Monday, April 22, 2013

Canada and the United States: A Comparison

Canada is the world's second biggest country and shares the world's longest common border with the U.S. on the south and the west. The country consists of ten provinces and three territories,  is a parliamentary democracy, is officially bilingual (English and French) and is multi-cultural. Canada is a developed country with a population of approximately 35 million as of 2013. It has the ninth highest per capita income and is ranked the 11th highest ranking in human development. And, Canada consistently ranks among the highest in international measurements of education, government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, and economic freedom.  The name Canada comes from the St. Lawrence Iroquois (Indian) word kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement".

Most Americans have very little knowledge of their neighbor to the north. They get no news about Canada and don't care about Canada. They think of Canada only when it comes to maple syrup and sports. And, of course the song Blame It On Canada. Ask the average American about Canada, and they dismiss Canada as quaint, provincial, reliable, an American wanna-be, and above all else, boring.

Here are some statistics comparing the U.S. and Canada.

Quality of Life
·       Canadians have a single-payer government-operated health care system.
·       Canadians spend 83.93% less on health care.
·       Canadians have a 23.05% less chance of dying in infancy.
·       Canadians experience 40.05% less in class divisions.
·       Canadians use 23.38% less electricity.
·       Canadians make 23.83% more money.
·       Canadians have a 9.41% less chance of being unemployed.
·       Canadians consume 6.11% less oil.
·       Canadians have 34.53% fewer babies.
·       Canadians are 50% less likely to have HIV or AIDS.
·       Canadians work 4.17 fewer hours per week.
·       According to the United Nations Human Development Index concerning education, Canada ranks No. 6 in the World. The United States ranks No.13.

*
Government
Both Canada and the U.S. claim to be democracies. But, only one actually is.

·       The Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada and is Canada's head of state. The Governor General represents the Queen in Canada and carries out the duties of head of state. In the U.S. The President of the United States is the head of State and is elected by an Electoral College composed of electors of the 50 states. The electors are not bound by the Presidential vote of their states.
·       The House of Commons makes Canada's laws. Canadians elect representatives to the House of Commons. These representatives are called Members of Parliament (MPs) and usually belong to a political party. The political party that has the largest number of MPs forms the government, and its leader becomes prime minister. The Senate reviews laws that are proposed by the House of Commons. Senators come from across Canada. The prime minister chooses the senators.  In the U.S. the House of Representatives and the Senate make the laws. The House and Senate can be controlled by different parties than the President. This creates stalemate and a non-functioning government.
·       A simple majority vote is required to pass legislation in the Canadian House of Commons, the Canadian Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. But, in the U.S. Senate, it takes 60 out of 100 votes to pass anything. And, a single Senator can hold up legislation and/or Presidential appointments causing stalemate, non-functioning government and chaos. It is often called the "Tyranny of the Minority". In addition, The U.S. Senate is composed of 2 Senators from each of the 50 states no matter what the population of the state is. And, two of the states fall below the minimum population requirement to be a state (North Dakota and Wyoming). Yet, both have 2 Senators.
·       The capital of Canada, Ottawa, sends a representative to The House of Commons. The capital of the U.S. (Washington, D.C., a largely minority city) does not have a elected representative in Congress and its residents cannot vote for President of the United States.
·       Both the Supreme Court of Canada and that of the U.S. have 9 Judges. In Canada, Supreme Court judges are appointed by the Governor General acting on the advice of the Prime Minister's Cabinet. In Canada, there is mandatory retirement age of 75. In the U.S. Supreme Court justice are proposed by The President but approved by the Senate. In the U.S., there is no mandatory retirement age and many justices serve on the Court until they die.

*
History
·       During the American Revolution, the 13 colonies sent delegations to Canada to try to persuade Canadians, particularly the French Canadians, to join the revolution. They refused.
·       At the end of the Revolution, about 75,000 British Loyalists moved out of the new United States to the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the lands of Quebec, east and south of Montreal.
·       From 1790 to 1812 many farmers moved from New York and New England into Ontario.
·       Both Canada and the U.S. had secessionist movements. The U.S. settled the issue with a Civil War, the bloodiest war in U.S. history. Canada settle the issue by voting.
·       The U.S. had slavery. Canada did not have slavery and offered refuge to U.S. run-away slaves.
·       The U.S. indulged in a genocide of Native Americas. Canada protected Native America and offered protection to Natives who managed to crossed the border.
·       During World War II, the US placed Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps and confiscated their property.  Although Canada fought in the war, they did not inter Japanese-Canadian citizens.    
·       Canada did not participate in the Vietnam War viewing it as a Vietnam internal matter.  During the 1960's and early 70's, Canada became a refuge for about 50,000 draft-dodgers who opposed the war. Most never returned in spite of a U.S. amnesty.
·       Canada has not been involved in a war since World War II. The U.S. has been involved in at least 32 wars and conflicts and countless numbers of small military operations. 
     
*
Recent Canadian-U.S. Relations
·       President Richard Nixon, in a speech to Parliament in 1972 expressed anger at Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who opposed the Vietnam War, declaring that the "special relationship" between Canada and the United States was dead. "It is time for us to recognize," he stated, "that we have very separate identities; that we have significant differences; and that nobody's interests are furthered when these realities are obscured."
·       Traditionally, the first Presidential trip to a foreign nation is to Canada. But, President George W. Bush deliberately snubbed and offended Canada when he chose Mexico for his first visit.
·       In late 2001, President George W. Bush did not mention Canada during a speech in which he thanked a list of countries who had assisted in responding to the events of September 11, although Canada had provided military, financial, and other support.
·       Canada supported the U.S. war in Afghanistan but opposed the war in Iraq correctly believing that there no WMD in that country.
·       Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a statement congratulating Barack Obama on his inauguration, stated that "The United States remains Canada’s most important ally, closest friend and largest trading partner and I look forward to working with President Obama and his administration as we build on this special relationship."  President  Obama, speaking in Ottawa during his first official international visit in February 19, 2009, said, "I love this country. We could not have a better friend and ally."

Living next to you (The United States) is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.  - Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (1919-2000)

*
Most Americans know almost nothing about Canada and do not care about Canada. And, they think Canada is a boring place. Why?  Possibly because it less bigoted, less violence, less non-functioning, less war-like and a more civilized place- and therefore, not exciting.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

News You May Have Missed, No. 49

4,500 Year-old Port and Writings Discovered

 A group of archeologists believes it has discovered the oldest harbor ever found in Egypt, as well as the oldest papyri ever unearthed in the country. Egypt's State Information Service announced that a joint French-Egyptian mission has discovered the 4500-year-old remains of an ancient Egyptian harbor at the site of Wadi el-Jarf, on the Red Sea coast. The ancient wharf and surrounding structures are located 112 miles south of Suez and have been dated to the reign of the pharaoh, Khufu. Also known as Cheops, Khufu reigned from 2575 to 2465 BCE and is renowned for constructing the Great Pyramid of Giza. The collection of 40 papyri found at the site provides details regarding the daily lives of ancient Egyptians during the king's reign.These are the oldest papyri ever found in Egypt, Minister of State for Antiquities  Mohamed Ibrahim said. Pierre Tallet, an Egyptologist at Paris-Sorbonne University and the leader of the expedition organized by the French Institute of Oriental Archeology (IFAO), told Discovery News that the harbor predates by more than 1000 years any other port structure known in the world. Tallet added that the size of the port at Wadi el-Jarf led him to speculate that the harbor was also used to launch voyages to reach the mysterious land of Punt, thought by to be modern-day Somalia.

*
Rare Pink Diamond Sold

 A rare pink diamond once owned by Indian royalty has sold for $39.3 million at auction in New York City. The price for the 34.65-carat diamond that sold at Christie's on Tuesday was the second-highest ever for a jewel sold at auction. The seller and buyer were anonymous.The gem nicknamed the Princie Diamond was discovered 300 years ago in the Golconda mines in India. It once belonged to the Nizam of Hyderabad, an Indian prince. In 1960, the diamond was purchased at auction by the London branch of the jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels. Its name was bestowed at a party at the firm's Paris store. It was called Princie in honor of the 14-year-old prince of Baroda, who attended the party with his mother, Maharani Sita Devi.

*
The Trauma of Childbirth for Fathers

A new study from Oxford University suggests that the experience of childbirth, especially when it involves complications, can be so shocking that some fathers end up with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Marian Knight and her colleagues at  Oxford  University in the U. K. interviewed 10 males and one lesbian partner who witnessed their companions in life-threatening situations during childbirth or soon afterward. The stories they shared were harrowing. The respondents reported seeing their partners bloody and unconscious, not knowing whether their loved ones were alive or dead. Interviewees talked about feeling impotent, frightened, overwhelmed, and traumatized. Some study participants were eventually diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of their experiences. One father was left suicidal and unable to work for years after the frightening birth of his baby. He kept having flashbacks of seeing his bloody wife and unresponsive daughter following a complicated Cesarean section. Other respondents reported breaking down in tears, or feeling torn between joy at the baby's arrival and horrible fear for their partner's health. Dr. Knight acknowledged that pregnancy complications can have long-term consequences on mental and physical health, as well as family relationships. During an emergency, mothers are severely ill and require lots of care, while fathers are often neglected. And the experience may be even more traumatic for partners because their perception is vivid, unlike mothers who are often unconscious or drugged during these medical emergencies. Because severe childbirth complications are fairly rare, healthcare providers may not realize the need for follow-up treatment in all family members. Dr. Knight admitted that regular aftercare is patchy, and may be insufficient. Many couples require counseling in order to cope with their experiences. Some of the survey respondents also reported feeling distressed during the routine parts of labor,  just seeing their partners in intense pain was troubling, even before emergency trauma.

*
Deported for Being Too Good-looking

You read that right. In Saudi Arabia, at least three men were ejected from the annual Jenadrivah Heritage & Cultural Festival for being too handsome. An official from the festival said the three men who happened to be delegates from the Abu Dhabi part of the United Arab Emirates were taken out on the grounds they are too handsome and that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices members feared female visitors could fall for them. Saudi Arabia is an very conservative Sunni Muslim country which prohibits women from even interacting with males to whom they are not related.  The Saudi authorities were interested in  preventing a crime before it happened.

*
Breastfeeding and Iron Deficiency

Long-term breastfeeding has been found to increase iron deficiency in babies, according to a new study. The study, published in the April 15 online issue of  Pediatrics, explored an association between how long moms nursed and the iron stores, iron deficiency, and iron deficiency anemia in their children. Researchers analyzed data on 1,647 healthy kids ages 1 to 6 (with a median age of 3) from December 2008 to July 2011. They had asked moms to fill out questionnaires about nursing duration, and blood was taken from the children to determine iron stores. Nearly all the kids had been breastfed, either exclusively or along with other fluids or foods, for about ten months. Twenty-seven percent of the children had been breastfed from more than a year. The results showed overall about 9 percent of the kids were iron-deficient. What's more, the longer the babies had been nursed, the more likely they were to have iron deficiency: Children who had been breastfed for 12 months or more were 70 percent more likely to be iron-deficient than children breastfed for less than a year. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, and continuing along with the introduction of solids until at least 12 months. The AAP also endorses extended breastfeeding if it works for both mom and baby. The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend babies be breastfed for two years or more.

*
Tattooed Eyeballs

After Rodrigo Fernando dos Santos got 70% of his body covered in tattoos, the 39-year-old Brazilian native wanted something a little different. So, he got his eyeballs tattooed. He turned the whites of his eyes into dark pools, via a procedure using a special syringe-like needle that injects the ink into the eyeball permanently. Santos, who is known to his friends in Sao Paulo as Musquito, is a tattoo artist himself. He paid fellow inker Rafael Leao Dias nearly $500  to do his eyeballs. There is no drilling, Dias said, according to MyHealthBowl.com. We apply the ink between the conjunctiva and sclera layer that protects the eye. I studied the procedure for two years and performed my first application in Oct. 2012. The law does not prohibit this, here or abroad. There is no risk or discomfort due to the use of specific eyewash. Eyeball tattoos have been reported for nearly 2,000 years but there are potential dangers including blindness. The method used by Dias originated in Toronto about six years ago, according to Vancouver-based body modification artist Russ Foxx who has done a number of eyeball tattoos himself.     Apparently there are some long-term risks associated with the procedure because some men who had it done are now losing their sight.

*
Beet Juice Lowers Blood Pressure

A single 8-ounce pour of beet juice lowered blood pressure significantly in people with hypertension and blood pressure, according to a new study in the journal, Hypertension. People with high blood pressure who drank a cup of the earthy purple brew lowered their blood pressure for up to 24 hours, according to the study. It is well known that eating fruits and vegetables is good for cardiovascular health,” said Amrita Ahluwalia, PhD, the lead author of the study and a professor of vascular biology at The Barts and The London Medical School in London. However, vegetables that are rich in compounds call nitrates, including beets and their juice, may offer special benefits for people with elevated blood pressure, she said. In the body, nitrates from food are converted into nitrites and ultimately nitric oxide. This gas expands blood vessels, which improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Nitric oxide has the opposite effect of stress or cold temperatures, which cause blood vessels to constrict, thus raising blood pressure temporarily. In the study, 15 adults with stage 1 hypertension (defined as systolic blood pressure between 140 and 159 millimeters of mercury) drank about 8 ounces of beet juice or the same amount of water with a low nitrate content and had their blood pressure monitored for the next 24 hours. A cup of beet juice has roughly the same nitrate content as two whole beets.
*
Beer
Just a tiny taste of your favorite beer excites the brain and increases the urge to drink, even without any effect of alcohol, according to a study involving 49 men. The taste triggers the release of the brain's reward chemical, dopamine. The results of the study, published in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, showed an even greater effect in people with a family history of alcoholism. Experts said the family link was "surprising". The men were placed in a brain scanner while small amounts of different drinks were sprayed into their mouths. Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, in the US, compared the effects of spraying water, a sports drinks and the participant's favorite beer. Each was given 15ml of fluid over 15 minutes. It is enough to make a pint go round 38 people, so the scientists said the alcohol in the beer would have no effect on the body. The results showed that more dopamine was released in the brain after beer and the men were more likely to say they wanted to have an alcoholic drink. Professor David Kareken said, We believe this is the first experiment in humans to show that the taste of an alcoholic drink alone, without any intoxicating effect from the alcohol, can elicit this dopamine activity in the brain's reward centers. He suggested the more pronounced effect in men with a family history of alcoholism could be an inherited risk factor for alcoholism.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Chicken Gun


This is a true story.

Scientists at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) built a gun specifically to launch standard 4 pound dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity.  The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.  

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains.  Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the British engineers.  

When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's back-rest in two, and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin, like an arrow shot from a bow.  

The horrified British scientists sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the U.S. scientists for suggestions.  

NASA responded with a one-line memo .

"Defrost the chicken."

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Catholic Church and Latin American Dictators

Dictators  hold supreme power over their people. They can remove anyone who challenges them. They have a tendency to rationalize and/or cover up any wrong-doing on their part. They hold power for life. They are usually considered to be a larger-than-life person, despite the fact they are human. They often use religion to spread their agenda. They acquire great wealth. They live in luxury. They prefer dealing with other dictators. They control people's behavior and control as many aspects of people's lives as possible. They deal in propaganda. And, they do not tolerate any opposition and, where possible, they kill their opposition.
The Pope is the world's most famous and quintessential dictator. Not only does he control the attitudes and behavior of a billion international members of his church, he claims infallibility and claims to speak for God.
The history of the Papacy is one of preferring to deal with dictators, particularly in Latin America.
*
Argentina
It has been clear for many years that the upper reaches of the Argentine Catholic Church contained many men who had communed and supported the unspeakably brutal Western-supported military dictatorship which seized power in that country in 1976 and continued for years. Not only did the generals slaughter thousands unjustly, often dropping them out of planes over the River Plate and selling off their orphan children to the highest bidder, they also murdered at least two bishops and many priests who objected to the military dictatorship. Yet, even the execution of clergy did nothing to shake the support of senior clerics, including representatives of the Vatican, for General Jorge Rafael Videla and his followers.

In 2010, in the city of Córdoba, Videla and some of his military and police were convicted by their Argentina's courts of the murder of 31 people between April and October 1976, a small fraction of the killings for which they were responsible. The convictions brought life sentences for some of the military. Unsurprisingly there was dancing in the city's streets when the judge announced the sentences.

What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentine Catholic Church hierarchy was any expression of regret for the church's collaboration and in these crimes. The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the knowledge and approval of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires and now Pope Francis, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (aka: "The Nazi Pope"). The first Pope ever to be elected from the Americas is an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.

*
Chili
Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship was responsible for the deaths of as many as 3,200 people in Chile in the 1970s, but the Vatican dismissed reports of bloodshed at the time as "communist propaganda," according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.  Pinochet came to power in 1973 as the head of a military coup against democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende. The right-wing junta that subsequently ruled the country from 1973 to 1990 was responsible for 3,200 murders as well as the arrest of tens of thousands more, many of whom were tortured.
In a 1973 diplomatic cable addressed to Henry Kissinger, then serving as the United States' Secretary of State, high-ranking Vatican official Giovanni Benelli was quoted as relaying "his and the pope's grave concern over successful international leftist campaign to misconstrue completely realities of Chilean situation." Benelli dismissed reports of massacre as "unfounded" and "possibly [the] greatest success of Communist propaganda," while explaining away whatever violence had occurred as "unfortunately natural following coup d'etat." The cable was written five weeks after the coup, during the reign of Pope Paul VI, with reports already surfacing that political opponents of the regime were being arrested and killed. "The cables also showed the Vatican later realized the full extent of the abuses being carried out," according to AFP, "but refused to criticize Pinochet's regime openly and continued with normal diplomatic relations."
The Catholic Church's activities in South America has been the subject of some scrutiny in the past. Opus Dei, made most famous by Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," but a real and influential order in the Church, has been dogged for years by allegations that it supported Pinochet's  coup and that its members were later active in the Pinochet regime.
Pinochet, who was ousted as president of Chile when the country returned to democracy in 1990, was  arrested in London in 1998, though he never stood trial, and eventually returned to Chile. He died in 2006.
*
Argentina
Argentine archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was selected as pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church in this South American country is facing a rebellion by priests and laypersons who reject the role of the Catholic Church leadership during the 1976-1983 dictatorship and the lack of reparations for past omissions and complicities. The accusations against Bergoglio for his alleged ties to the dictatorship, which made headlines around the world when his appointment as pope was announced by the Vatican, are just the tip of the iceberg of a controversy that has raged for decades without a solution and which is coming to light as the regime’s human rights violators have been brought to trial since the amnesty laws were scrapped. Groups like Curas en la Opción por los Pobres (Priests with an Option for the Poor), Cristianos por el Tercer Milenio (Christians for the Third Millennium) or Colectivo Teología de la Liberación (Liberation Theology Collective) have voiced increasingly harsh criticism against the Argentine bishops’ conference’s shortcomings in terms of self-criticism, in spite of an apology and pledge to investigate issued a few months ago..  It’s good that this debate is happening, that we work to clarify what happened, so that the truth will come to light. That would be very healthy, Claudia Touris, a researcher at the University of Buenos Aires and the coordinator of Relig-Ar Grupo de Trabajo en Religión y Sociedad de Argentina (Relig-Ar: Working Group on Religion and Society in Contemporary Argentina), told IPS. Curas en Opción por los Pobres said they were “scandalized by so many stances running counter to the Gospels” and by the fact that priest Christian von Wernich, who was sentenced for human rights violations, “was not expelled from the priesthood,” and unrepentant former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, found guilty of crimes against humanity, continues to receive communion.

*
Nicaragua
The Catholic Church has a long history of close relations with the state and government in power. In the Colonial period, the Church acted as a check-up on conquistadors who pursued their own feudal interests contrary to those of the Spanish Crown and those of the Church itself.  In the middle to late colonial periods, the Catholic Church sided with the Spanish crown in attempts to curb native Indian and peasants who wanted equality and economic independence.
When the revolutionary struggle began in the 1960s and 1970s with the Sandinistas (aka: Sandinista National Liberation Front or FALN), the Church did not support it. The ideology of the revolution was intended to better the lives of the peasants at the expense of the powerful land-owners. The Catholic Church sided with the land-owners and the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Somoza engaged in violent tactics such as the authorization of bombings of major cities, some of which targeted the church in his attempts to hold on to power. The Catholic Church was horrified by the church attacks and some of the regime's brutality, yet they stuck by him as the better of two evils. Somoza lost popularity and the support of the Sandinistas became more prevalent.

The FSLN overthrew the Somoza government in 1979 and established a revolutionary government in its place. Following their seizure of power, the Sandinistas ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990. It had the popular support of the people.

*
Mexico

During the period of 1876 to 1911, relations between the Catholic Church and the Mexican government were good. Mexican president and dictator, Porfirio Diaz (José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori; 1830 -1915) said, Persecution of the Church, whether or not the clergy enters into the matter, means war, and such a war, the Government can win it only against its own people through the humiliating, despotic, costly and dangerous support of the United States. Without its religion, Mexico is irretrievably lost. Diaz strengthened the Mexican government ties with the Catholic Church with an agreement formulated in 1905.

In 1910, the Mexican Revolution against the Diaz government started. It was a major uprising led by Francisco Madero.. Over time the Revolution changed from a revolt against the established order to a multi-sided civil war. This armed conflict is often categorized as the most important events in Latin American history and one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century. After a long struggle, it produced the Mexican Constitution of 1917.

The Constitutionalists eventually took active measures to reduce the profound influence of the Catholic Church. On May 19, 1914, General Álvaro Obregón Salido (1880 -1928), who later became President of Mexico  (1920 -1924), sentenced Bishop Andres Segura and other clerical officials to jail for eight years because of their participation in opposition of the revolt. While Obregón was in control of Mexico City during February 1915, he ordered the Church to pay 500,000 pesos to alleviate the suffering of poor Mexicans.

Because of the Catholic Church's support of a dictator, support of the wealthy landowners at the expense of the poor and the peasants, when Venustiano Carranza (Venustiano Carranza de la Garza; 1859 -1920) assumed the presidency in 1915, the new Constitution diminished the Church’s political sway over the people and power within Mexico. Five elements in the Constitution were aimed at reducing the Catholic Church’s influence in Mexican domestic affairs. Article 3 enforced secular education in Mexican schools. Monastic vows and orders were outlawed in Article 5. Article 24 prevented public worship outside the confines of the Church buildings. According to article 27, religious institutions were denied the right to acquire, hold, or administer real property. Furthermore, all real estate held by religious institutions through third parties like hospitals, schools, was declared national property. Finally in article 130, it declared all basic civil responsibilities like voting or commenting on public affairs was taken away from Church officials.

The disagreement between the church and the government turned violent when over five thousand Chisteros (Catholic Church supporters) initiated an armed rebellion. The Mexican government and the Catholic Church engaged in bloody battle which lasted for a three-year period. The effects of the war on the Church were profound. Between 1926 and 1934 at least 40 priests were killed. There were 4,500 priests serving the people before the rebellion, but by 1934 there were only 334 priests licensed by the government to serve fifteen million people. The rest had been eliminated by emigration, expulsion and assassination. By 1935, 17 states had no priest at all.

The 2000 census reported that Mexico had some 101,456,786 Catholics among the population aged five and above, which equates to around 91% of the total population, making it the second largest Roman Catholic country in the world after Brazil. But, the ant-Catholic Constitutional largely still remain in effect.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Word Games: Quips

A quip is a clever, witty remark. Quips are often sarcastic, taunting, witty, strange, droll, curious, eccentric or made on the spur of the moment. Here are some quips made by famous people.
·       When the white missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land.  They said, 'Let us pray.'  We closed our eyes.  When we  opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land. - Desmond Tutu
·       No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; but he had money as well.- Margaret Thatcher
·       Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day.  Give him religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish.- Timothy Jones
·       America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real, but the moon landing was faked. - David Letterman
·       I'm not a paranoid, deranged millionaire. God dammit! I'm a  billionaire. -Howard Hughes
·       After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.- Italian proverb
·       Men are like linoleum floors.  Lay 'em right and you can walk all over them for thirty years. - Betsy Salkind
·       The only reason that they say, 'Women and children first' is to  test the strength of the lifeboats. - Jean Kerr
·       I've been married to a communist and a fascist, and neither would take out the garbage. - Zsa Zsa Gabor
·       You know you're a redneck if your home has wheels and your car doesn't - Jeff Foxworthy
·       When a man opens a car door for his wife, it's either a new car or  a new wife.- Prince Philip
·       A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.- Emo Philips.
·       Wood burns faster when you have to cut and chop it yourself. - Harrison Ford
·       The best cure for sea sickness is to sit under a tree. - Spike Milligan
·       Lawyers believe that a man is innocent until proven broke. - Robin Hall
·       Kill one man and you're a murderer, kill a million and you're a conqueror. - Jean Rostand.
·       Having more money doesn't make you happier.  I have 50 million dollars but I'm just as happy as when I had 48 million. - Arnold Schwarzenegger
·       We are here on earth to do good unto others.  What the others are here for, I have no idea. - W.H. Auden
·       In hotel rooms I worry.  I can't be the only guy who sits on the furniture naked. - Jonathan Katz
·       If life were fair, Elvis would still be alive today and all the impersonators would be dead. - Johnny Carson
·       I don't believe in astrology.  I am a Sagittarius and we're very skeptical. - Arthur C. Clarke
·       Hollywood must be the only place on earth where you can be fired by  a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a baseball cap. - Steve Martin
·       Home cooking.  Where many a man thinks his wife is. - Jimmy Durante
·       As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind. Every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder. - John Glenn
·       If toast always lands butter-side down and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast on the back of a cat? -  Steven Wright
·       America is so advanced that even the chairs are electric.- Doug Hamwell
·       The first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone. - George Roberts
·       If God had intended us to fly, he would have made it easier to get  to the airport - Jonathan Winters
·       I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it. - Robert Benchley

A Statement from Yoko Ono on Gun Control

With the gun control debate raging on over several months since the Newtown massacre, Yoko Ono has caused a stir with a simple photo that depicts the bloody glasses John Lennon  wore when he was shot in 1980. "Over 1,057,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on 8 Dec 1980," she wrote on Twitter, with a link to the image. The post was re-tweeted over 3,000 times. She followed that message with two more tweets on the subject: "The death of a loved one is a hollowing experience. After 33 years our son Sean and I still miss him. - Yoko Ono
 
*
While the imagery of the Ono photo of John Lennon's blood-stained eye-glasses may seem startling, Ono herself took her message of non-violence to more of an extreme in 2009, when she included Lennon's bloody clothing in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit. The bag was delivered to her by a Roosevelt Hospital medical examiner after Lennon died. At the time, Ono said it was "hard to include" the items but that it was "important for people to see that, and for people to understand what violence is about."
31,537 people are killed by guns in the USA every year. We are turning this country into a war zone.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bill Maher, The Catholic League and Anti-Catholic Humor

Show me any culture that’s traditionally hostile to women, and I will show you a culture that is screwed up. Like the Taliban. Like our military with its enormous rape problem. And like the Catholic Church.  Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO); February 15, 2013.
*
The Catholic League is mad as hell and they aren't going to take it anymore. Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time, has apparently made one too many jabs at the expense of Catholics, particularly priests, and the League has decided it's time for it to stop. Ever since Pope Benedict announced he was resigning, Maher has found plenty of fodder for material. He told Catholics during his "New Rules" section of the February 15 episode of Real Time, If the Pope can quit, it’s okay for you to quit too. He then went on to discuss the resignation saying, Now…as you all know, this week, Pope Benedict told Vatican Radio... he was going to resign because the Church needs a fresh, young face, somewhere other than a priest’s lap. It is jokes like that which have continuously angered members of the Catholic League. In a letter to Glenn A. Britt, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner (HBO's parent company), League president Bill Donohue demands that someone have "a serious talk" with Maher.
The Donohue letter in part says: There is no other entertainer in the nation who has repeatedly spoken about the Catholic Church, especially its priests, in more vile and obscene terms than Bill Maher. Vicious beyond belief, his remarks would be condemned, indeed he would be fired if directed at any other demographic group. Over and over again he libels [sic] priests, portraying all of them as sexual abusers. And he does so with impunity. Catholics need to know just how far Time Warner is prepared to play the role of spectator. Does stewardship not count at all? HBO has been contacted many times, but nothing changes.... The time has come for someone in a position of responsibility to sit down and have a serious talk with this man. The letter was accompanied by another document entitled Bill Maher History of Anti-Catholicism, 1998-2013. The report quotes 39 instances of Maher making jokes critical of Catholicism, priests, the pope and religion in general from his television shows. Typical of his quips is, What other business could you be in where your company gets caught running a child sex ring since forever and you still keep your customers?
Maher, a self-described agnostic who was raised Catholic, has made his anti-religious views one of the motifs of his comedy and political commentary over the years. He sits on the advisory board for Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. In his 2008 film Religulous, he took a mocking look at all faiths, ultimately calling for more religious skepticism. Nevertheless, Donohue maintains that Catholicism has been unduly singled out by Maher to a degree that demands Time Warner's attention.
*
The Catholic League
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, often shortened to the Catholic League, claims to be an American Catholic anti-defamation and civil rights organization. The Catholic League states that it "defends the right of Catholics, lay and clergy alike,  to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination." The Catholic League states that it is "motivated by the letter and the spirit of the U. S. Constitution's First Amendment to safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened."

Founded in 1973 by Jesuit priest Virgil Blum, the Catholic League was formed to counter perceived discrimination against Catholics in the U.S. government and in popular culture. In 1993 the group became much more aggressive with a new president, former sociology professor  William Donohue, who also increased its size to become the largest Catholic advocacy organization in America. The League has taken a stand against anything they perceive as anti-Catholic, including the entertainment industry, certain art exhibits, school programs for sex education, government-funded contraception and abortion, media bias, restrictions against pro-life activism, and restrictions on religious schools.

The League under Donohue's leadership is often criticized for its conservatism, for ignoring freedom of speech, and for its combative responses to high-profile media stories. Besides education campaigns, the group issues condemnations, initiates boycotts and protests, defends priests against accusations of child sexual abuse, fights proposed legislation and threatens legal action against what it sees as bigotry against Catholics, irreverence against religious figures, and attacks on Catholic dogma.

*
History
The history of the Catholic Church has been one of anti-Semitism, corruption, intimidation, ignorance, brutal torture, slaughter, and mass murder.
In 1940, French statesman Baron DePonnat stated, Roman Catholicism was born in blood, has wallowed in blood, and has quenched its thirst in blood, and it is in letters of blood that its true history is written.
You shouldn’t… lump the synagogue in with the Church. They operate very differently. The synagogue… was never as corrupt as the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, which is people, not God running it, OK, hugely corrupt, did horrible things through history, maybe…because they were that powerful. Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher (ABC) November 10, 1999.
          415 AD The female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Catholic (at that time, Catholics were simply called  "Christian") mob led by a priest named Peter.
·        782 Emperor Karl (aka: Charlemagne) had 4500 Saxons beheaded because they were unwilling to convert to Catholicism.
·       1084 The first Jewish ghetto was created by Catholic Bishop Rüdiger Huzmann in Speyer, Germany.
·        1096 Roman Catholic crusaders slaughter half the Jews in Worms, Germany.
·        1098 Roman Catholic crusaders slaughter almost all of the inhabitants of the city of Antioch.
·        1099 Roman Catholic crusaders massacre 70,000 Muslims and Jews when they capture Jerusalem.
·        1208-1226 Roman Catholic crusaders slaughter approximately 20,000 citizens of Beziers, France, on July 22, 1209. Albigensian Christians and Catholics were slain. By the time the Roman Catholic armies finished their “crusade,” almost the entire population of southern France (mostly Albigensian Christians) has been exterminated. During the six centuries of papal Inquisition that began in the 13th century, up to 50 million people were killed.
·        1236 Roman Catholic crusaders slaughter Jews in the Anjou and Poitou regions of western France. The Catholic crusaders trample to death under their horses 3000 Jews who refused baptism.
·        1243 Roman Catholic mobs burn alive all the Jews in Berlitz, Germany (near Berlin).
·        1298 Roman Catholic mobs burn alive all Jews in Rottingen, Germany.
·        April 26, 1349 Roman Catholic mobs burn to death all Jews in Germersheim, Germany.
·        1348-1349 The Jews are blamed for the bubonic plague. Author Dave Hunt tells us, “Accused of causing the ‘Black Death’ Jews were rounded up [by Roman Catholic mobs] and hanged, burned, and drowned by the thousands in revenge.”
·        1389 Roman Catholic mobs murder 3000 Jews in Prague when they refuse to be baptized.
·        1415 John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and the sale of indulgences, was burned at the stake.
·        1481-1500 At the direction of the Roman Catholic inquisitors, authorities burn at the stake at least 2000 people during the first two years of the Spanish Inquisition. Spanish Inquisitor Tomas deTorquemada alone allegedly responsible for 2000 people dying by being burned alive at the stake between 1482 and 1498. Estimates of those who died during the Spanish Inquisition are about 10,000.
·        1492 Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, "ought to be good servants ... [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion."While Columbus described the Indians as "idolators" and "slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order," his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as "beasts" because "they eat when they are hungry," and made love "openly whenever they feel like it." On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, "making the declarations that are required",  the requerimiento, to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And "nobody objected." If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued, "I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you ... and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church ... and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him."
·        1498 Girolamo Savonarola burned at the stake for criticizing corrupt clergy and the corrupt Pope Alexander VI. He is considered a reformer and martyr. The Catholic Church has never acknowledged that he was right.
·        c.1400- c.1600 In Catholic theology, an indulgence is a full or partial  forgiveness of sins by the Catholic Church. The selling of indulgences (donations of money in order to have sins forgiven) enriched the church coffers and the wealth of the Popes, Cardinals and the Vatican  and were a major point of contention during the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church never acknowledged that selling the forgivness of sins was and abuse of power and contrary to Jesus' teachings. It also never acknowledged that some of the causes of the Reformation were justified.
·        1540-1570 Roman Catholic armies butcher at least 900,000 Waldensian Christians of all ages during this 30-year period.
·        1550-1560 Roman Catholic troops slaughter at least 250,000 Dutch Protestants via torture, hanging, and burning during this ten-year period.
·        1555 Pope Paul VI created the Rome Jewish Ghetto and forcing Jews of Rome to live in it. The area of Rome chosen for the ghetto was the most undesirable quarter of the city, owing to constant flooding by the Tiber River.
·        1553-1558 Roman Catholic Queen Mary I of England (aka: Bloody Mary) attempted to bring England back under the yoke of papal authority. During her reign, approximately 200 men and woman are burned to death at the sake. Her victims include bishops, scholars, and other Protestant leaders.
·        1572 The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre during which French Roman Catholic soldiers begin killing Protestants in Paris on the night of August 24, 1572. The soldiers kill at least 10,000 Protestants during the first three days. At least 8000 more Protestants are killed as the slaughter spreads to the countryside.
·      1615-1616 Galileo meets with bitter opposition  and was placed on trial  by the Catholic Church' Inquisition for claiming that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo defended his theories by means of the long established Catholic understanding of scripture, that the Bible was not intended to expound scientific theory and where it conflicted with common sense, should be read as allegory. The Catholic Church condemned heliocentrism as "false and contrary to Scripture" in February, 1616, and Galileo was warned to abandon his support for it which he did. Galileo's writings were placed on the list of forbidden books (The Index) which Catholics could not read. The Catholic Church finally conceded that Galileo was right in 1993.
·        1618-1648 The Thirty Years’ War: This bloody, religious war is planned, instigated, and orchestrated by the Roman Catholic Jesuit order and its agents in an attempt to exterminate all the Protestants in Europe. Many countries in central Europe lose up to half their population.
·        1641-1649 Eight years of Jesuit-instigated Roman Catholic butchery of Irish Protestants claims the lives of at least 100,000 Protestants.
·        1685  French Roman Catholic soldiers slaughter approximately 500,000 French Protestant Huguenots on the orders of Roman Catholic King Louis 14 of France.
·        1938-1945 Catholic dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Monsignor Tiso slaughter approximately six million Jews in Europe prior to and during World War 2. Pope Pius XII who knew about the slaughter said and did nothing. In addition, the Vatican supported Fascist dictators in Spain, Portugal and Italy.
·        1941-1945 The Roman Catholic Ustashi in the fascist state of Croatia butcher up to one million Serbian Orthodox Christians. Roman Catholic killer squads are often led by Franciscan priests, monks, and friars. This genocide is choreographed by two Jesuit prelates: Aloysius Stepinac and Ivan Saric.
·        1948 The State of Israel is created. The Vatican does not establish diplomatic relations with Israel until 1993.
·        1970-1990 Most Central American nations experience peasant revolts. The Catholic Church sided with the wealthy land-owners against the peasants.
·        Ongoing Pedophile priest scandals in Europe, North America, Australia, etc. The cover-ups involve many Catholic bishops, cardinals and two popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.    

*
Sometimes the Truth Hurts
Humor is a way of dealing with unpleasant truths. It sometimes can be more lethal than reasoned discourse. When people laugh at you, they humiliate you and your attitudes while also pointing out the your absurdities.  For example, Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator and the Mel Brooks film The Producers reduced Hitler to the status of a buffoon, albeit a dangerous one.  And, the Catholic Church for over a thousand years  has had history of oppression, corruption, bigotry, ignorance and abuse of power. So, let's get one thing straight from the outset: The oppressor is never the victim- no matter what The Catholic League says! And, no amount of indignation and self-serving hypocrisy by the Catholic Church and  its thinly disguised front-man organizations like the Catholic League can change that fact. 
What other business could you be in where your company gets caught running a child sex ring since forever and you still keep your customers? Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) March 22, 2013
We found early this year or last year in the Republican primaries when the Republicans made contraception an issue, 98% of Catholics use birth control and the only ones who don’t are the priests. They would if altar boys could get pregnant. Conan (TBS) February 11, 2013
What’s interesting to me is the way conservatives—and I would put the military in this lately in the way they’ve been talking about it and the Catholic Church talk about gay as if it’s something that we really can’t resist if it’s around us. You know, that’s how the Catholic Church talks about it. You know, our priests are not sinning, they’re just giving into temptation when they’re molesting children and going gay and stuff like that. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (MSNBC) October 19, 2010
A Catholic priest in South Carolina has told his congregation: if you voted for Obama you can’t receive Communion. That’s right, the cracker won’t let you get the cracker. He said supporting Obama constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil. Then he proceeds to pass around the plate so everyone could chip in to pay off the child fucking lawsuits. Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) November 14, 2008
I was just so frightened about the Catholics and everything that was going on there in the church—and I was never, you know, molested or anything. And I’m a little insulted. I guess they never found me attractive. Larry King Live (CNN) May 22, 2007
Look, it’s a fact of life. Priests, a lot of times, molest boys, okay? They are celibate and it’s a magnet for homosexual pedophiles. Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher (ABC) August 9, 2000
Be fruitful and multiply. What’s more weird than being celibate. There’s nothing more perverted than that. Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher (ABC) July 11, 2000
But Catholics nowadays are like, you know, ‘The pope says we shouldn’t do this and this, but we really wanna pick and choose the parts of the religion that we feel fits us. You know the pope says you shouldn’t masturbate or have abortions, but that’s fine for him, he’s an elderly man, but for us… Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher (ABC) October 8, 1998