Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Friday, August 19, 2005
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Al Qaeda's leader in Saudi Arabia was killed Thursday during clashes with police in the western city of Medina, the Interior Ministry said.Hat tip: In the Bullpen.
Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi was among six al Qaeda militants reported killed Thursday during police raids on numerous locations in the holy city of Medina and the capital, Riyadh, security officials told The Associated Press.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
WASHINGTON - The Iranian prosecutor responsible for jailing Akbar Ganji hinted that he would pursue prosecution of family members of the dissident journalist.Ganji is in the 69th day of his hunger strike.
As a matter of law, public schools may constitutionally teach Bible courses, as this opinion demonstrates:
[I]t might well be said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment. (Abington School Dist. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)).Note that the study of the Bible (either on its own or as part of a general discussion of religion) is specifically approved here. The Abington precedent has been cited as allowing the Bible to be studied for literary and historic qualities in later Supreme Court decisions (e.g., Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968 and Stone v. Graham, 1980). Mike asserts: "The Supreme Court (the folks we hire to interpret the Constitution) has ruled fairly consistently the government (i.e. public schools) cannot endorse one religion over another. A class teaching the Koran (Quoran) with no other classes teaching the texts of other religions available, would be just as biased and unlawful." There is much in the existing jurisprudence that is not based in the text, legislative history, or intent of the Constitution, but even the Court has ruled in these cases that mere teaching of the Bible as literature or history does not in and of itself constitute an establishment of religion. Is there a SCOTUS precedent that requires schools to teach the Koran as literature if the Bible is taught as literature? If so, is there a mandate to the Bhagavad Gita be taught as literature/history? What about L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics -- must that be taught as literature/history?
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
U.S. troops raiding a warehouse in the northern city of Mosul uncovered a suspected chemical weapons factory containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals believed destined for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces and civilians, military officials said Saturday.
Monday's early morning raid found 11 precursor agents, "some of them quite dangerous by themselves," a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan, said in Baghdad.
Combined, the chemicals would yield an agent capable of "lingering hazards" for those exposed to it, Boylan said. The likely targets would have been "coalition and Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi civilians," partly because the chemicals would be difficult to keep from spreading over a wide area, he said.
Boylan said the suspected lab was new, dating from some time after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. . . .
BEIJING - A Shanghai online game player who stabbed a competitor to death for selling his cyber-sword has been given a suspended death sentence, which in effect means life imprisonment, state media said on Wednesday.
The case had created a dilemma in China where no law exists for the ownership of virtual weapons.
Qiu Chengwei, 41, stabbed competitor Zhu Caoyuan in the chest after he was told Zhu had sold his "dragon sabre", used in the popular online game, "Legend of Mir 3," the China Daily said.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Thursday, August 11, 2005
A collection of speeches, papers, and letters collected by his students for his 75th birthday, it examines the relationship between theology, faith, ecclesiology, and sacrament. It reveals a man who strives to be ecumenical in the most serious way -- who seeks real dialogue, which requires all participants to be as honest and searching about their beliefs and to accord dignity and respect to other interlocutors. This collection includes gracious letter exchanges with Orthodox Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland and with Lutheran Provincial Bishop Johannes Hanselmann of Bavaria.
In the course of the works cited, Ratzinger deals in depth with these and other questions: What is theology, what is its relation to faith, and how can her methods lay claim to providing knowledge? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in ecclesiology, in our understanding of the Church? What is the relation between Communion as Eucharist and communion as Christian fellowship, and how does christology shape ecclesiology? What role to lay movements serve in the Church? How does the Church go about remembering and atoning for sins?
If there is a common theme, it is the primacy communion -- a vision of God as triune communion, a vision of the Universal Church with many local churches in communion, a vision of the ecumenical movement as a striving to realize Christian communion as a gift from God, a vision of sacraments as visible signs of communion. Also interesting is what he declares communion not to be. Specifically, it is not to be taken as a cover for blanket centralization of ecclesiastical authority in Rome.
It's a good read. A comparison with Wojtyla's style is perhaps inevitable. Ratzinger's writing is perhaps more pragmatic and concise, less grandiose. There's a quiet precision and grace here. Ratzinger seems like a quiet, patient teacher, a somewhat self-effacing man with a penetrating mind. It's an excellent way for Catholics to begin to learn their new pope's mind. It's a great book for other Christians who want an insight into how ecumenism fits into Pope Benedict's theological views. It's also a good book for non-Christians who wonder how the Church sees itself.
Please read the full report at www.tfn.org to learn why this particular curriculum is bad for our public schools.People interested in this issue should indeed read the full report. To start with, though, let's keep in mind that this curriculum is not currently for "our public schools." The issue is at hand is for the people of Odessa, Texas. Educational decisions are made at the level of the local school board. Standards and requirements are mandated at the state level. It's not clear why people outside Odessa should make this decision. The Texas Freedom Network should direct their efforts to the people involved.
Dr. Mark A. Chancey, professor of biblical studies at Southern Methodist University, wrote the full report, commissioned by TFN. Upon reading his report several things become apparent:
- The curriculum does seem to have defects and biases. Anyone who is remotely familiar high school texts knows that this is not news. Finding a good curriculum in any subject is a challenge.
- Chancey is not above using ad hominem criticisms. At the outset we learn that the "Advisory Committee's more than 50 members include many well-known figures associated with the religious right and conservative organizations." This is irrelevant.
- Several times Chancey strays from his field (biblical studies) into Constitutional law. One of the endorsers that Chancey dismisses is Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. Rather than a simple endorsement, George has written a legal brief that finds that the curriculum passes constitutional muster. Interested parties are urged to read this as well.
- Chancey spends a lot of time criticizing works referred to, even though the curriculum explicitly disavows any claim of accuracy for these works. There's more than a smidgen of guilt by association in the report.
- The vast bulk of Chancey's report finds inaccuracies and limitations. Nowhere does he demonstrate religious indoctrination, and he is not an authority on matters of law.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Mickey Kaus, in his Kausfiles blog on Slate, sees this as vindication for the utility of mining publicly available data in a search for terrorists. He cites Heather Mac Donald's excellent piece last year in City Journal:
Mr. Weldon has long been a champion of the kind of data-mining analysis that was the basis for the work of the Able Danger team.
The former intelligence official spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he did not want to jeopardize political support and the possible financing for future data-mining operations by speaking publicly. He said the team had been established by the Special Operations Command in 1999, under a classified directive issued by Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assemble information about Al Qaeda networks around the world.
It’s okay for Home Depot to buy my digitized credit-card receipts, says the privacy "community," to see whether I would be a soft touch for a riding mower. But if government agents want to see who has purchased explosive-level quantities of fertilizer, they should go store to store, checking credit-card receipts. Data-mining opponents would deny terror investigators a technology in common use in the commercial sector, simply because they think government should be kept inefficient to limit its power, a Luddite's approach to public policy. Remember: data mining would only speed government access to records to which it is already legally entitled. When a technology offers possibly huge public benefits, the rational answer to the fear of its abuse is to use technology to build in safeguards.Kaus concludes:
It's nice to see Mickey Kaus continue to uphold the banner of common sense at Slate, undoubtedly a lonely and thankless task. Restrictions on manipulating publicly available data when pursuing terrorists is just plain barmy.
It's been obvious for a while that we're going to match the terrorists in the cyberspace race we'll have to give up some of our privacy. Letting a government supercomputer scan my credit card receipts and Amazon searches seems a relatively inoffensive place to start.** It beats torturing people. ...
** Don't forget my library books! (Do you have an expectation of privacy when you check out a book from ... the government? I don't.)
Monday, August 08, 2005
Hat Tip: The Corner
George W. Bush invaded Iraq so that Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Republicans could oppress Iraqis.
George W. Bush had Michael Jackson arrested so that SUV owners could oppress welfare recipients.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
In our bookcases, these are the largest non-reference books:
By "biggest," we're not looking for number of words. We're looking for weight. Heft. Something you'd drop on invaders while defending a castle.
- Name your three biggest non-reference books (excluding the Bible and text books).
- Name your three biggest reference books.
- Tag three others.
- William Shakespeare: The Complete Works (The Oxford Shakespeare) (Hardcover)
by William Shakespeare, Stanley Wells (Editor), Gary Taylor (Editor), John Jowet (Editor), William Montgomery (Editor)
- The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniversary Edition) (Leather Bound)
by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II
by Fernand Braudel, single volume abridgement. (Mrs. Thumos's Ph.D. thesis ties for third, as does Mortimer Adler's Great Ideas).
- CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
- History of Italian Renaissance Art
by Frederick Hartt, et al.
- Collegeville Bible Commentary, Hardcover
Friday, August 05, 2005
Often the spiritual figures who are held up are very extreme--for example, Mother Teresa. People can admire her, but it’s very difficult to be her. So I think people are searching for models who are closer to who they are, are searching for people like Bridget who is clearly in love with the world in every which way.You can't see or hear us now, but we're tittering. It gets better:
Q: Speaking of vices, why is sex spiritual?So, let's make sure that we understand this. Christian practice should legitimize our activities and gratifications. We need a Christ and a Cross that fit comfortably into our fornication. Just wanted to be clear on that.
Because we make it that way. Bridget and her friends, and everyone on Sex and the City, and all these other women characters in chick lit novels are all having sex outside marriage. So one of the things I was looking to do was to figure out, How do we incorporate this experience into our spiritual lives? Because people tend to divorce their sex life and their spiritual life, since religion teaches that marriage is the only legitimate place for sex.
Later, Freitas gushes over Elaine Pagels (of course):
I admire Elaine Pagels’ understanding of authority and the fact that we need to remember that we’re the authors of our own authority. There’s a self that’s implied there. You can give yourself authority. You have the authority to believe in someone. Can we stand with our own sense of authority and affirm sexuality as a spiritual thing? There is tons of literature within religious traditions that affirms sexuality. There’s erotic poetry, there’s all kinds of wonderful things about sexuality and marriage. One of the things I think we need to do is take that poetry, take that work done on marriage about the importance of sexuality and open that up beyond marriage to apply to our sex lives outside of marriages.Oh, thank goodness Dr. Freitas is looking out for us. Somehow, we're not truly affirming the goodness of sexuality unless we're affirming the goodness of adultery. For Freitas, the traditions of Christian spirituality (she cites Augustine, Hildegaard, Julian of Norwich, and Mother Teresa) were fine in their time, but we need something hipper and sexier. Maybe anonymous sex at a health spa. She tries so hard to be hip, but she's so square (baby I don't care).
As you can probably guess, Freitas is a professor of spirituality and religion somewhere.
Hat tip: libertyWatch
Thursday, August 04, 2005
A couple of things are clear -- even though Roberts participation as an advocate indicates nothing about his beliefs, this will undercut claims that he is an ideologue who cannot see beyond his preferences and beliefs. It also may make conservatives uneasy (Scalia wrote a scathing dissent in Romer). Certainly a lawyer should advocate for his client. But Ramesh Ponnuru and Mark Levin are right: the Senate confirmation hearings should feature more questions about legal philosophy and ideas, not less. Perhaps not, "how would you decide Roe today?" But something a little stronger than "would you faithfully interpret the text of the Constitution or would you make it say what you want it to say?"