the West and in other parts of the world, co-education is the norm, but there have been many serious academic studies that have questioned the benefits of mixed-sex education. She is in no hurry to push for co-education in Saudi Arabia, on grounds of academic pragmatism, rather than any moral or ethical issues.

If you go back to the literature and look at the assessment of the value of women studying in a campus of only women, there is enough global evidence to support the value of women-only education, in a womens environment. There is enough evidence out there, but still it is a source of debate, she said.

Women are less intimidated in the fields of technology and engineering when they are taught in a safe environment. The way we are tackling that is to ensure that women have the best educators, the best learning opportunities, the best curricula, irrespective of gender, she said.

Many of the faculty staff are male, she pointed out, so the young women studying at the university are not completely segregated. We have male and female teachers in PNU, and we will continue to support more women in academia, in engineering especially, as faculty staff, and as engineers in the field. We will continue to empower women and I guarantee they are not isolated, she said.

The crucial issue is what young women do after graduation. The Vision 2030 reform strategy envisages a big increase in the female workforce, rising to as much as 30 percent over the next decade. Recent statistics show that the Kingdom is well on the way to reaching that target, with 23.5 percent of the private sector workforce being female, according to official figures.

But for Al-Eisa, it is not just a simple matter of meeting official quotas. Again, she takes an academically pragmatic view.

Just like it should be everywhere else in the world, its the competency of the graduates that dictates where they go. We have a very good story in the health sector nearly 40 percent of people working in health are female, reflecting the parity and the power we have achieved after investing so much in health and education, she said.

PNU works closely with INSEAD, the French management institute, to ensure that young women graduating from the university are equipped with the skills to get them jobs in increasingly competitive managerial professions.

She also works with the Ministry of Education in its Women Leaders 2030 program that nurtures young women to become business leaders in the private sector. The ministrys work is closely coordinated with the UNs sustainable development goals which also align with Vision 2030.

Its very important to produce holistic leaders, women who understand the challenges and bigger issues in the wider world, she said.

Her visit to the WEF has certainly opened her eyes to the bigger picture. All the issues that concerned her back in Saudi Arabia were also on the WEF agenda, she said, and she was pleasantly surprised that Davos was not all about money and economics.

I come from the education sector, and I thought there will not be much for me in Davos, but there is so much going on, in investment, in education, in new opportunities, in skills development, science, science breakthroughs. I was impressed by the wide array of topics discussed and the caliber of discussions, she said.

She will leave Switzerland with a new set of ideas to further promote the role of women in Saudi Arabia.

The session on Education 4.0 was a very good exchange of ideas, and made me think how Saudi Arabia must invest even more in the infrastructure of education, curriculum development, teachers preparation programs and the rest.

Its time now to experiment with more disruptions in education. Ive learned new ideas about education and Im going home with the conviction that were heading in the right direction. Now when we talk about concepts like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and data science, these are new programs that are opening up for all women. This is the language of the world, not just for Saudi Arabia, she said.

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INTERVIEW: 'Women's empowerment is happening and heartfelt,' says Saudi university head Einas Al-Eisa - Arab News

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

Religion news Jan. 25 – The Republic

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Services and studies

Dayspring Church Apostolic Worship begins at 11:15 a.m. at the church, 2127 Doctors Park Drive, Columbus. On Sunday, the church will be inspired by, A Special Lady. This is taken from Judges 4 where, I will surely go with thee is the prevailing response. Every visitor will receive a free gift.

The Sunday Education Session starts at 10 a.m. and covers the First Mission of the Twelve, as shared in Luke 9:1-10.

Bible Study is Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and is a Group Session sponsored by Heart Changers International, LLC on Depression, Stress and Grief. These help build our Personal Empowerment and walk.

Our Prayer of Power starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and is preceded with requests and instructions on prayer.

The Celebrate Recovery Group session starts at 6:30 p.m.

Ignite is the Youth Growth Session that happens every third Friday.

For more information please call (812) 372- 9336, or email

East Columbus United Methodist Sunday events begin at 9 a.m. at East Columbus United Methodist Church at 2439 Indiana Ave. in Columbus, with fellowship time in the foyer with beverages and snacks. Worship begins at 9:30 a.m.

Sunday School begins at 10:40 a.m. for all ages and Bible interests.

First Presbyterian Jesus performed many healing miracles, but one with unique details is in Mark 5:1-20, which the sermon will focus on: Story from the other side of the tracks.

Worship begins at 9:30 a.m., 512 Seventh St., in Columbus. Infant and toddler care is available 9:15 a.m. to noon. The Mens and Womens Support Groups meet on Fridays at 7 a.m., and a second Mens Support group (working age men) meets every Monday at 6:15 a.m.

People in the community in need of a meal are invited to our Hot Meals offered at 5 p.m. Friday. (please enter through the glass doors on Franklin). We are an LGBTQ-friendly church. Open and affirming to ALL.


First United Methodist On Sunday, Jan. 26, at the 9 a.m. Traditional Service and 11 a.m. The Table, Reverend Sarah Campbell will deliver the message, Light in the Darkness at the church, 618 Eighth St. The scripture will be Isaiah 9:1-4 and Matthew 4:12-17.

Sunday School for all ages begins at 10:10 a.m. Child care is available during the service.

Information: 812-372-2851 or

Flintwood Wesleyan The church is located at 5300 E. 25th St.

Sunday services are Amplify (non-traditional) at 9 a.m. and The Well (traditional) at 11 a.m in the main sanctuary and led by Rev. Wes Jones, Senior Pastor. Sunday School classes at 10 a.m. in their regular room.

The Prayer Team meets at 8 a.m. Adult Choir Practice is 5 to 6 p.m.

Sunday evenings Celebrate Recovery begins with a meal at 5:25 p.m. in The Friendship Center and the meeting starts at 6 p.m. upstairs in Curry Hall. The public is invited to attend.

Connections, a ladies study group, led by Pastor Teri Jones. The group meets the second and fourth Monday of each month at 10 a.m. in The Friendship Center.

In the Beginning, a small group Bible Study, meets Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. They are now meeting in the basement of the church in the young adult classroom. They are studying the book of Genesis. You can start at any point so new members are welcome to join.

Wednesday activities begins with a meal at 5:30 p.m. The program, iKids (Ignite Kids) On Fire For Jesus! starts at 6:15 p.m. This program is for kids in Pre-K through the sixth grade. The Prayer Team meets at 6:15 p.m. in the Prayer Room. Youth meets at 6:30 p.m. downstairs in the church. Bible study is at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.

Thursday: Cub Scout Pack # 588 will meet when events are scheduled and Boy Scout Troop # 588 will meet at 7 p.m.

Small group Cover to Cover is a Christian book club that meets the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. AM to select a new book and discuss the book they just read. Group meets in The Friendship Center. If interested contact Kim Rutan at 812-343-2217 (call or text) or via email at

For further information, call 812-379-4287 or email Church office hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Our website is http://www.flintwood.

Garden City Church of Christ Starting Jan. 5 at the 10 a.m. service, Garden City Church of Christ is hosting a four-week sermon series called Reset. Everyone in the community is invited to attend.

The topics of the series include Reset My Heart, Reset My Mind, Reset My Voice and Reset My Hands.

Garden City Church of Christ is located at 3245 Jonesville Road, Columbus.

For more information about the church, visit or call 812-372-1766.

Grace Lutheran Rev. John Armstrong will preach on Sunday. Worship is at 8 and 10:30 a.m., with Sunday School for all ages at 9:30 a.m.

Alpha, an introduction to the Bible continues Tuesday, Jan. 21, 6-8 p.m.

Searching Scripture continues Tuesday, Jan. 28, 6-8 p.m.

Old Union United Church of Christ Scriptures for the 10 a.m. Sunday service will include Isaiah 9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, and Matthew 4:12-23. The message will be A New Possibility.

Sunday school will be at 9 a.m. with fellowship at 9:40 a.m.

The church is located at 12703 N. County Road 50W, Edinburgh.

Petersville United Methodist Church The Rev. Stormy Scherer-Berry will give her message, Claim Your Vocation, at the 9 a.m. worship service on Sunday morning at the church, 2781 N. County Road 500E, Columbus. The theme this week continues with the idea that God has called us, not just by name, but to a special purpose.

Scriptures from Isaiah 9 and Matthew 4 will be shared by liturgist Patsy Harris; Teresa Covert will give the childrens sermon, and the choir will provide special music, directed by Kathy Bush.

The loose change offering for the coming six months will be given to the Love Chapel Food Bank. The goal for the Hope Food Bank is 2020 items for the year. A time of fellowship will follow the service.

The Bakers Dozen Bible study group will meet on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Larry and Connie Nolting; the Journey Bible study group also will meet on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Chris Kimerling. The Sit and Stitch group will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, also at the Noltings. All three groups welcome new members.

Choir practice is Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the church with Kathy Bush directing. Prayer Time is Thursday morning at 10 a.m. in the church fellowship hall led by Barb Hedrick.

Information: 812-546-4438; 574-780-2379

Sandy Hook United Methodist The church will be having a Bible study on the book of Ruth for six winter Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. starting Jan. 8 through Feb. 19 (there will be no study January 29). This video-based study is part of the Epic of Eden Bible studies.

Please contact the church office at 812-372-8495 or if interested in participating (so books can be ordered).

The church is located at 1610 Taylor Road, Columbus.

St. Paul Lutheran The third Sunday after Epiphany will be celebrated Sunday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 6045 E. State Street, at the 8 and 10:45 a.m. worship services with Pastor Doug Bauman presenting the message The Great Light in Darkness and Death based on Matthew 4:12-25.

Christian Education classes for all ages will begin at 9:30 a.m. Vicar Fickenscher will lead worship at the 2:30 p.m. Spanish Service with Spanish/English Sunday School following at 3:30 p.m.

Open enrollment for the 2020-2021 preschool and kindergarten registration begins on Monday, Jan. 27. Classes are for children who are 3, 4 or 5 by Aug. 1. Information: 812-376-6504 or

Financial Peace University classes will begin Monday, Jan. 27, 6 p.m. at the church. Classes teach how to beat debt and make a plan for the future together. Information:

Information: 812-376-6504.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus On Sunday at 10 a.m., Good Without God: Religious Humanism in the 20th Century will be presented by the Rev. Nic Cable and Lori Swanson.

Unitarian Universalism has been influenced by many sources and traditions of truth and wisdom. One of these was the humanist movement in the 20th century. From the Humanist Manifesto (1933) to the present, the church will explore how a non-theistic worldview has shaped who humanity is today.

The church is at 7850 W. Goeller Blvd., Columbus.

Information: 812-342-6230.

Westside Community Pastor Robert Vester will lead the service this Sunday at 10 a.m. at the church at the corner of West State Road 46 West and Tipton Lakes Boulevard.

The childrens program for children through sixth grade meets at the same time as the 10 a.m. worship service.

For more information on studies or small groups that meet throughout the week, contact the church office at 812-342-8464.


North Christian Church The church is looking for singers to join their Chancel Choir. Rehearsals are Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the church, 850 Tipton Lane, Columbus.

For more information, contact the Music Director, Travis Whaley, at


Community Church of Columbus An eight-week parenting course entitled Parenting with Love and Logic is designed for parents of children ages 6 and under. Starting Tuesday, Feb. 18th at 6:30 p.m., the course will be offered at Community Church of Columbus, 3850 N. Marr Road, as part of the Tuesday Connection series. Dinner is also available each week at 5:30 p.m. along with child care at no cost.

First United Methodist Tuesday evenings from Jan. 7 to Feb. 25, the church will host a grief support group. Meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. The group will explore grief using Julie Yarbroughs book, Beyond the Broken Heart: A Journey Through Grief. It will take place in the Blue Room (Room 216) at the church, and is open to anyone. To register, or for more information, call the church office at 812-372-2851.

On Jan. 26, the church will host its first Life Planning Seminar. Possible topics include end-of-life planning, assisted living and funeral planning, and financial planning topics like retirement and college planning. There will be a dinner at 5:15 p.m. with the session to follow at 6 p.m. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend.

North Christian Church The Centering Prayer Group that meets in the North Christian Prayer Chapel, Lower Level #6, on Friday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. This is a drop-in prayer group, meaning that you can come as your schedule allows. Familiarity with Centering Prayer and its spiritual practices is not necessary. For more information, consult the Centering Prayer page at

St. Paul Lutheran An eight-week grief support Bible study entitled, Hope When Your Heart Breaks continues on Monday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. in the churchs Conference Room. Those learning to live without a loved one are welcome.

St. Peter Lutheran Church On Sunday, Jan. 26, the church will host a soup supper and Euchre party 11750 W. County Road 930S, Columbus.

The soup supper will start at 5 p.m. and admission is $5. The Euchre party starts at 6:30 p.m. and admission is $5. Proceeds will go to Love Chapel in Columbus and Anchor House in Seymour.

Zion Lutheran Church The church, at 1501 Gaiser Drive, Seymour, will hold its Annual Ham and Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings Sunday Feb. 9, from 4 to 7 p.m. The public is invited.

A freewill offering will be taken. Proceeds will go to mission projects. Carry-out will be available. Call the church office with questions at 812-522-1089.

Original post:
Religion news Jan. 25 - The Republic

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

2020 is the ‘Year of Women’s Empowerment’, says UPES, and will impart 25% scholarship to all girl students – Inventiva

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Shakti leads the way

UPES has declared the year 2020 as the Year of Womens Empowerment and is launching Shakti, an initiative to impact, lead and advance the agenda of womens empowerment by institutions of higher learning.

With the aim to encourage more female students to continue their higher education after Class XII, UPES has announced a 25 percent scholarship for the entire duration of the programme for all female students applying for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the academic year 2020. This initiative will provide a holistic atmosphere for girl students, and help academia make relevant interventions to develop and refine their professional and personal skill sets.

Under Project Shakti, UPES is running several CSR programmes like Project Payal promotion of education for the girl child; Project Samvedna daycare for children of construction workers; Project Vikalp skilling rural women towards economic empowerment; and Project Protsaahan lending support to meritorious students from PYDS Academy of Learning, Purukul, among others.

UPES is one of the very few universities in India that runs a formal leadership training under Project Shakti, for its women faculty and staff members. The year-long, module-based programme is aimed at propelling women employees to leadership roles by combining their intrinsic qualities with the right skills and knowledge. UPES plans to open up this programme to other corporates in the near future.

The launch event for Shakti will take place on February 4, 2020 from 10 AM to 2:30 PM at the Hotel Ashoka, New Delhi. With the theme Accelerating the gender equality journey: Empowering women from classroom to boardroom, the event will bring together changemakers from the government, industry and academia to share best practices and innovation in the development and governance of world-class universities.

Commenting on this initiative, Dr. Deependra Kumar Jha, Vice-Chancellor, UPES, said, Education across levels is the best form of empowerment that can be extended to women to positively impact the state of their being, their status and position in personal and professional settings. With the year 2020 being the Year of Women Empowerment for us at UPES, the scholarships are a step towards promoting diversity and inclusion and encourage girls to pursue higher education. We are positive that it will contribute to the on-going efforts by organisations across the globe to have a greater number of women in boardrooms and leadership roles.

The welcome address will be delivered by Sharad Mehra, Chairman, Hydrocarbons Education and Research Society. The event will also showcase the CSR initiatives by UPES that are women-led, and Project Shakti will formally be launched.

2020 is the 'Year of Women's Empowerment', says UPES, and will impart 25% scholarship to all girl students - Inventiva

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

Don’t get caught in The App Trap – The Daily Standard

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Friday, January 24th, 2020

By Leslie Gartrell

CELINA - A former Internet Crimes Against Children task force investigator and internet safety expert wants to help empower teens and educate parents about current trends and online risks.

Scott Frank worked in law enforcement for 36 years, including time with the Ottawa and Wood counties sheriff's departments and as a DARE resource officer. He joined the ICAC in 2006 and was a "chatter," someone who would pose as a 15 year-old or younger to draw out predators.

For 10 years Frank said he was subjected to "the worst of the worst." He felt firsthand the bullying that teens experience and the pressure predators and others push onto teens for illicit material.

"That's kind of the catalyst for where I am now," he said.

Frank is a motivational speaker and founder of the Digital Empowerment Project. Since 2017, he has followed his passion to empower teens to make safe and healthy choices online and to educate parents so they can support and guide their teens by covering everything from the dark web to online empowerment strategies.

It's important that kids and adults alike slow down and think about what they're downloading and what they're accepting when it comes to apps and terms of service agreements, he said.

Some apps, such as the popular video-sharing app TikTok, include stipulations in their terms of service that allow them to profit from user content, even if a user's account is private. Users automatically give permission to the app once the terms of service are accepted, and they can't reconsider afterward.

"By submitting User Content via the Services, you hereby grant us an unconditional irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, perpetual worldwide license to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit, and/or distribute and to authorize other users of the Services and other third-parties to view, access, use, download, modify, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit your User Content in any format and on any platform, either now known or hereinafter invented," the terms of service reads.

The terms of service continues, reading "You further grant us a royalty-free license to use your user name, image, voice, and likeness to identify you as the source of any of your User Content."

TikTok, which belongs to China-based ByteDance, agreed to pay $5.7 million last February to settle allegations that it illegally collected personal information such as names, email addresses and their location from children under the age of 13, according to the Federal Trade Commission. It is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the commission in a children's privacy case, according to the FTC.

Frank mentioned the After School app, a popular app among teenagers that touts itself as a "private message board for your school."

The location-based app is a digital message board that allows users within a certain geographic area, such as a high school campus, to post anonymous comments. While the app has several filter options to keep underage users from seeing explicit content, it doesn't stop users from anonymous bullying or gossip.

Frank noted users have to be able to verify that they are students at a given school to use the app by linking their Facebook to the app - a way to vet and discourage parents, teachers and other adults from using it. After School will then give 20 names and ask a user to correctly identify 10 that go to school there.

However, Frank noted these two apps aren't the only ones with questionable private policies, terms of service or vetting requirements.

"We spend so much time focusing so much energy on one app, but it's almost always the same for other apps," Frank said. "I want parents to be aware of all apps because they all have similar terms of service."

Most apps these days have voice over internet protocol, or VOIP, capabilities, he said. VOIP is a technology that allows a person to make voice calls using a broadband internet connection instead of a regular phone line, which means kids and teens who use apps with VOIP can send and make calls without their showing up on a phone bill.

In addition to VOIP capabilities, many apps also request location services to be turned on, which allows apps and websites to gather and use information based on the current location of the user. Snapchat, for example, uses location services for a "Snap Map," which shows where a user and their friends are on a map. Users can enable "ghost mode," which will turn off location services and take them off the map.

He went on to say the most popular apps teens use are often the most dangerous. Predators keep up with trends and flock to popular apps and social media that teens use.

Frank said he's had parents who believe the best strategy is not to allow or greatly restrict access to the internet. However, Frank said kids and teens will find ways around restrictions.

"If a parent is limiting access, kids will circumvent it," he said. "The internet is here to stay."

Frank said he doesn't want to scare students or parents when it comes to the internet and apps. Rather, he wants parents to have an honest conversation with their kids about what they're up to online. Open lines of communication can empower children to be responsible with their social media use, he added. While his first strategy for parents is to recognize and avoid risks, he also wants teens to invest their time, inspire others and impact their future.

Screen time is an often overlooked issue, Frank said, so he encourages teens to evaluate how much time they're spending online and scale down how much time is spent doing mindless tasks. Instead of endlessly scrolling through Twitter, their time could be better invested by researching what they want to do after graduation or looking into new hobbies.

Teens can also inspire others online, Frank said. Everyone has the opportunity to be kind, so students should embrace it and be kind and respectful when they post online or on social media.

Frank said kids and teens often forget the internet remembers everything. While they may not be posting or sharing anything inappropriate, their posts can send unintended messages to colleges or future employers.

"Google doesn't forgive and Google doesn't forget," he said.

Instead, kids and teens can impact their future by treating their online presence as a portfolio. He encourages everyone to Google search themselves and see what comes up. If it's unsatisfactory, Frank said teens should consider posting what they would want to see when they Google search themselves. He also strongly recommended teens start using LinkedIn as soon as possible and purchase and use a web domain in their name.

How to go:

Former investigator Scott Frank will talk about protecting children from digital predators.

WHEN: Sunday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Alethia Christian Church, 7190 Fleetfoot Road, Celina

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Don't get caught in The App Trap - The Daily Standard

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

Topeka religion roundup: Church to hold hymn-fest with musicians from several local congregations – The Topeka Capital-Journal

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A hymn-fest titled "Epiphany! Let Your Light So Shine" will be presented at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 2021 S.W. 29th.

The bell choir from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church will be featured, along with a mass choir composed of members from First, Faith, Our Savior's and Trinity Lutheran churches in Topeka and St. John Lutheran Church in Alma. The concert is in celebration of the Epiphany season.

A freewill offering will be received, and a reception will follow. The concert is sponsored by the Lutheran Fine Arts Council of Topeka.

In other religion news:

The annual Women's Conference of the Topeka Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will take place from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Topeka Stake Center, 2401 S.W. Kingsrow Road. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me," from Philippians 4:13, is the theme of the conference for women ages 16 years and older. After a short opening session on the conference theme, women will be able to attend three classes on topics such as personal revelation; emotional resilience; dealing with adversity; financial fitness; continuing education; meal planning and food storage; and addiction prevention and recovery. Lunch will be provided. Before the conference, at 9 a.m., women may help assemble freezer meals that will be given to the Topeka Rescue Mission and the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment. The conference is free and open to women in the community. For more information, call Tracie Haddock at 785-478-1235.

The Topeka City Mission Union Early Morning Service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 1100 S.E. Washington. The Rev. T.D. Hicks will bring the year's challenge message. Musical selections will be rendered by members of the Antioch church. Hair-care products for veterans will be provided by the Antioch church.

St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, 2222 S.E. Madison, will offer fish, chicken and rib dinners from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1. The cost is $10 for chicken and fish and $13 for rib dinners. All dinners will include a choice of two sides, dessert and drink. Sides will include spaghetti, green beans, potato salad and baked beans. Proceeds will benefit the church's annual pastor's anniversary celebration. Call 785-207-4054 or 785-207-6357 for deliveries or carry-out orders.

Topeka Bible Church, 1101 S.W. Mulvane, will begin its next session of GriefShare at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3. This 13-week video-based class and support group is for people who are grieving the death of a person close to them. Each session lasts until about 8:30 p.m. The fee for the class is $15 per person for materials and is due at the first session. Participants are encouraged to register in advance at Visit to find other class locations and dates in northeast Kansas.

Faith Temple Church, 1162 S.W Lincoln, will have its annual bishop appreciation services from Friday, Feb. 7, and Sunday, Feb. 9. The event will honor Bishop R. K. Lassiter Sr. for 45 years in pastoral ministry. The event will include a service at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, with the Rev. Keith Newton, of Kansas City speaking, and a service at 11 a.m. Feb. 9, with Bishop James Everett, of New Jersey, speaking. For additional information, call the church at 785-235-1834.

Homemade chocolates and other treats will be offered for sale during the annual "Taste of Chocolate" event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at Central Congregational United Church of Christ, 5221 S.W. West Drive. Guests may fill a 4-by-4-by-2-inch box with their choice of chocolates for $7. Cakes, pies, cheesecakes and other items will be packaged by the piece and sold separately. This year's event will feature candies made from recipes in the churchs 1913 cookbook.

Proceeds from the sale will aid the ongoing mission work of Central Congregational Church, which supports community programs such as Doorstep, Lets Help, the Sheldon Head Start School and the Topeka Justice Unity Ministry Project, as well as several individual local schools.

Miracle Life Church, 3136 S.E. Minnesota Ave., will have an "Old-Fashioned Black History Program" at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8. The theme is "We've Come a Long Ways." The program will feature old songs,skits and poetry.

Zsolt Eder and Friends will present a concert featuring the Italian and French Baroque music of Corelli, Couperin, Vivaldi and Monteverdi at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, 701S.W. 8th Ave. The concert is part of the cathedral's Great Spaces Music & Arts Series. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students. Advance tickets are available at or at the door.

Creation Club will begin the first of its monthly meetings at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at Kansas Avenue United Methodist Church, 1029 N. Kansas Ave.

Harveyville United Methodist Church will have a taco salad fundraising dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at Mission Valley High School, 12913 Mission Valley Road near Eskridge. The dinner will take place during the basketball game between Mission Valley and Marais des Cygnes Valley High School. The suggested donation is $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Miracle Life Church will have a "Valentine's Sweethearts" dinner and dance at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the church, 3136 S.E. Minnesota Ave. The cost is $25 for couples and $10 for singles. For reservations or more information, call 785-224-9952, 785-231-8159 or 785-408-8874.

Kansas Avenue United Methodist Church will have its annual chili and vegetable soup supper from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21. The cost is $8 for adults and $3.50 for children 10 and under. The menu includes chili or vegetable soup, relishes, drink and dessert. Carry-out will be available. The dinner is sponsored by the church's New Spirit class.

Doorstep will have its 17th annual Operation Soup Line fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Stormont Vail Events Center Agriculture Hall, near S.W. 17th and Tyler. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. The menu will include chili, chicken tortilla or Portuguese green soup, along with dessert and drink. Local celebrity servers and entertainment will be featured. Delivery will be available for 10 or more meals that are ordered in advance. Call 785-357-5341 for deliveries by Feb. 21. Proceeds will benefit Doorstep, a Topeka social service agency supported by more than 50 local congregations.

Barry Crawford will present a Lenten lecture series on "The Lost Gospels" from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Sundays, March 8, 5 and 22, at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1701 S.W. Collins.

TobyMac will be the headliner at the "Hits Deep Tour 2020" at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 8, at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd. in Kansas City, Mo. Also performing will be Tauren Wells, We Are Messengers, Ryan Stevenson, Aaron Cole and Cochren & Co. Ticket prices range from $19 to $135. For more information, visit or call 816-949-7000. Group discounts are available.

Jerry Schemmel, a radio announcer with the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team, will be the featured speaker at the 59th annual Kansas Prayer Breakfast at 6 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center, 420 S.E. 6th Ave. Tickets are $20 each or $200 for a table of 10. Reservations are requested by March 1. For more information, call 785-380-2901 or visit

MercyMe will present its "20/20 Tour" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20, at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, 19100 E. Valley View Parkway in Independence, Mo. Also featured in the concert will be Jeremy Camp and David Leonard. Tickets range from $30 to $155. For more information, call 800-653-6000 or visit

Bethel Music, Matt Maher, Martin Smith of Delirious?, Unspoken, Apollo LTD, Peabod and Elle Limebear will be featured in "The Roadshow Tour" at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, 9100 E. Valley View Parkway in Independence, Mo. Tickets are $20 to $65. Family four-packs are available for $99. For more information, call 800-745-3000 or visit

The seventh annual Easterfest event is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Garfield Park, 1600 N.E. Quincy. The event will feature a parade at 10 a.m. followed by an Easter egg hunt, a health fair, live music, a petting zoo, vendors, pony rides, face-painting and food trucks. Admission is free.

The annual State of Kansas Holocaust Commemoration Service will take place at 1 p.m. Monday, April 20, at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center, 420 S.E. 6th Ave. The speaker will be Megan Felt, program director of Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, which is based in Kansas. Participants will include Kansas clergy, political leaders, choirs and students. A reception will follow the program. Admission is free.

Grammy Award-winning Christian music group Casting Crowns will present its "Only Jesus" tour at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at the Stormont Vail Events Center, near S.W. 19th and Topeka Boulevard. The special guest will be Matthew West. For more information, visit

Temple Beth Sholom, 4200 S.W. Munson, will have its 55th annual Blintze Brunch from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 26.

Topeka religion roundup: Church to hold hymn-fest with musicians from several local congregations - The Topeka Capital-Journal

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

Yes, aspiration can be a socialist idea if the left can rid it of its baggage – The Guardian

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Rebecca Long-Bailey regards the empowerment of working-class and marginalised communities as a necessary precondition for aspiration. Photograph: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

There were a few raised eyebrows last week when Rebecca Long-Bailey, at her slick launch event in Manchester, unveiled the cornerstone of her Labour leadership pitch: aspirational socialism. Its fair to say that previous attempts to articulate the two together have failed to convince. Andy Burnham made his own version of aspirational socialism the central pillar of his largely forgotten leadership bid in 2010, though the focus of his proposals was more on individual social mobility than any discernible commitment to socialist transformation.

Long-Baileys vision of aspirational socialism is evidently more substantial, even if it has yet to be fully fleshed out. In her set-piece speech, she criticised the view, widespread in modern politics, of aspiration as mere social climbing helping the more fortunate individuals make their way up the career ladder and leaving it at that. Far from being indifferent to individual self-fulfilment, Long-Baileys aspirational socialism appears to regard collective uplift and the empowerment of working class and marginalised communities as a necessary precondition for it. Her broader point is that socialists aspire (or at least should aspire) to change society decisively for the better, and not simply to fill their own boots.

Still, theres something instinctively jarring about this attempt to reconceptualise socialism as aspiration. Under the New Labour governments, and in the years since then, aspiration has served as a euphemism for catering to the interests of the middle classes over those of people lower down the social hierarchy. Both Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn were often criticised for being out of touch with the aspirations of the upwardly mobile, and for not speaking in a language that would resonate with them. In the wake of Labours 2015 election defeat, for example, Miliband was roundly rebuked for, among other failings, having supposedly done too little to appeal to would-be John Lewis shoppers.

The trouble with this discourse on aspiration is that it doesnt reflect the reality of life in Britain since the financial crisis, whatever relationship it previously bore to it. A survey from the Social Mobility Commission published this week appeared to indicate that social mobility had gone into decline in Britain, with regional inequality a factor; respondents in northern England were more pessimistic about their future prospects than their southern counterparts. Especially among young people stuck in the rental market, talking about aspiration in the old way just sounds like a tasteless joke. Their overriding aspiration is merely to keep their heads above water, and the only mobility theyre experiencing is downward.

Where the Tories once positioned themselves as thrusting torchbearers for aspiration, the actual results of a decade of Tory-led government have made that much more difficult, as Phil Burton-Cartledge has pointed out. Feeble wage growth, runaway house prices and rents, mounting personal debts, the paucity of secure, fulfilling and dignified work, and an increasingly inadequate social safety net have all combined to undermine the aspirations of many who had previously imagined themselves to be on a steady ascent into the ranks of the comfortable middle classes. Thus the Conservative right has been deprived of one of its most potent ideological props, forcing it further down the path of nativism and tawdry culture war.

But even if this sort of individual social mobility were attainable, would it make Britain a fairer, healthier and happier society? The economist Chris Dillow has suggested that prioritising the pursuit of social mobility over that of equality risks lending gaping social inequalities a patina of legitimacy, while piling additional pressure and shame on to those who are unable to make their own way up the ladder.

The odd problematic term has crept into Long-Baileys talk of aspiration she has referred, for instance, to working-class voters aggrieved that other people are getting handouts. But she still approaches it more in terms of social empowerment than individual self-improvement. This aspiration to build collective working-class power has been the guiding inspiration of the British labour movement since its foundation. It is a striving in the face of ferocious opposition, and despite countless defeats and disappointments to give working people greater control over their lives and surroundings, instead of casting them adrift to fend for themselves, and to create the conditions that allow them to reach their full personal, intellectual and creative potential.

In power, however, Labour has tended to function in a more paternalistic mode, with minimal input from those below. As Ralph Miliband put it, Labourism in government (both local and central) has been above all concerned with the advancement of concrete demands of immediate advantage to the working class and organised labour. These have been kept within tightly-drawn boundaries, preventing them from leading in turn to other, potentially more ambitious demands. Long-Baileys emphasis on constitutional reform and economic democracy, and her work under Corbyn as an architect of the green new deal and alternative models of ownership, point to an encouraging understanding of the need to go beyond these limitations, and of the necessity of doing so.

Long-Bailey hopes that in aspirational socialism shes found a way to communicate radical ideas in a media environment largely unreceptive to them, and of signalling to Labours lost voters that she heeds their concerns. But building a genuinely empowering and aspirational socialism would necessitate a distinct break from the partys established traditions of administering palliatives from above. What remains to be seen is whether the ideological baggage attached to aspiration as a term will allow it to be redefined convincingly by the left, and whether this socialist reappropriation of distinctly Blair-era language can be made to cut through. Long-Baileys underlying message is nonetheless correct. Socialism is about transforming society in order to put people in charge of their own lives and what could be more aspirational than that?

Tom Blackburn is a founding editor of New Socialist

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Yes, aspiration can be a socialist idea if the left can rid it of its baggage - The Guardian

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

He May Not Be a Candidate, but Beto ORourke is Rebuilding His Texas Organizing Machine for 2020 – The Texas Observer

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Beto ORourke began 2019 as a political phenom, but ended it as an also-ran. The much-hyped former U.S. representative from El Paso initially rode a wave of optimism from his nationally watched Senate campaign, but struggled to gain support in the presidential race. It was an underwhelming end of a chapter for a man who was once viewed as the great hope for Texas Democrats.

But even thoughto the dismay of many supportersORourke opted not to jump into the crowded Democratic primary to take on Senator John Cornyn, he had no intention of watching 2020 from the sidelines.

His 2018 race against Ted Cruz, and the down-ballot Democratic wave that came with it, signaled that Texas is now a bona fide battleground in 2020. Democrats could potentially take control of the state House for the first time in two decades. A battery of state and national Democratic organizations is now committed to spending big money on Texas legislative and congressional races. And the eventual Democratic presidential nominee might actually make a real play for the states 38 electoral college votes.

So whats ORourkes role in this? He saw an opportunity in the 20,000 volunteers in Texas who provided the organizing jet fuel for his Senate campaign. That statewide political operation was unparalleled in Texas, and even the nation. It was ORourkes magnetic charisma and aspirational call for a new kind of politics that attracted masses of volunteers in the first place, and only he could get that going again. But this time, he wont be a candidate.

In late December, ORourke launched a new venture called Powered by People that aims to reignite his organizing network, calling on volunteers to put their energy into block-walking and phone-banking for Democratic candidates in key districts and statewide campaigns to defeat Cornyn and Donald Trump. ORourke believes that Powered by People can be a powerful force in what is already a crowded 2020 landscape in Texas.

I just dont know that theres any other statewide organization that is so singularly focused on raising, organizing, and mobilizing volunteers as we are, ORourke told the Observer. I felt like we had something that was very unique to bring to this and a very unique vision for how we can be helpful to Texas.

Flipping state House and congressional seats in the suburbswhere many of the Democratic targets are locatedis squarely in ORourkes wheelhouse. He made huge inroads there in 2018, helping convert a dozen House seats. Now, Democrats need to pick up just nine more to take control of the House. That happens to be the exact number of House districts still held by Republicans despite ORourke having beaten Cruz there. In several more, he was well within range. The Democratic path to winning the Texas House, it seems, was paved by ORourke. Not only can we do this; in a way, we have done this before, he says.

With Powered by People, ORourkes first priority is the special election for House District 28 in suburban Fort Bend County. On January 28, Democrat Eliz Markowitz will face Republican Gary Gates in a runoff for the seat, which has long been a GOP stronghold. While the race is on the Democratic radar, it wasnt near the top of the list: Trump easily won the district in 2016, and incumbent John Zerwas was reelected in 2018 by 9 percentage points. But ORourke came within just 3 percentage points of Cruz in the district, and when Zerwas unexpectedly retired, Democrats saw an opportunity. Support flooded in from all directions.

The special election is a weathervane for the Texas suburbs. If Markowitz can pull off an upset or even come close, that will set off alarm bells for Republicans and bolster Democrats electoral prospects.

To help assemble an organizing infrastructure for volunteers in the district, ORourke turned to Fort Bend County resident Katherine Stovring, a super-volunteer on his 2018 campaign. She not only knocked on an estimated 10,000 doors, but built up a volunteer army in Fort Bend suburbs like Katy, Fulshear, and Sugar Land. Without a ton of supervision or guidance, she developed her own network and methodology and has been incredibly effective at reaching voters, ORourke says.

Trumps election motivated Stovring to get more involved in politics, and ORourkes campaign became a vehicle. She focused almost all of her time in the suburban Houston House District 132, canvassing for ORourke and Dems all down the ballot. State House candidate Gina Calanni ended up ousting the Republican incumbent by just 113 votes. I have never felt more powerful in my life, Stovring told the Observer.

This empowerment of volunteers was central to ORourkes 2018 campaign. It was harnessed through a strategy called distributed organizing, which elevates volunteers from menial task-rabbits for campaign staff to active parts of the operation with significant responsibilities. Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign pioneered the model, and when ORourke was convinced to employ it in in 2018, he hired Bernie campaign alum Zack Malitz to run his Senate field organizing program.

It grew into one of the most formidable campaign machines in modern politics. Hundreds of volunteers across the state turned their homes into pop-up campaign offices, committed to training volunteers, and led local canvassing efforts. By the end of the campaign, ORourkes volunteers had knocked on 2.8 million doors, sent more than 10 million texts, and made 20 million phone calls. In its final push ahead of Election Day, the campaign was hitting 340 doors a minute.

Beto is one of the best organizers this state has seen in recent memory, Malitz told the Observer. He was relentless in building a volunteer organizing operation that gave volunteers real responsibility. The result was what Malitz says was likely the largest voter-outreach operation in the states history: The possibility that hell rebuild his organizing machine is potentially game-changing in 2020.

Despite ORourke being the ostensible figurehead of Powered by People, he is not in charge in House District 28. That role is filled by Stovring, who is deeply connected in the area and knows how to quickly assemble a volunteer operation.

Since launching the group, ORourke has made Fort Bend County a second home. And though hes no longer a candidate, its clear that the energy within his volunteer network has not gone dormant. Its the Beto effect, Stovring says. If you look at core team organizing at the local level, all of us are people who Beto got off the couch in 2018. Now were more experienced and we know what were doing.

In the two weekends leading up to early voting in Fort Bend this past week, Powered by People mobilized 900 people for block-walking shifts and knocked on about 24,000 doors. The early voting period saw a huge uptick in turnout compared with the special elections initial open primary back in November.

Of course, ORourkes Powered by People is far from the only player in town. State and national Democratic organizationsincluding the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and the National Democratic Redistricting Committeehave pumped in more than $1 million to help Markowitz, including last-minute injections for TV ad buys.

ORourke stresses that his group is committed to working in tandem with those organizations. Hes had conversations with state Representative Celia Israel, who is coordinating the House Democrats campaign efforts, and other grassroots groups like Flip the Texas House, for which he has already helped raise money.

In HD-28, ORourke has raised about $20,000 for Markowitz through email blasts and social media posts. But fundraising is not where he sees himself making the biggest difference. Like his 2018 campaign, ORourkes new venture is centered on a romantic belief in the power of door-knocking and personal interactions. For him, one volunteer like Stovring is more valuable than a $500,000 ad buy. So finding the Katherine Stovrings of Texas and really making sure that the power is in their hands is critical, he says, to scaling up an operation similar to 2018.

What distinguished ORourkes Senate campaign was his resistance to the traditional tactics of polls, talking points, TV ads, and glossy mailers. It was his struggle to maintain that outsider vibe while also succumbing to the norms of a national campaign that made his short-lived presidential bid feel discordant.

But hes as committed as ever to the sort of DIY approach that can make political engagement much more personal. Beyond the electoral goals of his new project, he hopes to continue to reorient the way that Texas politics is done.

I really hope that this is at least in part the antidote to the cynicism that you have in politics right now the kind of corporate automated politics that is sort of a turnoff to so many people, he says. In a very digital automated age, this manual labor and human effort, I think thats the thing.


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He May Not Be a Candidate, but Beto ORourke is Rebuilding His Texas Organizing Machine for 2020 - The Texas Observer

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

Halsey’s ‘Manic’ is meaningful and heartfelt or something like that – Duke Chronicle

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Halseys latest album, Manic, partially explores her day-to-day struggle with bipolar disorder. Courtesy of Capitol Records

When Halsey confesses, Man, Im a fing liar, at the close of her new album Manic, on track 929, it comes as a revelation that, perhaps ironically, Manic is the most truthful work of Halseys career.

After two concept albums Badlands and Hopeless Fountain Kingdom theres something profound about an album finally created by and for Ashley Frangipane. Starting Manic with a song named after herself and embedding intimate touches throughout, its clear that Halsey has delivered on this idea, providing a heartfelt and personal window into her own life.

To find Halsey at her best, look for when shes at her most vulnerable. In Manic, that would be More, a devastating ode to Halseys desire to have children. Despite three miscarriages and a long list of barriers in her way, she has continued to strive for motherhood. More conveys this tragic concept beautifully, with the lyrics Wooden floors and little feet / a flower bud in concrete reverberating throughout the entire album. When Halsey declares Im so glad I never ever had a baby with you on her alt-country single You should be sad, the blow is felt all the more acutely, and when she utters I've stared at the sky in Milwaukee / and hoped that my father would finally call me on 929, it dawns on listeners that maybe her desire to be a mom grew out of the neglect she experienced as a child.

Beyond her ability to create a fascinating narrative, Halsey knows how to design a downright fantastic track sequence. All of her transitions are consistently respectable, its the five-track stretch from Forever (is a long time) to Without Me that fully shows off Halseys dexterity in crafting an entertaining sequence of songs. Each track seamlessly flows into the next, anchoring Manic by developing a compelling core for the entire album. To connect the songs, Halsey uses a variety of methods, including an earnest voicemail by John Mayer at the end of 3am, congratulating her for the chart-topping Without Me.

At the heart of this five-track progression is the one-minute-long Dominics Interlude. Despite being such a short song, it effectively ties together the sequence by connecting lyrically to the preceding Forever (is a long time) and sonically to the subsequent I HATE EVERYBODY. Additionally, Dominic Fikes vocals add some spice to the section, preventing each song from running together.

The other featured artists on Manic also join in for interludes. Alongside Dominic Fike, Halsey managed to assemble an irresistible list of collaborators, including SUGA from BTS and Alanis Morissette. Despite each of these two interludes clocking in at upward of two minutes, they both still effectively segment Manic. Halsey and Alaniss shouts of Your py is a wonderland help pick up the pace of Manic while simultaneously paying tribute to Halseys sexual empowerment and bisexuality. SUGAs Interlude reverses that effect, slowing the tempo back down with some gentle Korean bars.

Wedged between these two tracks is killing boys, which opens with none other than a sample from a deleted scene from the 2009 horror movie Jennifers Body. Youre killing people. No, Im killing boys, it begins, before eventually moving into an impassioned progression of kicking down doors, keying Ferraris and Kill Bill allusions. Its not the first time weve seen an angry Halsey. You should be sad and Without Me each represent the emotion in their own way, but killing boys is definitely the only track where it seems like Halsey is actually having fun.

Halsey, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 17, set out to create an album modeled after the mania she regularly experiences. The title, Manic, reflects this goal for the album, and Halsey admirably finds success in encapsulating the feeling in each song. On clementine, a song taking inspiration from the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, she asserts, I'm constantly, constantly havin' a breakthrough, or a breakdown or a blackout.

That sentiment is reflected elsewhere on Manic, especially on the misleadingly-named I HATE EVERYBODY, when she bluntly sings, So I just keep sayin' I hate everybody / But maybe I, maybe I don't. But perhaps nowhere is Halsey as strong in portraying mania as in the single Graveyard. With a simple gasp for air, Halsey captures the desperation she faces on a daily basis. That struggle perfectly describes Manic, an album entirely her own in every way.

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm

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