August 31, 2005

Many Years

Today is the feast of St Aidan of Lindisfarne, so it is name day at our house. This is the first of two consecutive namedays, as in the Western tradition predating the Schism, it is the remembrance of Righteous Abigail tomorrow.

Aidan likes to pray before our meals. I normally chant the Lord’s Prayer followed by a few petitions in addition the usual blessing of the food. (In fact, if you have asked for prayer for anything, that’s your best chance of getting a mention in our petitions.) Aidan hasn’t learned the Lord’s Prayer yet (we’ve gone over it a few times, but he can’t say it by himself). He still likes to sing “Christ is Risen”. I’ve explained that we only sing that between Pascha and Pentecost, but that’s one he always sings. He muddles up the words a bit:

Christ is Risen from the dead
Trampling down death, death, death
Upon those in the tombs bestowing life

He really likes the “death, death, death” bit and it seems pointless at this point to explain the theology of trampling down “death by death”. It is still re-enforcing the importance of the Resurrection in his mind.

St Aidan pray for us!

May God grant his servant Aidan many years!

Posted by david at 12:07 AM | Comments (2)

August 30, 2005

What is Extreme?

President for life Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan like things done a certain way. And when you are a Central Asian dictator, you get things your way.

He has banned opera, ballet, and car radios. He has cracked down on young men wearing long hair or beards. He has closed all the hospitals in the country except in the capital, Ashgabat. He has even renamed some calendar months after himself and his mother.

In case his subjects were unclear as to what is good and right and true for the Turkmen people, he has written a book, Ruhnama, which everyone is required to read. It is part of the secondary and university curriculum.

Nonetheless, people haven't been getting the message, and last week Niyazov had to ban lip synching. According to the official daily newpaper, Neitralny Turkmenistan, this includes "musical performances on state holidays, in broadcasts by Turkmen television channels, at all cultural events organised by state... in places of mass assembly and at weddings and celebrations organised by the public".

Not to be outdone by another Central Asian nutcase in the area of personal caprice, any type of billiards or pool is illegal in Uzbekistan. This is not for any particular reason. President Islam Karimov decided that he didn’t like it, so he declared it illegal. This has not eliminated billiards in Uzbekistan. I watched a BBC4 documentary on the Central Asian republics last night in which they secretly filmed an underground pool hall.

I remember stories of how Christian services were attended by secret police in the Communist bloc before the end those regimes. I found it interesting that in Uzbekistan the mosques are attended by government agents. The sermons at Friday prayers are given according to guidelines set out by the government. It is not surprising that there are Muslim “extremists” who are opposed to the government.

If Christian services were monitored in the US or UK and sermons required to be given according to government guidelines, how many Christian “extremists” would there be? When you hear about Karimov fighting Muslim extremists in Uzbekistan, take that into consideration.

Posted by david at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

Memory Eternal

Twelve years ago today, the first of my first cousins died – the first of my paternal grandparents’ grandchildren. (This happened just hours before the accident in which I almost lost my life and did lose my leg.) My cousin Mary was only 32.

Posted by david at 03:13 PM | Comments (1)

August 29, 2005

Terrorist Win One

I'm not talking about Muslim extremists. No, we have had another breed of home-grown terrorists in this country for a long time. Animal rights activists.

Darley Oaks Farm in Staffordshire has been breeding guinea pigs for medical research for 30 years. For seven years activists have tried to shut it down.

There have been 460 separate incidents, involving the intimidation of Darley staff, casual workers and suppliers using hate mail, arson attacks, and hoax bombs. It has cost £500,000 a year for policing. The local village has been routinely vandalised and the golf course ripped up.

Then, last October they desecrated of the grave of Gladys Hammond, mother-in-law of Darley Oaks’ owners, stealing her body and holding it ransom. The ransom price: the Darley Oaks business.

Darley Oaks has thrown in the towel. In a statement announcing the end of their business, they asked for the body to be returned.

But the owners, employees, suppliers, and incidental visitors at Darley Oaks are not the only ones facing this terrorist activity. There are 22,000 people in this country who work in areas of scientific research involving animals and all of them are viewed at valid targets. As one newspaper noted they "can expect to have their cars covered in acid, endless unordered goods to be delivered to their homes and even have their children threatened."

For these activists, human life is irrelevant and valueless when compared to rodents.

Posted by david at 12:36 AM | Comments (3)

August 28, 2005

Hiatus Hiatus

Trying to the get the phone line moved to our new residence has proved more difficult that I had imagined. When I rang several days ago about this, I found out that there has not been a BT line in the house since 1998 and an engineer would have to come out (at no charge, of course) to update the wiring and sockets.

The first available date for an engineer was in the third week of September.

So the broadband has not been disconnected at the old place to keep us online until we give up the keys there.

This means that for a few days I may upload a few blog entries here and there.

Posted by david at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2005


We are moving house over the next few days. What with moving the phone number and finding a new broadband provider (since I can get at least 1MB for what I'm now paying for 512K), and not being able to figure out why my computer now refuses to connect to narrowband, I could be several day without uttering a bloging word.

See you on the other side.

Posted by david at 02:26 AM | Comments (1)

August 23, 2005

Memory Eternal and Just Memories

My great-grandmother, and Abigail Leticia's namesake, was born this day in 1859. It was also a Tuesday that year.

This is also the 28th anniversary of the founding of the only overtly Christian Star Trek fan club, run out of my bedroom with members throughout the US and Canada. I edited and published a monthly newsletter, to which I also contributed substantial content. At one point I got threatened with a libel action for something I said about a fanzine. Is it any wonder I didn't fit in very well in junior high?

After sending out all of those newsletters, I still remember one complete address (2119 Brookdale Avenue, Parma, OH 44134) and one Canadian post code (J0E 2N0 - which I always read as "joe two no"), and of course the names of those who lived there.

The most famous of my members (at least around our house) was Ginny Summers. I mention her by name to enshrine her in Google, as she's not found there. I don't know if she is alive. She would be about 81 now. She was from SW Missouri and used to write long, long letters to me describing, inter alia, the various social traumas from her youth which led her to become a recluse. She also contributed most of the artwork to the newsletter. I met her once, a number years later when I was in graduate school just on the other side of the 36º 30' (she lived at 36°40'48" North and I was living at 36°4'35" North, for those keeping score at home).

Tonight I was going to look up the only person who knew her whose name I remembered (I can't remember if he ever joined the Christian Trekkers). I found him on the Net. Or rather I should say I found tributes to him, as he died of pancreatic cancer in 2001 at the age of 37. He had become quite a mover and shaker in the world of "DXing" pirate radio stations. So he was no help, and may he rest in peace.

The Christian Trekkers began to disintegrate while I was visiting the Shire with my family for the first time in 1980, as our house was buglarised during our absence and books and files were taken. (Yes, it would require a unique burglar to be interested in materials relating to a Star Trek fan club.) These included story manuscripts for a fanzine I was planning to publish. Threats of litigation ensued when potential contributors assumed I had absconded with their work.

Perhaps I was playing a little above my head.

Posted by david at 04:26 AM | Comments (6)

August 22, 2005

Shame on Cindy

The Boston Globe today has an op-ed piece on "The Cindy Sheehan you don't know". Everything you imagined to be true and more.

H/T to Greg Wallace.

Huw Raphael's own experience puts a very good perspective on this.

Posted by david at 10:43 PM | Comments (2)

What Goes Around...

The removal of Jewish settlers from Gaza is almost complete. I don't know if they showed the same news footage in the States as they did here, but we received lots of coverage. It would have been the top story each night, except for continuing new revelations about the de Menezes execution.

I don't like to see anyone lose their home, but settlers could have been warned that this day might come. Of course, when they were sent in there, there was no spirit of compromise in Israel. The Israelis had taken by conquest what they believed was rightfully theirs, even if the creation of the State of Israel by the US and UK in 1948 hadn't taken it into account.

But how different this was from 1948 when the Jews began systematically removing Palestinians and confiscating their homes and their lands. There was no compensation and no other provision. There are still refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon.

Another difference was that when Israelis took over Palestinian property, they left the houses and occupied them. In the withdrawal from Gaza, the houses will all be bulldozed. If Palestinians want to to make their land habitable, the will just have to start from scratch. Whole towns of perfectly good houses will be demolished. It can't be seen that the Palestinians get anything off the backs of the Jews, even though the Jews got everything off the backs of the Palestinians.

Posted by david at 02:35 AM | Comments (1)

August 21, 2005

The Story that Doesn't Die

Jean Charles de Menezes. I'm sure some of your just skip over my blog entries that mention the name. Just like the Met wanted his family to skip over having a lawyer present when they were offered a pittance in compensation.

Yes, it keeps getting worse for the Met. What happened when officials met with the decedent parents in Brazil? Well, they told the Mail on Sunday:

• They were only summoned to the August 1 meeting with Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates the night before it took place - and despite pleading for more time so their lawyer could be present, were told it could not be delayed.
• Mr Yates refused to answer any of their questions about how Jean Charles died --even though by this stage, ten days after the shooting, the Yard knew that initial reports that he had run from police were wrong.
• The still heavily-sedated parents, who only speak Portuguese, were then handed a of which they have passed to The Mail on Sunday, offering them speedy payment of £15,000 'by way of compensation to you for the death of your son'.
• When the family's London-based lawyers protested to the Met that they had been excluded from the meeting in Gonzaga, Brazil, they were wrongly told that they acted only 'for cousins in England and not the next of kin'.

Just how badly could one operation and the following cover up go?

Posted by david at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

Bladder Control

Aidan has developed a tendency to pee outdoors. I have no idea why. He started by peeing in the back garden. As our back garden is surrounded by houses and can been seen from all of them, Mrs H was horrified.

Then early one morning, he decided it was too much effort to go upstairs and instead chose instead to drag a toy box to the the front door, climb up and unlock it, move the toybox out of the way to open the door, and liberally water the concrete outside. Mrs H was more than horrified.

Today we were kicking around the football in the common land across the street when Aidie decided he had to go, so he prepared to go in the wide open. I convinced him to at least find a discreet area in front of some brush. He just told Mummy what he did. I'll let you guess the reaction.

Our new house (if we ever get moved) has two loos, so perhaps this will help us keep him indoors.

Posted by david at 06:19 PM | Comments (2)

We're Everywhere

Eastern Orthodox folks are liable to sneak up where you least expect them. The new CEO of Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher in the world (and the ninth largest publishing company of any kind), is Deacon Michael Hyatt of St Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin, Tennessee. He has been the President and COO at Thomas Nelson for the past 18 months.

H/T to the young fogey, who got the Orthodixie quicker than I did.

Posted by david at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2005

No Place to Go

The Government has been pushing for 50% of the population to get university degrees. Despite their denials, they keep lowering the standards of examinations so that more students get higher grades. 'A' level results released yesterday showed that grades have risen again - for the 23rd year in a row. Almost a quarter of all exams resulted in A grades.

Unfortunately the Government hasn't created all the places at universities for all these new amazing scholars.

Places at university are tentatively given on the basis of expected 'A' level grades. If the required grades aren't achieved, then a student has to go through "clearing" to find another university with places that will accept them.

There are usually a lot of places because students will put off their university education and take a gap year. This is not a good year for gap years. Why? The Government has raised tuition fees by 300% starting in 2006. With everyone taking their places, there are just 37,700 vacancies.

Nearly 100,000 students want those vacancies. This means that about 60,000 18-year-olds better find something to do, because they will not be going to university this year.

Posted by david at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

Mo Mowlam, RIP

I didn't agree with many of Mo Mowlam's core political beliefs. Nonetheless, I have missed her participation in the political process and I was saddened to learn of her death today.

Mo (and she always insisted on being called "Mo", not "Ms. Mowlam" or "Minister") became the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when Labour came to power in 1997. She had been the Shadow Secretary since 1994. She got the talks going which led to the final IRA ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement.

Her greatest asset was her insistence of plain speaking in a political arena of couched terms and carefully chosen phrases. As one Northern Ireland politician commented today, she wasn't afraid to talk about the 800-pound gorilla in the living room. It is a lot easier to agree or disagree with someone, and reach understanding and compromise, when the cards are laid out on the table.

Mo was diagnosed with a brain tumor five months before Labour came to power in 1997. She lost her hair due to chemotherapy, and was known to take off her wig to remove the formality from meetings and defuse tense situations. She was a politician without pretensions.

She had significant connections with the US. She received her PhD in political science from the University of Iowa. She taught at the University of Wisconsin and Florida State, before returning to the UK to teach at the University of Newcastle.

Her illness led only indirectly to her death. Radiation treatment she was receiving caused her to have problems with balance. She received head injuries as the result of a fall and never regained consciousness.

May she rest in peace and may her memory be eternal.

Posted by david at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005

It Just Gets Deeper

My post last night about the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes was based upon the news as it stood then. I didn't think it could get any worse. Now it has emerged that the Commissioner of the Met, Sir Ian Blair (no relation to the Prime Minister of the same surname), tried to stop the Independent Police Complaints Commission from opening an investigation.

On the day of the incident, Sir Ian had contacted the Home Office to determine the scope of the IPCC's remit. As it was believed at the time that Menezes was a terrorist, Sir Ian did not want the IPCC to mess with his anti-terrorism operation. However, when it was revealed the next day that Menezes was not a terrorist, Sir Ian still did not refer the case on to the IPCC. It took three days and lots of pressure from Menezes' family to do that.

So now we have clear evidence the coverup reaching the highest level. I dread to see what ITN uncovers tomorrow.

Posted by david at 08:34 PM | Comments (1)

No Need for a Library Card

The royal family of the British celebrity world, former Spice Girl Victoria and England football captain David Beckham (known over here as Posh and Becks) have been in the news a lot this year. As role model for thousands of teenage boys, Becks seems to spend a lot of time out of the marital bed - or in it, with someone other than the mother of his three children. Not doing a lot for the cause of monogamy.

But it is Posh who is in the news now. Despite the fact that she recently "authored" a 528-page biography, she has told a Spanish magazine that she has never read a book. Honest. "I haven't read a book in my life. I don't have the time. I prefer listening to music, although I do love fashion magazines."

Is it any wonder that so many secondary school students can't read?

Posted by david at 02:46 AM | Comments (1)

The Frankenblair Government

The Government is set to overhaul fertility laws. While they are taking the views of the public and medical professionals until November, there is no mistaking the adgenda that is already in place. There are three key areas they are keen to change, or "update", as they like to call it.

The first the screening of embyonic babies to choose who will live and who will die. This is already done. What will change is the basis. On the basis of which diseases, or the genetic potential for those diseases, can the embyro be destroyed? And on what basis can parents choose the sex of their child? So far this has only been allowed when it was deemed medically necessary, due to genetic defects carried through a particular sex. Now members of every culture that values males over females will be able to get the boy they want.

The second area concerns who should receive IVF treatment. Under current regulations, fertility clinics must consider the welfare of any child who was born as a result of the treatment they provide. This includes its need for a father or male figure in its life. This does not mean that those who intend to raise a child without a father can't get IVF - they are just further down the waiting list in an NHS of limited resources.

Where is the law going on this? It is telling that a House of Commons select committee called this rule "offensive" to unconventional families. The head of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority says it is "nonsense". Theoretically, single mothers of either natural or lesbians inclinations will be on equal footing with those who are partnered by the opposite sex. But of course the Government will be keen to redress the balance, so I would not hesitate to speculate that anyone living in what approaches a natural family situation will have a much harder time getting a place in the queue.

And the third area does away with the need for men altogether. In research still under development, a lesbian couple who doesn't want to deal with that icky sperm and wants a child truly "their own" will simply have a different cell taken from one partner and used as a gamete. This is a variation on cloning technology already being used in the lab - not something of science fiction. Because the Government wants to have legislation in place that will work for the next decade, this is the sort of thing that will be addressed.

Posted by david at 01:23 AM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies, and a Statistic

What you are about to read is the most disgusting thing. Really disgusting. I am normally quite critical of the police. Yet even for me, this defies belief. It has been the top news story all evening in this country. This takes a moment to set up, but please keep reading.

When Jean Charles de Menezes was mistakenly killed by police on the Tube in London, as a suspect in the July 21 failed bombings, the police said that he had come out of building under surveillance wearing a bulky jacket (to hide a bomb, obviously), been identified as one of the terrorist suspects and was followed on the bus to Stockwell Station. They told us he was confronted by police and jumped the ticket barrier. He ran for a train to escape officers, tripped, was pinned down and before he could detonate a suicide bomb, he was shot.

The police admitted the next day that he wasn't a bomber, or an Asian, or a Muslim, but a Brazilian electrician. With a need to discredit their victim, they announced that he had a expired visa, so he must have been running to avoid getting into immigration trouble. The moral of the story: don't run from the police - if you do, it's your own fault.

Menezes' family continued to reject the police story and the investigation was taken over by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The IPCC took lots of statements and compiled lots of evidence. Then somebody leaked it to ITN, pictures and all. Tonight the police are suffering collective loss of bowel control.

Menedez did leave an apartment block that was under surveillance. However, the officer who was suppose to identify him couldn't. He didn't get a good look him and didn't get his camera turned on. Why? He was relieving himself at the time. Those are his words. But he said, yeah, I'm pretty sure it's him. Menezes was a light-skinned European-looking Brazilian. He was mistaken for an Ethiopian.

Let me make this clear in case you didn't get it the first time. Menezes died because the man in charge of surveillance was having a pee and couldn't tell a white man from a black man. But based on his information, Menezes was followed to the Tube station.

The police never confronted Menezes. He never vaulted the ticket barrier as they alleged. He didn't even know he was being followed. He stopped to pick up a free newspaper and travelled slowly down the escalator. When he got to the platform his train was already there, so he ran to catch it before the doors closed. That was his fatal mistake.

He didn't know that police agreed that if he ran they would shoot him. He made the train on time and was sitting down. They got on the train and shouted at him. He got up and had his arms pinned to the sides of his denim jacket. He was then pushed into the seat where he had been sitting and shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

He was the wrong colour. He never ran from the police. He never vaulted the ticket barrier. He never acted suspiciously. He was not wearing any sort of bulky jacket.

The police broke every rule in the book. And they lied about it. They tried to besmirch the victim to distract the attention of the public. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police fed this to us in press conferences, with flagrant disregard for not only the truth but also for the pain and suffering of Menezes' family. This could be the plot to a movie about dirty cops. You know, the kind were the real bad guys get it in the end.

Heads should roll.

Posted by david at 11:53 PM | Comments (3)

August 15, 2005

Back to the Bush

Yesterday, we went back to West Midlands Safari Park on our free return ticket. If the previous trip this season was underwhelming, then I'm out of adjectives of mediocrity for this one. I don't know what they've done between last season and this for it to go so far downhill. It was as bad as the Bristol Zoo.

It was a good thing that we didn't spend £2.25 for a little box of food, because there weren't enough animals to have used it up. I don't know if there's been a food shortage for the carnivores. Maybe they are sending antelope into the big cat enclosures to cut back on the steak bill.

About the most exciting thing was watching a family of chavs with two of their children riding on the back of the sunroof, even when the signs said to lock windows, doors, and sunroofs. The boys looked to be about 9 and 6 years old. The 9-year-old was wearing a sovereign ring and the 6-year-old was sucking on a dummy.

At one point, the chavs were looking over at us and laughing. Mrs H suggested they were making fun of our complete lack of Burberry. Or it could have been Abby driving the car. I let her sit on my lap and she took the whole driving thing very seriously.

This was perfectly safe, as we were usually travelling about as fast as she can go in Aidan's foot-powered car stuck at the bottom of the garden. I can't imagine how much petrol was burned as we crawled along the four-mile track. Even though it was free, it was a waste of money.

Posted by david at 11:57 PM | Comments (2)

August 12, 2005

Another Excuse

Little Andrew Morton's death was the result of a most dispicable crime. Mark Bonini, a man with no job but enough money to be described to police as "out of his face" on drugs, decided to take pot shots out of his window with an airgun. He was convicted on Tuesday of murdering the 2-year-old.

Predictably, for the politicians, the issue is not drugged up dolies, but airguns. Clearly they need to be outlawed. Just like when the Dunblane massacre was carried out with long guns, the Government came in and outlawed handguns.

The Government will use what ever excuse it can to disarm law-abiding citizen. Using Andrew Morton's death does nothing to honor his life, nor will it prevent the same sort of tragedy from happening again. People like Mark Bonini are not going to turn in their pellet guns out of either legal obedience or a brainwashed sense of social responsibility.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal Europe:
Crime was not supposed to rise after handguns were banned in 1997. Yet, since 1996 the serious violent crime rate has soared by 69%: robbery is up by 45% and murders up by 54%. Before the law, armed robberies had fallen by 50% from 1993 to 1997, but as soon as handguns were banned the robbery rate shot back up, almost back to their 1993 levels.

Gun crime in England and Wales nearly doubled in the four years from 1998-99 to 2002-03. It rose again by another 3% last year.

What does the Government imagine that it is going to accomplish by an airgun ban?

Posted by david at 11:03 PM | Comments (2)

August 11, 2005

California Girls

A little piece of Mrs H's patron saint has immigrated to the US.

It has been accompanied by a miracle: a mainstream media newspaper wrote a lengthy positive story about it.

St Anna, pray for us.

H/T to the young fogey, who included a photo of Aaron's daughter's baptism in the same post.

Posted by david at 12:57 AM | Comments (2)

August 10, 2005

Patronising Liberals

The NCAA has decided that universities with mascots or nicknames derived from American Indian sources must change or cover up their nicknames to compete in NCAA tournaments because they are "hostile and abusive".

I started to blog about this, but it got too long. It has become my latest Meandering.

Comments welcome.

Posted by david at 11:27 PM | Comments (3)

August 07, 2005

The Godfather I and II

Mrs H and I became godparents today. In fact we became godparents for the first and second time on the same day. Our godsons are twins.

We were both very honoured that the parents of the twins, who are brothers of Aidie's friend Harry, asked us.

After the service an older lady came up to Mrs H thinking she was the mother of the babies. After learning the truth of this matter, the lady turned to the twins' father and asked if he was the father. He replied that he was. She queried further, "Of both of them?"

Posted by david at 11:22 PM | Comments (1)

August 06, 2005

Cripple Quotas

Many people know that I have been an advocate for disability access, especially in the last 12 years. In Indianapolis, I was the first person to approach the prosecutor's office to allow specially trained and commissioned disabled people to hand out parking tickets when ablebodied lazy turds can't understand the big wheelchair symbol painted on the tarmac beneath a wheelchair symbol on a big blue sign. (Let's forgive the fact that they forgot all about me when it was introduced in 1998. No, really, I forgive them.) I figured it mollified my urge to take my spare leg and beat the crap out of their car. After all, if someone is such a lowlife scum as to nick a handicap space, the probably would have no compunction about violently repelling a one-legged man.

Anyhow, the point is that I am pro-active about equal access.

However, I was flipping through a crip magazine that I get free and found out that we aren't seeing enough disabled folks on the telly. The Beeb has now set targets for its drama programmes:

• There has to be at least one disabled character in every returning drama series on BBC1
• Two out of every 100 extras must be a disabled character
• Three factual and leisure shows on BBC1 and BBC2 must feature at least one disabled contributor per series
• Three key entertainment series on BBC1 must feature at least one disabled contestant out of 50
• BBC3 has to broadcast at least one series with a regular disabled character
• BBC4 has to broadcast at least two profiles of “people of achievement” per year

Just as adamant as I am about equal access, I oppose employment quotas regardless of the minority involved. I also reject the idea that I need to see a certain number of disabled people to give me a more positive view of them or so that I will have the right kind of role models.

I think the license fee payer's money would be better spent on programmes that viewers enjoy, rather than on programmes that will condition viewers in a politically correct way.

Posted by david at 03:46 PM | Comments (11)

August 04, 2005

Dying Breeds

Orthodoxy in Russia is facing the same problem as Protestantism in Northern Ireland. Both are being out-bred.

In the case of the latter, the Six Counties will eventually be re-assimilated into the rest of the Emerald Isle because the Catholic majority in the next generation or so will democratically choose that path. Who needs guns and bombs? Well, the Unionist paramilitaries will likely swap positions with the IRA when it becomes obvious that ballot box won't work for them.

In the case of the former, the threat is from Islam. Again, there is no need for guns or bombs. This isn't going to stop the usual suspects from disrupting Moscow in the short term, but time is on their side if they will be patient. The Chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia recently said that the ethnic Muslim populations of Russia is now 23 million. This is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but the number is in the region of 20 million.

This may seem insignificant for a country with a population of about 144 million, but let's crunch the numbers a bit more. Out of that population, the Moscow Patriarchate claims 80 million are Orthodox. However, there are some experts who put the number at closer to 40 million. I think the experts are probably overly conservative, but the Patriarchate is undoubtedly liberal in measuring its own strength and influence.

However, even if we split it down the middle and say there are 60 million Orthodox, there are still one-third as many Muslims. It does not take very long for this to change. The Muslims are having more babies and living longer.

The overall population of Russia is dropping. It fell by over 400,000 in just the first six months of 2005. The population in Muslim regions rose. The life expectacy for a male in Russia in 58. In predominately Muslim Dagestan it is 68. Why? Because Russians are drinking themselves to death - except of course where alcohol is religiously prohibited.

The onus is on the Russian Church. Now is the time for evangelism rather than living in the fantasies of the 19th century when Russian=Orthodox. The Patriarchate may be able to pressure the Duma into repressing the Baptists, the Pentecostals, and other evangelical Protestants. It may battle the Vatican over Roman churches and diocese. It can't stop Muslims from having babies and leading healthier lives.

Posted by david at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

August 03, 2005

Karimov, China, and the Balance of Power

He doesn't take criticism very well. The Bush Administration has suggested that perhaps the killing of 750 protesters isn't the thing to do. As a result, Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov is terminating US access to the base at Karshi-Khanabad, known as K2.

It doesn't help that the US supported a UN airlift of 439 Uzbek refugees out of Kyrgystan to Romania (and you know things must be bad if people are moving to Romania). Karimov was insisting that they be forcibly returned to Uzbekistan. That's the way with despots. They're big into forcibly doing things, and not so big into freedom of movement or emigration. Since these are political refugees who fled after the Andijan uprising, I'm sure Karimov wanted to throw in a good dose of torture, maybe accidentally killing a few.

This development makes the Russians and Chinese happy. They've been looking for a way to move some of the US presence out of the region, as it stifles their plans. Russia still thinks that it is entitled to regional influence and the Chinese don't like anyone sniffing too close to their own human rights abuses.

Russians and Chinese are also trying to get the US out of Kyrgystan for the same reason. Beijing has mistreated the indigenous populations of its western frontiers without too much interference from the US or any of the other countries of the world who believe that there is a right way and a wrong way to treat folks. This is mostly because until the Afghan war, Central Asia was far from the minds of most Americans or Europeans. Beijing wants to keep it that way. Moscow does as well, but mostly so it can keep up the charade of being a world power.

The Russians and Chinese are even planning joint military exercises in the Yellow Sea. China wanted to hold them further south, off the coast of Taiwan, just to remind the Chinese there that the Commies plan to take them by force eventually, so they might as well give up silly ideas like freedom and democracy now and be assimilated into the Sino-Borg.

Fortunately, Karimov is slowly being isolated as the era of the post-Soviet tinpot dictator is coming to an end. The US will need democratic (or at least more democratic than before) friends in Central Asia to hem in a much more significant foe of freedom than Islamic terrorists.

Posted by david at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)