Archive

Posts Tagged ‘birth’

The lies of Jubran

May 13th, 2012 Comments off
Later, Gibran told journalists many lies about his childhood, and, according to the Gibrans’ biography, he seems to have tried these out first on Haskell. He was of noble birth, he said. His father’s family had a palace in Bsharri, where they kept tigers for pets. His mother’s family was the richest in Lebanon. They owned immense properties, “whole towns.” He, as a young aristocrat, had been educated at home, by English, French, and German tutors.” (thanks Dana)

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Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Ignores [Reprint Edn.]

March 18th, 2012 Comments off

Rick Santorum is claiming that if he wins the Illinois primary, he has virtually won the Republican nomination. It seems an appropriate time for this golden oldie:

The right wing Republican politicians who have been denouncing the requirement that female employees have access to birth control as part of their health benefits as an attack on religious freedom completely ignore the church teachings they don’t agree with. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are both Catholics, and wear their faith on their sleeves, but they are hypocritical in picking and choosing when they wish to listen to the bishops.

1. So for instance, Pope John Paul II was against anyone going to war against Iraq I think you’ll find that Rick Santorum managed to ignore that Catholic teaching.

2.The Conference of Catholic Bishops requires that health care be provided to all Americans. I.e., Rick Santorum’s opposition to universal health care is a betrayal of the Catholic faith he is always trumpeting.

3. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty for criminals in almost all situations. (Santorum largely supports executions.)

4. The US Conference of Bishops has urged that the federal minimum wage be increased, for the working poor. Santorum in the Senate repeatedly voted against the minimum wage.

5. The bishops want welfare for all needy families, saying “We reiterate our call for a minimum national welfare benefit that will permit children and their parents to live in dignity. A decent society will not balance its budget on the backs of poor children.” Santorum is a critic of welfare.

6. The US bishops say that “the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions…”. Santorum, who used to be supportive of unions in the 1990s, has now, predictably, turned against them.

7. Catholic bishops demand the withdrawal of Israel from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Rick Santorum denies that there are any Palestinians, so I guess he doesn’t agree with the bishops on that one.

8. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops ripped into Arizona’s law on treatment of immigrants, Cardinal Roger Mahony characterized Arizona’s S.B. 1070 as “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law,” saying it is based on “totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources.” He even suggested that the law is a harbinger of an American Nazism! Santorum attacks ‘anchor babies’ or the provision of any services to children of illegal immigrants born and brought up in the US.

9. The Bishops have urged that illegal immigrants not be treated as criminals and that their contribution to this country be recognized.

10. The US Conference of Bishops has denounced, as has the Pope, the Bush idea of ‘preventive war’, and has come out against an attack on Iran in the absence of a real and present threat of an Iranian assault on the US. In contrast, Santorum wants to play Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove and ride the rocket down on Isfahan himself.

The conflict is between Federal authorities and the US Catholic bishops over rules requiring employees of Catholic institutions such as universities and hospitals to have birth control pills supplied to them as part of their health insurance. Because of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, the contemporary Roman Catholic church has taken the stand that artificial birth control is immoral. The bishops therefore object to having the church be forced to supply it as part of their employees’ health care packages.

The problem is that birth control is legal in the United States, and birth control pills are used for other purposes than contraception (in fact, contraception may not even be the purpose of the majority of prescriptions). Contrary to what Santorum alleges, the prescriptions are relatively expensive for poor and working class families.

Religious practices in the United States are trumped by secular law all the time when there is a conflict. Thus, Native Americans who believe in using peyote as part of their religious rituals were fired from their government jobs for doing so, and the US Supreme Court upheld it in 1990.

Likewise, traditionalist members of the Sikh religion believe that a man should avoid cutting his hair, and should bind it up in a turban. So what if an orthodox Sikh gets a job as a construction worker? He can’t get a hard hat on over the turban. Does he have the right to forgo the hard hat on the construction site, so as to retain his turban? The question went to the US courts, and they said Sikhs have to wear hard hats. If a brick fell on the turban and killed the Sikh worker, his family could after all sue the construction company for negligence since it did not require him to wear a hard hat.

Or there are many instances in which Muslim religious laws and practices have been over-ruled in the United States by the courts. American law forbids Muslim-American men to take a second wife, something legal to them in many of their home countries. State law tends to award community property in cases of divorce instead of the much smaller payments men can make to divorced women in Islamic law, even if the couple have specified in their marriage contract that Muslim law (sharia) will govern these issues.

I don’t think there is any question that Federal law, and state law, can trump Roman Catholic religious sentiments, just as they trump the religious sentiments and practices of other religious communities where issues of secular justice and equity are at stake.

The tradition of American progressive thought is tolerant of religion even while usually not being religious itself. In my view this attitude of tolerance is rooted in James Madison’s theory of democracy, which is that it is best preserved by lively arguments among groups in the body politic that disagree with one another. Thus, while the Roman Catholic church authorities adopted a negative stance toward modernity, cultural pluralism, and democracy in the nineteenth century, the Catholic community in the United States nevertheless contributed in important ways to modernity, cultural pluralism and democracy. Arguably, had the US been entirely Protestant, its law and practice would have evolved in a less pluralistic and tolerant direction.

A flourishing Catholic community contributed to social debates and so improved American democracy– witness Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement. And, the reformist theologians of the twentieth century, most of them European or Latin American, cultivated by American Catholics, made important contributions to our understanding– Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Kueng, Paulo Freire, and Gustavo Gutierrez. I would argue that Vatican II was an important event in American religious life across the board, not just for American Catholics. It is lack of appreciation of Madisonian conceptions of democracy of pluralism and checks and balances that led the late Christopher Hitchens to disregard altogether the enormous positive contribution of the Church, whether to the education of the poor and working classes or to teaching social justice. (By the way, the argument for democracy depending on diverse voices and vigorous debate is also an argument for the benefits for the US of the advent of Islam in American public life).

So, the arguments the bishops are making about the balance between conscience and the obligations of civil law should be welcomed by all Americans as part of our national dialectic.

President Obama is to be applauded for at least trying to find a compromise that doesn’t dragoon Catholic institutions into betraying that conscience. In the end, of course, civil law must uphold equitable treatment of all women, and a satisfactory compromise may not be possible. We will be the better for having the debate, and attempting to find a modus vivendi.

What isn’t helpful is to have loud-mouthed hypocrites who reject all the humane principles for which the Catholic Church stands getting on a high horse about a third-order teaching such as artificial birth control (on which the position of the church has changed over time, and may change again).

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Limbaugh and the best argument for Birth Control

March 2nd, 2012 Comments off

Best argument for birth control: If Rush Limbaugh’s mother had used it, imagine how much better the world would be.

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Arrests, Release Briefly Remind Us of Mahalla’s Labor Unrest

February 14th, 2012 Comments off

Since 2008, the big Egyptian Delta industrial textile factory town of Mahalla has been the scene of persistent labor unrst and strikes. Some Egyptian activists feel it helped give birth to the Revolution (the April 6 Movement traces its birth to events in Mahalla), but it has not become as iconic as Tahrir Square, mostly because the current regime, like Mubarak’s before it, has kept a sort of cordon sanitaire around the city, keeping out foreigners, journalists, photographers and others who might ask the wrong questions. It famously got some attention when an American activist was arrested there and used Twitter to contact the US Embassy. It is getting attention once again because an Australian journalist and a US student were arrested and held there for two days during an attempt to launch a nationwide general strike February 11, to mark the first anniversary of Mubarak’s fall. They were released today.

With the bloodshed in Syria, it is little surprise Mahalla gets only fleeting attention from the outside world, and that only when a foreign national is involved. But the longer-term condition of Egypt may have more to do with whether any new government can improve the condition of Egypt’s impoverished workers, including the textile workers in the big cotton mills of Mahalla, than whether SCAF shuts an NGO or the Muslim Brotherhood bans bikinis. (Cue something militant by Woody Guthrie in the background music.)


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Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects while Obsessing about Birth Control

February 12th, 2012 Comments off

The right wing Republican politicians who have been denouncing the requirement that female employees have access to birth control as part of their health benefits as an attack on religious freedom completely ignore the church teachings they don’t agree with. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are both Catholics, and wear their faith on their sleeves, but they are hypocritical in picking and choosing when they wish to listen to the bishops.

1. So for instance, Pope John Paul II was against anyone going to war against Iraq I think you’ll find that Rick Santorum managed to ignore that Catholic teaching.

2.The Conference of Catholic Bishops requires that health care be provided to all Americans. I.e., Rick Santorum’s opposition to universal health care is a betrayal of the Catholic faith he is always trumpeting.

3. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty for criminals in almost all situations. (Santorum largely supports executions.)

4. The US Conference of Bishops has urged that the federal minimum wage be increased, for the working poor. Santorum in the Senate repeatedly voted against the minimum wage.

5. The bishops want welfare for all needy families, saying “We reiterate our call for a minimum national welfare benefit that will permit children and their parents to live in dignity. A decent society will not balance its budget on the backs of poor children.” Santorum is a critic of welfare.

6. The US bishops say that “the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions…”. Santorum, who used to be supportive of unions in the 1990s, has now, predictably, turned against them.

7. Catholic bishops demand the withdrawal of Israel from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Rick Santorum denies that there are any Palestinians, so I guess he doesn’t agree with the bishops on that one.

8. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops ripped into Arizona’s law on treatment of immigrants, Cardinal Roger Mahony characterized Arizona’s S.B. 1070 as “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law,” saying it is based on “totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources.” He even suggested that the law is a harbinger of an American Nazism! Santorum attacks ‘anchor babies’ or the provision of any services to children of illegal immigrants born and brought up in the US.

9. The Bishops have urged that illegal immigrants not be treated as criminals and that their contribution to this country be recognized.

10. The US Conference of Bishops has denounced, as has the Pope, the Bush idea of ‘preventive war’, and has come out against an attack on Iran in the absence of a real and present threat of an Iranian assault on the US. In contrast, Santorum wants to play Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove and ride the rocket down on Isfahan himself.

The conflict is between Federal authorities and the US Catholic bishops over rules requiring employees of Catholic institutions such as universities and hospitals to have birth control pills supplied to them as part of their health insurance. Because of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, the contemporary Roman Catholic church has taken the stand that artificial birth control is immoral. The bishops therefore object to having the church be forced to supply it as part of their employees’ health care packages.

The problem is that birth control is legal in the United States, and birth control pills are used for other purposes than contraception (in fact, contraception may not even be the purpose of the majority of prescriptions). Contrary to what Santorum alleges, the prescriptions are relatively expensive for poor and working class families.

Religious practices in the United States are trumped by secular law all the time when there is a conflict. Thus, Native Americans who believe in using peyote as part of their religious rituals were fired from their government jobs for doing so, and the US Supreme Court upheld it in 1990.

Likewise, traditionalist members of the Sikh religion believe that a man should avoid cutting his hair, and should bind it up in a turban. So what if an orthodox Sikh gets a job as a construction worker? He can’t get a hard hat on over the turban. Does he have the right to forgo the hard hat on the construction site, so as to retain his turban? The question went to the US courts, and they said Sikhs have to wear hard hats. If a brick fell on the turban and killed the Sikh worker, his family could after all sue the construction company for negligence since it did not require him to wear a hard hat.

Or there are many instances in which Muslim religious laws and practices have been over-ruled in the United States by the courts. American law forbids Muslim-American men to take a second wife, something legal to them in many of their home countries. State law tends to award community property in cases of divorce instead of the much smaller payments men can make to divorced women in Islamic law, even if the couple have specified in their marriage contract that Muslim law (sharia) will govern these issues.

I don’t think there is any question that Federal law, and state law, can trump Roman Catholic religious sentiments, just as they trump the religious sentiments and practices of other religious communities where issues of secular justice and equity are at stake.

The tradition of American progressive thought is tolerant of religion even while usually not being religious itself. In my view this attitude of tolerance is rooted in James Madison’s theory of democracy, which is that it is best preserved by lively arguments among groups in the body politic that disagree with one another. Thus, while the Roman Catholic church authorities adopted a negative stance toward modernity, cultural pluralism, and democracy in the nineteenth century, the Catholic community in the United States nevertheless contributed in important ways to modernity, cultural pluralism and democracy. Arguably, had the US been entirely Protestant, its law and practice would have evolved in a less pluralistic and tolerant direction.

A flourishing Catholic community contributed to social debates and so improved American democracy– witness Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement. And, the reformist theologians of the twentieth century, most of them European or Latin American, cultivated by American Catholics, made important contributions to our understanding– Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Kueng, Paulo Freire, and Gustavo Gutierrez. I would argue that Vatican II was an important event in American religious life across the board, not just for American Catholics. It is lack of appreciation of Madisonian conceptions of democracy of pluralism and checks and balances that led the late Christopher Hitchens to disregard altogether the enormous positive contribution of the Church, whether to the education of the poor and working classes or to teaching social justice. (By the way, the argument for democracy depending on diverse voices and vigorous debate is also an argument for the benefits for the US of the advent of Islam in American public life).

So, the arguments the bishops are making about the balance between conscience and the obligations of civil law should be welcomed by all Americans as part of our national dialectic.

President Obama is to be applauded for at least trying to find a compromise that doesn’t dragoon Catholic institutions into betraying that conscience. In the end, of course, civil law must uphold equitable treatment of all women, and a satisfactory compromise may not be possible. We will be the better for having the debate, and attempting to find a modus vivendi.

What isn’t helpful is to have loud-mouthed hypocrites who reject all the humane principles for which the Catholic Church stands getting on a high horse about a third-order teaching such as artificial birth control (on which the position of the church has changed over time, and may change again).

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Birth control pills recalled, may not prevent pregnancy – Fox News

February 1st, 2012 Comments off

Globe and Mail

Birth control pills recalled, may not prevent pregnancy
Fox News
Reuters Print Email Share Comments Recommend Tweet Related Stories Contraceptive recall could put Pfizer at risk of multi-million dollar lawsuit, attorney says Pfizer said on Tuesday it was recalling about 1 million packets of birth control pills in
Pfizer recalls a million packets of birth control pillsLos Angeles Times
Pfizer's Birth Control Pill Mix Up Could Cause Unintended PregnanciesABC News
Pfizer recalls 1 million birth control packs for error that could cause Washington Post
TIME –MedPage Today –Wall Street Journal
all 870 news articles »

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Al Schwimmer and Israel’s Air Force and Aviation Industry

June 17th, 2011 Comments off

Adolph “Al” Schwimmer died on June 10 in Tel Aviv at age 94, but the obits appeared in the last day or two. Schwimmer, an American who violated US laws to provide aircraft to Israel at its birth, later became the first President of Israel Aircraft Industries (now Israel Aerospace Industries), and is generally considered the father of the Israeli Air Force. Ironically, he died on his 94th birthday.

Born in New York in 1917, Schwimmer worked for Lockheed Martin and TWA, and in the Israeli War of Independence helped smuggle surplus US military and other aircraft through Europe to the new state of Israel. Some credit him with the birth of the Israeli Air Force. He returned to the US after the establishment of Israel, and was tried and convicted of vi9lations of the Neutrality Act, and stripped of his right to vote, though not imprisoned. David Ben Gurion invited him to Israel, where he founded the country’s aviation industry. He headed Israel Aircraft Industries until 1978.


In the 1980s, when I was working on Middle Eastern defense production issues, I got to know IAI pretty well, and Schwimmer was legendary, though I never met him.

The Jerusalem Post has a much more detailed obit here.  Along with the photo at right of Schwimmer in a cockpit with Ben Gurion.


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Arab protesters descend on Israeli borders (AP)

May 15th, 2011 Comments off

AP – Mobilized by calls on Facebook, thousands of Arab protesters marched on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations, sparking clashes that left at least 15 people dead in an annual Palestinian mourning ritual marking the anniversary of Israel’s birth.

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Separated at Birth? Curious Coincidence if True: Mubarak and Tura Prison Born on Exact Same Day?

May 4th, 2011 Comments off

Following up on my note about Mubarak’s birthday today: According to the Egyptian opposition newspaper Al-Shorouq, May 4, 1928 was not only the date of Husni Mubarak’s birth, but also the date that Tura (Tora) prison was opened. (Link is in Arabic.) Tura has been the most notorious of political prisons under Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak, and where many Mubarak cronies, and even his two sons, have been held in recent days. It’s a notorious place among Egyptians.

If this is true it’s an amazing coincidence, synchronicity and all that, and I’m amazed I hadn’t heard this before: his most infamous prison was opened the same day he was born?  It’s being repeated on the Internet, but I haven’t found any independent confirmation. The account in the link of how it was founded when Wafdist Mustafa Nahhas was Interior Minister sounds circumstantial enough, though; really curious if true. (And it’s on the Internet, so it must be true, right?) Anybody want to provide documentation, or are we witnessing the birth of an urban legend? Or did no one ever notice this before? Or is it disinformation?

Weird.


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Birth Certificate silliness Really Looks Petty Now

May 2nd, 2011 Comments off