Sunday, February 24, 2013

Should the Pope be prosecuted?

Some religious critics, including Christopher Hitchens and now Richard Dawkins in the UK Guardian, are calling for the Pope to be prosecuted and tried, as in this article.

The Pope is accused of long term participation in the coverup of priest abuse, back to the time that he was Cardinal, in a manner similar to accusations against the leadership of Penn State (and Paterno) after the scandal involving Jerry Sandusky.

The Washington Blade has called Pope Benedict "God's Rottweiler",and Ratzinger is the author of a notorious 1986 statement calling homosexuality (in men) objectively disordered.

So the Pope's claim of ill health seems a bit of a cover.  No surprise.  Pacemakers are risky business, of course.

There are also stories about priests being blackmailed by minors or because of abuse, and that this contributed to the new scandal. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

South Korea as well as China struggles with "filial piety"

The New York Times has written a couple of pieces about how Asian countries need to count on their kids for eldercare.
In China, with the remnants of the one-child policy, parents are betting everything on their kids’ education, which doesn’t always pay off, as in a story Sunday by Keith Bradshea, “In China, families bet it all on college for their children”, link here 
Then on Monday, the NYT reported on the suicide of elderly people in South Korea, partly because grown children aren’t around to support them..  South Korea has a kind of filial responsibility law, that prevents elderly from getting welfare benefits if adult children are capable of supporting them, link to story by Choe Sang-Hun here

The article talks about the change of “family structure”.
In both articles, the willingness of adults to give up their own aspirations and put them in their biological progeny seems paramount.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Climate demonstrations in DC note drone issue; Iceland wants to ban (violent) online porn

There were a couple of placards at the Climate Change demonstrations on the Mall in Washington DC today (Sunday, February 17, 2013) that had a bit of an international flavor.
One was a sign saying that “Gandhian Resistance” was being shortshrifted, especiallyt by a climate-change group called “350” (website url), link.  The man carrying the sign asked me to send him a copy of the picture, but I have no idea how to reach him.  He can simply save it from this blog onto his hard-drive from any browser.  
Another was a sign opposing the use of drones by the Obama administration, given recent media reports that the administration will use drones against American citizens believed to be terrorists overseas.

In another matter, free speech overseas, CNN has reported that Iceland is considering a measure to ban all pornography on the Internet.  Supposedly it is already banned in print.  Supporters claim that the measure is necessary to “protect children” and women.  It’s unclear how it could stop websites from overseas, since the US has already fought this battle with COPA and the CDA.

It’s important to note that some media stories say that only “violent” pornography would be banned (in addition to child pornography). TheUK Gaurdian explains here
Could Americans who visit Iceland and who post content that would be illegal under such a law get into trouble if they visited Iceland (or used Icelandair as a way to go to Europe)? 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Meteor injured hundreds in Russia (no connection to asteroid)

The Weather Channel reports that over 700 people in Russia and Central Asia were injured early Friday when a meteor exploded somewhere over the southern Ural Mountains. 

The explosion was visible in Kazakhstan, and in an area called Chelyabinsk, ironically the name of one of the most notorious variations in chess opening theory today (a piece sacrifice in the Shevshnikov Sicilian).
The link for the story is here.  Fox News has another account here
The meteor does not seem to be related to the small asteroid “2012 DA14” due to fly by Earth today Feb. 15. 

But the blast, where the meteor exploded and broke apart, could have done considerable damage to a major metropolitan areas. But it was small compared to Tunguska in 1908.
Wikipedia attribution link for animated explanation of meteoroids and the like. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Seal who shot Osama bin Laden (and retired) says military has deserted him (upcoming Esquire story)

The UK Daily Mail is reporting on the upcoming Esquire article about the Navy Seal who personally shot Osama bin Laden, and who has “retired” but has no health insurance and no protection from the federal government.

Members of the military are rarely offered witness protection programs, which are no way to live anyway (as in the 2006 Lifetime film “Family in Hiding” with Brenda Strong). 
The Mail article also says that the Seal thought he would die during the raid, and had written his wife and family just before the mission. But now his marriage is broken. 
The UK story link is here.  The story is by Rachel Quigley.
There is a teaser on Esquire for the March story by Phil Bronstein, (website url) here.  But it will take you to a subscription link.   Could this somehow become another Kathryn Bigelow movie? 

(Note: the spelling of "Osama" and of our president differ by one letter; a coincidence.  I confess, I made a typo in the posting title and had to replace it; it was up wrong about 15 minutes before I caught it.  One could use the spelling "Usama"; it's "safer".)

  I can't say that the "s" and the "b" are that close together on a computer keyboard, either.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

North Korea releases video of its "attack on America", may perform several nuclear tests

Various sources report that North Korea is planning more than one nuclear test soon, and may be making progress in the “miniaturization” needed to put a nuclear warhead on a missile that could possible reach Alaska, Hawaii, or even the Pacific Northwest.
The BBC story is here

The announcement was made by Lee Myung-Bak, leaving a post in South Korea.  North Korea’s 28-year-old new “emir” Kim Jung-im seems as belligerent as his father was.

North Korea has produced a “dream video” of its “attack on America”:

Again. The biggest practical risk could be an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) blast.  

Update: Feb. 12

North Korea has apparently tested a "miniaturized" nuclear warhead, that might be placed on a missile for the Pacific, South Korea, or conceivably IS Pacific Northwest. Huffington story greeted me on AOL this morning, here. Look at the stills of the test site.

Wikipedia attribution link for map of 2009 nuclear test.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Russian government tries to throttle volunteers, even as ordinary Russians "step up"; what about China?

In a story by Will Englund and Kathy Lally, the Washington Post is reporting that the post-Communist Russian government still opposes volunteerism, and thinks that the state should organize things.  The link for the front page story Sunday February 3, 2013 is here.  Volunteers even met resistance fighting the peat fires during the heat wave in 2010. Nevertheless, the story reports that “in Russia, volunteers step up”, link here

The Russian parliament is even including a law to bringing volunteering under the purview of the government.  That would be like having Whitman-Walker or Food and Friends being government agencies.

Soviet style communism encouraged the idea that the state could take care of everything, and that people didn’t need to do things for one another.
It would be interesting to compare to past examples of Chinese communism and Maoism, where it seems that the experience (as during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s) of forced peasantry or of becoming a “prole” could be quite personal.