Nigeria’s President Asked for US Aid Against Boko Haram Last Fall

President Jonathan Goodluck of Nigeria asked President Obama to help him fight Boko Haram last fall.

I know he was serious about it because he does what anybody who is serious about making their case with our elected officials must do: He hired a high-dollar lobbyist to do his talking for him.

It cost Nigeria $3 million to hire the Patton Boggs lobbying firm to explain that Boko Haram are terrorists to American politicians. If that doesn’t tell you where things are with our government (and I’m not talking about the Rs and the Ds, I am talking about our government) then nothing will.

One of the most important things President Goodluck wanted was to have Washington define Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, something the State Department has refused to do. This would have made it possible to track monies going to fund Boko Haram, which, in my opinion, is a key factor in bringing them down. I’ve written before about the American government’s refusal to do this.

American officials have been talking a lot since the groundswell of public outrage created by the kidnapping of around 300 Nigerian school girls by Boko Haram. As it becomes clear that the girls were kidnapped to sell and use as sex slaves, public outrage has deepened, leading to even more Beltway chatter on the subject.

First Lady Michelle Obama has even gotten into the act.

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Unfortunately a good bit of what American officials have been saying has turned out to be either lies or a reflection of how badly misinformed they are. Claims that Nigeria has refused American help due to an insular resistance to outsiders have turned out to be untrue. Instead, the Nigerians have been asking for our help and have been turned away.

So, where does that leave us, other than concerned about these poor girls and, as usual, feeling cynical about the lying liars in our own government?

I think one thing we should consider is the fact that Nigeria is an oil producing nation. As such, that makes it prey for all sorts of corporatist interests. I do not know what part that plays in this sad drama, but I’m guessing that it is a significant one.

I was talking about this situation in Nigeria with friends over dinner a few nights ago. One of them said, “be careful about blaming the Nigerians. Once we get into this, we may find out that the we’re (meaning our government and corporatist interests) are mixed up in it somehow.”

That still hasn’t been proven.

What we know is that people in Washington have spewed out a bunch of inaccurate statements about America’s behavior and that of the Nigerian government. We also know that our government has refused to help Nigeria in the recent past, and that there is oil money involved in Nigerian politics.

I’ve been critical of President Goodluck’s government and its inability or unwillingness to respond appropriately to Boko Haram’s terrorism. I am still utterly confounded by the Nigerian government’s long-term failure to protect its citizens. I am disgusted by the lies coming out of Washington, as well.

Maybe instead hiring expensive lobbyists to make his case before the American government, President Goodluck should just have hired someone like Blackwater. I’m not much for mercenary soldiers. But when the military of a nation is so inept, and the other nations it goes to for help are so … whatever this bunch in DC are … that may be something to consider. How many lives and how much chaos does Boko Haram have to cost before enough is too much?

That speculation aside, the important issue of when these deadheads are going to stop lying and blaming each other and get those girls back hasn’t been addressed.

From ABC News:

WASHINGTON – The Government of Nigeria last fall hired a powerful Washington lobbying firm to press its case for intelligence on violent terror group Boko Haram and to persuade the Obama administration to donate non-lethal equipment in the hunt for extremists, according to documents filed with the U.S. government.

Since nearly 300 schoolgirls in the northeastern town of Chibok were abducted nearly a month ago by a large force of Boko Haram militants, some officials in Washington have blamed the challenge of confronting the al Qaeda-aligned group formed in 2009 — but designated only last November as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. – on Nigeria’s resistance to accepting outside help.

The U.S. designation allows freezing of bank assets, adding Boko Haram members to no-fly lists and prioritizes law enforcement actions. ABC News and The Daily Beast reported Thursday that debates within the U.S. and Nigerian governments over how much of a threat was posed by the group delayed it being declared an FTO and a military Tier One Threat Group for two years.

Amid an international outcry over April’s abductions by Boko Haram of the Chibok schoolgirls, some U.S. officials have insisted that Nigeria didn’t want the FTO designation earlier than 2013 because it might elevate Boko Haram’s global jihadi status.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks Monday echoed those who’ve said that the African nation’s fierce pride also led it to shoo away offers of American and British counter-terrorism assistance, even after a United Nations office in Abuja was bombed three years ago.

“The [Nigerian] government had its own set of strategies, if you will, in the beginning,” Kerry said at a press conference. “And you can offer and talk, but you can’t do [anything] if a government has its own sense of how it’s proceeding. I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort.”

Convert to Islam or You Will Be Crucified Like Christ

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Photo Source: watchmen-news.com

Don’t let this story fill you with hate.

That is exactly what the devil wants.

Let it fill you with awe at the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Consider the depth of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain them, even in this. Consider also the great trust God has given them and how fully they lived up to that trust.

They are saints.

The Daily Mail broke a story, complete with graphic photos, of two men who were crucified by Syrian rebels. The rebels put signs on the men saying that they were crucified for using explosive devices against the rebels. It does not say if these men were Christians, but considering their crucifixions, that seems likely. This story has all the sex appeal any publication could want: Graphic photos, horrific suffering and rage-inducing injustice.

The bad guys, it seems are very bad indeed.

But there is another story that, as usual, is not being reported. Christians have been threatened with crucifixion and have been martyred at the hands of the Syrian rebels for refusing to deny Christ and convert to Islam for quite a while now. Mainstream news organizations don’t report this, even though it would be a ratings getter for them.

According to FrontPage Mag, Sister Raghad, the former head of the Patriarchate School in Damascus, has testified that she personally witnessed this. The rebels are telling Christians, “Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ.”

These reports make me even more certain that the American people did the right thing by opposing the plan to use Tomahawk missiles on Syria. If we had done that, it would have destroyed the remaining infrastructure and stability of the country and almost certainly have led to the rebel’s victory in this war.

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Photo Source: News.Naij.com

The question of who is funding these rebels so that they can wage war against the nation of Syria is a serious one. That kind of money does not come from individual wealth. Even Bill Gates would find himself going broke if he was personally funding a war against an established government, especially a government that is being supported by another government, in this case, Russia.

I’ve read reports that the United States is funding these rebels. That makes a kind of sense. After all, (1) Not many nations have the spare cash to fund whole wars on the side, and (2) Why else would we have been so eager to launch Tomahawk missiles into Syria and thus help these rebels win?

I’m raising these political issues because they lead to a couple of important questions: (1) To what extent, if any, are our tax dollars, which come directly from the money we make by going to work every day, being used in support of the violent persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ? (2) If we are funding the rebels, who is benefitting from it? It’s not the American people or the people of Syria.

Our brothers and sisters who die for Jesus are in heaven. They have joined the long line of martyrs for Christ that goes back to Stephen.

What would you do if someone who meant it and could do it told you Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ?

Before you give a glib answer, think how hard it is for you to stand up for him against television networks and people on your job. Consider how often students in school convert to the trendy anti-Christian babble the teachers and the other students are peddling, not because they will be crucified, but because they will be shunned and made fun of?

When was the last time you denied Jesus by keeping silent when someone disparaged Him or made a cutting comment about Christians?

Now, answer again. What would you do if someone who meant it and who had the power over you to do it told you Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ?

The people who refuse to deny Jesus in the face of persecution, torture, and certain death are His chosen ones. They are His saints. Their blood is the blood of martyrs.

Don’t let their passion, which is so much like His passion, provoke you to hatred and rage. Let it provoke you to awe and respect.

And action.

If our government is funding these rebels, we the people need to know why our government is allowing them to persecute Christians. We have the right, as citizens of this country to ask and be answered about this.

In the meantime, I intend to pray and ask these martyred ones to intercede for persecuted Christians, everywhere.

Because they, like Him, have been lifted up.

Syria

Photo Source: Archbishop Nassar, Maronite archbishop, Damascus

From FrontPage Mag:

Sister Raghad, the former head of the Patriarchate School in Damascus who currently resides in France, told Vatican Radio how she personally witnessed jihadi rebels terrorize Ma‘loula, including by pressuring Christians to proclaim the shehada—Islam’s credo that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger—which, when uttered before Muslim witnesses transforms the speaker into a Muslim, with the death penalty for apostasy should the convert later “renege” by returning to Christianity.

According to the nun, those Christians who refused to embrace Islam were

killed in atrocious and violent ways that cannot be described.  If you want examples, they crucified two youths in Ma‘loula for refusing to proclaim Islam’s credo, saying to them: “Perhaps you want to die like your teacher [Christ] whom you believe in?  You have two choices: either proclaim the shehada or else be crucified.  One of them was crucified before his father, whom they also killed.”

In fact, according to earlier media reports from October 2013, soon after Ma‘loula fell to the jihadis, one “shaky voiced” elderly Christian man had reported that he heard the invading jihadis shouting, “Convert to Islam, or you will be crucified like Jesus.”

It is, of course, a documented fact that some Christians in Ma‘loula were put to death for refusing to convert to Islam, such as Minas, an Armenian man, while other families succumbed to pressure and converted to Islam at the tip of the sword.

Moral Argument for Raising the Minimum Wage

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Catholic News Service presents part of the moral argument for raising the minimum wage.

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Holy Week: Pope Francis’ Reflections for Way of the Cross

Child Labor: We ended most of it in America.

Pope Francis’ reflections for the Way of the Cross aren’t going to please people who want to claim that there is no moral component to economic issues.

Perhaps that’s why they are so important, especially to Americans.

We need a Pope who reminds us that our Christian walk requires us to follow Christ and not our politics. Americans are becoming partisan fanatics. Far too many of us have hardened ourselves and become indifferent to suffering which does not fit in with our peculiar and entirely political view of the world.

So our corporations, with the help of our corporatist government …

We convince ourselves that following our political parties in these partisan culture wars is actually following Christ. This is a lie we tell ourselves. Jesus is the Way, not the R or the D.

These reflections will comfort some who want to ignore the Gospel requirements concerning family and popular killing fields such as abortion and euthanasia. After all, the reflections don’t mention those directly.

Took our jobs and went to places where they could

Those who want to believe that the only requirements the Gospels of Christ make on them and their lives are to be anti-abortion (as opposed to pro life) and to oppose gay marriage will probably find these reflections outrageous.

Every time Pope Francis says something that goes against the “teachings” of right wing economics, including the economic teachings of such cold-blooded wackos as Ayn Rand, he is either attacked or explained away.

Are we our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper?

Did Jesus mean what He said when he talked about the least of these? Is Christ the Lord too unsophisticated and old school to instruct us about our economics?

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use child labor without limits again.

 

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The Supreme Court Just Made it Easier for Rich Folks to Control our Government

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The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, has lifted the cap on how much an individual donor can put into political campaigns for federal office. 

It left in place a $5200 cap on how much a single candidate can receive from an individual donor, but removed the $123,200 cap on the amount an individual can contribute to federal campaigns in the aggregate. 

That means that the uber rich can plow literally billions of dollars into federal campaigns, all across the country. Even though the cap on the amount of money they can put in any one campaign remains, if they are “directed” in their giving by special interest groups and political parties, (as they most assuredly will be) their influence on future legislation, government policy and anything else government can do for them will be overwhelming. 

We already suffer from too many puppet people legislators who vote according to the party line without individual thinking, regard for the needs of their constituents or the common good. The Supreme Court increased this by powers of ten. 

Make no mistake about it. This decision will affect your life in ways that you most likely will not understand, but which will devastate you ability to earn a living, live in peace and look forward to a secure old age. 

Will Rogers used to joke that we had “the best Congress that money could buy.” He was an optimist. What we already have and what is going to become even more pronounced, is the Congress that money has bought and owned. You can forget the “best” part. 

From CNNPolitics:

Washington (CNN) – If you’re rich and want to give money to a lot of political campaigns, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that you can.

The 5-4 ruling eliminated limits on much money people can donate in total in one election season.

However, the decision left intact the current $5,200 limit on how much an individual can give to any single candidate during a two-year election cycle. Until now, an individual donor could give up to $123,200 per cycle.

The ruling means a wealthy liberal or conservative donor can give as much money as desired to federal election candidates across the country, as long as no candidate receives more than the $5,200 cap.

While most people lack the money to make such a large total donation to election campaigns, the ruling clears the way for more private money to enter the system.

Michael Voris and I Agree Again: This Time on the Press’ Mis-Quotes of the Pope

Michael Voris has put out another video that I agree with.

I don’t now if this is going to become a habit or not. I can tell you that I don’t always agree with Mr Voris. But when he steps out in the face of personal attacks against himself and supports the pope, I support him. When he works to clarify the fog of inaccurate reporting about our Holy Father, I gratefully support him.

Here’s the video and its discussion about the ways in which Pope Francis’ statements have been mis-quoted, mis-interpreted and mis-used.

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Knights of Columbus Win Prize for Ethical Business Practices

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Hooray for the Knights!

Ethisphere Institute has named the Knights of Columbus life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Companies. The Knights were one of only two life insurance companies to earn this honor.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- The fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus has been recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies by a research center on best practices in corporate ethics and governance.

“This really speaks to the fact that a company can be committed to Church teaching, committed to Catholic values, and still provide a top quality service and be very successful at what they do,” Andrew Walther, vice president for communications and media with the Knights, told CNA March 21.

Timothy Erblich, CEO of the Ethisphere Institute, announced the award March 20, saying, “the Knights of Columbus join an exclusive community committed to driving performance through leading business practices. We congratulate everyone at Knights of Columbus for this extraordinary achievement.”

The institute named the New Haven, Conn.-based Catholic fraternal organization and life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Company list. The Knights is only one of two companies in the life insurance category to be recognized.

Hobby Lobby Founders Discuss the Supreme Court Arguments on the HHS Mandate

I’m not going to do a post mortem on the arguments the Supreme Court heard on the Hobby Lobby/HHS Mandate case.

I won’t give you a run-down of which justice twitched, which one pulled his or her earlobe and who coughed. Trying to divine how the Court will rule by studying the questions justices asked and the expressions on their faces has become a kind of sport, like handicapping a horserace. Only it’s not nearly so accurate.

I think we would know just as much about what they’re going to do if we slaughtered a goat and studied its entrails.

Besides, I’m too nervous about this one to do that. The Court hasn’t exactly been a friend to people with traditional Christian values for a long time now. In fact, the Court has made itself the architect of this brave new baby-killing, marriage-is-meaningless world we inhabit. To a great extent the whole social mess is of the Supreme Court’s devising.

But this decision is one of the really big ones. Will we be free after this ruling?

It depends.

On how they rule.

The Court can destroy religious freedom with this ruling. It can also do as it did with the gay marriage ruling last summer and just put out a row of dominoes for others to knock over and destroy it in succeeding months.

What are the chances that the Supreme Court will actually rule in favor of religious freedom?

Will we be free after this ruling?

It depends.

On them.

 

The owners of Hobby Lobby spoke about yesterday’s arguments before the Supreme Court. Here is what they said.

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Missing Airplanes, Deep Water Ports and Russian Union at Gun Point

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I haven’t written much about the mess with Ukraine/Crimea/Russia. I haven’t written at all about the missing airliner.

The reasons are simple.

I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share about Ukraine/Crimea/Russia, and I don’t know what’s happened to that airliner.

My guess is that Russia wants a sort of alliance with its former satellites states; something akin to the European Union. I doubt that Russia wants to re-occupy those countries. They’ve already done that. And it didn’t work out.

On the other hand, creating an economic alliance that resembles the European Union would greatly enhance Russia’s economic clout. This is especially true if Russia is the absolute, unchallenged first among equals with the member states of that “union.”

Russia, being Russia, doesn’t seem to have gotten the drift of negotiation in developing this economic union. They’re more into gunpoint diplomacy than the give and take of actual negotiating.

Of course, negotiating with people who were, until a couple of decades ago, Russia’s slaves, would be tough going, even for the most delicate of debaters. Russia has what might be called a bad rep among their former satellites. The brutal police states they ran that impoverished people, destroyed their freedoms and ended many of their lives in gulags make people chary of being their pals now. These folks aren’t too eager to go back under the Russian lash.

It appears that Russia is still the child of its evil past. The response to frustrating displays of disregard for what Russia wants in its satellites seems to bring that evil child to the fore. Russia’s means of conversation is to bring in the tanks and troops.

In addition to economic hegemony, Russia also wants and needs something that Crimea — and only Crimea — has. Americans, who live in one of the other great continental nations, take our plethora of deep water ports for granted. We’ve got so many of them, and they are all ice free year round, that the whole question is not a question to us. We don’t think about what it would be like to be a continental nation without a single ice-free, deep-water port.

But Russia, despite its mammoth coastline, hasn’t got anyplace to park a fleet of big boats. It can’t ship goods by sea because there’s no way to get the goods onto the seas. I won’t discuss the issue of a Russian Navy at this point. I think it’s obvious that you’ve got to have ports to have an effective Nary.

Little Crimea is the proud possessor of a deep water port that is ice free.

Do I need to connect the dots here?

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At the same time that we’ve seen exhaustive and utterly confusing news reports about Russia/Ukraine/Crimea, we have also been partakers of the mystery surrounding a missing airliner. It seems that this airliner abruptly made a hard turn off its course, dropped to below radar level and flew on for several hours. Then, it vanished.

Nobody knows what happened. Nobody knows where it is now. Nobody knows anything except that the airliner, its crew and passengers are missing.

Speculation about hijackings and terrorists raises a hundred nightmare scenarios in all our minds.

We faced with other people’s tragedies as their countries are invaded and annexed for the use of more powerful nations. We imagine what it must have been like on that airliner. We feel for the families of these people. We speculate about whether or not the crew and passengers are still alive, and if they are still alive, what might be happening to them.

All this is laced with fear. Not lie-awake-at-night-and-churn-fear, but the cold frisson of fear that is part of living in an uncertain and dangerous world. There are so many good people. But the relatively few bad ones have the capacity to make a hell of this earth for all of us.

Both these situations seem to have a simple root cause, and that root cause is the assumption by some individuals and countries that other human beings are simple expedients to them getting what they want.

We deal with powers and principalities every day of our lives. We see the results of their control over human beings on the news every evening, and we live out the personal miseries they cause us in the dysfunctions of our relations with those around us.

I haven’t written about missing airliners and Russian tanks parked on the ground of other people’s countries because I’m not sure enough of the facts to say anything definitive. I decided to write about these things today because of the one thing I am sure of.

We will never get to the end of the evil that people do to other people in this life. That is why it is so important for us to remember that our primary citizenship is not in any country of this world. We are citizens of heaven, even now, as we live here.

I am not urging an otherworldly abandonment of our responsibilities in the here and now. We are charged with bringing the Kingdom. We are called directly and explicitly by Our Lord to be the light that shines in this darkness.

As Americans we have unique freedoms with which to do this. We need to use every opportunity we have to fulfill our call, and when we feel that frisson of fear that comes from living in a fallen world, we need to remember that we serve a risen Lord. This world is just the smallest part of our existence.

Ukraine, Crimea, Russia: Is This a New Cold War?

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Patriarch Saitsolav Shevchuk and Pope Francis say mass together. Source Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation.

Patriarch Svaitsolav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church warned us a few weeks ago.

“Humanity may be on the verge of a new Cold War,” he said in early February on the Voice of America. “It is about the future of democracy in Europe.” Referring to Russia, he warned of the danger of “aggression, violence and interference from our northern neighbor.”

I didn’t write about it then because I didn’t — and don’t — understand the situation. I gather that the original protests were sparked by disagreements over the current Ukrainian economic situation and whether to ally economically with the European Union or with Russia.

As I understand it, the Ukrainian prime minister backed out of a promise he had made to sign an economic agreement with the European Union. He was under pressure from Russia, which included threats of trade sanctions, not to sign. Also, the agreement would have required the prime minister to release one of his political rivals from prison.

Was it more complicated than that?

I think so. I am surmising that the underlying considerations — and the cause of the demonstrations — were not just pure economics, but the question of who would control the country. Was Ukraine going to become a European democracy, or would it be pulled back into economic and political servitude to the Russian bear?

Were there other factors we don’t know about?

Almost certainly.

But what has happened since seems, at least in terms of the broad strokes, painfully obvious.

Ukraine exploded with prolonged and increasingly violent protests that have resulted in the deaths of Ukrainian citizens at the hands of their own government.

Now, Russia has invaded both Ukraine and Crimea. This armed invasion can not be viewed as anything less than an act of war.

The question rises almost immediately: Is Russia also going to invade other former Soviet satellite states? Will they eventually exit Ukraine and Crimea peacefully, or is this a military takeover and permanent re-colonization?

I wish I could give you a more intelligent read on this situation, but I feel hamstrung by the simple fact that I don’t know who to believe. I am not referring here to Ukrainian and Russian news sources, but rather to our own. There are so many agendas operating in American news, and our president has lied to us so many times, that I’m more than a little chary of taking what any of them say at face value.

One thing is clear: Patriarch Shevchuk understood the situation and spoke with prescient clarity.


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