Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Thousands of Armenian Christians flee Azerbaijan rule

Thousands of Armenian Christians have fled their ancestral homeland in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh over the weekend and more are expected, the government of Armenia confirmed Monday.

“The mass exodus has begun,” Siobhan Nash-Marshall, a U.S.-based human rights advocate who has been speaking to witnesses on the ground, told CNA.

Nash-Marshall founded the Christians in Need Foundation (CINF) in 2011 to help Armenian Christians in the region, and in 2020 she started a school for children and adults in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Now, Nash-Marshall has received word from her school in Nagorno-Karabakh that “all is over” and that “people from all regions, all villages, are homeless” and without shelter, food, and water. 

Hundreds of ethnic Armenians are sleeping in the streets and cannot even drink water because they claim it has been “poisoned by Azeris,” according to Nash-Marshall’s contacts. 

Nash-Marshall was told that there are lines of “2,000 in front of the only bakery” near her school and that “all are hungry, frightened, and hopeless.” 

According to the government of Armenia, 6,650 “forcibly displaced persons” entered Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh since last week.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Sunday that he expects most of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh to flee the region due to “the danger of ethnic cleansing,” Middle Eastern news source Al Jazeera reported.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

James II/VII

Sunday, September 24, 2023

ABC News/Washington Post Poll Gives Trump Big Lead Over Biden

Both ABC and the Post moved quickly to cast doubt on their own poll

In mass protest, some British police are refusing to carry firearms.

Most UK police do not carry lethal weapons. This is a longstanding national tradition that enjoys widespread support both from the public and within the police itself. Great Britain has some of the strictest gun laws in the world with private ownership of handguns more or less illegal and rifles and shotguns subject to stringent regulation. Firearms related violence is rare in Britain and the overall homicide rate (per capita) is a fraction of that in the US. 

That said, around one in ten police are selected following a rigorous vetting process for specialized training in weapons that is generally much more intensive than what American police receive. It includes not only training in the use of guns and other weapons, but also comes with a heavy emphasis on de-escalation of confrontations, and critically, when not to use lethal force. Upon completion of their training these officers are given special certificates allowing them to carry firearms on duty. Many are assigned to routine mobile patrol where they can be called in quickly if needed to handle potentially dangerous situations. Others are assigned to elite counter-terrorism units while some handle security at important locations such as the Houses of Parliament. Still others are assigned to plain clothes duty as close protection officers for members of the Royal Family or senior government officials and visiting VIPs where they perform duties similar to the US Secret Service but with a reputation for being a bit more discreet. 

As a result of all this, police involved shootings are incredibly rare in the UK. But even so, they do happen. A few years ago, an unarmed young man of African descent was fatally shot by a police officer under circumstances that provoked a great deal of controversy. Last week that officer was charged with murder and the police are up in arms. (Pun intended.)

Within the ranks of London's Metropolitan Police, that's Scotland Yard to us Americans, large numbers of firearms certified officers have handed in their permits and weapons and are refusing to carry out armed police duties. They are protesting not only what many perceive as unjustified charges against a fellow officer, but what they see as the extreme legal hazard this is signaling for armed police in general. In a very high-pressure job where officers may be required to make life and death decisions in a split second, they are not prepared to risk being criminally prosecuted for making the wrong decision in the minds of uninvolved parties second guessing their actions. So many have in fact walked off the job, or at least this aspect of the job, that the government is considering calling out the military for situations that would normally be handled by specialized police services.

Read the latest details here

China Continues Aggressive Militarization of South China Sea Alarming Neighbors

...The world’s most brazen maritime militarization is gaining muscle in waters through which one-third of global ocean trade passes. Here, on underwater reefs that are known as the Dangerous Ground, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, or P.L.A., has fortified an archipelago of forward operating bases that have branded these waters as China’s despite having no international legal grounding. China’s coast guard, navy and a fleet of fishing trawlers harnessed into a militia are confronting other vessels, civilian and military alike.

The mounting Chinese military presence in waters that were long dominated by the U.S. fleet is sharpening the possibility of a showdown between superpowers at a moment when relations between them have greatly worsened. And as Beijing challenges a Western-driven security order that stood for nearly eight decades, regional countries are increasingly questioning the strength of the American commitment to the Pacific.

While the United States makes no territorial claims to the South China Sea, it maintains defense pacts with Asian partners, including the Philippines, that could compel American soldiers to these waters. Just as anxiety over nearby Taiwan has focused attention on the deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, the South China Sea provides yet another stage for a contest in which neither side wants to betray weakness. Complicating matters, Chinese diplomats and military officers are engaging less at a time when open communication could help defuse tensions.

China’s arming of the South China Sea has also forced Southeast Asian fishermen — from nations like the Philippines that Chinese diplomats have referred to as “small countries” — to abandon the fishing grounds they have depended on for generations. It is putting tremendous pressure on those governments.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

A face of hope for a post Trump GOP?

Tommy Tuberville has received months of attention this year for his blockade of military promotions, but the more consequential GOP Alabama senator is his newly elected counterpart, Katie Britt.

In fact, there may be no better Republican barometer than Britt.

How far she goes will in turn go a long way toward clarifying how much politics has, or hasn’t, changed in her state, her party and the South. Does the future look like Tuberville — light on policy and heavy on performance — or is there a role, and perhaps a leading one, for somebody like Britt?

Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Catholic ecclesiology and a heretical Pope

There is no authority to declare or consider an elected and generally accepted Pope as an invalid Pope. The constant practice of the Church makes it evident that even in the case of an invalid election this invalid election will be de facto healed through the general acceptance of the new elected by the overwhelming majority of the cardinals and bishops.

Even in the case of a heretical pope he will not lose his office automatically and there is no body within the Church to declare him deposed because of heresy. Such actions would come close to a kind of a heresy of conciliarism or episcopalism. The heresy of conciliarism or episcopalism says basically that there is a body within the Church (Ecumenical Council, Synod, College of Cardinals, College of Bishops), which can issue a legally binding judgment over the Pope.

The theory of the automatic loss of the papacy due to heresy remains only an opinion, and even St. Robert Bellarmine noticed this and did not present it as a teaching of the Magisterium itself. The perennial papal Magisterium never taught such an opinion. In 1917, when the Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) came into force, the Magisterium of the Church eliminated from the new legislation the remark of the Decretum Gratiani in the old Corpus Iuris Canonici, which stated that a Pope, who deviates from right doctrine, can be deposed. Never in history did the Magisterium of the Church admit any canonical procedures of deposition of a heretical pope. The Church has no power over the pope formally or judicially. The surer Catholic tradition says, that in the case of a heretical pope, the members of the Church can avoid him, resist him, refuse to obey him, all of which can be done without requiring a theory or opinion that says that a heretical pope automatically loses his office or can be deposed consequently.

Therefore, we must follow the surer way (via tutior) and abstain from defending the mere opinion of theologians (even they be Saints like St. Robert Bellarmine), which says that a heretical pope automatically loses his office or can be deposed by the Church therefore.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

See also this and this.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

2024: How old is too old?

Some statistical facts that may be worth a thought. Life expectancy for men in the US is currently around 74, down by a little over a year mostly due to Covid. Assuming Mr. Biden is in good health, and I have no reason to believe otherwise; statistics would suggest the likelihood of his completing another term of office are no better than 50/50. Of course, there are factors that can influence those odds. Quality of his health care, which I think we can assume is excellent. Some aspects of his lifestyle such as diet and exercise are probably good. On the other side, his stress level is probably poor as is his workload. But the simple and unhappy truth is that once a man or woman (women tend to live slightly longer than men) gets into their 80s you just can't make safe long-term predictions about their health. You can be in tip top health at 81 and either dead or in seriously poor health a couple of years down the road. Nor is this limited to Biden. Much the same could be said of Donald Trump (77), who has been famously secretive about his health.

Assuming both of these men are on the ballot next year, great care should be paid to their running mates. Coming back to statistics; you would have to go back to 1944 to find an election where the odds of the next president completing their elected term of office were worse.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

The UAW Strike: How wide is the pay gap between the boardroom and the assembly line?

The experts disagree on the bottom-line, but no matter how you do the math, boardroom compensation has exploded in recent decades to the point where the pay gap between top management and the average worker which used to average around 15:1 in the 1960s, is now closer to 300:1. That is not just troubling; it's immoral. And to add the icing to the cake, a lot of these compensation packages are deliberately structured in ways intended to shield their true value from scrutiny and taxes. 

In the history of the world, no economic system has delivered more dramatic improvements in quality of life, to more people, in such a short period of time as capitalism. And I am all for an honest profit in business. But the emphasis needs to be on "honest," not "profit." You can't build a moral system where the guy who turns out the product is being paid less than 1/2 of one cent for every dollar being shelled out to the suits in the boardroom. 

To be clear, I'm not endorsing all of the UAW's demands. But they have grievances, and a lot of them are legitimate.

These are picket lines that I would not cross. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Orthodoxy in America by the numbers

This is one of the better analysis of the current state of Orthodoxy in America that I have seen. I would also note that the channel is one of the best I have come across for discussions of religion in general, being consistently informative and neutral in its discussion of beliefs and practices for different denominations and groups.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

New York Says they have an immigration problem

Both New York City and the state have declared themselves "sanctuary" jurisdictions for illegal immigrants. Both have thumbed their nose at Federal efforts to enforce immigration law. Both basically shrugged and said "not our problem" while border states like Texas and Arizona got buried with migrants (both legal and not). 

Dear New Yorkers; embrace the suck.

Biden's Approval Ratings Plunge

Biden’s unpopularity could give Trump his shot at reclaiming power.

The Republican Party

Everything you need to know about the current state of the GOP in one number.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Rod Dreher: Wokery verging on authoritarianism

Believe it or not, the Trial of the Century just happened in a courtroom in Helsinki. The Finnish parliamentarian and physician Päivi Räsänen this week returned to the dock to face hate crimes charges for having quoted the Bible in defense of Scripture’s teaching on homosexuality.

While it is not altogether surprising that yet another Christian has been brought up on charges of blaspheming against LGBTs—who have been elevated from ordinary people, as equal as anybody else, into liberalism’s divinities—a statement the Finnish prosecution made in the trial’s opening raised the proceedings from an ordinary example of post-Christian liberalism’s contempt for the faith and free speech, into something epochal. Attention must be paid.

In her opening statement on Thursday, the Finnish prosecutor said, of a 2004 pamphlet authored by Dr. Räsänen, “The point isn’t whether it is true or not, but that this is insulting.”

Think about that: The point is not whether these words true or not, but that someone’s feelings were hurt by them.

This is the essence of totalitarianism: the demand to control reality. The Finnish state attempts to outlaw not simply expression it does not like, but facts it finds offensive. This little statement by grim-faced prosecutor Anu Mantila is what makes this two-day legal proceeding the Trial of the Century.

It’s like this: If, in a liberal democracy, the state has the power to declare truth subordinate to ideology, then you live under totalitarianism. It might be a soft totalitarianism—fines for thought criminals like Päivi Räsänen, instead of the gulag—but it is totalitarianism nonetheless.

It is telling that Mantila initially asked the appeals court not to let Dr. Räsänen and her co-defendant, Lutheran bishop Juhana Pohjola, even testify. It was as if she only wanted her allegations heard, with no defense from the accused. The court denied the prosecution’s request, but that it was even made tells you the kind of tyrannical mindset we’re dealing with.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe