Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

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The unceremonious departure of the Pope who protected the pedophiles

March 7, 2013

ImageAt the moment there is no pope. Ratzinger (what a great name that would have been for a metal band) has thrown in the holy towel, and his replacement hasn’t been chosen yet (I’m told Sinead O’Connor has mailed in her CV). But what intrigues me is the depontification process – or rather the lack of one. There doesn’t seem to be any official ceremony, which seems odd for a Church that has a ceremony for every occasion and contingency. One day Ritzy Ratzy is the Pope, and the next day he’s just an ordinary Joe Soap. Or at least an ordinary Joe Ratzinger. He just doesn’t show up for work, and that’s all there is to it.

So what exactly happens on the spiritual plane – do all his papal powers disappear at the stroke of midnight on the date of his resignation? One minute he’s the Pope, with the power of Infallibility, and the next minute he isn’t – just because he says so? His clothes don’t turn to rags as the Vatican chapel bell tolls, his Swiss guards don’t turn into mice, and his Popemobile doesn’t turn into a pumpkin. He just takes off his big sparkly hat and shuffles away to a presumably well-furnished bachelor pad somewhere in the bowels of the Vatican to watch daytime TV, play video games and surf the web looking for photos of altar boys.

It all seems a bit arbitrary and anticlimactic. At the very least you’d expect some kind of stripping down ceremony, whereby a clutch of Cardinals ripped off his papal tiara (yes, I know that it is properly called a triregnum), broke his staff in two with a dramatic flourish, and forced him to hand back his Ring of the Fisherman and, especially, his magic red shoes. If they don’t take back those shoes, how can they be sure he won’t click his heels together next week and reappear in the papal suite?

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Iran’s barbaric treatment of women

July 10, 2010

Sakineh Ashtiani

Sakineh Ashtiani

Mother of two Sakineh Ashtiani was convicted of adultery (she insists that she was tortured into making a confession) and sentenced to death by stoning. She has already been in prison for 4 years and has been subjected to physical punishment (flogging).

Yesterday, in the face of mounting international condemnation, the Iranian government “commuted” Sakineh’s sentence from death by stoning to death by hanging.

Iran has now imposed a media blackout on reporting of the case, but the death sentence is believed to be “imminent”.

You can help save this woman’s life by emailing the Iranian public relations office at:

Info@Ad.gov.ir

and letting them know how you feel about their barbaric laws and their reprehensible treatment of women.

And/or by signing this petition:

http://www.petitiononline.com/Ashtiani/petition-sign.html

If you are on facebook, go to:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Save-Sakineh-Mohammadi-Ashtiani-from-being-Stoned-to-Death-in-Iran/123908540984923?ref=search

You can find out more about this case at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/10565103.stm

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Where did global warming go?

January 20, 2010

According to a report on the BBC website today:

Climate body admits glacier error
A top UN panel gave the wrong date for Himalayan glacier melt, but says it does not change the picture of man-made climate change.

Wasn’t the original claim that these glaciers were melting as a result of global warming? “Climate change” is a different animal altogether, and can include a whole range of factors (radioactive particles in the air, deforestation, oceanic pollution etc.) that have nothing at all to do with the global temperature rising as a result of human-produced CO2 emissions.

In recent months, the term “global warming” seems to have fallen into disuse by most MMGW adherents – and by the media – and the much more ambiguous term “climate change” is increasingly being used instead.

“Climate change”, of course, covers just about every contingency. If the earth warms up, that would be climate change. If a new ice age arrives, that would be climate change too.

As the climate has been changing periodically since the beginning of the earth’s history, it’s a pretty safe bet that it will continue to change in the future. Predicting “climate change” is a bit like backing every horse in a race.

So what happened to global warming? Does the abandonment of this term by MMGW adherents signal a private acceptance on their part that the much-heralded warming might not actually happen? After a decade in which global temperatures have gone steadily down and global ice is still at normal levels; and particularly after one of the coldest winters on record – not to mention the revelation that senior members of the IPCC manipulated data and resorted to blackmail and threats to prevent MMGW sceptics from publishing their views – claims of an impending rise in the temperature are beginning to strain people’s credibility.

Perhaps it’s my imagination, but it looks to me as if the goalposts in this game are on the move, and that pretty soon they’ll be telling us that “it’s not just warming that’s the problem”, and accusing sceptics of putting too much emphasis on “one particular aspect of climate change”.

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There’s one born-again every minute

October 21, 2008

You have to pass a driving test before you are allowed to drive a car; but you don’t have to know the first thing about politics to have a say in who gets to run the country (any country where governments are elected). Which leads to the kind of situation such as that in the US, where candidates get elected because they have been born again (there’s one born-again every minute), or because the candidate in question comes up with the best one-liners (supplied, of course, by a team of highly-paid script-writers, copywriters, PR experts, psychologists and astrologers) in a TV debate.

There are major differences between the US and Britain when it comes to electing leaders. In the US, candidates garner support by drawing the public’s attention to how intelligent, experienced, cool, qualified, and great in general they are. In Britain, candidates get support by expressing humility, modesty, and self-effacement. For a British politician to say: “When I am elected Prime Minister…” would be political suicide. It would be seen as arrogant and presumptuous. In the US, by contrast, any politician running for office who used the phrase: “If I am elected…” would be seen as weak, dithering and lacking in self-confidence.

No British politician would dream of citing Joe the plumber as an example of the country’s economic woes. In Britain plumbers earn more than Members of Parliament and live in luxurious villas with high walls and armed security guards at the gate. And while economic recessions come and go, people will always call a plumber when their sink gets blocked or their toilet overflows.

In the US, aspirants to high political office do not hesitate to wheel out their wives, children, and family pets for “media opportunities”. In Britain, the families of politicians are regarded as a liability and an embarrassment, and are kept locked away in secret dungeons until after the elections have taken place. (Tony Blair was a notable exception to this rule; which just goes to prove how sensible a rule it is.)

In the US, leadership contests are settled by having a shoot-out at the OK corral. In Britain, the dilemma for would-be replacements is to make it abundantly clear to all and sundry that they want the top job and are prepared to kill to get it, whilst being careful not to express anything other than sincere and wholehearted support for the person whose job they are after.

To get back to the American electorate (and, to be fair, the British electorate isn’t all that far behind in the sucker vote stakes), perhaps a solution would be to require all would-be voters to pass a basic intelligence and current affairs test. It wouldn’t have to be difficult. Polls have revealed that large swathes of the American public believe that Europe is a country, the London Underground is a branch of Al Qaeda, George W. Bush is doing a great job, Saddam Hussein personally organized the 9-11 attacks, America won the war in Vietnam, and almost every important invention – from the telephone to the internet – was invented by an American.

(Where on earth are they getting their information? Ah, yes: Fox news.)

A few simple questions would quickly eliminate electoral applicants whose IQ didn’t quite make it into double digits; and that in itself would represent a major advance. Question 1 could be something along the lines of: “What planet are you on?”

America is a big place. Can it really be so hard to find a candidate who is intelligent, sane, well-educated, non-racist, non-xenophobic, non-born-again, and filthy rich? Well, okay; that last criterion might eliminate a few people. But still, suitable candidates for the US presidency are as rare as Higgs bosons in a particle accelerator.

But at least Americans are getting to elect their leader, which is more than can be said for the people of Britain, who have been lumbered, through no fault of their own, with arguably the most ineffectual Prime Minister in British history – foisted on them by Tony Blair as revenge for their rejection of him.

I don’t think anyone doubts Gordon Brown’s sincerity. He obviously has great faith in his own sense of destiny, and sees himself as a great British statesman. Unfortunately, his inflated opinion of himself is not shared by the vast majority of the British people, who didn’t elect him, don’t like him, and don’t want him as their Prime Minister. Any normal, non-megalomaniac person would take the hint and withdraw gracefully from the fray; but Brown is determined to persevere in the face of overwhelming unpopularity, presumably in the belief that people will eventually come around to him. That will happen when pigs fly and Republican politicians learn how to pronounce the word nuclear.