Thursday, May 22

I had read about this someone's blog, I'm sure..but now the book is out:

Pieces of Intelligence:The Existential Poetry of Donald Rumsfield

Until now, the poetry of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been hidden, "embedded" within comments made at press briefings and in interviews. His preferred medium is the spoken word, and his audience has been limited to hard-bitten reporters and hard-core watchers of C-SPAN.

The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know we don't know.

Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Women sue Erie diocese for defamation...

American Life League plans a Campus for Life

Now the league is on a mission that critics and supporters alike are applauding: construction of a 70-acre educational center devoted to abortion-related issues, a combination college campus and boot camp that would teach about everything from stem-cell research to the history of Roe v. Wade to how to handle media interviews. The aim of the "Campus for Life" is to be a national clearinghouse, a central spot for a divided movement still reeling from the legalization of abortion 30 years ago.

"It became apparent that there was a gap and someone needed to stand in it," said Joe Giganti, spokesman for the 300,000-member group, which has grown from a $1 million annual budget in 1985 to $7 million today.

The campus will emphasize scientific issues -- including the use of stem cells, cloning and the biological and psychological impacts of abortion -- which abortion opponents say reflects a shift in their movement, from a focus on ethics and religion to science. Technological and scientific advancements, such as sharper ultrasound equipment and the use of human embryos for lifesaving therapies, have forced themselves upon the abortion debate over such questions as when life begins.

"I think the fact is that science is forcing a reevaluation of some positions on both sides," said Sean Tipton, spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the country's largest medical association of fertility doctors.

There are other antiabortion organizations that gather scientific data: the mainstream National Right to Life Committee has a research director; the National Catholic Bioethics Center focuses on the relationship between Catholicism and the fields of medicine and science; and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center has a research arm. But none is as broad as the American Life League's project, which aims to have TV and radio production studios and college-level courses that at least one college has said it is open to accepting for credit. The site overlooks Interstate 95 in Stafford.

Christians stand firm against Mugabe's repression in Zimbabwe.


Sadly, the Roman Catholic Church is just as timorous as the Anglican. Robert Mugabe’s second marriage to his wife Gracie was officiated by Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Zimbabwe. Chakaipa’s attendance caused offence in some strait-laced Zimbabwean circles, since the President had enjoyed an adulterous relationship with Gracie before the death of his first wife, and two children were born out of wedlock. Other churchmen feared that by sanctioning the Mugabe marriage, the Church was condoning the regime and undermining its own prophetic role. Chakaipa remained on good terms with Mugabe. When the archbishop died three weeks ago, the President sought to declare him a ‘national hero’. Pius Ncube[Archbishop of Bulawayo, outspoken critic of the regime] spoke out against this move, declaring that ‘national hero status is political and the archbishop was not a politician’. In the end, Chakaipa was laid to rest at Chishawasha, a Roman Catholic mission. Robert Mugabe gave an oration at the funeral. Pius Ncube approached him during the Peace and shook his hand ‘just to show that I have nothing personal against him’.

Ncube is an astonishing man, fighting a private battle against despotism and murder that has unmistakable echoes of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s lonely crusade against Nazism during the second world war. Bonhoeffer was executed just before the end of the war; Ncube is running the same kind of risk. Like Bonhoeffer, Ncube is estranged not just from the ruling regime but from much of the Church that he serves, since its leading members have preferred to collaborate with the regime.

But none of us in Britain has the moral right to condemn the churchmen on the ground in Zimbabwe, any more than we have the right to condemn the Protestant pastors in wartime Germany who cheered on Hitler. We cannot imagine the perils they are under or the compromises they are forced to make; nor do we know the little acts of human goodness they still perform. This exemption cannot be made, however, for the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in London. Our bishops do not live under daily threat of arrest, torture and mutilation. They are not followed by the secret police. But our churches, too, are mesmerised by Mugabe, and afraid to speak against him, as the shameful story of the archbishop’s visit to Britain last week demonstrates.

When the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, the vigorous US-based group which fights for freedom and human rights in Zimbabwe, proposed that Pius Ncube should visit London, the news was greeted with dismay. The Catholic bishops did not show delight and gratification at the chance to give moral support to a fellow Christian in his lonely battle against terror. Incredibly, it seems that Ncube was asked to reconsider his plan. At the time of the Bishops’ Conference, during Low Week after Easter, the Catholic establishment looked set to block the Ncube visit. It is still unclear why Westminster Cathedral felt so uneasy about Ncube, though sources say that David Konstant, the Bishop of Leeds who has responsibility for international affairs, came under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church in Zimbabwe. There are also intriguing suggestions that No. 10 Downing Street, which has close links with Westminster Cathedral, was putting steady pressure on the Catholic Church to play down the event. Moves to block the visit altogether were stymied at a party given by the Bishops’ Conference on 29 April, when the shadow foreign secretary, Michael Ancram, a prominent Catholic, made it known that he would cause a public fuss if Ncube was stopped.

In the end, a deal of sorts was hammered out. Ncube would come to Britain, but a publicity ban would be put on the visit. The Zimbabwe Democracy Trust had been planning to make the most of its illustrious visitor, with interviews tentatively planned on Breakfast with Frost, Newsnight, Channel 4, etc. Some had even been formally booked. They were cancelled. In the end, the Catholic Church, rather than celebrating their remarkable guest, and sending the message of support back to Zimbabwe, hustled him through Britain as if he were an escaped convict. The British government treated him with equal distance. Attempts for a meeting with Tony Blair — normally ready to join forces with any transient pop-star or footballer — were rebuffed. This week Ncube travelled to Washington, where he has been granted a series of high-profile meetings with senior administration officials, including the secretary of state Colin Powell.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and Primate of All England, has got off to a shaky start. But the Ncube episode will put a permanent stain on his term of office. He has just one comfort. His Church of England counterpart, Rowan Williams, has behaved just as shamefully by allowing the Anglican Bishop of Harare to rant unchecked on behalf of Robert Mugabe. The behaviour of both archbishops, and both churches, is incomprehensible. They are sanctifying evil.

Part of the Pope's message to the new Ambassador to the Vatican from Zimbabwe on May 17:

Making reference to your Government's land reform program, Your Excellency has remarked that this is a vehicle for improving the people's standard of living, achieving equity and establishing social justice. In many countries, such agrarian reform is necessary, as noted in the document "Towards a Better Distribution of Land" published in 1997 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, but it is also a complex and delicate process. In fact, as this same document points out, it is an error to think that any real benefit or success will come simply by expropriating large landholdings, dividing them into smaller production units and distributing them to others (cf. No. 45). There are first of all matters of justice to be considered, with due weight being given to the various claims of land ownership, the right to land use and the common good. Moreover, if land redistribution is to offer a practical and sustainable response to serious economic and social problems in a given country, the process must continue to develop over time and must ensure that the necessary infrastructures are in place. Finally, and no less important, "indispensable for the success of an agrarian reform is that it should be in full accord with national policies and those of international bodies" (ibid.).

Feelings of disenfranchisement or of being unjustly treated only serve to foment tension and discord. Justice must be made available to all if the injuries of the past are to be left behind and a brighter future built. Insofar as the authentic common good prevails, the fundamental causes of civil strife will disappear. The Catholic Church pledges her full support for all efforts to construct a culture of dialogue rather than confrontation, of reconciliation rather than conflict. This in fact is an integral part of her mission to advance the authentic good of all peoples and of the whole person.

Jewish leaders hopeful about Vatican archives

...after a private audience with the pope on Thursday, World Jewish Congress (WJC) chairman Israel Singer said they were seeing eye to eye on the archives issue.

"I wouldn't normally say this, but we agreed on everything," he said in a telephone interview.

The Jewish leaders said before the audience that they now better appreciated the complexities of opening archives and did not want the issue to block progress on inter-faith dialogue that has improved tremendously in the past 40 years.Singer said WJC President Edgar Bronfman raised the archives issue with the pope during the meeting."We did this in a friendly way. We were encouraging them to open the archives, but it's not like we came in with an aggressive approach. We came in with a negotiated approach," he said.Singer said archives relating to Pius XII's papacy may start being opened to scholars between 2005 and 2007 in phases.


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