Trump To Exempt Little Sisters Of The Poor From Abortifacient Mandate

 writes: A draft of a new rule protecting religious adherents was leaked to the press earlier today. The 125-page ruling, if issued and finalized, would temporarily protect the Little Sisters of the Poor and other groups from an Obama-era Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring religious adherents to choose between crippling fines and violating their consciences.

The Supreme Court unanimously overturned lower court rulings against the Little Sisters of the Poor in May 2016, ordering the government not to fine the Little Sisters and telling the lower courts to get the government to accommodate religious beliefs. This interim rule would fulfill that Supreme Court ruling.

The Little Sisters of the Poor are a religious order that serves the elderly poor. The Obama administration’s rule required them to provide abortifacients and birth control in violation of their religious beliefs or be fined up to $70 million each year. In their five-year battle over the rule, they have repeatedly won court victories against this requirement. Courts routinely found the mandate, which the Obama administration kept revising, to be an onerous and unnecessary restriction on religious liberty.

“At long last the United States government acknowledges that people can get contraceptives without forcing nuns to provide them,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel with Becket, a civil liberties firm representing the Little Sisters. “That is sensible, fair, and in keeping with the Supreme Court’s order and the president’s promise to the Little Sisters and other religious groups serving the poor.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor were just one of many groups seeking relief from the mandate that violated religious liberty. Read the rest of this entry »


The Assassination of Saint Peter: Axe to the Head, Dagger to the Chest, 1252

tumblr_oeuvmd86nc1r1io1co1_1280-png

Taddeo Crivelli (Italian, died about 1479, active about 1451 – 1479) Saint Peter Martyr, about 1469, Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment Leaf: 10.8 x 7.9 cm (4 1/4 x 3 1/8 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Saint Peter was assassinated with an axe to the head and a dagger to the chest in 1252 and was then canonized as a saint only 11 months later, making this the fastest canonization in history.

Source:


BEHOLD Hillary Clinton’s Spectacular Feat of Superhuman Strength! 

strength feat

Take that, you conspiracy mongering kooks!

The tables turned on her detractors after it was revealed she was maintaining a grueling work schedule while battling pneumonia.

Peter Daou, with a straight face, apparently, reports:

September 11 was a wild day in campaign 2016. After Hillary Clinton overheated and became weak at a 9/11 ceremony, an ugly feeding frenzy ensued that capped weeks of increasingly shrill conspiracy-mongering about her health...(read more) Read the rest of this entry »


This Day in History: Western Roman Empire falls, Sep 04, 476 

Rome, Vatican Museum, Octagonal Courtyard, Apollo sculpture (2)

attila1Odoacer was a mercenary leader in the Roman imperial army when he launched his mutiny against the young emperor. At Piacenza, he defeated Roman General Orestes, the emperor’s powerful father, and then took Ravenna, the capital of the Western empire since 402. Although Roman rule continued in the East, the crowning of Odoacer marked the end of the original Roman Empire, which centered in Italy.

Read the rest of this entry »


‘Enea Piccolomini Leaves for the Council of Basel’, Pinturicchio c. 1502-1508

tumblr_o5mocpiJ9i1rb6373o1_540

Pinturicchio c. 1502-1508

Enea Piccolomini Leaves for the Council of Basel 


Michael Barone: The Negative Impact of New York Times Front-Page Editorials

Barone-3Michael Barone writes: What influence does a front-page editorial in The New York Times have on public opinion? A strong negative influence, judging from the only two examples from the last 95 years. The Times famously ran a front-page editorial Dec. 4 calling for drastic gun control measures, including confiscation of weapons. The response: No. The latest CBS/New York Times poll reports that 50 percent oppose “a nationwide ban on assault weapons,” while only 44 percent support it.

[Read the full story here, at the Washington Examiner]

That’s a sharp reversal of trend: In January 2011, 63 percent supported the ban on “assault weapons” — a vague term that invites agreement, even though any gun, even a toy pistol, can be used to assault someone (consult your law dictionary) and the 1990s legislation banning “assault weapons” distinguished them from other guns by purely cosmetic criteria.

The report contends that so called assault rifles are rarely used in mass shootings in the US.

So-called ‘assault rifles’ are rarely used in mass shootings in the US.

The Times’ second-most recent front-page editorial, published in June 1920, had a similar effect. It criticized the Republican National Conventions‘ nomination of Warren G. Harding as that of “a candidate whose nomination will be received with astonishment and dismay by the party whose suffrages he invites.” Voters took a different view that fall….(read more)

Source: Washington Examiner


Happy Birthday, John Milton 

john-milton-paradise-lost

Milton! thou should’st be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea;
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on itself lay.

— William Wordsworth

milton_getty_95994t

Milton, with the possible exception of Spenser, is the first eccentric English poet, the first to make a myth out of his personal experience, and to invent a language of his own remote from the spoken word. – W.H. Auden

Milton was born in 1608, and although he left Oxford without completing his degree, he remained a thinker and a propagandist/pamphleteer and a scholar till the end of his days. The isolated poet, focused on self and emotion, would come in with the Romantics. Milton was a public and a political man, a propagandist for the Commonwealth (a dangerous position to take, especially once the Restoration came about). He addressed all kinds of “unpoetic” social and civil issues in pamphlets, books, poems, articles. He was famous in his own day. His reputation since then has risen and fallen with the tides, and we are now in a huge Milton upsurge. He turned 400 a couple of years ago, and there were celebrations across New York City: art exhibits, library exhibits, and also a costume-party in Brooklyn where you had to dress up as either Milton, or a character from Paradise Lost.

[Read the full text here, via Sheila O’Malley, at The Sheila Variations]

I had to read Paradise Lost in high school and thought it was the most boring thing I had ever been subjected to in my life. I had to prop my eyeballs open. I re-read it about 10 years ago, and was totally swept away by it, not only by the thoughts/philosophy in the great work, but also the depths and transcendence of the language itself. I feel like people should be forced to RE-read what they were forced to READ in high school.

Milton traveled widely, and most of his writing was meant for public consumption: he was not a private scribbler. He wrote what amounts to op-ed columns explaining to his audience what was happening to the constitution in England at that time. He wrote poetry privately; he had been writing poetry since he was a young boy.

Jonathan Rosen, in his wonderful New Yorker article about the continuing relevance of Milton, writes:

Sometime in 1638, John Milton visited Galileo Galilei in Florence. The great astronomer was old and blind and under house arrest, confined by order of the Inquisition, which had forced him to recant his belief that the earth revolves around the sun, as formulated in his “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.” Milton was thirty years old – his own blindness, his own arrest, and his own cosmological epic, Paradise Lost, all lay before him. But the encounter left a deep imprint on him. It crept into Paradise Lost, where Satan’s shield looks like the moon seen through Galileo’s telescope, and in Milton’s great defense of free speech, Areopagitica, Milton recalls his visit to Galileo and warns that England will buckle under inquisitorial forces if it bows to censorship, “an undeserved thraldom upon learning.”

Beyond the sheer pleasure of picturing the encounter – it’s like those comic-book specials in which Superman meets Batman – there’s something strange about imagining these two figures inhabiting the same age. Read the rest of this entry »


Hamtramck, Michigan: In 1st Majority-Muslim U.S. City, Residents Tense About its Future

Ham-Mich-WaPo

HAMTRAMCK, MICH. — Sarah Pullman Bailey reports: Karen Majewski was in such high demand in her vintage shop on a recent Saturday afternoon that a store employee threw up her hands when yet another visitor came in to chat. Everyone wanted to talk to the mayor about the big political news.

“In many ways, Hamtramck is a microcosm of the fears gripping parts of the country since the Islamic State’s attacks on Paris: The influx of Muslims here has profoundly unsettled some residents of the town long known for its love of dancing, beer, paczki pastries and the pope.”

Earlier this month, the blue-collar city that has been home to Polish Catholic immigrants and their descendents for more than a century became what demographers think is the first jurisdiction in the nation to elect amajority-Muslim council.

A statue of Pope John Paul II in Hamtramck’s Pope Park is a nod to the city’s Polish American beginnings. (Salwan Georges/For The Washington Post)

It’s the second tipping for Hamtramck (pronounced Ham-tram-ik), which in 2013 earned the distinction becoming of what appears to be the first majority-Muslim city in the United States following the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia over a decade.

“There’s definitely a strong feeling that Muslims are the other. It’s about culture, what kind of place Hamtramck will become. There’s definitely a fear, and to some degree, I share it.”

— Majewski, whose family emigrated from Poland in the early 20th century

In many ways, Hamtramck is a microcosm of the fears gripping parts of the country since the Islamic State’s attacks on Paris: The influx of Muslims here has profoundly unsettled some residents of the town long known for its love of dancing, beer, paczki pastries and the pope.

Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski adjusts hats inside her store, Tekla Vintage. (Salwan Georges/For The Washington Post)

“It’s traumatic for them,” said Majewski, a dignified-looking woman in a brown velvet dress, her long, silvery hair wound in a loose bun.

“Business owners within 500 feet of one of Hamtramck’s four mosques can’t obtain a liquor license, she complained, a notable development in a place that flouted Prohibition-era laws by openly operating bars. The restrictions could thwart efforts to create an entertainment hub downtown.”

Around her at the Tekla Vintage store, mannequins showcased dresses, hats and jewelry from the mid-20th century, and customers fingered handbags and gawked at the antique dolls that line the store, which sits across the street from Srodek’s Quality Sausage and the Polish Art Center on Joseph Campau Avenue, the town’s main drag.

“I don’t know why people keep putting religion into politics. When we asked for votes, we didn’t ask what their religion was.”

— Almasmari, who received the highest percentage of votes(22 percent) of any candidate

Majewski, whose family emigrated from Poland in the early 20th century, admitted to a few concerns of her own. Business owners within 500 feet of one of Hamtramck’s four mosques can’t obtain a liquor license, she complained, a notable development in a place that flouted Prohibition-era laws by openly operating bars. The restrictions could thwart efforts to create an entertainment hub downtown, said the pro-commerce mayor.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

And while Majewski advocated to allow mosques to issue calls to prayer, she understands why some longtime residents are struggling to adjust to the sound that echos through the city’s streets five times each day. Read the rest of this entry »


Pope Benedict XVI: The West’s Pathological Self-Hatred

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 28, 2006. REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN)

“There is a self-hatred in the West that can be considered only as something pathological. The West attempts in a praiseworthy manner to open itself completely to the comprehension of external values, but it no longer loves itself; it now only sees what is despicable and destructive in its own history, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure there.”  

— Pope Benedict XVI


[VIDEO] William F. Buckley Jr. Interviews Hugh Hefner on Firing Line (1966) Parts 2-6






[VIDEO] William F. Buckley Jr. Interviews Hugh Hefner on Firing Line (1966) Part 1 

WashMonument-BuckleyJr

h/t Jacob Appelbaum,  Twitter

 


Is America is Due for a Revolution?

Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American TelevisionMay 1, 2015 – September 20, 2015 The Jewish Museum, New York

Here’s the good news: The chaos and upheaval we see all around us have historical precedents and yet America survived. The bad news: Everything likely will get worse before it gets better again.

Michael Goodwin writes: That’s my chief takeaway from “Shattered Consensus,” a meticulously argued analysis of the growing disorder. Author James Piereson persuasively makes the case there is an inevitable “revolution” coming because our politics, culture, education, economics and even philanthropy are so polarized that the country can no longer resolve its differences.

cuba_che_castro-620x421

“How, Piereson wonders, was it possible that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara became heroes to the American left when it was a committed communist who killed the left’s beloved Kennedy?”

To my knowledge, no current book makes more sense about the great unraveling we see in each day’s headlines. Piereson captures and explains the alienation arising from the sense that something important in American life is ending, but that nothing better has emerged to replace it.shattered consensus

The impact is not restricted by our borders. Growing global conflict is related to America’s failure to agree on how we should govern ourselves and relate to the world.

[Order James Piereson’s bookShattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Postwar Political Order” from Amazon.com]

Piereson describes the endgame this way: “The problems will mount to a point of crisis where either they will be addressed through a ‘fourth revolution’ or the polity will begin to disintegrate for lack of fundamental agreement.”

[Read the full text here, at New York Post]

He identifies two previous eras where a general consensus prevailed, and collapsed. Each lasted about as long as an individual’s lifetime, was dominated by a single political party and ended dramatically.

JFK&J-BW

“Piereson also deftly demolishes the myth of Camelot by recounting how a grieving first lady created the legend on a single weekend after the president’s funeral…White and his editors resisted the grandiose and sentimental story line, but finally relented to the grieving widow. White later expressed regret for helping to create the Camelot myth.”

First came the era that stretched from 1800 until slavery and sectionalism led to the Civil War. The second consensus, which he calls the capitalist-industrial era, lasted from the end of the Civil War until the Great Depression.

Author James Piereson

Author James Piereson

“That’s not to say he’s pessimistic — he thinks a new era could usher in dynamic growth, as happened after the previous eras finally reached general agreement on national norms. But first we must weather a crisis that may involve an economic and stock-market collapse, a terror attack, or simply a prolonged and bitter stalemate.”

It is the third consensus, which grew out of the depression and World War II, which is now shattering. Because the nation is unable to solve economic stagnation, political dysfunction and the resulting public discontent, Piereson thinks the consensus “cannot be resurrected.”

white-house-clouds-hdr-.2-602x300

“The problems will mount to a point of crisis where either they will be addressed through a ‘fourth revolution’ or the polity will begin to disintegrate for lack of fundamental agreement.”

That’s not to say he’s pessimistic — he thinks a new era could usher in dynamic growth, as happened after the previous eras finally reached general agreement on national norms. But first we must weather a crisis that may involve an economic and stock-market collapse, a terror attack, or simply a prolonged and bitter stalemate. Read the rest of this entry »


Holy Family with Saint Anne c. 1545-1546

st-anne

Bronzino c. 1545-1546

Holy Family with Saint Anne (detail)


The Poisonous Obama Years

Obama-BW

Noah Rothman writes: For millions of Americans, Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency absolved the United States of myriad sins. His rise to the presidency was a redemption tale for an America that had lost its way in the immediate post-9/11 years.

“As the winter of the Obama presidency approaches, it seems beyond dispute that this presidency has robbed Americans of what remaining faith they had in the value of collective action.”

Obama’s promise was to be a transformative figure, his supporters averred. He would reverse a suspiciously colonialist Bush-era foreign policy, deliver the country into a post-racial period, and restore America’s faith in the power of collectivism and the righteous efficacy of government. As the winter of the Obama presidency approaches, it seems beyond dispute that this presidency has robbed Americans of what remaining faith they had in the value of collective action. The power of massive governmental programs to effect positive change is, at best, dubious. The tragedy of it all is that cynicism has replaced shock when the latest scandalous revelations hit the newsstands. That’s dangerous. The expectation of corruption is a condition that saps a nation’s faith in the virtue of self-governance. It is this kind of contempt for public institutions that leads republics to ruin.

[Read the full text here, at commentary]

Barack Obama’s administration is scandal-plagued. In its twilight years, this White House has subordinated accountability and the preservation of faith in public sector competence to exculpation from the political press.

white-house-clouds-hdr-.2-602x300

“The power of massive governmental programs to effect positive change is, at best, dubious. The tragedy of it all is that cynicism has replaced shock when the latest scandalous revelations hit the newsstands. That’s dangerous. The expectation of corruption is a condition that saps a nation’s faith in the virtue of self-governance. It is this kind of contempt for public institutions that leads republics to ruin.”

The in-party spent the better part of the three years that followed the deadly assault on diplomatic and CIA compounds in Benghazi by framing the investigation into it as a manifestation of Republicans’ pathological hatred for the president. That is an impression which remains cemented in the minds of
many average voters who have not closely followed a congressional investigation into that affair – an investigation that exposed the scandalous details regarding how Hillary Clinton and her cadre of privileged aides comported themselves at the State Department. Those Americans who do not see the poison-redinvestigation as a partisan witch-hunt are apt to view it as an indictment of the political culture in Washington that afforded Clinton the leeway to flaunt the law and jeopardize American national security in order to preserve her sense of “convenience.”

[Read the full text of Noah Rothman‘s article here, at commentary]

The Obama-era has made it difficult to recall that it was once the left that prided itself for serving as sentinels standing guard against abuses by powerful government agencies. “Artful” Nixonian abuses of the IRS in order to intimidate and tarnish the reputations of political opponents were once a Republican phenomenon. Today, yet another simmering scandal involving the misuse of the IRS has ensnared Democrats. As such, it is dismissed as a non-issue by the left and partisans in the press.
Read the rest of this entry »


Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos 

“Only a truly exceptional and powerful economic system would be capable of producing so many limited-edition and holiday-themed flavors of a single cookie brand, such as these extraordinary Key Lime Pie Oreos and Candy Corn Oreos. This is not a force of global impoverishment at all, but one of endless enrichment.”

WASHINGTON—Admitting the startling discovery had compelled him to reexamine his long-held beliefs, His Holiness Pope Francis announced Tuesday that he had reversed his critical stance toward capitalism after seeing the immense variety of Oreos available in the United States.

[Read “Not Exactly Satire by Kevin D. Williamson]

“Oh, my goodness, look at all these! Golden Oreos, Cookie Dough Oreos, Mega Stuf Oreos, Birthday Cake Oreos—perhaps the system of free enterprise is not as terrible as I once feared,” said the visibly awed bishop of Rome while visiting a Washington, D.C. supermarket, adding that the sheer diversity of flavors, various colors and quantities of creme filling, and presence or absence of an outer fudge layer had led to a profound philosophical shift in his feelings toward the global economy and opened his eyes to the remarkable capabilities of the free market….(read more)

Source: The Onion – Commentary at The Corner


Political Oppression: Dissidents Arrested as Pope Francis Conducts his First Mass in Cuba

Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation.

 reports: Cuban authorities prevented leading dissidents from meeting Pope Francis in Havana on Sunday, in a sign of the Communist regime’s rigid intolerance of political opposition.

“The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.”

Two well-known dissidents, Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva, had been invited by the Vatican to attend a vespers service led by the Pope’s in Havana’s historic baroque cathedral.

But they said they were detained by security agents and barred from attending the event.

drudge-diss

“They told me that I didn’t have a credential and that I couldn’t go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the plaza of the Cathedral,” Ms Roque said.

The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.

There had been intense speculation about whether the Pope would risk incurring the displeasure of his host, President Raul Castro, by meeting political opponents of the Communist regime.

pope-fidel

The fact that the Vatican invited the women to Sunday’s cathedral service showed Francis’ determination to try to engage with the dissident movement, which has endured years of persecution by the Castro regime.

Earlier in the day, the Pope celebrated Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square in front of tens of thousands of people.

He was driven through the crowds in a white pope-mobile, pausing to kiss children who were held up to him.

As the ceremony got underway, Cuban security officers detained at least three people who appeared to be trying to distribute leaflets in the capital’s Revolution Square, a large open area dominated by a massive likeness of revolutionary hero Che Guevara.

The three people were tackled and dragged away by the officers.

Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation. Read the rest of this entry »


Matt Drudge: ‘A Prayer for Those Locked Up in Cruel Cuba This Morning for Dissent, as Pope Basks in Glow of Adulation from Masses’

Stephen K. Bannon & Ezra Dulis write: Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report sent a message Sunday morning excoriating Pope Francis during his trip to Cuba, depicting the head of the Catholic Church alongside Raul Castro and suggesting Francis would rather ignore the plight of political dissidents than endanger his warm welcome from the Castro regime.

Activists have criticized the Pope for failing to plan any meetings with Cuban political dissidents during his visit to the Communist Caribbean nation–while the government flagrantly and contemporaneously persecutes its Catholics. Just last week, the government violently arrested more than 50 protesters, mostly women, after attending Sunday mass….(read more)

Source: Breitbart


The Suicide of the Liberal Arts

Achillles-slay-Hector

Indoctrinating students isn’t the same as teaching them. Homer and Shakespeare have much to tell us about how to think and how to live.

John Agresto writes: I was a few minutes early for class. Father Alexander, my high-school sophomore-homeroom teacher, was standing outside the room, cigarette in his mouth, leaning on the doorjamb. “Morning, Father.”

His response was to put his arm across the door. “Agresto,” he said, “I have a question I’ve been thinking about and maybe you can help me.”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Do you think a person in this day and age can be called well educated who’s never read the ‘Iliad’?” I hadn’t read the “Iliad,” and am not even sure I had heard of it. “Hmmm. Maybe, I don’t see why not. Maybe if he knows other really good stuff . . .” His response was swift. “OK, Agresto, that proves it. You’re even a bigger damn fool than I thought you were.”

I grew up in a fairly poor Brooklyn family that didn’t think that much about education. My father was a day laborer in construction—pouring cement, mostly. He thought I should work on the docks. Start by running sandwiches for the guys, he told me. Join the union. Work your way up. There’s good money on the docks. And you’ll always have a job. He had nothing against school, except that if bad times came, working the docks was safer.

I also grew up in a house almost without books. All I remember is an encyclopedia we got from coupons at the grocery store and a set of the “Book of Knowledge” from my cousin Judy. Once in a while I’d head over to the public library and borrow something—a book on tropical fish, a stamp catalog, a book by someone called Levi on pigeons. It never dawned on me to look at what else there was. Who read that stuff anyway?

So now I’m a professor and former university president who grew up without much real childhood reading until eighth grade, two or three years before the “Iliad” question. Sister Mary Gerald asked me one day if I read outside of class. I told her about the pigeon book and the stamp catalog. No, she asked, had I ever read any literature?

Whereupon she pulled out something called “Penrod and Sam,” by a guy named Booth Tarkington. She said I should read it. I did. I can’t say that “Penrod and Sam” is great literature, but it changed a small bit of my neighborhood. Penrod had a club. So my friends and I put together a club. Penrod’s club had a flag; we had a flag. Penrod would climb trees and spy on the surroundings. We had to be content with climbing on cyclone fences.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Who would have thought there was a new way of having adventures, learned from a book? A book, by the way, of things that had never happened. Something had pierced the predictable regularity of everyday street life. And that something was a work of someone’s imagination.

So I started to read, and with the appetite of a man who finally realized he was hungry. I became a reader of fairly passionate likes and dislikes. Dickens was fine, though he could have gotten to the point sooner. O. Henry, Stevenson and later Tolkien, Lewis, Swift. Read the rest of this entry »


As Assisted Suicide Laws Spread, Cancer Survivors, Disabled Object

Death-Dignity_01

As citizens from California to Kentucky push for dying rights, advocacy groups for people with disabilities question whether physician-assisted suicide should be legal.

Danielle Ohl reports: Doctors told Chasity Phillips in 2002 that she had a 50 percent chance of surviving surgery.

“The risk of mistake and coercion and abuse are really too great.”

— Diane Coleman, founder and CEO of Not Dead Yet, an advocacy group that informs and lobbies on behalf of the disabled

She suffers from chondrosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer. It had begun to affect her heart, ribs and spinal cord. Her choices were certain death, her doctors said, or surgery to remove part of the tumor.

“There’s a certain freedom that comes with dying. You really don’t have to deal with your annoying cousin. You really don’t have to go on that family trip. You can eat ice cream for breakfast.”

— Chasity Phillips, Cancer patient

She chose the surgery. Still, the return of her cancer was likely. Doctors told her she would have six months to a year before it grew back, requiring more risky followups.

But 13 years later, Phillips is 38 years old and thriving, despite two very severe medical conditions. She also suffers from lupus. The state of her health has made her somewhat philosophical about her own mortality.

“There’s a certain freedom that comes with dying,” said Phillips, who lives near New Orleans. “You really don’t have to deal with your annoying cousin. You really don’t have to go on that family trip. You can eat ice cream for breakfast.”

Her prognosis was not unlike Brittany Maynard’s. But Maynard chose physician-assisted suicide after doctors diagnosed her with terminal brain cancer on Jan. 1, 2014. Before she died less than a year later – on Nov. 1, 2014 – at age 29, Maynard had become a prominent advocate for the “death with dignity” movement, which has triggered legislation in 25 states.

She was one of 1,327 people who took advantage of Oregon’s 1997 Death with Dignity Act, the oldest and foremost such law in the country, by obtaining the life-ending medicine. Maynard was one of the 859 people who actually chose to use it.

But as citizens from California to Kentucky push for dying rights, advocacy groups for people with disabilities question whether physician-assisted suicide should be legal.

“The risk of mistake and coercion and abuse are really too great,” said Diane Coleman, founder and CEO of Not Dead Yet, an advocacy group that informs and lobbies on behalf of the disabled. Read the rest of this entry »


Puccio Capanna: St. Stanislas Raises a Body from the Dead, Fresco c. 1338

Puccio-Capanna

CAPANNA, Puccio
St Stanislas Raises a Body from the Dead
c. 1338
Fresco
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi


Rick Lowry: The Pope’s Climate Bull Ignores a Secular Miracle

Nov. 15, 2014 - Vaticano - 1099818 : (Donatella Giagnori / EIDON),  2014-11-15 Vaticano - Pope Francis holds an audience with members of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors - Pope Francis greets members of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors at Paul VI Hall on November 15, 2014 at Vatican (Credit Image: © Donatella Giagnori/Eidon Press/ZUMA Wire)

A quasi-religious movement now has a genuinely religious leader

Rick LowryRich-Lowry writes: The pope’s encyclical on the environment is being hailed for its embrace of science, although it is about as scientific as the Catholic hymnal.

Pope Francis writes that Sister Earth “now cries out because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” Really? Is that what the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says?

“The average person in the world of 1800 was no better off than the average person of 100,000 B.C. …Life expectancy was no higher in 1800 than for hunter-gatherers: 30 to 35 years. Stature, a measure both of the quality of diet and of children’s exposure to disease, was higher in the Stone Age than in 1800.”

— Gregory Clark, author of A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World

The Catholic Church brings comfort and meaning to the lives of countless millions. That doesn’t mean that climate science, economic policy and cost-benefit analysis are its core competencies.

Environm

“But at least when everyone died at a much earlier age, we weren’t engaging in the ravages of the planet that so exercise Francis.”

No one has ever said: Yes, but what did Gregory VII do to fight the onset of the Medieval Warm Period?41PJ8r7zYVL._SL250_

All that matters to the media, though, is that Pope Francis has taken an apocalyptic climate alarmism and given it the imprimatur of the Vatican.

[Check out Gregory Clark’s book “A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World” at Amazon.com]

The same people who dismiss the pope on more central moral matters, like the dignity of life, are now attributing to him an authority that might have made Pope Innocent III, who challenged kings, blush.

The document could have benefited from an editor cutting out the bizarre ramblings. The pope writes of “harmful habits of consumption,” including “the increasing use and power of air conditioning.” He argues that “an outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behavior.”

That’s assuming the outsider lives in a very cool climate, or doesn’t mind sweating. Anyone not so lucky probably thinks the inventor of air conditioning should be canonized.

Featured Image -- 59274

“This sinful assault on the Earth, by the way, largely consisted in taking otherwise completely useless glop from the ground and using it to power economic and technical advances that enriched average people beyond anyone’s imagining. This is obviously a secular miracle of the highest order.”

While the pope pays lip service to technological advances, he doesn’t truly appreciate their wonders. The Industrial Revolution was a great boon to humankind.

Consider the unrelieved misery — the disease, the poverty, the illiteracy — before around 1800, when if you weren’t an aristocrat, a general or a bishop, your life was probably nasty, brutish and short.

[Read the full text here, at New York Post]

“The average person in the world of 1800 was no better off than the average person of 100,000 B.C.,” Gregory Clark writes in his book “A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] France: Churches into Mosques


The sale of church buildings has become commonplace in France – but a recent proposal to convert a church to a mosque has triggered a nationwide controversy. Church congregations in France are dwindling and the town of Vierzon is no exception. With a population of only 27,000, Vierzon is home to six Roman Catholic churches. To balance its books, the local diocese decided to sell one of the churches. But tempers flared after a Moroccan Muslim organization said it wanted to buy the church and convert it to a mosque.

 European Journal – YouTube


EXORCISMO MANGO: What Happens When an Entire Country Becomes Infested with Demons?

captain-satan

Vatican City, (CNA/EWTN News).- Can a country with deep Christian roots like Mexico find itself at the mercy of demons? Some in the Church fear so.

And as a result, they called for a nation-wide exorcism of Mexico, carried out quietly last month in the cathedral of San Luis Potosí.

High levels of violence, as well as drug cartels and abortion in the country, were the motivation behind the special rite of imagesexorcism, known as “Exorcismo Magno.”

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, presided at the closed doors ceremony, the first ever in the history of Mexico.

Also participating were Archbishop Jesús Carlos Cabrero of San Luis Potosí, Spanish demonologist and exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea, and a smaller group of priests and lay people.

The event was not made known to the general public beforehand. According to Archbishop Cabrero, the reserved character of the May 20 ceremony was intended to avoid any misguided interpretations of the ritual.

But how can an entire country become infested by demons to the point that it’s necessary to resort to an Exorcismo Magno?

Devil_worship_and_cannibalism_in_South_America,_by_Caspar_Plautius,_1621

“To the extent sin increases more and more in a country, to that extent it becomes easier for the demons to tempt (people),” Fr. Fortea told CNA.

The Spanish exorcist warned that “to the extent there is more witchcraft and Satanism going on in a country, to that extent there will be more extraordinary manifestations of those powers of darkness.” Read the rest of this entry »


Scenes of the Resurrection

Resurrection-Getty3 Resurrection-Getty4 Resurrection-Getty2 Resurrection-Getty1

Each scene features sleeping Roman soldiers and Christ emerging from his tomb, but these were made across hundreds of years. Can you guess which one out of the four was made in 1190?

The reveal.

Getty Museum 


Pope Francis Blesses Golden Rice

Pope_Francis+Ingo_Potrykus

ASPB NEWS | VOLUME 41, NUMBER 1

aspbnewslogo

Tyrone Spady, ASPB’s Legislative and Public Affairs Director, writes:

On November 7, 2013, Pope Francis gave his personal blessing to Golden Rice (GR). Why is this significant? Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is responsible for 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and up to 2 million deaths each year. Particularly susceptible are pregnant women and children. Across the globe, an estimated 19 million pregnant women and 190 million children suffer from the condition. The good news, however, is that dietary supplementation of vitamin A can eliminate VAD. One way that holds particular promise is the administration via GR, which had been engineered to produce large amounts of vitamin A. A 2012 study by Tang et al published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that 100-150 g of cooked GR provided 60% of the Chinese Recommended Intake of vitamin A. Estimates suggest that supplementing GR for 20% of the diet of children and 10% for pregnant women and mothers will be enough to combat the effects of VAD.

Orange

Unfortunately, public misconceptions about genetically modified (GM) organisms have prevented GR from being available to the countries most affected by VAD. One such country is the Philippines, where more than 80% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic and field trials of GR are nearing completion. An official blessing of the church, therefore, could do a great deal to build support, allowing the Philippines to serve as a model for many of its neighbors on the potential health impacts of widespread availability and consumption of the golden grain.

GR_contribution-2

Regrettably, the church did not provide an official endorsement. It turns out that there is quite a distinction between the pope’s personal blessing and an official statement of support from the Vatican. To understand the nature of that distinction, we turned to the person who elicited the blessing, GR coinventor and ASPB member Ingo Potrykus. At the time of the blessing, Ingo, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, had been attending a meeting at the Vatican on the interaction of nutrition and brain development.

how_GR2

At the end of the meeting, he was able to meet Pope Francis and took the opportunity to share a packet of GR. In response, the pope offered his personal blessing. (If an official blessing of the Holy See was given, it would come from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.) From Ingo’s perspective, the pope is concerned that genetic modification technology primarily benefits big business and not the poor. Read the rest of this entry »


Michael Barone: How Far Should a Tolerant Society Tolerate Intolerance?

Charlie-Hebdo-Freedom

For the Free World, an Old Challenge Returns: The Charlie Hebdo massacre has reignited debate over how much intolerance our society should tolerate

Michael Barone writes:

barone-sq…It’s a difficult issue, one without any entirely satisfactory answer. And it’s a current issue in the days after 40 world leaders and the U.S. ambassador to France marched together in Paris against the jihadist Muslim murderers who targeted the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

English-speaking peoples, to use Winston Churchill’s phrase, have been dealing with this problem off and on for 300 years. In the late 17th century, most of continental Europe had established state churches and prohibited or disfavored other worship. England had an established church but also tolerated other forms of worship, including by Jews who were invited back into the country by Oliver Cromwell.

Winston-Churchill

“European nations seem likely to recoil from a vaguely defined multiculturalism that endorses the isolation of Muslim communities and toward the sense, long stronger in America, that potentially intolerant immigrants should assimilate toward national norms of toleration.”

But the English people regarded the Catholic Church as a threat to their liberty. The English sawking-james the great hegemon of the age, Louis XIV, as expanding the zone of intolerance through foreign invasion and the withdrawal in 1685 of tolerance of the Protestant Huguenots.

“In the 20th century, the problem of how far to tolerate intolerance flared with the growth of a significant Communist movement subordinate to the totalitarian Soviet Union.”

An earlier pope had called for the murder of Queen Elizabeth I, and a perennial English bestseller was Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, recounting the persecution of Protestants under her Catholic predecessor Mary I. So after the Catholic King James II was ousted in the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89, Parliament passed a Toleration Act that explicitly refused Catholics the right to hold public office or serve as military officers. There was a widespread belief that a Jesuit doctrine entitled Catholics to falsely swear oaths of loyalty if they had a “mental reservation.” Catholics, in this view, were intolerant and could not be trusted even if they swore they were not.

WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR II/PERSONALITIES

“Congress responded in 1940 by making it a crime to advocate the violent overthrow of the United States. Free-speech advocates argued this went too far; violent revolutionary actions might be proscribed, but people should not be punished for uttering words. I tend to take this view, but there are obviously serious arguments on both sides.”

America’s Founding Fathers took a different view. Read the rest of this entry »


Gordon Crovitz: Defending Satire to the Death

Voltaire

Moderate Muslims are most in need of a robust defense of free speech, especially if it offends

renocol_GordonCrovitzL. Gordon Crovitz writes: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” wrote biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall, summing up the view of her subject, Voltaire. The 17th-century French writer has been on many minds since last week’s Islamist atrocity in Paris. “As the news of the massacre sank in,” wrote historian Robert Darnton for the New York Review of Books, “I kept thinking of Voltaire and calling up his famous grin—lips curled and lower jaw stuck out, as if to defy anyone who might dare to pull a punch.”

“Moderate Muslims around the world most need a robust defense of free speech, especially if it offends. In the spirit of Voltaire, they’re taking great risks to challenge extremism.”

Many of us don’t share the sensibilities of Charlie Hebdo’s leftist politics and sometimes juvenile humor, but the terrorists who massacred its staff attacked a core component of French identity. “Free thought begetting light-hearted satire . . . is at the root of French character,” observed a 19th-century British history of French literature. French-style caustic satire is less common in the Anglosphere, but the Enlightenment in all forms enrages Islamists.

voltaire-560x373

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

— Voltaire

In the 18th century, Voltaire was exiled and jailed and had his books burned. He sought ecrasez l’infame—to crush the infamous—by which he meant most forms of authority. He called Christianity “assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world.” He criticized Judaism and Islam. “Superstition sets the whole world in flames,” he observed. “Philosophy quenches them.”

“The many ‘Je suis Charlie’ signs and social-media hashtags show that popular support for free speech is ahead of politically correct university administrators and politicians. Brandeis University last year shamefully canceled an honorary degree for van Gogh’s Muslim associate on the film, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.”

Charlie Hebdo inherited that tradition. The Catholic Church has sued it more than a dozen times. Its murdered editor, Stephane Charbonnier, had said he hoped to carry on “until Islam is just as banal as Catholicism.” One cover featured a fundamentalist Muslim, an Orthodox Jew and the pope shouting in unison: “Charlie Hebdo must be veiled!”

Voltaire_1

Islamists can’t abide free speech. They issued a death sentence for Salman Rushdie for writing a novel, forced a Danish cartoonist into hiding, and murdered Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam for making a film. Read the rest of this entry »


Andrea da Firenze c. 1366-1367

Andrea da Firenze

Andrea da Firenze c. 1366-1367

Church as Path to Salvation

renaissance-art


Knights of Columbus Establish Fund to Provide Relief to Christians Fleeing Iraq

“The unprovoked and systematic persecution and violent elimination of Middle East Christians, as well as other minority groups, especially in Iraq, has created an enormous humanitarian crisis.”

— Supreme Knight Carl Anderson

From The CornerKathryn Jean Lopez reports this bit of good news:

From the press release:

Knights of Columbus Announces Fund to Help Christians Threatened with Extinction in Iraq

3eea03ac3cCommits $1 million and seeks public donations for humanitarian aid to religious minorities

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Knights of Columbus announced today that is establishing a fund to assist those – particularly Christians as well as other religious minorities – facing a horrific and violent persecution and possible extinction in Iraq and the surrounding regions.

The Knights has pledged an initial $500,000 and will match an additional $500,000 in donations from the public.

logo

Those seeking to assist with the relief efforts can donate to K of C Christian Refugee Relief by visiting www.kofc.org/Iraq or by sending checks or money orders to: K of C Christian Refugee Relief, Knights of Columbus Charities, P.O. Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509-1966.

“The unprovoked and systematic persecution and violent elimination of Middle East Christians, as well as other minority groups, especially in Iraq, has created an enormous humanitarian crisis,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Pope Francis has asked the world for prayers and support for those affected by this terrible persecution, and we are asking our members, and all people of good will, to pray for those persecuted and support efforts to assist them by donating to this fund.” Read the rest of this entry »


Vatican Calls on Israel to Safeguard Holy Sites

Pope Francis

AP 5/8/2014 7:44:07 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Roman Catholic official in charge of the Vatican‘s properties in the Holy Land on Thursday urged Israel to safeguard Christian holy sites, following a number of vandalism attacks on churches and monasteries ahead of a visit by Pope Francis.

Vandals have recently scribbled anti-Arab and anti-Christian graffiti on several Christian holy sites and properties, including an attack this week on the Vatican’s Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency says it fears there could be similar attacks as the pope’s visit approaches at the end of the month. He is scheduled to visit Jordan, the West Bank and Israel from May 24 to 26.

The “Custody of the Holy Land” issued a statement expressing concern about the attacks and said the uptick in violence appeared to be connected to the visit. It called on Israel to “work urgently against extremist elements” to ensure peace and safeguard Christian holy places. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama vs. Pope: ‘Of Course it was a Conflict Between Two Political Objectives…’

After Pope Francis met with President Obama, each leader had a different take on their conversation…

“On the one hand you’ve got the Bishop of Rome, the Holy See, of whom a billion co-religionists believe in his infallibility…”

According to The Hammer, it’s easy to choose who to believe.

“…On the other hand you’ve got a man who said, ‘If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.’ So who are you going to choose?”

Read more….

NRO, The Corner


[BOOKS] Sacred Revival by Colette Arredondo

The ceiling of the Stroik-designed Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  Duncan Stroik/www.stroik.com

The ceiling of the Stroik-designed Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Duncan Stroik/www.stroik.com

A Catholic architect calls for churches that “look like churches.”

The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal by Duncan G. Stroik (Hillenbrand Books, 182 pp., $60)

Colette Arredondo writes:  In May 1941, German incendiary bombs turned the Commons Chamber of the U.K House of Commons in London to rubble. While there was no question of whether to rebuild, how to do it in a way that preserved the “form, convenience, and dignity” of the destroyed chamber, which dated to 1852, was very much an issue. In a speech before the Commons, who met for the remainder of the war in the Lords Chamber, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Perhaps no other sentence has more clearly defined the responsibility of architecture, and no other sentence more neatly summarizes the thesis of Duncan Stroik’s book, The Church Building as a Sacred Place.

Read the rest of this entry »


‘Person of the Year’ Pope Francis Defends Life in the Womb

Pope Francis, Time magazine's Person of the Year, 2013, says America should be a land prepared "to accept life at every stage, from the mother's womb to old age." (AP)

Pope Francis says America should be a land prepared “to accept life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age.” (AP)

(CNSNews.com) — Barbara Boland writes:   In a message sent to the Americas on Dec. 12, a day the Catholic Church celebrates in honor of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Pope Francis, who was named Person of the Year this week by Timemagazine, said that America is called to be “a land prepared to accept life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age.”

The Pope made his remarks during the course of the weekly general audience on Wednesday, and the message for the Americas was subsequently broadcast on Vatican Radio.

Dec. 12 is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe because the Church approves and millions of Catholics believe that the mother of Jesus appeared to a Mexican peasant, Juan Diego, in Guadalupe in 1531.

Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the unborn, who is honored on Dec. 12 by the Catholic Church, and particularly in Mexico City, Mexico.

Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the unborn

Commenting on the special day, Pope Francis said, “When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life.”

Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the unborn, who is honored on Dec. 12 by the Catholic Church, and particularly in Mexico City, Mexico.

He continued, “She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s people, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation. When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma [woven poncho] of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come.” Read the rest of this entry »


Catholics and Postmodernity

pic_giant_102613_SM_Catholics-and-Postmodernity

How do you speak the language of morality in an age of militant secularism?

Editor’s note: The following address was given at a gathering of the St. Thomas More Sociey of the Diocese of Green Bay on October 24.

George Weigel writes:  Let me begin by thanking my friend Judge Bill Griesbach for describing me here in Titletown U.S.A. as “the Aaron Rodgers of Catholic public intellectuals.” As a native of Baltimore with a long memory, I’ll be happy to accept that accolade if the good people of Green Bay will finally admit that Don Chandler shanked that field goal in the 1965 Colts/Packers playoff game.

Tonight, I want to violate the canons of after-dinner remarks, skip the requisite joke-every-two-paragraphs, and get right down to the business at hand: to drill beneath the surface of American public life in order to explore what’s going on down there; to examine how what’s going on down there shapes the controversies and arguments of the day; and to suggest how that bears on Catholics and other men and women whose consciences are formed by Great Tradition Christianity in these United States in the early 21st century.

Read the rest of this entry »


Machiavelli: Still Shocking after Five Centuries

machiavelli_in_burning_oil_field_pd_92413Stewart Patrick  writes: Of all the writers in the “realist” canon—from Thucydides and Hobbes to Morgenthau and Mearsheimer—it is Niccolo Machiavelli who retains the greatest capacity to shock. In 1513, banished from his beloved Florence, Machiavelli drafted his masterwork, The Prince. Five centuries later his primer on statecraft remains required if unsettling reading for practitioners and students of politics. Machiavelli’s originality—and the source of his enduring, if notorious, reputation—was his blatant rejection of traditional morality as a guide to political action, and his insistence that statecraft be based on a realistic view of corrupted human nature.

Although frequently damned as an amoral cynic—author of “a handbook for gangsters”, in Bertrand Russell’s words—Machiavelli in fact occupies a more complicated ethical terrain. His central claim is that politics has a moral logic of its own, at times requiring actions to preserve the state that might be regarded as reprehensible within polite society. There are times, in other words, when conventional ethics must be set aside for the pragmatic and expedient dictates of (what would later become known as) raison d’etat or “reasons of state”.

What made the Prince so daringly modern,as R.J.B. Walker writes, is that it “undermine[d] the universalistic conventions of his [Machiavelli’s] age, whether this is framed as a distinction between morality and politics” or “between two different but equally ultimate forms of morality.” This was a jarringly secular thesis to advance in the early sixteenth century. To be sure, the Catholic Church had grown vulnerable, with the rise of powerful states competing for power and widespread disgust at Papal corruption. Within four years, Martin Luther would post his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenburg, sparking the Reformation and ultimately the fragmentation of Western Christendom. And yet it is still striking that The Prince contains no mention of natural law or of the place of man in God’s Great Chain of Being, a common point of reference in Renaissance thinking Read the rest of this entry »


A Century of American Dreams and Nightmares of China

Jeff Wasserstrom writes: Communist Party spokesmen in Beijing have been talking a lot lately about the ‘China Dream’, President Xi Jinping’s call for national goals befitting China’s era of economic prosperity. Yet dark events — from food and pollution scares early in 2013, to July’s beating to death of a watermelon peddler, to the start of yet another crackdown on activist lawyers and bloggers critical of the government — have led to cynical online chatter  about the ‘China Nightmare’ as better capturing the experience of many citizens of the People’s Republic. The currency of this ‘dream’ and ‘nightmare’ rhetoric in China makes this a good time to reflect on a different set of fantasies originating outside China. I mean what might be called the ‘Western China Dream’ (they’re about to buy our goods and convert to our ways!) and the recurring ‘Western China Nightmare’ (they’re so different and there are so many of them!).

These spectral visions of hope and dismay have roots stretching far back into the past. They continue to hinder clear-eyed views of China today, albeit taking different forms in different parts of the West, depending on everything from specific economic relationships to proximity to or distance from Asia. They are also now gaining traction, again in distinctively localised forms, in places such as Africa, where China’s economic influence is surging and more Chinese have moved in recent decades than at any time in the past.

Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu, a film released in 1932. Source: www.toutlecine.comFu Manchu in ‘The Mask of Fu Manchu’, a film released in 1932. Source: www.toutlecine.com

The Western China Dream can be traced back at least to Marco Polo’s day and to Enlightenment thinkers who sometimes used Chinese phenomena as a foil to criticize the Catholic Church and autocratic rule in Europe. It assumed its modern form, though, early in the 1800s when missionaries sought to save heathen souls and traders grew dizzy with the prospect of selling their wares to customers across the massive empire of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The counterpart Western China Nightmare, while building on fears dating back to tales of Genghis Khan, found its most important modern expression in ‘Yellow Peril’ rhetoric. A century ago, its most significant personification took the form of Dr Fu Manchu, who first appeared in a novel in 1913 and whose ability to inspire horror was magnified by a series of famous — and infamous — Hollywood films. Read the rest of this entry »


Inside the secretive prison pits where El Salvador’s most notorious gangs are crammed sin piedad, como ganado

An estimated 50,000 Salvadorans belong to the street gangs that have terrified citizens and left this small Central American nation of 6 million with one of the world's highest murder ratesHuddled together like cattle in a cage no bigger than a shed some of the men of El Salvador’s prison pits have languished in these rancid, disease ridden holding cells for more than a year.

Designed only for temporary 72-hour stays, the sweltering cells, each 12 feet wide and 15 feet tall are crammed with more than 30 people – all veterans of the country’s vicious war between the MS-13 and M18 gangs.

Segregated along tribal gang-lines, the men in these inhumane cells are hidden from public view, but one reporter from counter-culture magazine VICE, managed to gain access to throw light on the grizzly conditions they are consigned to spend their days living in.

Read the rest of this entry »