In Iraq, wearing this might as well be a death sentence in the eyes of religious militias.
Sadr City is a conservative district of Baghdad, Iraq, known during the Iraq War for being a focal point of anti-American resistance. Multiple sieges, lock downs, and arrests of criminals top kidnapping ring leaders led to a steep decline in the number of murders emanating from there – whether it was attacks on troops or civilians. The very conservative worldviews that led to violence were not eradicated however, and in recent weeks it appears there is a new group for the violent to center their hatred on – young people who dare to dress Western.
Latching on to the “emo” label but really, in general, just dressing more like one would expect a Western teen than traditional Iraqi dress, these young people wanting a different world than the one they have grown up in appear to be on hit lists of local armed gangs and militias. Reports as to how many have been killed vary widely – from as low as 14 to well over 100. The reasons for and methods of killing remain the same – brutal stoning and crushing to death with cement blocks for the crime of having different hair and dress than what is considered “acceptable” by the local violent conservatives:
Militants in Shi’ite neighborhoods where the stonings have taken place circulated lists on Saturday naming more youths targeted to be killed if they do not change the way they dress.
The killings have taken place since Iraq’s interior ministry drew attention to the “emo” subculture last month, labeling it “Satanism” and ordering a community police force to stamp it out.
“Emo” is a form of punk music developed in the United States. Fans are known for their distinctive dress, often including tight jeans, T-shirts with logos and distinctive long or spiky haircuts.
At least 14 bodies of youths have been brought to three hospitals in eastern Baghdad bearing signs of having been beaten to death with rocks or bricks, security and hospital sources told Reuters under condition they not be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
In spite of my best efforts to avoid the clown-car-falling-down-a-steep-cliff show that has been the Republican nomination contest for the 2012 general election, I can’t help but be drawn in by how progressively mind numbing the rhetoric from the right has gotten – in relative short order. I remember the good old days of 2004 when the hot button issue was merely riding to an electoral victory on the back of getting bigots out to vote on ban-gay-marriage state constitutional amendments, and while they were in the neighborhood, push the button for Bush. Those days seem civil. Where are we now? What are we talking about now? We are right here, in this video:
The world’s a bit dumber and less interesting today, as one of our best contemporary debaters, intellectuals, and atheists died late last night. Christopher Hitchens, 62, was a champion of strong, well-informed, factually and logically sound debate. He was the opposite of reactionary echo chambers neatly fitting sides of the coin. His staunch opposition to the Vietnam War and loathing for Secretary of State Kissinger and his ilk would make him enemies on the right. Staunch support for the 2003 Iraq War while reserved loathing for the individuals leading the charge into that war made him slightly confused enemies on the left.
The religious in general and Catholics in particular were not on Mr. Hitchens’ good side – the former because of his stalwart defense of the principles of atheism and recognition of the full breath of evil religion can and does inflict on the world, the latter because of his targeting of Mother Teresa in the 1995 book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. Mr. Hitchens argued that Mother Teresa was doing a disservice to those she claimed to help in India by taking advantage of poverty in order to lead people to God instead of trying to change the situation that led to the poverty in the first place.
The vitriol he claimed the pious had was easily exposed at the announcement of a esophageal cancer diagnosis in 2010 – with some of the more outlandish out there ranging their reaction from hoping he had a “death bed conversion” to the more expected “this is God’s retribution!” There was witty retort to be had for that, of course.
For those who a paragraph doesn’t do enough for, there’s 15 minutes of intellectual dominance making its way around the Internet this morning:
Cardinal Justin Rigali, head of the Philadelphia diocese, may have overseen the active abuse of children by as many as 37 priests.
Brought to the forefront of the national conversation in 2002 by a scathing series of reports from the Boston Globe, the United States was exposed to the ugly and too-often hidden truth of what goes on behind the closed doors of the Catholic Church, especially the Boston diocese. An organization containing hundreds of men – men that society says should lead the best of the good lives, men that parents both rich and poor put their trust in when it came for the care and nurturing of the spiritual paths of their children, were found to have a few “bad apples” amongst them – individuals who committed one of the most vile of crimes – the sexual assault of children. Worse still, with the diocese knowing of the priests heinous acts, they were just shuffled around from church to church, as their roster of abused children in some cases grew over 100 each.
Five priests from the Boston area would eventually go to jail for their crimes and sadly that would be the end of it. Sad because there have been documented cases of dioceses around the world committing the same atrocities against children, and in most cases get away absolutely free from punishment, the Church being inexplicably allowed to self-police and operate in a legal world that is divorced from the one the rest of us have to abide by, truly divorced from reality itself in some cases.
With the door left wide open for future abuse, it was only a matter of time before another Boston-esque case would occur, with similar levels of shock and anger from local people. That new case is before us, just down I-95 from Boston, in the city of Philadelphia.
The deeper investigations into the Catholic Church sex abuses get, the closer the blame is laid at the feet of the revered late Pope John Paul II
Besieged by a round of public and embarrassing lawsuits in 1996, the Catholic Church in Ireland decided that the best thing to do would be a public house cleaning – turning in members of the clergy that were charged with the systematic abuse and rape of children in their care to the proper authorities and allowing the justice system to run its course. Before the cleaning could get underway in any serious matter, however, orders came from the top to not talk to anyone.
A 1997 letter issued by the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II’s ambassador to Ireland, ordered the clergy in this nation to not so much as mention a word to authorities against their fellow members, lest they face the wrath of humiliation at the hands of Rome. It’s all there in said letter, only recently obtained by Irish broadcaster RTE:
A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police – a disclosure that victims’ groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers a message blaming the rest of the world for his Church's systematic sexual abuse of children for decades
In an end-of-the-year speech delivered to cardinals and bishops assembled in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI attempted to guide the Roman Catholic Church in a direction that will lead to significant reflection on the systematic abuse and molestation of young children that we have come to commonly know as a “abuse scandal”. While he made not so much of a hint of an indication that the Church would stop trying to interfere in investigations into abusive priests – or in the case of Ireland, demanding that those involved be granted immunity – he did find a brand new scapegoat for the sexual abuse woes of the Church: secular society.
Benedict also said, however, that the scandal must be seen in a broader social context, in which child pornography is seemingly considered normal by society and drug use and sexual tourism are on the rise.
From what was a shell game of moving abusive priests around to parishes that hadn’t heard of their evil deeds just yet, the Pope has now moved on to an equally pointless shell game: shifting blame from unrelated cause to unrelated cause.
Illinois representative, Republican, climate change denier, John Shimkus. He'd like to have a hand in our energy policy!
With the incoming class of Republicans set to begin their rule in the House of Representatives this coming January, battles for leadership of various positions and committees have already begun. Names have been put forward hoping to step into a larger, brighter spotlight – as is the norm in the world of politics. As each formally unknown (or better said, not-as-known) Congressperson steps forward, the evaluation of who they are and what they believe begins. One of the bigger standouts in this arena of committee leadership change comes from Illinois representative John Shimkus, who is aiming for the leadership of the Energy and Commerce committee.
As the title of the committee indicates, one of the realms that it has jurisdiction over is the nation’s energy policy. As an extension of that, it also has huge effects on our environmental policies, just by which policies and energy sources would be favored by it (coal vs. clean, for example). With the threat of Global Warming still incrementally playing out year by year across the world, and with so many things related to energy, consumption, and resources seemingly near dramatic tipping points, now would be the time for some decisive leadership to help ensure that America will be on the right paths to not only help itself from an energy standpoint, but also help the world in the fight against Global Warming.
When there was still hope (from September 18, 2001): Thousands of Iranians hold a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Still more of a fresh wound than a fading scar, nearly a decade out and the attitudes and politics of the United States are still writing the epilogue to the decade-defining events of September 11th, 2001. Hoping for the best – for peace and a sense of unity in the wake of an event designed to divide, scare, and poison the discourse and the nation itself has done nothing but devolve into exactly what was to be avoided: the hatred has never been more thick, the fear never more irrational, the outright racism displayed for one of the world’s largest religions reaching a thickness in America not seen since pre-Civil Rights movement America.
What has changed? What has gone wrong?
The battle of perception has been lost. The lunatics have taken control of the echo chamber, and for the moment have an unshakable grip on the message.
Pope Benedict XVI at Palm Sunday Mass (March 28th, 2010) where he said that faith leads "toward the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion."
Under increasing scrutiny from different countries around the world for what seems to be an ever-building list of claims of sexual abuse carried out by members of the Roman Catholic clergy, Pope Benedict XVI had something remarkable to say during his service this past Sunday:
While he did not directly mention the scandal involving sexual abuse of children by priests, parts of his sermon could be applicable to the crisis he and the Roman Catholic Church are facing.
The pontiff said faith in God helps lead one “toward the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.”
As mentioned, the Pope never addressed the notion of sexual abuse of the young being carried out by members of the organization that he leads, but that was the most direct he has spoken on the subject yet – the latest indication that the cloud of scandal that has gradually formed around the Church for the past thirty years may finally be coming to a defining moment.
More scary, and more likely, it could just be business as usual in Rome and around the world.
In today’s edition: Pakistan sees anti-Christian violence, America’s income is falling off a cliff, and more birther bits.
Pakistan, a country that is unstable at best, was rocked over the weekend by violent protests targeting the Christian community in the central part of the country. According to the country’s government, a radical group of Muslims spread and acted upon a rumor that some Christians had desecrated a Quran and attacked minority Christian neighborhoods, setting fire to homes and killing at least six people. The military had to be called in to break things up.
On Monday, paramilitary troops patrolled near the dozens of targeted houses, with their blackened walls, charred furniture, and twisted ceiling fans. Six people died in the fires, two by gunshots.
Authorities urged calm and promised that local police would be investigated for their inability to stop the violence, which spiraled even after an initial probe debunked the rumor that a Quran had been defiled.
“It was like hell. Nobody was coming to help us,” said Atique Masih, a 23-year-old Christian who was shot in his right leg.
Both the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Pope criticized the violence, but odds are the efforts and words of either will be able to prevent such actions in the future. Pakistan itself is sliding down a road toward more and more of a radicalized society – with that radical element flexing its muscle by instigating these violent attacks with little fear of reprisal – and perhaps even complacency by the local authorities.
The outlook isn’t that good…
…mosque prayer leaders on Saturday stirred the pot by calling for every Christian to be killed. Christians repeatedly sought police help but to no avail…
American income is falling off a cliff. Not just in terms of the income of actual individual American citizens, but the actual income that the government is getting is also falling rapidly:
The recession is starving the government of tax revenue, just as the president and Congress are piling a major expansion of health care and other programs on the nation’s plate and struggling to find money to pay the tab.The numbers could hardly be more stark: Tax receipts are on pace to drop 18 percent this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression, while the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion.
Logically, for the government to continue functioning and providing services to its people, income will have to rise some how and some way. This has to come in the form of increased taxes on someone. There is a gold mine of money that can be made by raising the taxes on income earners of $250,000/yr or more – returning the balance of tax power back to what it was during the Clinton years while avoiding any negative impact on the middle class. No such tax increase will be spun that way by the opposition, it will be spun as a failure of the administration and backtracking on a campaign promise – even though the campaign promise was only regarding people whose incomes are less than that $250,000/yr level. There’s also a $11 trillion debt out there somewhere, increasing by the second, that will have to be answered for at some point down the line.
The birther thing will not go away – and it’s been a story so many days now it’s earned its own tag on this blog. Congrats, nutters! Today’s big hoo-ha deals with the supposed finding of Obama’s actual birth certificate, from Kenya, which proves that he is not an American citizen and shouldn’t be President and something something conspiracy… and so on. If you need to be entertained, check the supposed true document out.
First, the hospital is Coast Provincial General Hospital (sometimes said to be Coast Province General Hospital), not Coast General Hospital.
Second, Kenya was a Dominion the date this certificate was allegedly issued and would not become a republic for 8 months.
Third, Mombasa belonged to Zanzibar when Obama was born, not Kenya.
Fourth, Obama’s father’s village would be nearer to Nairobi, not Mombasa.
Fifth, the number 47O44– 47 is Obama’s age when he became president, followed by the letter O (not a zero) followed by 44–he is the 44th president.
Sixth, EF Lavender is a laundry detergent.
Seventh, would a nation with a large number of Muslims actually say “Christian name” (as opposed to name) on the birth certificate?
Eigth, his father (born in 1961) would have been 24 or 25 when he was born and not 26.
Ninth, it was called the “Central Nyanza District,” not Nyanza Province. The regions were changed to provinces in 1970.
Of course the debunking of the conspiracy is just a part of the conspiracy, and the concept of the truth is also part of the conspiracy, because the entire world is united against American conservatives because of their great conspiracy and… this is never going to die down. I suppose the question now is who had it worse: Obama and the birthers or Clinton and everyone wanting to know about his sex life.