Baithak World Apr 11: Open Query, Richard Falk, Bavarian Pop, Leyla Zana, Mandela, Holy Key, Target Iran, Beautiful Women, Szep, RealNews
"The liberation of Iraq -- in other words, the decision that we had to move the Iraqi people and the region into a post-Saddam era -- will stand, I'm convinced, as one of the greatest decisions of American statecraft, as one of the things that American soldiers, male and female, the politicians who voted for it, those who've defended it, will be proudest of in the future of any decision we've ever made."
Hitch, Hitch, Hitch . . . I don't know what to say. Long ago I wrote you off, as did so many of your former friends and allies, and met whatever twisted rhetoric of yours I caught with a weary shrug and a sad smile. But recently, a reader of mine passed on some clips of you debating your brother, Peter, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and early in the event you unleashed the above quote. It wasn't so much the words, which are of course mad, worthy of a lesser Lewis Carroll character, but the tense, strange expression on your face as you uttered this lunacy. Open Query To Hitchens
The fact remains that Italy and England, like the rest of Western Europe, have very low Church attendance, generally between 10% and 18%. The overall effect of this decline ... a vacuum was created, leading to the most powerful insurgent movement of the late 20th century, right-wing fundamentalism. The U.S. and Western Europe face a crisis in tolerance, since the churches are now dominated by literalists who rebuke liberal Christianity and hold no toleration for non-Christian faiths. Not just Islam is scorned. John Paul II, himself a theological reactionary, went out of his way to dismiss any claim that Buddha was Christ-like, affirming that from a Catholic viewpoint, Buddhists are all pagans.In other words, the calming ecumenical movement spearheaded by John XXIII has ebbed. Militant Islam is simply a more violent example of the same trend -- although invisible to outsiders, the vast majority of Muslims don't agree with the malevolent factions that have co-opted the faith. The most tolerant Christians remain passive, like the most tolerant Muslims. Meanwhile, the thirst for some kind of belief must be quenched.The Ecumenical Age May Be Past
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed deployment orders that will send U.S. military trainers to Pakistan this summer, CNN has learned. Their mission: To teach Pakistan Frontier Corps units counterinsurgency skills critical to fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda. Several Pentagon and military officials confirmed the order has been signed although it has not been publicly announced. The deployment will be small -- just about two dozen troops who will stay through the spring of next year, according to the officials. All of this is the first step in a long-term U.S.-Pakistani military program on counterinsurgency cooperation. Wrong Area: They are needed in Lahore and Karachi to check the Lawyers
A Turkish court has sentenced Leyla Zana, a Kurdish politician and former Nobel peace prize nominee, to two years in prison for spreading "terrorist" propaganda, court officials said. Zana was convicted in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir for a speech she made at Kurdish festival last year. In the speech, she said that the Kurdish people had three leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, Kurdish politicians in northern Iraq, and Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader. Turkey jails Kurdish Nobel nominee
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has asked for "embarrassing" travel restrictions on Nelson Mandela and South African leaders to be lifted. A bill has been introduced in the US Congress to remove from databases any reference to South Africa's governing party and its leaders as terrorists. The African National Congress (ANC) was designated as a terrorist organisation by South Africa's old apartheid regime. What is the hurry? He is only 90
The High Court has ruled that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acted unlawfully by dropping a corruption inquiry into a £43bn Saudi arms deal. In a hard-hitting ruling, two High Court judges described the SFO's decision as an "outrage". Defence firm BAE was accused of making illegal payments to Saudi officials to secure contracts, but the firm maintains that it acted lawfully.
The key to the Kaaba - the ancient cube-shaped shrine in Mecca - went to an anonymous bidder at Sotheby's. The auction house said the price set a record for the sale of an Islamic work of art.
Made of iron and measuring 37cm in length, the key is engraved with the words "This was made for the Holy House of God". The key was the centrepiece of Sotheby's Islamic art sale, which realised more than $40m (£21.5m) in total. Holy Islamic key sets sale record
The intensely private George Bush had another emotional moment yesterday when he discussed how he overcame his drinking problems through religion. In his final year in office, the deeply unpopular President has been increasingly prone to public outbursts of emotion, something rarely seen in such a famously disciplined politician. On Tuesday, he wept openly during a memorial service for a Navy Seal who died in Iraq, the tears streaming down his face as the moment overcame him. No Tears for the 655,000 Iraqis dead?
Women seeking a lifelong mate might do well to choose the guy a notch below them in the looks category. New research reveals couples in which the wife is better looking than her husband are more positive and supportive than other match-ups. The reason, researchers suspect, is that men place great value on beauty, whereas women are more interested in having a supportive husband. Researchers admit that looks are subjective, but studies show there are some universal standards, including large eyes, "baby face" features, symmetric faces, so-called average faces, and specific waist-hip ratios in men versus women. Past research has shown that individuals with comparable stunning looks are attracted to each other and once they hook up they report greater relationship satisfaction. These studies, however, are mainly based on new couples, showing that absolute beauty is important in the earliest stages of couple-hood, said lead researcher James McNulty of the . But the role of physical attractiveness in well-established partnerships, such as marriage, is somewhat of a mystery. Why Beautiful Women Marry Less Attractive Men
India's supreme court today gave the go ahead for almost 50% of places at the nation's publicly funded universities and colleges to be reserved for lower-caste and other disadvantaged people. In extending the world's largest and oldest affirmative action system, the court accepted that higher education institutions had to reserve a quota of seats for untouchables, tribals and "backward classes". The system of "reservations" is one of modern-day India's defining institutions. The preferences were enshrined in the nation's first constitution in 1950 in an attempt to erase inequalities fostered by the centuries-old caste system. At present the law maintains that 22.5% of all places at India's universities are guaranteed for indigenous peoples and dalits, or untouchables, found at the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy. The government wants to extend this scheme to secure seats for the remaining "backward" sections of society, who make up 27% of the country's 1 billion people. India reserves half of university places for lower castes - Randeep Ramesh and NYT report
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