We’ve been pretty occupied with a host of things this week at the ranch, which is why we haven’t had any postings since last Friday’s Blue-Plate Special. Sorry about that, but we’ll try to do better next week.
Health issues are mostly to blame. And, they may be related to one of the sides on today’s blue-plate special. That would be another solar storm that hit the planet this week, which may have triggered another of Sharon’s temporal lobe epilepsy seizures, which may have triggered another bout of my mysterious chest pains that seem to come whenever she’s in a lot of seizure distress.
But, before we get to those issues, and the topics of today, let me pass along a little wisdom from one of the patrons at Sparky’s today. The usual suspects were talking about the threatened shutdown of the federal government if some compromise could not be reached among the honchos in the White House, the House, and the Senate.
As usual, Bob Frapples got right to the point. “Shutting down the government,” he said, “is not a solution to fixing a badly bloated budget bulging with waste, abuse, and political bribes for votes. It is akin to parents punishing their children because there’s not enough money to go drinking AND pay the mortgage.”
As of today, it seems that putting the kids in time out won’t happen. At least not this week.
OK, so now, let’s get right into the meat of today’s blue-plate special, so to speak.
Global Christian persecution during Great Lent
A few weeks ago, at the start of Great Lent, I told Sharon I really should sit down and chart the negative news about Christians and Christianity that always seem to increase during the Lenten and Christmas seasons. Maybe it’s just my heightened sensitivity, but then again, maybe not.
Sure enough, the so-called mainstream media did not disappoint me. Maybe I should rephrase that and say the mainstream media did exactly what I expected. And, they had help from an unfortunate source.
Terry Jones, who pastors a small Florida congregation, made good on his promise to burn a copy of the Koran. That ill-conceived action resulted in murderous outrage in many parts of the Muslim world and led to condemnations from religious, political, and military leaders in this country and around the world.
Journalists also weighed in on this condemnation, sharing the belief that Jones and his congregation have blood on their hands because rabid and radical Muslims murdered eight United Nations personnel in Afghanistan.
The hard truth is that Muslim extremists do not need a publicity-hungry, Koran-burning preacher from Florida to go on a murderous rampage. They are quite ready to unleash their violence for a variety of reasons, and not just against Christians.
You would be hard-pressed to find stories about the murder a few days after the UN killings of at least 41 Muslims in Pakistan by other Muslims. In this case, as reported by the BBC, suicide attackers carried out the attack near a Sufi shrine in Punjab during an annual three-day festival. Sufis are a minority Muslim group regarded as heretics by Muslim hardliners.
This attack, which killed five times as many Muslims, followed an attack last October that killed six Muslims at a shrine in Punjab province, and an attack on a Lahore shrine earlier this year that killed at least 42 Muslims.
So, let’s do the math here. Since October, Pakistani Muslims have killed at least 89 fellow Muslims in terrorist attacks having nothing whatsoever to do with Christians, and, more specifically, the desecration of the Koran by a Florida preacher.
Also, to no surprise, most media sources refused to report on, or simply missed, the mysterious death earlier in March of Qamar David, a Pakistani Christian, sentenced to life in prison in a Karachi jail for insulting the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad. As reported by the BBC, this murder followed the killing earlier in March of another Christian, Pakistan’s Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.
Asian News is the only site I could find that carried the story of a Muslim mob attacking a Pentecostal church in Hyderabad, Pakistan, last month, killing two Christians and burning Bibles in retaliation to the Florida Koran burning.
Just so no one thinks we’re picking on the Pakistanis, here’s a story of a Turkish court ordering the arrest of five military officers and two civilians in the murder of three Christians, including a German national, in 2007. Prosecutors say the murders were part of a military plot to topple the government by creating chaos and destabilizing the country. The murders occurred in a Bible-publishing house.
Fox News tried to tie recent violence against Ethiopian Christians to the Koran burning, even though its own story reported an on-going Muslim persecution of Christians in that country. On March 24, Fox News reported that Muslims torched about 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes earlier in the month, forcing as many as 10,000 Christians to flee for their lives after accusations that a Christian in their community desecrated the Koran. At least one Christian was murdered in the violence believed to have been instigated by Muslims promoting religious intolerance in the area in Western Ethiopia.
These are the latest incidents of Christian persecution in Ethiopia, however. According to reports, all the Christians in one city awoke last Nov. 9 to find notes on their doors warning them to leave their homes or face death if they did not convert to Islam.
But let’s get back briefly to the outrage in this country toward the burning of the Koran and the subsequent murder spree by wild-eyed Muslims. Where is the outrage, where is the indignation, indeed, where is the condemnation from politicians, pundants, and Christian leaders in this country over the confiscation and desecration of the Holy Bible by the Malaysian government.
A short story on March 18 carried by NBC News on its MSN portal told of the government’s decision to release 35,000 Bibles that use the word “Allah” when referring to God. Muslim groups say this is a sneaky attempt to make Christianity attractive to Muslims. The Malaysian government called the stamping of serial numbers on thousands of the Bibles standard operating procedure.
And yet, Malaysian Christians and Christians around the world did not take to the streets to murder innocent peace keepers.
In fact, Christians in Indiana still haven’t gone on a murderous rampage to protest the erection of billboards in Indianapolis by an atheist group. The billboards are part of a national campaign to tell people they don’t need God in their lives.
Christian persecution, it’s not just for Lent anymore
I’ve written about global Christian persecution since I started writing columns back in the late 1980s. In fact, that’s how I was introduced to the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, the Knights Templar. One member compiling reports of Christian persecution for the Templars’ application to be a United Nations NGO found my online writings and asked if I would like to help out. That was back in the mid-90s when Web searches were not as easy as they are today.
I haven’t written as much in recent years, mainly because search engines have made it easier to find such tales and keep this issue in front of people who care. But it appears that the reporting of Christian persecution is like preaching to the choir.
Here are some more examples of global Christian persecution not connected to the Koran burning.
Human Rights Watch reports that the Vietnamese government has stepped up its repression of Christians in the Central Highlands by closing informal churches, arresting worshippers, and forcing Christians to renounce their faith.
An affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman caused Muslims to attack, plunder, and torch an ancient Coptic church near Cairo. While some of the attackers chanted “Allahu Akbar!”, others removed ancient relics of saints and martyrs and kicked them around in a soccer game before converting the church into a mosque. Thousands of Christians had already fled the village because of overall terrorism against the Coptic community, including the kidnapping and rape of Christian girls.
That seems to be a common practice in some Muslim countries, such as Somalia. The mother of a 15-year-old victim says when she reported her daughter missing, police told her she had to renounce Christianity before they would look into it.
In North Sumatra, in Indonesia, comes this story from Asia News of more than 1,000 Muslims burning down two Pentecostal churches in January 2010 because they did not have the proper permits and because their Muslim neighbors got tired of seeing Christians praying.
The Nigerian Compass reported that last Christmas Eve, Muslim bombers killed at least 30 people in the state of Borneo. One blast was in front of a Catholic church.
Last November, the Assyrian International News Agency reported that Muslim gunmen who took hostages in a Baghdad church killed at least 58 Christians, including two priests, and wounded 75 others before Iraqi forces rescued the survivors from their terrible ordeal. A group called the Islamic State of Iraq took responsibility, calling the church “the dirty den of idolatry.”
Here’s a side note to that incident. The church was surrounded with concrete barriers and razor wire because church leaders feared an attack if Jones made good on his first threat to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Apparently, the al-Qaeda-linked group did not need the specter of a burning Koran as a reason to attack and kill Christians.
Muslims vs Christians at core of Ivory Coast conflict?
Before we leave the main part of today’s blue-plate special, I should point out that religion often is an under-reported factor in national and international politics. It should not surprise you, then, to learn that once again Western powers have taken the side of Muslims over Christians, this time in Ivory Coast.
Last week, the BBC reported that as many as 800 people died in Deuloue, in what International Red Cross staff members described as shocking in the brutality. Later reports put the number of dead at more than 1,000.
All you would read in the BBC account is that troops supporting UN-backed president Alassane Ouattara captured the city from supporters of the country’s strongman Laurent Gbagbo. In fact, the BBC called it the result of “ethnic violence.”
Ethnic violence, indeed. It was a case of Muslims butchering Christians.
The BBC reported that thousands of people had fled into the city and sought refuge in churches and townhalls. There was no mention of mosques or community centers.
The story went on to say that it was not clear if Ouattara’s forces did the butchering, but that the UN human rights office received reports of major human rights violations committed by both sides, which apparently makes the killings OK. This, of course, is the same United Nations that blamed the murders of their staff members in Pakistan on the Florida Koran burning.
Bloomberg Business Week gave a little more information. It quoted a Red Cross spokeswoman as saying the massacre occurred on March 29, the result of what she called “inter-communal violence.” Of course, that’s just the politically correct way of saying religious warfare, or to be more specific, Christians killed by Muslims using guns and machetes.
International aid workers say the dead were those who did not make it to a compound run by the Catholic Church. About 30,000 made it and survived, according to aid workers.
Why is it that the foreign press picks up on things faster than our US media? The International Business Times reported last week that the war in Ivory Coast has turned into a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians with the Western powers backing the Muslim forces.
“ To the West, it wasn’t about the religious affiliations of Ouattara or Gbagbo; it was simply the fact that Gbagbo took an office that rightly belonged to Ouattara. Muslims extremists of the world claim that Western countries are waging a holy war again Islam. They claim that all over the world, Western powers are systematically attacking Muslim interests while backing Judeo-Christian opponents. It is precisely this type of belief that sometimes pushes Islamic extremists to commit acts of terrorism.”
But we need to look even deeper into the political history of Gbagbo and Ouattara to get a real feel for the conflict and not put everything on the ancient animosity between Muslims and Christians in many parts of the world.
Gbagbo was raised a Catholic, educated in France, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Paris. He spent time in jail twice between 1969 and 1971 for political activities in Ivory Coast. He went on to complete his education and did art history research and university administration before returning to the Ivory Coast political fray. He was arrested again in the early ‘90s for leading demonstrations against the country’s dictator who died in 1993.
Now, here’s where we start to get a clearer picture of how the country and the Western powers got to where they are today.
The Minister of Finance, Henri Konan Bédié, took control of the country, which shut out the Prime Minister who returned to the United States to take a post with the International Monetary Fund. That person was Alassane Ouattara.
Ouattara obtained his undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia (1965), and his M.A. in Economics (1967) and his Ph. D. in Economics (1972) at the University of Pennsylvania. He spent several years in the 1980s with the International Monetary Fund until he became Ivory Coast Prime Minister in 1990, a post he held until 1993.
Bédié neutralized Ouattara’s hopes to run the country by imposing a law that required a candidate for president live in Ivory Coast for the five years leading up to the election, and that both his parents had to be born in the country. Both of these requirements kept Ouattara from running because of his work in the US and because his father was not a native Ivorian.
A military coup in December 1999 forced Bédié to flee the country. The next presidential election found Gbagbo the only candidate opposing the head of the military who was in power at the time.
Voting irregularities that would make the Chicago political machine proud caused great turmoil among the people of Ivory Coast, so much so that Gbagbo declared himself the winner and was inaugurated in October 2000.
Almost immediately, the Muslim controlled Rally of Republicans, or RDR, opposed Gbagbo’s election on the grounds that their man, Ouattara was not on the ballot. Well, guess what? The United Nations and the same Western powers involved in the military action against Gbagbo today agreed.
Gbagbo cited the Ivorian constitution that kept Ouattara off the ballot. Muslims took to the streets. Four days of violence resulted in 300 deaths.
Muslim forces, with the help of outside nations, then tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the government.
While Gbagbo was out of the country in 2002, Muslim rebels tried again to take over the government. They failed, but succeeded in taking over the northern part of the country. As they marched on the predominately Christian south, France sent in troops to act as a buffer.
In 2003, French troops discovered mass graves containing the bodies of 200 Muslim civilians. All fingers pointed to Gbagbo who denied his involvement in these and other accusations of human rights violations.
A few weeks after the discovery of the graves, Gbagbo signed an agreement giving nine cabinet posts to the Muslim opposition and changed citizenship laws to include more of the northern Muslims. A few months later, the new Muslim cabinet members pulled out claiming Gbagbo was not living up to the terms of the agreement.
The current controversy once again involves Muslim claims of election fraud. The irony here is that Gbagbo is the one who certified Ouattara’s credentials for candidacy in the 2007 elections.
It may seem to some to be a curious coincidence that, once again, the United Nations and Western powers, the same ones that joined the Muslim opposition in 2000, are taking the international lead in the current crisis. It also may seem as a mere coincidence that the International Monetary Fund, where Ouattara spent many years in high-level positions, refuses to offer financial assistance to a government not recognized by the United Nations.
And so, once again, the Western powers, including the United States, jump into a generations-old political and religious conflict with the usual battery of politics and weapons.
We’re seeing the proof of that this week right here in this country. Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofe (R), an evangelical Christian with close ties to the Gbagbo regime has been trying to convince Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to get her boss to come down on the side of Gbagbo, claiming that it is mathematically impossible for him to have lost the election by several hundred thousand votes.
Televangelist and one-time presidential candidate Pat Robertson always has to say something, and this time he called Gbagbo a “very fine man.”
But regardless of your political leanings, it will be hard to deny that Ivory Coast, like Kosovo a dozen years ago, is much more complicated than simply rigged elections or the need to impose western democratic values. Bad blood and religious violence go back generations, as with Ivory Coast, or centuries, as with Kosovo.
And the terrible truth is that the sun rises and sets on many countries around the world with Christians hunkered down in fear for their lives because they live among Muslim extremists. We in the United States cannot relate because we do not share this fear. At least not since 9/11.
So, what does this have to do with Texas, you may ask, and rightly so. Well, Texas is still part of the United States, and the United States still funds much of the operations of the United Nations, and, at some point the UN and other Western powers will try to pull the US into this conflict, which raises the high probability that Texans will go to battle in a conflict not of their making, one that will force them, once again, to choose between Christians and Muslims.
And that’s the meat portion of this week’s Blue-Plate Special.
More solar storms hit the planet
On Wednesday, Sharon said she could feel a temporal lobe epilspy seizure coming on, and it finally hit late in the afternoon. Also Friday, I started getting another bout of incredibly bad chest pains that I have associated with heartburn, particularly after hospital stays and batteries of tests showed nothing wrong with the heart. I’ve been starting to look at a relationship between the onset of my severe pains with some of Sharon’s big seizures.
Mind you, now, this is not scientific research; it’s just personal observations, but there seems to be a connection with increases of solar flares and geomagnetic events.
I won’t take up time and space here, because you can go back and catch up on the apparent connection between solar flares and seizures on our blog and on show #6 on Blog Talk Radio, and about the Carrington Effect, also on our blog and on show #8.
Well, guess what. A massive solar storm started hitting the planet about Wednesday. The Weather Space Web site said this storm has the highest Kp index recorded in a while, a 6 out of 9 on the scale, and larger than the one that hit the planet on March 10. That’s the one that started me to think about solar storms and seizures.
The senior meteorologist for The Weather Space thinks solar storms trigger earthquakes, and another big quake hit Japan toward the end of the week. But, I ask, if solar storms can move the Earth’s plates, why can’t they trigger seizures?
Open-government award presented in secret, to Obama
Now, for the lighter sides.
You probably did not hear about this next story, and that’s because you weren’t supposed to hear about it.
The folks at Politico reported on March 30 that President Obama received a transparency award from the open-government community. You may remember that candidate Obama campaigned on a promise to open government’s doors and windows so everyone can see what’s going on. Or to put it another way, allowed public viewing of the sausage-making process, something most people really don’t want to see.
Anyway, what made this event special was the irony involved. Obama received the transparency award in secret, in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House.
Politico says the secret presentation came nearly two weeks after the White House postponed the original ceremony without explanation. That ceremony was supposed to be open to the White House press.
Oh, and here’s the really good part. One of the participants in this secret ceremony to present an open-government award was a representative of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
US mind-control microwaves aimed at TV personalities?
So, Bunkie, you say you like a good, juicy conspiracy theory, well, try this one.
The Daily Mail out of the United Kingdom carried a story last week that pondered the possibility that the US government used mind-control microwaves to cause the on-air meltdowns of television reporters and personalities in the United States and Canada.
The latest incident involved Judge Judy who had to stop the taping of her show because she was making no sense in what she was saying. And she was the one who noticed it.
Not even the most die-hard conspiracy theorists can figure out why the US government, most probably the military, would target Judge Judy and TV news reporters.
Let’s just hope Blog Talk Radio hosts fly under the military mind-control radar.