discarded lies: thursday, april 24, 2014 3:08 pm zst
Much ado
daily archive: 04/06/2005
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Hating Albanians
Human rights groups say that Greece has one of the worst records in the EU for racism against ethnic minorities. In the early 90s, with the collapse of the Communist bloc, a large number of immigrants starting arriving in Greece, most of them from Albania. Today there are an estimated 800,000 Albanians living in Greece and Greek society, traditionally close-knit and homogenous, is largely intolerant and hostile towards them.
Earlier this year, Albanian immigrants across the country came under attack for daring to come out onto the streets to celebrate the Albanian football team's victory over Greece in a World Cup qualifying match.

One man was stabbed to death and many others were injured in what human rights organisations called the first incident of mass racism in Greece's modern history.
I remember how shocked everyone acted when this happened, we all saw the attack on television. I don't know why we were so surprised, this has been coming for a long time. Albanians are hated throughout Greece and racism is rampant. One small example: on weekdays, between five and seven a.m., bus rides are free for all workers in Greece. But bus drivers spot the Albanian workers and they demand fare from them. They say the free ride is "for Greeks only." A spokesman for the Greek Helsinki Monitor says that Greek racism is deep-rooted. I suppose it is hard to be humble when you believe that Plato was your great-great-grandpa.
"Greek national culture is one that believes there is a superiority of the Greek nation which is a continuous descendent of the ancient Greeks, and when you think like this about yourself it is very easy to think that the others are inferior," he says.
This chauvinism and intolerance permeate all levels of society, even places where tolerance ought to be taking root by now.
The tiny village of Lapa in the Peloponnese has become a focus of ethnic tensions in recent years, fuelled by a controversy over an annual children's parade to mark the day Greece entered World War II.

By law, the brightest pupil in the local school should have the honour of carrying the national flag, but in Lapa that happened to be an Albanian girl. She was forced to step down after angry protests by parents and other pupils, the BBC's Richard Galpin reports.

"This is a Greek celebration so it should be a Greek carrying the flag," was the comment by one Greek schoolgirl.

The 16-year-old Albanian pupil at the centre of the storm complained bitterly: "The law gives me the right to carry the flag - there was no reason for me not to".

"I love Greece and I love it as my country. I was upset by their reaction and by the fact that they chose a sit-in at the school as a way of protesting." Greek Albanians' woes fester
This is not the only case where an ethnic Albanian student had to give the place of honour to a Greek student with lesser grades. Odysseus Cenaj had the highest marks in his class and by law had the right to carry the flag at the school parade but students, backed and prodded and aided loudly by the parents' school association, staged a sit-in in protest. Odysseus, a quiet and shy boy, said he didn't want to make any trouble and stepped down to second place. And as if this wasn't bad enough, they did it the same exact thing three years later as well because he once again had the audacity to get the best grades in his class.

But since this post started with a football game, let's finish it with another football game:
Greece won its critical World Cup qualifier on Wednesday night in a stadium packed entirely with Greek fans.

Despite an 800,000-strong Albanian community living in Greece, there was no sign on the stands of support for the visiting side.

Nor were any tickets issued for supporters from Albania to watch the game.

Greek authorities said they controlled ticket sales to the stadium as a security measure.

"We did not sell any tickets to Albanians, only to Greeks," a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Order told the BBC News website.

Albania fans cry foul at Greek 'ban'
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Christianity's coming back...in France!
The search for God in the most secular country of Europe is so universally felt that even a business journal—the equivalent of Forbes or Fortune—was compelled to publish a special issue in July and August of 2003 whose cover exclaimed, "God, the Stocks Are Rising!" Its 72 pages describe the surge of interest in religion and its effect on the business world, says Paris-based International Teams missionary Steve Thrall. The contents page announces that "after a materialistic 20th century, religions are coming back in force. In France, this rise in spirituality is pushing out secularism in both schools and business."

The accelerated growth of Islam in France, to nearly 5 million adherents now, has rightly received much attention from the American media. But few people realize that French evangelicals have experienced healthy—sevenfold!—growth since 1950, and that evangelistic influences such as the Alpha course are revitalizing faith in the nominally Catholic and practically secular nation.

While walking in a park near the Eiffel Tower, I am reminded of the context for this growth as I stumble upon a small Temple of Human Rights. Covered with Egyptian hieroglyphs and Freemasonry symbols, it stands for France's only politically correct religion—the belief in human rights. France's reputation as brazenly secularist, oversexed, and mostly oblivious to the gospel is deserved. It wasn't in vain that Jules Ferry, an active Freemason, founded the public school system in 1881 "in such a way as to inoculate the minds of kids against Christianity," Farmer says. (When the French public found out that a Ferry descendant, the recent minister of education Luc Ferry, sent his daughters to a Catholic school, it caused quite a stir.) As papal biographer George Weigel shows in The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God (to be published by Basic Books this April), the conspicuous omission in the E.U. constitution of the continent's Christian roots is yet another denial of the faith that made its democracies possible. Many missionaries have returned from France in dismay, after seeing few or no converts.

And yet, an evangelical congregation has been born here every 11 days in the last 35 years, according to the conservative estimates of Daniel Liechti, a respected tracker of evangelical growth in France who heads development at France Mission. This statistic is based on the net total, one that takes into account the churches that die out. The number of evangelicals has increased from 50,000 to at least 350,000 since 1950. Turns out all these missionaries who returned from France in dismay did accomplish something besides learning how to pick a wine that goes with duck à l'orange! "A good slice of this growth should be credited to American and European missionary help," says Nogent Bible Institute's lecturer in practical theology André Pownall. But "the stereotype some secular observers of religion in France are too happy to spread"—that evangelicals are a U.S. import—is wrong, says Sebastien Fath, researcher of evangelicalism at the National Center for Scientific Research at the Sorbonne. That would leave out the great contribution of the French Pentecostals, who are effective evangelists. "There were none of them before 1930," he says. "There are 200,000 now."

Religious conversions still befuddle the French. David Brown, the head of the French equivalent of InterVarsity, University Bible Groups, told me about one girl's experience. Her father is a militant left-wing activist; he and his wife are separated. When he found out that his daughter joined Brown's church and left with the youth group for a weekend in Normandy, he became enraged and came to see Brown. These were his words: "Here I thought that she was just going off for a weekend with a new boyfriend! But then I find out it was to read the Bible!"

"To go off with a new boyfriend is no problem," Brown says, "but to read the Bible is unacceptable." The father was also concerned that his daughter had become too religious. "I'll prove it to you," he told Brown. "She's got a Bible by her bedside!"

Brown says, "A lot of French people think like him."
I laughed out loud at the angry father. Every 11 days, 1 new evangelical congregation in France? That doesn't sound like a dying religion to me at all. The article also talks about muslims converting to Christianity, there's apparently a whole lot of it, and 17 support groups for former muslims. Read the whole article, it's brilliant: The French Reconnection-Christianity Today Magazine
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kianb in Pahlaver:
Zahra Kazemi's Petition
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Children's Clinic
I'm usually a total sap for a heart-warming story and this one sounded really good, check out the title: Palestinians and Israelis Give Peace a Chance at Children's Clinic. A joint Israeli - Palestinian project, this clinic helps Palestinian children with cancer. Except that people don't want to give "too much credit" to the Jews for helping - Palestinians don't want to be used as "propaganda." I can't believe anyone would call this "giving peace a chance." And say it with a straight face.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
A funny smell...
Some Stasi files were released in Germany revealing that yes, the attempt on Pope John Paul II's life was the KGB's doing. But something doesn't smell quite right, as Steve at The Word Unheard explains :
That appears rather damning, regardless of what Bulgaria manages to pony up at this point (which will surely be sparse if anything at all). While there is no reported direct mention of the KGB by the source, only a daydreamer could think that the 1981 East German Stasi secret police could hatch and execute any plan/plot regarding a world figure like the Pope without KGB ownership.

While not necessarily questioning the documents (I am not at all, actually), it is curious that the German government only now (coincidentally? magically?) has unearthed such evidence. Where were they found? How long had they been there? Who had access to them? Again, why only now? To reveal truth at the height of the fallen Pope's international popularity to position the German government with a more heroic perception than would have been possible if East German Stasi involvement would have been revealed before his death?

The documents are almost certainly authentic and their portrayal today accurate.

The real question is why now? What did the German government fear last week that it does not fear today? The timing is surely too coincidental to stand up to scrutiny.

It appears to this observer that while these documents help provide answers to historical questions, at leaast as many questions arise about possible German motivations. The find's timing seems so coincidental that the analytical observer is surely scratching his head.

This one is.
Read it all. You're the boss. Need the info.
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guest author: papijoe in Discarded Lies:
Hospices and Euthanasia Part I
Judi McLeod of the Canada Free Press (hat tip: Fiery Celt) posed the question last week, and recently I've been suspicious myself.

The opening quote from George Felos pretty much tells the whole tale:

"The force that created today's hospice also propels the right-to-die movement." - Litigation as a Spiritual Practice.

There is currently so much surrounding the issue of hospices and the right to die movement that I can't unpack it all, but I'd like to sketch out three forces I see driving it: on the metaphysical side, the New Age movement, and on the other hand a cabal of bioethicist, HMOs, doctor/advocates, and of course the hospices themselves.

Ms McLeod spends the bulk of her article focusing on Felos' wacky New Age beliefs. And I think it's fair to say his apparent obsession with death and Eastern mysticism is not a fluke.

Richard Alpert was Timothy Leary's colleague and LSD vision-quest companion at Harvard in the early 60's. He then went off to study under guru Neem Karoli Baba in India and now styles himself a "HinJew" and answers to Ram Dass on the Board of the "Compassion in Dying" Federation , which is a splinter group of Dr Cranford's Hemlock Club. He is also on the staff of the openly New Age Alaya Institute. To get a sense of how Ram Dass is grounded, read this first person account of how the Hindu god Krishna appeared to him in the form of a New York State Trooper (scroll about 3/5 down the page).

Maybe this is the time to disclose that while in college I avidly read Dass' books as part of my spiritual quest. I understand the appeal completely. The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and the Hare Krishnas also hid deadly secrets behind a facade of exotic spirituality. And I want to be clear that I don't equate these transplants of Eastern religions with the original beliefs themselves. Rather they are hybrids of the indigenous faith with something distinctly American that has been tailored and packaged like any other product for the consumption of their particular market. The "pitch" is perfect self-fulfillment, a kind of 24/7 "spiritual" buzz. But the price is being valued below what our culture had formerly give as worth to the individual. Those who buy into this proposition are extremely succeptable to suggestion and control. This makes the New Age movement particularly suited to it's self-appointed role of enabling the "right to die" movement. If the connection isn't apparent yet, here is an interview with a doctor who credits Ram Dass with helping form his perspective on these issues:
What hooked me initially is the same thing that continues to draw me. That is, when people's basic needs have been cared for during the dying process, they will sometimes say, "This is a remarkable time in my life."

The first three or four times people said something like that to me, I dismissed it. It was nice, but I had no conceptual model to understand it. Actually, that isn't quite true. I did have a model, but it wasn't a Western model. I'd spent significant time in meditation classes and studying various religions of the world. In the late 70s, I'd also taken a class with Ram Dass that dealt with end-of-life issues.

I could explain some of what I witnessed clinically by referring to Buddhist models, for instance, but I struggled to integrate the spiritual perspective with what I was learning in Western medicine.

After hearing a number of people talk about the value of the end of life, I realized that the universe was trying to teach me something. I began to pay particular attention to cases that went well.

[snip]

I remember a situation a few years ago with a man I'll call Jason. Jason was a very healthy young man, who had a fluke cardiac arrhythmia. He was resuscitated, but remained in a deep coma. He could breathe on his own, but that was about it.Jason had a young wife, and his family came out from the Midwest to be with him. Together, they made the decision to stop feeding him via his tube, and to let him gradually pass away.
To his credit, Dr Byock is vehemently against assisted suicide. But essentially Jason wasn't dying, like Terri he was starved and dehydrated to death. We don't know all the details of this person's diagnosis, and the family was in agreement. But with what we've been learning about the uncertainty of diagnosis in these cases, the casualness with which Dr Byock speaks of allowing a patient to die is unsettling.

In the next installment, we'll leave the astral plane for the more worldly realm, we see an equal, if not greater influence of secular right to die advocates and bio-ethicists.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Reform in the Arab World
This story looked so hopeful when I started reading it: Arab scholars and intellectuals, in a U.N. sponsored report on Arab human development, are calling for democratic reforms and the end of repressive regimes in the Middle East. Doesn't it sound great? Except they're blaming Israel and the U.S. for the repression and lack of freedom. Apparently the lack of freedom in the Arab countries has nothing to do with dictators and mullahs and kings; it's Israel's fault because Israel has "sapped the struggle for freedom and good governance in the Arab world." So I guess it's Israel that's stopping Saudi women from getting the vote, eh?
A controversial U.N.-sponsored report on Arab human development released Tuesday in Amman urged quick and effective reforms in the Arab world, warning of upheaval and violence if repression in the region continued.

The third Arab Human Development Report said if repression in Arab countries continued, "intensified societal conflict is likely to follow," adding "some might be tempted to embrace violent protest, with the risk of internal disorder."

The authors of the report, who the United Nations said were a group of independent Arab scholars and intellectuals, charged that the Arabs enjoyed the least freedom in the world, not due to cultural reasons, but political ones.

They cited the imposition of decades of "emergency powers" by regimes across the Arab world, the "systematic suppression of independent courts and parliaments" and the "double standards of foreign powers" which have accepted, and sometimes encouraged, authoritarian rule in exchange for political stability and "access to energy supplies."
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Hero
From DutchReport: Killer of Van Gogh is Hero
Teachers of the Mozaiek elementary school are very concerned about the radicalization of their pupils. Mohammed B. [Bouyeri :The killer of Van Gogh] is revered as a hero, when Hirsi Ali is shown on school TV they mimic ‘shooting’ movements. When they visited the Anne Frank House pupils said “they deserved it" and “They should have killed more Jews".

The radical behavior is not new. The teachers of the Christian elementary school say they ask for years now attention to this problem. Teacher Marlene van den Berg: “After the September 11 attacks, they made a St. Nicolas [children feast where presents are packet in self made creative wrappings] surprise of the WTC towers, complete with flames and falling people. We started the dialog: What do you mean, why do you do this? Then you get a ruthless answer: They deserved it, they had to do it a long time ago",

The radicalism dates according to Berg from before September 11. “It varies each year. Ten years ago we hearth in group 7 and 8 [age around 10-11 years old] pupil’s say: “We Moroccans take over the Netherlands". Now we see pupil’s in-group 3 [age around 5 years old] - who can barely write – already write phonetically ‘Fuck you Netherlands’ on small papers. Pupils in-group 8 have a photo of Mohammed B. [Killer of Theo van Gogh] in their schoolbag, they seem him as their hero.
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