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reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Stolen Icon Recovered

Greek police have recovered the wonder working icon which had been stolen from the Elona Monastery.

This article has more details.

Tsarina Returns to Russia

Photo from www.chron.com

The remains of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna were returned to Russia this week.

A burial was held in the crypt of Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Patriarch Alexei II served at the reburial ceremonies.

Here is an article with more details.

According to the article Patriarch Alexei made the following statements regarding the reburial services:

"This will be another sign that Russia is overcoming the enmity and divisions brought by the revolution and civil war," Alexy said in a televised funeral at St. Isaac's Cathedral in the old imperial capital.

Alexy earlier described the return of the empress's remains for honored reburial as "a great historic and spiritual event for Russia" that should be viewed as "an act of repentance on the part of society and the state."

Vioxx Litigation Deadline

There has been a recent surge in filings of lawsuits against Merck claiming damages from Vioxx.

Merck currently faces over 21,000 Vioxx related lawsuits.

In most states today is the final day that such lawsuits may be filed.

This article has more details.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Owens Corning Bankruptcy Plan Approved...Finally

A Federal Judge has given approval to the reorganization plan of Owens Corning.

This article has the details.

Owens Corning filed for bankruptcy in 2000 after facing billions of dollars in asbestos claims.

Merck's Next Headache?

Here is an interesting article on a pending class-action lawsuit against Merck.

More information on this case can be found here.

Merck wins again

Merck has been found not liable in the latest Vioxx trial. More details can be found here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Juror Probed in Texas Vioxx Case

A court ordered probe has been launched into the actions of a juror from a recent Vioxx case heard in Texas.

More details can be found in this article from the Houston Chronicle.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wyeth Wins

Wyeth was found not liable in the first trial over Prempro.

This article from the Houston Chronicle has the details.

A second Prempro trial is also underway. More details on this trial can be found here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Silicosis Story

Here is a very interesting article from the Houston Chronicle on the continuing investigation into questionable silicosis claims.

This article focuses on the relationship between the law firms of John O'Quinn and Ryan Foster here in Houston.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

At the Continental

Last Friday night I paid my first ever visit to the Continental Club in Houston.

Hayes Carll was headlining that night but there were two bands ahead of him on the bill.

I arrived for the end of happy hour and caught the tail end of a set by Molly and the Ringwalds. The Ringwalds are a pretty well known 80's cover band that have been popular in Houston for several years now. You can take a trip down 80's memory lane by viewing their songlist here. They were great fun and the happy hour crowd was really drunk and really into it.

Next up were the Dedringers. I have heard these guys a few times now and they just keep getting better. Hopefully there will be another cd at some point.

Hayes Carll played a great show as always. His band, the Gulf Coast Orchestra, joined him for this performance. He played all his usual songs plus two or three that I had not heard before. Maybe some new songs but I'm not sure.

I was pretty impressed with the Continental Club. It is part of neat little block in midtown that also includes Sig's Lagoon (a funky little music store that has one of the best selections of Townes Van Zandt recordings that I have ever seen!), and a rather extraordinary taco place.

Oh...and thanks to the bartender for the complimentary shot of whiskey during Hayes' set...a man who truly understands the show.

Monday, September 11, 2006


The 2,996 Project seemed like a great idea for remembering the victims of 9/11. Every victim's name was adopted by an individual blogger who would do a special post today on that person's life.

The site has been down all day due to the overwhelming number of people trying to view it. Check back in a few days or weeks to see if it is working. I am sure it will be worth the wait. One example of the project from it's creator can be found here.

A mirror-site for the 2,996 Project (that may or may not work) can be found here.

I also found this moving memorial page on CNN.com.

Not to be overlooked in the enormity of the tragedy of that day is the fate of the small Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at the World Trade Center.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Address of the Synod of Bishops to the Flock

This Address to the ROCOR faithful is from the official ROCOR website:

Dear in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters!

For 90 years now, the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia have existed on all continents, along with monasteries, publishing houses and parishes. Everything that signifies church life: parish councils, sisterhoods, schools, youth groups, general parish meetings, magnificent choirs, altar boys, etc. gathered around them. All this arose as diocesan conferences and Church Councils convened, which regulated all of church life. Thus, through the chaos of the persecution of the Russian Church, the Russian Orthodox people gathered to stand around their Hierarchy, which found itself abroad, and strove to serve towards the emancipation and rebirth of their people on the foundation of the Orthodox Faith.

Within the boundaries of Russia, persecution took the form of the absolute destruction of faith in Christ. Much was destroyed, many suffered. But the Lord did not permit the disappearance of the Church in our Homeland. In those places where ancient churches survived, people are once again gaining spiritual nourishment. That which was destroyed is being rebuilt. Church life is rising from the ashes. Archpastors, clergymen and believers are trying to rebuild Orthodox Russia anew. This process of renascence requires effort and the strength of will, since it is necessary to conduct spiritual educational work with the descendants of the generations of godless violence which touched absolutely every person without exception. Many obstacles remain on this path, but we see that these obstacles, and the remnants of Soviet times, are gradually being overcome.

The day has arrived when we must seek the reestablishment of communion with the wellspring of our own traditions. For there are two wills at work—one being that of those Russians who are children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, prepared in every way to cooperate in the reestablishment of church life and development of the spirituality of the people, and the other is from our brethren and sisters in Russia, who labor towards her rebirth and extend their hand to us.

Positive changes in the church life of our Homeland spurred the Council of Bishops of October 2000 to establish a Committee on the unity of the Russian Church and to bless the organization of scholarly conferences on church history with the participation of the members of our Church and representatives of the Church in Russia. These conferences were held in 2001 and 2002. Then, in December 2003, a Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate was formed. At the same time, the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate decided to create a similar Commission on dialog with our Church. This bore witness to the earnest and good-willed effort of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church to make sense of the tragedy of our common history, so that we "may discuss peacefully… whatever question there is which separates your communion from us," as we read in Canon 92 (103) of the Council of Carthage, which called upon the flock to trust their Hierarchy, which possessed the right to heal the divisions between the Orthodox and the Donatists.

The "Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia," the by-laws under which our Church lives, demand that we regularize the situation of the Local Russian Church. It is important to note that a commission to revise the "Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia" was established before the year 2000.

This shows that even then it was apparent that our "Regulations" are in need of amendment. Since 2000, new possibilities emerged in this regard. Now, in connection with the adoption of the "Act on Canonical Communion," our by-laws can be reexamined, taking into account new possibilities.

Still, it is necessary to point out that we are not discussing the "self-abolishment" of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Our Church will exist as before, as attested to by the first paragraph of the "Act on Canonical Communion:" "The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, conducting its salvific service in the dioceses, parishes, monasteries, brotherhoods and other ecclesiastical bodies that took shape through history, remains an indissoluble part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church." These words in the "Act" attest to the recognition on the part of the Moscow Patriarchate of our historical path and of the living bond between the entire Local Russian Orthodox Church and its part abroad, which always existed and which we never denied. This historical document will reestablish the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, through this mutual act acknowledging the lawful status of the Russian Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia. Each side, preserving its identity as a Church, will continue to exist in full legality and independence, but now recognizing the other side and declaring the unity of the Russian Church. For this reason, this means the reconciliation and mutual recognition of each other while yet preserving our administrative self-governance, for we understand the needs of our clergy and of our flock better than they understand them in Moscow.

The IV All-Diaspora Council and the Council of Bishops that followed approved the steps towards reestablishing unity already taken by our Hierarchy, and blessed its continued progress.

The above-mentioned "Act" has been approved and confirmed by the Synod of Bishops, but it will be finally adopted when it is signed by the Primates of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church. Working out the details of this signing, and also the Rite of the establishment of canonical communion has been assigned to the Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate. It is expected that it will embark on this task jointly with the Commission on dialog with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at their next meeting. Then, the results of this meeting will be considered at the next session of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in December of this year.

Dear in the Lord fathers, brothers and sisters! We do not intend to depart from our positions of principle, in particular with regard to the ecumenical movement. We intend to continue to firmly speak out in condemnation of the so-called "branch theory" and of joint prayer with heretics, which is emphasized in our anathema of ecumenism adopted by the Council of Bishops of 1983. This is reflected in the documents of the church Commissions confirmed by both Holy Synods and published in the official publications of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church. From this we see that in the Moscow Patriarchate, our attitude towards the heresy of ecumenism has long ago been absorbed. That is why we are not compromising the inherited principles which have always guided us. Still, we were always open to dialog with everyone, but on the condition that this be done without any hindrance to Orthodox teaching. In the decisions of the Councils of Bishops we always held fast to the ecclesiology of moderation, and never rejected the presence of grace in the Moscow Patriarchate or in other Local Churches.

We will continue to maintain the spirit of our great fathers, the founders of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, following their legacy and the historical path of our Church. To carry this great inheritance to Russia is the mission we strive to fulfill.

We will always remember that only in the Kingdom of Heaven will everything be perfect and good, that in the Church on earth we will perpetually experience difficulties caused by human passions, failings, temptations and sins, which must be overcome by means of beneficial fraternal dialog and cooperation, condescension, understanding and a Christian attitude towards each other, as Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians: "correct such a one in the spirit of meekness" (Galatians 6:1).

In conclusion, let us remember Schema-Archimandrite Amvrossy (Kurganov) of blessed memory, the Abbot of Vvedensky Milkovo Monastery in Serbia, whence came several bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, since departed. The eminent church figure of the Russian diaspora, P.S. Lopukhin, writing on the Christian death of Fr Amvrossy, said: "I preserve in my memory this image of a man, weeping in joy on his death bed for Divine unity." Blessed Metropolitan Anthony said of Fr Amvrossy that in spirit he was closer to him than anyone.

May God grant all of us to experience this feeling of "spiritual joy in Divine unity," leading us to the successful conclusion of the process of reconciliation of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church.

May the Lord help us! Amen.

Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

+ Mark, Archbishop of Berlin and Germany

+ Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America

+ Michael, Bishop of Geneva and Western Europe

+ Gabriel, Bishop of Manhattan

+ Peter, Bishop of Cleveland

Decision Reached on the "Act on Canonical Communion"

This press release is from the official ROCOR website:

NEW YORK: September 6, 2006

The Synod of Bishops Makes a Decision on the “Act on Canonical Communion”

The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, at its regular session on August 24/September 6, 2006, considered:

The report of the Secretary of the Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, on the results of the seventh joint meeting of the Commissions held in late June of this year.

After an exhaustive discussion of the matter, decreed:

To take into consideration the report of Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff.

On the basis of the decision of the Council of Bishops of May 15-19, 2006, to confirm and approve the “Act on Canonical Communion” in its revised form as prepared by the church Commissions at the seventh joint meeting, along with other materials developed by the Commissions.

In accordance with the directions of the Council of Bishops of 2006, to instruct the Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate, jointly with the Commission on dialog with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, to work out the details of the ceremony of the signing of the “Act” and the Rite of establishment of canonical communion of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Also, in accordance with the decision of the Council of Bishops, to authorize Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Chairman of the Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate, to coordinate together with Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun the simultaneous publication of the “Act” which has been confirmed by both Holy Synods on the official websites of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church.

To consider at the next expanded session of the Synod of Bishops, to be scheduled at the time of the feast day of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God this year, on the proposals prepared by the joint Commissions at their next meeting.

To inform the flock through a special Address on the present state of the negotiation process and the proposed plans for the future.

Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

+ Mark, Archbishop of Berlin and Germany

+ Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America

+ Michael, Bishop of Geneva and Western Europe

+ Peter, Bishop of Cleveland

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Upcoming Concerts

9/7 - Chris Isaak at Verizon Theater
9/7 - Carrie Rodriguez at the Mucky Duck
9/8 - Idgy Vaughn at the Mucky Duck
9/8 - Hayes Carll at the Continental Club
9/9 - Todd Snider at the Mucky Duck
9/12 - Cory Morrow at the Mucky Duck
9/12 - Hank III at Meridian
9/13 - Max Stalling at Pufabelly's
9/15 - Dale Watson at the Continental Club
9/16 - Gary P. Nunn at Armadillo Palace
9/16 - Guster/Ray LaMontagne at Verizon Theater
9/17 - Kaki King at Meridian
9/21 - Druha Trava at the Mucky Duck
9/22 - Dedringers at Anderson Fair
9/23 - Kelly Willis at the Mucky Duck
9/29 - Jimmy LaFave at the Mucky Duck
9/29 - Houston Marchman at Anderson Fair
9/29 - James Hand at Blanco's
9/30 - Sidehill Gougers at Anderson Fair
9/30 - Steve Miller Band, Johnny Lang and Delbert McClinton at the Woodlands Pavilion

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The BBC and Jordanville

Father John Whiteford has a great post on a recent BBC program featuring the Summer School of Liturgical Music at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.

This radio program is required listening for all lovers of Russian Orthodox choral music!

The Summer School of Liturgical Music is administered every year by Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary.

Just Another Night At The Duck

Last night at the Mucky Duck the headlining act was Sisters Morales.

Now that act was worth the price of admission alone.

On top of that though the opening act was Abigail Washburn.

Abigail is a sensational new voice in the Americana/Bluegrass scene...who can even sing in Mandarin Chinese!

And...as if all that wasn't enough...the legendary banjo player Bela Fleck sat in with Abigail as part of the opening act.

The opening set with Abigail, Bela and cellist Ben Sollee was very entertaining and intriguing. Abigail Washburn brings an original and unique style to the Americana and Bluegrass musical traditions. She also has a great knowledge and appreciation for Chinese culture and music having toured throughout China. More information on her performances in China can be found here. Last night Abigail, Bela and Ben played a number of songs from her cd Song of the Traveling Daughter. The songs included the gently sublime Rockabye Dixie, Deep in the Night (with some great vocal harmonies between Abigail and Ben) and Song of the Traveling Daughter (sung in Mandarin). You can purchase Abigail Washburn's cds here.

Sisters Morales also put on a terrific show. This was the first time I had heard this group perform but I have been hearing of them for years. They are one of Houston's best known and most respected musical groups. You can read more about their background here. Their band also features one of the best lead guitar players around in David Spencer. The Sisters Morales put on a very high energy show performing a number of songs (in both Spanish and English) from their most recent cds. They also played a memorable encore set even bringing up Abigail, Bela and Ben to join in the fun. Highlights included a truly beautiful cello accompaniment by Ben Sollee on one song and an absolutely smoking "solos duel" between David Spencer and Bela Fleck on another song. The Bela Fleck fans, of whom many showed up, were not disappointed.

So with one of the world's greatest banjo players, another mandarin-singing banjo player and the hottest musical "Sister Act" around performing...it was just another night at the Duck.