Thursday, January 31, 2013
AFP - Losing popularity and besieged by a corruption scandal that has reached an official in the palace itself, Spain's royals are looking to the dashing heir to the throne, Prince Felipe, to save their image.
At 75, King Juan Carlos shows no sign of abdicating as his contemporary Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has done -- but he said in a recent interview that Felipe was "well prepared" to take over when the time comes.
The palace spent last year turning Felipe, who turned 45 on Wednesday, into its most visible public representative. He had more official engagements than any other member of the family in 2012, while Juan Carlos recovered from operations to replace both hips -- one due to a fall during a luxury elephant-hunting safari in Botswana, for which he apologised to the nation.
Felipe spent part of his 45th birthday on Wednesday charming the crowds as he inaugurated a tourism fair in Madrid. In line with the palace's new recession-era regimen, no official celebration was announced.
A typical item on his diary of official engagements, it received less media coverage than the other news story concerning the palace: a corruption case affecting Felipe's brother-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin.
An investigating judge ruled on Wednesday that Urdangarin and an associate must post eight million euros ($11 million) in civil bail, while waiting to see if they will go on trial accused of embezzling public funds.
Separately, the palace reacted to the judge's decision to summon Carlos Garcia Revenga, secretary to the king's daughters Elena and Cristina -- Urdangarin's wife -- to be questioned in the case.
The palace said it was keeping Garcia in his post and would take no action until he goes before the judge on February 23 -- when Urdangarin himself is also due to appear, for the second time.
Juan Carlos won wide respect for helping guide Spain to democracy as a parliamentary monarchy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, and for helping quell an attempted military coup in 1981.
It is a hard act for Felipe to follow. A generation after those historic events, the palace faces a challenge to convince the nation that the monarchy is still needed.
A poll in early January by El Mundo newspaper showed support for the monarchy as an institution overall fell to a record low of 54 percent.
Felipe said in a speech in 2011 that he wanted to "constantly adapt and adjust the institution to the times we are living in, working to unite our history with our future, to link our traditions to a cutting-edge spirit and progress".
The towering prince -- who according to Spanish media is 1.97 metres (almost six feet, five inches) tall -- appears smiling and approachable when greeting the public and can give speeches in English with a cut-glass English accent.
His wife Letizia, a former television journalist, and their blonde daughters, the Infantas Leonor, eight, and Sofia, five, are darlings of the glossy celebrity magazines.
Observers say Felipe needs to work his charms still harder to win over a sceptical nation, currently suffering its worst economic hardship since Juan Carlos helped steer the country to democracy in the late 1970s.
Abdication by Juan Carlos would be a risky move currently, "with the Urdangarin case up in the air and with Felipe still not having broken the wall that separates him from the public", said Pilar Urbano, a prominent author specialising in royal matters.
"Letizia represents an opportunity to make the monarchy more sociable. It is still all about balconies, protocol and the throne," she said.
"It would be good to see them both out shopping in the sales."
Bremen is the third German state to recognize Islamic organizations as official religious bodies. Holidays, funerals and pastoral care will be regulated by state contracts. Other states will likely follow suit.
For Erol Pürlü, spokesman for the German Muslim coordination council, the signing of the contract with the city-state of Bremen marked a "day of joy". Three Muslim associations were officially recognized as religious bodies. "That sends a clear signal that Islam belongs to Germany," said Pürlü.
Bremen is the third German state to confer this status on Islamic organizations. Hamburg made a similar agreement last November, while Hesse officially recognized two Islamic organizations and allowed them to offer their own religious classes in schools in December.
The relationship between German states and Muslim associations had been stalled for decades until the breakthrough came in 2010. Large organizations like the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) and the Association of Islamic Cultural Centers (VIKZ) had been campaigning to be recognized as religious bodies for a long time.
Erol Pürlü said the contract with Bremen
marked a 'day of joy'
Among other privileges, the status gave communities the right to offer their own religion classes in schools. But for a long time the state governments resisted all applications, on the grounds that the associations did not fulfill all the legal and structural preconditions. In order to still offer Islamic lessons and create Islamic theological professorships at universities, "advisory councils" were created, on which sit representatives of the state governments. These committees take the place of a recognized religious organization and approve teaching appointments.
Islamic holidays recognized
Now Hamburg, Bremen and Hesse have all gone one step further, though in different ways. In the two city-states, three different Islamic celebrations are now recognized religious holidays. That means school children and employees can take the day off if they want. Officially recognized religious bodies also have the right to minister to Muslims in prisons, hospitals and other public institutions. Also, Muslims are allowed - within certain legal constraints - to build Mosques and bury their dead by their own religious rites - in other words, without a coffin.
Essentially, the state contracts merely bring together and summarize a number of regulations that have been in practise for many years. Little will change in the everyday lives of the approximately 130,000 Muslims in Hamburg and the 40,000 in Bremen. And yet for Pürlü, the contracts are more than just a symbol. The new holidays regulation, for instance, has given the Muslims a whole new freedom, he explains. "It is no longer decided at the discretion of the authorities or the schools or the employers," he said. "Muslims now have a legal right to a holiday."
The religion classes are particularly important for the Muslim associations, but the contracts made out in Hamburg and Bremen do not bring many particular advantages in this regard. In Bremen, religion is not an obligatory class in schools, while in Hamburg religion classes are general and address different faiths. For that reason, Muslims are putting their hopes in developments in Hesse, where more than 10 percent of Germany's Muslims live. In that state, the regional DITIB and one other organization are now authorized to introduce one religious class orientated to their faith.
According to Pürlü, Muslims are hoping that the Hesse contract will offer a springboard to North Rhine-Westphalia, where some 1.3 million Muslims live. There is already an Islam-oriented religious class there, which began in 2012, but it is still under the remit of an advisory committee. But DITIB and VIKZ and other Islamic organizations see this as just a temporary solution, says Pürlü. They want the NRW state government to recognize them as official religious bodies and then introduce religious classes without state intervention.
"If Bremen and Hamburg say the DITIB is a religious body, then it will certainly be more difficult for the NRW government to say it isn't one," said legal expert Heinrich de Wall.
The new regulations in the three states do not give the Muslim organizations the same status as the Christian churches. Muslim bodies remain excluded from privileges like church taxes or civil service duties. Nevertheless, DITIB spokesman Bekir Alboga is hoping the new contracts will give the Muslim associations access to more public money to support their work, which is mainly done on a voluntary basis. Certain integration and further education services, as well as the training of inter-religious dialogue commissioners are already supported with public money.
"We really do good work," said Alboga. "But it has to be guaranteed and supported, not just through membership fees, which aren't enough to expand this work and make it more multi-faceted."
On the other hand, Muslim organizations cannot profit from state subsidies for kindergartens and social services, because they don't work in those areas. "Of course, equal treatment for the Islamic bodies would only come into question if the Muslims began operating more charitable and deaconal organizations, like the church-affiliated bodies Diakonie and Caritas," said de Wall.
More German states are expected to follow the example of Bremen, Hamburg, and Hesse and recognize individual religious organizations. Alboga believes that similar contracts are likely in Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Baden-Württemberg, and Lower Saxony. Pürlü said that some negotiations are already under way, though he declined to say in which states.
Austerity enraged protesters broke into a government building and threatened the labor minister, Wednesday. Riot police then intervened with tear gas, batons and pepper spray, with one person taken to hospital.
The protest, by a few hundred people, was organized by a Communist backed labor union, and took place in front of the Labor Ministry building.
At least one person was hospitalized and two others collapsed from the effects of pepper spray and were treated at the scene by other protesters. The government said damage was caused inside the office of minister Yianni Vroutsi and threats had been made against the minster himself.
Over 30 protesters were detained and scuffles broke out when the crowd outside attempted to stop the bus taking them to police headquarters from leaving. Some of the protesters followed on foot and continued their demonstration outside the police station.
“Violence in all its forms must be condemned, not only in words but also by actions. The raid on the office of the labour minister, the material destruction and the threats against Yianni Vroutsi are practices which aim to dynamite the political climate at a very critical time for the country," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told reporters.
Union members involved were protesting planned reforms to the pension system – part of the latest spending cuts in the Greek bailout program.
Other spending cuts that took affect this year include a 25% cut in the incomes of most civil servants.
Public transport workers and hospital doctors are to hold a 24 hour strike in Athens on Thursday, while dockers and port workers will also stage a 48 hour walkout, which will leave the many Greek islands without crucial ferry services.
In return for these handouts the Greek government has had to impose a raft of stringent austerity measures, including spending and salary cuts and tax hikes. Unemployment in Greece has spiraled to more than 26%.
The government response to recent protests in Greece has been heavy handed and is part of a deliberate zero tolerance campaign by the authorities in Athens, lawyer and professor of constitutional law, George Katrougalas, told RT.
“The government has decided to follow a policy of zero tolerance against, as it says, the resistance to the austerity measures. So we have seen the government take emergency measures that are not constitutional, against the recent strikes. Now we have seen the police act very violently against a generally peaceful and calm demonstration,” he said.
This isn’t the largest protest of recent months but is the first one so far this year with specific intent to show that not all Greek journalists are aligned with the political directives of the pro-austerity coalition government on the country’s broadcast media.
We are told that MEGA CHANNEL is favored by both the pro-austerity government and the Greek private banking system. Earlier this month, leftist main opposition party SYRIZA said MEGA CHANNEL concluded a 98 million euro bond loan from four private banks in return for explicit support of their role in shaping the country’s economy.
Liberal syndicated journalists have been at the forefront of the social and political efforts to crack austerity policies in Greece and have held hundreds of strikes and protests in recent months against corporate greed, elitism and political favoritism in the country’s media.
There is increasing discontent among media professionals that mainstream news outlets impair the significance of worker’s struggle against austerity policies by airing what they say is a distorted view of workers' struggle and leftist syndication. Public opinion is now clashing the state opinion and hopes to overwhelm any state-endorsed campaign of misinformation.
Israeli fighter jets targeted a military research center near Damascus early Wednesday, the Syrian army has revealed. In press remarks, US officials claimed the Israeli attack struck a convoy carrying Syrian weapons bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Syrian army’s general command issued a statement saying that the airstrike was launched by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) against a military research center in Jamraya, rural Damascus.
“Israeli fighter jets violated our airspace at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research center in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defense,” SANA quoted the army statement as saying.
Four warplanes took part in the assault and dropped nine rockets, Lebanese TV station Al-Manar reported, citing military sources.
The strike caused material damage to the center and a nearby building, killing two workers and wounding five others, the statement added. The Israeli warplanes flew low to evade radar detection, and “snuck in from the north of Al-Sheikh Mountain” according to the report, which called the strike a “blatant act of aggression” against Syria and accused Israel of supporting terrorism in the country.
Anonymous US officials told both the AP and the New York Times that Israeli jets had hit a convoy carrying Syrian weapons to Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The NYT also reported that Israel had warned the US prior to the attack, citing anonymous officials.
MOSCOW – Russia confirmed on Tuesday it is extending its "Dima Yakovlev" blacklist to include more US citizens deemed to be human rights violators, who will be banned from entering the country in the latest tit-for-tat retaliation for the US Magnitsky Act.
“The Foreign Ministry is carrying out the law known as the Dima Yakovlev Law, including the part which mentions the compilation of a list. But we are not disclosing the names [on it],” Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said.
The Russian blacklist, also known as the “Guantanamo List,” was drawn up last fall in response to the Magnitsky Act, initially including 11 US officials allegedly involved in human rights violations and torture at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba and in secret CIA prisons across Europe.
Sixty more people linked with the criminal prosecution of Russian nationals Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, as well as violations against adopted children and the authors and lobbyists of the Magnitsky Law have been added to the list, according to State Duma International Affairs Committee Head Alexei Pushkov.
It does not, however, include any politicians such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Vice President Dick Cheney, whom the Foreign Ministry holds responsible for the Guantanamo Bay facility, Vedomosti newspaper reported last week.
These names were mentioned in the Foreign Ministry’s report on human rights violations presented last October, Vedomosti said.
“Logically, Cheney and Rice must not be on the list, as this could have spoiled the diplomatic relations between the two countries,” said State Duma International Affairs Committee First Deputy Chairman Leonid Kalashnikov.
The US government passed the Magnitsky Act in December 2012, introducing a blacklist of Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky at a Russian prison in 2009. Russia immediately promised to retaliate for the measure.
The Dima Yakovlev Law, which was signed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in late December, bans adoptions of Russian children by US parents. It would also see alleged US rights abusers blacklisted for Russian entry, their assets in Russia seized and operations there by their companies suspended.
Police force demonstrators out of government building, leading to clashes and the arrest of 30 people, many union heads.
Protesters in Greece have forced their way into a government building in the country's latest anti-austerity protests, reaching just outside a minister's office before being forced out by police.
Police detained more than 30 protesters, including many union heads, on Wednesday, sparking clashes with about 200 demonstrators gathered outside the labour ministry in central Athens.
Police used pepper spray, batons and tear gas to in clashes with protestors.
The government said the demonstrators caused damage inside the building and threatened the minister, an accusation the protesters adamantly denied.
Greece has been gripped by a severe financial crisis since late 2009 and helped by billions of euros in rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.
In response, the government has imposed waves of spending cuts and tax raises, leading to severe salary and pension cuts and leaving unemployment spiraling to above 26 percent.
Union members were protesting planned reforms to the pension and income contribution system, part of the latest spending cuts in the bailout program.
Other measures that took effect this year include a new 25 percent cut to the incomes of most public servants, leading to a string of new strikes and protests.
At least one protestor in Wednesday's demonstration was taken to hospital in an ambulance, while at least another two were treated by fellow protesters on the spot after collapsing, apparently from the effects of pepper spray.
A ministry official said about 30 protesters made it into the labour ministry, breaking doors, overturning chairs and knocking files off tables.
They reached the waiting room outside the minister's office, where the minister, Yiannis Vroutsis, was present but unaffected.
"Violence in all its forms must be condemned, not only in words but also by actions,'' government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said.
"The raid on the office of the labour minister, the material destruction and the threats against Yiannis Vroutsis are practices which aim to dynamite the political climate at a very critical time for the country.''
The protesters, however, insisted they were not to blame for any damage.
Dimos Koumbouris, head of a pensioners' union who was among those who entered the ministry on Wednesday, said union representatives had gone into the building seeking a meeting with Vroutsis.
Reached by telephone while still at police headquarters, where he said a total of 35 union heads and representatives were waiting to be charged, he said it was police who damaged the doors in their attempt to arrest the unionists.
"There was no damage. ... why would we do any damage?'' he told the AP, adding that they had wanted to meet the minister over social security reforms.
The minister himself issued a statement saying the demonstrators had tried to occupy the ministry, a common form of protest in Greece.
Strikes set to intensify
Strikes are set to intensify in coming days, with public transport workers and hospital doctors to hold a 24-hour strike in the capital on Thursday.
Port workers start a 48-hour strike the same day, leaving islands without ferry services. Other state-run services are also to be disrupted by work stoppages lasting several hours.
Last week, the government used emergency powers to force Athens subway workers to end rolling strikes that lasted eight days.
The Brussels-based European Trade Union Confederation strongly condemned the action taken by the conservative-led coalition government, noting that workers who defy civil mobilization orders face prison sentences of up to five years.
"The wheeling out of emergency powers to enforce austerity policies is unacceptable,'' ETUC general secretary Bernadette Segol said in a statement.
Farmers in central Greece angry at higher taxes and other austerity measures have been parking their tractors by central highways as their unions decide whether they will set up roadblocks.
Similar protests in the past have completely blocked the highways, essentially cutting the country in two.
MOSCOW, January 31 - Religious radicals in Russia will fail in their attempts to intimidate clerics and followers of traditional Islam, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a meeting with his envoys to Russian federal districts, Putin said that “multiethnic harmony should be consistently maintained” as “religious radicals… of various confessions” have intensified their activities in the country.
“In fact, a terrorist war is being waged against [those who teach] traditional Islam. They are being intimidated, deprived of their rights to speak to believers. At the same time, false values that have nothing to do with the traditional Islam are being imposed on people,” the Russian president said.
“As far as intimidation is concerned, I’m sure that those who are trying to do it will fail completely… Such people cannot be intimidated. But they evidently need our support and help, and this support should be efficient,” Putin said.
Representatives of Russia’s Muslim community expressed their concern late last year over the safety of clerics in the North Caucasus following a number of attacks.
A number of moderate Muslim scholars have been killed in Russia in the past years, including Dagestani Muslim theology professor Maksud Sadikov and influential Sufi cleric Sheikh Said Afandi, North Ossetia’s deputy mufti Ibragim Dudarov, deputy chairman of the Muslim Board of Karachayevo-Circassia and Stavropol Ismail Bostanov.
In July 2012, the head mufti in Russia’s Volga republic of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was injured in a car bomb attack, hours after his former deputy was shot dead. Commenting on the attack, an Islam expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Alexey Malashenko, said the radical Islam, or Salafism, has apparently started spreading even beyond its conventional borders in the North Caucasus.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Switzerland's main Jewish organizations complain that President Ueli Maurer failed to address neutral country's failings during World War II on International Holocaust Day
Swiss Jewish groups are faulting the country's president for failing to address the neutral country's failings during World War II in a statement marking the annual Holocaust remembrance day.
In a statement Sunday, President Ueli Maurer said Switzerland remained "a country of freedom and law" during the war and became a safe haven for many persecuted people.
But Switzerland's main Jewish organizations complained Monday that he neglected also to mention "the refugees who were turned back to a certain death."
A government-commissioned report concluded in 2001 that Switzerland turned back many refugees although the government knew by 1942 of the Nazis' "final solution."
The government says that Maurer is aware of the need for a nuanced view of Switzerland's wartime role and hadn't intended to question it.
Cyber-terrorists targeted by government drone strikes, online identities, which are taken hostage and held for ransom, and parents, who explain online privacy to their children long before the subject of sex. That’s how Google’s boss sees the future.
"For citizens, coming online comes to mean living with multiple identities; your online identity becomes your real identity. The absence of a delete button on the internet will be a big challenge. Not just what you say and write, but also the websites you visit, and do or say or share online. For anyone in the public eye, they will have to account for their past," Guardian newspaper has quoted Schmidt as saying at Cambridge University.
He mentioned his recent trip to North Korea, and compared the population of the country to the 5 billion people worldwide, who are yet not connected to the net and live in an "utter information blackout". Connectivity would bring them enormous benefits and transform their lives, but it would also be exploited by sinister forces as online identities became a bigger element of our real-world identities, he said.
The Executive Chairman of Google predicted virtual kidnappings, ransoming one’s ID for real money, underlining the importance of online IDs.
He said, that some hackers already take over a user's computer and encrypt its hard drive, locking them out. Want everything back to normal – make a payment to the hackers. By hacking more and more e-mail accounts, cyber-criminals expose the online life of others.
Schmidt believes the problems could go further as other technologies become cheaper. "Terrorists and criminals could use drones to carry IEDs [improved explosive devices] – that could result in conflict between civil and military drones," he suggested, though adding, that “the future will be much more disruptive to terrorists than everyone else”.
Online communication between terrorists could make it hard for them to hide.
"If they connect, they leave some sort of digital footprint. And that makes them detectable," Schmidt pointed out, giving as an example the case of one target, who had said on a phone call that he was going to a family wedding, naming the place – and getting caught as a result.
Online privacy earlier than sex ed
Speaking about online IDs, Schmidt underlined the growing importance of online privacy. Parents would have to speak to their children about the perils of digital life much earlier than any conversation about the birds and the bees.
"It might be when they're eight years old, you'll be saying 'don't put that onlline! It'll come back to bite you!' and then have to explain why," he said.
Schmidt admitted, that one of his biggest worries was not about children using digital devices for entertainment.
"Do they have an off button? They all do," he said.
There will be more laws protecting anonymity. Europe is the current leader in managing its regulation, according to Schmidt, who also believes, that dependence on safe online IDs will be huge. He also believes there will be a thriving black-market for those IDs.
He even suggested that repressive regimes might seek to carry out "online ethnic cleansing" – "where people from a certain group the government doesn't like have their online payments slowed or even stopped, where their tweets are deleted, they can't connect."
Still making world better
Schmidt also shared his views on the good side of being online in future, saying that the rise of the connected world, especially through mobile phones with data services, would reduce corruption and undermine repressive regimes.
The arrival of the internet was always beneficial, he said.
"There's no country where the situation has worsened with the arrival of the internet. Citizens can use their mobile phones to raise the cost of corruption. And even in China, the regime can be shamed – when there was a train crash recently the government tried to hush it up, but people began posting pictures on [the Twitter-like chat service] Weibo, and the story got out,” Schmidt pointed out.
Concluding his speech, Schmidt expressed a concern that the digital age was intellectually superficial, and that something has been lost with the demise of books.
"I worry a lot that nobody's doing that, that nobody's getting what comes from the deep reading of a book," Schmidt said.
A high school near Washington DC has taken a rare step of accommodating Muslim prayer during class hours. Parkdale High School now allows a handful of its students to be excused to pray. The decision has made some Christian staffers "unhappy".
Prince George County High School Principal Cheryl J. Logan said the initiative is in response to the “needs of the growing Muslim community,” the Washington Post reported. To be able to leave class each day all you need is a parental permission and high grades, Logan said.
Currently, about 10 Muslim students have earned the right to pray, and are reportedly allowed eight minutes each day for a joint prayer on campus. Another high school student is working hard to raise his grades to join the group, all of whom belong to Muslim Students' Association, Logan said.
It is hoped that allowing prayer will motivate Muslim students to improve their overall school performance.
The move has already upset several of the school's Christian staffers, many of whom remember when the school was a Christian institution. US public schools are secular by law, but are legally allowed to accommodate religious students’ practices, Logan explained.
“I’ve been real happy with how we've been able to deal with it without it becoming an increasingly big issue," Logan said.
US Federal Reserve is reporting a major deposit withdrawal from the nation’s bank accounts. The financial system has not seen such a massive fund outflow since 9/11 attacks.
The first week of January 2013 has seen $114 billion withdrawn from 25 of the US’ biggest banks, pushing deposits down to $5.37 trillion, according to the US Fed. Financial analysts suggest it could be down to the Transaction Account Guarantee insurance program coming to an end on December 31 last year and clients moving their money that is no longer insured by the government.
The program was introduced in the wake of the 2008 crisis in order to support the banking system. It provided insurance for around $1.5 trillion in non-interest-bearing accounts with a limit of $250,000. It was aimed at medium and small banks as the creators of the program believed bigger banks would cope with the crisis themselves.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The Protoevangelium of James The Birth of Mary the Holy Mother of God, and Very Glorious Mother of Jesus Christ - FREE EBOOK
IN THE RECORDS OF THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL was Joachim, a man rich exceedingly; and he brought his offerings double, saying: There shall be of my superabundance to all the people, and there shall be the offering for my forgiveness to the Lord for a propitiation for me. For the great day of the Lord was at hand, and the sons of Israel were bringing their offerings. And there stood over against him Rubim, saying: It is not meet for thee first to bring thine offerings, because thou hast not made seed in Israel. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and went away to the registers of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: I shall see the registers of the twelve tribes of Israel, as to whether I alone have not made seed in Israel. And he searched, and found that all the righteous had raised up seed in Israel. And he called to mind the patriach Abraham, that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and did not come into the presence of his wife; but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying in himself: I will not go down either for food or for drink until the Lord my God shall look upon me, and prayer shall be my food and drink.
2. And his wife Anna mourned in two mournings, and lamented in two lamentations, saying: I shall bewail my widowhood; I shall bewail my childlessness. And the great day of the Lord was at hand; and Judith her maid-servant said: How long dost thou humiliate thy soul? Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand, and it is unlawful for thee to mourn. But take this head-band, which the woman that made it gave to me; for it is not proper that I should wear it, because I am a maid-servant, and it has a royal appearance. And Anna said: Depart from me; for I have not done such things, and the Lord has brought me very low. I fear that some wicked person has given it to thee, and thou hast come to make me a sharer in thy sin. And Judith said: Why should I curse thee, seeing that the Lord hath shut thy womb, so as not to give thee fruit in Israel? And Anna was grieved exceedingly, and put off her garments of mourning, and cleaned her head, and put on her wedding garments, and about the ninth hour went down to the garden to walk. And she saw a laurel, and sat under it, and prayed to the Lord, saying: O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as Thou didst bless the womb of Sarah, and didst give her a son Isaac.
3. And gazing towards the heaven, she saw a sparrow’s nest in the laurel, and made a lamentation in herself, saying: Alas! who begot me? and what womb produced me? because I have become a curse in the presence of the sons of Israel, and I have been reproached, and they have driven me in derision out of the temple of the Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the fowls of the heaven, because even the fowls of the heaven are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the beasts of the earth, because even the beasts of the earth are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like these waters, because even these waters are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like this earth, because even the earth bringeth forth its fruits in season, and blesseth Thee, O Lord.
4. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: Anna, Anna, the Lord hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt conceive, and shall bring forth; and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said: As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life. And, behold, two angels came, saying to her: Behold, Joachim thy husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying: Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God hath heard thy prayer Go down hence; for, behold, thy wife Anna shall conceive. And Joachim went down and called his shepherds, saying: Bring me hither ten she-lambs without spot or blemish, and they shall be for the Lord my God; and bring me twelve tender calves, and they shall be for the priests and the elders; and a hundred goats for all the people. And, behold, Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood by the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran anti hung upon his neck, saying: Now I know that the Lord God hath blessed me exceedingly; for, behold the widow no longer a widow, and I the childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house.
5. And on the following day he brought his offerings, saying in himself: If the Lord God has been rendered gracious to me, the plate on the priest’s forehead will make it manifest to me. And Joachim brought his offerings, and observed attentively the priest’s plate when he went up to the altar of the Lord, and he saw no sin in himself. And Joachim said: Now I know that the Lord has been gracious unto me, and has remitted all my sins. And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house. And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? and she said: A girl. And said Anna: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary.
6. And the child grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, thou shall not walk on this earth until I bring thee into the temple of the Lord. And she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, and allowed nothing common or unclean to pass through her. And she called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and they led her astray. And when she was a year old, Joachim made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel. And Joachim brought the child to the priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it, amen. And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever. And her mother snatched her up, and took her into the sanctuary of her bed-chamber, and gave her the breast. And Anna made a song to the Lord God, saying: I will sing a song to the Lord my God, for He hath looked upon me, and hath taken away the reproach of mine enemies; and the Lord hath given the the fruit of His righteousness, singular in its kind, and richly endowed before Him. Who will tell the sons of Rubim that Anna gives suck? Hear, hear, ye twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna gives suck. And she laid her to rest in the bed-chamber of her sanctuary, and went out and ministered unto them. And when the supper was ended, they went down rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.
7. And her months were added to the child. And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.
8. And her parents went down marvelling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, test perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: Thou standest by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto thee, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judaea, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.
9. And Joseph, throwing away his axe, went out to meet them; and when they had assembled, they went away to the high priest, taking with them their rods. And he, taking the rods of all of them, entered into the temple, and prayed; and having ended his prayer, he took the rods and came out, and gave them to them: but there was no sign in them, and Joseph took his rod last; and, behold, a dove came out of the rod, and flew upon Joseph’s head. And the priest said to Joseph, Thou hast been chosen by lot to take into thy keeping the virgin of the Lord. But Joseph refused, saying: I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel. And the priest said to Joseph: Fear the Lord thy God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up on account of their contradiction. And now fear, O Joseph, lest the same things happen in thy house. And Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping. And Joseph said to Mary: Behold, I have received thee from the temple of the Lord; and now I leave thee in my house, and go away to build my buildings, and I shall come to thee. The Lord will protect thee.
10. And there was a council of the priests, saying: Let us make a veil for the temple of the Lord. And the priest said: Call to me the undefiled virgins of the family of David. And the officers went away, and sought, and found seven virgins. And the priest remembered the child Mary, that she was of the family of David, and undefiled before God. And the officers went away and brought her. And they brought them into the temple of the Lord. And the priest said: Choose for me by lot who shall spin the gold, and the white, and the fine linen, and the silk, and the blue, and the scarlet, and the true purple. And the true purple and the scarlet fell to the lot of Mary, and she took them, and went away to her house. And at that time Zacharias was dumb, and Samuel was in his place until the time that Zacharias spake. And Mary took the scarlet, and span it.
11. And she took the pitcher, and went out to fill it with water. And, behold, a voice saying: Hail, thou who hast received grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women! And she looked round, on the right hand and on the left, to see whence this voice came. And she went away, trembling, to her house, and put down the pitcher; and taking the purple, she sat down on her seat, and drew it out. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before her, saying: Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found grace before the Lord of all, and thou shalt conceive, according to His word. And she hearing, reasoned with herself, saying: Shall I conceive by the Lord, the living God? and shall I bring forth as every woman brings forth? And the angel of the Lord said: Not so, Mary; for the power of the Lord shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of the Most High. And thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins. And Mary said: Behold, the servant of the Lord before His face: let it be unto me according to thy word.
12. And she made the purple and the scarlet, and took them to the priest. And the priest blessed her, and said: Mary, the Lord God hath magnified thy name, and thou shall be blessed in all the generations of the earth. And Mary, with great joy, went away to Elizabeth her kinswoman, and knocked at the door. And when Elizabeth heard her, she threw away the scarlet, and ran to the door, and opened it; and seeing Mary, she blessed her, and said: Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? for, behold, that which is in me leaped and blessed thee. But Mary had forgotten the mysteries of which the archangel Gabriel had spoken, and gazed up into heaven, and said: Who am I, O Lord, that all the generations of the earth should bless me? And she remained three months with Elizabeth; and day by day she grew bigger. And Mary being afraid, went away to her own house, and hid herself from the sons of Israel. And she was sixteen years old when these mysteries happened.
13. And she was in her sixth month; and, behold, Joseph came back from his building, and, entering into his house, he discovered that she was big with child. And he smote his face, and threw himself on the ground upon the sackcloth, and wept bitterly, saying: With what face shall I look upon the Lord my God? and what prayer shall I make about this maiden? because I received her a virgin out of the temple of the Lord, and I have not watched over her. Who is it that has hunted me down? Who has done this evil thing in my house, and defiled the virgin? Has not the history of Adam been repeated in me? For just as Adam was in the hour of his singing praise, and the serpent came, and found Eve alone, and completely deceived her, so it has happened to me also. And Joseph stood up from the sackcloth, and called Mary, and said to her: O thou who hast been cared for by God, why hast thou done this and forgotten the Lord thy God? Why hast thou brought low thy soul, thou that wast brought up in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel? And she wept bitterly, saying: I am innocent, and have known no man. And Joseph said to her: Whence then is that which is in thy womb? And she said: As the Lord my God liveth, I do not know whence it is to me.
14. And Joseph was greatly afraid, and retired from her, and considered what he should do in regard to her. And Joseph said: If I conceal her sin, I find myself fighting against the law of the Lord; and if I expose her to the sons of Israel, I am afraid lest that which is in her be from an angel, and I shall be found giving up innocent blood to the doom of death. What then shall I do with her? I will put her away from me secretly. And night came upon him; and, behold, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, saying: Be not afraid for this maiden, for that which is in her is of the Holy Spirit; and she will bring forth a Son, and thou shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. And Joseph arose from sleep, and glorified the God of Israel, who had given him this grace; and he kept her.
15. And Annas the scribe came to him, and said: Why hast thou not appeared in our assembly? And Joseph said to him: Because I was weary from my journey, and rested the first day. And he turned, and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest? and said to him: Joseph, whom thou didst vouch for, has committed a grievous crime. And the priest said: How so? And he said: He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord, and has married her by stealth, and has not revealed it to the sons of Israel. And the priest answering, said: Has Joseph done this? Then said Annas the scribe: Send officers, and thou wilt find the virgin with child. And the officers went away, and found it as he had said; and they brought her along with Joseph to the tribunal. And the priest said: Mary, why hast thou done this? and why hast thou brought thy soul low, and forgotten the Lord thy God? Thou that wast reared in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel, and didst hear the hymns, and didst dance before Him, why hast thou done this? And she wept bitterly, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, I am pure before Him, and know not a man. And the priest said to Joseph: Why hast thou done this? And Joseph said: As the Lord liveth, I am pure concerning her. Then said the priest: Bear not false witness, but speak the truth. Thou hast married her by stealth, and hast not revealed it to the sons of Israel, and hast not bowed thy head under the strong hand, that thy seed might be blessed. And Joseph was silent.
16. And the priest said: Give up the virgin whom thou didst receive out of the temple of the Lord. And Joseph burst into tears. And the priest said: I will give you to drink of the water of the ordeal of the Lord, and He shall make manifest your sins in your eyes. And the priest took the water, and gave Joseph to drink and sent him away to the hill-country; and he returned unhurt. And he gave to Mary also to drink, and sent her away to the hill-country; and she returned unhurt. And all the people wondered that sin did not appear in them. And the priest said: If the Lord God has not made manifest your sins, neither do I judge you. And he sent them away. And Joseph took Mary, and went away to his own house, rejoicing and glorifying the God of Israel.
17. And there was an order from the Emperor Augustus, that all in Bethlehem of Judaea should be enrolled. And Joseph said: I shall enrol my sons, but what shall I do with this maiden? How shall I enrol her? As my wife? I am ashamed. As my daughter then? But all the sons of Israel know that she is not my daughter. The day of the Lord shall itself bring it to pass as the Lord will. And he saddled the ass, and set her upon it; and his son led it, and Joseph followed. And when they had come within three miles, Joseph turned and saw her sorrowful; and he said to himself: Likely that which is in her distresses her. And again Joseph turned and saw her laughing. And he said to her: Mary, how is it that I see in thy face at one time laughter, at another sorrow? And Mary said to Joseph: Because I see two peoples with my eyes; the one weeping and lamenting, and the other rejoicing and exulting. And they came into the middle of the road, and Mary said to him: Take me down from off the ass, for that which is in me presses to come forth. And he took her down from off the ass, and said to her: Whither shall I lead thee, and cover thy disgrace? for the place is desert.
18. And he found a cave there, and led her into it; and leaving his two sons beside her, he went out to seek a widwife in the district of Bethlehem. And I Joseph was walking, and was not walking; and I looked up into the sky, and saw the sky astonished; and I looked up to the pole of the heavens, and saw it standing, and the birds of the air keeping still. And I looked down upon the earth, and saw a trough lying, and work-people reclining: and their hands were in the trough. And those that were eating did not eat, and those that were rising did not carry it up, and those that were conveying anything to their mouths did not convey it; but the faces of all were looking upwards. And I saw the sheep walking, and the sheep stood still; and the shepherd raised his hand to strike them, and his hand remained up. And I looked upon the current of the river, and I saw the mouths of the kids resting on the water and not drinking, and all things in a moment were driven from their course.
19. And I saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me: O man, whither art thou going? And I said: I am seeking an Hebrew midwife. And she answered and said unto me: Art thou of Israel? And I said to her: Yes. And she said: And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave? And I said: A woman betrothed to me. And she said to me: Is she not thy wife? And I said to her: It is Mary that was reared in the temple of the Lord, and I obtained her by lot as my wife. And yet she is not my wife, but has conceived of the Holy Spirit. And the widwife said to him: Is this true? And Joseph said to her: Come and see. And the midwife went away with him. And they stood in the place of the cave, and behold a luminous cloud overshadowed the cave. And the midwife said: My soul has been magnified this day, because mine eyes have seen strange things — because salvation has been brought forth to Israel. And immediately the cloud disappeared out of the cave, and a great light shone in the cave, so that the eyes could not bear it. And in a little that light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and went and took the breast from His mother Mary. And the midwife cried out, and said: This is a great day to me, because I have seen this strange sight. And the midwife went forth out of the cave, and Salome met her. And she said to her: Salome, Salome, I have a strange sight to relate to thee: a virgin has brought forth — a thing which her nature admits not of. Then said Salome: As the Lord my God liveth, unless I thrust in my finger, and search the parts, I will not believe that a virgin has brought forth.
20. And the midwife went in, and said to Mary: Show thyself; for no small controversy has arisen about thee. And Salome put in her finger, and cried out, and said: Woe is me for mine iniquity and mine unbelief, because I have tempted the living God; and, behold, my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire. And she bent her knees before the Lord, saying: O God of my fathers, remember that I am the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; do not make a show of me to the sons of Israel, but restore me to the poor; for Thou knowest, O Lord, that in Thy name I have performed my services, and that I have received my reward at Thy hand. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by her, saying to her: Salome, Salome, the Lord hath heard thee. Put thy hand to the infant, and carry it, and thou wilt have safety and joy. And Salome went and carried it, saying: I will worship Him, because a great King has been born to Israel. And, behold, Salome was immediately cured, and she went forth out of the cave justified. And behold a voice saying: Salome, Salome, tell not the strange things thou hast seen, until the child has come into Jerusalem.
21. And, behold, Joseph was ready to go into Judaea. And there was a great commotion in Bethlehem of Judaea, for Magi came, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him. And when Herod heard, he was much disturbed, and sent officers to the Magi. And he sent for the priests, and examined them, saying: How is it written about the Christ? where is He to be born? And they said: In Bethlehem of Judaea, for so it is written. And he sent them away. And he examined the Magi, saying to them: What sign have you seen in reference to the king that has been born? And the Magi said: We have seen a star of great size shining among these stars, and obscuring their light, so that the stars did not appear; and we thus knew that a king has been born to Israel, and we have come to worship him. And Herod said: Go and seek him; and if you find him, let me know, in order that I also may go and worship him. And the Magi went out. And, behold, the star which they had seen in the east went before them until they came to the cave, and it stood over the top of the cave. And the Magi saw the infant with His mother Mary; and they brought forth from their bag gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by the angel not to go into Judaea, they went into their own country by another road.
22. And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking where to conceal him. And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: O mountain of God, receive mother and child. And immediately the mountain was cleft, and received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them.
23. And Herod searched for John, and sent officers to Zacharias, saying: Where hast thou hid thy son? And he, answering, said to them: I am the servant of God in holy things, and I sit constantly in the temple of the Lord: I do not know where my son is. And the officers went away, and reported all these things to Herod. And Herod was enraged, and said: His son is destined to be king over Israel. And he sent to him again, saying: Tell the truth; where is thy son? for thou knowest that thy life is in my hand. And Zacharias said: I am God’s martyr, if thou sheddest my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, because thou sheddest innocent blood at the vestibule of the temple of the Lord. And Zacharias was murdered about daybreak. And the sons of Israel did not know that he had been murdered.
24. But at the hour of the salutation the priests went away, and Zacharias did not come forth to meet them with a blessing, according to his custom. And the priests stood waiting for Zacharias to salute him at the prayer, and to glorify the Most High. And he still delaying, they were all afraid. But one of them ventured to go in, and he saw clotted blood beside the altar; and he heard a voice saying: Zacharias has been murdered, and his blood shall not be wiped up until his avenger come. And hearing this saying, he was afraid, and went out and told it to the priests. And they ventured in, and saw what had happened; and the fretwork of the temple made a wailing noise, and they rent their clothes from the top even to the bottom. And they found not his body, but they found his blood turned into stone. And they were afraid, and went out and reported to the people that Zacharias had been murdered. And all the tribes of the people heard, and mourned, and lamented for him three days and three nights. And after the three days, the priests consulted as to whom they should put in his place; and the lot fell upon Simeon. For it was he who had been warned by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death until he should see the Christ in the flesh.
And I James that wrote this history in Jerusalem, a commotion having arisen when Herod died, withdrew myself to the wilderness until the commotion in Jerusalem ceased, glorifying the Lord God, who had given me the gift and the wisdom to write this history. And grace shall be with them that fear our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory to ages of ages. Amen.
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