Friday, July 27, 2007

Short Subjects

On Wars

Pope Benedict XVI recently called for an end to all wars, describing them as "useless slaughters" that bring hell to Earth, and harkening back some 90 years when his predecessor Pope Benedict XV urged a similar end to the World War I, then ravaging northern Italy.

"While this inhuman conflict raged,” Benedict XVI said, “the pope had the courage to affirm that it was a 'useless slaughter.' … "From this place of peace, where one still senses how unacceptable the horrors of 'useless slaughters' are, I renew the appeal to pursue the path of rights, to strongly refuse the recourse to weapons and refuse to confront new situations with old systems," he said. And he reminded us that God put man on Earth to take care of his "paradise," but that man sinned and began making war.

As wonderful as the world might be if wars were a thing of the past, expecting human beings to forego those motives that drive nations and factions to fight against one another is a pipe dream, without, as the Pope said, an allegiance to a higher power than mere mortal men. However, when believers in one deity think that wiping those who believe in a different deity from the face of the Earth, prospects for ending wars are dim at best.


Here is some apparent good news, courtesy of The New Zealand Press: “Popular support for suicide bombings has dropped sharply across the Muslim world in what could suggest a rejection of Islamist militant tactics among Muslims, a global survey released yesterday said.”

Nearly six years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the Pew organization found dwindling support for suicide bombings in seven of eight Muslim countries since 2002.

In Lebanon, the number of Muslims who say suicide attacks are often or sometimes justified fell from 74 per cent to 34 per cent. In Pakistan, support for suicide bombings dropped to 9 per cent from 33 per cent in 2002. Likewise, among Muslims in Bangladesh and Indonesia, support for suicide bombing as a tactic in defense of Islam is down by at least half. But support for suicide attacks remained at a high 70 per cent among Palestinians.

The 2007 Pew Global Attitudes survey, based on polling data from 47 countries, also showed waning confidence in al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden among Muslims. Confidence in bin Laden as a world leader was lower in seven Muslim countries, led by Jordan, where support for the al Qaeda leader dropped from 56 per cent in 2003 to 20 percent.

But, as if to remind us that the Muslim world is still a unique place, the poll results showed that the United States is viewed as the biggest threat by a majority of Muslims.

Well, you can’t expect everything all at once. If a majority of Muslims opposes suicide bombings, that’s enough for one week.

Media One-Sidedness on Economic Issues Continues

Since January the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up eight percent, and just roared through the historic 13,000 barrier recently. Further, the Dow is bumping up against 14,ooo, another historic mark, and not all that long after it crossed 13k.

That the U.S. has a strong economy is hardly worth debating, unless you are the mainstream American media, which is eternally pessimistic, and continually focused on negatives. You hear, read and see little about the good economy, but when the Dow Jones Industrials take a hit, everybody’s suddenly not just talking about it, it’s what keeps them alive.

In February the Dow lost 400 points, and just this week it has had two down days, one losing more than 300 points, and today dropping another 200. You might think the world was coming to an end, or that all those dire warnings of global catastrophe due to greenhouses were coming to be, if you paid attention to the media reports.

But it’s far less serious than you think. Consider it just on the numbers, and think about it as if the Dow Industrial Average was a dollar. When January began, your dollar was worth 100 cents. The 400-point drop put it down to about 97 cents. And two days ago it was worth 108 cents. Today, it still worth 104.4 cents. Hardly reason to get too upset.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy remains strong overall, despite some weakening in the housing market.

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