Sunday, July 31, 2016

Belgian Priest Stabbed by Migrant After Inviting Him Into His Home

Fr. Jos Vanderlee

Is this the new culture of encounter?

The priest was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The attacker is still at large and the authorities are saying that the attack "can't be linked to terrorism at this stage."

That's a relief. I was actually worried there for a moment.

From the Daily Mail:
Belgian priest, 65, stabbed in his home when he 'refused to give asylum seeker money after letting him use his shower'
  • The Belgian priest has been named locally as 65-year-old Jos Vanderlee
  • He reportedly let the asylum seeker use his shower at his home in Lanaken
  • The suspect allegedly asked the priest for money and then stabbed him
  • The mayor of Lanaken said the incident 'can't be linked to terrorism'
A priest has been stabbed in his own home when he allegedly refused to give an asylum seeker money after letting him use his shower. 
Father Jos Vanderlee, 65, suffered injuries to his hands and tendons during the incident at his property in Lanaken, Belgium. 
The asylum seeker knocked on the pastor's door to ask for help and whether he could use his shower, reports Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. 
Reports indicate the suspect wanted to seek asylum in The Netherlands - which is just two miles from the Belgian town where the priest lives. 
But after using his shower, the man asked the priest for money before allegedly stabbing him when the pastor said no. 
Mr Vanderlee was rushed to a hospital 10 miles away in Genk with non life-threatening injures. 
The priest is responsible for eight parishes in the local area and celebrated his 40th priesthood earlier this month. 
Prosecutors said the incident happened at around 2.40pm local time on Sunday and the attacker is said to have fled the scene. 
Authorities in Belgium have launched an investigation but they have stressed that the incident can't be linked to terrorism at this stage. 
Marino Keulen, the mayor of Lanaken, said: 'Despite the fact that we are shocked, we must stress that this incident can not be linked to terrorist acts at this stage of the investigation.'

In Final Homily, Pope Asks Youth to Believe in a "New Humanity"

The Pope at final WYD Mass in Krakow

Are we in one of those low-budget Evangelical end times movies? Or is it just meaningless Obamaesque braggadocio?

From the Pope's finally homily at World Youth Day:
People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully! 
With this gaze of Jesus, you can help bring about another humanity, without looking for acknowledgement but seeking goodness for its own sake, content to maintain a pure heart and to fight peaceably for honesty and justice.
Does he mean "new humanity" compared to what we've had before? What's the mechanism for that exactly? A middle-eastern man spends three years as a wandering teacher. Then, 2,000 years later, a south-american man triggers things by finally getting people to understand what that middle-eastern man was really saying.

At long last people stop hating each other, drop their opposition to immigration and become custodians of their cultural traditions without being too right-wing about it. Peace, honesty and justice break out. Goodness is practiced (finally) for its own sake. And we are one human family again.

You don't think that's a fair reading? Fine. You tell me what he means.

If you reject the end times interpretation, then this is merely a vacuous political speech, made doubly annoying by the fact that the audience did not come for politics and much of it no doubt disagrees with the politics of the speaker.

But the speaker surprises them by presumptuously claiming that they all share his politics - pacifist, pro-migrant, open borders, anti-nationalist or anti-traditionalist or whatever he meant by the "small-minded" quip. What if you're a Catholic teenager who, say, supports the current ruling Polish political party or Marine Le Pen or Donald Trump or whomever? Will you be included in the "one human family" too?

And this part of the speech, despite the fact that it references Christ, is not Christian in any sense of the term.

Christ died to save the world from sin, not to save it from Brexit.

And some of us will get our new humanity (or to put it better, glorified bodies free from suffering and pain) when He returns.

Or so the Church has always taught.   

Saturday, July 30, 2016

PredictIt Still Favors Clinton Over Trump 2:1

11:00 PM CST 7/30/16

With only 100 days to go in the election, Polls show that Donald Trump has pulled virtually even with Hillary Clinton and may even be slightly ahead. The Reuters tracking poll shows Trump gaining 17 points in only two weeks. If one were to only look at these polls and the stories behind them, one might conclude that the momentum was with Trump.

Yet, for at least the last three months, through many presumably important pro-Trump events - Trump clinching the nomination, opposition to him at the convention collapsing, a fairly well-received Trump speech, an in many ways disastrous Democratic convention, the burgeoning Wikileaks and Clinton email scandals and of course the growing migrant/terrorist crisis in Europe - the predominant prediction market, PredictIt, has seen the election odds go virtually unchanged - 2:1 for Clinton over Trump.

As I write, Trump is at 34 cents and Clinton is at 67 cents.

The prediction markets - which make use of the "wisdom of crowds" - have generally been much more accurate at predicting election results than polls. Obviously, they would seem to know something that the rest of do not, either that the above events are relatively meaningless - terrorist incidents do not help Trump - or that their occurrence was foreseen and thus already baked into the odds.

I admit to finding this somewhat weird. I'm not claiming that because I think Trump will win - although if I had to bet, I would bet on him - but because it seems that nothing that happens in the world and nothing the candidates say or do seems to be really having much of an effect on things.

It might be that the markets are saying that demographics are the all-important thing, and the demographics in 2016 favor the Democrats just as they did in the last two elections. Indeed, I was one of those people who thought Romney would beat Obama in 2012 because everything seemed so different in 2008. In fact, Romney did almost exactly the same in 2012 as McCain did in 2008.

So maybe that's it - X amount of people will vote Democrat, almost no matter what, and Y amount of people will vote Republican almost no matter what, with very few people in the middle. And unfortunately (if you're a Republican), X is 5 percentage points or so greater than Y.

I actually think this is at least half-right. The country is such right now such that an "establishment" Republican will almost certainly be a loser. Romney lost in 2012. McCain lost in 2008. Bush, an incumbent President, came close to losing in 2004 and did lose the popular vote in 2000. Dole and Bush Sr. both lost. You have to go back to Reagan to find a big Republican win (with Bush Sr. winning the first time partly based on his memory). And some would say that Reagan was not an establishment Republican...

That's one of the reasons why, after deciding that Trump was not the quasi-demagogic huckster that I initially thought him to be, rooted for Trump to win the nomination. Whatever you think of Trump, he's a manifestly different candidate than all the Republican nominees of recent history. Many of his positions are different. In some ways he's realigned the party. You may like that or not (and I'm mixed) but you can't deny that he has done so.

So, my position is, while Trump may go down in flames, a Rubio or even a Cruz certainly would have done so.

But PredictIt doesn't seem to agree. Whether that's because the markets believe that the Trump difference is illusory, or whether it's because they believe that the man's seeming obnoxiousness and weirdness cancels out that difference, I have no idea.

I think PredictIt is wrong. But I fully admit I haven't plonked down $500 to put my money where my mouth is.

See, that's the flaw of PredictIt - it doesn't take into account the views of cowards.

Pope Francis to Youth: God Prefers Us to be Sinful and Weak

Yes, Bergoglio said this to young people, many of whom are wrestling with all sorts of temptations right now.

For the record, saying God wants us to be morally weak is a vicious and damnable lie.

From Catholic News Agency:

God prefers us weak, Pope Francis says off-the-cuff to youth 
Krakow, Poland, Jul 30, 2016 / 09:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The weaker we are, the more God's mercy can transform our lives. Pope Francis made these impromptu remarks on Saturday to crowds of young people gathered outside of Krakow’s St. John Paul II shrine. 
“Today, the Lord wants us to feel ever more profoundly his great mercy,” the Pope said in a short, impromptu speech, delivered right after his visit to the Polish city’s Divine Mercy shrine. “May we never turn away from Jesus!” 
Pope Francis shared these thoughts to a group of young people who are in Poland for World Youth Day moments before entering the St. John Paul II shrine to pass through its Holy Door, hear confessions, and celebrate Mass for priests and religious men and women.  
We may think that we are the “worst” on account of our sins and weaknesses, the Pope told the youth. However, this is how God prefers us to be, in order that “his mercy may spread.” 
“Let us take advantage of these days to receive all of the mercy of Jesus!”
Read the rest here:

Edit: Ilíon, in the comments below, reminds us of Romans 6, 1-2: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Friday, July 29, 2016

16 Great Television Shows for Kids

For the honor of love!

No, this won't be some ponderous list of Traditionalist Catholic approved, Very-Holy-and-Very-Good-for-You efforts.

Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Rather, the operative word here is fun.

And I certainly don't think any of them are objectionable.

Yes, you don't want to go to Mass dressed like She-Ra. You probably don't want to go anywhere dressed like She-Ra. But this is reality and She-Ra is fantasy. She's a beautiful princess who fights evil, and (in my opinion) it's okay to do that without being encumbered by too many loose clothes, especially if the context (for children, at least) involves zero sexuality. Also, it's an 80's thing. 

Like many parents, my wife and I believe that much of contemporary culture and entertainment is either too "adult" or in and of itself pernicious, especially for children. Naturally we want to protect our two 2-year-olds and two 5-year-olds from it.

At this point that's not very difficult. Our older children are being home schooled and our friends - who might be hosting our kids for a play date or whatever - generally have similar values or attitudes when it comes to these things. 

But we do watch a fair amount of television, both together as a family and as something the kids do on their own. Since we live in a quasi-open loft and the kids still haven't learned how to operate the four remotes that control our byzantine-like structure of connected devices, "on their own" does not mean "unsupervised."

I don't think television or television watching is in and of itself a bad thing. Of course it's bad if one is watching something bad, or it might be bad to the extent that it takes time away from doing other valuable things - such as reading or engaging in imaginative play. But I'm not anti-TV by any stretch, and the DVD and streaming revolutions make it a lot easier to expose kids to "quality" or at least non-brain-numbing fare. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that television is another way for kids to learn - and I'm not referring merely to "educational" programs.

On just what might be good or bad to watch, one way that I might differ a bit with some parents is that I don't think violence per se is something that must be censored or kept away from kids. I feel like I didn't put that last sentence quite right, so let me try again. Obviously gory violence is bad, as is anything that either implicitly glorifies violence as some sort of end in itself or continually portrays it in an amoral fashion. And of course you don't want your kids having nightmares, or at least you don't want to be causing them. But I actually think that kids seeing good guys fighting bad guys (or ghosts or monsters or whatever) can be positive moral reinforcement, though I don't want to put too much stress on that. Stimulating their imagination - whether it's contemplating cowboys (which my kids have never seemed to be that interested in), space pilots or girl detectives - is even more important.

And, as mentioned above, there's that other important element: Fun.

So I've put together a list of sixteen television shows that I like and that my children have liked. Obviously, some of them were initially "proposed" by me to my kids because I liked them as a child - Lost in Space and Star Trek. Others were shows that I missed for one reason or another but that I discovered as an adult (with my kids in mind) - She-Ra and Jonny Quest. And still others were basically discovered by my kids - Octonauts and Thomas the Train.

But whatever their provenance, all of them have been greatly enjoyed by Oliver, Lydia, Edmund and Crispin.

I'm going to divide the shows among four posts. I hope they resonate with some of you. And if you haven't seen some of them (or haven't had your kids see them), I hope I "turn you on" to a few. But that doesn't mean, obviously, that I'm some super authority. And of course, what you want or allow your kids to watch should and will be always up to you.

It will be in alphabetical order and the commentary will start with the next post. Not to be too much of a tease but the first four are:

Dungeons & Dragons
Jonny Quest
Lost in Space

As the song goes at the end of each She-Ra episode:

For the honor of love
We have the power
So can you!

It's not one of the Ten Commandments, exactly, and it doesn't mention God. But "for the honor of love" isn't a bad start. And in its way, I think it works.

Every young girl should have a sword. At least in her imagination.

Cross posted at Save Versus All Wands.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

BORING: If We're Going to Get an Evita, Can't We At Least Have an Interesting One? (FULL VIDEO)

Hillary Clinton's speech was boring and predictable.

Donald Trump's speech (as long as it was) was quirky, interesting and original.

Does that mean Clinton is bad and Trump is good?


Does that mean Trump will be a better president than Clinton?


But whatever else it is, it's the Frumpster vs. the Trumpster.

Obviously, I have my preferences, but that's not the point.

Demographics and policies will determine 90% of this election.

The question is, will the final 10% be swung by standard political slogans or spunky in-your-face claims and quips.

I have no idea.

Trump is currently beating Clinton in the polls.

On the other hand (and probably more importantly) Clinton is beating Trump 2:1 in the prediction markets.

On the other hand, Nate Silver is betting 57.5% for Trump.

What do you think?

NOT A PARODY: Pokémon Go Gym Found on Top of the Kaaba in Mecca


I've never been to Mecca, nor have I ever played Pokémon Go.

The closest I've come to the Kaaba is writing a parody about it.

The closest I've come to playing Pokémon Go is handing out little Pokémon trading cards to my kids. (Someone gave me a gigantic box of them about fifteen years ago.)

But apparently Pokémon Go is a thing. People are crashing cars, falling off cliffs and literally venturing into churches in order to find and manipulate cartoon characters whose virtual location is revealed on their smart phones.

"Gyms" are virtual areas where characters can fight each other. They are often located at famous places or landmarks.

Hence a gym on top of the Kaaba.

The Kaaba

Accordingly, Muslim gamers have been spotted playing inside the central Mataf area that surrounds the monument.

This article implies that while the game is controversial in the desert kingdom, some Saudi Arabian authorities have been fairly tolerant of it, which, frankly, is surprising.

Women can't drive but you can goof around with a supremely Western artifact in the holiest place (to Muslims) in the world.

As long as you don't do it with bacon.

Maybe the imams think the Pokémon are djinn.

Or maybe they're still scouring Bukhari for the relevant Hadith.

Meanwhile, their counterparts in the West are crashing cars, falling off cliffs and literally venturing into churches.

I'm immune to all of this silliness.

Today I was doing laundry in my building's basement. Sometimes I bring my kids down to keep me company and to give them an exciting time "helping" me by putting the laundry card in the card slot and pressing the button. Everyone knows I'm the guy with all the kids.

But today I was alone, which gave me the chance to loudly curse the company that maintains the dryers. One of them (of course the best and hottest dryer) had been out of commission for two weeks. Two whole weeks. Damn company. I've lost five bucks in the machine already. (Slight kick to broken dryer.) They don't care about people. It's just the corporate mentality. No one takes pride in their jobs anymore. And so on and so forth.

Sometimes I wish I could run the world.

"Don't worry," said the building manager, walking in. "The repair guys visited yesterday and all the machines are working fine."

"What was the matter?" I asked

He looked at me significantly. "They found a Pokémon card in one of the card slots."

Only One Religion or Religious Denomination Has Doubled Its Proportion of the US Population in the Last 7 Years - Can You Guess Which One?

Hint: It starts with an "I".

Let me clarify that I'm referring to the years 2007 to 2014, when two Pew studies were taken.

I came across this while doing research on the relative predominance of Muslim prayers, events, commemorations and so on in current American culture. For example, each of the 2016 Democratic and Republican political conventions had one Muslim invocation or prayer (out of a rough total of ten). But what about, say, Buddhists or Hindus? More on that in another post.

Here are the actual numbers, expressed in % of the population:
The survey relied on similar interviews conducted in the two different time periods. Roughly, people were identified as what they said they were or what they want to be identified as, without going into what being a member of X religion actually meant to them, or whether they were "practicing," etc.

I'm not surprised that the Christian numbers went down. Nor am I surprised that the Muslim numbers went up. But I was very much surprised that the Muslim numbers more than doubled in just seven years.

I was surprised that Mormonism went down. I had always assumed that the exponential growth of that group was unstoppable. I was also surprised that Judaism went up.

As you can see, the "Asian" religions - Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism - are now roughly tied in numbers, though Islam has moved ahead, almost certainly to stay. Hinduism went sharply up, though not as much as Islam, while Buddhism held the line.     

The population of the United States was roughly 300 million in 2007 and 320 million in 2014, so you can multiply the % numbers by 3 (or a bit more than 3) to get the absolute numbers of adherents, expressed in millions.

While the proportion of Muslims is still much lower than that of most Western European countries, the absolute numbers are in many cases similar. The United States now has about as many Muslims as the United Kingdom, for example.

Unlike much of Western Europe, for Muslims, we're still not in the 4%-10% range, which often translates into 20% to 40% in some cities. I believe that only Flint, Michigan and a few other smaller Michigan towns are at that point. 

But, obviously the momentum is with Islam. The proportion of Muslims in the United States more than doubled in seven years. I would assume the absolute numbers (given the increase in total population) came close to tripling in the last ten years.

Happy Eid. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"Could one think of a religious war? No." Why Does Bergoglio Say Weird Things?

On route to Poland

The proximate impetus for this post was the set of bizarre statements - once again given on a plane - by Jorge Mario Bergoglio concerning war and religion. The statements were meant to apply to the current terrorist crisis - what some have called the "war on terror,""war on ISIS," "war against radical islam" or even "war against Islam." But I think it's obvious Bergoglio also meant them to apply generally.
Pope Francis on Wednesday responded to recent violence across the globe by saying that the world is at war. 
“When I speak of war, I talk about it seriously, but it’s not a war of religion. It’s a war for money, for resources, for nature, for dominion. This is the war,” Pope Francis told journalists on his July 27 flight from Rome to Krakow. 
“Could one think of a religious war? No. All religions want peace. Others want war,” he said. “Is that clear?”
Yes. And the claim is preposterous. 

Why does Bergoglio say weird things?

I've made a list, focusing on this particular set of statements. But obviously everything on the list could be applied in other contexts.

Why did Bergoglio say,“Could one think of a religious war? No. All religions want peace"? 
  1. Hatred of the "old" Catholic Church. By that I mean, hatred of the Church up until, well, himself, or at least up until Vatican II. In other words, hatred of 95%-99% of it. Since the Catholic Church has always had a "just war" tradition, and the Church actually ordered the Crusades, among other things, saying that "all religions (including Catholicism) want peace" is his childish way of taking another poke at the "old" Church.
  2. Sympathy with Islam. Why Bergoglio would have sympathy with a demonic bloodthirsty ideology that has always been in violent opposition to the Catholic Church is another question. But there is no question that he does have sympathy for it. Since Islam is the most conspicuous example of a religion that does not want peace, saying that "all religions want peace" is a way of defending Islam.
  3. Positioning himself as a world leader of religion, rather than the leader of the Catholic Church. Bergoglio is often friendly with atheists and non-believing political allies. But he also likes to emphasize the things he believes all religions have in common - often setting up an alleged quasi-conflict between religion and unbelief. Obviously. stressing that all religions are peaceful and wars are always a product of other causes, is an example of this. As to why he might seem more comfortable promoting religion in general, as opposed to, say, Christianity or Catholicism, see 7, below.     
  4. Quasi-Marxism. I do not believe Bergoglio is a systematic enough thinker to actually be a Marxist, but he came of intellectual age as a Latin American Jesuit in the second half of the twentieth-century, which means he soaked up a lot of it. History is filled with what most people call or think of as "religious wars," but the Marxist (while no friend of religion) would say that such wars are really about other things - generally having to do with economics. Sure enough, for Bergoglio, two Muslims shouting "Allah (God) is Great!" attacking a Catholic priest, nuns and worshipers during a Catholic church service - what would seem to be an almost paradigmatic example of religiously based conflict - is not about Islam, or Catholicism or religion but really about "money, for resources, for nature, for dominion." That's a Marxist analysis if there ever was one.
  5. Pop theology. Modern pop theology declares that all religions are good and that to the extent that there seems to be religious aggression, conflict or violence is actually the product of extremism or extremists within the various religions. Bergoglio didn't explicitly claim that here but he has said as much on multiple other occasions.
  6. The narcissistic desire to say something unexpected, new, different or profound. "You think that X, but I am here to tell you that really Y." We see the same sort of phenomenon in many "liberal" homilies. Priests have been giving homilies for 2,000 years. One wouldn't suppose it would even be possible to say anything new. But "liberal" priests think they're supposed to shake things up, make us think and all that (as well as challenge or contradict what ever came before). After all, isn't that what Jesus did?
  7. Demonic influence. Given Bergoglio's record, any faithful Catholic who hasn't at least considered this, hasn't been paying attention. The devil or his demons do not simply lie. They mix lies with truths, half-truths and claims which are simply incoherent. The object is to cause confusion and despair. Hopefully (to them) people will not only come to doubt revealed Christian truth but also the notion that there is any truth. A large part of this demonic rope-a-dope strategy is the spouting of literal non-sense.
  8. Dementia or Senility. Okay, admittedly, I've provided a long and varied list of other explanations, above, but I think part of it is actually this simple. We live in the world and the world has rules - of physics, biology and so on - that make some people lose their mental faculties with age. It happens.       
I'm obviously long past the point where I care about being called uncharitable or not a faithful Catholic (because I'm being highly critical of the Pope from the position of a small-time blogger) or whatever. But if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the greatest threat to the Catholic Church of any man alive. If I (or anyone else) cannot speak out on that, then Catholicism is not much more than a Dear Leader cult. Obviously, I do not agree that it is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

After Stabbing 44 Sleeping People One by One, He Tweeted, "Wishing for a peaceful world. Beautiful Japan!”

The banality of evil: Japanese mass murderer Satoshi Uematsu

Recently, much more information about Satoshi Uematsu, the Japanese mass casualty stabber, has emerged.

"He went in the dark of the night, opened one door at a time, and stabbed sleeping people one by one."

That explains why he was able to murder so many people. It wasn't that they were disabled. It was that they were asleep.

He turned himself in, leaving a bag of bloody knives in his car.

Apparently, Uematsu had earlier sent a letter to the Speaker of the Japanese Parliament, outlining an original plan for him to personally euthanize 470 disabled individuals.
He was hospitalized for two weeks and then released.

I"m not here going to make any moral condemnations of Japanese culture. If anything, Japan seem to be less enthusiastic about euthanasia than many "post-Christian" countries.

Obviously, Satoshi Uematsu was an exception.

From The Guardian:
To his neighbours, he was a polite young man with a ready smile and a desire to help. But, on Tuesday, Satoshi Uematsu was in police custody after allegedly carrying out the worst mass killing in Japan since the second world war. 
As residents in the Tsukui district of Sagamihara city struggled to comprehend the brutal slaying of 19 residents at a care home where Uematsu once worked, it was becoming apparent that his actions were driven by a deep-seated hatred of people with disabilities. 
As reporters descended on this quiet neighbourhood of grand wooden homes, persimmon orchards and allotments, Uematsu’s neighbours could barely believe reports that he had returned to the facility where he was employed until February this year and begun stabbing residents as they slept, in many cases slitting their throats. 
At about 2am, the 26-year-old is thought to have got into his car and driven the short distance from his home to the Tsukui Yamayuri En (Tsukui Lily Garden) facility, where he smashed a window with a hammer to gain entry. 
By the end of his rampage, nine men and 10 women aged 19-70 were dead and 25 others were injured, most of them seriously. Then, according to reports, he got back into his car and drove to the nearest police station to hand himself in. 
“I did it,” he was quoted as telling police officers at around 3am. “It is better that disabled people disappear,” he was said to have added. 
Inside his car, police found a bag containing knives and other sharp-edged tools. Witnesses who glimpsed inside the vehicle before it was impounded said the seats were covered in blood. 
As reports emerged of Uematsu’s desire to exterminate disabled people through euthanasia, his neighbour, Akihiro Hasegawa, said there was nothing in the suspect’s behaviour to foretell his capacity for unspeakable violence against some of the community’s most vulnerable people. 
“You’d probably expect me to say that he looked weird, or had done something bad, but he was just a friendly, polite guy who said hello whenever we saw each other in the street,” Hasegawa, 73, told the Guardian. “I am sure that everyone else in this neighbourhood would say the same.” 
Uematsu, he said, was immediately recognisable from his shock of dyed blond hair, and added that he had spotted his neighbour’s yakuza-style tattoo on his chest and upper arms. Despite the marking, Uematsu is not thought to belong to a crime syndicate. 
Authorities said he had been “involuntarily committed” to hospital on 19 February, after police in Tsukui, located 50km south-west of Tokyo, contacted him in response to a letter he had attempted to pass to the speaker of the lower house of Japan’s parliament. 
In the letter, Uematsu argued that the government should permit euthanasia for disabled people, said he would be willing to carry out such killings himself, and detailed how he would do it. 
“I envision a world where a person with multiple disabilities can be euthanised, with an agreement from the guardians, when it is difficult for the person to carry out household and social activities,” the letter said. 
Uematsu’s letter said he could “wipe out a total of 470 disabled individuals” by targeting two facilities for disabled people during the night shift, “when staffing is low”. 
“The act will be carried out speedily, and definitely without harming the staff. After wiping out the 260 people in two facilities, I will turn myself in.” 
He was released from hospital on 2 March after a doctor deemed his condition had improved, a Sagamihara town official said. While in hospital, Uematsu was diagnosed as suffering from paranoia as well as being dependent on cannabis, the official added. 
“I feel pain, as it’s said there was no problem, but that was the decision at that time,” said Eiji Yagi, a Sagamihara official in charge of the city’s mental health welfare section. 
The suspect apparently began changing about five months ago, said Yuji Kuroiwa, the governor of the prefecture in which Sagamihara is located. “You could say there were warning signs, but it’s difficult to say if this could have been prevented,” he told reporters. 
“This was not an impulsive crime ... He went in the dark of the night, opened one door at a time, and stabbed sleeping people one by one. I just can’t believe the cruelty of this crime. We need to prevent this from ever happening again.” 
A Twitter account that Japanese media said belonged to Uematsu included a tweet posted at 2.50am, moments after the attack ended. It said: “Wishing for a peaceful world. Beautiful Japan!” . . .  
According to local media reports, Uematsu tied up at least one member of staff with plastic handcuffs before attacking the residents, who live with a wide range of disabilities. 
The Tsukui Yamayuri En facility is situated in three hectares (7.6 acres) of grounds. Established by the local government and located on the banks of the Sagami river, it has a swimming pool, gym and medical clinic. The facility is home to 150 residents aged between 19 and 75; about 40 are over 60. 
In the afternoon, hearses arrived at the care home to remove some of the bodies, but most were still inside the building as darkness fell and police re-directed residents driving home from work.
Read the rest here.

Is France Really at War?

Liberation, a few hours before today's attack

In response to ISIS soldiers storming a church during Mass, taking hostages and in the end, slitting the throat of a priest, French President Francois Hollande once again claimed, "this is war."  

No, it's not.

In a war, you confine captured enemy combatants in a prison camp until the war is over.

If the captured combatants were acting as spies, saboteurs or terrorists, you may shoot them.

In this "war," a captured combatant was convicted by French courts of traveling to join up with enemy terrorist forces. He spent a few months in detention and then was released into the custody of his parents. On the terms of his parole, he was allowed to leave the house for three hours each morning.

This morning, during those hours, he left his home, met up with another combatant, went to a target designated by his side and attacked a group of civilians, killing one and critically injuring another.

France on, say, 9 May 1940 was on a much greater war footing than it is now. And even they called that a phony war. We know what happened next.

In the United States, which while certainly under threat is far from the current emergency situation in France, a man was today sentenced to fifteen years in prison for attempting to join ISIS. 

France has been under a State of Emergency since the attacks of 13 November. I have a feeling it will stay that way until my toddlers have finished college.

But of course, in practice "State of Emergency" is about as meaningless, at least so far, as "this is war."

Please wear this ankle bracelet.

They might as well have given him a flower.

Both French opposition parties, often called "the center-right" and "the far-right," criticized the current government. They're correct, of course, but it remains to be seen what they would or will do differently, or at least what they would change that would make a meaningful difference.

According to Hollande, the war will "take a long time" but "we will win."

How will they win?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

5 Reasons Why Germans are Insane

Marx was right: history repeats itself as farce. That doesn't help its victims.
This isn't an anti-German thing. (I would be happier if it were.) After four "terror" attacks in the last few days, the Germans are merely the most prominent exponents of the insane beliefs afflicting many in all Western countries.
  1. The Ansbach bomber - a 27-year-old Syrian migrant - was denied asylum in Germany. That fact was announced by the Bavarian authorities as if it were a mark in their favor. But he had been nevertheless living in Germany for two years - perfectly free, obviously, to among other things, walk into festivals and wine bars with a bomb strapped to his body. To further their case, the authorities announced sternly that those “seeking protection in Germany, must show full respect for the German legal system and the German population.” It is insane to think that those words or the policies they refer to have any meaning or force whatsoever in terms of protecting German citizens from getting (among other things) blown up.
  2. The Bavarian Interior minister said, "We don't know if this man planned on suicide or if he had the intention of killing others." He was wearing a bomb. After being denied entry to a music festival, he walked into a wine bar. It is insane to believe that there is even any question that the bomber meant to kill others. Has any suicide, Muslim or otherwise, in the history of the world, attempted to kill themselves (and only themselves) by wearing a bomb filled with metal components?
  3. "The investigation has found no evidence of an attempted political assassination or extremism." Granted, extremism is a dodgy term, but it has been elevated to being a supremely important term by the powers at be. Given the implicit definition offered by those same powers at be, it is insane to believe that wearing a bomb is not evidence of extremism.
  4. At this point it is insane to believe that the most important question is whether or not a suicide bomber (or axe wielder or machete wielder) had concrete terrorist links. Pronouncing on that question, yay or nay, has obviously become an obsession. According to government authorities, if there are no concrete terrorist links, we should all breathe a sigh of relief. Again, not to repeat, but that is insane. It's bad enough to know that there are ISIS cells of trained soldiers and terrorists all over Germany (and the rest of Europe). But it's much worse to know that at any time, virtually every day, some random Muslim or recent Muslim migrant (who may or not have been an actual practicing Muslim, etc. etc.) might just grab an axe or machete or gun or steering wheel and attempt to murder innocent people. Were some of them mentally ill? No doubt, at least on some definition of "mentally ill." That doesn't make it any better. And then of course there are the "non-fatal" rapes, sexual assaults and other crimes. The Cologne New Year's attackers weren't terrorists. That doesn't make it any better. It makes it worse. It is insane to think otherwise.
  5. Most Muslims aren't terrorists or criminals (it is said). It is insane to believe that that makes any difference. Even if we assume that most Muslims do not sympathize or collaborate on some level with the violence (which would be a misleading assumption), it is still not reassuring. Let's assume that only 1 in 1000 Muslim migrants are part of this (and we know that the true number is much much higher). Out of 1 million migrants that's still 1000 axe wielders, machete wielders, shooters, bomb wearers, homicidal truck drivers, etc. In a year, that's three attacks per day. It is insane to believe that that is something to relax or cheer about.
At this rate, civil war in Western Europe is coming. It is arguably here now at a low level. Denying that fact is insane (or just plain dishonest). At this point we must rule out ignorance. As I understand it, virtually no Western Europeans still live in caves.