Not only does the pope wear a funny hat…

…he is also into self flagellation.

At least the late pope John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II used to beat himself with a belt and sleep on a bare floor to bring himself closer to Christ, a book published Wednesday says.

The late pope had a particular belt for self-flagellation and brought it with him to his summer residence, according to the book, “Why he is a Saint: The True story of John Paul II.”

“As some members of his own entourage were able to hear with their own ears, both in Poland and in the Vatican, Karol Wojtyla flagellated himself,” the book says, using the name the pope was given at birth.

“In the closet, among the cloaks, a particular pant-belt hung from a hook, which he utilized as a whip and one which he always had brought to Castel Gandolfo,” the book says.

The book was written by a Vatican insider, Slawomir Oder, with Italian journalist Saverio Gaeta of the Catholic weekly Christian Family. Oder is head of the Vatican committee investigating whether John Paul II should be declared a saint. John Paul died in 2005.

The evil albino monk in Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” may be the best-known example of self-flagellation these days, but the practice is not unusual in Catholicism — or nearly as extreme as it is shown in the movie.

“When members or former members [of Opus Dei] see the monk go at it in the movie, they just burst out laughing, it’s so nutty,” said the Rev. Michael Barrett, a priest of the Catholic Opus Dei sect.

In actual Catholic self-flagellation, “there is no blood, no injury, nothing to harm a person’s health, nothing traumatic. If it caused any harm, the Church would not allow it,” he wrote on Opus Dei’s Web site when the movie came out in 2006.

“This voluntarily accepted discomfort is a way of joining oneself to Jesus Christ and the sufferings he voluntarily accepted in order to redeem us from sin. ‘The Da Vinci Code’s’ masochist monk, who loves pain for its own sake, has nothing to do with real Christian mortification,” Barrett said.

Mother Teresa is among famous Catholics who self-flagellated in some way, Barrett said.

Catholics are not alone in choosing to inflict pain on themselves for religion reasons. Some Shiite Muslims lash themselves until they bleed when marking the mourning period of Ashura, while fasting is practiced by people in several religions, including Jews on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.

David Gibson, a journalist who worked for Vatican Radio when John Paul II was pope, pointed out that the pontiff wrote an apostolic letter — essentially a papal position paper — on suffering in 1984.

“Christ did not conceal from his listeners the need for suffering. He said very clearly: ‘If any man would come after me … let him take up his cross daily,’ ” the pope wrote, quoting the Gospel of Luke.

Jesus, the pope wrote, “suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished.

“In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ,” says the letter, Salvifici Doloris, On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering.

“John Paul was a product of a very Old World Polish Catholicism,” said Gibson, who now writes on religion for Politics Daily.

“He was a very disciplined man and a very rigorous man in his personal spirituality,” he said.

The authors of the new book clearly approve of any whipping the pope did of himself, he added.

“Even though it’s going to weird people out, it’s obviously seen by his postulators as a sign of his holiness,” he said, using the technical term for the person who investigates a person’s qualifications for sainthood.

He said the idea is not as bizarre as it might sound to contemporary ears.

“The idea of fasting, renouncing something, giving up your Starbucks latte so you can send money to Haiti — you can’t simply look down your nose at it without rejecting a lot of other ideas about self-sacrifice,” he said.

The authors of the book based it on interviews with 114 “witnesses” and access to unedited documents in the Vatican’s archives, according to the publisher, Rizzoli.

The book is available only in Italian, but the publisher is having it translated into Polish and other languages.

Haiti – awful disaster… we all need to help

The awful earthquake that devastated most of Haiti’s populated areas was a revenge from God, according to revered evangelist Pat Robertson.

Robertson weighed in on Haiti’s history on his Christian Broadcasting Network show “The 700 Club” on Wednesday, the day after the quake.

Haitians were originally “under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘we will serve you if you will get us free from the French’. True story. And so, the devil said, ‘okay it’s a deal’. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”

What can a thinking, sane person say about this? I saw it as another proof that whatever people call God doesn’t exist… at least not the God that has power and is benevolent. A country stricken by so many disasters, as well as political massacres during most of the last 50 years… To say that “God works in mysterious ways” is just bullshit. I think that even the Devil would fail in bringing misery to the people the way that ‘God’ has brought misery to the people of Haiti the last 50 years. Hitler would be in awe.

Pat Robertson is – besides being a man of God – known for the following failed predictions:

1982: Doomsday

In late 1976, Robertson predicted that the end of the world was coming in November or October 1982. In a May 1980 broadcast of The 700 Club he stated, “I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world.”

2006: Pacific Northwestern tsunami

In May 2006, Robertson declared that storms and possibly a tsunami would hit America’s coastline sometime in 2006. Robertson supposedly received this revelation from God during an annual personal prayer retreat in January. The claim was repeated four times on The 700 Club.

On May 8, 2006, Robertson said, “If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms.” On May 17, 2006, he elaborated, “There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest”. While this claim didn’t garner the same level of controversy as some of his other statements, it was generally received with mild amusement by the Pacific Northwest media. The History Channel’s initial airing of its new series, Mega Disasters: West Coast Tsunami, was broadcast the first week of May.

2007: Terror attack

On the January 2, 2007, broadcast of The 700 Club, Robertson said that God spoke to him and told him that “mass killings” were to come during 2007, due to a terrorist attack on the United States. He added, “The Lord didn’t say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.” When a terrorist attack failed to happen in 2007, Robertson said, in January 2008, “All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God in his mercy spared us.”

2008: Worldwide violence and American recession

On the January 2, 2008, episode of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson predicted that 2008 would be a year of worldwide violence. He also predicted that a recession would occur in the United States that would be followed by a stock market crash by 2010.

2008: Mideast Meltdown

In October 2008 Robertson posted a press release on the Georgian Conflict speculating that the conflict is a Russian ploy to enter the Middle East,  and that instability caused by a predicted pre-emptive strike by Israel on Iran would result in Syria’s and Iran’s launching nuclear strikes on other targets. He also said that if the United States were to oppose Russia’s expansion, nuclear strikes on American soil are also pending. “We will suffer grave economic damage, but will not engage in military action to stop the conflict. However, we may not be spared nuclear strikes against coastal cities. In conclusion, it is my opinion that we have between 75 and 120 days before the Middle East starts spinning out of control.”

Palin & Fox: A deaf leads the blind

Sarah Palin, Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly sitting on the set of Fox News.

Just read on CNN that Sarah Palin is about to become a political analyst (!!!!!) for Fox News. Together with Karl Rove (!!!!!! again) she will be offering her views on politics in this “fair and unbalanced” TV channel.

Leads me to think of the three blind mice in Shrek… One  being Karl Rove, one being Sarah “Going Rogue” Palin, and one being Fox News (or maybe Bill O’Reilly)…

General strike – corruption and unions

A few weeks back, president Calderón shut down one of the two state run electricity companies in Mexico, Luz y Fuerza del Centro. It was shut down because of its inefficiency. More than 40% of the electricity sold by this company was never paid for by its customers. Yearly subsidies reach some 4 billion USD/year and still they lose money.

One of the answers to its poor efficiency rate is the worker’s union. All workers have the right to free electricity for himself and family, school allowance, rent allowance, etc. At 55 years of age, a worker has the right to retire with 100% of his salary until the day he dies. When Calderón shut it down, 44 000 people were employed. Another 20 000 were retired (but with worker’s benefits, e.g. employed). Service has always been dismal. Corruption incredible. It’s a good thing that moneyhole was shut down.

Today a huge demonstration took place in downtown Mexico City. The worker’s union marched together with the telephone company worker’s union and the state university worker’s union. They call for a general strike. A general strike? For cutting off a cancer that is eating the society from within? Problem is, in Mexico nobody really wants to work. People want it all and want the government to pay for it. Recently, in a measure to save state finances, the government proposed a 1% hike to the VAT. From 15% to 16%. An additional 3% to telecommunications (except Internet). People are going crazy over this now. But what they don’t think about is that only 20% of the economically active Mexicans actually pay any kind of income tax. Incidentally, the people that complain the most about these tax hikes are the ones that don’t pay income tax.

At least something good came out of the demonstration today. AMLO wasn’t allowed (by the union workers) to speak to the people. That’s a victory for all of Mexico.

Google Adsense – now with face recognition!

Today I was looking through my website, and saw that Adsense (that serves ads on this website) not only does context intelligence to serve ads, but also face recognition! I mean it! How else would it know that the slackermom in the entry below lives in Gothenburg? (see the ad beside the entry)…  It has to have some kind of face recognition technology built in. I am amazed at these Google guys. First image search, now adpublishing based on images shown. WOW. Technology is impressive!!! :)

facerecog

In all fairness, Adsense works more on the client side than on the server side. Meaning that ads shown are more prone to contain information based on this person’s previous search history than just random ads. In this case, for instance, I would think it would be impossible that someone from New Delhi would be served this ad. I got it served since I do a lot of web surfing on Swedish websites.

Same goes for people that at one or other time have claimed I am for prostitution, especially from Asia… the ads were served to that person (while visiting this website) because of that person’s websurfing habits – not mine.

So how does Adsense work? Well… everytime you do a Google search, you leave your tracks. Stuff like “Who is it?”, “Where is he/she?”, “What do they look for?” After a while, Google search algorithms make a “user profile” and serve ads based on that person’s previous surfing habits. So anyone saying I am looking for whores in Thailand just got bit in the ass. Then again – I don’t really look for slackermoms in Gothenburg, seen enough of those. :D

Corrupt unions – Mexico’s destiny

Comision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico’s largest state power company, will take over Luz y Fuerza del Centro, the smaller money-losing state power company, Interior Minister Fernando Gomez Mont said in a press conference in Mexico City.

“This is a measure to preserve responsibly the fiscal resources of all Mexicans,” Gomez Mont said. Luz y Fuerza provides power to a metropolitan area of 20 million people and several states surrounding Mexico City, transmitting 30 percent of the entire country’s electrical output.

President Felipe Calderon issued a decree today ordering the liquidation of Luz y Fuerza, according to a notice published today in the nation’s official gazette. Local media outlets reported that federal police officers seized the power company headquarters and other facilities by 11 p.m. yesterday.

Calderon is seeking to bolster Mexico’s fiscal position as it faces the threat of a lower credit rating from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, both of which have a negative outlook for Mexico’s sovereign ranking.

Calderon is increasing taxes and closing three ministries, while also cutting some government spending. On Sept. 8, Calderon submitted to Congress tax law changes that would generate 176 billion pesos ($13.2 billion) in additional revenue next year and spending cuts of 218 billion pesos.

Unsustainable Situation

The financial situation of Luz y Fuerza is unsustainable, Gomez Mont said. If Luz y Fuerza were left to continue, the federal government would have to transfer to the company about 300 billion pesos by 2012, he said.

Between 2003 and 2008 Luz y Fuerza generated sales of 235.7 billion pesos, while its costs reached 443.2 billion pesos, according to the decree. By June of 2009 the company reported a loss of 30.6 percent of the power that it distributed.

“Almost no other power company in the world shows a percentage of power loss registered by Luz y Fuerza,” the decree said.

The severance costs for the federal government could reach 20 billion pesos, Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said at the same press conference.

The federal government will absorb the pension liabilities from Luz y Fuerza, Labor Minister Javier Lozano said at the conference. Mexico Anticipates to rehire “an undefined number” of Luz y Fuerza workers, Lozano said.

CFE, as the Mexico City-based company is known, and Luz y Fuerza are the only companies allowed to sell and distribute power in Mexico. Private companies are allowed to generate power and sell it to the state-owned distributors or export the electricity.

Under the government decree, the Secretary of Energy will have three days to publish the legal conditions to start liquidating Luz y Fuerza del Centro.

Reactions to this shutdown have been many. Positive reations from most if not all of Luz y Fuerza’s clients, tired of the corruption and the low quality of service. Negative reactions from the left and the union. The Electricity Worker’s Union have been protesting and do not agree with this decision (of course). AMLO and his gang are jumping on the wagon as well to denounce this action, which in my eyes seems to be pretty just. They claim it is against the constitution to dissolve this company, since – according to the constitution – only congress could do this. Problem is that Luz y Fuerza was conceived as a presidental decree, and as such it has no protection from the congress to be dissolved.

In order to enforce this shutdown, police and military took Luz y Fuerza’s installations in Mexico City, Cuernavaca and other places – to ensure the continuity in electricity supply – since the union said they would not be at fault if Mexico City and nearby communities ended up without electricity during this conflict.

Mexico has the worst electricity supply in the western hemisphere, and probably the highest prices. It is time somebody did something about it. Way to go, Calderón!

AMLO bitten in the ass, by himself!

His emblem is a headband dyed the red, green and white of Mexico’s flag and emblazoned with his one-word stage name, “Juanito.” From the working-class streets where he peddles used clothing and holiday decorations, he muses about running for president.

If anyone has spiced up the drab aftermath of Mexico’s July 5 legislative elections, it is Rafael Acosta, an exuberant hawker-turned-activist-turned-politician-turned-spoiler who may end up in charge of Mexico City’s most populous borough, which has more people than metropolitan Las Vegas.

For two months, Acosta has been the lead character in an odd political drama that has made Juanito a household name, while providing enough cautionary lessons to rival Aesop’s fables.

In the July elections, Acosta was elected chief of the teeming Iztapalapa borough, a kind of mayor in miniature, thanks to a maneuver orchestrated by Mexico’s main leftist figure, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Acosta was supposed to be only a bit player in Lopez Obrador’s plan, whose main purpose was to block the election of a candidate from a rival wing of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, after a disputed nomination process in the fractious party.

Under the plan, Lopez Obrador urged his supporters in the PRD to vote for Acosta, an ally who ran as a candidate of the fringe Labor Party. The script then called for Acosta to step down, if elected.

According to the plan, Clara Brugada, a former congresswoman in Lopez Obrador’s faction, would be put forward as a replacement. Brugada had been disqualified as the PRD candidate less than a month before the election by a federal electoral tribunal that found “irregularities” in the party’s primary.

The strategy seemed to work. With Lopez Obrador’s backing, Acosta won easily in Iztapalapa, a PRD bastion. Acosta publicly promised to step down after winning.

But it wasn’t long before the plan went awry: Acosta started having second thoughts about leaving.

He blamed Brugada, saying she wouldn’t answer his condition that at least half the key borough jobs go to his backers. Lopez Obrador warned him not to fall prey to the “siren song” of power.

The Mexican press was there every time Acosta got to mulling whether he should keep the job for himself. The street vendor was suddenly a media sensation. He has assumed the role with gusto.

During a television interview last month, Acosta declared that he didn’t need Lopez Obrador or Brugada.

“I would have won with any party by running only as ‘Juanito,’ ” he said. (He adopted the nickname years ago after coaching a youth soccer team in which 11 players were named Juan.)

Acosta said he planned to run for mayor of Mexico City in 2012, and hinted at a possible run for president. “If the people elect me, why not?” he told one journalist.

The drama over whether Acosta would relent — and the spectacle of a scheme blowing up in the faces of its makers — has been delicious grist for pundits eager to find a moral to the story.

“Juanito is the little Frankenstein who disowned his creator,” commentator Raymundo Riva Palacio wrote.

Acosta is new to electoral politics but long a fixture at leftist protests, including those supporting the claim that the 2006 presidential election was stolen from Lopez Obrador. Acosta noted proudly during the recent campaign that he had appeared, stripped to his underwear, in a Mexican fichera movie, a once-popular genre full of scantily clad women.

If Acosta keeps the job of running Iztapalapa, a crowded place of 1.8 million, he would inherit some of the most difficult problems in Mexico City, including deep poverty, infrastructure in disrepair and frequent water shortages. But the budget is big, about $280 million this year, and the borough chief makes about $90,000 a year.

Acosta sounded resolute about retaining the job the other day. The swearing-in is Oct. 1.

“The people have spoken,” he said during a visit to pray at the famed Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, with a battalion of news cameras in tow.

But then Thursday, Acosta stoked the intrigue by meeting with Brugada over lunch. He said the two ate well, but did not reach a deal.

Juanito, vendor-activist-politician-spoiler, also played master of suspense: He promised more news in a few days.

Source: Ken Ellingwood/LA Times

So sad…

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/09/14/yemen.childbirth.death/index.html

A 12 year old Yemeni girl died from labor… as well has her child. She was wed to some 24 yr old man.

12 years… that is totally horrible. I try to be open to religions and cultures, but this is really too much. Noone can rape a 12 year old girl, get her pregnant and see her die trying to give birth. This guy needs to be put away. Any religion that supports this kind of behavior needs to be really redone from the bottom… any religion that thinks this is cool, is just a sect. They should be put in jail, all of them. Anyone that supports this religion should do some real introspection.

Apart from the man that raped her, her parents should be sent to jail for life. Who would allow something like that to happen???? To a loved son/daughter?