The disconnection between Catholics in China and the rest of the world is extreme, complex and--for many believers here--results in persecution. China's atheistic communist government controls religion and permits Christians to worship only in state-run churches that pledge loyalty to Beijing.
As a result, there are two Catholic Churches in China. One is official and does not recognize papal authority or the Vatican, which it views as a foreign interloper. This official Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, to which East Church belongs, has about 5 million members.
The other Catholic Church, with 8 million to 12 million members, operates underground. These covert Catholics who consider the pope their leader pray in houses and are organized by bishops and priests who were trained abroad or at secret seminaries.
They face constant harassment. According to the Cardinal Kung Foundation of Stamford, Conn., all of the approximately 50 underground Catholic bishops in China are in detention, under house arrest or surveillance, or are in hiding.
When Liu Ning, a 24-year-old skateboarder with a stud piercing his chin, was asked who is the leader of the Catholic Church, he guessed: "Jesus?"Not too bad for a kid from the Communist Bloc.
Federal prosecutors are tying a Saudi prince with diplomatic immunity to a 2-ton Colombian cocaine smuggling run from Venezuela to Paris on his personal aircraft and $10 million in artwork seized by drug agents pursuing the prince's ex-girlfriend.Read the rest of the article after the jump.
Turkey has said it is changing the names of three animals found on its territory to remove references to Kurdistan or Armenia.
The environment ministry says the Latin names of the red fox, the wild sheep and the roe deer will be altered.
The red fox for instance, known as Vulpes Vulpes Kurdistanica, will now be known as Vulpes Vulpes.
Turkey has uneasy relations with neighbouring Armenia and opposes Kurdish separatists in Turkey.
The ministry said the old names were contrary to Turkish unity.
"Unfortunately there are many other species in Turkey which were named this way with ill intentions. This ill intent is so obvious that even species only found in our country were given names against Turkey's unity," a ministry statement quoted by Reuters news agency said.
Some Turkish officials say the names are being used to argue that Armenians or Kurds had lived in the areas where the animals were found.
Turkey has tense ties with its eastern neighbour Armenia, which it does not officially recognise.
Armenians accuse Turkey of genocide, saying 1.5 million of their people died or were deported from their homelands under Turkish Ottoman rule.
Turkey denies the genocide and says the death count is inflated.
For the last two decades, Turkey has also been fighting Kurdish separatists, who have sought an independent state in Turkey's south-east.
Turkey renames 'divisive' animals
Did you see the reports on the massive pro-Syrian Hezbollah rallies in Lebanon?WND: Iran out of Lebanon, too
Many people were fooled by it.
Those not familiar with Lebanese politics could easily conclude that Syria is really not all that unpopular in the country.
After all, how could such large demonstrations in favor of Syrian occupation be accomplished if the Lebanese people were really united against their occupying neighbor?
The answer is simple: Many or most of those rallying in favor of Syria are not really Lebanese at all.
The untold story of Lebanon's occupation is that Syrian troops represent only the most obvious part of it. For the most part, the Syrian troops wear uniforms – though thousands of intelligence agents, the most insidious and destructive force, do not.
But there is another occupying force in Lebanon today – tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Iranians or Iranian-backed militiamen and civilians who have emigrated with the express purpose of using Lebanon as a base of operations and to establish an Iranian-style Shiite theocracy.
This invasion has been going on for 20 years – slowly but surely changing the demographics of the country.
There were always Shiites in Lebanon. But before the Iranian revolution, they were a peaceful people, easily assimilated into the country's diverse population of Sunnis, Druze and Christians.
All that changed when the Iranians came.
They came with guns, ammunition, some 13,000 rockets and military advisers from Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
They came with the purpose of using Lebanon as a base of terrorist operations against Israel.
They came to stay.
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has decided to back a European offer of economic incentives to persuade Iran to end a program that could be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons, U.S. and European officials said Thursday.The mullahs will soon abandon the whole negotiation table and go on with their nuclear ambitions. Then there will be no excuse for Europeans to blame the next war on Bush.
The administration's decision to back the EU's offer of economic incentives is a major policy reversal and a potential thaw in icy trans-Atlantic relations over a range of issues, including the American-led invasion of Iraq, environmental policy and international law.
This brings up a phone call I got from a friend of 30 years. I'll call her Atria. She attended Bradley University in Peoria at the same time Ward Churchill did.
"He's a phony radical from way back," she said. "He snitched me out to the police in 1970. He came over to my house one time and—the very first pound of pot that I ever bought—I sold him an ounce. I didn't get arrested, but I had to suffer the wrath of my parents. They just went nuts. It's one of the reasons I moved away from Peoria."
"What do you think was Churchill's motivation?"
"My guess is he's been arrested before, and his fingerprints are probably still in existence. He may have had it expunged. I think obviously they had him on something else. He might've had a felony conviction. And he went around and ratted everybody out. And I wasn't the only one. He was the campus snitch. I'd love for him to be able to say anything he damn well wants, but he's not the authentic article.
Jihad how-to from Pakistan; Hezbullah’s Nasrallah on martyrdom; Iranian sentenced to jail for not declaring his conversion from Islam to Christianity; reporter charged with inciting ethnic hatred in Turkey; Pakistan blasphemy laws; Druze riot against Christians in Galilee; Fundamentalist Hindus attack Christians; Anti-Israel bias in the media; L.A. Times: shades of Duranty on N. Korea; anti-Americanism a best-seller in Turkey. Hariri assassination conspiracy theories; Ward Churchill Real Lame on Real Time; France bans Sahar TV for latter day blood libel; Pakistan is the most anti-American country in the world; Turks dispute Pakistan’s claim to anti-American crown; Ukraine skinheads pick on the wrong African American; Palestinian reaction to Tel Aviv bombing; “Protocols" in Syria – and Venezuela; Woman gang-raped on orders of tribal council - perpetrators freed by Pakistani court; Another honor crime, also in Pakistan; Israeli Arab women are being helped to advance in the business world; A French Muslim says you cannot fight discrimination by building mosques; Gratuitous catblogging.So in case you're feeling happy or something, go read this thing immediately!