Question Gender? Your Life Might Fall Apart
35 minutes ago
Turning the Curious Into Converts
The missed opportunity came at the end of the interview. Colbert rattled off the names of about a dozen government agencies and asked Paul to raise his hand each time if he wants to abolish them. Paul obliged each and every time. Which is fine as far as it goes. But he missed a chance to turn the curious into converts. I suspect the reaction from many viewers was similar to that of the leftist blogger Manila Ryce:“[Stephen Colbert] did not let Paul get away as easily as fellow liberals [Jon] Stewart and [Bill] Maher have. Instead, he pointed out the differences between Paul’s far-right ideology and that held by the left. Stephen’s audience obviously wanted to cheer for Paul, but seemed thoroughly confused after they realized that the enemy of your enemy isn’t always your friend.”Colbert's list started with the Department of Education. Paul could have raised his hand, stopped him right there, and said: “Yes, I want to abolish the Department of Education. I know that sounds pretty radical, but let me tell you why.”
That last sentence is crucial to the success of Paul’s campaign going forward. He can’t say it often enough to preface unorthodox views that will be unfamiliar to liberals -- and for that matter, many younger conservatives with little memory of Ronald Reagan’s small-government rhetoric. Without compromising his principles (as I’m sure he never would), Paul must nonetheless acknowledge that his views might make people a bit uncomfortable; that basic expression of empathy alone will make them much more receptive to what he has to say.
And what he could have proceeded to say was something like this:“You know, there was once a time when most Republicans wanted to abolish the Department of Education. But a funny thing happened. When Republicans won political power, they realized, 'Hey, we can use this Department of Education to push our own agenda on the rest of the country.' And that's why you have these endless fights now over how our kids are supposed to be educated, Republicans and Democrats each wanting to impose a one-size-fits-all solution on the entire nation. It's crazy. If they want to teach creationism in Oklahoma, fine, let them. If they want to teach condom use in New York City, that's fine too. Why should this all be imposed from Washington, D.C.? You know, there isn't one word in the Constitution about education, and that's because the Founders knew that education was something best left to states and communities and parents and teachers. But what do we have now? We have this crazy No Child Left Behind law where every kid in the nation is getting drilled in how to pass standardized tests and they're not actually learning anything. And don't forget, that law is the brainchild of Ted Kennedy every bit as much as it is of George W. Bush.”
At that point, the allotted time for the interview would have been over, and Paul would have given Colbert’s audience an awful lot to stop and think about. This message of devolution (or if you prefer, states’ rights) is central to Paul's brand of libertarianism, and it could really resonate with liberals who feel as if Christian fundamentalists are trying to impose Taliban-like rule nationwide and conservatives who still retain a memory, however deeply suppressed, of a time not very long ago when they had an innate suspicion of centralized power in Washington, D.C.
A Nation Divided
The fixation on a one-size-fits-all template has seized hold of both liberals and conservatives in nearly every matter of “public policy,” and the resulting free-for-all has left the America of 2007 a deeply divided country. The divisions began with the ascendance of political Christianity in the ’80s, gathered pace during Clinton’s polarizing presidency in the ’90s, reached a crescendo with the 2000 Florida recount, took a breather after Sept. 11, and have gathered pace again since the spring of 2004, when the outrages at Abu Ghraib prison and the slaughter of the four U.S. contractors in Fallujah began turning large numbers of Americans against the Iraq war.
Amid all these divisions, Ron Paul could bring a message of healing -- not a message of unity: The country is beyond unity at this stage of its history -- and no amount of Barack Obama platitudes will change that, but a message of healing nonetheless -- a message that it’s OK for diverse peoples and communities to have different values, to make different choices, to live and let live.
Chances are that’s what America is going to look like in a couple of decades anyway. If nascent secession movements in Vermont, Hawaii, and elsewhere don’t come to fruition, those states and all the rest will nonetheless have much more autonomy as, in time, power devolves from Washington. In all likelihood, the process will come about acrimoniously, perhaps even violently, as competing factions fight each other to exhaustion and our bloated domestic bureaucracy and overseas empire collapse under their own weight. But what if the process came about peacefully, as the factions come to realize as the Founders did that there’s relatively little to fight about when political power is decentralized? Ron Paul can help to bring about that realization, start changing the national dialogue and at the same time, build additional support for his presidential campaign from across the political spectrum.
Msgr. Jia Zhiguo, underground bishop is freed
He returned home yesterday evening after 17 days passed in solitary confinement, under constant surveillance in a military barracks. The arrest may be linked to the imminent publication of the Pope's letter to China’s Catholics.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - Msgr. Giulio Jia Zhiguo, underground bishop of Zhengding was released yesterday. Police had sequestered him June 5th last. AsiaNews sources confirm that yesterday afternoon at 17.30 (local time) the bishop returned home to the Episcopal residence of Zhengding (Hebei), after 17 days detention.
AsiaNews sources say on this occasion the bishop was not subjected to interrogation or coercion. He was only kept in isolation and surveyed in an army barracks near Zanhuang (Hebei). On previous occasions he had been interrogated and subjected to coercion in the attempt to make him adhere to the Patriotic Association, the organism which controls all Churches and which is seeking to build a Church independent of the Vatican. The bishop has been sequestered a total of nine times since 2004.
The motive for this latest arrest remains unclear, but experts explain to AsiaNews that it may be a “provocation” in view of the imminent publication of the Pope’s letter to China’s Catholics. According to many faithful, the police and government in Hebei fear that the Pope’s letter may result in tension and unrest. Even at the time of John Paul II’s death the police cracked down on the Church and closely followed the bishops to make guard against “revolt” and unadvisable gestures.
Hebei is one of the provinces worst hit by the Chinese governments anti Catholic persecution, and the area with the greatest concentration of underground Catholics. The last arrest of Msgr. Jia dates to November 2005. In the past Msgr. Jia spent over 20 years in prison. As a free citizen he is under constant police surveillance, limiting his pastoral activities. He cannot visit the faithful of his diocese, not even to administer extreme unction to dying Catholics.
Cancerous substances found in Chinese food and veterinary medicines
The Ministry for Agriculture admits the incident, but maintain there has been “a slight improvement” since 2006. Now 95% of products are in order, yet green malachite, nitro furans and brass sulphate have been found in more food. Expired produce repackaged and sold as new. Meanwhile the trial opens of Zheng Xiaoyu’s secretary.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Veterinary medicines without a license or substandard to the requirements, food products containing cancerous substances, old snacks expired by over two years re packaged, counterfeit products. The long battle to insure food security in China is confirmed.
June 21 the Ministry for Agriculture declared that the analyses of about 20% of veterinary medicines resulted substandard. The problem is aggravated by the massive presence of counterfeit products: without official approval, produced by inexistent companies or even long banned, or fake facsimiles of existing products without approval.
Notwithstanding the minister announced “a small improvement” compared to a year ago and has promised increased quality control.
This week, the Ministry of Agriculture, eager to reassure consumers, said tests of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish in major cities showed that more than 95 per cent of products were up to standard. But it admitted problems existed. Malachite green, a cancer-causing chemical used by fish farmers to kill parasites, was found in some samples, as were nitrofurans, an antibiotic also linked to cancer.
Earlier this month Wan Maomao Frozen Food Co. in Anhui was discovered to have recycled “zongzi” – rice gluten snacks covered in bamboo leaves – by repackaging them even though they had expired two years earlier. Zongzi is traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat festival in June. In 2006 the national quality inspection administration announced that 10 percent of rice dumplings made by 133 producers nationwide had failed tests because they contained excessive amounts of food additives; Wan Maomao was among them. The tests showed that the leaves contained high amounts of copper sulfate or copper chloride, normally used to make the leaves bright green.
Meanwhile in Beijing, the closed door trial against Cao Wenzhuang, ex secretary of Zheng Xiaoyu, the former director State Food and Drug Administration. Zheng was condemned to death in May for having accepted money and gifts amounting to 6.49 million Yuan to authorize substandard medicines, among them an antibiotic that killed at least 6 people. Cao denies all responsibility, but court officials say the charges are “very serious”. (PB)
Papal Message for World Mission Sunday
"All the Churches for All the World"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's message for the 81st World Mission Sunday, to be celebrated Oct. 21.
* * *
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
FOR THE 81st WORLD MISSION SUNDAY 2007
"All the Churches for all the world"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the occasion of the World Mission Day, I would like to invite the entire People of God -- Pastors, priests, men and women religious and lay people -- to reflect together on the urgent need and importance of the Church's missionary action, also in our time.
Indeed, the words with which the Crucified and Risen Jesus entrusted the missionary mandate to the Apostles before ascending to Heaven do not cease to ring out as a universal call and a heartfelt appeal: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you". And he added, "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
In the demanding work of evangelization we are sustained and accompanied by the certainty that he, the Lord of the harvest, is with us and continues to guide his people. Christ is the inexhaustible source of the Church's mission. This year, moreover, a further reason impels us to renew our missionary commitment: the 50th anniversary of the Encyclical of the Servant of God Pius XII, "Fidei Donum," which promoted and encouraged cooperation between the Churches for the mission ad gentes.
"All the Churches for all the world": this is the theme chosen for the next World Mission Day. It invites the local Churches of every continent to a shared awareness of the urgent need to relaunch missionary action in the face of the many serious challenges of our time.
The conditions in which humanity lives have of course changed and in recent decades, especially since the Second Vatican Council, a great effort has been made to spread the Gospel.
However, much still remains to be done in order to respond to the missionary call which the Lord never tires of addressing to every one of the baptized. In the first place, he continues to call the Churches of so-called "ancient tradition", which in the past provided the missions with a consistent number of priests, men and women religious and lay people as well as material means, giving life to an effective cooperation between Christian communities.
This cooperation has yielded abundant apostolic fruit both for the young Churches in mission lands as well as in the ecclesial situations from which the missionaries came. In the face of the secularized culture, which sometimes seems to be penetrating ever more deeply into Western societies, considering in addition the crisis of the family, the dwindling number of vocations and the progressive ageing of the clergy, these Churches risk withdrawing into themselves to view the future with ever less hope and weakening their missionary effort.
Yet, this is the very time for opening oneself with trust to the Providence of God, who never abandons his People and who, with the power of the Holy Spirit, guides them toward the fulfilment of his eternal design of salvation.
The Good Shepherd also invites the recently evangelized Churches to dedicate themselves generously to the missio ad gentes. Despite the many difficulties and obstacles they encounter in their development, these communities are constantly growing. Fortunately, some of them have a large number of priests and consecrated persons, many of whom, although there are so many needs in loco, are nevertheless sent to carry out their pastoral ministry and apostolic service elsewhere, even in lands evangelized long ago.
Thus, we are witnessing a providential "exchange of gifts" which redounds to the benefit of the entire Mystical Body of Christ.
I warmly hope that missionary cooperation will be intensified and that the most will be made of the potential and charisms of each one. I also hope that World Mission Day will contribute to making all the Christian communities and every baptized person ever more aware that Christ's call to spread his Kingdom to the very ends of the earth is universal.
"The Church is missionary by her very nature", John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical "Redemptoris Missio," "for Christ's mandate is not something contingent or external, but reaches the very heart of the Church. It follows that the universal Church and each individual Church is sent forth to the nations.... It is highly appropriate that young Churches "should share as soon as possible in the universal missionary work of the Church. They should themselves send missionaries to proclaim the Gospel all over the world, even though they are suffering from a shortage of clergy'" (n. 62).
Fifty years after the historical appeal for cooperation between the Churches at the service of the mission of my Predecessor, Pius XII, with his Encyclical "Fidei Donum," I would like to reaffirm that the Gospel proclamation continues to be timely and urgent.
In the Encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" cited above, Pope John Paul II, for his part, recognized that "the Church's mission is wider than the "communion among the Churches'; it ought to be directed not only to aiding re-evangelization but also and primarily to missionary activity as such" (n. 64).
Therefore, as has often been said, missionary commitment remains the first service that the Church owes to humanity today to guide and evangelize the cultural, social and ethical transformations; to offer Christ's salvation to the people of our time in so many parts of the world who are humiliated and oppressed by endemic poverty, violence and the systematic denial of human rights.
The Church cannot shirk this universal mission; for her it has a binding force. Since Christ first entrusted the missionary mandate to Peter and to the Apostles, today it is primarily the responsibility of the Successor of Peter whom divine Providence has chosen as a visible foundation of the Church's unity, and of the Bishops directly responsible for evangelization, both as members of the Episcopal College and as Pastors of the particular Churches (cf. "Redemptoris Missio," n. 63).
I am thus addressing the Pastors of all the Churches chosen by the Lord to guide his one flock so that they may share in the pressing concern to proclaim and spread the Gospel.
It was precisely this concern that 50 years ago impelled the Servant of God Pius XII to bring missionary cooperation more up to date with the times.
With particular concern for the future of evangelization he asked the "long established" Churches to send priests to support the recently founded Churches.
Thus, he gave life to a new "subject of mission" which took the name of "Fidei Donum" precisely from the first words of the Encyclical.
Of it he wrote: "As We direct our thoughts, on the one hand, to the countless multitudes of Our sons who have a share in the blessings of divine faith, especially in countries that have a long Christian tradition, and on the other hand, as We consider the far more numerous throngs of those who are still waiting for the day of salvation to be proclaimed to them, We are filled with a great desire to exhort you again and again, Venerable Brethren, to support with zealous interest the most holy cause of bringing the Church to all the world". He added: "Please God, may it come to pass that Our admonitions will arouse a keener interest in the missionary apostolate among your priests and through them set the hearts of the faithful on fire!" (cf. "Fidei Donum," n. 4).
Let us give thanks to the Lord for the abundant fruits obtained by this missionary cooperation in Africa and in other regions of the earth.
Throngs of priests, after leaving their native communities, have devoted their apostolic energy to the service of communities which have sometimes only recently come into being in poor and developing areas. Among these priests are many martyrs who have combined with the witness of their words and apostolic dedication the sacrifice of their lives.
Nor can we forget the many men and women religious and lay volunteers who, together with the priests, spared no effort to spread the Gospel to the very ends of the earth. May World Mission Day be an opportunity to remember in prayer these brothers and sisters of ours in the faith and all who continue to work in the vast field of the mission.
Let us ask God that their example may everywhere inspire new vocations and a renewed mission awareness in the Christian people. Indeed, every Christian community is born missionary, and it is precisely on the basis of the courage to evangelize that the love of believers for their Lord is measured.
Consequently, we could say that for the individual members of the faithful it is no longer merely a matter of collaborating in evangelizing work but of feeling that they themselves are protagonists and corresponsible. This corresponsibility entails the growth of communion between the communities and increases reciprocal help with regard to the personnel (priests, men and women religious and lay volunteers) and the use of the means necessary for evangelization today.
Dear brothers and sisters, the missionary mandate entrusted by Christ to the Apostles truly involves us all. May World Mission Day therefore be a favourable opportunity to acquire a deeper awareness and to work out together appropriate spiritual and formative itineraries which encourage inter-Church cooperation and the training of new missionaries to spread the Gospel in our time.
However, let it not be forgotten that the first and priority contribution that we are called to offer to the missionary action of the Church is prayer. "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few", the Lord said; "pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest" (Luke 10:2).
"First of all, therefore", Pope Pius XII of venerable memory wrote 50 years ago, "Venerable Brethren, We trust that more continuous and fervent prayers will be raised to God for this cause" ("Fidei Donum," n. 49). Remember the immense spiritual needs of the numerous populations who are far from the true faith or who stand in such great need of the means of perseverance (cf. n. 55). And he urged the faithful to increase the number of Masses offered for the missions, saying that "this is in accordance with the prayers of Our Lord who loves his Church and wishes her to flourish and enlarge her borders throughout the whole world" (ibid., n. 52).
Dear brothers and sisters, I also renew this invitation, which is more timely than ever. May the unanimous invocation of the "Our Father who art in Heaven" be extended in every community, so that his Kingdom will come on earth.
I appeal in particular to children and young people, who are always ready and generous in their missionary outreach. I address the sick and the suffering, recalling the value of their mysterious and indispensable collaboration in the work of salvation. I ask consecrated people, especially those in cloistered monasteries, to intensify their prayers for the missions.
Thanks to the commitment of every believer, the spiritual network of prayer and support for evangelization is being extended throughout the Church. May the Virgin Mary who accompanied with motherly solicitude the development of the newborn Church, also guide our footsteps in our time and obtain for us a new Pentecost of love. May she especially make us all aware of being missionaries, that is, those who have been sent out by the Lord to be his witnesses at every moment of our life.
I assure my daily remembrance in prayer to the fidei donum priests, to the men and women religious and lay volunteers working on the frontiers of evangelization as well as to all who in their various capacities are dedicated to Gospel proclamation, as with affection I impart my Apostolic Blessing to all.
From the Vatican, 27 May 2007, the Solemnity of Pentecost.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address to Mar Dinkha IV
"We Are Asked by the Lord to Join Our Hands and Hearts"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today when he received in audience Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, and his entourage.
* * *
I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican, together with the Bishops and the priests who have accompanied you on this visit. My warm greetings extend to all the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Assyrian Church of the East. I pray -- in the words of the Apostle Saint Paul -- that "the Lord himself, who is our source of joy, may give you peace at all times and in every way" (2 Th 3:16).
On several occasions Your Holiness met with my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II. Most significant was your visit in November 1994, when you came to Rome, accompanied by members of your Holy Synod, to sign a Common Declaration concerning Christology. This Declaration included the decision to establish a Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. The Joint Commission has undertaken an important study of the sacramental life in our respective traditions and forged an agreement on the Anaphora of the Apostles Addai and Mari. I am most grateful for the results of this dialogue, which hold out the promise of further progress on other disputed questions. Indeed, these achievements deserve to be better known and appreciated, since they make possible various forms of pastoral cooperation between our two communities.
The Assyrian Church of the East is rooted in ancient lands whose names are associated with the history of God's saving plan for all mankind. At the time of the early Church, the Christians of these lands made a remarkable contribution to the spread of the Gospel, particularly through their missionary activity in the more remote areas of the East. Today, tragically, Christians in this region are suffering both materially and spiritually. Particularly in Iraq, the homeland of so many of the Assyrian faithful, Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment. Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad. These difficulties are a source of great concern to me, and I wish to express my solidarity with the pastors and the faithful of the Christian communities who remain there, often at the price of heroic sacrifices. In these troubled areas the faithful, both Catholic and Assyrian, are called to work together. I hope and pray that they will find ever more effective ways to support and assist one another for the good of all.
As a result of successive waves of emigration, many Christians from the Eastern Churches are now living in the West. This new situation presents a variety of challenges to their Christian identity and their life as a community. At the same time, when Christians from the East and West live side by side, they have a precious opportunity to enrich one another and to understand more fully the catholicity of the Church, which, as a pilgrim in this world, lives, prays and bears witness to Christ in a variety of cultural, social and human contexts. With complete respect for each other’s doctrinal and disciplinary traditions, Catholic and Assyrian Christians are called to reject antagonistic attitudes and polemical statements, to grow in understanding of the Christian faith which they share and to bear witness as brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:24).
New hopes and possibilities sometimes awaken new fears, and this is also true with regard to ecumenical relations. Certain recent developments in the Assyrian Church of the East have created some obstacles to the promising work of the Joint Commission. It is to be hoped that the fruitful labour which the Commission has accomplished over the years can continue, while never losing sight of the ultimate goal of our common journey towards the re-establishment of full communion.
Working for Christian unity is, in fact, a duty born of our fidelity to Christ, the Shepherd of the Church, who gave his life "to gather into one the dispersed children of God" (Jn 11:51-52). However long and laborious the path towards unity may seem, we are asked by the Lord to join our hands and hearts, so that together we can bear clearer witness to him and better serve our brothers and sisters, particularly in the troubled regions of the East, where many of our faithful look to us, their Pastors, with hope and expectation.
With these sentiments, I once more thank Your Holiness for your presence here today and for your commitment to continuing along the path of dialogue and unity. May the Lord abundantly bless your ministry and sustain you and the faithful whom you serve with his gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.
[Original text: English]
© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
China to Dynamite Marian Shrine
TIANJIAJING, China, JUNE 21, 2007 (Zenit.org ).- The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be dynamited following a government decision that the pilgrimage site is a place of illegal religious activity.
The Henan Province government will prevent the annual July 16 pilgrimage, which normally draws 40,000 pilgrims for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, AsiaNews reported.
The shrine was built in 1903 by a priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Monsignor Stefano Scarsella, then apostolic vicar to northern Henan. The shrine was meant to thank the Blessed Virgin for preserving Christians from the dangers of the Boxer Rebellion.
The sanctuary lies in Tianjiajing, in the Diocese of Anyang, in a scenic, mountainous area that some speculate will be used for a commercial or government building.
The provincial government has mobilized 700 soldiers for military exercises in the area since May 12, when the planned destruction was announced. Roads leading to the shrine are closed and pedestrians who go near the area are searched.
The faithful of the Diocese of Anyang, appealing through AsiaNews, said: "We ask all our brothers and sisters in the Lord to pray for us and spread our message to all the faithful of the world."
Benedict XVI to Proclaim a Year of St. Paul
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- At vespers on the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Benedict XVI will proclaim a Year of St. Paul, marking the 2,000th anniversary of the Apostle's birth.
The Holy See announced today that the Pope will make the pronouncement next Thursday, June 28, from the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
It is estimated that the then Saul of Tarsus was born between A.D. 6 and 10.
Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, mentioned the possibility of the dedication during a press conference Feb. 28.
In that meeting, the cardinal presented the archaeological research surrounding what is traditionally accepted as St. Paul's sarcophagus under the basilica's main altar.
He encouraged sanctuaries around the world to participate in celebrating the year, particularly places linked to St. Paul in Jerusalem, Turkey and other regions of the Middle East.
Last fall, Benedict XVI dedicated four Wednesday catecheses to the figure and thought of St. Paul.
Freedom presupposes a moral order that entails other, prior obligations between kin and between fellow citizens. Within a polity, fellow citizens have more obligations to one another than they have to non-citizens. Even if the net benefits of a policy accrue to many citizens and non-citizens, but come at the expense of fellow citizens, it is very likely unjust and contrary to the obligations that members of a polity have towards one another. For the success of any polity in providing for the welfare of its members, there must be a certain degree of solidarity, and it is those things leading towards social fragmentation and disunity that need to be justified. Incidentally, on this point Christian social thought has much to say and has ample room for a solidaristic, patriotic nationalism.The order of charity, and the "particularity" of our obligations to others, is something ignored by Mohists and certain liberals, especially Catholic liberals. I wonder by what pathway Mr. Larison has acquired this teaching of paleoconservatism. Conservative texts? Christian texts? Both? It is certainly a part of Thomistic moral theology, and I would go so far as to claim that it is part of the Tradition as well. I do not know to what text Orthodox Christians would refer.
The cost of “child slaves”: 17 euros each, better again if mentally retarded
For years there have been groups dedicated to trafficking human beings. The police admits that it knew of factories using child labour, but fails to explain why it did not intervene. Children may have been stolen from other provinces.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Following the liberation of hundreds of slaves in Shanxi and Henan, a humiliating reality is emerging: in the China of the economic boom, there are groups who have been abducting and selling human beings into forced labour for years. Investigations reveal that the child and adult “slaves” were kidnapped from many provinces. The police has admitted that it has been aware of the problem for years, but failed to intervene.
Zhou Jinghuan in under three years circulated 3 thousand workers, selling them for a mere 170 Yuan (17 Euro each) to brick factories or mines in Henan. In 2006, a report carried by state TV spoke of how human trafficking was widespread in Henan, but this coverage did not result in police intervention.
The television report spoke of Zhou, who “worked” in Zhengzhou and preferred the mentally retarded, easier to circulate and control, “obedient and happy if you give them some wine”: 30% of her merchandise. Those who refuse to be sold are beaten; those who try to escape are forced to knell on broken glass. Those who flee are often found near railway stations, given that they have no money or documents. The report says that the slave trader has been arrested, but fails to speak about the aftermath.
Meanwhile yesterday, Zheng Baigang, director of the Ministry for Public Security admitted that Henan police discovered that child labour was flagrant in brick factories in 2004, following reports filed by the parents of kidnapped children. At the time the police made preliminary investigations, but “stopped” when the factory “owners” fled to nearby Shanxi, because – Zheng explains - “the problem was solved in the province under the instructions of our leaders”. That pushes many to the conclusion that kidnapping and exploiting minors is not a series crime, if the authorities were contended by having “sent away” the perpetrators. Either way it fails to explain why there have been no controls since then.
From information emerging in recent days it appears that human trafficking is widespread. In Henan on June 8th Ji Xiulan a wanted criminal, was arrested. Shanghai Daily reports that she had been hunted for years together with her husband for having trafficked at least 118 babies from Guangxi selling them on to Henan, Hubei and Anhui. She was discovered by chance in March 2003 when the car she was transporting 13 children broke down in Henan.
At least 68 parents have contacted media in Hebei fearing that their disappeared children may be among the slaves of the brick factory.
Vox Nova is a response to the ecclesial mandate to promote the common good in every sphere of human existence. We come from varying backgrounds and carry diverse social outlooks, traversing a wide range of demographics and political sympathies. Vox Nova is free, to the furthest extent possible, from partisanship, nationalism and demagoguery, all of which banish intellectual honesty from rational discourse.
United in our Catholic, pro-person worldview, yet diverging in our socio-political opinions, we seek to provide informed commentary and rigorous debate on culture, society, politics and law, all while unwaveringly adhering to, and aptly applying the principles of Catholic doctrine. We are not intellectually wedded to any single political ideology. Following the example of the rich tradition of Catholic social doctrine from Pope Leo XIII to Pope Benedict XVI, we do not forge artificial blockades between "faith and morals" and "social judgments." We do not and will not filter Catholic doctrine and morality through contrived categories in order to morph our Catholic faith and practice into some ideologically acceptable form.
US Congressman Roscoe Bartlett
Peak Oil: The Future of Food Security, Fuel and the Economy
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (Rep, Maryland), was interviewed by Dave Room of the Postcarbon Institute. Bartlett, a former teacher among other things, is the only person in Congress who speaks on peak oil and says that he's willing to repeat and repeat until Congress understands, which at the time of this interview almost no one did. He mentions that his assistant, Dr. John Darnell, is also a scientist and very well informed about peak oil. He suggests to call your Congressman and ask about "peak oil" so they will know of our concern.
Bartlett's impetus to speak has been his long concern for the prediction of MK Hubbard that the US would peak in oil in 1976, and Hubbard was correct. He predicted that world oil would peak in 2000 and the fact is that oil is probably peaking right now. It is obviously a limited resource and is diminishing. It's made even worse because the demand for oil is growing along with the diminishing supply. When that larger need (China is biggest demand), along with less oil availability coincide (and it's beginning) it can lead to major issues of war and economic breakdown. Natural gas will be exhausted at about the same time as oil. Since our whole food system-- growing and delivery (average food on our plates travels 1500 miles)-- and society rest on the use of these fossil fuels, it's in the interest of the United States to take these realities into consideration in planning to lessen the pain and suffering the reality of declining oil will bring.
Bartlett says that we should have started 25 years ago to develop other methods of creating energy and already, with less time, it's getting more challenging to develop alternative energy at a fast enough rate. to make the difference we need. The US uses 25% of all the world's oil-- even more reason to be a leader in cutting back our use and changing the deeply engrained oil dependence of our society. Europe uses half as much energy as the US. He suggests that we should grow our own food locally. Also, just the change of having two people in a car rather than one would make a huge difference in oil use. Coal is not an answer since it is also limited. We need a new yardstick by which to judge success other than how much energy we use. We need to change the US culture-- get off the grid, out of debt, and into alternative energy and focus on conservation and efficiency NOW.
Table of Contents