Friday, July 31, 2009

Gen McChrystal: Dialogue with Taliban Possible

WASHINGTON, July 29: As part of a new strategy, the United States and its Nato allies in Afghanistan are trying to reach out to the second tier of the Taliban leadership, while continuing to use military force to tame or eliminate the hardcore.

Gen Stanley McChrystal, the new US commander in Afghanistan, provided some insight into the new strategy in an interview published on Wednesday. Gen McChrystal, who has prepared a briefing paper for President Barack Obama on the situation in Afghanistan, disagreed with those who say that no dialogue with the Taliban was possible.

“There is significant potential to go after what I would call mid- and low-level Taliban fighters and leaders and offer them re-integration into Afghanistan under the constitution,” he said.

“Most of the fighters we see in Afghanistan are Afghans, some with foreign cadre with them. But most we don’t see are deeply ideological or even politically motivated,” he added. “Most are operating for pay; some are under a commander’s charismatic leadership; some are frustrated with local leaders.”

The general said that his briefing paper provided “a strategic assessment” of the Afghan situation and suggested “an appropriate way ahead and some specific recommendations”. He did not outline those recommendations. But diplomatic sources who spoke to Dawn in Washington, revealed that as part of the new strategy, the US and Nato troops had started “clearing the first tier of the Taliban leadership” comprising hardcore militants. US policy planners hope that doing so would not only eliminate the hardline Taliban fighters; it will also allow “the second tier” to come forward. The second tier is regarded as crucial because such local leaders control large numbers of Taliban fighters in Pashtun-dominated southern Afghanistan and appear willing to talk.

The first tier of Taliban commanders – hardliners around Mullah Omar — were disregarded because of their links to Al Qaeda and their refusal to talk.

The third tier foot soldiers with no strong commitments are not approached because US policy-makers believe that they will follow their tribal leaders.

The second tier is considered susceptible to peace overtures also because it comprises tribal leaders who joined the Taliban out of tribal loyalty and financial and political benefits and not for ideological commitment.

To achieve this target, the Americans have sent 4,000 additional troops to the provinces where the Taliban have had a strong hold. They are also urging their Nato allies to increase their troops as well.

Read the full report here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yemen Cracks Down on Al Jazeera

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the escalation of the Yemeni government's crackdown on independent media which has now extended to the targeting of satellite television stations.

Al Jazeera was the first to be targeted after a ruling party official, Mossaad Allahbi, called for the closure of the local Al Jazeera office for allegedly broadcasting news "hostile to the unity and securityof Yemen."

The demand to close the Al Jazeera office comes as part of a series of hostile actions against freedom of the press and journalists in Yemen, which has affected at least eight newspapers so far. This latest action clearly shows the Yemeni government's hostility toward freedom of expression and distaste for transparency and open debate on the issues that concern the citizens of Yemen.

ANHRI condemns the government's actions and calls for independent media to be allowed to carry out their work as "they must pass on news and information to the citizens, who definitely pay no less attention and care to the interests and security of Yemen than members of the ruling party."

ANHRI thinks the attack on Al Jazeera in Yemen, as well as the restrictions it has experienced in other Arab countries, require efforts from all individuals and institutions interested in freedom of the Arab media to support this important station, which has greatly contributed to changing the perception of the role of media in the Arab world. The station is committed to meet the needs of Arab citizens to know the news and views on different issues, rather than merely paying lip service to the governments and rulers who rarely respect democracy and peoples' rights.

For information on the Yemeni government's crackdown on the press (in Arabic only), click here:

For more information:
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Cairo Egypt
info (@)
Phone: +20 227 736177
Fax: +20 227 736177

Al-Qaeda Builds Forces in Yemen

Recent reports suggesting that al-Qaeda fighters are leaving Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the group has suffered serious setbacks, have renewed international concerns that Yemen is reemerging once again as a major terrorist safe haven. Although the assessments of al-Qaeda's resurgence in Yemen are accurate, the deteriorating situation is not due to U.S. successes elsewhere; rather, it is the result of waning U.S. and Yemeni attention over the past five years. Renewed cooperation between Sana and Washington in tackling al-Qaeda and addressing Yemen's systemic problems could help reduce the terrorist organization's appeal in this troubled country.

Read it all here. For other reports on how Yemen has become a terrorist safe haven, go here and here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Truth Gap in Obamacare

The White House says "It’s time to fix our unsustainable insurance system and create a new foundation for health care security. That means guaranteeing your health care security and stability with eight basic consumer protections:

No discrimination for pre-existing conditions
No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays
No cost-sharing for preventive care
No dropping of coverage if you become seriously ill
No gender discrimination
No annual or lifetime caps on coverage
Extended coverage for young adults
Guaranteed insurance renewal so long as premiums are paid"

What Americans actually end up with is still unclear, but to be sure it will be very costly to the nation and according to page 16, when you leave your job for another job you will be required to take the public option. By this means it won't be long before all Americans will be on the public option... in other words "Obamacare" moves our nation to socialized medicine. Do we really want a big bureaucratic government to decide our health benefits and make life and death decisions for us?

World Record: 541,176 Saplings Planted

The Guinness Book has certified that 541,176 saplings planted in Pakistan on Wednesday July 15 have set a world record.

Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator Adil Ahmed and witnesses MNA Marvi Memon and Tahir Qureshi monitored the event organised by the ministry of environment near Keti Bandar in Thatta district and after verification of procedures adopted for planting the trees rectified the world record set by India on June 12 and 13 when 447,874 saplings were planted in Assam.

The Keti Bandar event was held in mangrove areas on coastal islands of Sindh, which are devoid of vegetation, to develop forestry through international competition.

From here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gates a Racist?

Pakistan Peoples Party Attacks Christians

Kotri: July 27, 2009. (Abbas Kassar reports for PCP) : Residents of Christian Colony Sikendarabad held protest demonstration here on Sunday against attack on their colony in which 4 persons were injured and forcible occupation of their colony primar by attackers and demanded protection to their community.

The demonstration was led by Dr. Emanuel Shahzad who told this scribe that more than 1200 homes of Christians were living at Christian Colony Sikendarabad near Kotri since before creation of Pakistan.

He said that land of Christian colony was donated by late MNA Malik Sikendar for residential purpose to Christians. He said that government had granted primary school and dispensary for their colony which was inaugurated by formed MPA Javed Micheal in 2005.

He said that some days back few persons Javed Shana, Wazir Khunharo, Amir Khunharo, Fida Khunharo, and other armed men who claim to be members of ruling Pakistan Peoples Party attacked the Christian Colony with iron sticks and Dandas beat the residents of colony in which 4 Christians Imdad Masih, Waris Masih, Riaz Masih and Asif Masih were brutally injured.

He said that injured were taken to Taluka hospital Kotri. He said that attack was made in presence of police who did not move to save the Christians and rather protected assailants who took control of primary school building and threw children out of it. He said they brought whole incident to notice of District Coordination Officer and District Police but they did not take any action and school still remains under the control of assailants. He said that when police failed to take action against the attackers, they have now started to threaten them of death. He said the Christians of this colony numbering more than 6000 were passing nights and days under threats and were feeling danger to their lives. He also said that whenever any Christian goes out of colony he is beaten by the Ghundas who are keeping watch on them. He said Javed Shana who is notorious with many cases against him on various police stations but police fails to take action against him. He demanded action against the assailants, recovery of primary schools from clutches of Ghundas and to providing protection to Christian community.

To a question Dr. Emanuel said that federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti who represents Christians in government cannot help them because when in past they approached to him for help his reply was that he belongs to Punjab so cannot come to their help. He said that the terrorists were roaming around Christian colony with arms and they might kidnap their women folk or kill their men.

Immigration Provision Includes Same-Sex Couples

Joan Frawley Desmond reports that Democratic senators have introduced legislation meant to address what they see as an unfair immigration provision that makes some families wait a decade or more to be reunited with family members seeking legal residence. But the “families” covered in the legislation include same-sex couples.

Read it here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why are American Jews Silent?

As Obama pushes for a 2-state "solution" at the cost of Israel's security, where are American Jews? That's a good question. Read more here.

Gay Lifestyle not Sanctioned by Church

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the figurative head of the Anglican Communion, has this to say about the gay/lesbian/bisexual rights agenda of The Episcopal Church:

7. In the light of the way in which the Church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years, it is clear that a positive answer to this question would have to be based on the most painstaking biblical exegesis and on a wide acceptance of the results within the Communion, with due account taken of the teachings of ecumenical partners also. A major change naturally needs a strong level of consensus and solid theological grounding.

8. This is not our situation in the Communion. Thus a blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole. And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.

From here.

Recession Deepening?

There are widespread reports that at least some aspects of the Great Recession may be hitting bottom. Certainly if we believe Wall Street things are on the mend. The DOW is up 35% and the S&P 500 is up 40% since their lows in March. Surely this is a sign that Happy Days are at least on their way if not yet actually "Here Again."

A terrific assessment of the hoped-for end to the Recession, or is this simply a short-lived bear market rally? Read it here.

What is Illan Rua Wall Talking About?

Illan Rua Wall (Oxford Brookes University - Department of Law) has posted On Pain and The Sense of Human Rights (Australian Feminist Law Journal, Vol. 29, 2008) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Human rights law inscribes a relation between the political and suffering. This relation is twofold, it facilitates the radical aspect of human rights’ struggle against domination, but at the same time seems to reduce the human rights horizon to the short-term philantropism of humanitarianism. We will argue that this twofold structure is crucial to understanding human rights. We can begin to imagine a different, non-metaphysical, human rights through thinking a different concept of suffering with emphasis on ‘sense’ and ‘vulnerability’. This article is an attempt to think a future of human rights, a future which is not determined by possessive individualism and the closure of the subject.

Hat Tip to Legal Theory Blog

Would someone please explain to me what this woman is talking about? "Non-metaphysical thinking"? You mean cut the religious crap, Illan?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Praying and Working for Christian Unity

By Bishop David Chislett SSC

YOU only have to keep an eye on the blogs to know that uninformed speculation continues regarding the approach of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) bishops to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome. This article is an attempt at putting some of the discussion in its proper context.

The 2007 letter signed by the bishops in Portsmouth refers to the prayer Jesus prayed on the night before he died for the unity of all who believe in him.(1) It outlines the twentieth century movement of Rome and Canterbury towards full ecclesial reunion, to which many of us have been personally committed for most of our lives. It makes reference to the historic visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in March 1966 (2) and the work of the subsequent Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). Older readers will recall how in those days Paul VI startled his own Curia by referring to the Anglican Communion as a "sister Church", a term up until then reserved for the Eastern Orthodox Churches - a term emphatically no longer used by Rome of the Anglican Communion.

I remember those heady days. Most Anglicans felt that, by the grace of God, the time was coming when, to use the phrase Paul VI borrowed from the Malines Conversations (1921-1925), the Anglican Communion would be united with but not absorbed by Rome, with due honour given to the authentic "patrimony" of Anglicanism. Even Anglicans who didn't really approve understood that the process was well and truly under way.

If it was clear that Rome and Canterbury were engaged and looked forward to a wedding, as early as the mid 1970s it was also becoming clear that on the Anglican side a rampant promiscuity was breaking out that threatened the engagement. Significant parts of the Communion were creating new obstacles to the unity longed for by so many; obstacles as inconsistent with a plain reading of Anglican formularies as they are with the Faith received from the Apostles and maintained by the wider Catholic Church.

At the most theological level was the purported ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate, with its consequent undermining of sacramental certainty and the classical Anglican understanding both of authority and the given-ness of the Faith. More recently the growing ambivalence towards authentic Christian sacramental and iconographic teaching on gender and sexuality, upon which the ordination of women depends, has given rise to the homosexual crisis which threatens to blow the Anglican Communion apart.

Many Anglicans who (rightly) recognised that in terms of catholic sacramental life the rubicon was, in fact, the purported ordination of women, reorganized themselves in ways that would enable them to continue living according to the Gospel and the Catholic Faith. Where possible this was done "just on the inside" of the Anglican Communion, with priests and people gathering around orthodox bishops and dioceses, and - from the early 1990s - within Forward in Faith in the U.K., North America and Australia. The provision of Provincial Episcopal Visitors ("flying bishops") in England enabled a more or less sacramentally distinct regrouping of Anglican catholics "just on the inside" of the mother Church of the Communion.

In contrast, predominately liberal Anglican churches in places like North America, South Africa and Australia adopted a scorched earth policy, denying the "sacramental space" needed by the consciences of the orthodox. So, in these countries the kind of Anglicans who in England are found in parishes under the episcopal care of flying bishops have mostly had no alternative than to regroup as Continuing Anglicans "just on the outside" of the official liberal church in order to live according to the Gospel and the Catholic Faith.

Many of these Continuing Anglican churches comprise the Traditional Anglican Communion, which is the largest grouping of such communities. The TAC maintains a communion relationship with Forward in Faith, and some bishops and priests of the TAC are even licensed to officiate in orthodox parts of the Anglican Communion.

TAC leaders have had informal talks with Vatican officials for nearly twenty years. The 2007 letter from the TAC bishops to the Holy See sought a way of moving to the next level, and signified our desire to continue the ARCIC process to full ecclesial reunion where the Anglican Communion as a whole effectively left off. It stands to reason that a fairly significant regrouping of Anglicans that refuses to embrace the new obstacles to unity should be able to continue down that path.

In a statement released on 25th February 2009, the TAC's Primate, Archbishop John Hepworth, explained that the intention of the bishops was to "seek a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment."

He went on to say,
"We remain in quiet prayer, while growing our Communion in key parts of the world. We agreed, rightly, to allow the Holy See the opportunity to respond to the difficult problems that our letter undoubtedly caused. When there is a reply, I am committed to presenting it to a full meeting of our College of Bishops, and to formal meetings of each of the general synods of our churches that voted to support this initiative." (3)

I have written before on this matter, noting that there is - as one would expect - a variety of views about us among Roman Catholic leaders in this country as well as in the Vatican. Many of our critics (including some former Anglicans!) resent the approach we have made. They insist that the only way open to Anglicans seeking full communion should be individual "conversion."

Furthermore, it is known that some Roman Catholic authorities work against us because of their friendships with liberal Anglican Communion bishops.

On the other hand, among bishops and other Roman Catholic authorities worldwide there is an increasing desire to support us, even to the extent - in some places - of routine sharing of buildings and other resources.

The publicity resulting from the article in the Perth Record led many people to conclude that what was being sought by the TAC is a "personal prelature," - a recently devised way of being Roman Catholic in which the clergy are subject, not to the diocesan bishop, but to another bishop somewhere else. Opus Dei is so far the only personal prelature.

In fact, the precise shape of what will work for us is still to be devised. As Professor Tracey Rowland points out in Ratzinger's Faith, her survey of Joseph Ratzinger's theological and philosophical thinking, "When it comes to the more practical questions about the way of moving forward toward Christian unity, Ratzinger has stated that Catholics cannot demand that all the other Churches be disbanded and their members individually incorporated into the Catholic church. However, Catholics can hope that the hour will come when 'the churches' that exist outside 'the Church' will enter into its unity. They must remain in existence as churches, with only those modifications which such a unity necessarily requires. In the meantime the Catholic Church has no right to absorb the other churches. The Church has not yet prepared for them a place of their own to which they are legitimately entitled." (4)

Professor Rowland then outlines the approach of the TAC to Rome as a possible example of such a process beginning.

Some Roman Catholics and Anglicans, emphasising the Anglican tradition's origin within the Latin Church, do in fact confine their thinking to a personal prelature kind of sub-grouping. Others of a similar mind look for a more fully developed version of The Anglican Use as it exists in the USA.

Ecumenists can be found, however, who are quite adventurous in suggesting that the so-called "uniate" Churches in full communion with Rome offer the best model for Anglicans seeking an ecclesial future in full communion. These are ritual churches "sui iuris" - in other words, churches with their own rites, cultures and canon law. And although, as Archbishop Hepworth pointed out in his statement, "most of these rites are descended from ancient churches that have never been part of the Roman or Western rite",(5) leading English theologian Fr Aidan Nichols OP has publicly supported the uniate model as a viable model for an Anglican Rite Church.

Indeed, seventeen years ago in The Panther and the Hind he explored what such an Anglican Church in full communion with Rome might look like:
"An Anglican church united with Rome . . . might be a church with a religious metaphysic drawn from the Cambridge Platonists, supplying as this would a doctrine of creation, and an account of the human being 'in the image and likeness of God', necessary to the theocentric humanism of any truly Catholic tradition; a doctrinal and sacramental ethos taken from the Restoration divines, with their stress on the inseparable inter connexion of Incarnation, Church and liturgy; and a missionary spirit borrowed from the Evangelical movement, and centred therefore on the universal significance of the Saviour's atoning work - the whole to be confirmed and, where necessary, corrected by acceptance of the framework of the Roman Catholic communion, including the latter's teaching authority to determine those many questions of faith and morals which, historically, have kept Anglicans divided. In such a way, numerous elements of the Anglican theological tradition 'classics', both as texts and persons - could find repatriation in the Western patriarchate, in peace and communion with that see with which the origins of English Christianity are for ever connected. Such an Anglican Uniate community might be relatively small in numbers, yet, provided with its own canonical structure, liturgical books, parishes, and means of priestly formation, it would enrich Roman Catholicism with its own theological patrimony, and - in the atmosphere of ecumenical detente which holds good in the West, though not, alas, the East, fulfil the role of 'bridge-Church' between Canterbury and Rome."(6)

More recently, in his paper Anglican Uniatism, Nichols says that the concept of an Anglican Church "sui iuris"
". . . would have to be presented prudently to the wider Catholic public. It can certainly be pointed out that the Second Vatican Council goes out of its way, in the Decree on Ecumenism, to give a special place to Anglicanism among the ecclesial communities that emerged from the Church crisis of the sixteenth century, and assurances that whatever is valid in the patrimony of Anglican worship, thought and spirituality, could be preserved in Catholic unity have been forthcoming, if in very general terms, from post-Conciliar popes. Places to look would be, for instance, the speeches of Paul VI at the canonisation of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales and of John Paul II on his visit to Canterbury Cathedral. St Thomas Aquinas, when speaking of the variety of Religious Orders in the Church, liked to cite the psalm which, in its Latin version, describes the Church as 'circumdata varietate', surrounded by variety. The pains and purgatories of the post-Conciliar period have taught us to treat 'variety' with some caution, since pluralism comes in two forms, the legitimate and the anarchic. But an Anglican Uniate body, defined with discernment and sensitivity, could I believe, join the ranks of the Churches sui iuris which give Catholicism an indispensable dimension of its plenary or holistic quality."(7)

It is clear that Rome is talking to a range of Anglicans at the moment. The TAC is merely the group out in front. Whatever form an "Anglican Church in full communion" might take, it will obviously need to be capable of drawing into its life waves of likeminded Anglican catholics from a variety of backgrounds and jurisdictions.

Let us continue to pray for those involved in the dialogue that they will have the gift of wisdom and insight in the consideration of what will one day be seen as a momentous and historic act of ecclesial reunion.

In the meantime, let us try to understand that at the most basic level the Catholic Church already comprises a range of "churches in communion," of various rites, and that most of the day-to-day work of the Holy Father is not in his role as pope and pastor of the Universal Church but in his patriarchal role in the Latin Church. The churches in communion (and their membership numbers in 2005) are: (8)

1. The Partiarchal Latin Rite Catholic Church (Membership: 1,070,315,000)
2. The Patriarchal Armenian Catholic Church (Membership: 368,923)
3. The Patriarchal Coptic Catholic Church (Membership: 242,513)
4. The Ethiopian Catholic Church (Membership: 196,853)
5. The Patriarchal Antiochan Syrian Maronite Catholic Church (Membership: 3,106,792)
6. The Patriarchal Chaldean Catholic Church (Membership: 382,637)
7. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (Membership: 3,752,434)
8. The Patriarchal Syrian Catholic Church (Membership: 123,376)
9. The Syro- Malankara Catholic Church (Membership: 404,052)
10. The Patriarchal Melkite Catholic Church (Membership: 1,340,913)
11. The Italo-Albanian Catholic Church (Membership: 60,448)
12. The Ukrainian Catholic Church (Membership: 4,321,508)
13. The Ruthenian Catholic Church (Membership: 497,704)
14. The Byzantine Catholic Church USA (Membership: 100,000)
15. The Romanian Catholic Church (Membership: 746,000)
16. The Greek Catholic Church in Greece (Membership: 2,345)
17. The Greek Catholic Church in Former Yugoslavia (Membership: 76,670)
18. The Bulgarian Catholic Church (Membership: 10,000)
19. The Slovak Catholic Church (Membership: 225,136)
20. The Hungarian Catholic Church (Membership: 268,935)
21. The Russian Catholic Church (Membership: 20 parishes worldwide)
22. The Belarusian Catholic Church (Membership: 100,000)
23. The Albanian Catholic Church (Membership: 3,000)
24. The Georgian Catholic Church (Membership: 7,000)

1 John 17:20-21 "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me . . ."

2 The Pope and the Archbishop affirmed their desire ". . . that all those Christians who belong to these two Communions may be animated by these same sentiments of respect esteem and fraternal love, and in order to help these develop to the full, they intend to inaugurate between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion a serious dialogue which, founded on the gospels and on the ancient common traditions, may lead to that unity in truth, for which Christ prayed."

3 See:

4 T. Rowland, Ratzinger's Faith (Oxford University Press, 2008), 98-99.

5 Ibid.

6 A. Nichols, The Panther and the Hind (T&T Clarke, Edinburgh, 1993), 178.

7 A. Nichols, Anglican Uniatism (New Blackfriars Volume 87 Issue 1010, 2006), 337-356. This paper can be downloaded gratis from:

8 The Eastern Catholic Churches by Kevin R. Yurkus in Crisis Magazine July 2005 Morley Publishing Group Inc. Washington

(Bishop David Chislett SSC is Vicar General of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, Regional Bishop of the Northern Apostolic District, Australia and Rector of Patmos House Community, Brisbane.)

From here.

Honduras Summary

A Closer Look at Honduras
By Rebekah Ries

If political leaders around the globe unanimously profess the same opinion, it must be true, right?

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Insulza, and U.S. President Barack Obama are all calling the recent change of power in Honduras a “coup,” harkening back to the frequent overthrows of South American military regimes during the Cold War era. At first, it seems reasonable that an American president would denounce a military coup, which by definition is, after all, anti-democratic. But one by one, concerned citizens are beginning to suggest that the world was too quick to condemn the new government in Honduras.

A closer look at the situation in Honduras reveals a triumph of democracy, not tyranny.
The events of June 28 had the earmarks of a military coup — military forces seized power and exiled a democratically-elected president. But there is another side to this story, one that is not immediately apparent.

Three months prior, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya attempted to violate Honduras’ Constitution by seeking to extend his term in office by asking for an illegal referendum. When the Congress and Supreme Court of Honduras declared the President’s actions unconstitutional, the President ignored their orders and tried to go ahead with a referendum to rewrite the Constitution anyway. When the Honduran military, the body in charge of conducting elections, followed the Supreme Court’s order and refused to distribute the ballots, President Zelaya seized the ballots and fired the minister of defense. The Supreme Court ordered Zelaya to reinstate the defense minister, and Zelaya refused.

Against this backdrop of power-grabbing and defiance of the rule of law, Honduran patriots ousted Mr. Zelaya from his position as president. Thus, Mr. Zelaya was not ousted in a military coup, but by the legitimate government of his own country. Acting under the Constitution, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General ordered the minister of defense to arrest President Zelaya for his actions. The Legislature, including members of President Zelaya’s own party, voted 125-3 to accept President Zelaya’s resignation and instate Roberto Micheletti as the interim president.

The Honduran Constitution contains several unique provisions. One of these is the immutability of certain articles, including the article that imposes a one-term limit on the office of President. The only constitutional way to change this provision is to completely rewrite the Constitution. However, according to Honduran law, only the Congress — not the President — has the power to call for a referendum to rewrite the Constitution.

So when President Zelaya began distributing ballots for his referendum, he violated not only the mandate of the other co-equal branches of the Honduran government, but also the Honduran Constitution. In response, the Honduran government took advantage of its constitutional recourse.

Octavio Sanchez, a Honduran citizen, lawyer, and former presidential advisor, points out that the Constitution forbids any citizen who has previously held the office of President to hold it again. Further, it requires that any citizen who violates or proposes to reform this proposition be immediately relieved of his post and banned from holding public office for ten years. “[President Zelaya] through his own actions had stripped himself of the presidency,” Sanchez told the Christian Science Monitor on July 2.

Days after the ouster, roughly 5,000 anti-Zelaya demonstrators celebrated at a main plaza in the capital of Tegucigalpa, the Associated Press reported on June 30. Marta Lorena Casco, the newly appointed deputy foreign minister, told the crowd, “Freedom has won, peace has triumphed, Honduras has won.” She said Zelaya had planned to make the country a pawn of socialist Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. “Chavez consumed Venezuela, then Bolivia, after that Ecuador and Nicaragua, but in Honduras that didn't happen,” she said.

Interim President Roberto Micheletti told Colombia’s Caracol Radio, “We have not committed a coup d’etat, but a constitutional succession.”

But why should Americans care whether the world sees Honduras’s new government as legitimate or illegitimate? Because America, the defender of freedom and democracy, has turned a blind eye to the abuses of Manuel Zelaya. Rather than applauding those trying to preserve democracy in Honduras, President Obama demanded that Honduras reinstate a political leader who violated the Constitution and the rule of law to establish himself as a dictator.

“It took extraordinary courage for Honduran leaders to ensure it remains a country ruled by the Constitution,” stated Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright. “Facing withering denunciations and potential punishments by the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and ill-informed world leaders did not deter Hondurans from their duty and dedication to uphold the rule of law. Their example should embolden us to vigilantly guard our own Constitution from those who seek to undermine it, and humbly, yet resolutely, ignore unwarranted criticism from foreign leaders when we uphold our Constitution.”

We should all urge our leaders to critically examine the events in Honduras, and we should pray for the Honduran patriots who are standing up for democracy against the outcry of the rest of the world.

From here.

This article was based on the following sources; please consult them for further information on the situation in Honduras:
“A ‘coup’ in Honduras? Nonsense,” Christian Science Monitor, July 2, 2009.
“Honduran Attorney General: Ousted President Faces Possible 20-Year Sentence,” Associated Press, June 30, 2009 (Published on Fox News).
“Honduras Defends Its Democracy,” Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2009.
Letter from GOP Senators to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, July 8, 2009.
Letter from Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to President Barack Obama, July 1, 2009.

Francis S. Collins: Science not Fiction

"The New York Times recently warned its readers about a wacky scientist in the Obama administration. But the fish wrap of record let the real nut job off the hook.

Reporting last week on the president's choice to head the National Institutes of Health, Times writer Gardiner Harris noted that praise for Dr. Francis S. Collins "was not universal or entirely enthusiastic." The geneticist is causing "unease," according to the Times, because of "his very public embrace of religion." Stomachs are apparently churning over a book Collins wrote describing his conversion to Christianity.

It's called -- gasp! -- The Language of God. Harris intoned: "Religion and genetic research have long had a fraught relationship, and some in the field complain about what they see as Dr. Collins' evangelism." And...that's it. Yes, the mere profession of Collins' faith is enough to warrant red flags and ominous declamations. A quarter of all Americans identify themselves as evangelical Christians and "publicly embrace their religion." But to the Times, Collins' open affiliation with 60 million American believers in Christ is headline news.

The rationality police in the newsroom have not, however, seen fit to print the rantings of a radical secular evangelist now serving as the White House "science czar." John Holdren, Obama's director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, co-authored the innocuously titled Ecoscience in the 1970s with population control extremists Paul and Anne Ehrlich.

Read all of Michelle Malkin's column here. And you don't want to miss this piece!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Quote of the Week - Joseph Ratzinger

"Believing Christians should look upon themselves as such a creative minority and ... espouse once again the best of its heritage, thereby being at the service of humankind at large." --Joseph Ratzinger

African Journalists Oppose Corporate/State Pressures

Thirty-two IFEX members and partners raise concerns about proposed AU-EU Pan African Media Observatory Project

Attn: Habiba Mejri-Cheikh Spokesperson and Head of Information and Communication African Union Commission

Ian Barber Head of Unit Information and Communication Directorate General for Development and relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific States European Commission

Joint Submission On the Pan African Media Observatory Project

The following statement is issued by the under-listed organizations following the invitation by the European Commission (EC) and the African Union (AU) for responses from organizations involved in media development to the Pan-African Media Observatory Project (PAMO). The organizations, which are signatories to this statement, are members or partners of the Network of African Freedom of Expression Organizations (NAFEO) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).

The under-listed organizations welcome the intention of the European Union in partnership with the Africa Union to support and advance media development in Africa. Our support for this policy direction is based on the belief that a strong media sector is critical to Africa’s development as it can promote good governance, provide a platform for open and participatory debates on public policy and provide opportunities for governments and citizens to engage with each other.

Substantive Comments
The under-listed organizations firmly believe that the approach of the Pan-African Media Observatory Project proposed to be adopted by the EU and the AU cannot lead to the realization of the objective of advancing media development in Africa and particularly in ensuring media freedom, independence and professionalism.

Rather, we believe the idea as presently conceived contradicts or violates a number of well-established principles guaranteeing media freedom and independence and would ultimately create further problems for the media and the right of African peoples to independent sources of news and information for personal, professional and political decision-making. The key factors in our position are outlined below:

1. Project Framework Founded on an Erroneous Premise
The consultation document provides the background to the Pan-African Media Observatory in the following terms: "The context was described by the initiators of Media Observatory Global, at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in 2002, as follows: 'real power is now held by a small group of global economic corporations and enterprises which sometimes appear to have greater influence over the world's affairs than governments and states'. As a result, it is important not to leave Africa at the mercy of one-track thinking, or standardized or imposed offering and content. In short, there is a need to ensure that African media enjoy pluralism, freedom and independence from political and economic powers and from all lobbies including professional lobbies, and that they bear the seal of creativity by developing their own original content, co-productions and thematic series." (See p. 1)

While there may be a few media organizations in Africa that are under the control of global economic corporations, this context is certainly not the dominant reality of the media in Africa. The challenges of media development on the continent are much more wide-ranging, but the real issue for the vast majority of African media players is how to overcome the over-bearing and pervasive influence of the State which invariably seeks to control the media for propaganda purposes, usually to prevent any real public scrutiny and to implement their agenda of self-perpetuation in power.

Although the project document claims subsequently that the background, motivations, needs and realities of the creation of the Pan-African Media Observatory are totally different from those of Media Observatory Global, it fails to explain how or to define a different context or background.

Rather, a significant portion of the framework elaborated in the project document appears geared towards responding to this context by enforcing "media responsibility" in a manner that would pander to the wishes of African leaders and give the Media Observatory "a fair degree of recognition and legitimacy among the Member States" of the AU. (See p. 5)

2. Project Concept Ignores Reality of Brutal Media Repression in Africa
Following from (1) above, it is our view that the project framework ignores a fundamental reality, which is the brutal repression of the media (through obnoxious laws, institutional arrangements and practices) in many countries on the continent.

In many parts of Africa, media enterprises are sometimes shut down by government or security agents while scores of journalists and media workers as well as other citizens are regularly being forced into exile, assassinated, physically assaulted, threatened with death or physical harm; arbitrarily arrested and detained; subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment; harassed through oppressive criminal charges and unfair trials; and subjected to other forms of aggression for exercising their rights to free speech.

This repression, more than anything else, undermines the ability and capacity of the media in the different countries to challenge established authority. Yet, the project document completely ignores this reality in outlining the context and background to the project. Not surprisingly, therefore, the Media Observatory project contains no concrete strategy for addressing this fundamental problem.

3. Project Framework Inconsistent with Established Principle of Independence of Media from Governmental Control or Interference
The project departs from a well established principle that a free, independent and pluralistic media should ideally be free of governmental interference and control in that it seeks to subject African media organizations and media professionals to government control and interference.

By establishing the Pan-African Media Observatory as an institution or organ of the African Union while at the same time empowering it to enforce professional standards and conduct for the media and for media practitioners, whether through mediation or other means, the project is effectively subjecting the media to the control of governments and government institutions.

4. Project Ignores Previous Milestones
Although the project description claims that it is a structure to support and strengthen existing initiatives, organizations and bodies, in reality it fails to recognize or acknowledge landmark principles that have been previously established but whose effectiveness have been undermined by the failure or refusal of national governments to respect and abide by them.

Such milestones include the 1991 Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press, which was subsequently unanimously endorsed by UNESCO and the General Assembly of the United Nations; the African Charter on Broadcasting, which was adopted at an international conference organized by UNESCO in Windhoek, Namibia in 2001 in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration; and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, which was adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in 2002.

Subsequent to the adoption of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa by the African Commission, an organ of the AU, the Commission has established a monitoring mechanism for Freedom of Expression in Africa in the form of a Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa with a mandate to, among other things, monitor the compliance of member States of the AU with freedom of expression standards in general and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in particular.

The project document gives no indication of awareness of these instruments and mechanisms. No consideration appears to have been given to their potential for advancing media freedom, independence and professionalism on the continent. There is also no indication of how the Pan-African Media Observatory might seek to reinforce them or ensure their effective implementation, for instance, by ensuring that States bring their laws and practices into conformity with the standards outlined in the documents.

5. Project Ignores Existing Initiatives
The project appears to ignore ongoing initiatives in the region in which significant and far-reaching consultations have been carried out over the last several years. Some of these initiatives include the very detailed consultation conducted under the Strengthening Africa's Media (STREAM) process, which was coordinated by the UN Economic Commission for Africa(UNECA) as well as the African Media Development Initiative (AMDI), coordinated by the BBC World Service Trust, both of which received significant support from the UK government.

The STREAM process involved extensive online consultations in different stages among various stakeholder groups across the entire continent with several hundred respondents as well as at least five sub-regional consultations in the form of physical meetings and conferences of media practitioners, media owners, media trainers and media support organizations throughout the regions of Africa. In addition, a separate consultation for Francophone countries was also held.
The AMDI process involved primary and secondary research to gather data about the media landscape, media conditions, legal and regulatory framework, etc. in 17 African countries which were then analysed and published in reports. Both processes have now merged into the African Media Initiative (AMI), which has itself conducted further consultations and research to agree on strategies for intervention under various strands of media development in Africa. AMI has now established a secretariat in Nairobi, Kenya.

Other platforms, including the Network of African Freedom of Expression Organizations (NAFEO) and its global partner, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) as well as the Africa Forum on Media Development (AFMD) and its international umbrella network, the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), have been involved in these efforts and remain active in other spheres and initiatives with regard to media development in Africa. As well, the Declaration of Table Mountain, adopted in Cape Town in June 2007 at the conference of the World Association of Newspapers (including 16,000 member newspapers throughout the world) called for the elimination of all laws restricting the operations of free and independent media, including "insult'' and criminal defamation laws, which still exist and are often invoked in 48 (of the 53) countries of Africa.

It seems logical that any fresh initiative should seek to build on these previous efforts in order to avoid duplication, waste and the possibility of contradictory approaches.

We respectfully urge the European Commission and the African Union Commission not to implement the Pan-African Media Observatory project as presently conceived.

We are not encouraged by the apparent lack of political will on the part of many African leaders to give effect to the decisions of existing mechanisms in Africa, including the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Tribunal. For this and other reasons outlined above, we donot believe that the Media Observatory, as presently proposed, represents a framework for bringing about positive changes for the media in Africa.

It is our view that the objective of ensuring media freedom, independence, pluralism and professionalism would be more likely achieved through clear recognition and respect for a more conscientious implementation and enforcement of existing documents, charters, principles and mechanisms, in addition to other internationally recognized instruments.

We therefore urge that African leaders make a clear commitment to effectively implement relevant existing African instruments and principles, including the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press; the African Charter on Broadcasting; the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa; as well as the relevant provisions of international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

We recommend that the EC and the AU Commission work together to strengthen the office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa.

We further recommend that the EC and the AU Commission further support and advance media development in Africa by supporting the work of media associations and media support organizations which provide a range of services and assistance to the media sector, including in the area of training and capacity building, research and advocacy, litigation and legal support, and monitoring and campaigning.

Signed by:
Africa Free Media Trust, Kenya
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Egypt
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canada
Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), U.S.A.
Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), Liberia
Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA), in exile
Exiled Journalists Network (EJN), U.K.
FAMEDEV-Inter Africa Network for Women, Media, Gender and Development/LeRéseau Inter Africain Des Femmes, Médias, Genre et Développement, Senegal
Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), South Africa
Freedom House, U.S.A.
Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Ghana
Human Rights Network-Uganda (HURINET), Uganda
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRJN), Uganda
Index on Censorship, U.K.
Institute for Media and Society, Nigeria
International Press Centre (IPC), Nigeria
International Federation of Journalists - Africa Regional Office, Senegal
Journaliste en danger (Journalist in Danger, JED), Democratic Republic ofCongo
Liberia Media Center, Liberia
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Ghana
Media Institute (MI), Kenya
Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Nigeria
Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création (OLPEC),Tunisia
Radio Alternative Voice For Gambians- Radio AVG, Senegal
Somali Coalition for Freedom of Expression (SOCFEX), Somalia
South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF), South Africa
West African Journalists Association (Union des Journalistes de l'Afriquede l'Ouest, WAJA/UJAO), Senegal
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Kenya/Canada
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), U.S.A.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), France
Diallo Souleymane, Le Lynx, Conakry, Guinea
Jeanette Minnie, Zambezi FoX: (International Freedom of Expression andMedia Consultant), South Africa

Lead by:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Egypt-Germany Battle over Nefertiti

The image most commonly associated with Nefertiti is the famous swans- neck carving discovered in 1913 by Ludwig Borchardt. However, a recently discovered document in the German Oriental Institute archives now shows Borchardt was to have equally divided his dig spoils between Germany and Egypt but did not do so where the bust of Nefertiti was concerned. Infatuated with his find, he handed over an incorrect description and unflattering photo as part of his required inventory list.

The deception attempt apparently worked and officials were convinced the carving was little more than rubbish. Nefertiti was successfully smuggled out of Egypt and has remained in Germany ever since.

In 1933, Egypt began demanding her return, claiming the precious 3,400 year old carving had been deliberately stolen through Borchadt’s subterfuge, but it was too late. Adolf Hitler had fallen under her enigmatic spell and refused to even consider the idea of her return. Instead, Nefertiti was to become an integral part of his new Germania.

Fast forward to present day and it appears not much has changed since 1933.

Located in Giza, the new Grand Egyptian Museum is almost fully constructed, with an opening scheduled for 2011. In 2007, the New Zealand Herald reported Egyptian officials had requested the loan of the Nefertiti bust but that German museum officials refused, citing the carving’s overall delicacy as a detriment to travel.

Egypt’s chief archeologist, Zahi Hawass was incensed, believing the refusal to be little more than political maneuverings. "I really want it back," he told the Egyptian Parliament last week. "If Germany refuses the loan request, we will never again organize exhibitions of antiquities in Germany ... it will be a scientific war."

Read the full story here.

Australians Prepare to Defend Their Country

For most of the Cold War, America's allies did surprisingly little to defend themselves, preferring to rely on the U.S. That dependent mentality continues, especially among the populous and prosperous countries of Europe. The election of President Barack Obama notwithstanding, the Europeans have proved no more willing than before to offer additional combat support in Afghanistan.

However, Australia is breaking the mold, preparing to do much more to protect itself and its region. Washington should encourage its other friends to follow suit.

Canberra issued its previous defense white paper a decade ago. Observed Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon: "the biggest changes to our outlook over the period have been the rise of China, the emergence of India and the beginning of the end of the so-called unipolar moment; the almost two-decade-long period in which the pre-eminence of our principal ally, the United States, was without question."

Australia now discerns a future in which "there will be a number of other powers floating about, China and India, for example, the re-emergence of Russia," he added. Particularly important will be the People's Republic of China, which said Fitzgibbon, "will be the strongest Asian military power, by a considerable margin." Although the U.S. isn't going away anytime soon, its relative domination will shrink and its willingness to make war for its allies will diminish. Different circumstances require different policies. Explained Fitzgibbon: "We need to be able to defend our country without necessarily relying on the assistance of other nation states."

Read it all here.

Drug Patents: What's in the Pipeline?

(Required reading for Organization Management Ethics students.)

In the past decade drug companies have seen a significant decline in revenue due to the expiration of patents.

In 2001 Eli Lilly's patent on the antidepressant Prozac expired. That same year AstraZeneca's patent on Prilosec expired. Before this AstraZeneca was bringing in between $5 and $6 million a year for the 'purple pill' for heartburn.

Schering-Plough's allergy drug Claritin brought in a third of that company's revenue before the patent expired in 2002.

Bristol-Myers Squibb lost revenue when that company's patent on the diabetes drug Glucophage expired in 2000. Glucophage brought in sales of $1.7 billion.

In 2005, patents expired on about 200 drugs accounting for more than $30 billion in sales in 2000 alone.

How will drug companies compensate for the loss of revenue? The industry's answer is this: through new drugs that are being developed. The answer is progress and innovation, if we are to believe all the public relations.

Exactly how many truly new drugs are in the development pipeline? Consider this:

"Of the seventy-eight drugs approved by the FDA in 2002, only seventeen contained new active ingredients, and only seven of these were classified by the FDA as improvements over older drugs... Furthermore, of those seven, not one came from a major US drug company." (Business Ethics, McGraw Hill 2007 edition, John E. Richardson, editor, page 113).

Not very encouraging. However, there are a few glimmers of hope on the horizon, mostly involving new applications for existing drugs. For example, some prostate cancer patients have had remarkable results following influsions of the drug ipilimumab, a monoclonal antibody that stimulates the immune system. Likewise Gardasil has been shown to be effective in preventing genital warts caused by HPV strains 6, 11, 16, and 18 in males aged 16-26 years.

Meanwhile, drug companies are not keeping up with the demand for drugs in general use such as:

Technetium Tc99m Generators
Calcium Disodium Versenate Injection 200 mg/mL 5 mL ampules
Azactam 1 gram and 2 gram (aztreonam for injection)
Infed (Iron Dextran) injection
Methotrexate injection
Mitomycin for injection
Metoprolol Succinate extended release tablets

Why aren't the drug companies keeping up with demand? Perhaps the margin of profit isn't great enough?

Then there are the lurking suspicions that some drug companies may be manipulating the public. Consider the recent revelation that Merck paid the Australian branch of Elsevier, a company that publishes scholarly journals, to put together a bogus journal in which 9 of the 29 articles were about Merck's controversial Vioxx and the remaining 12 were about Merck's Fosamax; both drugs presented in the most positive way possible.

After all is said and done, the US drug companies don't seem to be making much progress in the development of new drugs or in keeping up with the demand for existing drugs. So what are they spending the profits on? Likely some on research and development and a goodly sum on promoting the myth of American innovation.

Read more here and here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Myth-Healing the Paralysed

HYDERABAD, July 22: Parents buried paralysed children up to their necks in a muddy riverbed on Wednesday, believing that an eclipse of the sun would allow them to walk. According to superstition the solar eclipse offers special treatment to people suffering from a variety of ailments.

Two paralysed girls and a boy were buried up to their heads into the Indus River bank near here for 90 minutes.

“Whenever there’s a solar eclipse, I try to help heal suffering humanity,” said Arif Shah, a ‘spiritual healer’.

“Allah bestows powers in the paralysed parts of handicapped people during an eclipse and certainly heals them,” he claimed.

Nadeem, the father of four-year-old Palwasha whose left side is paralysed, said he had great hopes that his daughter’s health would improve.

“I don’t mind if she doesn’t recover fully but if it helps her recover to a certain extent, it will be enough to make us happy,” he said.

“Our society believes in myths. Such methods are all based on myths and have nothing to do with medical science,” said psychiatrist Syed Ali Wasif.

The longest solar eclipse of the 21st century plunged millions across Asia into temporary darkness on Wednesday, triggering scenes of religious fervour, fear and excitement particularly in India and China.

Source: Pakistan Dawn

Andrisson Manyere Files Suit

23 July 2009
Journalist sues state over illegal detention

SOURCE: Media Institute of Southern Africa

(MISA/IFEX) - On 14 July 2009, freelance photojournalist Andrisson Manyere and 15 members of the Movement for Democratic Change-T (MDC-T) filed a lawsuit with the High Court demanding compensation in the amount of US$19.2 million from the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs and State Security agents, following their alleged abduction, unlawful detention and deprivation of liberty.

In the lawsuit, each plaintiff is demanding US$1.2 million for unlawful abduction, forced disappearance, unlawful detention, unlawful arrest and unlawful deprivation of liberty. The state is also being sued for torture,pain, shock, suffering and psychological trauma, humiliating and degrading treatment, loss of amenities of life and malicious prosecution.

The 16 plaintiffs are demanding compensation from the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa. The two are jointly cited along with Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, Prisons Commissioner Paradzai Zimondi and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Director-general Happyton Bonyongwe.

Also being sued are Police Senior Assistant Commissioner Nyathi, Chief Superintendent Crispen Makendenge, Detective Chief Inspector Mpofu, Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi, Senior Assistant Commissioner of the PrisonsServices Chiobvu, Detective Chief Inspector Elliot Muchada, Superintendent Josh Shasha Tenderere, Assistant Inspector Maria Phiri, Detective Inspector Chibaya, Detective Muuya and Assistant Director of the external branch of the CIO, Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi.

Manyere, who is presently on bail, has been charged under Section 23 (1)(a) (i) (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9(23) which deals with insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism. He first appeared before the Harare Magistrates Court on 24 December 2008 together with Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko.

Prior to that he had been reported missing after he had taken his vehicle to a garage in Norton about 40 kilometres west of Harare on 13 December 2008 until his appearance in court on 24 December 2008.

For more information:
Media Institute of Southern Africa
21 Johann Albrecht Street
Private Bag 13386
misaalerts (@)
Phone: +264 61 232975
Fax: +264 61 248016

Where is Hillary Clinton?

Bonnie Erbe has observed, as have many of us, that Hillary Clinton seems to have gone into hiding. Here is what she writes:

"...Secretary Clinton has been all but invisible since ascending to one of the most visible cabinet posts, and one wonders whether this was done on purpose. She had to resort to carping about the length of time it's taking to get her U.S. AID lieutenant in office in order to make headlines—that after her commander in chief globe-trotted back from Africa, Italy, and other parts of the world these past couple of weeks.

Tina Brown has an interesting take at

It's time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.

Consider the president's Moscow trip a week ago. In a cozy scene at Vladimir Putin's dacha, the boys enjoyed traditional Russian tea and breakfast on a terrace. Sitting on Putin's right was the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Where was Lavrov's counterpart? She was back home, left there with a broken elbow to receive a visit from the ousted Honduran president, José Manuel Zelaya.

I don't put it beyond President Obama to have purposely buried Secretary Clinton and denied her visibility."

Read it all here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Two Americans Get 'Hard Labor' in N. Korea

A human-rights activist says North Korea is using two kidnapped American journalists as pawns in order to get more concessions from the United States.

The sister of an American journalist jailed in North Korea says the woman acknowledged breaking North Korean law during a recent phone call. Lisa Ling told KCRA-TV in Sacramento she spoke to her sister Laura Ling late Tuesday. Lisa Ling said Laura told her she and the other American journalist being held, Euna Lee, violated North Korean law and need the U.S. government's help in obtaining amnesty.

At the time they were captured, the two women were working for San Francisco-based Current TV, which former U.S. Vice President Al Gore helped found. They were sentenced last month to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry and "hostile acts."

Suzanne Scholte, chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, says the two women are clearly being used as pawns by the regime.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Muslims Stop Construction of Church

JAKARTA, July 15 (Compass Direct News) – Members of several Muslim organizations joined a demonstration on June 27 to protest construction of a Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) church building in Plaju, outside of Palembang, capital of South Sumatra Province.

The South Sumatra Muslim Forum (FUI Sumsel) organized the demonstration. Carrying a copy of a mayoral decree dated May 2009 ordering a halt to construction, the protestors gathered outside the building site, listened to speeches and then destroyed a bridge leading to it before demanding that the government ban the building project.

A spokesman from FUI Sumsel who goes by the single name of Umar said the group objected on grounds that the church had not secured permission from the local Interfaith Harmony Forum nor a building permit; both are required by a Joint Ministerial Decree regulating the establishment of places of worship.

On Feb. 10 a delegation of church leaders led by the Rev. Japati Napitupulu had met with Gov. Alex Noerdin, who said he had no objection to the building of the church, but church leaders acknowledged they had not completed the permit process.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Avoiding Sex-Discrimination Lawsuits

(Required reading for Organization Management Ethics students.)

In May 2005, Boeing agreed to pay $72.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by female employees who asserted that the company paid them less than male employees and promoted them less quickly.

In June 2005, Wal-Mart faced similar charges.

One month later, Morgan Stanley announced a $54 million settlement to a class-action suit alleging similar charges.

These are not stupid companies, so how did they get into this kind of trouble? All three companies had gender disparity in pay and promotions that weren't obvious but rather subtle, so it was easy for management to think there wasn't a problem.

How can a company avoid sex-discrimination lawsuits? Here are some ways to avoid vulnerability:
  • Always post all job openings.
  • Set up formal systems for selection of employees and their promotion.
  • Define required job competencies.
  • Establish guidelines for how pay is determined and raises granted.
  • Require that the guidelines be applied consistently.
  • Be prepared to justify situations that may appear to be discriminatory.
  • Avoid what may appear to be 'secrets' when it comes to evaluation of performance.
  • When an employee is fired or denied promotion, provide a reasonable explanation.

Can you think of other recommendations?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

World Seeks Release of Human Right Activist Joseph Francis

Withdraw all cases and release Joseph Francis. PCCLahore: July 18, 2009. (PCP) Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have demanded Punjab government to withdraw all cases against Joseph Francis and release him immediately from jail because there is widespread unrest among Pakistani Christian who are terming it as revenge of government.

“Joseph Francis is an asset of Pakistani Christians because he is serving persecution victims from two decades without fear under an independent human right establishment CLAAS’ said Nazir Bhatti.

Nazir Bhatti added “Joseph Francis as a head of Pakistan Christian National Party was an ally of Pakistan Peoples Party PPP since 1973, but withdrew his support for PPP during elections of 2008, on difference with leadership on which PPP government planned to punish him and his imprisonment is viewed as revenge by Pakistani Christians”

Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti appealed to Chief Justice of Lahore High Court to form a special Committee to investigate facts of FIR filed against Joseph Francis to ensure justice.

Nazir Bhatti expressed concern on silence of Christian leaders on prison of Joseph Francis who always raised voice for Christian rights and helped persecuted Christians.

The sources revealed that under fear CLAAS office in Lahore not issued any press release to inform situation of Joseph Francis to media or common Christian due to which majority of Pakistani Christian is unaware of situation.

PCC mailed a petition to President of Pakistan to intervene and withdraw cases against Joseph Francis because he was long time friend of Pakistan Peoples Party PPP which is leading partner in present collation government.

Nazir Bhatti urged Pakistan Christian Congress PCC Central Executive Council leaders to visit CLAAS offices Lahore to know facts and later to hold press conferences to invite attention of Human Right Commission of Pakistan, Civil Society leaders and Christian human right activists for campaign to release Joseph Francis.

According to Pakistan Christian Post PCP, Joseph Francis was sent to jail on July 12, 2009, after cancellation of his bail in a case filed against him in 2006, which was reported in Compass Direct, a media outlet in West.

Musharraf Tells Truth About Taliban

Internal Extremism bigger threat than India, says Musharraf

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Extremism and terrorism from the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and not India, are the biggest threats to Pakistani society, General (r) Pervez Musharraf has said.

He told Karan Thapar of CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme, however, the situation would have to be re-examined if “there are threatening noises coming from the Indian side”. The interview, recorded on Wednesday in London and being aired on Saturday and Sunday in two parts, also questioned whether Pakistan was providing official patronage to anti-India groups. Musharraf denied such reports, saying they were not being granted official patronage.

To questions on back channel talks between India and Pakistan during his tenure as president, Musharraf agreed with the comments of an American journalist that the two countries “were close to a deal”. He said both countries had been close to any agreement on all three issues: Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek.


I totally agree with the past President’s assessment that the biggest threat to Pakistani society is from home-grown Extremists, Terrorists and Talibans who follow the Al-Qaeda forces hiding in Pakistan. The government effort to flush out these Extremists must continue. Special attention must be given to training police to resist intimidation.

33 Girls Sacrificed by Ancient Incas

July 14, 2009 - National Geographic

Many of the 33 mummies uncovered near Chiclayo, Peru, were those of girls—a rarity, experts say. Their throats slit, the girls were probably killed in a bid for agricultural fertility.

Research into 33 mummies discovered in Peru has revealed most of the bodies were girls, most likely sacrificed in the belief their deaths would bring fertility to the peoples farmlands.

Utah Valley University professor Haagen Klaus is an expert in bio-archaeology and has been examining the human remains found in 2007 at the Chotuna Huaca, a site located north east of Chiclayo, Peru.

Watch the video © 2009 National Geographic (AP) here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Swine Flu Unstoppable?

The highest body of experts advising the United Nations health agency on immunizations has determined that all countries will need to have vaccines for the influenza A(H1N1) infection, noting that the spread of the pandemic is “unstoppable.”

Just over one month ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the influenza outbreak had officially reached global pandemic levels, and raised its warning system to Phase 6 – meaning that sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus had spread beyond North America, where it was initially concentrated. As of 6 July, there were over 94,500 reported cases of the virus, including 429 deaths.

Read it all here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

South Carolina Anglicans Disavow GenCon '09

Here is a statement from the deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina:

Madam President:

South Carolina stands before you with broken hearts. By passing Resolution D025 and C056 this General Convention has overturned the clear and consistent teaching of Holy Scripture and the Christian Church. We will have repudiated the teaching and practice of the Anglican Communion. The Communion's patience and generosity toward the Episcopal Church makes our persistent refusal to heed their requests to us to honor the called for moratoria all the more devastating.

Many of us us here this morning, and in Dioceses, parishes, and pews throughout the Episcopal Church, disavow this General Convention's actions. Will will now prayerfully seek ways to be faithful to the Anglican Communion and to the mutual responsibility and interdependence to which we are called, no matter what the cost.

Read more here.

Quote to Remember - Fr. Dan Martins

Addressing the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church after it approved a resolution to develop same-sex ceremonies in the Episcopal Church, Fr. Dan Martins (you go, guy!) said:

"Madam President, if I had a dollar for every person who has come up to me during this convention and said something like, "I don't usually agree with you, but I'm sure glad you're here; we need your voice," I could finance a day at Disneyland. want my voice? Here's my voice: If there was any ambiguity in D025--and I have contended that there is, at some cost to my credibility--then there is absolutely none in this resolution (C056). When we pass it, we will in that moment be undoing every shred of work that this church has done over the last four years in response to the Windsor Report. Time does not permit me to enumerate all the work that will be nullified by this action. We are utterly rejecting Windsor and the hope for life in communion that it represents. On this day my church is covering itself with shame, and I am profoundly sorrowful. What you are about to do, do quickly." ---- Fr. Dan Martins, Northern Indiana

Resolution C056 directs the creation of liturgies for same-sex blessings to be reported back to the next General Convention in 2012. The resolution passed the committee by 6-0 among bishops and 26-1 by deputies. The committees have joint membership of bishops and deputies, but then each house must vote separately. You can read the full text of the resolution HERE.

Coming Soon: One-World Currency

L'AQUILA, July 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday he had been given an example coin of a possible global currency at the G8 summit in Italy, adding that all aspects of reserve currencies were under discussion.

"We are discussing both the use of other national currencies, including the ruble, as a reserve currency, as well as supranational currencies," the Russian leader said at a news conference following the G8 summit.

Medvedev showed reporters an example of a coin of a supranational currency, which he called a "united future world currency."

"This is a symbol of our unity and our desire to settle such issues jointly," Medvedev said, adding that the coin had been made in Belgium.

He also expressed the hope that a day would come when something of the kind would be used for payment.

From here.

Russia ICBM by December '09

SOCHI, July 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that Russia had successfully test-launched a strategic missile from a submarine.

"The target was hit and the pieces of the missile landed in the designated area," the president said at a meeting with Navy personnel in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The president said the test occurred on Monday, but did not specify the type of missile or the name of the submarine.

Last month Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, the Russian Navy commander, said Russia would carry out the next test of a Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile in late July, one of a total of four or five launches this year.

Despite five failures in 10 trials, the last unsuccessful trial being in December 2008, Russia's Defense Ministry is planning to complete Bulava tests and put the ICBM into service by the end of 2009.

The Russian military says the Bulava, along with Topol-M ballistic missiles, will become the backbone of Russia's nuclear triad.

The triad comprises land-based ballistic missile systems, nuclear-powered submarines armed with sea-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers carrying nuclear bombs and nuclear-capable cruise missiles.

Russia and US Most Religious Countries?

When U.S. President Barack Obama met the head of the Russian Orthodox Church on Tuesday, July 7 in Moscow, he praised Patriarch Kirill for his promotion of Christian unity. Persumably, Omaba had done some background reading before offering this praise.

Patriarch Kirill offered a form of praise for America when he stated, "Dialogue between our countries' Christians is very important, as the two nations should be friends," adding "Both the American and Russian nations have the same Christian system of values. We are the most religious countries."

The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia also wished Obama success in his term as President, saying that many Russians linked him with the hope of better Russian-U.S. relations.

Pakistan to Try Murderer of Polish Hostage

Polish Geologist Piotr Stanczak
WARSAW: Pakistani authorities have arrested a man wanted in connection with the murder of a Polish hostage decapitated by militants in February, Poland's foreign minister announced Thursday.
‘The Pakistani authorities yesterday captured a man who is probably one of the murderers, seen on a film of this terrible execution,’ Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told the private television station Polsat News.

‘This man, called Attaullah, was captured in Islamabad...I am happy for him to be tried in Pakistan where the death penalty exists,’ he said, adding that there is no extradition agreement between Poland and Pakistan.

Geologist Piotr Stanczak, 42, who worked for a Polish geophysical exploration company, was seized by suspected Taliban militants in Pakistan's northwest in September 2008. His kidnappers killed his driver and bodyguard.

The minister expressed the hope that the arrest would help bring about the capture of the man's accomplices.

Polish authorities reacted strongly to the filmed beheading of Stanczak, with Justice Minister Andrzej Czuma accusing the Pakistani government of aiding terrorist activities of the Taliban through its ‘inertia.’

Unborn Babies Form Memories

Dutch researchers have discovered that unborn babies are able to form and retain memories in the womb, ABC News reports:

In a study of 100 of pregnant women in the Netherlands, researchers say they found evidence that fetuses have short-term memory of sounds by the 30th week of pregnancy, and develop a long-term memory of sound after that.

The researchers documented the memory by watching fetal movements with ultrasound while they played “vibroacoustic” sound to the growing baby. Five of the fetuses in the study did not move in reaction to the sound and were eliminated from the study.

But among the fetuses who did move, researchers repeated the sound until the fetus “habituated” to it and no longer reacted. Doctors let some time pass and then tested the memory of the fetus by playing the sound in intervals to see if the fetus “remembered” or recognized the sound and did not react.

The study found that by 30 weeks of age, a fetus could “remember” a sound for 10 minutes. By the 34th week a fetus may be able to “remember” the sound for four weeks.
The Dutch research is powerful new evidence contradicting the legal fiction that human personhood begins only after birth.

And at the conclusion of the ABC News article, in a segment subtitled “Keeping the Peace in the Womb,” Rahil Briggs, a pediatric psychologist at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, argues, “Beyond ensuring healthy nutrition, research of this type, along with the work of others regarding infant memory should help us understand the importance of a safe, relatively low stress environment during this very sensitive period of development.”

Read it all here.

What Can Hillary Accomplish in Asia?

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to travel to Asia again in July to meet foreign ministers at the ASEAN Regional Forum, and to visit India. On her first Asian trip in February, she provided a welcome contrast to the past with her openness to others' views, her willingness to cooperate, and her star power. She made Asians look at America anew.

But this trip will be trickier. One challenge is that part of the plot for the US and Clinton is being written by others. North Korea will be on the agenda after its missile tests, as will Myanmar, since its generals persist in prosecuting Aung San Suu Kyi, the world's most famous political detainee, on trivial charges.

After all that has happened in recent weeks, the definition of "success" must be set low. Nothing positive will come from the US condemning these two difficult regimes unilaterally. So a key goal of Clinton's visit must be to pull together with the Asian leaders present at the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Read it all here.

Quote of the Week - Fr. Theotimos Tsalas

"There are almost fifty million non-Orthodox Christians in the Congo, who believe in Christ. They speak about repentance, about the Second Coming, but they don’t teach the fullness of Christianity. Yesterday, I was saying to myself, 'If God would illumine these people who already believe in repentance, in the Crucifixion and Resurrection, to believe in the Mother of God and the saints, it would be like a spark to a match.' The Mother of God has great power and I believe that Africa, particularly the Congo, is the future of Christianity. People may have no food to eat, but they have the word of God." -- Fr. Theotimos Tsalas, a Congolese Orthodox priest and spiritual son of Fr. Cosmas Aslanidis of Grigoriou Monastery, the “Apostle to Zaire.”

From here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

TEC: The Final Straw?

The 76th General Convention of the (Pagan) Episcopal Church has removed the final canonical obstacles to the "full inclusion" of non-celibate homosexuals. They may now be ordained as deacons and priests, they may be consecrated as bishops and their "unions" may be blessed in the churches. Of course, this has been going on for a good while in TEC so this isn't really news.

The story behind this story is the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which was blasted by a leading gay-rights activist who believes that divorce contradicts sexual ethics and because it is permitted in the Church, so should homosexuality be permitted (even 'celebrated', as Gene Robinson insists).

This leading activist is my former bishop and the man who has to sign my retirement papers in 2 weeks. He said: "It is time for the church be liberated from hypocrisy under which it has been operating about our gay brothers and sisters. Divorce contradicted sexual ethics. Our gay and lesbian members don't think much about what other Anglicans around the world think. The Nigerians are our most ardent critic. The Scribes and the Pharisees tied people up in burdens..." (Read the full report here.)

Bishop Sauls stated, "The Nigerians are our most ardent critic." Humm... Perhaps we should ask why that is?

The Nigerians know the Bible and Holy Tradition because they live in the crucible where Abraham's faith was formed. Kain and Seth married daughters of the chief of Nok (Nok is in the Jos Plateau of Nigeria.) The Jebu (Jebusites) intermarried with the descendents of Kain. The largest group of Jebusites today lives in Nigeria. Noah's homeland is Bor'nu near Lake Chad in northern Nigeria. The priestly lines, from which Joseph and Mary come, originated among the ancestors of the people (who in modern times) came to be called Yoruba. All of this has been documented and verified through linguistics, biblical studies and cultural anthropology.

So the weight of Holy Tradition is on the side of the Anglican Church of Nigeria and its Primate, Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola, who is vehemently hated and constantly vilified by TEC pagans.

So it appears that the mask is off. The hoax is exposed. The final straw has landed on the camel's back. Here are the facts about the state of The Episcopal Church:

Last year TEC lost 19,000 members, by a conservative estimate.

According to David Virtue, "Only twenty-eight of The Episcopal Church's one hundred and ten dioceses have committed themselves to paying the full assessment, or "giving", asked by the Church. This, along with high infrastructure and mission demands, has caused a budgetary shortfall of approximately $14 million dollars.35% of domestic congregations have no full time clergy (2526 congregations)."

A third of TEC's 7,000 parishes are being served by retired or non-stipendiary priests. The fiscal crisis is taking a toll on parishes and whole dioceses, a crisis fed by on-going litigation against parishes and dioceses that aren't willing to exchange the Truth for a lie.

Gene Robinson wants everyone to 'celebrate' that TEC is now known as the 'gay church'.

TEC's Presiding Bishop rejects the biblical definition of salvation in which the individual must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came into the world to save sinners. I guess she hasn't read these key verses:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten SON, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

"He that believeth on the SON hath everlasting Life…" John 3:36

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the SON of GOD; that ye may know that ye hath everlasting life. . ." 1 John 5:13

"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11

From reports I've read coming out of Anaheim, many GenCon 2009 participants are seething about the formation of the Anglican Church of North America. David Virtue reports an undercurrent of resentment. There's another group now and it might steal some of the limelight from Gene (all about me) Robinson.

Egyptian Poet Gets Stiff Sentence

CAIRO, July 14: An Egyptian civil servant who wrote a satirical poem about veteran President Hosni Mubarak has been jailed for three years after a colleague turned the villainous verses over to the authorities.

Mounir Said Hanna Marzuq was given the maximum sentence for insulting the head of state, a judicial source said on Tuesday, in one of the poems he wrote for friends in the hope that one day they would be turned into song.

Marzuq was jailed in Maghagha, southern Egypt, in May after a colleague lodged a formal complaint about the poem deemed insulting to Mubarak, in power since 1981.

The case came to light after the penalised poet’s brother appealed to the 81-year-old Mubarak for clemency, the independent Al-Masri Al-Youm reported.

The newspaper did not publish the offending verses.

Egyptian law says that anyone insulting the president can be jailed for between 24 hours and three years.

Read it here.

Dr. Regina Benjamin Supports Access to Abortion

Catholics still don’t know definitively that Dr. Regina Benjamin, President Barack Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, is pro-abortion. But it appears increasingly likely that she is.

McClatchy Newspapers posted an article yesterday entitled “Obama’s surgeon general pick: a Catholic who backs abortion rights.” It quotes an Obama spokesman who said she “supports the president’s position on reproductive health issues.”

Abortion is a “reproductive health” issue to the Obama White House, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress in April that his administration explicitly interprets “reproductive health” to include access to abortion services.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chinese in Algeria Warned of Al Qaeda Reprisals

15 July - The Chinese government has warned its citizens in Algeria of possible reprisals from Al Qaeda after the government cracked its whip in the Muslim region of Xinjiang earlier this month.

The statement issued from the Chinese Embassy in Algeria, called on all Chinese-funded organisations and personnel to be aware of possible attacks by the group in Algeria. Algeria has been a habour for Al Qaeda in the North Africa.

The warning, which was issued on Tuesday, came after a London risk consultancy Stirling Assynt report said to its clients, that Al Qaeda might target Chinese workers in northwest Africa, following the ethnic riots in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang.

The statement further called on Chinese citizens to immediately report to embassy personnel, as the embassy tightens security for Chinese people in the north African state.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese work in the Middle East and North Africa, including 50,000 in Algeria, the report said.

Ethnic Muslim Uighurs, have accused Chinese forces of opening fire on peaceful protests, and said the number of people killed is far higher than the official tally of around 180.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry said it would take all necessary measures to protect its overseas interests following the report.

Reports said a number of Chinese workers on international establishments have been kidnapped or attacked, over the past few years in many parts of the world with heavy Chinese investment.

Source: Afrol News