Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has taken
European countries to task for not fulfilling their promises to
counteract the impact of US sanctions against Iran following
Washington’s withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers,
asking Europeans to at least carry out their ‘minimal human duty’ toward
Last year, President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of
the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially named the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever”
sanctions against Tehran.
Washington claims the sanctions target the government, but ordinary Iranians are the ones who suffer the most.
In a joint statement on Friday, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the
Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden said they would become new shareholders
in a non-dollar trade mechanism with Iran, known as INSTEX.
“In light of the continuous European support for the agreement and
the ongoing efforts to implement the economic part of it and to
facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran, we are now in the
process of becoming shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade
Exchanges (INSTEX) subject to completion of national procedures,” their
Britain, France, and Germany (which are known as E3/EU) had announced the establishment of the system in January. The apparatus is meant to circumvent the sanctions that the United States began re-imposing against Iran last year after leaving a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic and the trio, Russia, and China.
Taking to his official Twitter page on Monday, Zarif wrote, “Instead of arrogant threats or hollow paper promises, E3/EU—and future INSTEX shareholder Sweden—should start with something very simple; a minimal human duty: Ask @molnlyckehc to SELL products enabling Iranian kids with EB to cover their wounds.”
Last November, the Islamic Republic of Iran Medical Council (IRIMC)
said illegal economic sanctions have negative impacts on the country’s
The trade of humanitarian goods, such as food, medicine and medical
devices, is on paper allowed by the US, though European companies still
refuse to do business with Iran fearing secondary American sanctions.
Since the reimposition of sanctions, Swedish medical products firm Molnlycke Health Care has stopped delivering Mepilex dressings, which are trusted around the world to treat a wide range of chronic and acute wounds, including in EB patients, Iranian media reports say.
In another tweet the same day, Iran’s top diplomat referred to recent remarks by his American counterpart, saying that Mike Pompeo “once again admits that US #EconomicTerrorism on Iran is designed to starve, and in the case of medical supplies, kill our innocent citizens.”
n an interview with BBC Persian on Nov. 7, the US secretary of state
said Iranian officials must listen to Washington “if they want their
people to eat.”
Pompeo’s remarks prompted Iran’s mission to the United Nations to
call on the UN Security Council to condemn Pompeo’s “irresponsible” and
“provocative” remarks while Zarif also reacted by stressing that the
Islamic Republic will survive and even advance despite Washington’s
The top American diplomat also made similar threats against Iran quite recently when during a discussion he was asked about the latest US sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
Pompeo said, “…President Trump’s strategic effort certainly includes
sanctions as an element of our efforts to make the leadership change
their ways. But it is only one component, we think that has been an
effective component, we think they are having to make very difficult
choices about whether to feed their people, to provide medicine for
their people or if they want to underwrite the Palestinian Islamic Jihad
in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Saturday, 30 November 2019 11:40 AM [ Last Update: Saturday, 30 November 2019 11:47 AM ]
This photo shows an anti-surface
cruise missile being launched from a Qadir-class submarine (unseen) in
Iran, on February 24, 2019. (Photo by Fars news agency)
Iran’s Navy has announced the mass
production of the indigenously-designed and submarine-launched “Jask”
cruise missile along with unveiling a handful of other military projects
and technological achievements.
Navy chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi announced the mass
production of the Jask missile while visiting a Navy exhibition
showcasing a number of the force’s recent achievements on Saturday.
Khanzadi said all of the force’s submarines will be equipped with the
weapon and that the missile’s current range will be improved
“substantially” in the future.
The commander added that the weapon, developed as part of the “Jask-2
project”, will allow the Navy to hit targets across long ranges.
The missile “will surely be a serious surprise for the enemy,” he said.
Another project dubbed “Jask-3” is also under development, Khanzadi
said. The project will allow a wider variety of missile capabilities to
be used in submarines, he added.
Also on Saturday, five other military projects and achievements,
comprising the sea-launched “Pelikan” drone, the “Sadaf-2” naval mine,
the “Soren” positioning system, the “Balaban” guided bomb and the
“Loqman” training vessel, were also unveiled.
Among the unveiled projects, the Soren positioning system will allow
Iranian submarines to obtain tracking information without using Global
Positioning System (GPS) technology, while operating discreetly
The Pelikan drone also incorporates four vertical-flight motors in
order to allow the drone to take off and and vertically on military
vessels in order to preform maritime patrol operations from ships.
Joint exercise with China and Russia
Speaking during the event, Khanzadi also said a joint naval exercise
between Iran, Russia and China will be held in the Indian Ocean next
He added that preparatory planning and agreements had been made in
meetings last month between military representatives of the three
“The objective of such an exercise is obtaining collective security
and assisting in securing the northern region of the Indian Ocean, which
is today witness to certain incidents such as maritime piracy,” he
The commander also added that his force faced “no limits” in sailing
in international waters across the world, adding that the Iranian Navy
was ready to visit “any port” which it is invited to, “be it in the Gulf
of Mexico or [Gulf of] Finland” northwest of Russia.
Iran to respond to tanker attacks
Speaking separately on Saturday, Rear Admiral Mahmoud Mousavi,
Iranian Army’s deputy commander, said that Iran will respond to elements
behind terrorist attacks which have targeted its tankers in the Red Sea
in the past months “in an appropriate time and location”.
Mousavi added that Iran has documents indicating which elements have
been behind the attacks, adding that Tehran will surely pursue the case
through international organizations such as the United Nations and the
International Maritime Organization.
The remarks comes as a series of attacks have targeted Iranian tankers in the past months.
Iran’s Happiness-1 faced “engine failure” off Jeddah on April 30 and
was later transferred to the Saudi port city for maintenance.
The Saudis initially refused to let the vessel go, demanding some $10
million in maintenance fees before releasing it on July 20.
Iranian officials also said in August that another oil tanker, the
Helm, faced a technical failure due to sabotage while passing through
the Red Sea.
Years before Theodor Herzl proposed creating a Jewish state, Charles Taze Russell was traveling the world holding Jewish Mass Meetings, beginning in 1879, at which he urged Jews to find a national home in Eretz Israel
“There are now in the world more than ten million Jews, about three-quarters of whom are in Russia, Poland, the Balkan States, and Turkey. If the movement toward Palestine should get the impulse that the Hirsch committee is able to give it, an imaginative person can conceive of the country’s doubling or trebling its Jewish population before the close of our century” – Zion’s Watchtower 1892, Nov. 1, p.329.
Theodor Herzl published his pamphlet “Der Judenstaat” in 1896 and, two years later, organized the world’s First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. But in fact the notion of a Jewish state in Palestine had been making the rounds in European and American Christian circles, in various forms. One of its keenest proponents was a Christian preacher and Bible scholar named Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916).
The proposition boldly put forward by Pastor Russell contrasted with the position of many Christian churches at the time, where the feeling was that God’s covenant with the Jews had long since ended and they should convert to Christianity.
The prescient pastor predicted a massive exodus of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe. Much as he predicted, by 1924 more than 3 million Jews had emigrated from Russia and Eastern Europe. Russell himself did not live long enough to see his prophecy made manifest, dying in 1916.
Russell’s legacy as an enthusiastic, non-proselytizing Zionist has been acknowledged by none other than the incumbent prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, “A recognition of Pastor Russell’s important role as an early American Christian advocate of Zionism is long overdue.” The late Jeane Kirkpatrick, former the U.S. ambassador to the UN, called Russell a “neglected man and chapter in the history of Zionism.”
Who was this forgotten father of Zionism, and why would he promote Zionism in the first place?
In the aftermath of civil war
In the mid-19th century, when covered wagons still rolled across the open plains carrying settlers to remote sectors of America, when vast herds of buffalo still roamed the range, Charles Taze Russell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on February 16, 1852. He was the second son of Joseph L. and Ann Eliza Russell, both of Scottish-Irish descent.
Russell’s mother died when he was nine years old. At 11, Charles entered a business partnership with his father, the youngster himself writing the articles of agreement under which their enterprise operated. At 15 he and his father were running a flourishing men’s clothing chain with shops in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and more.
Russell’s formative years were colored by the devastating Civil War that ravaged America from 1861 to 1865, followed by an era of rapid industrialization. In 1869 the first transcontinental railway was completed. Come the the 1870’s, electric light and the telephone came onto the scene. The electric streetcar would arrive in the 1880’s, and by the century’s end, a few automobiles would be noisily proclaiming their presence.
On the intellectual front, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, described in his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species,” had for the first time seriously challenged the Roman Catholic Church’s version of history, giving rise to spin-off churches and creeds.
Going back to basics
This setting of breakneck development and intellectual progress is where Russell founded the Bible Student Association, which aspired to go back to basics by studying the Bible itself.
Soon a class for systematic Bible Study was formed in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and in 1879 Charles Taze Russell was elected its pastor. The movement founded Zion’s Watch Tower, the most widely circulated magazine in the world today, according to Business Insider, with an average of 70 million copies a month in 334 languages. For comparison, National Geographic has a circulation of something over 6 million and is published in 25 different languages.
A few years later, in 1881, Russell was elected the first president of the Watchtower Society. Its purpose was to distribute his teachings in the form of tracts.
Russell was a prolific writer, and his major accomplishments include a six-volume series of systematic theology, “Studies in the Scriptures.” By 1909 this series was one of most widely circulated works in the world, surpassed only by the Bible and The Chinese Almanac.
His crowning achievement at that phase was “The Photo-Drama of Creation,” a ground-breaking innovation that combined sound and color in a motion picture for the first time in history. The film was, viewed by more then eight million people, an astronomical success in the terms of the times.
On August 18, 1891, now in Jerusalem, Russell wrote to the philanthropists Baron Maurice de Hirsch and Baron Edmond de Rothschild, or as he puts it “the two leading Hebrews of the world.” No less, he put forward a practical plan for Zionism.
It involved purchasing all government-owned land in Palestine, i.e., land not held by private owners, from the impoverished Ottoman Empire. Years later Herzl would make similar proposals. (A copy of the letter is published in “Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence“, December 1891, pp. 170-171.)
“As you will see from my books, we find the testimony of the prophets to be, that your nation will be greatly blessed and return to divine favor between now and the year 1915, A.D.,” Russell wrote. The persecutions that Jews were suffering in Russia were “a mark of divine favor rather then the reverse,” the pastor suggested – and it would only get worse because the Lord’s purpose was to drive the Jews “out of all lands whither he has scattered them.”
To where? To Palestine, as apparently indicated by the prophet (Jeremiah 32:37-44; 33:6-22), Russell explained. Owning not an inch of that land, he had no vested interest, the pastor elaborated, and went on: “My suggestion is that the wealthy Hebrews purchase from Turkey, at a fair valuation, all of her property interest in these lands: i.a., all of the Government lands (lands not held by private owners), under the provision that Syria and Palestine shall be constituted a FREE STATE…”
In his letter, Russell delicately gibes at alternative “Jewish homeland” ideas touted at the time in places other than Israel, though Baron de Hirsch was actually involved in resettling Jews elsewhere: “But please note, my dear Sir, that the sacred Scriptures predict the return to Palestine, and not a further wandering to the ends of the earth—to America or elsewhere. And, therefore, it is my humble opinion that Israel will find no rest for the sole of his foot until he finds the land of promise; and I pray you, therefore, not to waste your efforts in assisting emigration elsewhere, but concentrate them in the direction where God has indicated success…”
We cannot know whether he even replied to Russell, let alone be influenced by him. But a month after Russell’s letter to the barons, on September 11th 1891, Baron Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association to buy land, principally in North and South America but in Palestine too, where agricultural colonies could be established and resettled by Jews who were persecuted in Russia.
Meanwhile, the pastor’s message did not go unnoticed in the broader Jewish communities of the United States and Europe.
Russell’s Yiddish newspaper
In 1910 Pastor Russell received a letter from a committee of Jewish leaders:
“Dear Sir: Your Sympathetic interest in the Jewish people for years past has not escaped our notice. Your denunciation of the atrocities perpetrated against our race in the name of Christianity has added to our conviction that you are a sincere friend,” wrote the committee members.
“Your discourse on “Jerusalem and Jewish Hopes” has struck a responsive chord in the hearts of many of our people. Still we doubted for a time if any Christian minister could really be interested in a Jew as a Jew and merely from a hope of proselyting him…You may well understand how surprised we are to find a Christian minister acknowledging that there are prophecies of the Bible still fulfilled, which belong to the Jew and not to the Christian…
“These things, Pastor Russell, have led to the formation of a Jewish Mass Meeting Committee, which by this letter, request you to give a public discourse,” they concluded.
The pastor acceded and on October 9, 1910 gave a talk titled “Zionism in Prophecy” before an audience of about 4,000 Jews at the Hippodrome, New York’s largest and finest auditorium at the time.
As The New York American reported on that day, “The unusual spectacle of 4,000 Hebrews enthusiastically applauding a Gentile preacher, after having listened to a sermon he addressed to them concerning their own religion…where Pastor Russell, the famous head of the Brooklyn Tabernacle conducted a most unusual service. It was not long before all reserve, and all possible doubt of Pastor Russell’s entire sincerity and friendliness were worn away. Then the mention of the name of a great leader [Herzl] who, the speaker declared, had been raised by God for the cause — brought a burst of applause.”
Russell held similar mass meetings in Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City and Cincinnati. In England he addressed 4,600 Jews in London’s Royal Albert Hall, following which he appeared in Glasgow and Manchester, then gave talks in other European cities with large Jewish populations, including Vienna, Berlin, Krakow and Budapest.
Make no mistake, his speeches got a mixed reception. After Russell had left one meeting, three Jewish groups got into such a row that 46 policemen were called to disperse them. A Jewish rabbi in New York who fiercely opposed Russell influenced his associates in Austria-Hungary to resist plans for meetings addressing Jews.
However, the Herzl Year Book provides statistics of the printed preaching on the subject of Judaism and Zionism, which appeared in 107,000 copies of Anglo-Jewish newspapers and weeklies, and in 650,000 copies of the Yiddish Press. Russell even published a Yiddish-language paper of his own, Die Shtimme – “the voice”.
Why would a devout Christian minister invest so much in advocating the idea of a national homeland for the Jews?
In May 26, 1911, Jacob De Haas, editor of the Boston Jewish Advocate and a personal confidant of Herzl, published an article in the Jewish Advocate praising Russell as a “Philo-semite” with no desire to convert the Jews.
But question of Russell’s motivation doesn’t lead to philo-Semitism necessarily: rather it goes to the prophecies of restoration delivered to ancient Israel by prophets in the Bible (Jeremiah 30:18; 31-8-10; Amos 9:14,15; Romans 22:25,26).
“And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them” – Amos 9:14, for example
Russell was confident that these verses would be fulfilled and that God would restore the Jews to Palestine. In November 1892 he wrote in Zion’s Watch Tower: “There are now in the world more than ten million Jews, about three-quarters of whom are in Russia, Poland, the Balkan States, and Turkey. If the movement toward Palestine should get the impulse that the Hirsch committee is able to give it, an imaginative person can conceive of the country’s doubling or trebling its Jewish population before the close of our century, and of its having a larger Jewish population fifty years hence than it had in ancient times, when its census ran up to three millions. Should the restoration be accomplished, all hail to the New Jerusalem!”
He also believed that God had a separate covenant with the Jews and a different covenant with Christians, writign in the Watch Tower, in January 1909, page 28: “The more closely we investigate the New Covenant, the more we must be convinced of this fact – that it belongs to Israel alone.”
These were the sentiments on which Russell’s advocacy of Zionism was based. While he may not have lived to see the fulfillment of his wishes, his legacy continued.
He died in 1916. In 1925, his successor Judge Joseph F. Rutherford wrote the book “Comfort for the Jews.”
Rutherford is rather more renowned for founding Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious group that emerged from Russell’s Bible Student Movement.
Before Russell, no Anglo-Jewish newspapers or Yiddish press had carried articles by a Christian minister. When he died on October 31, 1916, the Herzl Year Book observed:”Russell himself, according to the testimony of the American Jewish Press from the years 1910 to 1916, maintained excellent and friendly relations with the leaders of American Jewry to his last days.”
Thursday, 28 November 2019 3:41 PM [ Last Update: Thursday, 28 November 2019 3:50 PM ]
The Iranian Navy’s Jamaran destroyer sails with a group of other Iranian warships during a drill. (File photo)
Iran Navy’s commander says the force will soon be flying
sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles from its warships, saying the new
gear will be even more versatile than the Navy’s current lineup of
drones in terms of range and other technologies.
“Today, the Navy’s warships are equipped with drones that have a
range of 200 to 1,000 kilometers, but all the flight and intelligence
limits will fade away once the new drones arrive,” Rear Admiral Hossein
Khanzadi told a gathering of Navy personnel and their families on
Pointing to the force’s great strides in expanding its aerial and
naval capabilities, Khanzadi said the seamen were working round the
clock to upgrade the equipment and that “we will soon witness the
addition of long-range drones aboard our warships.”
Sejjil: Iran Navy’s first jet-powered drone
Khanzadi told Tasnim News in an interview that the Navy has
successfully tested the second prototype of its first jet-powered drone
named Sejjil, which is being designed and developed in coordination with
the Defense Ministry.
The twin-engine UAV has a top flying speed of 1,000 kilometers per
hour and can carry several bombs that can hit targets at a range of 100
kilometers, the commander said.
Rear Admiral Khanzadi noted that the whale-shaped Sejjil is designed
to be launched from the sky deck of Iranian warships and parachutes to
the water after completing its mission, where naval forces are ready to
He also said that the Navy would soon unveil the Simorgh drone,
another domestic UAV that can remain in the air for 24 hours while
carrying a range of weapons, electronic warfare systems and
Khanzadi had earlier this year also revealed that the Navy was working on a vertically-launched drone.
More home-built warships coming
During his Thursday speech, Khanzadi also thanked his forces and
military engineers for outfitting the domestically-made Jamaran warship
with the latest and greatest in terms of missile launchers, radars,
controls and other critical systems.
He said the Iranian Navy was putting the finishing touches on the
latest generation of its warships that outdo the 1,300-tonne Jamaran in
The admiral drew an analogy between the Navy’s past and its current
prowess, saying Iranian naval forces who once found it difficult to sail
past the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman were now sailing on high seas
around the world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the
Pacific to other strategic waters across the world.
The commander said Iran has deployed its Alvand frigate to escort
Iranian tankers and container ships in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal,
which have been the scene of recurrent attacks by Somali pirates over
the past years.
Khanzadi noted that regional countries held the key to peace and
security in the Persian Gulf not foreign countries and their warships.
The remarks were a reference to America’s attempts to form an
anti-Iran patrol force that it claims will seek to protect shipping in
the Strait of Hormuz.
Washington and its allies accuse Iran of attacking tankers and
commercial ships on their way to cross the strategic choke point on two
separate occasions earlier this year.
Iran has vehemently denied the allegations and warned neighbors against “false flags” by outsiders.
The Islamic Republic has also unveiled the Hormuz Peace Endeavor
(HOPE), which seeks to bring calm to the Persian Gulf through
constructive cooperation among its littoral nations.
Khanzadi’s address marked the 39th anniversary of the Navy’s
Operation Morvarid, where Iranian missile boat Paykan — backed by a
huge combination of fighter jets and helicopters — destroyed most of
Iraq’s US-backed naval forces and its oil rigs, shortly after Baghdad
began invading Iranian territories in 1980.
Dave Gass — formerly the Lead Pastor at Grace Family Fellowship, Church Planter at Journey the Way, Pastor at First Covenant Church, Pastor at Cedar Point Community Church — has taken to social media to renounce his faith.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
“After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from faith,” Gass says, “Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.”
Citing Greek mythology books he read as a high school kid, he says it dawned on him how much the “deity” of the Bible sounded like what he’d read, and that “seed of doubt never went away.” Interestingly, though he claims he never truly had a saving faith, he chose to spend his life teaching Scripture, preaching the Word of God, and proclaiming that which he says he does not believe in.
A man who has led many churches, many congregations throughout his entire ministry has now announced that he has found Christianity elsewhere — in godless people. He says on Twitter,
During this time I also found something amazing: I found a handful of people who were more Christian than any Christian I had ever met – and they weren’t Christian. I found love in places where love wasn’t supposed to exist. I found acceptance among people who were godless.
Gass explained that his marriage was a wreck and despite all the marriage counseling, it was never what it was “promised to be,” and that in all 40 years of his entire ministry, he never witnessed anything “supernatural.” Supposedly, his parents who were “devoutly Christian” were abusive. The bottom line, he explains,
…my marriage was a sham, prayer was never answered, miracles were never performed. People died, children rebelled, marriages failed, addictions occurred – all at the same rate as non believers. The system just doesn’t work.
Essentially, Christianity didn’t revolve around him and didn’t deliver what he wanted it to deliver, therefore, according to him, it can’t be true.
Update: Gass’ Twitter and Instagram accounts have been made private, but the above screenshots can be found below:
I have this post that I have been trying to get around and post for a while. When I try and start writing the damn thing I find that I don’t have the strength to do it. Maybe it’s because I am a man and as men were so used to being to deep within ourselves and not letting our feelings show, maybe it’s why you don’t see us openly weeping in public on a testimony video or at the loss of a loved one. Either way I’m going to try and get through this thing as best as I can, and By the way, this one’s for you Great.
Last Thursday while at work I happened to have some free time available to just chill, take a breather, and catch up on friend news on Facebook and I happened to scroll through my timeline and I noticed a post from my dear friend from back home which caused me much shock and sorrow within my heart.
For those of you who don’t know let me introduce my friend to you. Her name is Greta, and we go as far back as high school when she moved to the small little town where I spent 20 years of my life growing up in, Vinton, LA. Greta and I was never really tight in our life’s humbled beginnings. I have to admit I was a 100% typical asshole to her and most folks around Vinton. I had my own personal issues and demons I had to deal with. I’d pick and make fun of her when she got in trouble by a teacher at school for interrupting the class, and Karma would always come back to bite me in the ass one way or some form of the other. It was about I’d say close to twenty years and some change later that the healing for Greta and I came through the divine intervention of The Most High which had started years earlier with forgiving myself of the shit that I had done to others and to myself back in the day. The day I reconnected with Greta in Social Media I apologized to her for all of the shit that input her through and asked her to forgive me for my sins and atrocities that I committed to her in my silliness and teenage immaturity years in high school. There were tears of joy and love that came from this healing process. I said that it feels beautiful for the healing.
Fast forward to 2019. My beautiful friend is dying on cancer and my heart is broken. Even as I write this post sitting down in a McDonalds at Crystal City my eyes are starting to well up. I really personally don’t want anyone around me in a public place seeing me crying and as men we try not to show our feelings unless it’s someone close to us like our wives or significant other.
This is not my first time hearing about Greta’s illness and her figh with cancer. I remember when she was first diagnosed with the dreadful fucking disease years earlier, I liked and supported almost every post and update that she put on her Facebook page. I’ve watched her ups and downs. I’ve kept up with the joys and pains of life, and did I mention that she also has a beautiful and talented 10-year old daughter by the name of Clara Jane who is enjoying every ounce and minute and second of time she has with her mother.
I’ve had heard people say that when a person passes away that you should always give them their flowers in life and not when they are gone. Greta’s words hurt my soul…..Why??? Because I don’t want Greta to leave us. She has so much to do, so much more to give to this crazy messed up world. As a Hebrew Israelite I know where a righteous person will go when they pass away – Abraham’s bosom. And I ask Ahayah that Greta be found worthy to be there as well as our loved ones who have gone on before us like my mother-in-law and father-in-law.
I’ve gotta head back to work now. I’ve done typed too long on this phone. But for Greta I’m giving you my flowers to you while you are still here in the land of the living amongst us. I love you, and if there is anything that I can do for you or Clara Jane just reach out to me. I’ll leave my number in your inbox. The Most High sent you in my life as a blessing in everything you do and I’m greatful for that.
Boy with inoperable brain tumor makes request for Christmas cards
VINTON — When asked what he wanted for Christmas, 8-year-old Drake
Quibodeaux’s requests were simple. He told his mother, Danielle, that he
wanted to spend time with his family and receive Christmas cards.
“That’s all he wants,” she told the American Press Thursday.
and residents from across the state have made it their purpose to send
as many cards as possible to Drake, who was diagnosed this year with
Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
According to defeatdipg.org, DIPG is a “brain tumor found in a part of the brain stem called the pons. The pons controls essential bodily functions such as heartbeat, breathing, swallowing, eye movement, eyesight and balance.”
“In January,” Danielle said, “we noticed that when he smiled, the right side of his face didn’t raise.”
they took him to the pediatrician, the diagnosis was cerebral palsy.
Danielle, having worked in the medical field in the past, didn’t agree
with the diagnosis.
Drake then had eight more doctor visits.
March 11, Drake was driving our boat,” Danielle said. “He came home,
took a nap, woke up, had two seizures and was paralyzed. We took him to
Cal-Cam (hospital). The ER doctor was from Fort Polk. She did every test
under the sun and couldn’t find anything.”
Drake was then life-flighted to a children’s hospital in New Orleans, where they received the diagnosis.
told us to take him home and make memories,” Danielle said. “They said
they could radiate him, but it wouldn’t do anything.”
The Quibodeauxs then took their son to Texas Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted.
couldn’t swallow or lift his head up,” Danielle said. “They started
radiation and he fully regained all of his abilities in a month.”
Drake started chemotherapy in August.
Danielle said Drake’s tumor is at the base of his brain.
“It spiderwebs and wraps around his healthy tissue,” she said. “There’s no way to remove it.”
said he is still mentally intact, but that DIPG will take away all of
his other functions, including walking, talking, swallowing and sight.
As for now, Danielle said Drake has no symptoms and is “doing
Danielle and her husband, Chris, have two other sons, 16 and 4.
has traumatized us,” she said. “My husband and I … there’s nights
when we just cry. It’s one thing when you have a sick child who can
heal, but it’s another thing when there’s nothing that can be done.”
said a benefit in July helped pay for medical bills, but that the
family faces a $6,500 deductible in January. After that amount is met,
the Quibodeauxs will continue to pay a 20 percent co-pay for Drake’s
Danielle said a benefit in July helped pay for medical bills, but that the family faces a $6,500 deductible in January. After that amount is met, the Quibodeauxs will continue to pay a 20 percent co-pay for Drake’s medical treatment.
The family has to return to Houston every 28 days to requalify for a chemotherapy trial. If his absolute neutrophil count levels aren’t at least 1,000, Drake cannot continue with the chemotherapy and will be disqualified from the trial. According to cancer.org, absolute neutrophil count (ANC) is a measure of the number of a certain type of white blood cells that fights against infection.
“Every 56 days, we have to add an MRI into that mix,” Danielle said.
Drake is taking a chemo pill at home.
“This chemo that he’s on,” Danielle explained, “most adults do 20
(milligrams) four times a month. Drake is doing 25 mg six times a
She said that chemo doesn’t normally cross the blood-brain
barrier, “so we’re praying that it will prevent anymore cancer cells.
The problem with this tumor is that it normally spreads to the spine.”
According to defeatdipg.org,
“DIPG affects children almost exclusively. Approximately 200-400
children in the United States are diagnosed with DIPG each year. These
children are typically between the ages of 4 and 11. DIPG accounts for
roughly 10-15 percent of all brain tumors in children.”
said statistics show that only 5 percent of patients with DIPG survive
12 months past diagnosis, and only 1 percent survive two years past
She wants people to be aware that only 4 cents of every
dollar donated to a cancer research cause is used for child cancer
As for Drake, he is a typical boy, Danielle said. His
favorite clothes include jeans and cowboy boots, and he’ll tell you his
favorite color is “camo.”
“He loves to hunt and fish,” she said. “He plays XBox one. He loves this Farming Simulator game. He loves Popeye’s.”
He is also a big fan of Louisiana State University and recently met team members and LSU Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron.
When the family stays overnight in Houston for appointments or treatment, Danielle said they play board games together.
“We go to Bass Pro Shop. He loves it there,” she said. “They know him by name.”
Drake also enjoys visiting the Children’s Museum in Houston.
Anyone wishing to send Drake a Christmas card can mail them to 2412 Hwy. 388, Vinton, LA 70668.
Birmingham 9-year-old takes her own life; family hopes to spare others their pain
A Birmingham family is grieving the loss of
a 9-year-old girl who died Monday after she intentionally hanged
herself in her bedroom closet three days earlier.
“Maddie” Whittsett, a fourth-grader who is being remembered for her
joyful heart and love of others, was pronounced dead at Children’s of
Alabama Monday morning. Her mother, Eugenia Williams, and stepfather,
Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Lt. Jimmie Williams, said they hope
that by speaking out about Maddie’s tragic death will spare others the
pain they have experienced since Friday.
“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else,’’ Lt. Williams said.
Maddie arrived home from school Friday afternoon and quickly learned her mom had made plans for the two of them to go to Chick-fil -A for some mommy-daughter time. “Maddie loved Chick-fil-A and she was running through the house,’’ Lt. Williams said. “Her mom called me, and we talked for a second. Then one of her friends called and they were talking.”
Maddie’s mom then yelled for Maddie to get ready,
they were going to leave shortly. She glanced outside – in the front
yard and on the deck – but didn’t see her.
Eugenia Williams went back to her daughter’s bedroom and saw the television was on. She looked in the bed and didn’t see Maddie and that’s when she noticed a crack in Maddie’s closet door. The little girl didn’t like for her closet to be open, so her mother immediately went and looked inside and that’s when she found her daughter unresponsive.
Still on the phone with her friend, she dropped the phone, got Maddie down, screamed for her friend to call 911 and then started CPR on Maddie. Maddie was taken to St. Vincent’s East to get her stabilized and a helicopter was brought in to transport her to Children’s, but the weather prevented the air flight.
Maddie was later transported to Children’s where she remained on life support until Monday.
Lt. Williams said the family is shocked by Maddie’s suicide. “It came out of left field,’’ he said.
Her mother agreed. “She was so alive, energetic, funny, loved dance,’’ she said.
had ADHD and received one-on-one help at school. There had been
incidents, Lt. Williams said, where other children had called her
“stupid” and “dumb.” It had happened last year, but Maddie’s parents met
with the principal and said it had been taken care of. “I felt like we
took care of it,’’ he said.
The family didn’t want to publicly identify the school Maddie was attending. “The school has been very supportive,’’ Lt. Williams said.
“We talked to one of her friends and Maddie had
apparently had a bad day. The friend said Maddie was bullied and she
looked sad while she was being bullied,’’ Lt. Williams said. “It must
have really worn her out that day.”
Maddie just several weeks ago started a medication with a listed side effect of possibly causing suicidal thoughts. “The bullying plus the medicine, I think, gave her the boost to do that,’’ he said.
Lt. Williams said in 20 years as a firefighter,
he’s never seen a child so young take their own life. It’s nearly
impossible for him to wrap his head around what happened. “It’s hard,’’
The Williams want others to keep a
closer eye on their own children. “Maybe you can see if anything is
going on. Look for changes in attitude. Changes in behavior,’’ he said.
“Support them and be there for them.”
want children to be aware of the dangers of bullying. Lt. Williams said
it’s important for children to know that not only should they not bully
others, but if they see someone being bullied, they need to let an adult
know. “Like they always say, ‘If you see something, say something.’’’
Birmingham City Schools released this statement Tuesday afternoon: “Our school community is deeply saddened by the recent passing of a student. Counselors and district-level support staff, trained to help students, parents and school personnel at difficult times such as this, have been on-site at the impacted school today to provide assistance to students and staff in needed of support in processing this tragedy. The death of any young person is a tragic loss that impacts the whole school community, and we send our deepest condolences to the family.”
Lt. Williams described his stepdaughter as having a
wonderful heart. “She just wanted to be your friend. She wanted to be
everybody’s friend and wanted everyone to be happy,’’ he said. “We saw
that in everything she did.”
Here are warning
signs to watch for if you fear someone is suicidal and resources that
can help those thinking of harming themselves or who fear a loved one
might harm themselves.
· Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
· Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
· Talking or writing about death, dying, ”ending the pain” or suicide.
· Feeling hopeless.
· Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking.
· Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out.
· Increasing alcohol or drug use.
· Withdrawing from friends, family, social support and society.
· Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
· Experiencing significant mood changes.
· Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
· Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.
HOW TO HELP
· Ask the person directly if he or she is having suicidal thoughts, has a plan to do so, and has access to lethal means.
A former porn star is responding to the recent deaths of five women in the industry.
“Honestly it’s shocking,” said Brittni De La Mora, who has filmed roughly 375 scenes in adult films.
The five women died in just the last three months, some by drug overdose, others by suicide.
Oliva Lua died on January 19 after reportedly suffering from personal challenges and months of battling drug addiction.
According to Fox News, the 23-year-old porn star was found dead at a rehab center in California.
In December, August Ames took her life by hanging. She was harassed and bullied online for refusing to tape scenes with men who had done gay porn.
De La Mora had been friends with Shyla Stylz, who passed away in November.
She says she is heartbroken over the deaths of the women, writing a blog after hearing of Ames’ passing.
“I wish I could have been there for her,” De La Mora said in the blog.
In an interview with CBN News, she shared, “Oftentimes when you go into that industry you’re already searching for something. For me, I was searching for love in all the wrong places and so you go into that industry with this false hope that whatever it is you’re looking for, you’re going to find there. And unfortunately, that’s not the case.”
“Whenever you go into an industry that’s as dark as that one, it comes with open doors and so being that I was looking for love, it was like my heart was crushed when I couldn’t find it there and the door to depression opened, which then drugs and then suicidal attempts and suicidal thoughts all came my way,” she explained.
De La Mora said she wanted out but felt trapped.
“I felt like I made my bed and now I had to lay in it. I felt like if I had left that industry that nobody would ever hire me and I wouldn’t be able to lead a normal life… and so I thought that there was no other way out than to commit suicide,” she said.
Then she started attending church with her grandparents and invited Jesus Christ into her life. But it took time to break away from her life as a porn star.
“I did start to develop a sensitivity to God’s spirit after that. I remember one time going to film a scene in Las Vegas and before I left for the airport the Holy Spirit said bring your Bible. So I grabbed my Bible and I was reading the book of Revelation… and I got to chapter two verse twenty where it was talking about this woman named Jezebel who leads God’s people to sexual immorality and how’s He’s given her time to repent and if she doesn’t repent, then He’s going to cast her and her children into a sick bed. And when I read that scripture it was like the fear of the Lord fell on me. And not only was it the fear of the Lord but the love and grace of God because I knew that He had been giving me time and time again to repent.
Not long after that experience, De La More left the sex industry and is now a minister of the Gospel. She and her husband minister to young adults.
She pointed out that Christians and churches often struggle to embrace those who have lived ‘rough’ lives like she once did.
“The Bible’s clear when it says that God’s kindness leads people to repentance,” she said.
“So we have to be the first to show God’s love and to show His kindness. But in order to truly understand the love and the grace that God has for people who are broken you have to be in His presence every single day. Because if you’re not spending time in God’s presence then you’re not feeling His love for yourself and if you haven’t fully felt His love for yourself how can you deliver His love to those who are in need,” De La Mora said.
She continued, “Jesus died on the cross for everybody. For everybody with a past like mine. For people who are prostitutes, drug addicts, all of the above so because of the fact that He was willing to give His life for those people, we need to be the first people to express His love and to not push them off in a corner. They’re worthy of God’s love.”