China spreads its influence

Michael Gerson tells about China’s inroads into Africa and its bigger plans:

The skyline of this city — what little there is of it — is a Chinese creation. Chinese money built the Parliament building. A $100 million, Chinese-funded hotel and conference center is rising. The Chinese government is constructing a soccer stadium, a decidedly popular move.

It is difficult to argue that these shiny new buildings are more urgent development priorities than, say, fighting malaria or providing a daily meal to children in rural schools. But the Chinese don’t even pretend this is the case. These highly visible investments, increasingly unavoidable across Africa, are designed to buy influence with governments.

But why Malawi? This poor, rural, landlocked nation is hardly a strategic prize. Elsewhere, the Chinese are clearly after oil and other resources. Malawi does have some unexploited rare-earth metals and a mine producing uranium. But the aggressive Chinese outreach here seems more directly motivated by a plan to establish China as a power throughout the continent, even in its remotest corners.

This is sometimes called neo-imperialism. At closer range, it more closely resembles mercantilism. Unlike in Asia, where China pursues tinderbox land disputes, the objectives here are overwhelmingly economic — securing vital commodities while selling cheap manufactured goods.

Though China does not seek to plant military bases or ideological revolutions in Africa, the Chinese model of state-led development is increasingly viewed as an alternative to Western economic liberalism. Leaders such as South African President Jacob Zuma are impressed with the Chinese economic approach — which is naturally attractive to leaders inclined toward the expansion of government power.

But what is appealing to African leaders is not always good for African societies. China’s defining foreign policy principle is “mutual noninterference in domestic affairs,” which comes in handy for a nation that fears a focus on its own domestic oppression. In practice, this means that African governments have a rich friend with low standards. Some Chinese associates, such as Zimbabwe or Sudan, are international outlaws. Elsewhere, the influence is more subtle. Malawi, for example, is a multiparty democracy that is experiencing slow democratic regression. Recent legal changes have restricted press freedom and expanded discrimination based on sexual orientation (adding a prohibition against lesbianism to the existing colonial-era statute). Western donors have objected. But since China is indifferent, the pressure on the Malawian government is diluted.

via China’s African investments: Who benefits? – The Washington Post.

How long does it take to read the whole Bible?

69 hours.  And to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, the Globe Theatre in London–an authentic recreation of Shakespeare’s playhouse–will read it straight through.

Shakespeares Globe Theatre in London has entitled its 2011 season “The Word is God” and will mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with a cover-to-cover reading between Palm Sunday, 17 April, and Easter Monday, 25 April.

Twenty actors, including many Globe regulars, will take part in the reading, which will take 69 hours over the eight days. They will recite all 1,189 chapters of the historic bible, considered an essential part of the development of the English language, in the theater built as a replica of the place that saw many of Shakespeares greatest plays.

“Four hundred years ago, a set of church scholars sat in Stationers Hall by St. Pauls Cathedral and put the finishing touches to the King James Bible. Across the river, a set of playwrights, Shakespeare foremost amongst them, entertained a town. The playwrights listened to the clerics in church, the clerics sneaked in to listen to the plays in the theatre. Between the two of them they generated an energy, a fire and wit in the English language. We will honour that achievement this summer, starting with the recital of one of the greatest and most significant English texts – the Bible,” Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole said in an interview.

via Word is God at Shakespeare theatres season in London | The Christian Century.

The troupe will also put on mystery plays (the dramas of Bible stories that were the beginnings of modern drama), Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s short-lived queen and Reformation activist), and other performances and lectures about England’s Biblical heritage and the impact of the King James Bible on the English language and England’s culture.

HT:  Paul McCain

When you disagree with someone, try to destroy him

The liberal organization Media Matters used to just try to refute stories on Fox News.  But now it is changing tactics:

In an interview and a 2010 planning memo shared with POLITICO, Brock listed the fronts on which Media Matters — which he said is operating on a $10 million-plus annual budget — is working to chip away at Fox and its parent company, News Corp. They include its bread-and-butter distribution of embarrassing clips and attempts to rebut Fox points, as well as a series of under-the-radar tactics.

Media Matters, Brock said, is assembling opposition research files not only on Fox’s top executives but on a series of midlevel officials. It has hired an activist who has led a successful campaign to press advertisers to avoid Glenn Beck’s show. The group is assembling a legal team to help people who have clashed with Fox to file lawsuits for defamation, invasion of privacy or other causes. And it has hired two experienced reporters, Joe Strupp and Alexander Zaitchik, to dig into Fox’s operation to help assemble a book on the network, due out in 2012 from Vintage/Anchor. (In the interest of full disclosure, Media Matters last month also issued a report criticizing “Fox and Friends” co-host Steve Doocy’s criticism of this reporter’s blog.)

Brock said Media Matters also plans to run a broad campaign against Fox’s parent company, News Corp., an effort which most likely will involve opening a United Kingdom arm in London to attack the company’s interests there. The group hired an executive from MoveOn.org to work on developing campaigns among News Corp. shareholders and also is looking for ways to turn regulators in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere against the network.

The group will “focus on [News Corp. CEO Rupert] Murdoch and trying to disrupt his commercial interests — whether that be here or looking at what’s going on in London right now,” Brock said, referring to News Corp.’s — apparently successful — move to take a majority stake in the satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

via Media Matters’ war against Fox – Ben Smith – POLITICO.com.

Postmodernists, remember, do not generally believe in reason.  They think truth claims are nothing more than the imposition of power.  Thus their personal animosity against people who disagree with them, who, they think, are trying to oppress them.  Conversely, people who think this way tend to want to impose their power against the people they disagree with and to hurt them as much as they can.

Have you seen other examples of this kind of vindictiveness as a substitute for rational debate?  I’m not denying that both sides do it.   What would be the consequences for civil society and political liberty if everyone acted that way?

The Muslims’ end of the world countdown

Harold Camping isn’t the only one forecasting the end of the world.  So are many Muslims, including apparently the rulers of Iran, who are interpreting the uprisings in the Middle East as a sign that the Mahdi–the messianic successor of the prophet Muhammed–will soon return to punish evildoers and make Islam the world’s only religion.

New evidence has emerged that the Iranian government sees the current unrest in the Middle East as a signal that the Mahdi–or Islamic messiah–is about to appear.

CBN News has obtained a never-before-seen video produced by the Iranian regime that says all the signs are moving into place — and that Iran will soon help usher in the end times.

While the revolutionary movements gripping the Middle East have created uncertainty throughout the region, the video shows that the Iranian regime believes the chaos is divine proof that their ultimate victory is at hand.

The propaganda footage has reportedly been approved at the highest levels of the Iranian government.

It’s called The Coming is Near and it describes current events in the Middle East as a prelude to the arrival of the mythical tweflth Imam or Mahdi — the messiah figure who Islamic scriptures say will lead the armies of Islam to victory over all non-Muslims in the last days.

via Iranian Video Says Mahdi is ‘Near’ – World – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com.

The link above can take you to the video that the article references. Also Read this for fascinating details about the role of the Mahdi in both Sunni and Shi’ite Islam and for the portents and effects of his coming.

The new war

President Obama explained America’s military involvement in Libya in a speech last night:

Defending the first war launched on his watch, President Barack Obama declared Monday night that the United States intervened in Libya to prevent a slaughter of civilians that would have stained the world’s conscience and “been a betrayal of who we are.” Yet he ruled out targeting Moammar Gadhafi, warning that trying to oust him militarily would be a costly mistake. Obama announced that NATO would take command over the entire Libya operation on Wednesday, keeping his pledge to get the U.S. out of the lead — but offering no estimate on when the conflict might end.

He never described the U.S.-led military campaign as a “war” and gave no details on its costs, but he offered an expansive case for why he believed it was in the national interest of the United States and allies to act.

In blunt terms, Obama said the U.S.-led response had stopped Gadhafi’s advances and halted a slaughter he warned could have shaken the stability of an entire region.

“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” Obama said. “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

From the Washington Post

Two of Victor Davis Hanson’s observations about our new war:

6) It’s Only Congress. Both Bushes went to the U.S. Congress before they bombed and invaded. Clinton and Obama did not. Is there a pattern here? The liberal War Powers Act is a good brake on conservative Strangloves, but a mere nuisance to humanitarian liberal McNamaras? We can argue over the need to get congressional approval before major military operations (I think we must), but I don’t think in my lifetime a U.S. president has ever asked for both a UN and Arab League OK — and not the sanction of the Congress of his own country (e.g., our reps were voted in, theirs were not). That paradox is also unsustainable. At some point the president will either 1) ignore the limitations of the UN and Arab League mandated no-fly-zones (while praising them to the skies); or 2) get so involved that when he finally goes to Congress, Libya is a fait accompli in the way Clinton finessed it during the Balkan bombing. (I am still waiting for Joe Biden to go to Congress to impeach his boss, as he once boasted twice that he would do if any president bombed a Middle East country without congressional approval. Or for that matter, I am still waiting for Senator Obama to demand that President Obama get approval from his peers before, not after, bombing.)

7) Oh, So that Was What Iraq Was About. Libya is now an exegesis of the Iraq War. By now we know that the Bush-Cheney “shredding” of the Constitution (e.g., tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, preventative detention, Predator drones, and Guantanamo Bay) was simply a liberal talking point. Why do we know that? Because Obama has either embraced or expanded all of those anti-terrorism protocols, and even hired the very lawyers and deans to legitimize them who used to sue the government to stop them. But Libya was the capstone of the entire liberal reset. When the MSNBC talking heads now support bombing an oil-producing Muslim Arab country that does not threaten our national security — without congressional approval, and with fewer allies than went with us to Afghanistan and Iraq — then we realize the entire Iraq hysteria was simply partisan politics, not about principles. That’s why we won’t see Rendition II at the movies, a return of Cindy Sheehan to network news, or Michael Moore in the VIP seats at the 2012 Democratic convention.

via Works and Days » President Obama’s Ten Libyan Paradoxes.

Supporters of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, do you support the war in Libya also?  Opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are you supporting this one, since it is Obama’s war rather than Bush’s war?  Those of you who support the humanitarian mission of this conflict, do you think the President has been following the right process, acting at the behest of the UN rather than Congress and turning over command to other countries?

And, finally, how do you think this will turn out?  A quick engagement, overthrowing Gadaffi and then we leave, having set Libya free?  Or will this turn into another quagmire?

PETA demands personal pronouns for animals

 

And in Bible translations, no less:

PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is calling for a more animal-friendly update to the Bible.

The group is asking translators of the New International Version (NIV) to remove what it calls “speciesist” language and refer to animals as “he” or “she” instead of “it.”

The NIV is a popular translation of the Christian Bible. An updated translation was released this month. The translators said 95% of the 1984 translation remains the same. But the committee of scholars made a move to be more gender-inclusive in their translation into English from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. . . .

PETA is hoping the move toward greater gender inclusiveness will continue toward animals as well.

“When the Bible moves toward inclusively in one area … it wasn’t much of a stretch to suggest they move toward inclusively in this area,” Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s vice president for policy, told CNN.

via PETA: Don’t call animals ‘it’ in the Bible – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.


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