Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Harold Camping: Let me check my numbers...uh, I meant October 21st

I'm almost embarrassed that this became a blog post. I was hoping that I could avoid all the hullabaloo, but it simply has been made unavoidable.

I hadn't heard of Harold Camping before last week. I had heard about the May 21st rapture prophecy, but wasn't sure whether it had a Christian origin. I'm currently not sure whether the December 21st, 2012 (based on when the Mayan calendar carver ran out of room, became tired, or thought his descendants could just deal with it then) is of Christian origin either—I originally heard it on the History Channel a few years ago. (It was around the same time they started airing that whole "Bible Code" thing, and around the time when I stopped watching the History Channel.)

This is apparently Harold camping's fourth prophecy. His history of end-times prophecies includes one in 1988, one in 1994, the one that just passed on May 21, 2011. Now, he is saying that he was off by a few months—the end will come on October 21st.

MSNBC reports:

California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on Oct. 21.
Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions — some of it from donations made by followers — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.
But Camping said that he's now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.
Saturday was "an invisible judgment day" in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.
"We've always said May 21 was the day, but we didn't understand altogether the spiritual meaning," he said. "May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment."
His last statement elevates him from being a nutty cult leader we can probably ignore to being, quite literally, a false prophet. Assuming he reads the New Testament, he's not following it:

Matthew 24:22-28 (if you're interested, read all of Matthew 24).
22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
   26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
Matthew 24:36-44
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
   42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
 5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. 
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 
There are also some powerful passages in the Old Testament about the triumphant second coming of Christ that definitely reject the idea that it will be "invisible." But do I even need to go on?

More than one person so far has called me a hypocrite for criticizing those "in my own faith" (it must sound different coming from a Christian than from a non-Christian...I guess I'm not allowed to agree with non-Christians at all). But I wanted to make it clear that since Harold Camping is not leading a Christian movement, Christians should not be the butt of the jokes being told.

 Even MSNBC reports this:

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus' return can be predicted.
Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels about the end times, recently called Camping's prediction "not only bizarre but 100 percent wrong!" He cited the Bible verse Matthew 24:36, "but about that day or hour no one knows" except God.
Am I giving him too much power? How much power are others giving him?

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dialogue Decalogue (Leonard Swidler)

This is something we all could do well to take to heart. A Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA writes a piece in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 20:1, Winter 1983 (September, 1984, revision) entitled, "The Dialogue Decalogue: Ground Rules for Interreligious, Interideological Dialogue."

It can apply to discussions about religion, about politics, or heck, about drama among family members. Here are some highlights:
FIRST COMMANDMENT: The primary purpose of dialogue is to learn, that is, to change and grow in the perception and understanding of reality, and then to act accordingly. Minimally, the very fact that I learn that my dialogue partner believes “this” rather than “that” proportionally changes my attitude toward her; and a change in my attitude is a significant change in me. We enter into dialogue so that we can learn, change, and grow, not so we can force change on the other, as one hopes to do in debate—a hope realized in inverse proportion to the frequency and ferocity with which debate is entered into. On the other hand, because in dialogue each partner comes with the intention of learning and changing herself, one's partner in fact will also change. Thus the goal of debate, and much more, is accomplished far more effectively by dialogue.
THIRD COMMANDMENT: Each participant must come to the dialogue with complete honesty and sincerity. It should be made clear in what direction the major and minor thrusts of the tradition move, what the future shifts might be, and, if necessary, where the participant has difficulties with her own tradition. No false fronts have any place in dialogue.
            Conversely—each participant must assume a similar complete honesty and sincerity in the other partners.  Not only will the absence of sincerity prevent dialogue from happening, but the absence of the assumption of the partner's sincerity will do so as well. In brief: no trust, no dialogue.
FOURTH COMMANDMENT: In interreligious, interideological dialogue we must not compare our ideals with our partner's practice, but rather our ideals with our partner's ideals, our practice with our partner's practice. 
If you have ever wondered how to have a good conversation with someone you disagree with, this would be a good piece to read. I recommend it to everyone and will myself attempt to live by it.

Happy dialoguing!

Binyamin Netanyahu's Response at WH to Obama's Mideast Policy Speech

Wherein Obama gets schooled...

This is one of those proud moments when I'm glad that Netanyahu is Prime Minister of Israel. He makes me feel at ease and relieved about the situation. No matter what curve ball Obama or the UN throws him, the idea I have in the back of my mind is that Netanyahu can handle it, something that he has demonstrated here. Hands down, he is my favorite politician.

Something I didn't know about Netanyahu until today was that although he is the only Israeli politician who was born in Israel after its inception in 1948, he graduated from MIT and then Harvard, lived in Philadelphia, and speaks English. It doesn't need repeating that Israelis are friends of the U.S. If Obama is truly for democracy in the Middle East, he should be siding with Israel a lot more than he is. Israel is currently the only democracy in the Middle East and has proven its alliance to us. If he is for democracy and not for Israel, then I wonder whether he is really sincere.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama's Speech on Middle East Policy

Hillary Clinton gave an introduction. President Obama begins speaking at 4:20.

13:57 is when he begins talking about American foreign policy.

Some paraphrases about changes in policy: The nuclear arms race and al-Qaeda are opposed, and our ally Israel will be supported, but these three aspirations are "narrow and limited." Two years ago in Cairo, Obama apparently gave a similar speech on Mideast policy, which he referenced himself. A premise: "The status quo is not sustainable." Fault lines will tear us up. As per recent events, America values Mideast citizens more than their dictators, furthering self-determination for the individual. Around minute 16, he begins this discourse:
"We face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that  the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is, in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be."
Good luck, President Obama.

To his credit, he dismisses the notion that the United States will be the major force in cultivating democracy in the Middle East and said that he supports self-determination of the people.

Obama received applause when he said, "The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region."

He went on to propose a set of "universal rights." Free speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose leaders were all mentioned.

He also supports "political and economic reform" in the Middle East and North Africa.

And then, here's a quote and a half:
Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest. Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions and supported by all the diplomatic, economic, and strategic tools at our disposal. 
Translation: We're going to give countries lots and lots of money, the U.S. is going to be even more in debt, and we'll be even more tangled up in the Middle East—which probably just isn't smart. (On the bright side, though, we could go all Star Trek and abolish the money system.)

Some more quotes about the specifics of policy reform for the United States:
"It will be the policy of the Unites States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy." He mentions Egypt and Tunisia as specifics. Then he gives another quote and a half: "But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place."
Heck no, Mr. President.

He talked about enforcing international law on Yemen and Bahrain for violating its people's universal rights. What that means, he says, is to make dictators and protestors talk to each other. Somehow. My interjection here is, if we're wanting to do this with every nation, how long will that take? Let that question sink in...

America's support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability, promoting reform, and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy. And we're gonna start with Tunisia and Egypt. (Sources he proposes: 1. The World Bank, and 2. the U.S.) ... "...we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt.
Now, as a Middle East history nerd, I have to facepalm at this one. Egypt's economy has been in the hole since the 1950s because Gamal Abdul Nasser kept on going to war with Israel and Israel kept on winning. In 1973 when Anwar Sadat came to power, he went to war with Israel one last time just to cap the thing off, and Egypt has been quietly attempting to fix its economy ever since—to moderate avail. That's why Egypt has been so dormant until now, and why people feared the worst with an upheaval, regardless of who initiated the upheaving. People feared it was a ticking time bomb.

Is this a slap in the face to Israel? Or is it a tremendous amount of forgiveness toward Egypt for its warmongering? Does Obama want to the United States to be the International Police and Jesus? What's going on here?

He goes on to say that powerful economies in the Middle East can mirror those in Europe after WWII and the inception of the EU. He's filled with a lot of faith. I, on the other hand, along with most conservatives, Christians, and Jews, are not. I am very pessimistic. The glass is less than half-empty in the Middle East.

At 37:20, Obama begins talking about Israel, a country that had been absent in his speech beforehand.
The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel, too, must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.
It is unclear whether the former referenced by the use of the word "too" was supposed to be the United States or the Palestinians. I'm also not really sure what he means by his statements directly thereafter.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's statement about Obama's speech via Facebook

President Obama's vision for a perfect world would make great fiction. But he is playing God, and like the rest of us who try to do that, I predict he will fail miserably. I wish peace were possible in my lifetime. If I thought it were possible, I would be all for it. But unfortunately, it seems like people—especially Obama—are looking at this through a historical lens that is far, far too narrow.

Michele Bachmann Scores MAJOR Cool Points For Pro-Israel Christians

I guess this is her way of making up for not participating in the South Carolina GOP debate. Here are her remarks at a recent event with the Republican Jewish Coalition in Los Angeles:

From The Minnesota Independent:
I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States . . . [W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle.  
Right now in my own private Bible time, I am working through Isaiah . . . and there is continually a coming back to what God gave to Israel initially, which was the Torah and the Ten Commandments, and I have a wonderful quote from John Adams that if you will indulge me [while I find it] . . . [from his February 16, 1809 letter to Fran├žois Adriaan van der Kemp]:
"I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization." 
. . . So that is a very long way to answer your question, but I believe that an explicit statement from us about our support for Israel as tied to American security, we would do well to do that.

That was one very good first impression she made on me, for sure.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I know it's not the primaries yet, but I'm a political nerd, so...

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. Firstly, I can't believe I watched the GOP pre-debate debate...thing. Sure, I learned some about the candidates. But some other big names went glaringly missing: Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin, to name...most of them. Huckabee has since announced that he will not run, something we should have been clued in on. There's been quite a bit of media muckraking going on with Gingrich. I was under the impression that Michele Bachmann had quite a bit of Tea Party support; I was looking forward to getting to know more about her positions, but she didn't show. And I haven't heard anything from Sarah Palin recently, which is very odd considering she's and all her ardent, screaming fans have been talking about her 2012 bid since before Obama was elected. So the whole thing was just a little bit confusing since no one had yet announced.

From left: Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Gary Johnson

You noticed I left out Donald Trump, didn't you? No? Good. He's not running, which I'm glad about. Most of the Republican Party is pretty much saying "Good riddance," yet liberal news outlets are still yammering that he was the most popular pre-pick (only because THEY had him on TV constantly for familiarity when no one else was talking yet about running! Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.)


Basically, I was excited about watching the debate, and then I realized how much of a mess it was. The conservative umbrella is a wide one. If you vote for a Democrat, you pretty much know what you're getting...mostly. But conservatism encompasses multiple parties and ideologies, from Libertarian to unique Independents to social conservatives, each with different opinions on foreign policy. Gary Johnson and Ron Paul went so far as to support the legalization of marijuana, heroin, and prostitution, which crosses the line for most social conservatives. If prostitution and the drugs that keep women trapped in those positions were legalized, liberty and safety for women would be no more. While I appreciated Ron Paul's adherence to the Constitution and his dedication to freedom, violating women's natural rights—in some cases, all three—by legalizing sex slavery violates the Declaration of Independence and everything we stand for. I would hope that as a President he would not usurp the power of the states or Congress to enact his own agendas in this manner. But would I be able to trust him to be a Constitutional president?

Gary Johnson

About the drugs, I have to wonder how that would work out in a practical sense. What about court-mandated rehabilitation and hospitalization programs? What about all the psychologists who are employed to do that for a living? What about probation? Without those things, people don't come in for help. Their families are not equipped to help them quit and stay clean. Theft, burglary, and robbery would increase, indirectly stamping on the natural right to property and for that property to be protected by law. There is also the tie to prostitution, because drugs and prostitution are all about money. These are called social problems. We want to keep them to a minimum, at least in the forcing sense. As glorified as it sounds, the 1800s West was not the safest place to be, and I'd like to not go back there.

Tim Pawlenty

And then you had Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum, two pro-life social conservatives, who as far as I can tell, are pretty cookie-cutter. If I don't vote for Herman Cain, I may end up voting for one of these guys. But to be honest, I still don't know a lot about them—I was a little bit focused on how incredibly nervous, almost stuttering, they both were. Their nervousness contrasted greatly with the powerful, electrifying presence of the only one who brought sense and peace to the room: Herman Cain. He just brought everybody together. When he spoke, people applauded. The guy has charisma. And he has morals. And he's a Christian, and he believes in limited government. I'd be interested to see how his campaign unfolds. I mean, who else has said that they were called by God to run for President?

Herman Cain

About that. I think that even if he doesn't win the race, he will have won something for conservatives. If nothing else, it will be a diffusion of all the racism accusations we've been getting. It's pretty clear that he's the Tea Party's most-loved candidate so far, simply because of who he is and what he stands for. It's not because he's black. But because he's black, people will listen. No longer will Barack Obama's supporters be able to hold racial diversity up as a liberal ideal. It is an American ideal. Isn't that the way it should be? Why are liberals so eager to keep half of the country racist anyway? Would it make them angry to have racism abolished? As Herman Cain once said so eloquently, "The race card has expired."

Juan Williams asking questions (sorry, I took screen shots, and that was the best one I could get of him)

So, I really do think that God is going to have him do something. In fact, there's a lot that he's already done. If Barack Obama was the new Lincoln (which, he's not; he's more like the new Jefferson), then Herman Cain is the new Martin Luther King Jr.—a black Baptist preacher with a soul, and a desire to see the races unified, not divided (ahem, Black Panthers...cough). If I remember correctly, that was King's dream, and it fills me with a lot of American pride to see Herman Cain up there like that.

Herman Cain is a guy I could get behind. But what kind of President would he make? For all of the candidates, this question has yet to be answered.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Republican Primary Debate Scheduled for May 5th, 2011 in Greenville, SC

Greenville, South Carolina will be hosting the first Republican Primary debate of this year tonight at 9:00 pm ET on the Fox News Channel. I will be watching it online.

Candidates who will be debating:
  1. Herman Cain
  2. Gary Johnson
  3. Ron Paul
  4. Tim Pawlenty
  5. Rick Santorum
Missing GOP Primary potentials include Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachman, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and (if you can call him a Republican) Donald Trump.

According to some sources, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin have filed no paperwork, which some think suggests that they do not plan to run at all. As of yet, no one has officially announced their candidacy.

As for me, I'm glad that things are finally picking up for the 2012 Presidential Election. I'm starting to get excited, and since I only know about two of those five candidates listed, I look forward to educating myself about the Republicans running. 

For more information about this debate and other events, visit 2012 Election Central.

Further Reading:
1. The All-American Blogger: Herman Cain Accepts Invitation to May 5th GOP Debate
2. TVNEWSER: AP, Reuters Won't Cover Fox News Republican Debate

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Moral Conflict Over Osama's Death

Yesterday, the country was alive with activity over the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden. Reactions ranged from jubilation and pride to disgust and grief. I portrayed Osama's death in yesterday's post as a positive thing, because I perceived it to be the general consensus at the time. But after the initial collective reaction, I also observed a counter-reaction of people warning against gloating over an enemy and responding with disgust that people could rejoice over a death.

As for me, I watched in interest. I honestly don't feel a lot of emotion over political matters, which is one reason why they interest me. I saw that people became very focused on their emotions, which is something I simply hadn't thought of focusing on. (If emotion is not necessary, I prefer to conserve my energy for thought as often as possible. It's just my personality. To be dead honest with you, any excitement I did feel was tied to the idea that that yesterday will make it into the history textbooks, which is why I was excited at the chance to write about it.) What some people thought would be an opportunity for bipartisan unity instead became a huge moral bickering session. So although the question "How should I feel?" does not interest me personally, it is very relevant; and although I do not have an answer to it, I would like to offer my thoughts.

Firstly, a good comparison would be to imagine yourself in 1945 hearing the news over the radio that Hitler is dead. How would you feel then? If you feel happy, would it be right? If you feel sad, would it be right? If you feel mixed emotions or your emotions cancel out like mine, would it be right? How would God feel? Do you think you would have known yet about the concentration camps?

Secondly, Spock makes a good point in The Wrath of Khan when he says, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one." While Spock certainly wouldn't rejoice over bin Laden's death, I think he would say that it is logical—at least according to the moral code in the world of Star Trek.

But we don't live in such a clean cut world. I serve a God who was "grieved" when he wiped the whole world out in a flood. The very concept of mercy goes against our logic, because it is supernatural. Moreover, Nazi commanders were some of the most unemotional, aloof people the 20th Century has known. If God himself is emotional, then emotion must have something to do with logic—assuming, of course, that wisdom is logical, and that God is both emotional and wise. I cannot speak for God, but I believe that he is grieved because of the terrorism, sexual abuse, and oppression that has happened under Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. I also think that his grief is not limited to those whom the leaders oppress, but to the leaders as well. Therefore, I do believe that God is grieved about Osama's death and assumed eternal punishment, but there are plenty of examples in Scripture where God commands war. More accurately, God even used war, adultery, prostitution, and other human failings to further his will, because nothing on this earth can ever be perfect until Jesus comes to restore it.

I think this concept is important. Because the world is fallen, I don't feel any different today than I felt yesterday or the day before about it. Christians generally hold an ideal of pacifism because of the teachings of Christ, but these teachings were directed at his followers as a way of standing out in a fallen world and not getting tied up in it. I don't think it is meant to cover people in the world, whether we're referring to those who commit acts of evil on a large scale or their enemies. If the man who assassinated bin Laden valued pacifism, he wouldn't have been a Navy SEAL. I understand, however, that the issue is taken not at the assassination itself, but to Americans' reactions to it at home, and I think it's a good thing that people are attempting to rein in the jubilation. It means we are a more moral society.

Simply put, I do not think that there is a right or a wrong answer to this. Sound arguments can be made either way, and anyone is welcome to do so. I think judging the hearts of either side would be the unwise thing to do. One could even argue for why Proverbs 24:17 doesn't fully apply here; most personal enemies only have themselves in mind and are willing to step on others in order to climb the ladder, but we have no idea how many deaths bin Laden is responsible for both here and in the Middle East, and the cause of jihad or genocide is much larger than the cause of one's own personal gain. Furthermore, Osama bin Laden is not my enemy, at least not nearly as much as he might be the enemy of the families of the 3,000 who died in the September 11th attacks, so I have a hunch that this verse is probably more for them than it is for the rest of us anyway.

To conclude, I nether rejoiced nor grieved, because I know that the world is just not that simple.


US President Barack Obama addressed the nation tonight with the biggest news since the twin towers collapsed on 9/11—that Osama bin Laden, leader of the Pakistani-based Al-Qaeda terrorist network that was responsible for the attacks in 1993 and 2001, was shot in the head and killed during an intelligence-led US operation in Pakistan.

He had been hiding in a mansion in the mountains that run along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. President Obama stated in his speech tonight that the White House had been tipped off with information of his location last week.

He also said that when he was inaugurated, the mission of finding and killing Osama bin Laden was considered a "top priority" of his Presidency.

People were celebrating in the streets of Washington D.C. A camera filming in front of the White House recorded people waving American flags, chanting "U.S.A." and singing the Star Spangled Banner and "Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye."

ABC News has a fully informative story on the matter, complete with bin Laden's personal history.

NPR reports that former President George W. Bush gave a statement, calling the operation a "momentous achievement."

UPDATE: Among those killed were one of bin Laden's sons, two Al-Qaeda couriers, and a woman used by one of them as a human shield.