Chaplet of St Michael

In these times, we probably should pray this more often.

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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.”

The FBI Stands Ready to Help Rescue Nigerian Girls

The FBI stands ready to assist Nigeria to help find the approximately 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Considering the abysmal failure of Nigeria’s government to deal effectively with Boko Haram, I think they should consider taking the offer.

What role does government corruption play in the continued successes that Boko Haram has had at killing unarmed civilians and burning down churches and schools? This kidnapping is not the first time Boko Haram has attacked a Nigerian school.

On February 24 of this year, they slaughtered 59 boys aged 11 to 18 by shooting and burning them at a government school in Buni Yadi in Yobe state, Nigeria. They also burned the school’s 24 buildings to the ground.

The government was not able to stop them, even though an attack like this must have taken quite a bit of time. The government has been unable to track Boko Haram down and kill or capture their leaders.

Boko Haram appears to be heavily armed with expensive weapons, as well as having pickup trucks, armored vehicles and motorcycles. I’ve raised the question of money before. It takes money to buy these things. It also takes money to buy gasoline, food and the other necessities of maintaining this group.

Who is funding Boko Haram?

Why is the Nigerian government unable to track them down? How can they manage to engage in sustained attacks on schools in which they murder large numbers of people by shooting them, then have the time to burn down the facilities and burn the bodies as well without the government responding?

I have no doubt that the FBI can find these people. Nigeria needs to take all the help it can get.

From ABC News:

U.S. law enforcement officials said today that the FBI is standing ready for a possible deployment to Nigeria to help find the 276 teenage girls abducted from a school, but that no help had yet been requested.

Related: Who are the kidnapped Nigerian girls?

“Last week, the attorney general told U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare a report for him on the kidnapping of the 300 girls in Nigeria and also requested an assessment of Boko Haram, the militant group behind the kidnapping,” a government official told ABC News.

As many as 300 girls, ages 16 to 18, were taken from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 15, according to the Associated Press. The students had been studying for final exams at their local school.

Police said that about 53 had escaped but as many as 276 remained in captivity. The leader of Boko Haram claimed responsibility today for the kidnapping and said he intended to sell the girls in the marketplace, according to a video obtained by the news agency AFP.

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Boko Haram Leader Takes Credit for Abducting School Girls. Says They are His Slaves and He will Sell Them.

Cameroonian Soldiers Kill 180 Boko Haram Insurgents in Gunfight

Who funds Boko Haram? 

“They are slaves and I will sell them because I have the market to sell them.”

Those are the words of Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.

Mr Shekau was talking about the large number of high school girls that his followers abducted April 15 from their school after a firefight with government troops.

He recently released a video in which he takes responsibility for the mass abduction and says the students “will remain slaves with us.”According to a Fox News article that statement is a reference to the jihadi custom of enslaving women captured in a holy war, who then can be used as sex slaves. Mr Shekau threatened to attack more schools and take additional girls in the same video.

Reports had emerged before the video was released that Boko Haram had forced some the girls to marry after being sold for a bride price of $12.

Two of the girls are said to have died of snakebite and 20 others are reported to be ill. The Christian girls have been forced to convert to Islam.

Protesters all over Nigeria have expressed anger at the government’s failure to find the abducted girls. President Jonathan Goodluck issued a statement Sunday night saying that his administration is doing everything possible (to find the girls.)

Boko Haram gunmen raided a Cameroonian police unit that is near the Nigerian border today. They killed a police officer and freed one of their jailed comrades.

From Fox News:

An Islamic extremist leader has threatened to sell the 276 teenage girls his terror group abducted from a school in northeast Nigeria three weeks ago.

In a videotape screened by the Associated Press Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the April 15 kidnappings for the first time. He also threatened to attack more schools and take additional girls.

“I abducted your girls,” said the leader of Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful.”

He described the girls as “slaves” and said “By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace.” The hour-long video starts with fighters lofting automatic rifles and shooting in the air as they chant “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great.”

Margaret Sanger Called for 10-Year Moratorium on Having Babies

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I’m not sure what to make of this.

According to The Daily Caller this interview with Margaret Sanger and someone she calls John surfaced when British Pathe, a newsreel company uploaded 85,000 of its films to YouTube. The films were originally aired between 1896 and 1976.

This particular news reel is an interview with Margaret Sanger (who the interviewer calls Mrs Sleen, or something like that) about what was evidently her call for women to cease having babies for 10 years.

I have no idea how serious she was. Was this a publicity stunt? Or did she mean it?

Nothing in this video tells us the answer.

Whatever Mrs Sanger’s purpose was in issuing this call, it appears that, at least among women in the “enlightened” West, she has been heard. Birth rates among Western Europeans are below replacement rate. The birth rate among caucasian Americans has fallen so low that they are projected to fall into minority status in a few decades.

This is ironic, considering that Mrs Sanger sold her ideas by saying that we needed to eliminate what she termed “inferiors” through “regulated birth.”

Here, for your enjoyment, is a weird little interview with Margaret Sanger.

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Kenyan Catholic Church Takes Stand Against Female Genital Mutilation

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FGM. Female Genital Mutilation. 

This practice, which is widespread, involves holding down little girls while the women of a community hack away her external genitalia until they have cut all of it off. They then sew her vagina shut. They often also sew the labias shut, leaving only a small opening for urination. 

Over time, the resulting scar tissue create in a permanent closure which must be forced open when the girl marries. 

This terrible practice is almost universal in many parts of the Middle East, as well as Africa. it results in deaths from infection, blood loss and shock at the time of the mutilation, and deaths in childbirth later on. It also ensures horrifically painful sexual intercourse. 

FGM is the ultimate chastity belt, designed to “prove” a girl’s “virtue” to her future husband. In areas where it is practiced, it is considered a necessary component of a girl’s marriageability. 

Because people from the parts of the world where little girls are mutilated in this way are migrating in large numbers to the West, it is a growing problem here, as well. I passed a law banning Female Genital Mutilation in Oklahoma a few years back. The main obstacle to it was the ignorance of Okies about the practice and a disbelief that such a thing could happen here. 

Added to that was the propensity to kill bills simply because they could by the paid staff which actually was making most of the decisions in both the Senate and the House. I almost lost the bill. The thing that allowed me to pass it was when the Oklahoma State Medical Association, with their massive lobbying clout, came on board and backed it.

Even though I was more than glad for the OSMA’s help, the fact that they could do this indicates the power of lobbies in our legislature, as well as the lack of concern for the content of the legislation itself. At that time, it was almost impossible to pass a bill without the imprimatur of a powerful lobbying organization. 

I only mention that to make readers aware that we cannot sit back and feel superior about the barbarisms against women and girls in other parts of the world. Female Genital Mutilation is now happening in the West and we need to outlaw it and enforce those laws. 

If it’s difficult to get through the blindness about FGM here in the West, it is even more difficult to step outside of cultural misogyny in the areas where FGM is considered a social requirement.

That’s why it’s gratifying to learn that the Catholic Church in Kenya has stepped out onto the cultural ice and taken a stand against FGM. No Christian, ever, should subject their daughter to this barbaric practice. 

FGM is not required by any religion. Even though it is almost universally practiced in many Muslim countries, it is not a requirement of the Muslim faith. 

In areas where it is the cultural and social norm, both Christians and Muslims “cut” their little girls and mutilate them this way. 

This sort of mutilation of young girls is, of course, an extreme form of misogyny. It is also an expression of the grave moral injustice of the sexual double standard that has been used to terrorize and limit the lives of young girls in so many parts of the globe. 

I am thrilled that the Catholic Church in Kenya has finally come out against FGM. I hope that all Christian leaders of every denomination in every part of the world will soon follow suit. Such actions are hundreds of years overdue. Silence about the barbarism of violence against women and girls is the single greatest blot on the history of Christianity. 

Female Genital Mutilation is a deeply sinful cruelty against women and girls. No Christian should practice it, and no Christian should be silent about it. 

From AllAfrica:

The development office of the Catholic diocese of Maralal in Samburu has an active desk that is mandated to ensure that issues on gender based violence are addressed. The Church is on the frontline to fight the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation which is a harmful rite of passage, still practiced despite its negative side effects. It is one among the most common forms of gender based violence in Samburu.

Some 3 million women and girls face Female Genital Mutilation every year, while some 100 to 140 million have already undergone the practice. From a medical point of view it is unhealthy and causes adverse gynecological conditions. Some of the negative effects of the same include injury to adjacent tissues of the vagina, profuse bleeding, shock, acute urine retention, HIV/Aids infections and recurrent urinary tract Infections.

The diocese has facilitated awareness creation in Samburu County on the adverse effects of harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation, early and forced marriages and sexual violence against women. The Justice and peace Department of the diocese deals with 4-5 cases of gender based violence every week.

The Catholic Church has a girl child education and Rescue Centre in Suguta Mar Mar Parish premises, located 42 kilometres away from Samburu County headquarters. The Centre accommodates girls who have escaped from their homes to find shelter there. The girls are victims of FGM, forced/early marriages and other forms of gender based violence. The sister in charge of the rescue centre Sister Fransisca Nzilani says “it is difficult to support these girls without funding. The girls depend on the rescue centre for most of their basic needs which include sanitary towels, education, stationery, food, clothing and shelter on a monthly basis”

 

Million Woman March: Nigerian Women Pressure Government to Do More to Free Kidnapped Girls

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What part does corruption play in Nigeria’s failure to stop Boko Haram? 

 

Women and men from all over Nigeria took to the streets of the Nigerian capitol, Abuja, Wednesday in what was dubbed “The Million Woman March.”

They marched through heavy rain to issue a call for the Nigerian government to do more to free 230 teen-aged girls who were kidnapped in a bloody attack on their high school on April 14. The kidnapping has been labeled the work of Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group who has murdered people and burned down churches with what appears to be impunity for many years.

This latest kidnapping of so many young girls has outraged Nigerians and people from locations all over the world. I asked in an earlier post why the Nigerian government seems to be so helpless in the face of attacks from this terrorist group. I also asked — and am asking still — who is funding Boko Haram.

It appears that quite a few Nigerians have the same questions. Protest organizer Hadiza Bala Usman announced the protests will be on-going in both Abuja and Lagos until the girls are freed.

“We will also demand to see the president if we don’t get any commitment from government to rescue these girls,” she said. “The government has to understand that we are not going to allow this silence to continue.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Chibok’s elders forum, Potu Bitrus, says that he has learned that the girls were trafficked into neighboring Cameroon and Chad and sold as brides to insurgents for 2,000 naira ($12.)

I think this march paints a stark picture of a government that is almost certainly too corrupt to govern. The first order of business for any government is to maintain domestic tranquility. A lot of things go into that, but providing for the public safety is the basic component. Citizens must be able to rely without question on their government to swing into action when they are attacked, kidnapped, or otherwise physically harmed in criminal actions.

Can you imagine what would happen if a group started behaving like this here in America? I’m judging almost entirely by Oklahomans, but I rather imagine that this applies to the country as a whole. If our government didn’t take care of them, I think our private citizens would do it themselves.

The government of Nigeria needs to do whatever it takes to end Boko Haram. They specifically need to get these girls back. To say that this is a civil and human rights violation is weak language for it.

Public Catholic reader Ken first brought this story to my attention.

Sources can be found here, here, here and here.

Easter in Nigeria: Boko Haram Will Not Have the Final Word

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Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, of Jos, Nigeria

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria spoke of Easter hope in the midst of suffering Sunday.

“We … cannot let Boko Haram have the final word … there is a greater force (than Boko Haram) and we there should not be overcome by a terrible fear and even paranoia that we are unable to even go out to worship,” he said.

Nigerian Christians celebrated the Resurrection in the midst of mourning. Seventy-nine people were recently killed in a bomb blast, and 129 school girls were abducted by the Islamic group to be used as slaves. Forty-four of these girls have managed to escape, a fact that gives hope.

I wrote a post earlier, asking why the government can’t track Boko Haram down and end them. It seems to me that having 44 girls who have escaped and could give information would be a major aid in doing just that.

In the meantime, Archbishop Kaigama says that Nigeria Christians, “… believe that God cannot abandon us and as a Church we continue to pray and preach nonviolence and we continue to inspire confidence in people. We should only succumb and subject ourselves to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life and who is the Resurrection.”

That thought, that we should only subject ourselves to Jesus is the essence of Christian freedom. It the call of every Christian, everywhere. Our only master should be Our Lord, which means that the many things we submit ourselves to in this life are a false calling. In the final analysis, none of us answers to anyone but Him, and, again in the final analysis, each and every one of us actually does answer to Him.

At Gethsemane

 

Gethsemane is far more than the physical garden where Jesus prayed the night He was taken.

Gethsemane is a place in the human heart, a destination we all reach. Some of us will go there many times in our lives.

Gethsemane is what I call The Alone. It is that stripped-bare moment when the pretenses and self lies that sustain us in our illusion of invincibility and significance are taken from us. Gethsemane is the realization that we are alone in a way that the glad-handing niceties of human interaction hide from us.

Emotions such as loneliness and even despair are trivialities when contrasted with the stark solitary helplessness of The Alone. It is a stunning thing to look into the eyes of another human being and see satan looking back at you. It is a soul-scouring reality to face the insignificance we really are to other people.

That is Gethsemane, and it is what Jesus faced for you. And for me.

Can you not wait with me one hour? He asked the disciples, and the question vibrates with the isolating aloneness that prompted it.

He had to face the awfulness of what was coming without human succor or understanding. When they came, when Judas struck Him to the heart with a kiss of betrayal, when He looked into the pitiless eyes of Satan, staring at him from another human face, He was alone.

That was Christ’s Gethsemane. Our Gethsemane, even though it will differ, is in some ways like it.

My friend Linda Caswell is director of All Things New, a ministry that shelters and redeems women who have been trafficked and prostituted. These women know The Alone, not as an event or passage, but as the whole of their lives. They have inhabited The Alone the way you and I inhabit our jobs, families and lives, because it has been their lives.

Most of these women have had very few positive contacts with people of faith. They avoid churches because the men who have bought them are also in the churches. Their only safety is in Jesus, but they do not understand that at first.

When Linda shows them the movie that Mel Gibson made, The Passion of the Christ, it inevitably breaks through the hard shell of their defenses. Women who do not understand the Gospels as anything but a lie told by lying liars who buy and sell them break down and sob uncontrollably when they see Jesus humiliated, beaten, tortured and disregarded.

This Jesus, the One who prayed “let this cup pass” in Gethsemane, they understand. And by the miracle of the grace of the cross, they believe that this Jesus understands them.

Their lives, which have been an unending Gethsemane, open to this Brother God who was beaten, tortured, humiliated and disregarded as they have been.

Because He understands. Because He does not disregard them. Because He is the only One who can go with them into The Alone of their personal Gethsemanes.

Jesus Christ suffered for us to redeem us from our sins, from the things we’ve done. He also suffered to redeem us from the things that have been done to us. In this cruel world, the things that are done to us can cut deeper and leave us less able to see the Divine than our sins.

We put people outside the bright circles of acceptability that we draw around ourselves and those we deem worthy. We cast them into the hell of unending Gethsemane where no one keeps vigil with them and no one cares that they are alone.

Only Jesus, Who has been there, can penetrate The Alone of our lives. He is the One, the only One, who can draw people back from the man-made abyss of life lived in The Alone where we cast so many of the people that He died to save.

It is important to remember this at all times, but especially today when we re-enact the Last Supper. Jesus was becoming Christ on this night when He gave us the Eucharist and the servant priesthood. He was teaching us how to love with a love that passes all human understanding and how to live the life of the Kingdom in this world. He was showing us that even in our Gethsemane, even in the deepest pit of The Alone, we are never alone, for He is always there.

And he will keep watch with us, not just for an hour, but for the whole of this life and into the one beyond.

 

Nigeria: Islamic Extremists Kidnap 100 Girls from School

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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?

 


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