Chloe Annabelle McKinlay, first child of my niece Victoria, first grandchild of my sister Pauline, was born last Friday. She is my second great-niece and second great-grandchild of my father, John. John is visiting us in Canberra from his home in Hobart. Here he poses with James at the Floriade.
St Philip's Singers and CAMRA Inc. have presented Handel's glorious Messiah a few times.
The ABC's Limelight has a list, with videos, of 'epic fails' in classical music. Mostly slapstick, and not funny. This one made me chuckle, as the humour is in the sound. With the excellent Colin Forbes at the helm, this did NOT not happen to our Messiah (!?).
The descent into chaos of this rendition of "Hallelujah!" is something to do with a transpose button, apparently.
It's been long time since I posted here. My apologies, dear reader; I ran out of time, energy and inspiration for a while.
Not too much is the old family motto for the McKinlays.
I like Libenter excipe for my own motto. It's from the Prologue of the Rule of St Benedict and means "Freely receive".
I've used it as the name of my new site.
"Here is liberty, all I have to do is be quiet, sit still." — Thomas Merton, Run to the Mountain. (1955), p. 20.
Every work day, I drive past this 11 metre wind-driven whirling object which appeared on the median strip of Yarra Glen Drive three years ago. At last I've troubled myself to find out that it's Dinornis maximus, aong-extinct bird species and a "Kinetic sculpture" by New Zealander Phil Price, a "wind-powered ballet in the sky". Price says he seeks a "combination of movement that provides a flow and a dance".
It's large, but motorists can ill afford to glance at it, for it's close to a busy and potentially dangerous junction.
It moves in the slightest breeze, and the curved blades change colour as they move, yellow and orange against blue. But you share this experience only if you take your life in your hands, walk up to it, and spend time looking. Its siting is the source of of its problems. It's impossible to park and walk over to take a look, and by the time it catches my attention, I'm already somewhere else.
The 90th Birthday of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was celebrated recently. He and HM the Queen are rightly applauded for their life-long work and service.
Yes, these folks are no longer young. But to me, their lives of activity and work are examples of what could and should be normal.
By all accounts, the Queen and her husband eat and drink well but in moderation. They exercise, and don't smoke. They have good health care and housing.
With a determination to be active and engaged with the world around us, most of us who enjoy reasonable circumstances can look forward to long and productive life.
New Yorkers are a driven, over-busy people, opines the New York Times ("Editorial: On the Art of Puttering", 24 Jun 11). So too are Canberrans.
But every now and then there comes a day for puttering. You can't put it in your book ahead of time because who knows when it will come? No one intends to putter. You simply discover, in a brief moment of self-awareness, that you have been puttering, or, as the English [and Australians] would say, pottering. [. . .] You move through the morning with a calm, oblivious focus, taking on tasks — incidental ones — in the order they present themselves, which is to say no order at all. Puttering is small-scale, stream-of-consciousness problem-solving. It is setting sail on a sea of random course changes. The day passes, and you have long since forgotten what you were looking for — or that you were looking for anything at all. You feel as though you've accomplished a lot, though you have no idea what. It has been a holiday from purpose.
"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality."
— John F. Kennedy (misquoting Dante Alighieri) at the signing in Bonn of a charter establishing the German Peace Corps, 24 June 1963. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 503.)
The always insightful Dave Walker offers this as a representation of the cartoon-making process. I would say that it's also a fair representation of Australian government policy making.
A message for the Hon Julia Gillard MP Prime Minister of Australia, who seems to prefer her personal opinions to those of the majority of her party and the Australian public.
It is not the argument about same sex marriage that is annoying — reasoned debate is to be expected. What angers me is that Ms Gillard requires Australian public policy to be determined by her personal prejudices based on nothing more than ill-informed attitudes acquired in her childhood.
Image from: fckh8.com.
Psalm 91 has long been a great blessing to me and is very familiar as one of the Compline psalms. There are many hymn settings. One that I particularly like is "Whoever lives beside the Lord", by John Bell, set to Teann a nall, a traditional Gaellic tune (in his Psalms of Patience, Protest & Praise).
As I plan for retirement, I've been challenged to be more trusting of God about my future. Somehow I seem to be able to trust God in the small things of life, but I find it harder when it comes to the really important.
The challenge was reinforced when last Sunday we sang "Safe in the shadow of the Lord" (by Timothy Dudley-Smith, set to Creator God, by Norman Warren). New to me, it's a simple hymn, but touched me strongly.
Safe in the Shadow of the Lord, beneath His hand and power,
I trust in him, I trust in him, my fortress and my tower.
My hope is set on God alone, though Satan spreads his snare,
I trust in him, I trust in him, To keep me in His care.
From fears and phantoms of the night, from foes about my way,
I trust in him, I trust in him, by darkness as by day.
His holy angels keep my feet secure from every stone,
I trust in him, I trust in him, and unafraid go on.
Strong in the everlasting Name, and in my Father's care,
I trust in him, I trust in him, who hears and answers prayer.
Safe in the shadow of the Lord, possessed by love divine,
I trust in him, I trust in him, and meet His love with mine.
As a veteran of many meetings, I reckon Dave Walker's Cartoon Church is on to something here.
Just been watching the Eurovision Song Contest. Between some decent singing and some 'songs' that weren't sung at all, this whimsical number from Iceland caught me.
When Sigurjon 'Sjonni' Brink died early this year, his wife and friends got together to keep his song Coming Home in the competition and perform it in his memory.
"This is a group of six individuals who have one thing in common," the Eurovision site says, "Palmi is the old and wise one, Hreimur is the innocent and sincere one, Matthias provides the comic relief, Benedikt is the good-looking, cheerful one, Vignir is the silent, mysterious type and Gunnar is the bad boy. Together they are Sjonni's Friends."
On 28 April 1986, the Soviet Union announced in a brief statement that there had been an accident at a place called Chernobyl in the nuclear power plant in the Ukraine. This first ever official disclosure of a nuclear accident ever by the Soviet Union, came hard on the heels of reports by Scandanavian countries of abnormally high radioactivity levels.
That was just 33 days after I had moved from Melbourne to be the science specialist librarian in the Australian Parliamentary Library in Canberra.
Many people were worried. MPs and Senators needed to know what was happening. So my new job began in earnest. We answered many questions and rushed out a reading list with a collection of articles from leading sources such as the New Scientist, Science, etc. But there was precious little to go on—we had to wait.
Eventually the true extent of the tragedy became apparent. "Chernobyl" was to be a grim marker at the begining of what was a most reward period in my career.
The three hour service on Good Friday was refreshing in word, music and silence. Yet because I had things-to-do (reading and some choir singing) I didn't really begin to relax and listen until the third hour.
After the thousands of goodly and Godly words, the pages of glorious music, and the companionable silence, what I came away with was a renewed sense of the hope-filled mystery of it all.
From 1 Corinthians:
"Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? . . . God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
. . . and in this closing prayer:
In the time between the passing of what was and the birth of what will be we find ourselves uncertain—a little lost. We grieve what has gone, and we do not know what will replace it.
It is a waiting time, a hopeful time and the one thing we can hold on to is this, You were there with what was, you will be with what waits to be born, and You are here, in the in-between time. And so we wait, we hope and we worship. Amen.
(© 2008 Local Church Ministry Team, United Church of Christ. Reproduced with permission.)
An immutable rule of public service life is that the amount of work to be done varies inversely with the time remaining before starting leave. No more is this felt than in Holy Week. The very week when the church invites us to be quiet and reflective is often the busiest work week of the year, with five days work done in less than four and everything "finished before Easter", lest, after a four or five day break, we forget what we were doing.
Three days and nights in the tomb did not make Jesus forget his mission!
For singers and liturgists, the church is the same—music rehearsals, twice the usual amount of preaching, piles of copying and printing, cleaning of everything, cooking and serving of special meals, and much-organisation-of-everything.
And yet God is merciful, we always have energy for rejoicing. Allelujah!
But lengthy, quiet reflection? I fear not. Maybe after Easter. Sigh. As for travelling at Easter—no thank you.
Peace be with us.
Canberra isn't NYC, but Sunday evening is Sunday eveing, and this is just as I feel, right now.
Sunday Evening With Monday to Come, Editorial NYT (2 Apr 11).
New York is a place people come to have jobs they can love. And yet a certain wistfulness always steals over Sunday evening. You can almost feel the people out on the streets— walking dogs, strolling home from dinner, running along the river—trying to make twilight last a little longer. Monday is gathering and they can feel it.
Surely not everyone is homeward bound by dark on Sunday evening, and yet that’s where everyone seems to be headed. Perhaps this is pure projection on the part of the observer, whose thoughts have already drifted into the week ahead. But Sunday evening brings a feeling completely unlike, say, Tuesday evening. The slower pace on the sidewalks feels like reluctance. The traffic seems almost melancholy. You suspect that the dogs, out for the last walk of the night, can smell the Sunday-ness of it all.
Everywhere there are people saying goodbye. Couples parting at street corners and brownstone steps, a man helping a woman into a cab and watching as it pulls away, a flock of teenagers noisily disassembling at a subway entrance. We don’t live in the midst of one another just for these moments, but these are the moments that make living in the midst of one another feel coherent, as though the city is something we create, in collaboration, day after day. We go home, go to bed and turn out the light, knowing that Monday will come at its own speed and that we'll wake up already racing.
There is a long-going legal dispute between Christians and Malaysian authorities about the use of the word "Allah" to mean "God" in Malay language (Bahasa Malaysia) Christian publications.
Muslims argue that the word "Allah" exclusively denotes the God of monotheistic Islam. Christians say that "Allah" is an Arabic word that has been used by those of other religious beliefs, including the Jews, in reference to God in many other parts of the world, notably in Arab nations and Indonesia. Catholics in particular say that their use of "Allah" is not something new. They have invoked the word for generations in prayers and at mass in Malay.
A 2009 High Court ruling that allowed Catholic weekly The Herald to use "Allah" in its Bahasa Malaysia section. But the case is remains sub judice after the government won a stay of the High Court decision
Use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims is constrained by laws that differ between the various Malaysian states and the situation is complex.
Pending resolution of the case, thousands of newly-printed Malay Bibles that include the word "Allah" were impounded. Thirty thousand of them were recently released in Sarawak, but only after they had been stamped with a government seal and serial numbered—without the owner’s consent. In Port Klang, 5,100 Bibles imported by the Bible Society of Malaysia were similarly defaced and released.
The stamp on the inside page of the Bible’s cover says: Untuk kegunaan penganut Kristian sahaja ["For Christian use only"].
(The 'Bible' in the picture is in fact a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs.)
The Government is something of a bind as some Muslims have resented the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims and there has been arson and vandalism of several houses of worship.
The government defended the stamping of the Bibles as "standard protocol", saying that to do so was the only way to release the books quickly as requested by the Bible Society of Malaysia. Otherwise they would have continued to be impounded pending resolution of the court appeal. The minister for Home Affairs complained about Catholic unwillingness to expunge the word "Allah" from the Bible.
In Sarawak, local native Christians are highly upset at what they see as a desecration of their holy book and will make their feelings felt at the ballot box. They will not use the Bibles.
I do not think that stamping an ink-and-paper book desecrates the word of God. Much more serious, however, is the Government’s restriction of the use of the Bible to Christians. Still worse is the tracking of the books through serial numbers.
Through these steps, the Malaysian Government continues to place freedom of religion at serious risk and prohibits most of its people even from reading the Bible in their own language or a language that the understand.
not too much is delighted to recommend this fine concert by igitur nos!
According to the Canberra Times the Heritage Division of the federal Environment Department will have its budget reduced by 30 per cent next financial year, resulting in 30 job losses and the end of work on important projects.
The division's funding will be cut by $3.8 million, leaving $7.6 million and a list of undone tasks. Projects will end and jobs will go, assessments of new places for the National Heritage List will be reduced to almost nothing and the work program of the Australian Heritage Council will be gutted. The cuts are a departmental response to government-imposed cuts, rather than a specific government decision.
Greens heritage spokesman Scott Ludlam said he was not surprised by the budget cuts. "They have been bleeding them dry by attrition for the past couple of years," Senator Ludlam said. "We don't have a national heritage strategy, what we have is good departmental people working in somewhat of a vacuum and I can't see how reducing staff numbers that way is going to help the situation."
Already there have been failures due lack of staffing in the Department. (Remember the pink batts?).
The Rudd/Gillard Government has shown a distinct cultural cringe, slashing vital heritage and cultural programs and institutions to save few tens of millions, while spending multiple billions on some programs that have been ill-managed and wasteful. But calculated to be popular.
In similar vein the Labor Government slashed the National Capital Commission to save a few million, leaving management and maintenance of the national capital parts of Canberra in disarray. Good management of the nation capital does buy votes in Western Sydney and the majority of Canberra voters are rusted-on lefties anyway.
Now it appears that the ACT Government must consider a broad-based environmental levy on households and businesses to help Canberra maintain its environmental amenity. ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment Maxine Cooper will make the recommendation in a on the management of the Canberra Nature Park.
Old-time Liberals like Sir Robert Menzies must be turning in their graves, as would be former Labor leaders and culture-buffs Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating, if they were not still living!
If the Liberal weren't such ratbags, I'd be tempted to give them a preference vote for the first time in my life.
If the Daily Telegraph (21 Mar 11) is to be believed (a difficult task at the best of times), Prime Minister Gillard has said that her personal stance against same-sex marriage is due to her conservative upbringing.
Ms Gillard said she was "on the conservative side" of the gay marriage issue "because of the way our society is and how we got here".
"I think that there are some important things from our past that need to continue to be part of our present and part of our future," she said. "[...] marriage being between a man and a woman has a special status.
"Now, I know people might look at me and think that's something that they wouldn't necessarily expect me to say, but that is what I believe.
"I'm on the record as saying things like I think it's important for people to understand their Bible stories, not because I'm an advocate of religion — clearly, I'm not — but once again, what comes from the Bible has formed such an important part of our culture."
Ms Gillard said she had a "pro-union, pro-Labor upbringing in a quite conservative family, in the sense of personal values".
I mention this not to argue the case for or against same-sex marriage, but to express astonishment and dismay at the ludicrous way in which Ms Gillard is making public policy.
Ms Gillard's personal upbringing and her personal conservatism are utterly irrelevant. She might attempt to assess the Australian people's views on the question. She might consider the ethics of the matter, or the public policy aspects. But to base public policy on mere attitudes she acquired as a child is unworthy of her and of the nation she purports to lead.
Although I am a Christian myself, I am aghast at the PM's invocation of the Bible. What relevance do 'Bible stories' have to the formulation of public policy on same-sex marriage? None. Some Christians may attempt an argument against same-sex marriage on 'Biblical' grounds, but they would not rely on childish reference to 'Bible stories'!
I do not criticise Ms Gillard for living with a life-partner to whom she is not formally married. But in doing so, does she not demonstrate that, for her, marriage is not important?
Why then does she make public policy about something that is not important to her personally on the basis of ill-informed assumptions about a religion in which she does not believe?
When I become dictator, the following words and expressions will be banned forever from conversation: 'like', 'and stuff', 'you know', 'sort of', 'ummm', 'aah', 'went' or 'goes' (when meaning 'said'), 'no problem', 'but' (at the end of a sentence or clause).
I would have people taught description and the articulation of abstracts.
In City Journal (Winter 2001), Clark Whelton investigates the liguistic phenomenon he calls, "Vagueness, the linguistic virus that infected spoken language in the late twentieth century."
Inability to say things, Whelton says, is "shifting the burden of communication from speaker to listener. Ambiguity, evasion, and body language . . . were transforming college English into a coded sign language in which speakers worked hard to avoid saying anything definite. I called it Vagueness."
Vagueness was on the march. Double-clutching ("What I said was, I said . . .") sprang into the arena. Playbacks, in which a speaker re-creates past events by narrating both sides of a conversation ("So I'm like, 'Want to, like, see a movie?' And he goes, 'No way.' And I go . . ."), made their entrance. I was baffled by what seemed to be a reversion to the idioms of childhood. And yet intern candidates were not hesitant or uncomfortable about speaking elementary school dialects in a college-level job interview. I engaged them in conversation and gradually realized that they saw Vagueness not as slang but as mainstream English. At long last, it dawned on me: Vagueness was not a campus fad or just another generational raid on proper locution. It was a coup. Linguistic rabble had stormed the grammar palace. The principles of effective speech had gone up in flames.
In 1988, my elder daughter graduated from Vassar. During a commencement reception, I asked one of her professors if he'd noticed any change in Vassar students' language skills. "The biggest difference," he replied, "is that by the time today's students arrive on campus, they've been juvenilized. You can hear it in the way they talk. There seems to be a reduced capacity for abstract thought." He went on to say that immature speech patterns used to be drummed out of kids in ninth grade. "Today, whatever way kids communicate seems to be fine with their high school teachers."
In the Boston Globe (10 Feb 2011) Havard economics professor Edward Glaeser provides a welcome boost to my inner-city green credentials. In "Why, if you love nature, you should move to the city" he describes a study of energy use for households with standardized size and income. The study found that households in areas with more than 10,000 people per square mile average 687 US gallons of gasoline per year, while households in areas with fewer than 1,000 people per square mile average 1,164 US gallons of gas per year.
A standardized household in Boston's urban core emits about 6,700 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide from burnt gasoline than an equivalent suburban household.
There are also differences in electricity and home heating between cities and suburbs, mostly because suburbanites have bigger homes, even holding income and family size constant. On average, electricity use is 88% higher in single-family detached homes than in apartments in buildings with five or more units.
Glaeser and his colleagues estimate that, all told, the standardized suburban household in the Boston area produces almost six tons more carbon dioxide per year than the standardized urban household.
Of course, Canberra people can enjoy nature and the inner city at once!
Thanks to PivotX, this site is getting an upgrade. Let my first entry in the new version be an old prayer:
From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine, Good Lord, deliver us.
The Great Litany, Book of Common Prayer The Episcopal Church, 1979.
Editorial in a series Penny and Pound Foolish
On Climate, Who Needs the Facts?
Published: March 4, 2011
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
PRESIDENT'S F.Y. 2010-11 REQUEST: $2.3 MILLION
HOUSE VOTED: $0
The IPCC is the leading international scientific body studying climate change. Despite criticism—much of it manufactured by climate-change deniers—the panel has for more than a decade provided rigorous and balanced information to policy makers to help guide their efforts to prevent and mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of global warming.
Regrettably, politics trumps science among House Republicans, who recently voted to zero out this country's extremely modest $2.3 million annual commitment to the IPCC. The bill also slashes spending on a half-dozen domestic programs that study the causes and effects of climate change.
The budget for the Energy Information Agency—which gathers information on energy production, consumption and pollution—would be cut by one-sixth. Small but vital Interior Department programs that measure the impact of climate change on animal, plant and fish species and their habitat were reduced and in some cases nearly wiped out.
We have already pointed to devastating amendments to the budget resolution that, unless reversed by the Senate, will undermine the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The bill would also make it impossible for President Obama to meet his promises to help poor countries save their rainforests and deploy clean energy technologies, also essential for addressing global warming.
Mr. Obama asked for $400 million for the World Bank's clean technology fund, $95 million for the bank's program to prevent deforestation and $90 million for its program to help at-risk nations cope with the effects of a warming planet by, for instance, developing drought-resistant crops. The House's answer in all three cases: zero.
An appalling performance. But the worst of it was the House's apparent belief that wishing away the evidence will eliminate the problem.
Injustice comes with the territory
by Jon Stanhope Canberra Times 04 Mar 2011
Imagine that the Federal Parliament were today to pass a law that would allow the Prime Minister, on a whim and without reference to anyone else, to instruct the Governor-General to overturn any — or indeed every — piece of legislation the Queensland Parliament passed on behalf of the people of that state. Imagine that Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott decided tomorrow that Tasmania, with a population of about half a million, was really too small to be trusted to legislate on the same matters as other states, and that the Prime Minister ought to be able to overturn any of its laws without mounting an argument, without going to court, just on a fancy.
It's impossible to imagine either scenario becoming a reality at least not without community outrage. Yet today in Australia the people of the ACT — quickly catching up in number to those living in Tasmania — endure precisely this form of second-class citizenship. Any and every ACT law is vulnerable to being overturned by the Prime Minister, in an act of executive fiat, on a whim, thanks to section35 of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988.
It is this section of the Self-Government Act that Senator Bob Brown proposes be amended. From the response of some socially conservative politicians and media commentators, one would imagine he was proposing something extraordinary. In fact, all he proposes is that Australians who, by accident of birth or relocation, happen to live in a territory, have the same rights as Australians living in the states to have their own parliaments legislate on their behalf, and to do so on the same range of topics as the states can legislate, without fear of having those laws overturned without explanation or debate.
Let's be clear: Senator Brown is not seeking to confer superior rights on the territories just equal rights. The claim that Senator Brown's Bill is a stalking horse for gay marriage or other socially progressive agendas is absurd, for the simple reason that any one of the state parliaments in this country could decide tomorrow to legislate for something that could go by the name of '"gay marriage". The ACT could do so too, if it chose. The difference is that if the Commonwealth took issue with a Victorian or Western Australian or South Australian law, it would need to either take the matter to the High Court and argue that the legislation conflicted with the Commonwealth's Marriage Act, or change the Constitution to remove the right of the states to legislate in that area.
In the ACT, the Prime Minister could simply pick up the phone to the Governor-General and tell her to disallow the territory law.
The critics also gloss over the fact that even if Senator Brown's amendment was successful, the Commonwealth would still have a constitutional power to override any ACT law. This is the power that Kevin Andrews relied upon when he introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament legislation that removed the right of the territories to legislate for euthanasia. Undemocratic and egregious as that exercise was, at least Mr Andrews had to stand up in the nation's Parliament and convince his colleagues of the merits of his case. No skulking off to Government House on a whimsy.
I have read and re-read his The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart and especially Sermons: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living. In all he has eleven volumes of wonderful published sermons.
Much more will be told of this remarkable and courageous man.
The Bishop is a native of the Palestine and has spent most of his life and ministry here, but cannot obtain either citizenship or legal residence in Israel, since he was born in Nablus, in the West Bank. East Jerusalem, on the other hand, where the Anglican Cathedral and Diocesan offices are situated, was occupied at the same time as the West Bank, but Israel annexed it and considers it part of its national territory (although no other country recognizes this). Therefore, Bishop Dawani is considered by Israel to be a foreigner who can only visit—let alone live in—East Jerusalem with a special permit, which the Israeli authorities grant or deny at will. The original Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem, and their descendants, are also considered by Israel to be foreigners on residence permits, which Israel can revoke.
The Bishop is now in Jerusalem without a permit and could be arrested at any moment, tried for being in Israel illegally and imprisoned or simply be 'deported'. He has applied for an Israeli administrative court to intervene, but the Government is free to issue or withhold the kind of permit he needs, without giving detailed reasons.
Press release from the Diocese of Jerusalem, 4 March 2011.
The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Rt. Revd Suheil Dawani has been denied the renewal of his "Temporary Residency Status" in Jerusalem. This action was taken when the A-5 permits held by himself, his wife and youngest daughter were revoked by the government of Israel, effective 24 September 2010.
Bishop Dawani was elected in 2007 as Bishop of the Diocese and was recognized by the State of Israel as the head of the Episcopal Diocese in accordance with the decision by the State of Israel in 1970 which acknowledged the Diocese as one of the thirteen recognized churches in Israel. All Anglican Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem who have not held Israeli citizenship have been granted residency permits (A5) to allow them to live in Jerusalem where the Bishop's residence, diocesan offices and cathedral are located.
Bishop Dawani, his wife and daughters had successfully renewed this permit, as required, in 2008 and 2009. On 24 August 2010, Bishop Dawani went to renew the permit with the Ministry of the Interior and was informed in writing that permits for himself, his wife and daughter would not be renewed because of allegations pending against the Bishop. The letter, in Hebrew, included the following: "Bishop Suheil acted with the Palestinian Authority in transferring lands owned by Jewish people to the Palestinians and also helped to register lands of Jewish people in the name of the Church." There were further allegations that documents were forged by the Bishop. The letter also stated that Bishop Dawani and his family should leave the country immediately.
Bishop Dawani replied to the Israeli Minister of the Interior denying all accusations and requested the restoration of the residency permits for himself and his family to provide for his ongoing leadership of his Diocese and residence for himself and his family. Bishop Dawani did not receive any response from the office of the Minister of the Interior.
Bishop Dawani delivered another letter to the Minister of the Interior challenging the allegations and requesting any documents or evidence against him. Israeli authorities have yet to produce any proof of the allegations made against Bishop Dawani.
Bishop Dawani has sought to resolve this issue quietly without resort to any publicity since August of 2010. During this period of time Bishop Dawani sought confidential support through religious and diplomatic channels. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion and church representative of the Queen of England, has been in contact with the office of the Prime Minister of Israel and Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amer to resolve this issue. In addition, Bishop Dawani met personally with the Chief Rabbi, who is a good friend of both Bishop Dawani and the Anglican Church, who took immediate action to try to restore the Bishop's residency rights.
The Archbishop of Canterbury received assurances that the situation would be resolved promptly. Other Anglican leaders, including the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington DC and the Primates of the Anglican Communion representing Anglicans throughout the world, have all used their influence individually and collectively with Israeli authorities without success to date.
Diplomatic efforts through the office of the British Foreign Secretary, the British Ambassador to Israel, the British Consul-General in Jerusalem, the State Department of the United States and the American Consul-General in Jerusalem have provided support for Bishop Dawani and ongoing contact with Israeli authorities but without tangible results in terms of discovering the source of the allegations against Bishop Dawani or the restoration of the residency rights which are crucial to his providing leadership of his Diocese and residency in Jerusalem for himself and his family.
This situation has continued for over six months as Bishop Dawani attempted to resolve this with restraint and without causing the government of Israel any embarrassment. The lack of resolution, despite all the efforts outlined above, required Bishop Dawani to seek legal counsel. Bishop Dawani's legal advisor sent a letter to the Attorney General of Israel seeking an explanation of the allegations against him which have been the basis for the denial of the residency rights for himself and his family. After waiting one month without an explanation of the allegations from the Attorney General and upon the recommendation of legal counsel, Bishop Dawani has chosen to take his case to court seeking redress through the Israeli legal system. Bishop Dawani now awaits a court date to be assigned.
North Korea has been begging for food aid, yet last year's harvest in the North is estimated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization at 4.48 million tons, making it the best harvest in 20 years. North Korea's annual food demand is estimated at around 5 million tons. Nam Sung-wook of the Institute for National Security Strategy is quoted as saying that starvation to death happens when food output falls below 3.5 million tons. Until the present administration came to power in the South, the South gave some 400,000-500,000 tons and the international community up to 1 million tons. China has not responded to North Korea's requests for food aid, but might step in if the country nears collapse.
The main reason for the food shortage in the North is hoarding by the government and military—as much as a million tons of rice has been stored for a war, enough to feed the country's 24 million people for three months. Since 1987, North Korea has been setting aside an eighth of its rice output as emergency supplies in case of war and a further tenth for military consumption. It may also be hoarding for a grand celebration in 2012. After the severe 1995-97, when more than a million people starved, North Korea boasted of becoming a powerful and prosperous nation by then.
Blatant corruption and hoarding by the régime is also at fault. North Korean mines contain an estimated 2,000 tons of gold and 5,000 tons of silver worth billions. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has apparently stashed away more than US$4 billion in secret bank accounts overseas. Yet there are no accounts that the North sold any of the gold or silver to buy food.
Lord, at times such as this,
when we realize that the ground beneath our feet
is not as solid as we had imagined,
we plead for your mercy.
As the things we have built crumble about us,
we know too well how small we truly are
on this ever-changing, ever-moving,
fragile planet we call home.
Yet you have promised never to forget us.
Do not forget us now.
Today, so many people are afraid.
They still wait in fear of the next tremor.
They remember the cries of the injured amid the rubble.
They roam the streets in shock at what they see.
And they fill the dusty air with cries of grief
and the names of missing dead.
Comfort them, Lord, in this disaster.
Be their rock when the earth refuses to stand still,
and shelter them under your wings
when homes no longer exist.
Embrace in your arms those who died so suddenly this week.
Console the hearts of those who mourn,
and ease the pain of bodies on the brink of death.
Pierce, too, our hearts with compassion,
we who watch from afar,
find only misery upon misery.
Move us to act swiftly this day,
to give generously every day,
to work for justice always,
To pray unceasingly for those without hope.
And once the shaking has ceased,
the images of destruction have stopped filling the news,
and our thoughts return to lifes daily rumblings,
let us not forget that we are all your children
and they, our brothers and sisters.
We are all the work of your hands.
For though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be tossed to the ground,
your love shall never leave us,
and your promise of peace will never be shaken.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
now and forever. Amen.
30 January 2011: Anglican Primates meet in Dublin.
About two thirds of the primates of various Anglican provinces met this past week in Dublin. The Anglican Communion Office, grateful for having something to do, issued a vast number of reports and press releases in English, Spanish, and French. Oh, and there were podcasts, too. We've read them all, and if you go to the Anglican Communion News Service website, you can also read them all. We confess not to have listened to any podcasts. What does it all mean?
On this page, the BBC has logged live reports of the final match of a cricket series between England and Australia; on this page, the BBC reports the last match of the series and its eventual outcome. If you are not steeped in Anglican Communion politics, we suspect that you can learn just as much about what the Primates' meetings mean by reading the BBC cricket coverage. If you are not familiar with cricket, we suspect that you can learn just as much about England vs Australia by reading the Anglican Communion News Service dispatches about the Primates' meeting. If you want to learn the True Purpose of the Primates' meeting, you can instead read an explanation of the game of cricket and learn all you need to know unless you are an Anglican primate.
I am a left social moderate
Left: 5.58, Libertarian: 0.53
Political Spectrum Quiz
I love a sunburnt country,Visiting Tasmania during the end-of-year break, we saw the
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror—
The wide brown land for me!
... Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die—
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain ...
... For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold —
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.
An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land ...
jewelled seasat the Bay of Fires
... vast East coast beaches were almost empty of people,
... and everywhere the vast blue horizons, the
filmy veil of greenness.