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Livingstone says Western foreign policy fueled Islamic radicalism.

Myself, I'm rather pleased to see a Western political figure willing to admit to the role of Western nations in creating the absolute cluster-fuck we've now got in the Middle East, instead of insisting we run around with our heads in the sand screaming, "Why?! Why?!"

We already know why. It doesn't excuse the actions of terrorist groups, but we don't need to ask ourselves why these attacks are happening. We, collectively, helped to create an environment ripe for extremist ideologues. Go us.

The only way we're going to put a stop to these kinds of attacks and the ideologies that inspire the attackers is to clean up our mess. It has to happen, or else we'll be stuck in an un-ending "War on Terror" of our own creation.
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A Yahoo! News story brings to light a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives which would severely curtail the right of inmates facing death sentences to appeal in federal courts.

I'm not an advocate for the death penalty for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I find killing of any kind morally repugnant. There are currently far too many problems with the way the death penalty is administered in the United States, and I shudder to think of the many innocent people who were executed due to shoddy attorneys and other factors. This isn't sending someone off for a week at Club Med, folks. If we're going to continue to perpetuate this barbarous practice then we have to, at the very least, make sure that not a single individual is wrongly convicted and executed.
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The US Supreme Court rules local governments may seize private property in order to sell said property other private entities.

Eminent Domain has been around since I can remember, and I've always found it a rather atrocious concept. Private property is exactly that. I own it. It's mine, and you can't have it. If my property can be better used for the public good by building a public structure or facility, a local government can offer me compensation for my lost property.

That's not so bad.

Taking my property under Eminent Domain and selling it to another private entity for their personal use, however, is. I'm quite surprised to see the Supreme Court leading a war of attrition against private property. We've started the climb up a very slippery slope.

I've got to go find my tinfoil hat now.


May. 25th, 2005 10:29 pm
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Viked from A Conservative Blog for Peace:

"American life is a powerful solvent,” he wrote. “It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native goodwill, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."

A quote from George Santayana.

Food for thought.
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Images of war begin weaving themselves into the fabric of American Pop Culture.

I'm a bit perturbed by this sort of thing, because seeing too much of something is an easy way to become desensitized to it. The last thing we need is to become desensitized to images of war and violence. War should not, ever, be glorified whether just or unjust. It's still war, and it's still an abomination.

I Think...

May. 15th, 2005 11:34 pm
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...I've moved from afraid of the political situation in the United States to absolutely fucking terrified.


9 Section 102(c) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and
10 Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1103
11 note) is amended to read as follows:
12 ``(c) WAIVER.--
13 ``(1) IN GENERAL.--Notwithstanding any other
14 provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security
15 shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all
16 laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discre-
17 tion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious con-
18 struction of the barriers and roads under this sec-
19 tion.
20 ``(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW.--Notwithstanding

21 any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatu-
22 tory), no court, administrative agency, or other enti-
23 ty shall have jurisdiction--
24 ``(A) to hear any cause or claim arising
25 from any action undertaken, or any decision

HR 418 EH
1 made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security
2 pursuant to paragraph (1); or
3 ``(B) to order compensatory, declaratory,
4 injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for
5 damage alleged to arise from any such action or
6 decision.''.

An excerpt from The "Real ID" Act/HR 418. It was attached as a 'rider' to a "must pass" bill related to funding for the armed forces with no debate in Congress. This sort of authority, even if it only relates to laws having to do with border security, doesn't belong in the hands of any political appointee, and further, no organ of the United States government should be so thoroughly exempted from oversight.
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Can I See Your Papers Please?

What ever happened to federalism?
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An interesting article came to light while perusing Dappled Things. Columnist James Leroy Wilson asks: Are "Theocrats" really that bad? I highly commend reading the article to all of you.

A quote:

I'd rather a tax be cut for religious reasons than a tax be raised for secular reasons. Bush's wars for "democracy" and "liberty" are wars for purely secular ideals. Is a war of aggression any less just because it is to spread an ideology instead of a religion? Is it wrong to ban pornography for religious reasons, but right to ban it for secular reasons? Does it matter why the Fat Nazis, Drug Warriors, and Tobacco Fascists believe in their nutty causes?

Tyranny is tyranny, and big government is big government. It is wrong for the devoutly religious to try to "help" God by launching religious crusades, invading our privacy, and redistributing our wealth. But it is no less wrong for secularists to try to replace God with the State by exacting greater tithes and imposing more rules than any religion's scriptures dared imagine.

It's an interesting way to look at things; I don't agree entirely with the author of the quoted article, of course, but I think it important to routinely expose myself to viewpoints different from my own for growth's sake.
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I've met my share of loony protestants and loonier Catholics, but this just takes the loony cake. I mean, I have a hard enough with this guy claiming to be the "Vicar of Christ." Hell... I nearly choked on my Cocoa Puffs (and they're a rare enough pleasure that I'd rather enjoy them, thanks).
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Right, so the folks in Kansas are spewing more Intelligent Design rubbish in their quest to oust that Godless Heathen's™ theories of natural selection and adaptation from public school science classrooms.

You can read about the silliness right here. It should be obvious to most people, but I guess common sense is hard to come by. Religious doctrine and theories based upon it don't belong in a public school's science classroom.

Even St. Augustine of Hippo understood that the creation account in Genesis need not be taken literally. I think some people at the Kansas board of education need to read his profoundly earth-shattering commentary called The Literal Meaning of Genesis. St. Augustine wasn't very liberal or heretical (well, not after his conversion... before he was a kinky hedonist who'd make Larry Flint blush), so they can't really decry him as "un-Christian."

And maybe they also ought to read Bertrand Russell's essay entitled Why I Am Not A Christian, more specifically "The Argument from Design." His philosophy isn't for everyone, but perhaps it'd provide the genesis for the internal conflict necessary for the good people at the Kansas Board of Education to realize that science curriculum must truly teach theories with a basis in science and not in religion.
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Right on, folks... y'all pull up a chair and check this out. Maybe I'm just feeling a touch more cantankerous than is usual right now, owing to lack of sleep and being jumpy from too much Red Bull (coincidence?), but there's something about demoting Karpinski that strikes me as just plain wrong.

If she was not, directly or indirectly, able to influence the outcome of the abuse at Abu Ghraib, why then was she singled out for a demotion? It seems to me that someone like Ricardo Sanchez would've been the better choice, or that demotions should've been given in greater number. I'm not really sure that Sanchez took the matter seriously enough when he was in a position requiring him to do so.

The American people are never going to get a straight story out of the Pentagon about this regardless. I mean, come on... Boy in Monkey Suit gave a f*cking Presidential Medal of Freedom to George "I like ballsed up intelligence" Tenet and congratulated him on a job well done. Granted, we don't hear about the CIA's successes, but when you do something that stupid... you shouldn't be rewarded with the country's highest civillian honor.
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Looks like Labour is going to get the needed seats for a majority; interesting given that they've lost more seats combined than the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives combined have gained and they're still pulling ahead.

I'd love a three (plus) party system here. It's like having to choose between Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader every four years... or in this case Tweedly Dee and Tweedly Dumbest.

Not that the grass is always greener on the other side, mind...
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This right here is an example of why this country is going to Tartarus in a handbasket. When you make a mistake... especially a big, pretty terrifying mistake, the least you can do is apologize and attempt to compensate the victim for your incompetence.

I don't get it... why the hell do we have FBI agents in South-f*cking-Africa arresting foreign nationals?
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Before running out to head to an exam...

I've been wondering over the last few weeks just how much the American people fucked not only themselves, but future generations last November. I wonder if the majority of the population has any idea just what Bush and his reactionary, militant policies and actions have done to us in the eyes of the rest of the world.

The rest of the world, even outside of the Middle East, is not happy with us right now, and contrary to popular belief world opinion is important. And younger generations of Europeans have a decidedly low opinion of the US at this moment in time.
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Now, I don't particularly care to be an alarmist, but... read this AP article discussing an EPA study on pesticides and children.

It's not okay to use real, live children as guinea-pigs so you can see how various unknown pesticides affect them. Yeah, if I had a child-thing I'm sure it'd be worth some clothes, $970, and a new camcorder.

That almost seems like saying, "We're going to give you cancer, but we'll give your relatives a camcorder so they can videotape the last days of your life."

I'm all for scientific research, and I don't suppose I'm all that opposed to using humans when they're capable of giving fully informed consent.
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Terri Schiavo has been starving since 2:00PM on March 18th. I cannot even imagine what it must feel like to starve to death. I can't imagine anyone wanting to die like that. I can't imagine a spouse allowing his partner to suffer so horribly.

For those of you so inclined, Fr. Rob Johansen's most recent post lists the so-called "Exit Strategy" outlined for Terri by those charged with caring for her and seeing to her well-being. They're too afraid of what will happen if they give her an overdose of morphine and let her die quickly, and relatively peacefully, but they'll outline in detail how to make starvation appear to be a peaceful end.

I have to wonder where Bishop Robert Lynch is in all of this. Where is the shepherd when one of his flock is being devoured by wolves?


Mar. 19th, 2005 11:58 pm
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Apparently, the G20 would like the United States and the European Union to cut farming subsidies and make it easier for foreign foodstuffs to be bought in place of those produced by US and EU farmers.  Considering that most small farmers I know here in the US are barely making ends meet via farming, I can't imagine what would happen if the government stopped giving subsidies to farmers, or reduced them to the point that the G20 wants.

I agree that the government needs to stop subsidizing the gargantuan 'farms' owned by multinational corporations, but to stop subsidizing small farmers is going to put most of them out of business. While I am all for trying to abolish poverty globally, I am generally anti-globalization; I see no reason why the United States, or the European Union, should favour foreign farmers over farmers located in the US or EU, respectively.

The United States should favour its own farmers over foreign farmers; it's high time the United States stopped giving kickbacks to corporations that offshore or outsource jobs. There's absolutely no reason the US shouldn't protect its market from foreign imports, especially farm goods. I barely trust the health and safety standards of most US-based farms; I don't even want to think about the quality of foodstuffs grown or raised on farms in India.
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Living in Dunedin, I'm not all that geographically distant from what can be conceived of as the "heart" of the Terry Schiavo case. I hear about the case daily from various local, state, and national media outlets, I still get updates from Catholic networks like Priests for Life amongst various others.

It's late, and I should more likely than not be sleeping or outlining a Western Civ. midterm instead of pondering pithy issues like this one, but alas I have given up on either of those things for the moment, so that I might instead ruminate specifically on the Schiavo case and more generally on the 'Right to Die.' I figured a different perspective might be nice, as the only perspective I seem to get is from Catholic and Orthodox Christians and then the 'Right to Die' lobby thrown in for good measure. Therefore, I did what any 21st century American would do: I consulted Google. I had hoped to find at least one or two links to websites, letters, forum posts, or other such media authored by thoughtful Pagans who had taken an interest in the case and were inclined to discuss the 'Right to Die' from the perspective of their religious and/or spiritual beliefs, but I was instead greeted with vitriol from (mostly) Catholic sources discussing how it was the fault of "secular paganism" that Terry Schiavo's life is no longer be treated with respect, reverence, or dignity.

Needless to say, I am slightly dismayed at Google's results (though perhaps I shouldn't be). I've found a great many LiveJournal users, and most certainly those occupying places on my 'friends' list, to be thoughtful and intelligent individuals, and so I figured I would pose the question(s) here.

In the case of Terry Schiavo specifically, it appears the jury is still out as to whether or not she truly is in a Persistent Vegetative State. According to some sources, Terri Schiavo only had a CT scan done after the injury, but with the innovations in scanning technology (notably improved MRI and PET scans) it may be possible to determine whether Terri Schiavo really is in a PVS or not. However, the trial judge has been loathe to allow the comatose woman to undergo either an MRI or PET recently. The Catholic Medical Association's take on the Schiavo Case along with a WorldNet Daily article which briefly discusses the issue of MRI and PET scans.

In Schiavo's case specifically, it isn't very clear-cut. She left no instructions regarding what should become of medical treatment should she ever become comatose, and both her family and former husband have different ideas about what she wanted. There really are no easy answers. Schiavo is a Catholic, and the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on any form of euthanasia is, quite bluntly, "no."

In general, mulling over the issue of the 'Right to Die' is rather difficult in me. The priest in me wants to say absolutely not while the rational part of me wants to mull it over and try putting myself in Schiavo's position.

What do you believe about the 'Right to Die', and do your religious/spiritual beliefs inform that opinion?


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