Archive - Jan 2007
From an article of the same title Nancy Trejos in The Washington Post:
Spontaneous road closures, curfews and gun battles make even getting to the hospital a challenge for expectant mothers. Once they arrive, the women have no guarantee that they will receive adequate health care from a qualified physician.
"It's spiraling downward. It's getting worse each day," said Annees Sadik, an anesthesiologist at al-Jarrah.
Iraq once had a premier health-care system. But the trade embargo of the 1990s and now the exodus of medical professionals have made it no better than a third-world system, doctors say. Hospitals lack the equipment, drugs and medical expertise to make labor easier or to handle complications.
Women are forgoing prenatal visits to doctors as a result. Fearful of going into labor during the nighttime curfew, they are having elective Caesarean sections. Others are relying on midwives in their neighborhoods.
Doctors, especially women, have been targeted by unknown groups for kidnapping and murder. The kidnappers often appear to be motivated by money, seizing professionals because they are among the wealthiest people in Iraq. But many Iraqis also say that insurgents are waging a campaign to eliminate the people with the skills most needed to rebuild Iraq.
Let me recommend to you all this fine resource: snopes.com. It's a web site that takes "urban legends" (like those forwarded emails you receive) and tries to evaluate and document whether or not they are true. Anytime anyone sends me something that is a little hard to believe or seems suspicious, I check on it here. I don't receive that many forwarded emails, but I would estimate that maybe 90 % of the ones I have received have been bogus. If you like to forward emails, I would suggest that you at least make an attempt at checking their validity at snopes.com before you forward them along.
I had the opportunity to consult snopes twice today.
First, some friends from church forwarded me and a bunch of other people a version of the email that is examined by snopes here. Since my current hobby seems to be trying to spread some sanity regarding lumping all Muslims in with the radical fringe of that religion, I responded to all with the following:
I would suggest reading the snopes.com analysis of this email:
It questions several of the claims asserted by the email. For example, it finds evidence that the man presenting about Islam was not a Muslim minister but was an inmate. Though I think there is a valid point to be made about the fundamental differences between Christianity and Islam, I don't think it is very accurate nor helpful to try to link all Muslims (many of whom, especially in the US, are law-abiding, non-violent, honorable citizens) with the violent radical fringe of that religion. For example, as the snopes.com analysis points out, it would not be too hard to pull out a large number of verses from the Bible (esp. the OT) to "demonstrate" that the God of the Bible is a violent and vengeful and commands his followers to be so while also citing violent, radical "Christians" like Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph who was associated with the Christian Identity movement, terrorists in Northern Ireland, etc.
Since Muslim citizens of the US are generally peaceful and law-abiding (with a few exceptions, as there are with any religion), I have no concern about the growing number of Muslim voters.
However, I am concerned about this: the radical fringe of Islam is apparently flourishing in our prison system, and our country imprisons a higher percentage of its population than any other country in the world. See this page:
for links to some documentation.
Also, yesterday a colleague at work forwarded to our whole building a PowerPoint presentation with the content evaluated by snopes here.
I politely responded to all with the following:
More (contradictory) info on this subject is here:
People really should do some quality control on the emails they forward.
The controversy over Obama's alleged education in an Indonesian madrassa raged this week. CNN debunked the claim regarding a radical Islamic education (link), and Obama issued a press release yesterday directly addressing the issue (link):
To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Furthermore, the Indonesian school Obama attended in Jakarta is a public school that is not and never has been a Madrassa.
These malicious, irresponsible charges are precisely the kind of politics the American people have grown tired of, and that Senator Obama is trying to change by focusing on bringing people together to solve our common problems.
I almost chuckled when I read this bit from USA Religious News:
His name is Barak Hussein Obama. And he is running for President. He is courting evangelical Christians from the pulpit at Rick Warren's Saddleback church and by using public proclamations reported in the news media. Some Christians are saying he is a Democrat that evangelical Christians can support. Many have suggested that his Islamic and atheist upbringing combined with his social progressive membership in the United Church of Christ make him an outstanding presidential candidate. Others believe he may be a threat to the national security. Will the real Obama please stand up?
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."-- Matthew 7:15
and also this line:
The United Church of Christ is not to be confused with the cult " Church of Christ ."
It also has an interesting summary of what should disturb us about the UCC:
The United Church of Christ, however, supports homosexual marriage, abortion, environmental justice, globalism, the International Criminal Court, the Palestinian movement and believes that Israel is illegally occupying the covenant land.
I also came across an article titled "More on Obama the Liberal" from The Conservative Voice web site, which was founded by a fellow honored by the Jerry-Falwell-given nickname "young Jessie Helms", which concluded:
Note that Obama's biological father from Kenya was a terrorist-espousing Muslim. His mother is an avowed atheist. Obama spent two years as a youngster in a terrorist-oriented Muslim school. He spent two other years in a Catholic school.
Obama is a mixed up theological liberal espousing what liberals like to hear, couching it all the more in theologically liberal verbiage so as to fool naïve evangelicals and devout Catholics in particular.
Unlike the Obama school debacle, an editorial titled "Obama's Real Faith" from, of all places, the Investor's Business Daily, is actually interesting in my opinion. After pointing out the baseless nature of the current controversy, it discusses what it does consider disturbing:
Trouble is, Obama embraced more than Christ when he answered the altar call 20 years ago at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Southside Chicago. The 8,000-member church describes itself as "unashamedly black" and holds classes in "African-centered Bible study." He also pledged to honor something called the "Black Value System," which is a code of nonbiblical ethics written by blacks for blacks.
This is what should give American voters pause.
According to its Web site, Trinity puts the "black community" first. Black members are encouraged to pursue education and skills exclusively to advance their community, and allocate their money exclusively to support "black institutions" and black leaders.
In short, it preaches from the gospel of blackness and black power. There's little room for white Christians at Obama's church. It disavows the pursuit of "middleclassness" - code for whiteness - arguing that middleclassness is a conspiracy by white leaders to keep talented African-Americans "captives."
Obama, meanwhile, has been getting in touch with his African roots. He recently visited relatives in Kenya for the first time, and dropped the nickname Barry for the more African-sounding Barack.
"I believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change," he recently asserted. He said his faith has also led him to question "the idolatry of the free market." This reflects Trinity church doctrine that no African-American can really rise to the top echelons of a "racist, competitive" white society on merit.
Obama, in turn, calls the dashiki-wearing minister of this militantly black church his "spiritual adviser" and mentor. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright said of Obama and his other congregants: "We are an African people, and remain true to our native land, the mother continent." He wants health care for all and more housing for the poor, and calls those who voted for President Bush (and his tax cuts) "stupid."
Do such beliefs translate into a political agenda tailored to African-Americans? Would Obama, despite his agreeably race-neutral and nonthreatening public persona, govern and petition on behalf of one group and not necessarily for the greater good of the country?
White House challengers such as Clinton think Obama's childhood brushes with Islam will make Americans nervous. But it's his adult conversion to black nationalism and socialism that makes this otherwise attractive minority candidate unfortunately so unattractive.
That is interesting. I wonder how accurate the characterization is. I also came across a recent Chicago Tribune profile of Jeremiah Wright titled "Pastor inspires 'audacity to hope'". It has a decidedly different take on Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ. Even the IBD article describes a lot of positive activities but it does seem to have an overly-racial emphasis, one that wouldn't be acceptable if espoused by whites, for example.