Next Time, I'll Say, "No!"
Face the onslaught soon:
Paperwork surrounding me,
Deadlines pressing fast
"One might well become a holy fool oneself here! It's catching!"--Raskolnikov, from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Witness the musings of another Holy Fool, another follower of "God's own Fool."
The Washington Post does its part to prepare Americans for Dhimmitude. In an outrageous demonstration in Fourth Estate irresponsibility, the Paper today published What Hamas Is Seeking.
Our society has always celebrated pluralism in keeping with the unique history and traditions of the Holy Land. In recognizing Judeo-Christian traditions, Muslims nobly vie for and have the greatest incentive and stake in preserving the Holy Land for all three Abrahamic faiths. In addition, fair governance demands that the Palestinian nation be represented in a pluralistic environment. A new breed of Islamic leadership is ready to put into practice faith-based principles in a setting of tolerance and unity.Really? Then perhaps the distinguished bureau chief can explain Hamas' charter:
In that vein, Hamas has pledged transparency in government. Honest leadership will result from the accountability of its public servants. Hamas has elected 15 female legislators poised to play a significant role in public life. The movement has forged genuine and lasting relationships with Christian candidates.
As we embark on a new phase in the struggle to liberate Palestine, we recognize the recent elections as a vote against the failures of the current process. A new "road map" is needed to lead us away from the path of checkpoints and walls and onto the path of freedom and justice. The past decade's "peace process" has led to a dramatic rise in the expansion of illegal settlements and land confiscation. The realities of occupation include humiliating checkpoints, home demolitions, open-ended administrative detentions, extrajudicial killings and thousands of dead civilians.
The Islamic Resistance Movement was elected to protect the Palestinians from the abuses of occupation, based on its history of sacrifice for the cause of liberty. It would be a mistake to view the collective will of the Palestinian people in electing Hamas in fair and free elections under occupation as a threat.
the Islamic Resistance Movement, which is aware of the [prospective] parties to this conference, and of their past and present positions towards the problems of the Muslims, does not believe that those conferences are capable of responding to demands, or of restoring rights or doing justice to the oppressed. Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the nonbelievers as arbitrators in the lands of Islam. Since when did the Unbelievers do justice to the Believers? “And the Jews will not be pleased with thee, nor will the Christians, till thou follow their creed. Say: Lo! the guidance of Allah [himself] is the Guidance. And if you should follow their desires after the knowledge which has come unto thee, then you would have from Allah no protecting friend nor helper.” Sura 2 (the Cow), verse 120 There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game.I'm certain the Israelis who've buried husbands, wives and children will happily take Mr. Marzook at his word. Right.
We cannot fail to remind every Muslim that when the Jews occupied Holy Jerusalem in 1967 and stood at the doorstep of the Blessed Aqsa Mosque, they shouted with joy: “Muhammad is dead, he left daughters behind.” Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.
If Marzook wants the West to support Hamas, then they need to change their charter to recognize Israel and to abide by Palestinian Authority agreements on the road map. So far, Hamas continues to refuse both paths. Until they change their minds, the West has little choice but to respect the Palestinian electoral results and assume that they prefer the state of war that Hamas wants with Israel over negotiations for a permanent two-state solution and to direct their aid in concurrence with that reality. When people other than money-launderers and terrorists start speaking for the Palestinians, then perhaps the aid can flow once again.
I had planned to offer a reflection on Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. Then I discovered the joy of the blogosphere: there's always someone else that does a better job!
In some lines which seem very familiar to those of us who read Fr. Giussani, the Pope wrote:Do yourself a favor: Go read her entire post. You can thank me later!We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.This event is rooted historically in the Jewish experience of God's solicitude and preference for his people and is culminated in Christ's coming to us, gift of the Father, offering Himself on the Cross to unite all human beings to God definitively. The response to a love that is given to us is to return this love to God and neighbor. In contrast to an image of God associated with violence, the Pope wished to "speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others."
The first part goes straight into an analysis of human love: "The Unity of Love in Creation and in Salvation History." The first headlines on this encyclical indicated surprise that the Pope was not speaking on those thorny "conservative" issues. Instead, Pope Benedict, as teacher, goes to the heart of the matter. Our whole notion of love needs to be overhauled.
He starts with language first, our way of communicating and ultimately thinking of everything, including the most vital subject of relationships. The problem is the one of tension between eros and agape. Eros is that phenomenon of falling in love, of ecstasy, which can be overpowering. In some way, in such an experience we can feel we lose ourselves and achieve a happiness which goes beyond our temporal limits. It can also be a trap. In literature, eros is sometimes portrayed as an illness when it becomes obsessive and destructive, as with Proust's "Captive" or Maugham's Of Human Bondage. Agape, the preferred word for the early Christians, seemed to distance itself from the former self-seeking type of love in favor of one which seeks a union in sacrifice for the other.
The Pope takes on Nietzsche's accusation that Christianity had poisoned eros, relegating it to the category of sin. He traces eros back to the fertility cults in the pagan religions and temple prostitution. The Jewish people were forbidden this kind of idolatrous and exploitive practice. Love was a choice made by God for a people, and the covenant was the way to live in faithful relationship with Him. The commandments they were given are rooted in the creation of the world, to restore the relationship between the person and God and by consequence the relations between individuals. The Pope underlined that we are made body and soul, and any view that denies one or the other is ultimately dehumanizing and degrading. Instead love implies more.
Hat tip to David over at Cosmos-Sex-Liturgy.
The following is not a parody.Now, they say that in the land of the blind, the man with one eye is king. However, I can't help but wonder what kind of darkness both Q and A live in. Never mind Q's ridiculously narcissistic position for the moment; how hard is A thrashing about to find virtue?Q In your last column, you said it wasn't necessary to list hobbies (especially unpopular ones) on a resumé. I'm a 26-year-old, gay male thinking seriously about entering the Catholic priesthood. I'm sexually active, but only once a week, at a Saturday night club with a small group of friends. I think of that as my hobby.
Given the Catholic Church's stance on gays in seminary, do I have to tell them about this? After all, even if I kept this up after ordination, I'd still be as celibate as most other priests.
A Celibacy is like pregnancy: either you are, or you aren't. You aren't, and more to the point aren't prepared to be.
The Catholic Church does not consider its priests "employees;" the relationship, according to doctrine which you'd have to affirm, is more like marriage between the priest and the Church. So, yes, tell them. Whether other priests are celibate is not your concern; "everybody's doing it" is a poor basis for ethical decisions. The fact that the Church's stance on gays in the priesthood is morally wrong is also irrelevant. They've taken their position, you know what it is, so 'fess up and let the pieces fall where they may.
Reuters has the story here.
The Republican-led Senate on Monday soundly defeated a Democratic bid to block Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito -- clearing the way for confirmation of the 55-year-old federal judge, who could move the nation's highest court to the right.Listen. Do you hear that?
On a vote of 72-25 -- 12 more than the 60 needed -- the Senate approved a motion to end debate and proceed forward on President George W. Bush's nominee.
A confirmation vote is set for Tuesday and Alito has a commitment from a required simple majority to be approved.
"I am pleased that a strong, bipartisan majority in the Senate decisively rejected attempts to obstruct and filibuster an up-or-down vote on Judge Sam Alito's nomination," Bush said in a statement.
"Judge Alito is extraordinarily well-qualified ... and America is fortunate that this good and humble man is willing to serve," Bush said.
A conservative federal appeals judge since 1990, Alito would replace the more moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. O'Connor, the first woman U.S. Supreme Court justice, who is retiring, often has been the swing vote on the nine-member court on abortion, civil rights and other social issues.
Alito, who received the American Bar Association's top rating for a seat on the high court, would be the second Bush Supreme Court nominee confirmed within months.
In September, the Senate approved John Roberts as chief justice on a vote of 78-22, with half the 44 Senate Democrats and one independent backing Roberts to replace the late William Rehnquist, a fellow conservative.
With the balance of the court now possibly at stake, the final vote on Alito was certain to be closer.
Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, led the effort to stage a filibuster, a procedural hurdle that permits unlimited debate to stop a nominee.
They argued Alito posed a threat to civil rights and abortion rights and would not be an effective check on presidential powers.
It's still fashionable for Reasonable pundits to trot out the tired old stereo-types, especially if they're condemning the Foolishness of those that take the Magisterium seriously.
A controversial Catholic organization*, Opus Dei is now widely known from the bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, a novel by American author Dan Brown, soon to be a major film starring Tom Hanks that will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.Ad homenim attacks, "gotcha!" guilt-by-associations and yawn-inducing non sequitors infect this reeking example of paranoid mouth-foaming at its finest. I would suggest that Mr. Carmichael drill some holes in his tin hat to let off some steam, but, of course, he wouldn't listen. I'm one of those Fools that's in on the conspiracy, after all.
In 1928, a Catholic priest who acquired a doctorate in law, Josemaría Escrivá founded Opus Dei in Spain. Escrivá's juridical attitude to religious doctrine permeates Opus Dei and is the source of its attraction to members of the legal profession. Opus Dei received massive political support after the fascist victory in the Spanish Civil War. Generalissimo Francisco Franco protected and fostered conservative elements within Opus Dei by appointing eight ministers to powerful positions in his government. In Spain, Opus Dei is still regarded as a potent political force. In 2002, Escrivá was canonized.
Why, then, is an Alito membership in Opus Dei of major significance? In addition to his activist record on the federal bench and his conservative ideology, Alito is deemed to be a menace to the balance of power as well as the constitutional rights of Americans. Judge Alito's affiliation with Opus Dei may be a factor in the strident opposition from Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, both progressive Roman Catholics who do not approve of the influence of religious dogma on political ideology. The majority of Americans believe in the separation of church and state, while many religious conservatives such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell would transform America into a theocratic state. Robertson and Falwell are staunch supporters of Judge Alito.
While the Moral Majority, the 700 Club and a growing bloc of Christian Conservatives have wielded a great deal of political influence in America, two years ago these protestant fundamentalists formed a coalition with conservative Catholics to re-elect President George Bush. In 2004, the Vatican intervened directly into the US presidential election to endorse their champion, George Bush(emphasis mine).
We Fools have it all wrong. Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are not traitors; they're merely dissidents. Therefore, they're actually patriots!
Rago's brief report on the event -- "Rosenberg reruns" -- opens a window onto the mentality of the left and its enduring hostility to the United States as well as its tortured relationship to the truth. Consider that the guilt of the Rosenbergs has been established beyond a reasonable doubt at least since the publication in 1983 of The Rosenberg File by Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton. See also Radosh's New York Sun column "Filling in the gaps in the Rosenberg file."The love affair many Reasonable Individual Absolutists have with communism continues to this day. A Nanny State to ease all of our social conscience allows us all to pursue the One Thing that Matters without care. Therefore, Marx's dream and Stalin's nightmare must become the Law of the Land. Any Reasonable person can see this. All the Rosenburg's did was further this noble goal, which is obviously in America's best interest. Therefore, they must be patriots of the highest order. To paraphrase that famous military spokesman from the Vietnam Era, they had to destroy America in order to save her.
It's hard to believe that the Rosenberg case has a continuing impact on the left today, although the syndrome on display at the conference seems to represent the heart of the contemporary left -- in Rago's words, turning treason into dissent and then patriotism. Kushner and Doctorow speak:Mr. Kushner argued the Rosenbergs were "murdered, basically." Mr. Doctorow went further, explaining that he wanted to use their circumstances to tell "a story of the mind of the country." It was a mind, apparently, filled with loathing and paranoia--again, never mind the truth of the charges against the Rosenbergs or other spies of the time. "The principles of the Cold War had reached absurdity," he continued. "We knew that the Russians were no threat, but we wanted to persuade Americans to be afraid" and so impose "a Puritan, punitive civil religion." Pronounced Mr. Kushner: "Our failure to come to terms with a brutal past, our failure to open up the coffins and let the ghosts out, has led to our current, horrendous situation."Rago notes that when it came time to ask questions, the moderator instructed any "Cold War warriors" not to ask any "disrespectful" questions.
Roger L. Simon has a good point:
Hillary Clinton's move to join the anti-Alito filibuster is a dumb political move, as is this accompanying bit of bloviation:The pundit line, so far, is that Mrs. Clinton had no choice:"History will show that Judge Alito's nomination is the tipping point against constitutionally-based freedoms and protections we cherish as individuals and as a nation," Clinton wrote in a statement during a fundraising stop in Seattle.Good thing she just wrote it down because saying something that inane out loud would provide a perfect soundbite for Republican commercials in years to come.
Analysts said Clinton had little choice but to back the filibuster, given Kerry's Thursday announcement that he was reviving the stop-Alito movement. For all the talk of Clinton's shift to the center on abortion, she can ill-afford to let a possible adversary outflank her on the left among liberals who favor abortion rights, according to Jennifer Duffy, who monitors the Senate for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.With all due respect to Ms. Duffy, this is grade A horse manure. Mrs. Clinton's pro-abort bona fides are immpeccable. While the "Kos kids" may mouth-foam at her hawk status and her head-down domestic manuevering, the sensible secular-left among Reasonable democrats understand she is their best hope for uniting the party. Senator Kerry could not win the Presidency in 2004 when he faced a vulnerable President Bush in one of the highest turn-outs in American history. His efforts to court the Kos contigent notwithstanding, he'll find no warm embrace for a 2008 run. Mrs. Clinton's bow to the mouth-foaming Moloch Worshippers will undermine her effort to triangulate her political position. Remember: that's how President Clinton convinced the independents to support him in '92 and '96. If Mrs. Clinton can't appear "Moderate" to the swing voters, she's finished--and she already faces crushing opposition in the Mid-West and South.
"It's an empty gesture," Duffy said of Clinton's announcement. "What Democratic primary voter is going to vote for her if she didn't do everything to oppose Alito? ... She had to join John Kerry."
The Reasonable Washington Post has brought down to us mere Fools another token of revelation. Once again, an international crisis in the making is all bush's fault.
The election outcome signals a dramatic failure in the administration's strategy for Middle East peace, according to analysts and some U.S. officials. Since the United States cannot deal with an organization labeled a terrorist organization by the State Department, Hamas's victory is likely to curtail U.S. aid, limit official U.S. contacts with the Palestinian government and stall efforts to create an independent Palestinian state.Yes, of course that must be the reason Hamas won the overwhelming support of Palestinians! It has nothing to do whatsoever with Hamas'1988 charter:
More broadly, Hamas's victory is seen as a setback in the administration's campaign for greater democracy in the Middle East. Elections in Iran, Iraq, Egypt and now the Palestinian territories have resulted in the defeat of secular and moderate parties and the rise of Islamic parties hostile to U.S. interests.
The administration has long been criticized for being reluctant to get involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; even after Bush's 2002 speech, the policy drifted except for occasional high-profile speeches and events. But after Arafat's death in late 2004 and the beginning of the new presidential term, Bush vowed things would be different, saying he would invest "political capital" in ensuring a Palestinian state before he leaves office three years from now.
The effort went wrong on three fronts, according to interviews inside and outside the administration:· The administration put its hopes on the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and poured hundreds of millions of dollars to fund public works projects. But it failed to back him when he asked for concrete help, especially in his dealings with the Israelis.
· The administration was highly attuned to the shifts of Israeli politics but tone-deaf to the upheaval in Palestinian society. It was so focused on facilitating Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that it did not press Israel to end settlement expansion, release additional prisoners or take other measures that might have reduced Palestinian indignation.
· Despite deep Israeli misgivings, the administration late last year shifted policy and decided Hamas could participate in the elections even though it had not disarmed its militias, in contrast to rules set for elections in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection. Who can presume to speak for all Islamic Generations to the Day of Resurrection? This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari’a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. This [norm] has prevailed since the commanders of the Muslim armies completed the conquest of Syria and Iraq, and they asked the Caliph of Muslims, ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab, for his view of the conquered land, whether it should be partitioned between the troops or left in the possession of its population, or otherwise. Following discussions and consultations between the Caliph of Islam, ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab, and the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, be peace and prayer upon him, they decided that the land should remain in the hands of its owners to benefit from it and from its wealth; but the control of the land and the land itself ought to be endowed as a Waqf [in perpetuity] for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. The ownership of the land by its owners is only one of usufruct, and this Waqf will endure as long as Heaven and earth last. Any demarche in violation of this law of Islam, with regard to Palestine, is baseless and reflects on its perpetrators.(snip)
[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad: “Allah is the all-powerful, but most people are not aware.” From time to time a clamoring is voiced, to hold an International Conference in search for a solution to the problem. Some accept the idea, others reject it, for one reason or another, demanding the implementation of this or that condition, as a prerequisite for agreeing to convene the Conference or for participating in it. But the Islamic Resistance Movement, which is aware of the [prospective] parties to this conference, and of their past and present positions towards the problems of the Muslims, does not believe that those conferences are capable of responding to demands, or of restoring rights or doing justice to the oppressed. Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the nonbelievers as arbitrators in the lands of Islam. Since when did the Unbelievers do justice to the Believers? “And the Jews will not be pleased with thee, nor will the Christians, till thou follow their creed. Say: Lo! the guidance of Allah [himself] is the Guidance. And if you should follow their desires after the knowledge which has come unto thee, then you would have from Allah no protecting friend nor helper.” Sura 2 (the Cow), verse 120 There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game.(snip)
We cannot fail to remind every Muslim that when the Jews occupied Holy Jerusalem in 1967 and stood at the doorstep of the Blessed Aqsa Mosque, they shouted with joy: “Muhammad is dead, he left daughters behind.” Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. “Let the eyes of the cowards not fall asleep.”(snip)
Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde. It joins its efforts to all those who are active on the Palestinian scene, but more steps need to be taken by the Arab and Islamic peoples and Islamic associations throughout the Arab and Islamic world in order to make possible the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war. “We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loves not corrupters.” Sura V (Al-Ma’idah—the Table spread), verse 64.(snip)
The greedy have coveted Palestine more than once and they raided it with armies in order to fulfill their covetousness. Multitudes of Crusades descended on it, carrying their faith with them and waving their Cross. They were able to defeat the Muslims for a long time, and the Muslims were not able to redeem it until their sought the protection of their religious banner; then, they unified their forces, sang the praise of their God and set out for Jihad under the Command of Saladin al-Ayyubi, for the duration of nearly two decades, and then the obvious conquest took place when the Crusaders were defeated and Palestine was liberated. “Say (O Muhammad) unto those who disbelieve: ye shall be overcome and gathered unto Hell, an evil resting place.” Sura III (Al-Imran), verse 12. This is the only way to liberation, there is no doubt in the testimony of history. That is one of the rules of the universe and one of the laws of existence. Only iron can blunt iron, only the true faith of Islam can vanquish their false and falsified faith. Faith can only be fought by faith. Ultimately, victory is reserved to the truth, and truth is victorious. “And verily Our word went forth of old unto Our Bordmen sent [to warn]. That they verily would be helped. And that Our host, they verily would be the victors.” Sura 38 (Al-saffat), verses 171-3.Nah, that can't be it. It must be Bush's fault.
Since its creation in 1994, Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority has presided over the collapse of the Palestinian economy. He was given billions in aid, and squandered what he and his cronies didn't steal. With GDP down nearly 70 percent, Palestinians have seen their collective national net worth reduced by more than two thirds. Virtually nothing remains of a once reasonably vibrant private sector. Corruption exists on a scale that even the normally approving Europeans cannot abide. Public infrastructure has disintegrated. Public health standards, in 1993 the highest in the Arab world, are among the lowest. And the disastrously self-destructive terrorist war against Israel that Arafat started in September 2000, has reduced Palestinians to the most desperate conditions they have seen since the creation of Israel in 1948.(snip)
In addition to outright theft or misappropriation of funds, there is also faulty administration and a bloated public payroll. One of the chief consumers of funds in the chronically deficit-ridden Palestinian budget is the "police force" that exceeds 2% of the population, a size far above the limits imposed by the Oslo agreements, a force that is armed with weapons that are illegal under those agreements. Notwithstanding the large size and excessive armament of the force, it has not created the security environment that was its raison d'etre. In fact, the Palestinian police -- really Arafat's army -- are implicated in terrorism against Israel.Nah, that can't be it, either. It still must be Bush's fault.
There are many documented reports of rampant corruption and misuse of funds within the Palestinian Authority and its related governmental bodies. For example, in 1997, the PA received $548,727,000 from the international donor community. It also received more than $800 million in tax revenues collected by Israel from Palestinian Arabs. At the end of 1997, when the PA released its annual financial report, $323 million - nearly 40% of the annual budget - was "missing." Yasser Arafat is believed to have personally benefited, possibly with billions of dollars flowing into personal accounts. Yet, the world community continues to make donations to Arafat's organizations in order to try to buy peace, a process that is usually called extortion. Arafat and his coterie of unofficial economic "advisors," in the words of David Hirst:* ... have thrown up a ramshackle, nepotistic edifice of monopoly, racketeering and naked extortion, which merely enriches them as it further impoverishes the society at large.The embezzlement of US taxpayer funding, on a vast scale, by Yasser Arafat and other members of the Palestinian Authority is detailed in the report "Corruption within the Palestinian Authority", referenced below.
An investigation by Newsweek in 2000, on the brink of the Camp David talks, revealed abuses at almost every level of the Palestinian Authority. Said Newsweek:* Many top ministers staff their offices with cronies, dole out valuable contracts without oversight and create their own monopolies, which crush competition and drive up prices paid by hard-pressed consumers. The courts are powerless because Arafat simply ignores any inconvenient rulings. His 14 separate police forces enforce the whims of PA officials rather than laws aimed at protecting ordinary Palestinians. "It's a mafia state," says Abdul Jawad Saleh, a former Agriculture minister who was beaten by security forces recently for leading an anticorruption protest.Muhammad Rashid, Arafat's economic adviser, is vice president and one of the principle stockholders in Paltel, the monopoly set up by the PA and the Palestinian Development and Investment Co. (Padico) to run the telephone service.
In an investigative report from December 1998, The Financial Times reported that Rashid and Paltel were deeply involved in stealing the $160 million Gaza Employees Pension Fund, which was transferred to the PA by Israel in 1994 and emptied of its funds by Rashid between early 1996 and late 1997. Freih Abu Medein, the PA's justice minister told the paper at the time the money had been invested in telecommunications projects.
The Palestinian Mortgage Housing Corporation was involved in scandal in 1998, when the EU discovered that $20 million it had donated for the construction of low-cost housing in Gaza had been used instead to build luxury apartments for wealthy supporters of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
After eight years of the Palestinian Authority, by 2000 the average Palestinian in the West Bank or Gaza had a lower income and worse condtions. It is possible that Arafat walked away from Camp David so he could continue to use Israel as a scapegoat rather than face the mounting problems of the Palestinians under his rule.
"If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace the truth..."Would that our Reasonable pundits listen!
Big surprise there, right?
Here’s is Fisher again:“The encyclical is the highest form of papal teaching, and there had been much anticipation in the church for Benedict’s first, given his long service as Pope John Paul II’s outspoken, conservative defender of the faith.
But in contrast to his public reputation, Benedict, 78, who was elected in April, began his encyclical with a perhaps surprising first premise: conceding that the church has at times viewed sexuality as something “negative,” he placed erotic love between married men and women at the center of God’s plan.
Sex, he wrote, should mature into unselfish concern for the other, creating a love that leads to working for charity and justice for others.
Before becoming pope, when he was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict was often seen as a divisive figure, lauded by conservative Catholics for his devotion to orthodoxy and criticized by liberal ones for not sharing their vision for a changing, more modern church.
But Benedict’s elaboration on love and charity was largely praised across the church on Wednesday as a document that sought to express what is common to all Catholics.”
Thast’s the problem Ian. YOU are probably surprised because YOU were expecting an Encyclical about abortion, homosexuality, contraception or divorce. FYI, such “encyclical” has never been written and I don’t think it will. And that’s because the only line connecting the dots here is the three-letter word starting with an “s” and ending with an “x”. I won’t give you any further clues. But believe me, that word is not a Papal obsession.Bravo! Encore!
Don’t get me wrong. Coming from the NYT, Fisher’s story is pretty fair. The only problem with him is that he came late to the party. It has ALWAYS been about what is common to all Catholics.
Red tape mummifies,
Pope Benedict's First Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" was published yesterday.
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16).We all desperately need to experience this message and so believe it that it becomes part of our very being. May Deus Caritas Est help us all to do just that.
A Catholic Alternative to Europe's 'Third Way' sayz Acton Institute PowerBlog Catch the essence:
Even a cursory examination of European and American life reveals that the social democratic models have not achieved their goals. Europe is disintegrating more and more into a collection of individuals who rely on the state as their primary caregiver, and the effects on the family, society, and cultural output are insidious.Defenders of the conventional interpretation of CST will cry foul. Ms. Morse refuses to blind herself to the facts with a convenient ideology. The fact is that welfare statist policies often erode the very free associations that allow society to exist independent of the State. Taken to their logical conclusion, such policies give rise to totalitarian systems. Europe's precarious economic life teeters on the very edge of such an abyss. Arguing that such policies honor Catholic Social Teaching is to politicize and idealize CST. This will not help any struggling society.
Acton Senior Fellow, Jennifer Roback Morse, addressed several of these issues in a lecture with titled “Catholic Social Teaching on the Economy and the Family: an alternative to the modern welfare-state.” The lecture was part of the Centesimus Annus Lecture Series, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the John Paul II’s encyclical. The second of the series, The Family in New Economy, was held on January 21st at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Professor Manfred Spieker, one of Germany’s leading experts on Catholic social thought, also spoke. To listen to a Vatican Radio report on the conference go here.
Today everyone understands that communism is not a viable strategy for achieving either economic growth or solidarity with the poor.Morse continues:
The more urgent task now is to see that Western European socialism has also failed. Although some aspects of the Western European model originally claimed Christian inspiration and objective, it is now clear that the modern Western European welfare-state is collapsing. And while many modern countries share some of the problems I shall loosely call the “European social model,” it is Europe that most desperately needs a genuinely Catholic alternative.
The simplest way to see the failure of the extended welfare-state is to look at the demography of Western Europe. The demographic implosion of Europe has both economic and spiritual causes. And the demographic problem illustrates the most basic flaw of the system: it is not sustainable. The modern welfare-state or social assistance state can not replenish itself because it has marginalized the family. Rather than strengthen the family, as some originally intended it to do, the social assistance state has weakened and almost replaced the family.
The welfare state has also contributed to the marginalization of marriage… The life-time assistance of the state displaces the economic function of the family. The elderly don’t need adult children to support them in their old age. Women don’t need a husband to support them if they do have a child. Husbands become a nuisance, because the government will provide financial benefits without the inevitable difficulties of dealing with a flawed human being as a partner. In this environment, children become consumption goods, an optional life-style appendage to acquire only if one happens to enjoys children.
I need not say that a genuinely Christian social model would not have allowed itself to become so muddled about the meaning of something so basic as marriage. The combination of secularism, which discourages people from seeking meanings deeper than the material, and socialism, which attempts to satisfy the merely material needs, has led to this wide-spread social confusion.
First home commission: Create a character Now, the point of this exercise is to create a character in context, so that readers will empathize with him. Here it is:
My king slept. My murderous pursuer, who repaid my fealty with violence and persecution, snored. Saul did not look regal or treacherous now. Could this be the man that hounded me?Thoughts?
Abishai looked at me. He glanced at the spear in his hand, then at the back of my slumbering sovereign.
I could end the persecution. I could take my place upon the throne for which the Judge anointed me. Why should I not? If I killed Saul now, I removed a usurper to the throne.
I didn’t need Abishai; my own trembling hand held a spear. Saul would not be the first man I killed, or the last. I needed only one thrust.
But I hesitated. I remembered the first man I killed. The giant had walked out in front of the Philistine lines that day. He challenged Israel to send out a champion against him in single combat. No one answered.
I watched Goliath humiliate my king and scorn our nation—El’s own people! My heart burned; my right hand trembled. I would repay that Philistine for his dishonor of my God, king and country. I faced Goliath as Israel’s Champion. And the Lord worked through my own foolishness to deliver us from the Philistines’ oppression. I brought Goliath down with a stone and took his head with his own sword. The Israelites celebrated my victory, to my king’s shame.
His torment of me soon followed.
I could free myself from it with just one thrust. But I wouldn’t do it. Why had I stood against Goliath that day, if not to defend the honor of my God, country and king? Could I uphold their honor by taking my king’s life? Whether or not the Judge anointed me, he had anointed Saul first. Was I to act as my God’s own hand and deliver my king to Sheol?
No, I could no more take my king’s life than I could my own. The Lord would decide when I would reign. My king would die upon the sword, but not mine.
I caught Abishai’s eye, glanced at the king’s spear impaled near his head, and glanced away. He caught my meaning and grabbed it. We left my sleeping sovereign, to face the uncertain future my mercy had sown.
Catholic Pillow Fight has the tragic story here:
...remember a girl named Christin (I keep pronouncing it Christ-in, and I think you'll see why).Please keep Christin, her child and her horrifically misguided parents in your prayers. May God shower us all in his infinite Mercy.
Christin Gilbert was a 19 year old young lady who had Down's Syndrome. Sometime in 2005, she was sexually assaulted, and became pregnant. In the beginning of her third trimester, her family brought her to the Women's Health Care Center in Kansas for an abortion.There her baby received a fatal digoxin injection to the heart and she was prepared for labor and delivery of her dead child.When the butchers at the abortuary (Women's "Health Care" Center?) could not handle the complications, they finally called 911 for an ambulance to take her to the hospital, where real doctors help injured and ill people, Christin was already dying. The 911 call is sickening. The woman who finally called spent the whole time trying to cover their sniveling asses. She asked the 911 dispatcher to "please, please, please don't use the lights and siren". When asked what medical emergency prompted this call, she put the 911 dispatcher on hold for 45 precious seconds while she tried to find out what to tell him. She finally told him that she couldn't tell him what the medical problem was.
Christin was sent to her hotel. The following day, January 11, Christin was taken back to WHCS where the abortion was resumed and a D & C performed. She was again sent back to her hotel, which doubled as both labor and recovery room for Tiller’s abortion business. This hotel was not equipped to handle the life-threatening complications that may result from dangerous third-trimester abortions. There, Christin’s condition began to worsen.Once at Wesley Medical Center, the autopsy report showed evidence that the emergency team who treated Christin worked aggressively to save her life, but it was too late. Huge amounts of antibiotics were pumped into her failing body, but to no avail. Because the sepsis was not treated in time, Gilbert suffered from systemic organ failure. All the blood vessels in her reproductive organs were clotted.As Paul, just a regular guy you know.. stated: "Two for the price of one". That just about sums it up.
Christin was given pain medication, but little else could be done. She was pronounced dead at 4:14 PM, January 13, 2005.
I just got off the phone with Janet Morano. Janet, with Georgette Forney, is one of the two co-founders of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
As we spoke at 6:15 EST, the SNMA gathering was drawing to a close. Three women had yet to speak.
Women came to testify at the SNMA event from Scotland and northern Ireland. One particularly moving testimony was from a native American woman who had aborted twins. Janet said that many, many states had women speaking. Altogether, about sixty women and four men spoke or will speak. It's the first year that one of the testimonies was delivered in Spanish.
As with last year, the SNMA representatives holding their "I Regret My Abortion" signs were invited to stand on the speaker's platform at the beginning of the March. Janet says that the main difference from last year is that the stage was bigger and better this year, with a much better sound system, and the March organizers allowed all the SNMA women on stage (last reason, space limitations precluded this).
"Princeton Pro-Life" on EWTN discusses defending the prolife position using nothing but logic and "public reason." No religion, no spirituality, no bible quotes, no mention of God. With this way of reasoning, student Duncan (sorry I didn't catch his last name) says "the pro-life position is not only tenable but morally responsible to hold..."
Duncan remarked that he was at the "March for Choice" two years ago, when everyone looked rather homogenous, but at the March for Life, you find people of all ages, all colors, and by us being here at the March For Life, we hope people will realize also that Princeton is not a bastion of pure moral relativism... there is hope here.
I'm soooo glad to hear that; that's one of the colleges my son is really hoping to attend. "Newborns-are-not-persons" Prof. Peter Singer notwithstanding.
At the March for Life today, 20,000 cards with these symbols were handed out, asking people to visit the website for all citizens--pro-life and pro-choice--who want to be known as Americans On Call.
Think: "the mission of Feminists For Life coming to fruition" (pro-choicers, please read that webpage's text before deciding you really disagree) -- without creating another pro-life group to fund. A hopefully-national "identification movement."
Organized by a friend, a post-abortive young graduate student (who I met a couple years ago) and his friends (girls and guys), I think this is an idea whose time really has come.
It's based on the seemingly increasing reality that many abortions in our country could be (could have been) avoided if more women knew where to turn. What needs to happen is for people who are willing and enabled to know how to get such help -- to be everywhere a woman turns.
To be easily and instantly recognizable. Hence the name, "Americans On Call."
CNS has the STORY here!
Love can change the world when it seeks the good of others because then it reflects God's love for all humanity, Pope Benedict XVI said.In the logic of today's elite-led society, which enshrines today's common insanity as the "facts", the Church's testimony must seem like utter nonsense. After all, every reasonable person knows that love is the mutual agreement between Absolute Individuals to share pleasure and comfort in the hope of satisfying some perceived need or desire. And charity? Please! That's not love, that's compassion. Everyone knows that.
"Today the word 'love' is so wasted, consumed and abused that one is almost afraid to let it form on the lips," the pope said Jan. 23 in an address to a Vatican-sponsored conference on charity.
The conference was organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican's charity-promotion agency, to coincide with the Jan. 25 release of the pope's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love").
Love caused God to create people and to become human to save them, the pope said.
As an expression of a "primordial reality," the reality that gave birth to the world, he said, love is a topic the church must talk about, purifying people's ideas about love so that "it can enlighten our lives."
"It is this awareness that led me to choose love as the theme for my first encyclical," he told conference participants.
"In an age when hatred and greed have become superpowers, in an age when we see religion abused to the point of becoming the deification of hatred, neutral rationalization alone cannot protect us," he said.
"We need the living God who loved us to the point of death," the pope said.
Pope Benedict said in writing the encyclical he tried to show how God, Christ and love are "fused together" as the center of Christian faith.
"I wanted to show the humanity of faith, which includes eros -- the 'yes' of a man to his corporality created by God, a 'yes' that in the indissoluble marriage of a man and a woman find its form rooted in creation," he said.
"It is there that eros transforms itself into agape, in which love for another no longer seeks itself, but becomes concern for the other, a willingness to sacrifice for him and openness to the gift of a new human life," the pope said.
Pope Benedict told conference participants that eros and agape are not two competing forms of love, but are reflections of God's love for humanity, a love the church is called to bring to the world through its preaching and its acts of charity.
When the love a Christian brings into the world is a love motivated by God's love for all people, "our love will change the world and reawaken hope, a hope that goes beyond death," the pope said.
Eight Thursdays. Our local library hosts a creative writing workshop. Your humble fool signed up.
I am running into a new yearAm I good or what? ;)
and the bard kicks in my door
Too long I left him
waiting in the dark.
Too long I said, "Soon, soon."
Now he's laughing, grinning
Filling his huge mug
with the last of my guiness,
'til the floor sops
and the stench of spilled stout
soaks into the hardwood
flows out to every breath
I dare to breath
I am running into the new year
and the bard sings
of mysterious happenings
in unheard of lands
of Deep truth
I haven't dared to glimpse
He casts his rhythms around me
and I've lost all will
to put him off again
"Justices Send Back Parent-Notification Law", sez The Washington Post
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that federal judges should not have struck down an entire New Hampshire law that requires teenagers to notify their parents before having an abortion and ordered a lower court to come up with a more limited solution that would protect minors' health in emergencies.The "health clauses" of abortion regulation laws are usually the Lincoln Tunnel of legal loopholes. They've often resulted in the law effectively being gutted in practice. This ruling seems to indicate that the health exception should be based on "significant health risks." That, in itself, is a victory, since it opens the door for future consideration of the health clauses. What's truly important, however, is that SCOTUS refused to invalidate the law wholesale.
The unanimous decision was written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and will probably be her final opinion on the high court. The justice, who has cast the decisive vote on abortion cases for more than two decades, is to step down after her successor is confirmed. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. as her replacement, and his views on abortion could play a pivotal role in the vote.
The New Hampshire law, adopted in 2003, allows an exception to parental notification if a pregnant teenager's life is at risk but does not address whether the procedure may be performed if she faces other non-life-threatening health emergencies. Two federal courts in New England had said that omission makes the law unconstitutional, and it has never been enforced. The state of New Hampshire appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the court's precedents do not require an explicit health exception. The justices did not rule on that broad claim but did agree with New Hampshire yesterday "that the lower courts need not have invalidated the law wholesale," as O'Connor put it.
At the same time, O'Connor's opinion emphasized three propositions that, she said, are "established": State parental notification laws are constitutional; the court's precedents hold that states may not restrict access to abortions necessary to protect the life or health of the mother; and, in a very small number of cases, immediate abortion is necessary to avert irreversible health damage. That means, she wrote, that it would be unconstitutional to apply New Hampshire's law to minors facing "significant health risks." But, O'Connor wrote, before lower courts could craft a more narrow remedy -- one that might strike down the law only for this small category of major health emergencies -- they would first have to settle a lingering "dispute as to whether New Hampshire's legislature intended the statute to be susceptible to such a remedy."
All but six states have some form of statute that says girls younger than 18 must involve at least one parent or guardian in the decision to terminate a pregnancy. As required by a 1990 Supreme Court decision, those laws generally allow teenagers to avoid telling a parent if they can convince a judge that they would face abuse or that they are mature enough to make the decision on their own.
A Kaleidescope of visions flowed out of the depths of me the other day. I had prepared myself for contemplative prayer by relaxing my whole body and mind. Well, visions make great fodder for verse.
A sea of molton lava
Orange as a blood sunset
A torrent falls
down black igneous slopes
an enshadowed volcanoe
A night as thick
as the heart of the Earth
gone cold at last
Unseen fists beat
unseen foes within
the deep darkness
unspoken rage flails
in silent screams
against unspoken terrors
while the lava
Sam and Frodo
Galadria, caught up
in swirling winds and
pierced by a radiant sun
that knifes the
whirlpool of wind and cloud
Questions and testimonies
A Quest given
A charge entrusted
The joy of a young
man and woman's matrimony,
poured wine and ail
Children running underfoot.
I know, I know.
The bridges were closed.
Is anyone else getting tired of the CIA's mistakes? Acting on information that Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri stayed in a border village, the CIA (reportedly) used an armed Predator Drone to missle-strike him. Well, he wasn't there--or isn't accounted for among the dead, at least.
Pakistan on Saturday condemned a purported CIA airstrike on a border village that officials said unsuccessfully targeted al-Qaida's second-in-command, and said it was protesting to the U.S. Embassy over the attack that killed at least 17 people.Islamabad has little control over it's northwest frontier with Afghanistan. The tribes there supported the Taliban--the militia had emerged from schools that still operate there--and would most likely hide refugees from the new Afghan government. Thus, while any strike against a sovereign nation constitutes a diplomatic offense, Pakistan protests too much. Considering the influence of islamofascists in the government's intelligence service, and the scandal of their top nuclear scientist operating a black-market with Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Islamobad is not in the position to play the victim. Their alliance with the US in the GWOT has produced mixed fruit at best.
Thousands of local tribesmen, chanting "God is Great," demonstrated against the attack, claiming the victims were local villagers without terrorist links and had never hosted Ayman al-Zawahri.
In this television image from Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden, right, listens as his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri speaks at an undisclosed location, in this image made from undated video tape broadcast by the station on April 15, 2002. A pre-dawn airstrike killed at least 17 people in a remote Pakistani tribal area Friday, Jan. 13, 2006, and U.S. networks said American jets were targeting a suspected al-Qaida hideout that may have been frequented by high-level operatives, possibly the terror group's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri. There was no confirmation from either the Pakistani or U.S. government. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera/APTN, File)
In this television image from Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden, right, listens as his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri speaks at an undisclosed location, in this image made from undated video tape broadcast by the station on April 15, 2002. A pre-dawn airstrike killed at least 17 people in a remote Pakistani tribal area Friday, Jan. 13, 2006, and U.S. networks said American jets were targeting a suspected al-Qaida hideout that may have been frequented by high-level operatives, possibly the terror group's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri. There was no confirmation from either the Pakistani or U.S. government. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera/APTN, File) (Tel - AP)
Two senior Pakistani officials told The Associated Press that the CIA acted on incorrect information in launching the attack early Friday in the northwestern village of Damadola, near the Afghan border.
Citing unidentified American intelligence officials, U.S. news networks reported that CIA-operated Predator drone aircraft carried out the missile strike because al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, was thought to be at a compound in the village or about to arrive.
"Their information was wrong, and our investigations conclude that they acted on a false information," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official with direct knowledge of Pakistan's investigations into the attack.
His account was confirmed by a senior government official who said al-Zawahri "was not there." Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity.
Washington had no comment on the reports that the attack was aimed at al-Zawahri, who has a $25 million U.S. government bounty on his head. Like bin Laden, he is believed to have been hiding along the rugged Pakistan-Afghan frontier since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Pakistan says it does not allow Afghan or the 20,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan to cross the border in pursuit of Taliban and al-Qaida believed to be hiding there. The war on terror is opposed by many in this Islamic nation of 150 million people.
ABC News:"Villagers described seeing an unmanned plane circling the area for the last few days and then bombs falling in the early morning darkness. Eighteen people were killed, according to the villagers who said women and children were among the fatalities. But Pakistani officials tell ABC News that five of those killed were high-level al Qaeda figures, and their bodies are now undergoing forensic tests for positive identification."MSNBC:"CIA-operated unmanned drones were believed to have been used in the attack on Damadola village, across the border from Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. sources said." This effort has developed over the past few days as intel has indicated his presence in Damadola, a small village near the Afghan border.
Publius Pundit discovers what passes for Europeans' Spine:
The EU3 has referred Iran to the IAEA with the express intent of taking the issue to the Security Council.He also offers the following cogent analysis:Britain, France and Germany tonight took the first step towards seeking international sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear fuel programme.
Following crisis talks with his counterparts in Berlin, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said that they had agreed to request an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board with a view to referring Tehran to the UN Security Council.
The move follows the announcement earlier this week that the Iranians were to resume work at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, in breach of earlier assurances.
Although the Iranians insist that they only intend to carry out research at Natanz, the Europeans and the United States fear Tehran is using its civil power programme as a cover for developing a nuclear bomb.
Condoleezza Rice called on the United Nations today to confront Iran’s “defiance” and demand that Tehran halted its nuclear programme.
The United States Secretary of State, at a news conference, declined to say whether the United States has the necessary votes at the U.N. Security Council to punish Iran, or would even try to do so at this stage,
Ms Rice said impatience with Iran was growing and that Tehran was out of step with advances in democracy in the region. She repeated that she believes there are enough votes for the IAEA to refer the issue to the Security Council.
Nicholas Burns, number 3 in the US State Department, will visit Europe next week to discuss the next step in the international strategy.
Earlier today the British Foreign Secretary said that efforts by the EU3 - France, Germany and Britain - to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis had now reached a deadlock after two years of delicate negotiations.
“It is a matter of very great regret … Iran has decided to turn its back and these negotiations have reached an impasse,” he said.
“In that situation I think we have no alternative but for the decision which we have reached to call for an emergency meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency with a view to the involvement then of the Security Council.”
Has the diplomatic consensus worked? This is a good sign for the West’s unity on this issue. The Europeans are almost always ambivalent toward aggressive measures proposed by the United States, so the sit-back-and-watch approach is still ongoing as America continues to take the high road and call for a diplomatic solution. Meanwhile, I’m sure Karl Rove is sitting in a dark room somewhere making menacing finger gestures. We’ll know if the past two years of diplomatic consensus have worked at unifying the West on more aggressive action if and only if a nuclear bomb doesn’t go off. According to our intelligence services, it should be a while before Iran can make one, so we can afford to carry on the charade up until the very last moment.Russia and China do not constitute a threat to Iran's national intersts--yet. That will change once the Great Satan has been put down. Then a formally atheistic China--whose regime has persecuted muslims--and culturally dynamic Russia--itself in constant war with Chechyan islamofacists--will become their next obstacle. Too bad Putin and the Chinese Communist party leadership believe they can handle Iran.
The problem is that while the West is unifying on the issue, two members of the Security Council that hold veto power may not be with us. China is ultimately playing a game of wait-and-see approach. They have said that they are concerned with the prospect of a referral to the UNSC, but will go along with the consensus to do so if that occurs. No telling what will happen once it does reach it, though. Ultimaitely, it will be balancing its international reputation with its energy interests when the prospect of international action finally happens.
Russia is a complicated issue. Defense Minister Sergei Lavrov is playing the KGB two face. Not a particularly settling dance. He has hinted at Russian approval of a move to refer Iran to the UNSC, but at the same time has said there will be no change to a deal giving Iran short-range missiles that could be used with developed nuclear warheads. Again, they’ll follow their national interests, which will be in terms of its international place in the world and its energy interests with Iran. The problem is that it might not be in line with the West, as a nuclear Iran probably poses little threat to Russia. And China, for that matter. You don’t here them shouting, “Death to Russia!” do you?
Of course, the only real sanctions that will matter is an oil embargo, and that will never happen. The entire world depends too much on it, and there’s a chance that Iran’s recently developing friendships with other anti-West energy providers like Venezuela may lead to an “axis of energy” that puts the West into a headlock by refusing to sell its resources. In essense, our continued dependence on oil has put the West in a situation where we cannot effectively deal with the Iranian nuclear issue without weaning ourselves off of it.
The Coalition for Darfur has the latest in the troubled Sudanese region:
There was lots of important Darfur and Sudan-related news this week
Read the whole thing.Physician for Human Rights released an important report on Darfur that says, as the Boston Globe explains, Khartoum and the Janjaweed "committed a little-discussed form of genocide. One clause in the UN's Genocide Convention defines the crime of genocide as a group inflicting upon another group ''conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part.'"
There were also reports that the AU mission in Darfur is going to run out of money by March and may be forced to hand over the mission to the UN.
Having the UN take over might not be an entirely bad thing, because Khartoum is poised to assume the chairmanship of the AU at the end of the month.
Penitens, A Penitent Blogger contrasts the difference between Faith and superstition:
Superstition operates only on the level of externals. True faith and true religion goes to and comes from the heart.How many of us still fall into this trap, perhaps in subtle ways? "If I pray this formal prayer every day at this time...""If I become a daily communicant...""If I constantly participate in Eucharistic adoration..."
Superstition is focused on tangible outcomes. True faith and religion focuses on a relationship that is to extend through eternity: a personal relationship with God.
Superstition is a common human impulse, often associated with religion, but not exclusively (if I only wear black this week, my favorite sports team will win their next game).
Statistically, superstition will always eventually fail.
Only true faith and religion – by the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ – can save any of us in the long run, especially in the eternally long run.
My Way News has the story here:
Iran threatened on Friday to block inspections of its nuclear sites if U.N. Security Council confronts it over its nuclear activities.Iran is indeed not Iraq. After the considerable evidence from intelligence agencies in the US (under Presidents Clinton and Bush)and Britain that asserted Hussein's possession of WMDs, and the subsequent lack of discovery of these weapons, the public in both nations won't support a military solution. Unfortunately, this gives Tehran time to obstruct the Western World's efforts to peacefully thwart the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions.
Germany, Britain and France said Thursday that nuclear talks with Iran had reached a dead end after more than two years of acrimonious negotiations and the issue should be referred to the Security Council.
However, the Europeans held back from calling on the 15-nation council to impose sanctions and said they remained open to more talks.
France said Friday that it favors a step-by-step approach with Iran over its nuclear program and that any sanctions request at this stage would be premature.
"We, like our partners, like the British and the Germans, consider that this co-request for sanctions is premature for the moment," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said.
Iran said that if it were confronted by the council, it would be obliged to stop cooperating with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
That would be, among other things, the end of random inspections, said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
"In case Iran is referred to the U.N. Security Council ..., the government will be obliged to end all of its voluntary cooperation," the television quoted Mottaki as saying.
Iran has been voluntarily allowing short-notice IAEA inspections since 2003. But last year it adopted a law requiring the government to block intrusive inspections of Iran's facilities if the IAEA refers the Iranian program to the council.
The law also requires the Iranian government to resume all nuclear activities that it had stopped voluntarily, foremost among them enriching uranium.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also said a "strong message" had to be sent to Tehran but said she was not ready to talk about what action should be taken to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he had "strong suspicion" that Iran wanted to build a nuclear bomb but stressed that there was no categorical evidence to prove that.
"To quote the White House 'Iran is not Iraq'," Straw said in an interview Friday with the British Broadcasting Corp.
Clairity explores Fr. Giussani's "Five withouts":
1. God Without Christ - Because we are scandalized by the incomprehensible, we refuse to accept Christ as man and prefer to think of God in abstract, "spiritual" terms.God without Christ is an abstraction. We don't have to take abstractions seriously. Christ is God and man; we can relate to his person, and thus to God through him.
2. Christ Without the Church - The company established by Christ with its human aspect seems inconvenient and even an obstacle. Faith becomes an abstraction which we can control.
3. Church Without the World - Clericalism is the temptation of believers: to wait for the promise of Christ to happen in the next world instead of in this. In that case, there was no need for Christ to come in the flesh
4. World Without an "I" - If we are consigned to wait for our salvation, instead of expecting and asking for it in our present human circumstances, then our life, our "I", is unimportant. We also have nothing to say about the world and human affairs.
5. "I" Without God - Because of this alienation, we feel our lives have little meaning or we give in to despair.
J. Philip, the Red Guy in a Blue State analyzes the repeated failure of the Democrats to tarr and feather Judge Alito as an extremist.
For the most part, his handling of questions from Democrats had the effect of leaving his questioner shuffling through papers in search of the next question.He observes:
Judge Alito was not Judge Roberts, to be sure - far less personable, rarely smiling and struggling to draw even the occasional burst of laughter. But he came across as far less ideological than Democrats have suggested, undercutting their efforts to stir public opposition by portraying his writing as outside the American mainstream.
This is quite accurate. Ted Kennedy prefaced his questions with long-winded preambles, resplendent with incredulous presuppositions that read like they were lifted from a moveon.org script, only to have the Judge deflate the whole thing in about three even keeled, civil sentences. It was obvious that for the past few months Democratic researchers have cherry picked his entire career for any case they could Bork him with, and they came up empty.That's about right. I'm not surprised; look who's doing the cherry-picking. That's right: Democratic Senate staffers are. Now, how far from the Reasonable tree do you think the fruit falls. These folk may share their masters' blind spots.