Daniel's blog

New FGI Discussions: August 14, 2006

This week the volunteers at Free Government Information (FGI) (http://freegovinfo.info)
updated our Best Titles Ever! page with more cover art and more titles suggested by govdoc-l members. In addition, we started the following discussions we hope you will join:

No activity was observed at either the main main FDSys site or at the FDSys Blog during the past week.

If you use Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/) or some other RSS reader, consider subscribing to the FGI Feed at http://freegovinfo.info/blog/feed to get FGI stories as they are posted.

Politics Thursday: The final chapter

After my big "I'm going out on my own" speech, I realized that last Thursday I promised a sequel about the effectiveness of nonviolence.

So, here it is:

Continuing our nonviolent journey through The Powers that be: Theology for a new millennium (1998) by Walter Wink. I want to share Mr. Wink's documentation that nonviolence was used successfully even against the regime of Nazi Germany. If nonviolence can work against Nazis, it can work against anybody, Godwin notwithstanding. All that it takes is the will to use it.

In these quotes, any emphasis is mine:

p.151-153

The brutalities of the Nazis stand for many people as the ultimate refutation of nonviolence. Surely, they reason, only violence could have stopped Hitler. The facts indicate just the opposite. Nonviolence did work whenever it was tried against the Nazis. Bulgaria's Orthodox Biship Kiril told Nazi authorities that if they attempted to deport Bulgarian Jews to concentration camps, he himself would lead a campaign of civil disobedience, lying down on the railroad tracks in front of the trains. Thousands of Bulgarian Jews and non-Jews resisted all collaboration with Nazi decrees. They marched in mass street demonstrations and sent a flood of letters and telegrams to authorities protesting all anti-Jewish measures. Bulgarian clergy and laity hid Jews. Christian ministers accepted large numbers of Jewish "converts", making it clear that this was a trick to evade arrest and that they would not consider the vows binding. Ron Sider and Richard K. Talor comment, "Because of these and other nonmilitary measures, all of Bulgaria's Jewish citizens were saved from the Nazi death camps."

Finland saved all but six of its Jewish citizens from death camps through nonmilitary means. Of 7,000 Danish Jews, 6,500 escaped to Sweden, aided by virtually the entire population and tips from within the German occupation force itself. Almost all the rest were hidden safely for the balance of the war. Denmark's resistance was so effective that Adolf Eichmann had to admit that the action against the Jews of Denmark had been a failure.

The Norwegian underground helped spirit 900 Jews to safety in Sweden, but another 756 were killed, all but 20 in Nazi death camps. German wives of Jews demonstrated in Berlin on behalf of their husbands in the midst of war, and secured their release for its duration. In Italy, a large percentage of Jews survived because officials and citizens sabotaged efforts to them over to the Germans.

During the Nazi occupation of Holland, a general strike by all rail workers practically paralyzed traffic from November 1944 until liberation in May 1945--this despite extreme privation to the people, who held out all winter without heat and with dwindling food supplies. Similar resistance in Norway prevented Vidkun Quisling, Hitler's representative, from imposing a fascist "corporative state" on the country.

The tragedy is that even though nonviolence did work when used against the Nazis, it was used too seldom. The Jews themselves did not use it, but continued to rely in the main on the passive nonresistance that had carried them trhough so many pogroms in the past. And the churches as a whole were too docile or anti-Semitic, and too ignorant of the nonviolent message of the gospel, to act effectively to resist the Nazis.

Of course, nonviolence is not without cost. The path of nonviolence is not the path of passivity and cowardice, but, like violence, takes courage and sacrifice. Perhaps more so. As Mr. Wink says on page 118 of Powers That Be:

A caution, however: if we are to make nonviolence effective, we will have to be as willing to suffer and be killed as soldiers in battle. Nonviolence is not a way of avoiding personal sacrifice. Indeed, it requires that we take that sacrifice on ourselves rather than inflicting it on others.

Why bother with taking suffering on ourselves instead of inflicting it on others where it belongs? Because nonviolence in many situations has the potential for win-win instead of violence's inevitable win-lose or increasingly in today's world, simply lose-lose. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela understood this truth. Maybe more of us should try it today.

There you have it, the last Politics Thursday on LISNews. I'd like to thank all the people, named and otherwise who have debated, annoyed and often informed me here. I hope some of you (you know who you are) will follow me to my new blog.

Politics might occur any day of the week, but shouldn't be the main focus of Alaskan Librarian.

Like I said before, I'm not leaving LISNews. You'll see me in comments and I'll stil be reading other journals.

So I hope to be dialoging with you in different venues.

New FGI Discussions: August 7, 2006

This week the volunteers at Free Government Information (FGI) (http://freegovinfo.info)
were busy as we greeted August Blogger of the Month Peggy Garvin and updated our Best titles ever! page with more cover art and more titles suggested by govdoc-l members.

Peggy has already jumped in with these postings:

If you don't read anything else at Free Government Information this week, read Peggy's "Lunch with a Lobbyist" post. It has a lot to say about librarians and what we need to do!

While Peggy got an early start on her blogging, the FGI volunteers started the following discussions we hope you will join:

As Peggy reported, the FDSys blog announced the selection of a master integrator for the Future Digital System. The announcement appears to tie authentication directly to retrieval from FDSys and supports a centralized model of government information.

No activity was observed at the main main FDSys site during the past week.

If you use Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/) or some other RSS reader, consider subscribing to the FGI Feed at http://freegovinfo.info/blog/feed to get FGI stories as they are posted.

Come visit Alaskan Librarian!

After some considerable thought I've decided to start my own stand-alone blog that I hope some of you will visit.

The blog is called Alaskan Librarian and will likely turn out to be a blend of my journal here with what I'm doing with my blog within MySpace with more photography mixed in. If you're interested in why I'm starting a stand-alone blog, please visit Alaskan Librarian.

So I'm going to be downgrading my journal here. I'll crosspost the New@FGI, notices of new Catholic Worker Digests, and some library-related items here. Otherwise I'll be focusing on my new blog when I'm not posting at Free Government Information.

While I won't be writing as much, I'll still be commenting and spending time at LISNews.

Thanks to all of you who have either liked or have been provoked enough to comment on my journal entries. Hope I'll be seeing some of you at the new blog soon!

Book Review: Completing the Union: Alaska, Hawai'i ...

I recently read:

Completing the Union: Alaska, Hawai'i and the battle for Statehood
by John S. Whitehead
ISBN 0-8263-3636-1

And wanted to share my review of the book:

John Whitehead draws together oral histories, extensive interviews and work with archival sources to tell a compelling tale of how Alaska and Hawai'i became America's 49th and 50th states.

This compelling story is made all the more interesting by Mr. Whitehead's first chapter where he explains how he could not interest any fellow historians in this history. Mr. Whitehead claims that every historian he approached dismissed the story of Alaska/Hawai'l statehood as an extremely dull legislative history.

Mr. Whitehead brings that history alive by setting the statehood battle against the backdrop of World War II and the the early years of the Cold War. America's need to fight transformed the two territories and made their admission possible.

One fact that came out in this book I did not know before was that Japanese-Americans avoided internment in Hawai'i through the efforts of a single general - Gen. Delos Emmons. He was repeatedly ordered to round up the Japanese in Hawai'l and kept finding reasons NOT to carry out that order. Talk about about a solider fighting for people's freedom. It also teaches that there are sometimes differences between what is ordered and what is right.

Thank you Gen. Emmons, for making a bright spot in an otherwise dark time for civil rights!

If you have any interest in American history at all, you will enjoy this book. Give it a try!

US Bishops want your help on Lebanon

Since the SCLM tends not to cover the US Bishops except when they speak out on abortion, stem cells and euthanasia, here is their latest "action alert" on the current Mideast Crisis:

Request U.S. Leadership to Achieve an Immediate Ceasefire, Deliver Humanitarian
Aid and Seek Political Solutions
August 1, 2006

BACKGROUND: The current cycle of violence in the Middle Ease was immediately precipitated by
provocative acts by Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, including cross-border attacks and
abductions against Israeli military personnel and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Israel has a
right to defend its citizens, but its military response has been disproportionate and indiscriminate in some instances, endangering Palestinian and Lebanese civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure. The tragic deaths of civilians, many of whom were children, in Qana, Lebanon, is a recent reminder of civilian vulnerability. Catholic Relief Services staff are on the ground providing humanitarian aid in both Gaza and Lebanon.

USCCB POSITION: The Holy Father, the Holy See, the USCCB Committee on International Policy
and the local Church in the Holy Land have spoken out on the human and moral dimensions of the continuing crisis in the Middle East.

In a letter to all members of Congress, Bishop Thomas Wenski, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Policy, called on the United States to exercise greater leadership. Bishop Wenski urged the U.S. to work to: end the current cycle of violence, condemn all attacks on civilians, secure an effective and immediate ceasefire, open humanitarian corridors, oppose disproportionate and
indiscriminate actions, and move toward negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to advance a
two-state solution, and ensure the independence of Lebanon.

ACTION REQUESTED:
1. Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111. Emphasize these points:

  • Ask the President to support an immediate ceasefire.
  • Acknowledge the right of Israel to protect its people and territory.
  • Express deep concern for civilians caught up in the conflict on all sides.
  • Urge U.S. action to secure humanitarian corridors and deliver humanitarian aid.
  • Urge negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and measures to ensure the independence of Lebanon.

2. In home district Congressional visits during the August recess, use the additional talking points
below.

This statement, including the additional talking points not quoted here and more materials can be found on the US Bishops Middle East page.

Politics Thursday: Powers That Be: Nonviolence Works Pt. 1

After a week break, I am returning to sharing quotes from The Powers that be: Theology for a new millennium (1998) by Walter Wink. For the next two weeks, I'll share some quotes about the effectiveness of nonviolence.

In these quotes, any emphasis is mine.

Let's start with Mr. Wink's general evaluation of violence vs. nonviolence:

p. 116

Although nonviolence has been effectively used for centuries, it was not developed into a movement complete with strategies and tactics until Gandhi and King. Even today, people continue to reject nonviolence as impractical, idealistic, and out of touch with the need of nations and oppressed people to defend themselves. No such irrelevancy is charged against the myth of redemptive violence, however, despite the fact that it always fails half the time: one side always loses. Its exaltation of the saving powers of killing, and the privileged position accorded it by intellectuals and politicians alike, to say nothing of theologians, have made redemptive violence the myth of choice for Marxists and capitalists, Fascists and leftists, atheists and churchgoers alike.

Then came 1989-1990, years of unprecedented political change, years of miracles, surpassing any such concentration of political transformation in human history, even the Hebrews' exodus from Egypt. In 1989 alone, thirteen nations comprising 1.7 billion people—over thirty-two percent of humanity--experienced nonviolent revolutions. They succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations in every case but China. And they were completely peaceful (on the part of the protestors) in every case but Romania and parts of the southern USSR.

Now let's move to a simple problem resolved through nonviolence:

p.119

Here's how one boy dealt with a bully on a school bus. The child was too slight of build to fight the far sturdier bullly. But he had a weakness that he made into a strength; chronic sinusitis. One day, exasperated at the bully's behavior, he noisily blew a load of snot into his right hand and approached his nemisis, hand outstretched, saying, "I want to shake the hand of a real bully." The bully retreated, wide-eyed, to his seat.

Now let's look a more serious problem that most people agree couldn't be solved with guns, but it was.

p. 150

What if a gang of thugs is harassing villagers in the Phillippines, and the police do nothing about it? Does one kill the thugs? Killing would excise the tumor perhaps, but develop no antibodies in the system to stop its recurrence. What could the people do? They had the numbers; they were like ants, says Niall O'Brien. They could swarm over these thugs and stop their behavior nonviolently. If they failed, someone would shoot these petty criminals and simply confirm others in their worship of the gun. So people from the churches went, a thousand strong from the entire region, to the home of a known killer, and held a Mass surrounding his house. The perpetrator was refused communion and ordered to leave the area. He surrendered all his weapons, disarmed his gang, and after talking all night, repented of his actions, which, it turned out, were supported by President Marcos's army to discredit the real guerrillas.

The last quote I'll share deals with the situations where nonviolence can be used, and why we waiting for the “right conditions� will never work.

p. 178

Some willingly concede that the gospel is nonviolent, but argue that it can be used only against governments or groups that have achieved a minimum moral level. It can work with the genial British in India but not with the violent defenders of apartheid or the brutal Communists. This argument has been exploded by events, however. Nonviolence has now successfully worked against both communism and South African apartheid. As for the British in India, they were no more genial than the Romans in Palestine. Had Jesus waited for the Romans to achieve a minimum moral level, he never would have been able to articulate the message of nonviolence to begin with.

Next week we will examine the effectiveness of nonviolence against the ultimately violent.

What REALLY happens at the library?

Thanks to Steven Abram for pointing this out this YouTube video.

Not for people lacking a sense of humor. I'm just happy to see a teen having a good time at a library.

Pope again calls for unconditional cease fire

In the interest of continuing to show the Catholic Church's position on the current mideast conflict, I offer the following remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI on July 30, 2006 as reported by the Zenit News Agency:

In this moment I cannot help think of the situation, ever more grave and more tragic, that the Middle East is going through: hundreds of dead, many wounded, a huge number of the homeless and refugees; houses, towns and infrastructure destroyed; meanwhile, hatred and the desire for revenge grow in the hearts of many.

These facts demonstrate clearly that you cannot re-establish justice, establish a new order and build authentic peace when you resort to instruments of violence.

More than ever we see how prophetic and altogether realistic is the voice of the Church when, in the face of wars and conflicts of every kind, it points out the path of truth, justice, love and liberty (cf. encyclical "Pacem in Terris"). Humanity must also cross this path today to achieve the good desire for true peace.

In the name of God, I appeal to all those responsible for this spiral of violence, so that they immediately put down their weapons on all sides! I ask governing leaders and international organizations not to spare any effort to obtain this necessary halt to hostilities and so to be able to begin to build, through dialogue, a lasting and stable concord for all the people of the Middle East.

I appeal to all people of good to continue and to intensify the shipment of humanitarian help to those populations so tested and needy. But especially [I ask that] every heart continue to raise the hopeful prayer to the good and merciful God, so that he grants his peace to that region and to the whole world.

We entrust this sorrowful petition to the intercession of May, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Queen of Peace, so venerated in Mideast countries, where we hope to see soon reign this reconciliation for which the Lord Jesus has offered his precious Blood.

In other official Vatican reaction, the Catholic News Service reported the Vatican Foreign Minister as saying:

The conclusion -- supported by the United States -- that a cease-fire should be called only once there are guarantees it will not be broken "only appears realistic," said Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican foreign minister and an observer at the July 26 conference.

"Such conditions can and must be created with means that do not include the killing of innocent people," the archbishop said in a July 27 interview with Vatican Radio.

"An immediate suspension of hostilities is possible. In fact, it is obligatory," he said.

AND

"It was also problematic that the conference limited itself to asking Israel to exercise maximum moderation; such a request, by its nature, is inevitably ambiguous while concern for the innocent civilian population is a precise and unbreakable obligation," the archbishop said.

Archbishop Lajolo said the Vatican's position is that there must be an immediate end to the hostilities and that the multiple and complex problems in the region must be faced one at a time.

Pope Benedict, he said, is following the situation closely and praying constantly.

"The pope cries with every mother mourning her children, with every person weeping for their loved ones," Archbishop Lajolo told the radio.

New FGI Discussions: July 31, 2006

This week the volunteers at Free Government Information (FGI) (http://freegovinfo.info)
were very busy as we bid farewell to June/July guest blogger Jessamyn West and updated our Best titles ever! page with cover art and more titles suggested by govdoc-l members.

Along the way Daniel started the following discussions we hope you will join:

There was significant FDSys related activity at both at the main FDSys site and the FDSys blog in the past week.

The main FDSys site posted a GPO Road Map to the Future and a white paper on optimizing OCR accuracy.

The FDSys Blog featured another biweekly update that announced that the Master Integrator contract is likely to be awarded in early August and provided information on a meeting of the "Interagency Council for Digital Content Submission." Please see their blog for full details.

If you use Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/) or some other RSS reader, consider subscribing to the FGI Feed at http://freegovinfo.info/blog/feed to get FGI stories as they are posted.

Politics Thursday: Your Conduct in Combat

I'm going to take a break from quoting "Powers That Be" in order to share my latest personal documents digitization project:

I think the whole of this slightly post Vietnam era Army-issued guide for soldiers is worth reading and emulating, but no part as worthy as this page:

If you can't make out my cheap digital copy, here's the text (emphasis mine):

BUT .. never use threats, torture, or other forms of coercion to get information. An enemy captive is required to give only his name, rank, service number and date of birth. Combat experience has proven that useful information has been gained from captives who have been treated humanely, while information gathered through torture or coercion is unreliable.

Attacks upon the personal dignity of any captive or detainee, such as humiliating or degrading treatment, are strictly forbidden by the law of war.

We used to know better. Now our high officials talk of "quaint treaties" and the need to do the "hard things." This isn't progress. It's heartbreaking AND counterproductive.

[Note: If you choose "all sizes" on the Flickr page and print out the largest picture, the text should be easily readable except for the inside front cover. The entire set of pages is on Flickr.]

New CRS Report on Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah

Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists, a new Congressional Research Service report on the Middle East available to the public:

Order Code RL33566
Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah: The Current Conflict
July 21, 2006.

As shown by the table of contents below, this 45 page report is wide ranging and certain to be of interest to people in the current conflict:

Contents
Introduction . . . . 1
Background to the Current Crisis . . . . 2
Palestinian Elections and the Hamas-led PA Government . . . .2
The Isolation of Hamas and Internecine Palestinian Violence . . . . 2
Israeli-Palestinian Fighting in Gaza and the End of the Hamas Cease-Fire . 3
Enter Hezbollah . . . .5
The Military Conflict . . . . 7
Military Operations . . . .7
Israel’s Goals . . . . 9
The Regional Dimension . . . . 10
Lebanese Domestic Politics . . . . 10
Iran’s Relationship to Hezbollah . . . . 11
Syria . . . . 12
Regional Reactions: Public Responses and Leaders’ Positions . . . . 13
U.S. Policy . . . . 15
U.S. Policy toward Hamas and Hezbollah . . . .15
Supporting Israeli-Palestinian Peace . . . . 16
Concern for Lebanese Democracy, Stability, and Independence . . . .17
U.S.-Syrian Relations . . . . 18
U.S. Efforts to Contain Iran . . . .20
Diplomatic Efforts . . . . 21
The United Nations . . . . 21
U.N. Framework . . . .21
The United Nations and the Current Crisis . . . .21
The European Union and France . . . . 22
Regional Governments . . . . 23
Role of Congress . . . . 24
Legislation, Foreign Assistance, Sanctions, and Equipment Use
Restrictions . . . . 24
Recent Legislation . . . . 24
Congress and Evacuation Costs for U.S. Citizens . . . . 25
U.S. Foreign Assistance . . . . 25
Sanctions . . . . 27
Restrictions on the Use of U.S. Supplied Military Equipment . . . . 28
Implications . . . . 30
Prospects for a Regional War . . . . 30
U.S. Homeland Security . . . . 31
Possible Oil Market Disruption . . . . 32
Appendix A . . . . 34
Chronology of Recent Events . . . . 34
Appendix B . . . . 38
Appendix C . . . . 39
U.S. Sanctions . . . . 39
Iran . . . . 39
Syria . . . . 40
Lebanon . . . . 41
Hamas and Hezbollah . . . . 41

List of Figures
Figure 1. Fighting (Hezbollah Rocket Attacks and Israeli Air Strikes)
in Lebanon, Israel, and the Gaza Strip and West Bank . . . . 8

List of Tables
Chronology of Conflict on the Israeli-Lebanese-Syrian Border . . . . 38

According to the CRS staff who wrote this report:

The extension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the Lebanese arena has
created a multifaceted crisis which cuts across a number of U.S. policy issues in the Middle East. This report not only discusses the current military situation, but its implications for regional stability, Syrian influence in Lebanon and calls for Lebanese independence, Iranian regional aspirations and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and energy security. This report will be updated as events unfold. A number of CRS analysts have made contributions to this report. For additional
questions, please contact the individual specialist listed under each section of the report. For more information on the major countries in the current conflict, please see CRS Report RL33476, Israel: Background and Relations with the United States; CRS
Report RL33509, Lebanon; CRS Report RL33487, Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues, CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, and CRS Report RL33530, Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Background, Related Developments, and U.S. Policy.

While unclassified and often of great interest, the Congressional Research Service is prohibited from providing its reports directly to the public or make them available over the Internet. One has to ask their Congressmember first, if they know the title of the report.

Once a single Congressmember has released a report, it is part of the public domain as a federal document and can be reposted and/or duplicated anywhere.

Photo of Apollo 11 Landing Site

I know that this is a little late for the anniversary of our first landing on the moon, but the European Space Agency has released a new photograph of the landing site where "we came in peace for all mankind."

Space buff I consider myself to be, I hadn't realized there were craters named for the crew. See two of them in the story above.

New FGI Discussions: July 24, 2006

This week the volunteers at Free Government Information (FGI) (http://freegovinfo.info) started the following discussions we hope you will join:

Be sure to visit our newly updated Best Titles Ever! page which now features Open WorldCat links to help people find these weird and wacky titles. Cover art is coming soon!

No FDSys related activity was observed at either at the main FDSys site or on the FDSys blog in the past week.

If you use Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/) or some other RSS reader, consider subscribing to the FGI Feed at http://freegovinfo.info/blog/feed to get FGI stories as they are posted.

Heads of Holy Land Churches speak out

I received the following statement by heads of Christian congregations in Jerusalem in an e-mail from my diocese. I thought it worth sharing because we rarely get to hear the Christian voices of the Middle East:

Statement of Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem

July 7, 2006

STOP ALL THE VIOLENCE, PURSUE A JUST PEACE

"Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, and was appalled that there was no one to intervene".
(Isaiah 59: 14 – 16)

The violence and aggression of this present moment is without proportion or justification. An Israeli soldier was taken prisoner in a combat. A Jewish settler was kidnapped and
killed. As Israeli response, three bridges were destroyed and a power substation was
disabled causing tens of millions of dollars of damage and leaving up to 750,000 people without electricity or water in Gaza. Moreover, the Israeli forces have abducted 84
persons, among them 7 Cabinet Ministers and 21 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. This comes after a week in which 48 Palestinians were killed and among the dead were 27 innocent civilians, including nine children and a pregnant woman.

To-day, we Christian heads of the Churches in Jerusalem, we say: it is against law and reason what is still happening in our land. It is our duty as religious leaders to keep
saying this to our authorities. It is against law and reason that you remain and you keep us on the ways of death. "The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, and was appalled that there was no one to intervene.( Isaiah 59: 16)

We condemn the abduction of the Israeli soldier, the killing of the settler youth, as we condemn the daily abduction and killing of tens of Palestinians as well as the keeping of
thousands of them in prisons. All human beings, Israelis and Palestinians, have the same dignity and must be equally treated. All aggression against human dignity, whether Israeli
or Palestinian, must stop.

Our sufferings, Israelis and Palestinians, will have an end when the truth on both sides is recognized. The right for Israel to have security must be recognized. At the same time, must be recognized that the core of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the deprivation of the Palestinian people of his freedom. We firmly support fighting against terrorism, but we remind firmly that this fighting starts by eradicating the roots of all
violence, which is the deprivation of the Palestinian people of his freedom.

It is against law and reason to keep going in the way of death. The moral imperative is clear. Stop all the violence. Stop the killing. Protect the life and dignity of the people. Begin negotiations. Break this murderous chain of violence in which we are ensnared.
And listen to God's call : "Depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it "
(Psalm 33:15)

Things have gone too far. We call on the International community to intervene and insist on a diplomatic solution to this conflict. All Authorities must change course, and with unflinching International pressure and presence, they have to negotiate in order to reach
the just and definitive peace. " What does the Lord require of you...To do Justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

+ Patriarch Theophilos III: Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Patriarch Michel Sabbah: Latin Patriarchate.
+ Patriarch Torkom II: Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate.
Rev Pier Battista Pizziballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+ Anba Abraham: Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.
+ Swerios Malki Mourad: Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate.
+ Abune Grima: Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Paul Nabil Sayyah: Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate.
+ Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal: Episcopal Church of Jerusalem & the Middle East.
+ Bishop Mounib Younan: Lutheran Evangelical Church.
+ Pierre Malki: Exarch for the Syrian Catholics - Jerusalem
+ George Bakar: Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
Rev Rafael Minassian: Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarcate.

Break the Cycle of Violence in the Holy Land

Today Pope Benedict XVI declared this Sunday (July 23, 2006) to be a day of prayer and penance for the Middle East. The Pope asks people of all faiths to pray for the following intentions this Sunday:

  • for an immediate ceasefire
  • for the opening of humanitarian corridors allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid
  • for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region.

Earlier this week the US Bishops' Conference issued the following statement on the current conflict:

"Break the Cycle of Violence in the Holy Land: A Statement of Bishop Thomas G. Wenski Bishop of Orlando
Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Policy

Once again the land that is holy to Jewish, Christian and Muslim believers is wracked by violence and fear. The tragic and terrifying cycle of provocation and response, of occupation and resistance, has erupted in another spasm of deadly violence. The cycle must be broken, especially before it continues to expand into a broader and deadlier conflict. The violence must stop and a ceasefire must be secured.

The conflicts in the Holy Land and Lebanon are distinct, but they bear some fearful similarities. In both cases there were violent and provocative cross-border attacks on Israeli military personnel. The extreme armed factions of Hamas and Hezbollah, and their supporters, including Syria and Iran, bear grave responsibilities. It seems clear that these acts were intended to damage prospects for negotiation and to provoke strong responses that further weaken the chances for dialogue, agreement and progress. These attacks provoked Israeli military responses that are understandable in terms of the right to defense, but are disproportionate and indiscriminate in some instances.

As committed friends of the Palestinian people, we understand the harsh realities of occupation and the yearning for a viable state of their own, but we cannot support rocket barrages and suicide bombings against innocent Israeli civilians and cross-border attacks and abductions. Such actions violate the principle of civilian immunity and undermine the possibility of a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As strong friends of the people of Israel, we share their frustration and anger at the provocative attacks. It is long past time for all Palestinian leaders, including Hamas, to reject violence and terror and to act in ways that will lead to the establishment of a viable state for the Palestinian people living side-by-side in peace with a secure Israel. It is also long past time for all state and non-state actors in the region, including Hezbollah, to renounce violence, recognize Israel and respect its security.

Israel has a right to defend itself, but we cannot support its sweeping counterattacks on civilian areas, civilian infrastructure, blockades and other acts of war in Gaza and Lebanon. Punishment of an entire population for the indefensible acts of extreme armed factions is wrong and causes unjustified harm to noncombatants. Such actions are also counterproductive because they deepen hostilities and widen the circle of violence. Israel must act with restraint. Otherwise we fear that Israel could isolate itself, undermine its long-term security interests and play into the hands of extremists who seek a wider confrontation and an unending battle with Israel.

As steadfast friends of the Lebanese people, we believe that Lebanon, as the late Pope John Paul II said, should be "a model" for people of different faiths living together in peace. The current conflict puts at risk the progress that has been made to free Lebanon from outside domination and from being used as a pawn in a larger struggle. Our Conference is deeply disturbed by the provocative acts of Hezbollah against Israel that precipitated the current crisis and provoked the disproportionate Israeli military responses. Both the initial act and the resulting reactions endanger the Lebanese people and their vulnerable democracy. As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, recently said: "Neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the civilian population, can be justified."

Our Conference calls upon the United States to exert greater leadership with all parties to the conflicts and to work more intensively and multilaterally to end the provocations and violence, to secure a ceasefire, to restrain Israel, to move toward negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to bring about security for Israel and a viable state for the Palestinians, and to ensure the independence of Lebanon.

The recurrent cycles of deadly violence endanger the stability of Lebanon and undermine those brave people on both sides who seek a just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The sadly recurring and predictable cycles of violent provocation by extremist elements and some disproportionate responses not only take human lives, but they damage the hopes of Israelis for security, of Palestinians for a viable and free state, and of Lebanese for a future of peace, true independence and prosperity.

Our Conference appeals to all leaders in the region and to the leaders of our nation to make it clear that violence, from whatever side, for whatever purpose, cannot bring a lasting or just peace in the Land we call Holy. We join our prayers with those of our Holy Father who said about the current crisis: "Let us pray to Mary, Queen of Peace, to implore from God the fundamental gift of concord, bringing political leaders back to the path of reason, and opening new possibilities of dialogue and agreement.""

Politics Thursday: The Myth of Redemptive Violence

While I was in Los Angeles after my mother died, I had the good fortune to read a book called The Powers that be: Theology for a new millennium (1998) by Walter Wink. While I was reading, I made notes of passages that I found interesting and wanted to share.

Over the next several Thursdays, I'll offer some quotes from the book wrapped around some themes. This week we'll examine what the book calls the myth of redemptive violence, which according to Mr. Wink has even infected popular entertainments over the years:

From page 44:

In all these shows, however, the mythic structure is rigidly adhered to, no matter how cleverly or originally it is represented.

Few cartoons have run longer or been more influential than Popeye and Bluto. In a typical segment, Bluto abducts a screaming and kicking Olive Oyl, Popeye's girlfriend. When Popeye attempts to rescue her, the massive Bluto beats his diminutive opponent to a pulp, while Olive Oyl helplessly wrings her hands. At the last moment, as our hero oozes to the floor, and Bluto is trying, in effect, to rape Olive Oyl, a can of spinach pops from Popeye's pocket and spills into his mouth. Transformed by this gracious infusion of power, he easily demolishes the villain and rescues his beloved. The format never varies. Neither party ever gains any insight or learns from these encounters. They never sit down and discuss their differences. Repeated defeats do not teach Bluto to honor Olive Oyl's humanity, and repeated pummelings do not teach Popeye to swallow his spinach BEFORE the fight.

AND

From page 56:

An even more significant aspect of the myth of redemptive violence is its contribution to international conflict. In this myth, the survival and welfare of the nation becomes the highest earthly and heavenly good. Here, a Power is made absolute. There can be no other gods before the nation. Not only does this myth establish a patriotic religion at the heart of the state, it gives divine sanction to that nation's imperialism. The myth of redemptive violence thus serves as the spirtuality of militarism. By divine right the state has the power to demand that its citizens sacrifice their lives to maintain the privileges enjoyed by the few. By divine decree it utilizes violence to cleans the world of enemies of the state. Wealth and prosperity are the right of those who rule in such a state. And the name of God—any god, the Christian God included--can be invoked as having specially blessed and favored the supremacy of the chosen nation and its ruling caste.

For an additional perspective on the "religion of force", see Bush's Faith and the Middle East Aflame. Even George Will admits that military power has its limits.

Watch Alaskan bears at their dinner table

National Geographic has set up a bear cam in Alaska's McNeil River State Game Sanctuary.

Cameras operate from 5am - 11pm Alaska Time. As I'm writing this, a grizzly bear is waiting for some salmon to come down the river.

This is a great site for people who can't make it up here to see the bears in person.

New FGI Discussions: July 17, 2006

Activity was moderate at Free Government Information (http://freegovinfo.info) (FGI) this week as guest blogger Jessamyn West and the regular FGI volunteers started the following discussions:

Jessamyn's postings:

Volunteer postings:

Yesterday marked the second week of FGI's poll on story coverage. So far we have had 12 responses. From Bloglines we know we have at least 130 subscribers, so we invite you to stop by and let us know what kind of stories you'd like to see on FGI.

No FDSys related activity has been observed at the main FDSys site in the past week.

This week the FDSys blog featured two postings, one was a regular biweekly update and the other purported to measure FDSys against the LOCKSS criteria of Replication/Redundancy, Migration, Transparency, Diversity, Audit, and Economy. An article by LOCKSS staff explaining these criteria was published in the November 2005 issue of D-Lib Magazine and is available at http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november05/rosenthal/11rosenthal.html. Please consider reading that article, read the FDSys Blog posting and make your own judgement.

The volunteers at FGI continue to offer thanks to the staff of the GPO New Technologies Office for expanding this channel of information and potential dialog with the community of government information users.

If you use Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/) or some other RSS reader, consider subscribing to the FGI Feed at
http://freegovinfo.info/blog/feed to get FGI stories as they are posted.

We've been working on the railroad

The Alaska Railroad, that is. Come look at the work done by Sheri Somerville and Jason Ford of the Alaska State Library.

All Aboard!

Thanks, as always, to Flickr for image hosting.

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