Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Two Indonesian Women Beheaded in Saudi Arabia Early April.

As international attention has been focused on Indonesia's execution of convicted drug smugglers, Saudi Arabia's execution of two Indonesian women earlier this month has gone under the radar.

From a story dated April 15, 2015;

"Efforts by President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo to secure reprieves for hundreds of Indonesians on death row in overseas prisons met a sudden setback on Tuesday with the unexpected execution of a mentally ill Indonesian worker in Saudi Arabia."

While turning a deaf ear to pleas for clemency from foreign governments regarding executions of foreign nationals by Indonesia, President Widoto is not too embarrassed to request clemency from Saudi Arabia regarding Indonesians on death row there. The Indonesian government has gone as far as offering diyat [blood money] - Rp 2 billion [US$154,410] in one incident, in attempts to save Indonesians from the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

The Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry has said that 36 nationals are currently undergoing legal proceedings in Saudi courts, and are threatened with the death penalty.

It added that they have been charged with criminal cases, such as witchcraft, adultery and murder.

Recruiter's Surrender Instrumental in Mary Jane's Reprieve.

Maria Kristina P. Sergio, aka Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla, the alleged recruiter of Mary Jane Veloso, has surrendered to authorities in Nueva Ecija. According to,"Sergio said she surrendered as she fears for her life after receiving death threats. She maintained, however, that she was not responsible for deceiving Veloso but she is willing to undergo investigation".

The National Bureau of Investigation-Anti Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHRAD) alleges that Veloso is a victim of deception and human trafficking. is reporting that Sergio's being in custody was instrumental in the Indonesian government's grant of reprieve that spared Veloso from being executed at midnight on Wednesday.

Sergio, along with her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao and an African man identified as "Ike" have been charged with human trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa. has done an excellent job covering all the aspects of Mary Jane Veloso's case.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pacquiao Pleads for Mary Jane Veloso's Life.

From Sydney Morning Herald:

World boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao took time out from preparing for Sunday's megafight fight with Floyd Mayweather to join a massive outpouring of support in the Philippines for a Filipina mother of two whose execution appears imminent alongside Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

"I am begging and knocking on your kind heart that your excellency will grant executive clemency to her," Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, said in a televised appeal to Mr Widodo.

Writer Wants All Ten Year Old Boys Castrated.

It's funny, sometimes, how we get from point A to point B. The route we take isn't always the most direct.

This morning a found a spamish email in my inbox from the speroforum. I don't know why I've suddenly become the recipient of Speronews; to the best of my knowledge, I didn't intentionally subscribe to it. Be that as it may, thanks to the email, I learned of an open letter to Pope Francis being circulated by a group calling itself The Cornwall Alliance.

The group describes itself as,
"A coalition of theologians, pastors, ministry leaders, scientists, economists, policy experts, and committed laymen, the Cornwall Alliance is an evangelical voice promoting environmental stewardship and economic development built on Biblical principles."

I've read their open letter, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it. The letter, however, isn't the point of this post. The Cornwall Alliance website posts articles, originally posted elsewhere, which reference global warming - or climate change.

One such article is one written by Megan Toombs ,originally published on In the article, Toombs rightly criticizes an article by Katie Herzog, Why I’ll never have kids, and why you shouldn’t either. As Toombs explains, Herzog's basic argument "is that Earth’s climate is in danger, it’s our fault, and something must be done—something drastic."

Herzog's solution?

"Ritualistically castrate all males at age ten, and destroy dams and other infrastructure, 'preparing the earth for the end of people' ".

Besides her view that reproducing human offspring is destroying the planet, another reason why she will never have babies is because she is "a tote-bag-carrying-nature-loving-gun-hating-child-free-atheist" Lesbian who has no maternal instinct.

Offhand, I can think of another reason why Herzog will never reproduce.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Catholic Vulgarians.

In a recent article for  The National Catholic Register, Mark Shea attempts to take a middle of the road approach to swearing and vulgarity.

On the one hand he admits,

"That’s not say vulgarity is no big deal. We live in a culture awash in vulgarity and adding to the river of sewage in the world is not a big help. Christian homeschoolers do well, as a general rule, not to instruct their kids in what the 60’s tediously called “keepin’ it real”. 
Keeping it clean is much more to the point in a culture that has a mouth like a toilet. We have a surfeit of raunchy comedians and superfluous sleaze. We do not have a glut of people who can carry on an articulate, thoughtful and funny conversation without recourse to the F word as a sort of placeholder for actual thought".

He then goes on to let us know, however, that using "four-letter Anglo-Saxon words having to do with reproduction and excretion" isn't the same as blasphemy; whereas there is not excuse for blasphemy, the occasional use of vulgar Anglo-Saxon words isn't nearly as bad.

I thought, at first, he may have been preparing a defense for his friend Simcha Fischer, and her use of "the F word" in all it's glory, in a column of hers which he encouraged us to read.

Now, another "Catholic" writer at wants to join in. In her latest post. The Crescat feels the need to express herself with a few three, four and seven letter Anglo-Saxon words which were once considered too vulgar to use in a family publication.

I confess; I'm guilty of using vulgar words from time to time. But, when writing, like Jonah Goldberg I prefer creative euphemisms (such as "bovine-scatological colloquialism").

What Would Jesus Do About Wealth Redistribution?

According to an article on the Al Jazeera website -What Would Jesus Do About Tax Policy?- Jesus wants us to pay more taxes to the government.

After years of debate and study "..........the Presbyterian Church USA, has come out with a detailed report that ties the religious duty of believers and government tax policy."

A link to that report on pdf can be found here.

From the report;

"It is a basic mark of a healthy social covenant that all share in the society’s benefits and burdens. Just taxation is a foundational part of a moral society’s answer to poverty and its close relatives, inequality, economic insecurity, and social immobility. Just taxation is also a key tool for enabling communities to thrive, for advancing science and culture, and for sustaining democratic institutions. Each citizen has an affirmative duty to contribute to the common good by paying their fair share of taxes."

Like a true Protestant, the writer of the article (as well as the original Presbyterian document) cherry picks an assortment of Gospel texts to inform us that Christianity demands progressive taxation and redistribution of wealth to the poor.

I will not argue that tax reform in the U.S. isn't needed. Of course, the need is there. I also believe that more could be done to help the poor - not just in the United States, but world wide.

I do have a bone to pick with the Presbyterian Church USA, however.

The Presbyterian Church USA doesn't seem to have a problem with following the Gospel and traditional Christian teachings when it follows their political agenda. Tax the rich, feed the poor? That's fine with them. Maintain traditional Christian teaching and values regarding abortion and same-sex "marriage"? Not so much.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted down measure to condemn ‘abortion’ of babies born alive.

US Presbyterian Church votes to redefine marriage, offer gay ‘marriages’ .

You could legitimately argue the merits of tax reform and redistribution of wealth, but when you attempt to argue that to do otherwise goes against Christ's teachings, your disregard of Christ's teachings on abortion and marriage don't help your case.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You Still Can't Pick Your Relatives.

There is a small part of me that can empathize with Ben Affleck, who discovered, via his participation in the PBS documentary series “Finding Your Roots”, he had at least one ancestor who owned slaves. As I wrote in a post from 2009,you can't pick your relatives. It can be disheartening to learn that one might be related - no matter how distantly - to a less than admirable person.

To say that I was upset to learn that I shared a common ancestor with former President Jimmy Carter would be an understatement.

I can't say, however, that I agree with Affleck's response to the genealogical data. While I wasn't exactly overjoyed to find out that I was distantly related to one of the worst President in American history, I didn't hide from that fact. I owned up to our distant kinship in a blog post. Affleck, on the other hand, asked that the slave owning ancestor not be included in the documentary. His fans were to be left in the dark.

I am not at all bothered by the fact that Ben Affleck had an ancestor who owned slaves. That has absolutely no relationship to who Affleck is as a human being. I am bothered, however, that Affleck would ask PBS to leave out the information about the "bad" ancestor, while highlighting that Affleck was descended from someone who fought in the American Revolution. Affleck can neither take the credit nor receive the blame for things his ancestors did.

Affleck wouldn't be the first Progressive in recent years to fudge a bit when bringing up his or her genealogy. Hillary Clinton was recently called out for "exaggerating" the number of immigrant grandparents she had. She had claimed that all four of her grandparents had emigrated to the US, although it turns out that census data and draft cards from the 1920′s and 1930′s revealed that her paternal grandmother was born in Pennsylvania, and both of her maternal grandparents were born in Illinois.

Elizabeth Warren, beloved favorite of Progressives, was once promoted by Harvard Law School as a Native American faculty member even though she has no proven Native American ancestry.

Bottom line - be who you are. You are not your own grandpa. You cannot take credit for the good they may have done or be blamed for their transgressions.

Although I can understand Ben Affleck not wanting to claim this relative.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Helm's -a- Poppin'

Yes, Helm's-A-Poppin' alright, but I'm not referring to the 1960's era spy movies starring Dean Martin, but rather, the new Special Operations exercise scheduled to run from July 15 to Sept. 15, called Jade Helm.

According to the Washington Post (linked to above)

"The mission is vast both geographically and strategically: Elite service members from all four branches of the U.S. military will launch an operation this summer in which they will operate covertly among the U.S. public and travel from state to state in military aircraft. Texas, Utah and a section of southern California are labeled as hostile territory, and New Mexico isn’t much friendlier".

There are no end to the conspiracy theories that have arisen, on the Internet, after the Army Special Operations Command made it's announcement last week. The Post article has a link to the released announcement; unfortunately, when I clicked on the link, I received an error message that the connection had been lost. I'm sure that some conspiracy theorists will see that as further proof that something is up.

Who knows?

Most of the conspiracies I've come across link Jade Helm with the recent closing of five Walmart stores. While a good many people see these closings as Walmart's attempt to get back at workers trying to unionize for higher wages, the Internet is ablaze with videos purporting that Jade Helm is part of the preparation for martial law in the US and that Walmart is in on the plot.

No one believes Walmart's claim that the closings are related to plumbing issues.

One particular video attempts to prove that Walmart + Jade Helm + Martial Law = Jesus is about to return.

This guy maintains that Walmart has aided the govt. by connecting Walmart stores, nation wide, with a series of underground tunnels.

Another, uh, nut-job not only tells us about the Walmart/Special Ops connection, but includes Home Depot and Lowes as well.

The reason for Martial law?

According to this video, Russia is plotting to arm insurgents in the US in order to bring about a civil war, in retaliation to the US interference with Russia's take over of Ukraine. The guy making the video claims to have gotten his information from a translation of an article on the Moscow Times website. Thing is, that site is already in need for a translation from Russian.

I'm waiting for the day when this Walmart/Special Ops craziness brings up Hillary Clinton. After all, she was once on the board of directors of Walmart, back in the day when Bill was Governor of Arkansas.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the Death Penalty

At the National Catholic Register , Christine Williams writes that Catholics Debate Fate of Boston Marathon Bomber. After asking if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev crime warrants the death, Williams presents arguments for and against Tsarnaev's execution, without actually taking a stand either way herself.

That's not the case with Jonah Goldberg, who believes that the Boston bomber conviction puts death penalty opponents in an awkward spot.

Goldberg is an unapologetic supporter of the death penalty; that column is pretty much a repeat of a piece from July, 2012 -When a murderer is unsympathetic, death-penalty foes hold their tongues.

I don't expect to change Goldberg's beliefs on the subject; he's unlikely to be convinced by any argument I could put forth.

He asks:

How about now?
Are you in favor of the death penalty now?
I ask because the preferred argument from opponents of the death penalty is doubt: We can never be sure; look at all of the people released from death row; we can't afford to risk ending a single innocent life.

No, I am not in favor of the death penalty now. "Doubt" is not my preferred argument. I have absolutely no doubt that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty as charged. He's guilty as Hell, but bringing up Michael Slager - "the North Charleston, S.C., cop who shot Walter Scott in the back as he was fleeing and then allegedly lied about why he did it"- doesn't change my mind either.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2267)

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

As Christians, we are called to show mercy and forgiveness. I realize that this will fall on deaf ears when speaking to non-Christians.

From a statement released by the four Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts:

"As the Bishops of the United States said in their 2005 statement A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death,'no matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so.' We believe these words remain true today in the face of this most terrible crime".

So do I.

Further reading:Pope Francis: No matter what the crime, 'the death penalty is inadmissible'.
Pope Francis Would Spare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Life.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

"Hillary", "Clinton", or "Hillary Clinton" ?

In spite of the fact that the super pac supporting her is called Ready for Hillary , is reporting that "some Americans, mostly women, don’t think the former secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York and first lady should be called by just her first name".

The article quoted one Monica Warek. “I think it shows the level of inequality that still exists in the workforce and just in general in society.”

The writer of the piece must agree with the premise; she referred to the would be presidential candidate as either "Clinton" or "Hillary Clinton".

The article goes on to say that "some wonder whether calling a female candidate by her first name reinforces gender stereotypes".

Wishing to present both sides, I suppose, the article speculates that same may prefer to call her by her first name because an online search for "Hillary" produces mostly news stories about the 2016 race, while a search of “Clinton” leads to information about Bill.

I performed my own little online experiment; I Googled "Hillary", "Clinton" and "Hillary Clinton". I captured screen shots of the results. As far as news stories go, the results were pretty much the same with all three; the biggest difference being that the search for "Clinton" put Bill's wikipedia bio above hers.

The most striking differences came when looking at the images associated with each name. As one can see in the screenshots, the images associated with "Clinton" were nearly entirely of Bill, while the other searches produced images of her.

It appears to me that the images found with the search for "Hillary" turned negative faster that the images associated with "Hillary Clinton". The "vampire photos" came up quicker when "Hillary" was used in the search engine.

What does my little experiment prove? Probably, not much. It's possible that "Hillary" may have more negative results, but with all searches, results could change as time goes on.

We'll know the answer when we hear how Mrs Clinton's friends and enemies refer to her.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Craig Hicks Judged to be "Death Penalty Qualified".

Craig Stephen Hicks, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the February 10, 2015 killings of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat; his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha; and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha is "death penalty qualified" according to Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson Jr..

Police have said Hicks appeared to have been motivated by a long-running dispute over parking spaces at the condominium where he lived in the same building as Barakat and his wife.The victims' families are adamant, however, that they were murdered because they were Muslims and have pushed for hate-crime charges.

I'm not at all certain how hate crime charges would affect Hicks' sentence should he be convicted. After all, he can only be executed once.

It's been reported that prosecutors have said that "Hicks confessed; that he was arrested with the murder weapon, a handgun that ballistics experts matched to shell casings recovered at the apartment; that there was gunshot residue on his hands; and that blood from one of the victims was on his pants". The evidence seems to indicate that Hicks is guilty and will, in all likelihood, be convicted.

Regarding the death penalty, I have to be consistent in saying that Hicks should not be executed. I am not arguing that Hicks is innocent. I believe him to be guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. As I've written in the past, my opposition to the death-penalty comes from my belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church, statements made by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Being an atheist - or anti-theist - Hicks would probably disagree with my reasoning behind asking that he not be executed. Perhaps, life in prison may lead him to turn to God.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Al Jazeera Gets it Wrong on Pope's Easter Message.

In the lede to it's story on Pope Francis' "Urbi et Orbi" Easter message, Al Jazeera could not have been more misleading. The headline reads:

"In Easter message, pope backs nuclear deal, decries 'absurd violence'
followed by

"In his 'Urbi et Orbi' message, the pope praised the framework nuclear deal with Iran as a way to make the world safer

Pope Francis does not, however, praise the deal. His one sentence on the nuclear deal reads -

"At the same time, in hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world."

He is neither praising nor condemning the deal. He is praying to the "merciful Lord" in hopes that the deal will "be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world".

It is extremely unlikely that the Pope has any detailed information as to the contents to the agreement. Not knowing the details, he can merely "hope".

It appears that Al Jazeera received most of it's information on the Urbi et Orbi by way of The Associated Press. If that's the case, we will see further use of this propaganda in other "News" organizations' reporting on the Pope's recent message.