Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, Year I
today’s Gospel speaks plainly of Satan and sin. And in light of today’s
anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, we still feel the
echoes. When we look realistically at the society around us, we can
become pretty discouraged. The conservative estimate regarding the
number of abortions since Roe v. Wade is 54,000,000. That’s nine times
Hitler’s holocaust. Assisted suicide was recently made legal in the
state of California. The death penalty remains a blight on many of our
states. And most people in our culture now feel that these states of
affairs are simply a fact of life. The culture of death, as St. John
Paul called it so bluntly, seems to be on the march.
I want everyone to attend to what the prophet Habakkuk tells us: “Write
down the vision clearly on the tablets…for the vision…will not
disappoint.” What is he talking about? He’s describing the arrival of
salvation to a people who had grown weary and desperate, convinced that
God had abandoned them. And he is urging them to have faith, to trust.
so on this somber anniversary, we continue to raise our voices and to
walk according to faith. Our vision will not disappoint.
Trump and the Return of Private Military Contractors
by David Isenberg
In 2005 the Marine Corps University published a paper entitled “The Professional Military Services Industry: Have We Created a New Military-Industrial Complex?”
To consider that question now, more than a decade later, is the
equivalent of asking if the Pope is Catholic. The United States has not
only created such a new complex, but it has also systematized,
legalized, normalized, and, in all important aspects, accepted it. Yet,
with the advantage of hindsight, America has never really had a
deliberate, thoughtful debate over whether this was a good thing.
Frankenstein’s monster was created with more forethought than the
contemporary private military and security contracting (PMSC) industry.
Yet, when it comes to PMSC the train left the station decades ago. It
just took the passage of many years, and multiple wars, starting with
the U.S. involvement in the Balkan wars in the 1990s and then, much more
prominently, with the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq,
for the public to begin to understand just how far the neoliberal
phenomenon of outsourcing and privatizing functions that once upon a
time were considered “inherently governmental” had gone. http://lobelog.com/trump-and-the-return-of-private-military-contractors/#more-37636
Well before his inauguration, Trump’s incoming administration
and Cabinet picks were breaking down definitions of conflict of interest
and stretching the bounds of normalcy. Far from “draining the swamp,”
Trump has added to it.
Tomgram: Engelhardt, A Living Nightmare of Intelligence Groupthink The Future by Committee The Collective "Wisdom" of the U.S. Intelligence Community By Tom Engelhardt
They call themselves the U.S. “Intelligence Community,” or the IC. If you include the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which in 2005 began as a crew of 12 people, including its director, and by 2008 had already grown to a staff of 1,750,
there are 17 members (adding up to an alphabet soup of acronyms
including the CIA, the NSA, and the DIA). The IC spends something like $70 billion of your taxpayer dollars annually, mostly in secret, hires staggering numbers of private contractors from various warrior corporations to lend a hand, sucks up communications of every sort across the planet, runs a drone air force, monitors satellites galore, builds its agencies multi-billion-dollar headquarters and storage facilities,
and does all of this, ostensibly, to provide the president and the rest
of the government with the best information imaginable on what’s
happening in the world and what dangers the United States faces.
Since 9/11, expansionhas
been the name of its game, as the leading intelligence agencies gained
ever more power, prestige, and the big bucks, while wrapping themselves
in an unprecedented blanket of secrecy. Typically, in the final days of
the Obama administration, the National Security Agency was given yet more leeway to share the warrantless data it scoops up worldwide (including from American citizens) with ever more members of the IC.
And oh yes, in the weeks leading up to the inauguration of Donald
Trump, several of those intelligence outfits found themselves in a
knock-down, drag-out barroom brawl with our new tweeter-in-chief (who
has begun threatening to downsize
parts of the IC) over the possible Russian hacking of an American
election and his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the
process, they have received regular media plaudits for their crucial
importance to all of us, our security and safety, along with tweeted curses from the then-president-elect.
Let me lay my own cards on the table here. Based on the relatively
little we can know about the information the Intelligence Community has
been delivering to the president and his people in these years, I’ve
never been particularly impressed with its work. Again, given what’s
available to judge from, it seems as if, despite its size, reach, money,
and power, the IC has been caught “off-guard” by developments in our
world with startling regularity and might be thought of as something
closer to an “un-intelligence machine.”
It’s always been my suspicion that, if a group of smart, out-of-the-box
thinkers were let loose on purely open-source material, the U.S.
government might actually end up with a far more accurate view of our
world and how it works, not to speak of what dangers lie in store for
Click here to read more of this dispatch. http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176233/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_a_living_nightmare_of_intelligence_groupthink/#more
Western democracies face looming crisis, party paper says
Trump’s current policies are giving China room to boost clout
China’s state media used Donald Trump’s inauguration as
U.S. president to warn about the perils of democracy, touting the
relative stability of the Communist system as President Xi Jinping heads
toward a twice-a-decade reshuffle of senior leadership posts.
ministries and senior officials stressing unity as a priority for
China, smoothing the path for the party’s congress in the fourth
quarter, state media were quick to highlight divisions within America
shown by Trump’s elevation, without necessarily directly referencing the
new president. https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-01-22/china-slams-western-democracy-as-flawed-as-trump-takes-office
Russian Prime Minister DMITRY MEDVEDEV’S Facebook post:
"The administration of US President Barack Obama has come to a close and the results are decidedly mixed.
I would like to give my assessment of Russia-US relations during this
period, especially since I was directly involved in many events.
"On the one hand, Russia and the United States managed to work together to resolve a number of major international problems. Our countries signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty, and Russia and the United States played a leading role in resolving the controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme. We achieved the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. These outcomes are important for the entire world.
"On the other hand, US-Russia relations completely fell apart by the end of the second term of the Obama administration. Everyone
is aware that the United States has always tried to" steer" almost all
global processes, brazenly interfering in the internal affairs of
various countries and waging multiple wars on foreign soil. Iraq, the
Arab Spring, Ukraine, and Syria are just a few examples of such reckless policies in
recent years. We can still see their consequences, which range from the
complete collapse of the political systems in these countries to wars
which claimed tens of thousands of lives.
"There is only one explanation for such actions: the interests of the United States. An explanation, which is entirely defensible in America itself, though much less so in other countries.
"But the real issue lies elsewhere- the failure to understand one' s own true interests.
"The Obama administration was completely short-sighted on such an important and complex issue as relations with Russia.
There was hope that it would be smarter, more circumspect, and more
responsible- despite differing assessments of complex international
processes, varying approaches to key decisions, the role of emotion and
the pressure exerted by various political forces. The most important
thing was to remember that Russia is not a banana republic (even though
equal dialogue is a must with all members of the international
community). It is unacceptable
to talk to a country which is a permanent member of the UN Security
Council in such a manner. A country with defensive capabilities equal to
the United States. It is important to remember that Russia-US
relations, without exaggeration, determine the fate of major
international initiatives. Often,
we may like or dislike some of the policies of our key partners, but we
must be aware of our common responsibility. This is something that the
Obama administration failed to do.
"The pressure on our country has reached unprecedented proportions. Ill-considered
economic sanctions, which did no one any good, have reduced our
cooperation to zero. There were the ridiculous individual sanctions that
nobody paid attention to. And it doesn' t get any dumber than
restricting entry to the United States for the leadership of the Russian
parliament, ministers, and businessmen, thus deliberately reducing the
possibility of full-fledged contacts and closing the window to
cooperation. The bet was on brute force and sheer pressure. It is impossible to imagine such actions even during the Cuban missile crisis, even though the situation was much more serious then...
"Who benefited from this? No one. Certainly not the United States. It didn' t work.
The Obama administration has destroyed relations between the United
States and Russia, which are at their lowest point in decades. This is
its key foreign policy mistake which will be remembered by history.
do not know yet know how the new US administration will approach
relations with our country. But we are hoping that reason will prevail. And we are ready to do our share of the work in order to improve the relationship."
BETTERto launch a patriotic uprising than Faneuil
Hall in Boston? It is a lodestone of American liberty, a cathedral for freedom
fighters. That is why a handful of eminent Bostonians chose it as the place to
begin a new rebellion on the sunny afternoon of June 15, 1898.
Friends, today's Gospel recounts Jesus selecting and appointing the apostles.
scholar and theologian N.T. Wright has explained why Jesus commissioned
twelve disciples as apostles. Wright tells us that when a first-century
Jew spoke of the arrival of God's kingdom, he was taken to mean
something very specific. He was announcing that the temple was going to
be restored, that the proper worship of Yahweh would obtain, that the
enemies of Israel would be dealt with, and that, above all, the tribes
of the Lord would be gathered and through them the tribes of the world.
the great vision from the second chapter of Isaiah: "The mountain of
the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain… All
nations shall stream toward it." This is why Jesus chose twelve
disciples, evocative of the twelve tribes. They would be the prototype
and the catalyst for the gathering of Israel and hence the gathering of
everyone. They would be the fundamental community and sign of unity.
Lord Jesus Christ, you share equality with God yet you emptied yourself for love of us. Teach us not to seek our own advantage but that of our neighbor. Help us pursue what leads to peace and builds up others in love. Help us seek to please the other for the good of all. May we never put a stumbling block in the way of another. Jesus, our Teacher, who taught the way of truth, help us learn to live in harmony with one another, even when we disagree. With one voice may we glorify you and God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
May everyone welcome and embrace your word, so that the Gospel may transform persons, society, and culture. Show us how to faithfully respond to our baptismal vocation, and direct our efforts to fulfill the mission you have entrusted to your Church: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).
Practice for Today
are the “Gospel”—and perhaps the only Gospel—others may see or hear.
Picture Jesus within you, where he has taken up residence since your
Baptism. Imagine that he is watching the news about the inauguration.
What is he thinking? How is he praying? What is he desiring? Allow
yourself to spend the day contemplating Jesus and learning from him.