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"Mutual fear brings Peace,/Till selfish loves increase;/Then Cruelty knits a snare,/& spreads his baits with care"

The Human Abstract

Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor,
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.

And mutual fear brings Peace,
Till the selfish loves increase;
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears;
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head,
And the caterpillar and fly
Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
Ruddy and sweet to eat,
And the raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.

The gods of the earth and sea
Sought through nature to find this tree,
But their search was all in vain:
There grows one in the human Brain.

— William Blake

Conscience: Time to be at peace with itself, France to compensate victims sickened by nuclear tests

French Defence Minister Hervé Morin said Tuesday that France will compensate people who suffered health problems as a result of its massive nuclear test program

(quote)

French Defence Minister Hervé Morin said, "It's time for our country to be at peace with itself". The French government offered for the 1st time Tuesday to compensate victims of nuclear tests in Algeria and the South Pacific. Victims cautiously welcomed the move, nearly 50 years after France conducted its first atomic tests. But some victims say the offer is still too stingy, and is only a first step toward healing wounds left by explosions that sent blinding white flashes cascading over French Polynesia and the Sahara Desert. A total of 150,000 people, including civilian and military personnel, were on site for the 210 tests France carried out from 1960-1996, both in the atmosphere and underground, in the Sahara Desert and the South Pacific.

a mushroom cloud rises above Mururoa Atoll, French Polynesia, after a French nuclear test there in 1970  read more »

Disturbing: War thirsts for blood. Soldiers in demand. Pressure on recruiters: 17 died by their own hand since '01

Forced to work long hours at a task he didn't want, Henderson hanged himself in a shed behind his house in September, 2008

(quote)

Amanda Henderson's husband Patrick worked as a recruiter at the army's recruitment station in Longview, Texas. A veteran of the Iraq war, Sgt. 1st Class Henderson struggled with the pressures placed on recruiters, who until recently were ordered to enlist at least two new soldiers each month. Forced to work long hours at a task he didn't want, Henderson hanged himself in a shed behind his house in September, 2008.

Sgt. Henderson's situation was not atypical. The Hendersons met at recruiting school and were married in January 2008. She worked at a recruiting station in Nagadoches, Texas, 70 miles away from the station in Longview where Patrick was assigned. Henderson was forced into a second recruiting assignment he didn't want after he returned from a combat tour in Iraq.

Nils Aron Andersson served two tours in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne. Awarded the Bronze Star for helping some buddies pinned down in a firefight, Andersson, photographed here with his mother Charlotte Porter, also worked in the Houston area as a recruiter  read more »

In main town of Pakistan's tribal area along Afghanistan border, death toll rises. Pakistan urges Obama to halt missile attacks

coffins of victims of suspected U.S. missile strike in a Pakistani Village

(quote)

(Above:) Pakistani tribesmen stand beside coffins of the victims of a suspected U.S. missile strike in Zharki village, near Miran Shah, the main town of Pakistan's tribal area along Afghanistan border, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009. Suspected U.S. missiles killed 18 people on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border, security officials said Friday, the first attacks on the al-Qaida stronghold since President Barack Obama took office.

Pakistani tribesmen gather for funeral prayers for the victims of a missile strike

Pakistan urged President Barack Obama to halt U.S. missile strikes on al-Qaida strongholds near the Afghan border, saying Saturday that civilians were killed the previous day in the first attacks since Obama's inauguration.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of AP Photo/Hasbunallah Khan and AFP

Original Source: Huffington Post

Vatican's rare step: Pope Benedict XVI admits errors, takes frank look at controversy over Holocaust-denying bishop

Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, March 11, 2009. Pope Benedict XVI has acknowledged Vatican mistakes in the handling of the controversy over a Holocaust-denying bishop and says he's saddened by attacks against him by even members of his own flock

(quote)

Pope Benedict XVI has made an unusual public acknowledgment of Vatican mistakes and turmoil in his church over an outreach to ultraconservatives that led to his lifting the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop. In an attempt to end one of the most serious crises of his papacy, he said in a letter released Thursday that the Vatican must make greater use of the Internet to prevent other controversies.

The Vatican took the rare step of releasing the German-born pope's personal account of the incident addressed to Catholic bishops around the world. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the letter — released in six languages — was "really unusual and deserving of maximum attention."  read more »

Shoe has position in politics? Never before as it does now. Iraqis divided over jail sentence for shoe thrower

Lebanese University students stage a sit-in

Does Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi deserve fifteen years in jail, or "a statue erected in his honor"?

(quote)

In a land replete with martyrs and miscreants, Iraqis are divided over which label applies to Muntazer al-Zaidi. The once obscure television journalist who shot to fame for hurling his footwear at then President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference late last year was sentenced on Thursday to three years in prison after being found guilty of "assaulting a foreign leader on an official visit." But despite the verdict of Baghdad's Central Criminal Court, many ordinary Iraqis still hail the 30-year-old Shi'ite shoe thrower as a national hero.

On December 14, Muntazer al-Zaidi, a television journalist attending a press conference with President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, threw both of his shoes at the U.S. President. As he threw the shoes, he shouted, ‘This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!’  read more »

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