Item: (Christian Science Monitor) In the aftermath of a bombing that killed over 200 Shiites in Sadr City, Baghdad, many there blame US forces for this attack and others, and point to the US helicopter strike that engaged a Sadr City mortar position. The search for a US military linguist of Iraqi descent, kidnapped more than a month ago and thought to be in Sadr City, has deepened anti-US feeling.
"I think the Americans cooperate with the Sunnis for these attacks. When we try to counter-attack, the Americans stop us," says Abu Khadhim. "The Americans want Sadr City attacked, and our sons dead, and everyone to stay silent."
Comment: Exactly which side are we supporting or fighting and dying for in Iraq? Is it the majority Shiite population who Saddam Hussein tormented over the years?
Answer: Well not exactly since they hate us and are aligning themselves with U.S. enemy #1, Iran.
Are we in favor of the minority Sunnis?
Answer: No, since they were in power before we invaded and include many Ba’athists who supported Hussein and make up the “insurgency.” This is unfortunate since they are more secular and not about to align with Iran.
Do we favor the foreign fighters in Al Qaeda?
Answer: Are you crazy?
So exactly what constituency are we supporting?
Answer: There truly is no organized group that has even a minute chance of taking power that would be friendly to the U.S., not cozy up to Iran, not be anti-Semitic (we’re not talking simply pro-Palestinian rights here, we’re talking actual bigotry), democratic and freedom loving.
There is no potential outcome that we could be happy with – only one disaster after another.
If Sunnis make up the insurgency and many Shiites believe that we’re siding with the Sunnis to kill Shiites, what good is our continuing presence?
If a majority of Iraqis believe it is OK to kill U.S. soldiers, what is the potential for an Iraq we could be happy with after this war?
Answer: No potential.
The future will answer one question basically: in which form or combination of forms will this disaster take its final shape: civil war, ethnic cleansing/genocide, tyranny/dictatorship, misery, poverty, theocracy, and/or a new regime that is unfriendly to the U.S. and/or friendly to our enemies?
News Item: (LA Times) Canada's first sextuplets, born more than a week ago, are facing an additional complication to the usual premature baby's struggle for survival: Their parents' religion forbids blood transfusions, a typical part of a preemie's treatment.
The six babies were born Jan. 5 and 6 in Vancouver, British Columbia, to parents who are Jehovah's Witnesses. Delivered at 25 weeks, more than halfway through the typical 40-week pregnancy, the four boys and two girls averaged 1.6 pounds and can rest in the palm of an average man's hand. The survival rate for such births is about 80%...
Blood transfusions are a typical part of a preemie's treatment, experts say, because of their low blood volume and vulnerability to anemia. They also must have their blood drawn repeatedly for tests.
Although Jehovah's Witnesses can receive almost any medical intervention, including fertility treatments, organ transplants and vaccinations, the religion's interpretation of the Bible prohibits blood transfusions.
A passage in the Bible cited as the basis for the prohibition is from Leviticus:
"And you must not eat any blood in any places where you dwell, whether that of fowl or that of beast. Any soul who eats any blood, that soul must be cut off from his people."
The prohibition probably was meant to prevent the contamination of water supplies, wrote religious scholar Michael Duggan of St. Mary's University College in Calgary, Alberta. But the religion, which uses 1st century Christianity as its model, has interpreted it literally to forbid the "consumption" or spilling of blood.
Mark Ruge, spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses in Canada, said, "It mentions in the Bible to abstain from blood, and so we follow that. We want the best for the children, but without blood."
When Lawrence Hughes, 56, was a Jehovah's Witness, he faced a similar problem. In 2002, his 16-year-old daughter, Bethany, needed blood transfusions as part of her treatment for leukemia. His wife, daughter and the Jehovah's Witnesses community in Calgary opposed the transfusions. After much struggle, he signed the consent forms, and was cut off from his family and congregation.
After Bethany had 38 transfusions, her mother took her into hiding, and the girl eventually died. Hughes is suing the Jehovah's Witnesses, claiming the lawyers who fought the forced treatments did not act in his daughter's best interests.
Comment: Yes, they want the best for their children, unless it conflicts with their supernatural beliefs, and in that case, the children can rot.
Here is somethingRichard Dawkins would be outraged about: society generally considering these newborns as being “Jehovah Witnesses” to the point of them being allowed to be used as human sacrifice. They are not Jehovah Witnesses; they are merely children of Jehovah Witnesses.
Item: BAGHDAD, Iraq ( AP, Jan. 29) -- Iraqi officials said Monday that U.S.-backed Iraqi troops had targeted a religious cult called "Soldiers of Heaven" in a weekend battle that left 200 fighters dead, including the group's leader, near the Shiite holy city of Najaf. A military commander said hundreds of gunmen planned to disguise themselves as pilgrims and kill clerics on the holiest day of the Shiite calendar.
The Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said the raid on Sunday in date-palm orchards on the city's outskirts was aimed against a group called the Jund al-Samaa, or Soldiers of Heaven, which appeared to have had links to Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign fighters. Officials said the cult was hoping the violence it planned would force the return of the "hidden imam," a 9th-century Shiite saint who Shiites believe will come again to bring peace and justice to the world.
Provincial Gov. Assad Sultan Abu Kilel said the insurgents had planned to attack Shiite pilgrims and senior clerics in Najaf during ceremonies marking Ashoura, the holiest day in the Shiite calendar commemorating the 7th-century death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The celebration culminates Tuesday in huge public processions in Najaf, Karbala and other Shiite cities.
Al-Ghanemi said 600 to 700 gunmen had planned to disguise themselves as pilgrims and attack Najaf on Tuesday,the day they believed that the Imam Mahdi, or the "hidden imam," would reappear. He said leading Shiite ayatollahs consider such fringe elements as heretics.
Their aim was to kill as many leading clerics as possible, al-Ghanemi said.
Comment: Imagine if these religious extremists had been successful – and had killed Ayatollah Sistani, a relatively “moderate” cleric highly revered in the Iraqi Shiite community? If there were any semblance of restraint on the part of the warring parties before, it would be entirely absent afterwards. Such is the thin line between the chaos and disaster we have right now, and perhaps religious genocide and the worst policy blunder in American history.
Item: (AP) A Saudi Arabian judge sentenced 20 foreigners to receive lashes and spend several months in prison after convicting them of attending a party where alcohol was served and men and women danced, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The defendants were among 433 foreigners, including some 240 women, arrested by the kingdom's religious police for attending the party in Jiddah, the state-guided newspaper Okaz said. It did not identify the foreigners, give their nationalities or say when the party took place. The prosecutor general charged the 20 with "drinking, arranging for impudent party, mixed dancing and shooting a video for the party."
The religious police, a force resented by many Saudis for interfering in personal lives, enjoys wide powers. Its officers roam malls, markets, universities and other public places looking for such infractions as unrelated men and women mingling, men skipping Islam's five daily prayers and women with strands of hair showing from under their veil.
Comment: But of course, as apologists love to say, there is no compulsion in Islam.
Item: A startling new discovery has been made by the Rev. Tim Ralph, senior pastor for New Covenant Fellowship in Larkspur, who told the Denver Post that Rev. Ted Haggard has discovered he’s “completely heterosexual… That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn’t a constant thing.”
Rev. Ralph was part of a four-man board of overseers who dismissed Haggard from New Life Church, the 14,000-member northern Colorado Springs church Haggard founded 22 years ago, for sexual misconduct and for purchasing crystal meth.
The Denver Post reported that Ralph said Haggard believed he discovered his heterosexuality during an intensive three-week spiritual restoration process in Phoenix.
Comment: Apparently this process seems to be one where a person can return to God’s good graces and avoid an eternal roasting in Hell.
It was not reported on whether Haggard “discovered” his lost sobriety during that three week period as well.
In the past it was not known that one could lose one’s sexual orientation in a manner such as one might lose one’s keys, and then find it again.
A similar occurrence may have once happened to actress Anne Heche, a former girlfriend of comedienne Ellen DeGeneres, but curiously she was not accorded the same amount of sympathy from the Religious Right as Rev. Haggard, even though it appears that she too, eventually found her lost heterosexuality.
In the future Evangelicals may be advised to tightly tape or otherwise attach their heterosexuality to themselves so that they do not accidentally lose or misplace it since the consequences are so disastrous.