The Catholic Church is a Joke

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/opinion/18dowd.html?ref=maureendowd

The new Vatican policies reveal that the Catholic Church equates pedophilia with the ordination of women.

I didn’t make this up.  No one can.  It’s comedy material at its finest, which speaks a lot towards how out of touch the church is with reality.  While society has progressed, through iconic nationalist, feminist, and civil rights movements, the Vatican is still stuck in the 19th century, or even further, continuing its misogynistic, xenophobic ways.

“The future pope, it is now clear, was also part of a culture of nonresponsibility, denial, legalistic foot-dragging and outright obstruction. More than any top Vatican official other than John Paul, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who might have taken decisive action in the 1990s to prevent the scandal from metastasizing in country after country, growing to such proportions that it now threatens to consume his own papacy.”

If Roman Polanski were a priest, he’d still be working here.

Couldn’t have put it better myself, Maureen.

The Catholic Church has become a joke now.  Its problem, at least from a PR standpoint, is to make itself relevant again in today’s society.

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Schools over Missiles in Afghanistan

Nick Kristof’s latest column brings to light America’s ridiculous spending in Afghanistan and how building schools makes more sense than sending more troops.

It has long been a firm belief of mine that education is the best (and probably most efficient) way to nation building and promote peace within a region.  This is why I am very glad to see New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof echo my sentiment in his latest column.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/opinion/29kristof.html?_r=1&hp

“By the standards of history and cost-effectiveness, we are hugely overinvested in military tools and underinvested in education and diplomacy.”

First of all, it has become painfully obvious that we are spending jaw-dropping sums of money on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we are not, by any stretch of our imagination, getting our money’s worth. The Obama administration has, as Rachel Maddow mentioned a few weeks ago, put all of its chips in on a wager to set up a strong Afghan military / national police so that the country has the ability to govern itself.  The argument goes that the United States cannot leave until such a force is set up because failure to do so would mean the resurgence of the Taliban and the return of Al Qaeda.  The former is already happening, and the public (perhaps maybe even the CIA) does not have much of an idea of what Al Qaeda has been up to.

For Rachel’s full take check out this link:

http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/07/15/4687273-maddow-the-hard-choice-in-afghanistan

I am quite skeptical of this strategy of ‘military first’ when it comes to nation building.  Afghanistan doesn’t need soldiers.  It needs roads, access to food and water, hospitals, schools, and a government that could provide all of the above.  As Kristof points out, newly-built schools have not be burnt down by the Taliban or other terrorist groups.  The big question then becomes: who can legitimately speculate that Afghanistan will descend into chaos if a massive army is not established? What if all of America’s spending on Afghanistan went to building schools, roads, and hospitals? I for one believe that Afghanistan would be progressing (the way America wants to) at a much faster rate.

There is an image issue concerning the Afghan people that ought to be brought into light.  Many politicians and political commentators in America believe that the Afghans are militaristic barbarians without a culture or a conscience.  These same people also believe that America is there to save them from barbarism and introduce to them the modern civilization.  If these politicians and pundits do not genuinely believe these things, they certainly claim so in their rhetoric.

But the Afghans are only ‘without’ a civilization only if one defines ‘civilization’ as, for example, a Western democracy.  Contrary to common conception, the Taliban is probably very capable of negotiations, and as Kristof mentions, both the Taliban and the local warlords are tolerant of the construction of schools, and therefore, education.

Schools, not missiles, is the best way towards building a nation.  America needs to actually engage in meaningful conversations with the Afghan people, not through the corrupt government.  I’m sure President Obama understands this.  Perhaps he is under external pressure to continue such massive military spending.  I hope he can start the troop withdrawal on schedule, and begin helping aid groups to build schools.

Pink Floyd Hit Re-Worked As Iran Protest (VIDEO)

This just goes to show the greatness of Pink Floyd, and what a lasting cultural impact “The Wall” album has on society.

The anti-establishment theme of “The Wall”, written by Roger Waters, is often used today as an album for rebels and those who are dissatisfied with the behaviors of the state. But Floyd’s earlier work, namely “Dark Side of the Moon”, discusses the broader theme of universalism and equality and also fits into the discussion of the freedom of Iranians.

“Us and them..
And after all, we’re only ordinary men.”
– “Us and Them”
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wikileaks and fresh doubt


I really can’t say I’m too surprised or blown away by this, however compelling the leaked data. What did people think they would find if they dug through the archives of America’s war in Afghanistan as it stands today? That things are actually better than they seem?

Any person who follows the news on a regular basis would know that the war in Afghanistan has worsened in the last few months, with an increase in deaths for both troops and civilians. These leaked files are really the icing on the cake, so to speak, in the discussion to end America’s involvement in Afghanistan.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tibet: Capitalist Colonialism.

The Tibetan independence issue has manifested itself into a new, somewhat unique case of colonialism.  It is colonialism, not in the sense that Tibet is being invaded or taken over by a foreign nation.  Rather, Tibetans are being culturally and economically assimilated by its own countrymen, the Han Chinese.

An article by the New York Times looks at the current situation.

Tibet has been an unstable region ever since the violent uprising in 2003.  It has become apparent now that the Chinese government has more or less abandoned its militaristic approach to stabilize the region and has adopted a quieter, much more effective approach.  Capitalism.

“Chinese leaders see development, along with an enhanced security presence, as the key to pacifying the Buddhist region.”

Many prominent scholars and economists have claimed that good economics equals stability.  Thomas Friedman, for example, has long believed that a globalized world economy dramatically reduces military conflicts (look up “the Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention”).  But good economics are often confused with homogenized, integrated economics.  Tibetans are now faced with an overwhelming scale of economic ‘development’, but it is development by outsiders, for outsiders.

“Migrant Han entrepreneurs elbow out Tibetan rivals, then return home for the winter after reaping profits.  Large Han-owned companies dominate the main industries, from mining to construction to tourism.”

The Han Chinese are there for one reason and one reason only: to make money.  The Communist government knows this and is using a capitalist development agenda to assimilate Tibet into China.  Major Chinese corporations that are based elsewhere have laid their eyes upon Tibet’s vast mineral reserves, which includes “China’s biggest chromium and copper deposits.”

“A prominent mineral water company called 5100… named after the altitude of the glacier, produced almost two million gallons of water. The water is shipped out on the Qinghai-Tibet railway.  The water that is collected would otherwise flow through wetlands where yak graze. It is unclear how the factory’s work has affected the ecosystem.”

Good or bad, the factory has seriously altered the local ecosystem, and it will end only when the company stops making a profit bottling up glacier water.  This method of natural resource exploitation in the name of economic development is taken straight out of the global capitalist playbook, and the Chinese are employing it onto their own people.

“All classes are taught in Mandarin Chinese, except for Tibetan language classes”

The next most important factor in colonialism, behind capitalism, is language.  It is the most efficient, and perhaps most harmless way to integrate one culture into another.  People put up less of a fight against language imperialism because no one is getting physically hurt, but their culture will slowly disappear and their language a thing of the past.

History has suggested that not very often can locals effectively resist economic colonialism.  It usually takes a drastic downturn in the quality of life (ex. Argentina, Bolivia) for the local people to rise against external forces.  If Tibet does not gain independence soon, it will quickly fall into the hands of the government, and its nationalist cause will be lost.