Item: (AP) The Vatican says sexually active homosexuals and those who support "gay culture" are unwelcome in the priesthood unless the candidate has overcome homosexual tendencies for at least three years, according to a church document posted Tuesday on the Internet by an Italian Catholic news agency.
Comment: This is how low the Roman Catholic Church has sunk: Not only are gays unwelcome in the priesthood, but merely “supporting gay culture,” whatever that is, is grounds for dismissal! Priests around the world are probably burning their Village People CDs as we speak.
Item: (CNN.com) Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein if not worse, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawu has said. The remarks follow the discovery of an Iraqi government prison facility holding 170 prisoners, including some showing signs of torture. Allawi said, “We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic Law that are trying people and executing them.”
Comment: Freedom on the march!
If that’s too glib an answer for this tragic situation, then consider that this may be a glimpse into the “best” of all possible outcomes for the Iraq adventure.
At best, a democratic government will be elected and although the insurgency will continue, particularly onthe part of the “jihadists,” and thousands of Iraqis will die; the foreign religious fanatics will not win, nor will they give up. This will go on for many years though US troops will be out by the end of 2006 or early 2007.
The government, though elected, will not guarantee freedom; there will be sharia law in many parts of Iraq, if not all. Islam will be the official religion and other religions may not be tolerated. Women will have fewer rights in the future than they had in the past.
The government will condone torture and it is most likely that civil war between Sunnis and Shiites will continue, running hot and cold. Iran and Iraq will be allies.
Again, this is the best case scenario.
The worst case? The insurgents gain control of parts of the country, ethnic cleansing begins in earnest; sharia law is instituted, period; torture is commonplace; Iraq aligns with Iran becoming a greater threat than Hussein ever was. The Iraqi government institutes Death Squads.
The Kurds are likely to secede from this nightmare arousing the ire of Turkey which would likely then attack.
The US, after spending billions of dollars and losing thousand of lives, American and Iraqi, have a unstable Islamic tyranny in place, and have created a breeding ground for terrorists beyond the scope of whatever had been the case in Afghanistan.
Item: (Daily Star, Lebanon, go to http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_ID=10&article_ID=20366&categ_id=5)
The Bush administration has taken promotion of (political hacks) to embarrassing extremes, selecting unqualified people for posts because of their political loyalty and ideological persuasion. The most recent example of this was the appointment of Paul Bonicelli to be deputy director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is in charge of all programs to promote democracy and good governance overseas.
Like FEMA’s “Brownie” and Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, Bonicelli has little experience in the field he has been tapped to supervise. More significant to the administration, perhaps, is the fact that Bonicelli is dean of academic affairs at tiny Patrick Henry College in rural Virginia. The fundamentalist institution's motto is "For Christ and Liberty." It requires that all of its 300 students sign a 10-part "statement of faith" declaring, among other things, that they believe "Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is God come in the flesh;" that "Jesus Christ literally rose bodily from the dead"; and that hell is a place where "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."
What's wrong with this picture is that the USAID programs Bonicelli will run are important weapons in the arsenal of Bush's new public diplomacy czarina, White House confidante Karen Hughes. These programs are intended to play a central role in boosting Bush's efforts to foster democracy and freedom in Iraq and throughout the broader Middle East.
One can only wonder how Muslims, the target audience for these USAID programs, will react to the view that "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."
Comment: It is remarkable how oblivious the religious are to the offense to others inherent in some of their own basic beliefs!
Item: (AP) Belgium has been shocked by revelations that Muriel Degauque, an unassuming woman who grew up near the rust belt city of Charleroi, had entered Iraq from Syria and detonated explosives strapped to her body in a failed attack against U.S. troops.
The 38-year-old woman's mother, Liliane Degauque, told local TV networks that her daughter was "so nice'' - but began to change when she married an Algerian man and turned to Islamic fundamentalism.
Authorities say Degauque went on to become a member of a terror cell that embraced al-Qaida's ideology. It included her second husband, a man of Moroccan origin who died in a separate terror attack in Iraq.
Comment: What a shock! Religious fundamentalism leading someone to commit heinous acts! Who would’ve guessed?
Item: (NY Daily News) Rev. Pat Robertson said in early January 2006 that Ariel Sharon’s massive stroke was God’s way of punishing him for surrendering parts of the Gaza strip to the Palestinians.
Also, Israeli Rabbi David Batzri, a kabbalah advocate, though praying with Sharon’s children for Mr. Sharon, had said in the past that Hurricane Katrina was sent by God to punish the US for pressuring Israel to give up Gaza. “Just as Jews were forced out of their homes… so too are Americans being forced out of their homes.”
In the past he also proclaimed a curse on Israeli gays, declaring they were destined to be reincarnated as rabbits.
Officials among the more militant Palestinian factions were elated that their longtime nemesis, Ariel Sharon, might finally be neutralized. News reports from the Syrian capital, Damascus, quoted Ahmed Jibril, the leader of one such faction, as saying: "We say it frankly that God is great and is able to exact revengeon this butcher. We thank God for this gift he presented to us on this new year."
Comment: It’s official; God is killing Sharon because he’s been too cruel to the Palestinians and also because he’s too generous to them as well!