In a previous post Rick questioned whether we can help Syrian refugees and at the same time fight Jihadists.
Over at Ace's Place we get some answers from the Obama administration –
Advocates for resettling tens of thousands of Syrians in the US say the process is robust, thorough and extensive. But in the end the reality is you can only check people's backgrounds against the information you have and when it comes to Syrians we don't have much.
But one of the senior administration officials at Tuesday’s briefing acknowledged the limitations inherent in screening refugees from Syria, where it’s very difficult to determine something as basic as an applicant’s criminal history.
“We do the best with what we have,” the official said. “We talk to people about what their criminal histories are, and we hear about that. That’s pretty much where we are.”
FBI Director James Comey, flanked by the nation’s top intelligence officials, admitted to the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday that for some of the 10,000 Syrian refugees the administration has agreed to allow into the U.S., there will be no basis to vet them through the databases it uses to determine if they have ties to terrorism.
“We can only query against that which we have collected, and so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our database, we can query our database til the cows come home, but … there’ll be nothing show up, because we have no record on that person,” said Comey.
“We’ve gotten better at that over the last couple of years, but it is a time-consuming process and one of the challenges that we’ll have is that we’re not going to know a whole lot about the individual refugees that come forward.”
The "gotten better" part is important because, let's just say there's a lot of room for improvement in the screening process.
Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to move to the United States as war refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remnants of roadside bombs recovered from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The discovery in 2009 of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky -- who later admitted in court that they'd attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- prompted the bureau to assign hundreds of specialists to an around-the-clock effort aimed at checking its archive of 100,000 improvised explosive devices collected in the war zones, known as IEDs, for other suspected terrorists' fingerprints.
I have continued to struggle with the idea that there are so many people out there remaining silent, remaining indifferent, to the horror taking place at Planned Parenthood. The Center for Medical Progress videos are laying it out for all to see and yet, outside of certain social media circles, it seems not to be gaining any traction, seems not to be having any real effect on certain segments of the population.
I'm stunned by it.
I opined elsewhere just a few days ago that it would be difficult to counter the mindset that would call Americans today's equivalent of the German townspeople surrounding the concentration camps.
For me, this picture [of the staff at Auschwitz relaxing and having a great time] symbolizes all average folks who ever lived during times where particularly dark shades of evil gripped societies. It reminds me that though today we can see through the distance of history the thick pall of darkness that overshadowed the world in which these people lived, many of them could not see it themselves when they were in the midst of it. Like being in a city with air pollution, it’s easy to think that the air is clean and fresh when you’re standing in it; it is only when you get some distance and look back that you can see the dark cloud looming over where you were, and know that you were breathing soot all along.
I tend to be an easygoing, optimistic person who focuses more on my little corner of the world than the macro issues of the day. I tend to want to believe the best about people, and guard against buying into hyperbolic rhetoric that makes generalizations about the activities of certain groups of people being particularly heinous — so often, upon reasonable analysis, that type of claim pans out to be nothing more than a lame attempt to vilify people you disagree with.
So I wonder:
If were a 31-year-old woman with three little kids in a busy house in Germany 1941, would I have fully understood the evil that surrounded me? As a woman living in 2008 I can see the horror that was going on there, but at the time there were some awfully sleek lies being told about the situation; it would have been really, really convenient to let myself be persuaded by the lies and just make the nasty little problem go away by telling myself that it wasn’t really a problem at all.
What if I were living in a time and place in India where it was common and accepted for wives to be burned alive on their husband’s funeral pyres? Or living in Rwanda when an entire race of people were murdered by their neighbors? Or a citizen of pagan Rome where newborn girls were frequently “discarded” with hardly a second thought? The people in those times and places had cheery, sunny days, went to birthday parties and get-togethers with friends with lots of yummy food, and had daily lives not terribly different than our own. There are no records in any of these cases that indicate that average people fully comprehended what was going on around them or were as outraged as they should have been at the atrocities in their midst.
It is sobering to realize that the odds are that I would not have been one of the very few people who saw it all for what it was.
She goes on to describe what she believes would be a tell-tale sign that a society is dabbling in serious darkness:
What litmus test could you offer that would apply to all places and all times as a way for a person to look around themselves with completely clear eyes, piercing through even the thickest fog of self-delusion and widespread cultural acceptance, and see that they are surrounded by grave evil? Is there any simple way for a person to immediately undergo an earth-rocking paradigm shift in which they look up and realize that the world around them is not what they thought it was?
One thing that stands out in all these examples is that the victims of the widespread evil were categorized as something less than human. In fact, though the exact level and degree of evil that took place may vary, one thing that unites all of these practices as worthy of a place in the Human Depravity Hall of Fame is not only that innocent people were killed or enslaved, but that their humanity was taken away by the societies around them.
Jennifer Fulwiler's piece is nearly 7 years old and yet speaks completely to the circumstances surrounding the CMP videos.
I ask those of you still reading these words the same question I'm asking myself, what are we doing about what's taking place around us? What more should we be doing?
We all lead busy lives... we all have different passions... we all see the world through our own filtration systems and perspectives and so it makes sense that in many respects, our priorities will be different, our order of things important distinct and dissimilar.
Despite those differences however, there ought to be some things that rise to the top of what we as humans deem to be significant and meaningful and one would think that one of those significant and meaningful things, despite our diversity in passions and perspectives, is in fact not a thing at all.
We call them babies.
I'm a father of two, a grandfather of one. I've held all three within moments of their respective births. I suspect many of you reading this have done the same with your children, your grandchildren. I recognize, in the miracle that is the birthing process, that the mother's vagina isn't some magical or enchanted organ through which something passes initially as inhuman and subsequently as human. Any thinking person, despite their backgrounds, their origins, their passions and perspectives, would have to agree. To disagree is to be considered a fool, an idiot, a buffoon. The product of conception, that tissue mass, that clump of cells is a baby... a baby in the womb.
What's it going to take? What events have to occur before we as human beings raise our collective voices in condemnation and denunciation?
In the fifth of a series of videos from the Center for Medical Progress, a woman identified as Melissa Farrell, director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, discusses contributing to the organization's "diversification of the revenue stream" and the potential to "get creative" with conditions for procurement needs. The video was reportedly filmed in April at a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas.
"Just depending on the patient's anatomy, how many weeks, where it's placed in the uterus ... we're going to potentially be able to have some that will be more or less intact and then some that will not be," she says.
"But it's something that we can look at exploring how we can make that happen so we have a higher chance," she adds.
"And we've had studies in which the company, or in the case of the investigator, has a specific need for a certain portion of the products of conception and we bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this. So we deviate from our standard in order to do that.
"If we alter our process and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget, that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. I mean, it's all just a matter of line items," she says.
No Ms. Farrell, it's not just a matter of line items. these aren't merely intact fetal cadavers. These are human babies created by God with innate dignity and and worth that you and your cohorts are killing and butchering for profit.
To date, I have not embedded any of these videos for a variety of reasons. One, you can find them yourself pretty easily. Two, I'll confess that I've not watched one in its entirety yet. I can't stomach it frankly.
Nevertheless, we must be shaken from our complacency. Our lives cannot be so busy that we don't see this for what it is. Our perspectives and passions must come together for the sake of the innocent... for the sake of these tiny human beings in the womb who represent the essence of innocence.
With nearly 60 million abortions over the last 43 years, I understand that we are very likely at any given moment to be within earshot of someone directly or indirectly involved in an abortion and that because of that possibility, we are inclined to do or say nothing that might be deemed to be offensive or off-putting to them.
Much care and prudence is called for here, this I know with certainty. But we cannot remain silent any longer, we can't allow our fear of offense to quell a much needed public outcry.
We cannot allow our fear of offending each other override our fear of offending God Himself.
Today, I call heaven and earth to witness against you: I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live...
It's time for people of decency to let others hear about what Planned Parenthood is doing. It's time to speak up. It's time to say something to our representatives in Congress, to those tuned in to social media, to our family and friends, that enough is enough.
No self-respecting person should allow themselves to remain silent.
In Missouri, women seeking an abortion at the one open abortion-providing clinic in the state have to make two trips to the clinic, 72 hours apart: The first is to receive counseling that “includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion,” the Guttmacher Institure says, and the second after the required waiting period is for the procedure.
The Satanic Temple says that the restriction places an undue burden of one Missouri member, identified by the group only under the pseudonym of “Mary.” Late last week, the national group and the local Missouri chapter of the Temple were raising funds for potential legal costs, as well as meals, transportation and day-care costs for “Mary’s” child, according to a video posted by St. Louis Satanic Temple head Damien Ba’al.
The Riverfront Times spoke to “Mary,” who did not use her real name in the interview. She’s a 22-year-old mechanic who lives four hours away from the state’s Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis:
“I personally would have liked to have the procedure done as soon as possible,” says Mary, who’s nearly 12 weeks pregnant. “But with all the difficulties, how hard it is do this, it’s been put off for several weeks. If you’re right on the edge of the state you’ve got to go 500 miles just to get to St. Louis, and you have to make arrangements.”
As an adherent to the principles of the Satanic Temple, my sincerely held religious beliefs are:
My body is inviolable and subject to my will alone.
I make any decision regarding my health based on the best scientific understanding of the world, even if the science does not comport with the religious or political beliefs of others.
My inviolable body includes any fetal or embryonic tissue I carry so long as that tissue is unable to survive outside my body as an independent human being.
I, and I alone, decide whether my inviolable body remains pregnant and I may, in good conscience, disregard the current or future condition of any fetal or embryonic tissue I carry in making that decision.
As you know, your medical treatment of me requires my informed consent. My informed consent is based solely on scientifically true and accurate information that is relevant to my decisions regarding my health and pregnancy in accordance with my sincerely held religious beliefs.
I regard any information required by state statute to be communicated or offered to me as a precondition for an abortion (separate and apart from any other medical procedure) to be based on politics and not science ("Political Information"). I regard Political Information as a state sanctioned attempt to discourage abortion by compelling my consideration of the current and future condition of my fetal or embryonic tissue separate and apart from my body. I do not regard Political Information to be scientifically true or accurate or even relevant to my medical decisions. The communication of Political Information to me imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my religious beliefs. My informed consent is based solely on information you provide which, in the exercise of your independent medical judgment, is materially relevant to my health (excluding the present or future condition of any fetal or embryonic tissue inside my body) and is scientifically true and accurate. My informed consent is not based on Political Information.
This letter constitutes my acknowledgment that you have offered Political Information to me. I reject that Political Information because it offends my sincerely held religious beliefs. Please attach this letter to any forms you are required to keep regarding my informed consent.
The doctor-patient relationship is built on trust. I trust that you will honor my religious beliefs and keep me fully and accurately informed of my health based on science, not politics. I further trust that you will not deny me medical care because of any inconvenience my religious beliefs may cause to your ability to provide me with your best independent medical judgment.
Rawlings-Blakes’ spokesman Howard Libit responded late Sunday saying that the mayor had been taken out of context.
“What she is saying within this statement was that there was an effort to give the peaceful demonstrators room to conduct their peaceful protests on Saturday. Unfortunately, as a result of providing the peaceful demonstrators with the space to share their message, that also meant that those seeking to incite violent also had the space to operate. The police sought to balance the rights of the peaceful demonstrators against the need to step in against those who were seeking to create violence.”
In a saner time, the questions Ryan wants to raise are exactly the ones we should be debating. I think the answers would still come out against him, but Enlightenment reason has as only one of its themes the corrosive destruction of enchanted medievalisms. Isn’t it another theme of Enlightenment reason, the positive one, that we need deep concern for our policy choices, deep research about sociological impacts, and profound thought about the effects on political foundation?
In a world where an Indiana pizza parlor can be shut down—then receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations—for what was in essence not even a crime of wrong action but wrong thought, we have moved into a world of metonymy, where an argument is judged not by its argumentation but by its symbolic place.
You could trace all this through the sadly hilarious videoof Ryan’s having his microphone cut off on an MSNBC program this March. An even more recent spat shows the pattern, as well. On April 15, a not-bad profile of Ryan appeared in the Washington Post. The writer’s voice was mostly one of bemusement that someone not obviously insane could oppose same-sex marriage, but within the confines of that voice, the piece was respectful and interested. As schools are wont to do, his old high school, the Friends School of Baltimore, put on its Facebook page a link to this profile of one of its increasingly famous graduates—only to replace it quickly with a message from the headmaster groveling over this failure to grasp the true inwardness of the bigotry and evil manifest in his school’s former student.
The most ironic part may be this: Opposition to same-sex marriage is commonly caricatured as a religious prejudice, and against such prejudice stand the forces of reason, rational argument, and thoughtful debate. But on the ground, where Ryan has taken his stand, it’s far too often the supporters of same-sex marriage who are reacting religiously—symbolically and metonymically, in horror at the evil-mindedness of their opponents. And Ryan who has quixotically, naively, and old-fashionedly assumed that this is all a debate about public reason, rational choice, and political theory.
Excellent piece... read it all... but know what Mr. Bottums' bottum line is.
Marriage as we know it will soon be completely redefined and it'll have nothing to do with reason. It instead will have everything to do with emotion.
I came across this story today and was immediately saddened by it:
On Jan. 17, 2014, University of Pennsylvania runner Madison Holleran committed suicide. She was 19. Since this tragedy, the sports community has struggled to address the root cause of Holleran's death: mental health.
To gauge the current climate inside locker rooms, FOX Sports interviewed more than 25 female student-athletes along with NCAA officials and mental health experts. Though these student-athletes told stories of resilience, they also revealed cautionary tales for the well-being of young women in college sports.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are "nearly twice as likely" as men to develop depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Add in the stress of sports commitments and you have a dangerous combination. The majority of women interviewed pointed to eating disorders related to their sport as the top issue.
"We talk about [body image] every day,"said a group of University of Southern California lacrosse players. Anorexia or bulimia is twice as rampant among athletes versus the general population of women, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).
The pressures of women to gain muscle in training but stay thin to uphold a standard of beauty outside of sports is irreconcilable. "I've never met a gymnast who was in love with their body," a former D-I gymnast revealed.
In sports, the private issue of women's body image becomes public. Dartmouth volleyball player Alexandra Schoenberger's trainers would hook her up to a machine to track changes in her body fat percentage, which sounded like the sports equivalent of the "jiggle test."
A D-I swimmer recalled men wore T-shirts that read "Whale watching" in reference to her team. Even in the coverage of Holleran's death, many were shocked to see the media use photos of the young woman wearing a bikini, taken from her Instagram account.
Bottom line, mental health is a matter of safety, not only because of suicide risk but also the detriment to long-term physical health. Eating disorders are common causes of heart problems and osteoporosis. Anorexia and bulimia have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness according to ANAD. More women have eating disorders than breast cancer, yet every major women's and men's sport has a pink ribbon campaign while mental health issues go unnoticed.
So where do these student-athletes go for help?
The piece goes on to chronicle how most student-athletes do not avail themselves to on campus psychological services because of the stigma associated with mental illness which I'll admit is problematic but there's an additional service I think most of these women are ignoring that is even more detrimental.
I wish someone would do a study (and perhaps they already have and I'm simply unaware) of the effects on the human psyche not having a religious foundation is having on these women, particularly those who struggle with body image and how others see them.
This bald paunchy guy with a big nose, no butt and buck teeth has overcome these 'failings' by coming to believe (late admittedly) that I am created by God, with all my flaws, for divine reasons and that my focusing less on what I look like and more on understanding those reasons and pursuing them with vigor brings the kind of contentedness and fulfillment I'll not find anywhere else.
How would most women cope with notional concepts of body image should they adopt the same mentality?
I think this to be a fair question but one society will ignore because of the stigma religion now has in this culture. Or... because... I'm a guy and a religious one to boot.
On Friday the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the section of the Criminal Code that outlawed physician assisted suicide. It is now up to Parliament to provide some kind of regulatory statutes to permit doctors to end the lives of their patients.
Simply, euthanasia has arrived in Canada—as always in these matters, not by a process of public consultation and the expression of democratic will, but by court fiat. And I have no great optimism that we will be able to turn back this tide or do much to roll back the inevitable progression every other country has experienced whereby it is applied to broader and broader categories of vulnerable people (children! infants! the clinically depressed! the lonely!) with less and less true consent involved.
It is difficult for me to write about these life issues, because of my passion for them. That fact is, if I said what I really thought about the Supreme Court and the general ‘progressive’ movement in society (why is it seemingly always a progress in finding more people to kill, or forcing more people to participate in the killing?), I would use language that is both unsuitable for a priest and, ummm,unhelpful for advancing public discourse.
No, it appears that euthanasia is a fact of life in Canada for the foreseeable future. May God have mercy on our souls. I will confine myself in this blog post, since it is Sunday and time for our weekly catechism lesson, to giving the Church’s teaching on the matter, so that Catholics at least may form their consciences accordingly and we ourselves may make the decisions that are in accord with God’s laws and right reason.
A widely read Catholic news outlet recently carried a piece about the causes of Islamic terrorism. The conclusion? We don’t know what causes it, but it doesn’t seem to have much to do with Islam.
That has become a familiar refrain. When bad things are done in the name of Islam, we are told it has nothing to do with Islam. To be fair to the author, Susan Wills, she relies heavily on two books by academics who have studied terrorism.
One would think they should know the score, but they are hesitant to come to any conclusions, except to rule out the one that would jump to most people’s minds when an Allahu akbar-shouting individual starts shooting in their direction.
One of the authorities cites seven reasons why individuals might turn to terrorism, but none of them has anything to do with religion. For example, reason No. 1 is the aggressors “feel angry, alienated or disenfranchised” — a descriptor that would fit about one-third of the planet’s young-adult males.
Although the terrorists themselves may cite religion as a motivator, the researchers dismiss this as a red herring made up after the fact to justify their behavior. Consequently, for counterterrorism agents’ purposes of profiling, “infiltrating mosques and hanging out in hookah bars is a waste of time.”
The White House seems to be consulting the same researchers. President Barack Obama and his representatives refuse to connect Muslim terrorist attacks with Islam — not even with “radical Islam.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has been pushing the nothing-to-do-with-Islam meme — well, in earnest.
After the Paris massacre last month, he wouldn’t address the terrorists’ loudly shouted explanation: “Allahu akbar! We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!” According to Earnest, this was an obvious red herring: “They later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it.” In another briefing, he said, “We’re still trying to figure out exactly … what their motivations are.”
And so, it seems, are some Catholic journalists. One of the academics Wills cites answers the question, “Why would anyone commit such acts?” with “We don’t know why. Even the terrorists don’t really know what their motivations are.”
The terrorists don’t know why? Then what’s the point of terrorizing?