Distributed Mind

"I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

Your hosts: J. Lowry, B. Martin.

March 20, 2006

Religious Freedom in Afghanistan

by ben

Okay, I hate to admit that I first heard this story from Mr. Robertson and company after channel flipping (yes, yes, I know), but this is eminently newsworthy unfortunately. The AP for one has an article (yes, I know that that's a link to Yahoo! news, but I couldn't find another source for the whole article; USA Today has a shorter version) about the prosecution in Afghanistan of a Abdul Rahman, who converted to Christianity 16 years ago. Supposedly, he could receive the death penalty. Disturbing. The ruling will come within two months supposedly.

18:31:11 - Events - ben - No comments

March 02, 2006

A New Initiative for a Popular Vote

by ben

Alright, an actual news item for a change (and sans analysis, no less): C-SPAN had on the other day the launch of the National Popular Vote advocating, as you can probably guess, a popular rather than electoral vote for choosing the president. It sounds like they want to rely on a state-based approach (indeed, the subtitle of their proposal is "A State-Based Plan For Electing The President By National Popular Vote") rather than necessarily push for a constitutional amendment. They have a book available on their site outlining their plan.

I don't really know the background on this, and at the moment I am not especially interested in doing research on it, though I don't rule out the possibility. I thought I should mention it though, since I have long advocated a popular vote. If someone could get an initiative to go through, I would almost certainly be all for it. (I admit I have seen some positive analysis of the current system, but I don't find it sufficiently compelling.)

08:18:19 - Events - ben - No comments

January 29, 2006

Very Bad Things in Uganda

by ben

Christianity Today has an article on the "Lord's Resistance Army" of Uganda, one of the most frightening rebel armies around, a primary tactic of which is kidnapping, traumatizing, and exploitation as soldiers of children . I seem to run into stuff on the LRA fairly frequently, though not nearly as often as one might suppose. I seem to always respond with the same sort of attitude: Well, people are talking about it, so it must be getting fixed right? Well, yes, but also, no. In fact, as the CT article might remind us, one thing that might be a big boon to getting this situation fixed is attention from "the Western world" as it says - attention which so far has indeed been surprisingly lacking. The article ends with these challenging remarks:

Akello Lwanga, a physician, spent two years treating LRA victims at an internally displaced persons camp in Pader. "If Americans saw this on TV as often as they see the Middle East," he said, "it would stop."

"People need to see what's happening in northern Uganda," said U.S. ambassador to Uganda Jimmy Kolker. "The suffering of these children is unimaginable. Absolutely, it is important for the public to know about this as a step toward bringing it to an end."

Ordinary Christians can help stop LRA terrorism. Presenting the issue to churches, continuing in intercessory prayer over the conflict, donating to Christian agencies that work with Ugandan children, and pressing government officials for action all work to save LRA victims.

Michael Oruni, director of Uganda's Children of War Rehabilitation Center, told CT he was urging Christians to get involved: "Imagine your own child taken away, being raped as your family is killed in front of your eyes. If it were you, what would you feel like?

"Kids in Uganda-kids just like yours-are taken every night and enslaved, raped, mutilated, murdered. You can make a difference. Talk to your government. Help us."

22:58:36 - Events - ben - No comments

December 01, 2005

The Dangers of Peacemaking

by ben

Christian Peacemaker Teams had four of its workers kidnapped in Iraq this week. The Ted Olsen and Rob Moll have some interesting things to say about it on the Christianity Today Weblog. I sometimes think the CPT people are crazy (and they do sometimes have big mouths as well) but I have a lot of respect for their approach and, personally, I've even thought of trying something like CPT in the past. I am also reminded of the Southern Baptist missionaries killed in Iraq while I was in Jordan two years ago. I pray that these four will fare better. Let's keep praying for everyone in Iraq regardless of their nationality or role in the current difficult situation there.

02:41:06 - Events - ben - No comments

March 04, 2005

Journalists; War; Death

by ben

An interesting timeline of deaths of journalists in Iraq caused by American military forces. I am not familiar in detail with all of these cases, but I read briefly a little while back about some of them, and I think the list is probably accurate. (Now that I knocked the quality of journalism a while ago, I am completely paranoid, and seem to be addicted to strong disclaimers, in case you hadn't noticed.) The point of this list is not that American troops have necessarily targeted any journalists, but rather that that interpretation of events is not a completely irrational one. In fact, it is a quite reasonable interpretation.

Personally, I don't know whether any journalists were killed deliberately or not. I think there was some very questionable things that happened, and even if there has not been maliciousness, there certainly seems that there has been some negligence. There is no question that the military and the government has taken a rather cavalier attitude about the journalists who have died (or in one case tortured). I roughly agree with the author, who writes,

You don't have to buy any theories about the military deliberately targetting journalists to recognize that there's been a clear pattern throughout this war of indifference to the deaths of reporters, mixed in with a good deal of harrassment. In a truly democratic country, with any interest in freedom of the press, that would call for investigations and a serious look at what could be done to make sure reporters aren't killed by soldiers who are stressed or who haven't been given information they need.

What is most ironic about all of this is that it strikes me that, given the evidence, to act the way some people did about Eason Jordan's remark is much less rational, I am inclined to think, than Jordan's remark itself.

I certainly hope he was entirely wrong, or more so that others who make similar claims are wrong (since Jordan seems to have not really thought about this fully). But I think we need to acknowledge the possibility he was right. More importantly, we need to acknowledge that the attitude displayed by the United States government and military regarding the incidents is unacceptable.

23:27:49 - Events - ben - No comments

March 01, 2005

Brookings Panel on Darfur

by ben

On the 25th, the Brookings Institution held a panel on the current situation in Darfur, Sudan. Among others, it featured a Sudan researcher from Human Rights Watch, John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group, and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Pierre-Richard Prosper. Scary and interesting. The one caveat is that most of the time was spent on the International Criminal Court's potential role in this (the US official position appears to be that prosecution should be handled more locally than that), which, while important, is probably not the most informative thing, nor something most of us can really do anything about.)

I was surprised to hear how bad the situation still is. This is one of those things that I know I should pay more attention to, and for some reason never quite do it. Admittedly, I feel at this point like there is not much the foreign policy laity can do in the United States right now. There are certain countries on this planet who need to step up on this one. We here also need to consider more carefully what we can do too, though - and I address that to myself first.

I saw it on C-SPAN tonight. Brookings has a transcript (PDF) available (or C-SPAN will have video up on its web site for a while, if you would rather watch it than read it).

(I have to admit, one of the things that caught my attention about this was Prosper's slightly off-track rant on the International Criminal Court. The ideological purity of my government scares me sometimes. It's sort of sad that I let that distract me, though at the same time, I have to admit that I see this sort of skewed priorities to be somewhat dangerous, besides being irritating, immature, and silly - and most of all inappropriate in this case, most likely, though I admit I am not intimately familiar with the Sudan situation, but I note that most of the panelists who do know something about it took that position as well.)

02:30:01 - Events - ben - No comments

February 23, 2005

What Really Happened To Richard Sternberg?

by ben

An opinion piece by David Klinghoffer appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Januray 28th detailing the travails of one Dr. Richard Sternberg, supposed employee of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History [02.24.2005, edit: actually, Klinghoffer never said that], and former editor of The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. Under Sternberg's tenure, an article ("The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories") by intelligent design advocate and Discovery Institute senior fellow Stephen Meyer had been approved and published. Predictably, this caused no minor stir. I am actually more interested, though, in Klinghoffer's essay and the response.

[Remainder of article]
03:15:59 - Events - ben - 4 comments

October 13, 2004

Conservatives in Europe

by ben

BBC has an article summarizing the Italian press' take on the EU's nominal rejection of one official nominated from Italy. The reason is in part his moral conservartism. They also have another article. It would seem he has some odd views on other things as well, such as immigration. I thought it was interesting to see Europeans arguing over the same things we do here.

(I am trying to do a better job of covering news here, since someone asked me this week about how I get my news. So now you can "all" - all 1 - experience the news as I read it! Try not to be too excited.)

04:16:47 - Events - ben - No comments

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