CDC Confirms First US Case of MERS Virus

The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed the first US case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS)

MERS, which is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Virus (SARS) which killed 800 people in China in the 2002-03, is fatal in up to one third of the people who contract it.

Dr Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Imminzation and Respiratory Diseases said that while the case represents “a very low risk to the broader general public,” it is still a concern because of the “virulence” of the virus and that fact that it can be transmitted from one person to the next.

The male patient had returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia on April 24, connecting from Riyadh to London to Chicago. He then took a bus to Indiana.

He experienced respiratory symptoms on April 27 and was diagnosed with MERS on April 28. The patient is said to be in stable condition and is being treated with appropriate protocols, including isolation.

Only 262 people have been diagnosed with MERS. Ninety-three of those have died of the illness. Little is known about MERS. It is believed that the virus is transmitted to humans through camels, but even that is somewhat speculative.

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – A healthcare worker who had traveled to Saudi Arabia was confirmed as the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS), an often fatal illness, raising new concerns about the rapid spread of such diseases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The male patient traveled via a British Airways flight on April 24 from Riyadh to London, where he changed flights at Heathrow airport to fly to the United States. He landed in Chicago and took a bus to an undisclosed city in Indiana.

On April 27, he experienced respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the man visited the emergency department at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana, on April 28 and was admitted that same day.

Because of his travel history, Indiana health officials tested him for MERS, and sent the samples to the CDC, which confirmed the presence of the virus on Friday.The virus is similar to the one that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in China in 2002-2003 and killed some 800 people. It was first detected inSaudi Arabia.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call the first U.S. case of MERS was “of great concern because of its virulence,” proving fatal in about a third of infections.She said the case represents “a very low risk to the broader general public,” but MERS has been shown to spread to healthcare workers and there are no known treatments for the virus.

Satanists Reveal Uber Creepy Monument They Want to Place on Oklahoma’s Capitol Grounds

It’s a compliment in a way.

Satanists aren’t trying to put monuments to their master in front of the Capitol Building in Washington.

No need.

Evidently, the people they want to go head to head with live in little ole Oklahoma.

Who would ever have thought that Oklahoma would be deemed important enough in the culture wars for this honor? I guess somebody who walks on the dark side thinks we need our little light covered up a bit.

Whatever their reasoning, members of the Satanic Temple announced a fund-raising drive to place a statue of Satan on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds a few months ago. Their stated goal was to raise $20,000, but the times being what they are, $30,000 came rolling in for this worthy project.

Now, the instigators of this brain whatever have released photos of the statue paying homage to Satan that they want to place on Oklahoma’s capitol grounds.

It is, as we say in these parts, a dandy.

I’m not up on my satanism, but what I see is an obelisk-looking plank with a pentagram atop standing next to a statue of His Lordship, the Prince of the Dark Realm — or is that Baphomet?? This dude comes complete with a ram’s head with what looks like two horns and a tree growing out of the top of it. The ram’s head sits on the shoulders of a buff human body. Two 1950s-style children are staring worshipfully up at this lovable fellow while he holds one hand aloft in what appears to be a two-fingered version of the Boy Scout salute.

This deal is one fine piece of satanic kitsch.

Of course, the ACLU has our capitol grounds all tied up in a court challenge to a law we passed a few years back, placing a plaque with the Ten Commandments on it out there on the lawn. After all, plaques with the Ten Commandments are scary, right? I mean, it endangers all our freedoms to put something like that right out in public.

This ACLU zealotry for protecting innocents from the Ten Commandments is bad luck for the satanists. It appears they’re going to have a long wait before their artwork — or any new artwork — is even eligible to be considered for placement on the Capitol grounds. Then, if they don’t get what they want — and I can see a valid case for denying them based entirely on the artistic merits of this thing — I imagine they’ll head off to court.

In the meantime, I would like to raise one small question. Why would anybody worship Satan? Atheism, I can see. I mean, I don’t agree with it, but I can see where its adherents are coming from. But to worship an entity who is well known for creating every kind of misery there is, and who enjoys our pain and suffering and feeds off it, well, if you’ll pardon me for saying so, that’s not too bright.

It’s right up there with drinking arsenic because you like the taste of sweet things.

Be that as it may, we do have ourselves a bit of really creepy Satanic art to peruse while we’re waiting for the next call in this little doh-si-doh.

If the ACLU wins, and the Ten Commandments are banned from the Capitol lawn, then I suppose that leaves the Satanists with an expensive piece of ugly statuary to dispose of. If, on the other hand, the state wins (unlike others around the country, our attorney general actually defends state laws in court) then it’s up to the arts committee to work out for themselves if this thing has artistic merit, or if it’s just a laughable eyesore.

After that, I expect we’ll be off to court again.

Yeehaw!!

Grab your partners and promenade right.

Clayton Locket was a Murderer. I Am Not.

 

Oklahoma managed to execute a prisoner this week, but we did it in the most ungainly fashion possible.

Make no mistake about it, Mr Clayton Locket is dead, and the reason why is that he was executed on Tuesday night of this week by the people of the State of Oklahoma. Also and again, make no mistake about it, in the parlance of the death penalty debate, Mr Clayton Locket “deserved” to die.

He was a cold-blooded killer and a mad dog prisoner who evidently never showed a moment’s remorse in all the years since he shot 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman twice and then buried her alive.

I want to pause here and make what is, for me at least, the most important observation. Stephanie Neiman was a brave young girl who had just graduated from high school. Her murder left behind two devastated parents who will grieve all their lives. Stephanie Neiman deserves our sympathy; as for sympathy for Mr Locket, I’m fresh out.

This sounds for all the world like I’m leading up to a defense of the death penalty. I am not. I oppose the death penalty and I have the votes, going back through decades of legislative service, to prove it. I have never voted for the death penalty. I have always voted against it. Even deep in my anti-God period, I opposed the death penalty.

Why?

Back in my anti-God period, the reason was simple and direct. I come from a poor background. I have sat in courtrooms and listened as police officers perjured themselves to give testimony to convict someone. I have listened to testimony in which witnesses said under oath that law enforcement had instructed them to lie to help them convict a “bigger fish” or face criminal prosecution themselves.

I wasn’t motivated by a belief in a consistent respect for the sanctity of human life at that time. After all, I was doing everything I could to keep abortion “safe and legal.” What motivated me was the simple fact that I knew — not guessed, but knew — that our justice system is too rife with human weakness to be allowed to take a person’s life.

That was back then in my anti-God period. I still have not evolved to the point that I can honestly say I feel sorry for people who do heinous things to other people. I am not wracked with sympathy for Mr Locket because it took him just under an hour to die from the drugs that were administered to him Tuesday.

My sympathy is all with Stephanie Neiman and her parents. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be Stephanie Neiman, raped repeatedly, begging for her life, shot twice and then still alive while the dirt fell over her head?

How must it be for her parents to know that their beautiful little girl, the baby they brought home from the hospital, the little girl dancing under the Christmas tree, the young woman who had just graduated from high school, died alone and inhaling dirt?

No. I’m all out of sympathy for Mr Clayton Locket, the man who murdered Stephanie and then went on to threaten to kill prison guards and throw feces at people and who repeatedly made weapons out of objects in prison to use on other prisoners.

I oppose the death penalty for one simple reason. The Clayton Lockets of this world are murderers. I am not.

The press surrounding this botched execution has, predictably, run straight to purple. A guest on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show is reported to have likened Mr Locket’s execution to medieval torture. I can only assume that Miss Maddow and her guest don’t know very much about medieval torture. Likewise for all the other over-the-top nonsense I’ve been reading.

The death penalty is wrong because it’s unnecessary killing. We have what it takes to deep six these guys in our prison systems and leave them there until they die their natural deaths. I am not talking about, and I do not support, anything less than a total and absolute life sentence with no paroles, parole hearings, or compassionate truncations.

I don’t care if these murderers serve 60 long years and then get a terminal illness and petition to go home to die. There are some crimes that must mean that you die in prison. Heinous murders are such crimes.

We need a sane discussion of the death penalty in this country. The purpose of any law concerning legal punishments for crimes should always be to provide for the public good. Vengeance has no place in the law.

I do not doubt for a single moment that there are people who should never be allowed to walk free in our society. I do not limit that consideration to heinous murderers. I think violent or repeat rapists, gang rapists and child rapers should all be put in prison for life. The recidivism rate on violent sexual predators is simply too high to let these people out to prey again.

However, we do not have the right to kill people.

Let me say that again.

We do not have the right to kill people.

Human life belongs to God and we may not arbitrarily end it.

I believe that self-defense is always an exception to this, for the simple reason that every life is precious, including our own. I believe that I can use deadly force to defend my life or the lives of others. I extend that right of self-defense to nations, as well.

But other than acting in self defense, killing any human being is always wrong.

Governments are charged with providing for the safety of their citizens, which is a clear form of self-defense. We do not need the death penalty to provide for the public safety. We can lock these killers up and keep them locked up. We also do not have to let them give interviews, call their victims and all the other many things they indulge in while behind bars.

Mr Locket’s death was not medieval torture. That’s just bizarre hyperbole. If you’re looking for a better example of wanton disregard for life, and something that approaches torture, consider what Mr Locket did to Stephanie Neiman.

We need to create just penalties for the monsters among us that do not make murderers out of all the rest of us.

Why?

Because they are murderers.

We are not.

Archbishop Coakley’s Statement on Oklahoma’s Botched Execution

 

This statement was issued by my religious leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, regarding yesterday’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett.

Archbishop Coakley on execution of Clayton Lockett: “The brutality of the death penalty disregards human dignity”

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 30, 2014) – On April 29, in McAlester, Okla., the planned execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett utilizing a new three-drug lethal injection protocol failed, leaving Lockett evincing unexpected signs of pain and leading Oklahoma prison officials to halt the proceedings. Lockett later died of a heart attack.

Today, the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, said the unprecedented execution underscores the brutality of the death penalty and urged Oklahomans to weigh carefully the demands of justice and mercy.

“How we treat criminals says a lot about us as a society,” the archbishop said. “We certainly need to administer justice with due consideration for the victims of crime, but we must find a way of doing so that does not contribute to the culture of death, which threatens to completely erode our sense of the innate dignity of the human person and of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”

“Once we recover our understanding that life is a gift from our Creator, wholly unearned and wholly unmerited by any of us, we will begin to recognize that there are and ought to be very strict limits to the legitimate use of the death penalty. It should never be used, for example, to exact vengeance, nor should it be allowed simply as a deterrent. In general, there are others ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures,” he continued.

“The execution of Clayton Lockett really highlights the brutality of the death penalty, and I hope it leads us to consider whether we should adopt a moratorium on the death penalty or even abolish it altogether,” he added.

“In the meantime, let us pray for peace for all those affected by or involved in last night’s execution in any way – including Lockett himself, his family, prison officials and others who witnessed the event. My compassion and prayers go out especially to the family of Stephanie Neiman, whom Lockett was convicted of killing.”

Oklahoma Stops Botched Execution. Inmate Dies Anyway.

 

Oklahoma seems to be having trouble executing people.

First, attorneys for death row inmates got a judge to agree that their clients could not be executed because of an Oklahoma law that grants anonymity to the companies that supply the toxic brew of killer drugs used to kill the prisoners.

Once the state got past that roadblock, it had to call off an execution in progress because the needle in the inmate’s arm was evidently putting the killer drugs into the surrounding tissue instead of the bloodstream.

According to the doctor who was in attendance at the execution, the vein in convicted murderer Clayton Lockett’s arm which was being used to administer the drug “blew.” The first indication that the “drugs were not having an effect” was when the inmate didn’t die. The doctor checked and found that they were going into the surrounding tissues in Lockett’s arm instead of the vein. At that point, officials halted the execution.

Lockett died 43 minutes later of what has been termed “an apparent heart attack.” I’m no doctor, and I’m just guessing, but my guess is that since the drugs went into muscle and fatty tissue instead of the bloodstream, it took those drugs longer to kill Mr Lockett, but that he ultimately died of their effects.

The first drug was supposed to make Mr Lockett unconscious almost immediately. According to witnesses, he was still awake seven minutes after the drugs were administered. Sixteen minutes into the execution, when he should have been long dead, he moved his head and tried to talk. Then, according to his attorney, he began to convulse.

I don’t favor the death penalty. However, I don’t question that Mr Lockett was a cold-blooded murderer. He should have been locked up and forgotten; no parole, no question of parole, no interviews or sad stories about his wasted life.

I think it’s important to remember a gutsy teen-ager named Stephanie Neiman. Mr Lockett was given the death penalty for murdering Miss Neiman.

Mr Lockett and three accomplices kidnapped a 9-month old baby, the baby’s father, and teenager Stephanie Neiman in a home invasion. Miss Neiman was bound and gagged with duct tape. Mr Lockett forced her to watch while his accomplice dug her grave. The first time he tried to shoot her, the gun jammed, so he got a shotgun to use for the execution-style murder.

Witnesses said they heard Miss Neiman, begging for her life. Then, they heard a single shot. After that, they heard Lockett and his accomplices “laughing about how tough Stephanie was.” Then Mr Lockett shot her again.

Mr Lockett then ordered his accomplice to bury Miss Neiman, even though she was still alive.

I’m not going to comment on this beyond sharing the facts. I think the facts speak for themselves.

From CNN:

(CNN) – A vein on an Oklahoma inmate “exploded” in the middle of his execution Tuesday, prompting authorities to abruptly halt the process and call off another execution later in the day as they try to figure out what went wrong.

The inmate, Clayton Lockett, died 43 minutes after the first injection was administered — according to reporter Courtney Francisco ofCNN affiliate KFOR who witnessed the ordeal — of an apparent heart attack, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said.

That first drug, midazolam, is supposed to render a person unconscious. Seven minutes later, Lockett was still conscious. About 16 minutes in, after his mouth and then his head moved, he seemingly tried to get up and tried to talk, saying “man” aloud, according to the KFOR account.

Other reporters — including Cary Aspinwall of the Tulsa Worldnewspaper — similarly claimed that Lockett was “still alive,” having lifted his head while prison officials lowered the blinds at that time so that onlookers couldn’t see what was going on.

Gobsmacked by Sarah Palin


Deacon Greg has the story. 

Evidently, former Governor Sarah Palin made the statement in a speech at the national NRA convention that if she was president, “water boarding would be how we baptize terrorists.”

She went on in this speech to indulge in a string of name-calling; talking about “intolerant, anti freedom leftist liberals” and “clownish, Kumbaya-humming, fairytale-inhabiting Democrats.”

How are these comments offensive? Let me count the ways.

First, aside from the issue of using torture against our enemies, baptism is a sacrament. It is the sacrament of initiation into life as a Christian. It washes away our sins. We were directly commanded by Our Lord “to go to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

What was former Governor Palin thinking, to use this wonderful sacrament of forgiveness, healing and salvation as a one-off in a speech dedicated to hate, violence and the torture of human beings?

Second, the name-calling ugliness about “liberals” and Democrats is the kind of nonsense that has led us to the pass we now inhabit in our society and our government. Our elected officials in Congress have given up their responsibilities to govern this country in order to indulge in partisan eye-jabbing of one another. This language — which comes from both sides — feeds this hatred.

It is simply unacceptable for a person who has held the high office of governor of one of these 50 states and who was the nominee for Vice President of the United States of America of one of our two major political parties to talk trashy hatred like this. She makes herself look like a performer in a sideshow instead of a serious woman who wants to act in accordance with the common good.

A few months ago, I wrote a couple of posts decrying the filthy, misogynist and downright OCD attacks on former Governor Palin by MSNBC. I do not take back one word of what I wrote.

I do not agree with every policy idea that Governor Palin has, but no one should be subjected to the attacks against their good name and humanity that MSNBC was launching against her.

Now, I am in the position of making a public statement criticizing the over-the-top language coming from the former Governor herself.

I do not know if former Governor Palin wants to be taken seriously as a politician, author or commenter, but if she does, she really should re-consider these shoot-from-the-hip statements. She has been strong in her witness to her Christian faith, yet she denigrates the sacrament of baptism to make a cutesy comment supporting torture. Instead of talking about issues, she simply comes out with a string of attack-adjectives aimed at those she disagrees with.

I’m not doubting her Christian faith. I’m not even debating her positions on issues.

I am just saying that these comments are offensive on many levels. They do not give reasons or talk about ideas or even tell us what Governor Palin’s positions on issues might be. They certainly do not explain why her beliefs are worthwhile or something anyone else should adopt.

Just letting fly with a string of expletives is not discussion. By the same token, brandishing a string of attack adjectives and cutesy comments is not taking a position. It is hate mongering.

I like to see women in government do a good job. I don’t care which party they are in, I want them to succeed. I am not offended when people have ideas that differ from mine.

I’m honestly not offended by this very offensive use of the precious sacrament of baptism to make an ugly point in an overall ugly speech.

I’m gobsmacked by the stupidity of it.

Governor Palin needs to stop caricaturizing herself. How is this kind of red-meat speech-making stupid and destructive? Again, let me count the ways.

So … I Starved My Granddaughter to Death and Now I’m Campaigning to Let Other People Kill Their Kids Faster

 

The latest salvo in the push for legalizing euthanasia is to kill kids.

What was once supposed to be all about putting down people who were suffering horribly and in the last stages of terminal illness and who requested their own death has now become killing people who can’t consent and are nowhere near dying.

It has evidently occurred to a few people in America that we’ve got an euthanasia gap. Belgium has jumped ahead of us and allows their docs to kill children and people with dementia. But never fear: the euthanasia movement has found someone who is willing to tell us all about the tragic experience of euthanizing his toddler granddaughter by slow starvation and how we need to do something to kill these kids faster.

I’m normally not so sarcastic about people who step forward and take positions that I find appalling. I know that they are just people and that they probably believe in what they are doing. I think they need conversion, not the destruction of public attack.

But this push to expiate personal guilt by politicizing the victim’s death in order to change the law and open the flood gates on medical murder of children is a bridge too far.

I’ve been reading the stories about Bradley Newton’s heart-rending tale of how horrible it was for him to watch his granddaughter starve to death; how painful and hideous this death was and how he’s traumatized by it all.

What he’s leaving out is that he and the rest of his family were the people who starved this child to death. The victim is the little girl, not them.

Not content to have done such a terrible thing, Mr Newton and the rest of his family have made little Natalie the poster child for a campaign to legalize euthanasia for children. He’s appeared on CNN and other news shows, where I’m sure he got the tender and heartfelt sympathy of the interviewer for the “agonizing decision” he and his family made to slowly starve this child to death.

The family has set up a web site in “honor” of the baby they slowly killed. They petitioned the governor of Texas to “spare” others by allowing quicker ways to kill kids.

Watching Mr Newton’s teary interview pulls at my heart. He’s done a terrible thing and it bothers him. I identify with that. I also know how overwhelming and forceful the white coat people can be when your loved one is in the hospital. Any of us can fall prey to their pushy “advice,” especially when we don’t walk into the situation with values and beliefs about these things to guide us.

However, Mr Newton doesn’t want forgiveness. He still doesn’t think he did anything wrong. His response to his grief is to use his granddaughter’s death to multiply the harm. According to him the fault lies in the law that makes it too hard to euthanize children.

He, and at least part of the rest of Natalie’s family, blame everybody else for their actions. They’ve done everything but admit that they were not forced to submit this little girl to death by starvation, that murdering her in this way was their free choice. They could have chosen to let her live.

Their solution for their remorse is to campaign to turn this one murder into a cause for legalizing mass murder. That makes this grandfather’s grief a lot less touching.

The tragedy began when 21-month-old Natalie drowned in the family’s backyard pool. Doctors were able to revive her, but she suffered permanent brain damage that required her to be on a feeding tube. According to Mr Newton, the hospital “ethics” committee recommended that they “let her go.” But the only legal way to do this was to withdraw her feeding tube and let this 21-month-old child slowly starve to death over a period of nine days.

The articles I’ve read said that Natalie was “brain dead.” I don’t think that’s accurate. She clearly could breathe on her own, since the method of euthanizing her was to starve her to death. What her condition actually was, I don’t know. There are no facts about her condition in the stories surrounding this case; only lots of manufactured sympathy for the family which was “forced” to starve her and zero concern for the child they starved.

What passes for sympathy for Natalie is an aggressive politicizing of her death so that it can be used to allow quicker, more “merciful” ways to kill children in the future.

Here’s a news flash for everyone: Natalie should not have been murdered. Killing a person by actively, deliberately and with premeditation ending their life is murder.

Legislatures can pass laws saying that it is not murder. Legislatures can also pass laws saying that the moon is made of green cheese. They can make other statutes repealing the law of gravity. Ethics committees can vote that killing is the “ethical” thing to do and bamboozle families into putting down their loved ones. None of these laws and “ethical” votes will affect the reality that this is murder, because reality is not all that impressed with legislators and ethics committees.

Whatever you call it, however you disguise it, actively, deliberately and with premeditation ending the life of another person is murder and there is no law, lawmaker or ethics committee on this planet with the power to change that.

Natalie was horribly, cruelly murdered by her own family. Now her grandfather is using his sorrow over the “agonizing decision” they made, and the trauma he suffered from having participated in her slow, painful death to lobby the country for laws that would allow us to euthanize kids.

Natalie should not have been starved to death. That was the “agonizing” choice the family should have made. They should have said “no” to the ethics committee.

The decision to starve her to death is the kind of thinking I would expect from an “ethics committee.” I learned long ago that “ethics” is a nice-sounding synonym for no morals and no compassion.

No one can claim that this was a kindness to Natalie. I’ve talked to nurses who had to care for elderly people whose families decided to murder by withdrawing fluids and nutrition. Their descriptions of the resulting deaths are horrific. One question I have is why the “grieving family” whose trauma over this is so great that they feel compelled to campaign for legalizing ways to kill kids quicker didn’t call a halt to it and restore the feeding tube once they saw what it was like.

Natalie was murdered because not murdering her would have been a costly inconvenience for everyone, but most particularly for the medical ethicists who voted for her death. The recommendation of this committee was a classic case of putting a little girl out of the medical industry’s misery.

Sherpas Walk Off the Job. Leave Mt Everest Climbers Stranded at Base Camp.

 

Without Sherpas, climbing Mount Everest would go back to being the province of true mountaineers. The high-risk tourism of unprepared, unskilled and feckless amateurs scaling the world’s tallest mountain is built entirely on the courage and remarkable stamina of the local Sherpa population.

There have been creaks in the burgeoning adventure tourism that Mt Everest has become before now. Sherpas staged a one-day strike last year, asking for higher wages and better working conditions. But this year a tragedy has ignited something much bigger.

Sherpas have staged a walk out, or maybe it’s a walk down, leaving their wealthy, Everest-conquering-wannabe clients stranded at base camp. The Sherpa walk out was a response to the tragic death of 13 of their colleagues in an avalanche a few days ago. At least 13 Sherpa guides were killed, three are still missing and at least three others are in intensive care in Kathmandu for injuries sustained in the avalanche.

The Sherpas were trying to fix ropes and carve out a route up the mountain at the Khumbu Icefall when the avalanche swept through. The icefall is not far from the Everest Base Camp, where wealthy foreign climbers waited for the Sherpas to set things up for them.

Everest has become a bit of a scandal due to the large numbers of people who tackle the mountain through guided tours. Many of these people have relatively little mountaineering experience. For instance my husband — who has zero experience at mountaineering — once asked an adventure tour guide how much it would cost to get him to the top of Everest. The guide answered with a high-dollar figure and told him, “I can get you on the mountain, but you have to be crazy to get to the top.” The guide was quite willing to book a spot for my husband on his next tour.

This sort of thing explains why the Sherpas were at the Khumbu Icefall, putting down fixed ropes and ladders, and hacking a path while the tourists lounged at Base Camp.

Sherpas are calling for higher compensation for their dangerous work, as well as more insurance and  compensation for the families of the dead and injured climbers.

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Nigeria: Islamic Extremists Kidnap 100 Girls from School

 

Boko Haram has kidnapped over 100 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Nigeria.

Boko Haram gunmen stormed the town after dark, set fire to several buildings and engaged government troops who were guarding the school in gunfire. They evidently overpowered the troops, then loaded the girls on a truck and drove away.

According to a RightScoop article, the purpose of the abductions is to use the girls for both sex slaves and slave laborers.

Al Qaeda and charitable fronts, including at least one such front in Britain are reputed to be funding the terrorist organization.  This raises the question in my mind as to who, exactly, “Al Qaeda” is. I know that we’ve heard the name in news stories over and over, but who are they? Where are they getting the money to fund rebels in a war in Syria and a guerrilla war in Nigeria, as well as all sorts of disruptive engagements elsewhere?

Aside from all other questions, war on any scale does not come cheap, and money on a war-making scale is not quiet. Who is selling them their armaments, and who is paying for them? Who is supplying them with food, clothing and shelter? Who buys the pickup trucks and motorcycles they ride around in? Who sells them the gasoline and who maintains the vehicles? Where are these vehicles parked when they’re not in use?

This is a large scale operation, and it is inexplicable to me that the Nigerian government can not track it down. If they are coming over the border from neighboring countries, why can’t that be tracked?

As for Syria, this an outright war effort that has engaged the Syrian government in a fight for its life. Again, who is feeding/supplying/training/housing a whole army of rebels?

I do not believe that governments in the West are ignorant of the answers to these questions. Money of this magnitude is a force. It’s like a big river, and like all big rivers, it has tributaries and runs in a course. Shoulder-shrugging and waving of the Al Qaeda bogeyman is beginning to look like a way to keep from telling the truth.

I’m asking these questions because I don’t “get” why the Nigerian government is so incapable of tracking these killers down and taking them out. If this was the first time this kind of attack had happened, the government’s inability to respond would make a kind of sense. However, after years of these atrocities, you’d think somebody would have figured out a plan of action.

Reports I’ve read about this raid said that the terrorists showed up riding motorcycles and driving trucks. I know this is a naive question, but why is the Nigerian government so helpless in the face of that?

People I know from Nigeria have told me that corruption is a way of doing business there, including corruption throughout all levels of government. Does corruption play a part in the government’s inability to track these killers down? What effect does the divided loyalties of the country’s Muslims have on the issue?

To circle back around, who, exactly, is putting this together? I seriously doubt that a bunch of thugs on motorcycles and driving pick-up trucks are the big brains who have raised the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to fund and organize a long-term operation like this.

These repetitive stories of Boko Haram attacking unarmed civilians and then riding off into the night unchallenged are beginning to grate.

I’ll go back to my earlier question. Who is Al Qaeda? By that I mean who is bankrolling them, arming them and feeding this blood-thirsty beast of war on civilian populations by groups of thugs?

 

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

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.

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.

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?

Child labour 3

use child labor without limits again.

 

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