Forget About That Corny Corner-Ribbon's Drivel! The Real Secret is HERE Indeed - not over there!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

le pape, les phoques et la princesse des paralytiques...

A lot of death this week - and terrorists are not to blame, for once...
In my town alone, spouses killed each other, twentysomethings were brutally stabbed to death on the street... one was even bludgeoned to death.
And then there was Terri...
And open season on the babyseals again...
And today, the Pope.

The 265th Pope is no longer - the next one could be a doozy...

On par with that, the chief helper to the poor (officiously anyway), the World Bank, announced this week a somewhat... poor choice for successor to THEIR own pope of sorts - am talking about the World Bank presidency here - of course. Paul D. Wolfowitz ("Witz" to his buddies - I wonder if the D stands for Diddy... P. Diddy Witz... naaaaah!) is a choice that is quite on par with that of John Bolton as U.N. representative for the USA... Add in the next Pope, rumoured to be a prime candidate for "false prophet" status and to be in cahoots with the antichrist, and things are not exactly looking rosey right now. In fact, things outright suck! ALL of these guys could be in cahoots with the antichrist - but the antichrist simply cannot be Dubya! Nope - I refuse to have evil personified by an adversary I cannot respect let alone dread - taking thy adversary seriously is step one on the journey to victory after all... ;)

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2005—The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today unanimously confirmed the nomination of Paul D. Wolfowitz to be President of the World Bank. In response to the Board's decision, Mr. Wolfowitz made the following statement:

“I want to thank the Board for their vote of confidence. It is humbling to be entrusted with the leadership of this critically important international institution. Fortunately, I already know I will have a great deal of help from the many people who are deeply committed to the mission of the World Bank. Since my nomination, I have had the opportunity to listen and talk with all 24 Executive Directors, who themselves possess deep knowledge across the broad range of issues facing the Bank.

Yesterday, in Brussels, I had discussions on the Bank’s future with the Development Ministers from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. This was followed by a broader meeting hosted by Prime Minister Juncker of Luxembourg with more than 25 European Union representatives. Their advice and questions were constructive, and I know they will continue to provide valuable guidance as I begin my tenure as an international civil servant.

I have also exchanged views with dozens of ministers, ambassadors and even Presidents and Prime Ministers, from every continent. I appreciate their support and their commitment to the vision of the World Bank. As I have said frequently, that mission – helping the poorest of the world to lift themselves out of poverty – is a noble mission or, as former Secretary of State George Shultz said, “a beautiful mission.”

I believe deeply in that mission. Nothing is more gratifying than being able to help people in need and developing opportunities for all the people of the world to achieve their full potential.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Jim Wolfensohn who has been extremely helpful to me. His commitment to the Bank’s mission will be a hard act to follow and I will be counting on his continued advice and support.

I look forward now to deepening my understanding of the challenges facing the Bank through exchanging views with two key groups: the civil society organizations whose advice and views have become increasingly important in Bank deliberations; and the extraordinary professional staff of the Bank, who constitute the richest body of expertise in the world on the problems of economic development and poverty reduction.

The next six months are a key period of decision making on international development policy, particularly leading up to the UN Summit in September on the Millennium Development Goals.

Beyond the Development Goals, I have been provided with a wealth of advice and information. I have a new appreciation for the urgent need for debt relief, infrastructure and regional integration if poverty is to be reduced. My new colleagues have recommended I review the right balance between loans and grants; the Bank’s role as lender versus technical advisor; lending to middle income countries versus support for the poorest nations; and timely, high quality delivery of financial support versus the need for conditions, accountability and safeguards.

Finally, many of my colleagues have pointed out that reducing poverty involves more than the commitment of the Bank’s loans and grants. Trade polices and subsidies along with positive conditions for private sector investment are all key factors influencing prospects for the poor.

These are just a few of the challenges which lie ahead. As we take on these concerns, I am excited about the strong contribution the Bank can and must make if we are to create a new era of opportunity for the world’s poor.

I look forward to working with the talented Bank staff, all shareholders and supporters as we join together in our noble mission.”

Current World Bank President James Wolfensohn also commented:

“I welcome the decision of the Board to appoint Paul Wolfowitz as the next President of the World Bank Group. He is a friend, and I know him to be a person of immense talent and high intellect. He will be an extremely dedicated and strong leader of the Bank. Paul has a long and respected background in academia, diplomacy and international affairs, and his work in the developing world has afforded him a deep understanding of the many challenges of development. He knows what a remarkable institution this is, he appreciates its outstanding team of development professionals, and I know he will bring continuity to its programs and its mission of fighting poverty. I will make every effort to ensure that our transition period is successful, so Paul can hit the ground running on June 1.”
Vatican announces death of Pope John Paul II News Staff

Pope John Paul II died in his Vatican apartment Saturday, ending his 26-year reign as leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.

The announcement came shortly before 10 p.m. local time, ending hours of speculation in which the pope's death appeared inevitable.

"The Holy Father died this evening at 9:37 p.m. (2:37 p.m. ET) in his private apartment," Vatican spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in an unprecedented e-mail statement.

Registering the sombre news in Rome's St. Peter's Square, tens of thousands of people gathered in vigil were led in prayer by a priest saying, "We turn our eyes to you, the fountain of all mercy."

Above the crowd, lights could be seen in the three windows of the pope's Vatican apartment.

As the crowd stood below, many praying, crying and reflecting on the end of John Paul's 26-year papacy, they burst into a long, spontaneous applause.

Then St. Peter's Square fell silent, as people observed a moment of silence.

The pontiff's death begins the nine-day period of official mourning during which the selection process for a new Pope is set in motion. The Vatican must hold a papal election within 15 to 18 days after the Pope's death.

The Vatican has also announced a special mass Sunday morning in Rome, celebrating the Pope's life. His body will not be moved to lie in state at the Vatican basilica before Monday, officials said.

After months of ill health that saw him twice admitted to hospital, the pontiff's health took several turns for the worse this week.

The first major setback was confirmed Wednesday, when the Vatican announced the Pope was being fed through a nasal-gastric feeding tube.

The next day, he developed a high fever brought on by a urinary tract infection. During treatment for that condition overnight, he suffered septic shock and heart problems that required cardio-pulmonary assistance.

The news came as some 40,000 people gathered outside the Vatican in St. Peter's Square, holding vigil for the Pope.

Final Hours

Earlier in the day, the Vatican called the Pope's condition "very grave" and said the pontiff was battling a high fever. He had been able, they said, to recognize some visitors.

Vatican Cardinal, Achille Silvestrini, visited with him accompanied by another cardinal, Jean-Louis Tauran.

"I found him relaxed, placid, serene. He was in his bed. He was breathing without labor. He looked like he lost weight," Silvestrini told reporters.

He said when he and Tauran came into the room, the Pope seemed to recognize them.

"The Pope showed with a vibration of his face that he understood, indicating with a movement of his eyes. He showed he was reacting," he added.

The Vatican signalled the Pope's determination to keep doing his life's work to the end, continuing the business of the Holy See on Saturday.

For the second day in the row, the Vatican announced a series of papal appointments, including a new Spanish bishop, an official of the Armenian Catholic Church, and ambassadors to El Salvador.

On Friday, an announcement came that John Paul had appointed 17 new bishops and archbishops. As well, the Pope also accepted the resignation of six others.

All the resignations and appointments involved bishops in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, republics of the former Soviet Union and the Pacific.

The pope's resolve was dealt a rare setback last week when, for the first time in his 26-year papacy, declining health forced the frail Pope to scale down his Holy Week appearances.

On Easter Sunday, he tried, but failed to give a blessing to a massive crowd gathered for Mass.

The Pope's final public appearance was on Wednesday, when he made a silent, surprise showing at his apartment window.

That inability to take part in the Church's public rituals were surely frustrating for a pope best known for reaching out to the people.

John Paul's Legacy

As the first Polish-born Pope, and one of the few non-Italian leaders in the modern age, in 1978 John Paul began his papacy with an intensive travel schedule. He visited more than 120 countries in 25 years, and made three trips to Canada.

His personal appearances before huge crowds, and his telegenic appeal to the global TV audience, are credited with helping to rebuild the Catholic following in many parts of the world; particularly in the southern hemisphere.

Today, the Vatican boasts of 1.1 billion members or about 17 per cent of the world's total population.

In recent years, however, much of the attention on the pope has focused on his health. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease, debilitating knee and hip ailments, and intestinal troubles that may have been related to a 1981 assassination attempt by shooting.

All these ailments made it difficult for him to walk. Aides wheeled him around in a throne-like chair for public appearances and to celebrate public Masses, earning him praise for his perseverance and determination.

Some say such coverage has overshadowed the career triumphs of the man born Karol Jozef Wojtyla.

He is credited with helping to inspire the Solidarity movement in Poland, a worker uprising that started a chain of events across eastern Europe that led to the fall of a number of communist governments.

He was outspoken in the political arena, never hesitating to criticize a host government, in his own gentle way. In a 1998 speech in Cuba, he blamed Fidel Castro's regime for "discouraging the individual," and at the same time took aim against the excesses of capitalism.
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 7:45 p.m. ET April 1, 2005
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - Medical examiners concluded an autopsy on Terri Schiavo on Friday, and prepared to release her remains to family members who continued to fight bitterly over the case of the brain-damaged woman who became the flashpoint for a nationwide debate over right-to-die issues.

"The examination included routine forensic autopsy procedures, supplemented by full post mortem X-rays," the Pinellas County, Fla., medical examiner's office said in a statement. "Terri Schiavo's remains are ready for release to the establishment selected by the legally authorized person, for purposes of final disposition. "

The statement noted that no further information about the autopsy would be released until the final report was ready, previously estimated to be at least several weeks.

Meanwhile, the 41-year-old woman’s husband continued to battle with her parents, their latest skirmish over funerals.

Schiavo died Thursday, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed by a judge’s order after failed attempts by Congress and the White House to intervene.

Michael Schiavo said his wife had said she would not want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, disagreed and held out hope for a miracle recovery for their severely brain-damaged daughter, whom they said still struggled to talk.

Their arguments continued over the matter of laying Schiavo to rest. The Schindlers, who are devout Catholics, wanted their daughter’s remains buried in Florida, where they live. Michael Schiavo, however, has custody of the body and plans to have his wife cremated.

His brother, Scott Schiavo, said her ashes will be buried in an undisclosed location near Philadelphia so that her immediate family does not attend and turn the moment into a media spectacle. A funeral Mass, a concession to the Schindlers, was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday.

The debate continued in the political arena as well as members of Congress kept the political rhetoric flowing on Capitol Hill and religious groups that pleaded with government officials to keep Schiavo alive vowed to push for stricter legal standards when it comes to denying life-sustaining measures to ailing patients.

“The actions on the part of the Florida court and the U.S. Supreme Court are unconscionable,” said Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., attacking judges who repeatedly had refused to order tube-fed nourishment restored to the brain-damaged woman.

“This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change,” House Majority Leader Tom DeLay added in a statement issued hours after Schiavo’s death at a Florida hospice.

“The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,” said the Texan. DeLay was a driving force behind legislation Congress passed two weeks ago that gave federal courts jurisdiction in an attempt to save Schiavo’s life.

'Plenty of time'
Asked later at a news conference about possible impeachment proceedings against judges in the case, DeLay said, “There’s plenty of time to look into that.”

DeLay complained of “an arrogant and out of control judiciary that thumbs its nose at Congress and the president.”

Republican Sen. John McCain rejected DeLay’s characterization of federal judges on Friday. “I don’t agree with it,” he said on CBS’ “The Early Show.”

“But I do believe this issue of judges is a hot issue,” said McCain of Arizona. “I don’t think the Democrats should be blocking the president’s appointments.”
WP: Schiavo case will shape political debate

Did GOP mobilize its
conservative base or overreach?
Nancy Kramer, of St. Petersburg, Fla., held a dead rose and a defaced photograph of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on Thursday, in front of the Woodside Hospice where she has been holding vigil since Terri Schiavo died. Many were disappointed in Governor Bush's inability or unwillingness to intervene.

By Dana Milbank

Updated: 9:42 a.m. ET April 1, 2005
Terri Schiavo is dead, but the passions stirred by the fight over her life will shape the political debate for a long time to come.

Republicans say the Schiavo case has mobilized their conservative base for the struggles over judicial nominations and a likely Supreme Court vacancy this summer. In defeat, they hope to make Schiavo's death into a rallying point for a broader "culture of life" movement to secure judges and a justice who would restrict abortions.

Democrats, backed by public opinion polls, say the conservatives overreached and that the GOP now appears to be a captive of the religious right. They say the Schiavo dispute, on top of struggles over stem cell research and gay rights, will cause a backlash by moderate Americans.

The diverging interpretations reflect larger electoral strategies by both parties. Democrats, following a traditional approach, believe they can return to power by staking out ground as the party of the center. Republicans, using a strategy employed successfully by President Bush in the 2004 elections, believe the key is not in appealing to the middle but in motivating its active conservative base.

The battle over Schiavo's symbolism has already begun. Tony Perkins, president of the Christian policy group Family Research Council, issued a statement after Schiavo's death blaming the judiciary (even though it was mostly conservative judges who rejected the intervention by Bush and Congress.) "This is a tragic and unfortunate event that should awaken Americans to the problems in our court system," he said. "As many in the nation mourn the passing of Terri Schiavo, we should remember that her death is a symptom of a greater problem: that the courts no longer respect human life."

‘Political crack-up’
By contrast, former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, in an article published around the time of Schiavo's death, said Republicans are undergoing a "political crackup" as damaging as the Massachusetts decision to condone same-sex marriage was for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. "The Bush administration doesn't have a faith-based initiative; it is a faith-based initiative," he wrote in Salon.

The most direct consequence of the Schiavo affair is likely to be a push for federal and state legislation; lawmakers in both parties have proposed laws that would make it more difficult to remove life support in cases where the patients' wishes are disputed. The Senate health committee and House Government Reform Committee, among others, will examine parts of the issue.

But experts say changes are largely unnecessary. In the three decades since the Karen Ann Quinlan case, there have been only a few big legal battles over the "right to die." Alan Meisel, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, said only one case in several thousand winds up in litigation -- hardly a legal crisis. "Schiavo is the exception that proves the rule: We haven't had a lot of agonizing cases," said Bruce Fein, a former Reagan administration lawyer.

Beyond its direct impact, the Schiavo dispute is likely to color all sorts of policy debates, and, depending on how those turn out, could be part of the theme in next year's midterm elections.

Conservatives have begun to tie the case to their larger effort to win judges opposed to abortion. "It is entirely possible that in her death Terri Schiavo will become a symbol for many people about a disturbing trend in American culture," said Gary Bauer, a prominent conservative activist. Predicting a donnybrook over the eventual Supreme Court nominee, he said the Schiavo case "will make more acute the feeling at the grass roots that too many of the most important decisions are being made by unelected judges."

It is, of course, difficult to argue that the Schiavo case would have turned out differently if more of Bush's conservative judicial nominees had been confirmed. Conservative judges were at least as likely as liberals to oppose federal intervention. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, rejected the Schiavo appeal, and William H. Pryor Jr., whom Bush has seated temporarily on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in hopes of winning his confirmation to that court, did not dissent publicly from the decision not to hear the case. Key opinions relevant to the case were written by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia.

‘Founding Fathers' blueprint’
It was, in fact, an appellate judge appointed by President George H.W. Bush who wrote a ruling Wednesday criticizing the president and Congress for acting "in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people -- our Constitution."

But conservatives say this will not prevent them from linking the Schiavo case to others. "Although the form of this issue was assisted suicide, it has a lot more relevance for abortion," said Jeff Bell, a Republican operative. "State-sanctioned private killing is what this is about." Bell said he was not concerned about public opinion, because "it's very clear the intensity is on the side of the people who thought this was an abomination."

Democrats, at first ambivalent on the issue and relatively quiet as the controversy played out, have been buoyed by polls such as one by CBS News last week finding that 82 percent opposed Bush and Congress involving themselves in the matter. Three-quarters thought Congress got involved because of politics over principle, which could account for the 34 percent approval rating for Congress -- its lowest since 1997.

Democrats say they are encouraged that the dispute has put some of the party's more extreme characters, such as antiabortion activist Randall Terry, into prominent roles. "The other side has overplayed its hand and taken a beating," said Democratic strategist Jim Jordan.

Some Republicans and conservatives have expressed worry that this may be true. In an op-ed in the New York Times this week, former Republican senator John C. Danforth cited the Schiavo case as evidence that "Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians." Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, usually supportive of Bush, called the federal intervention "a legal travesty, a flagrant violation of federalism and the separation of powers."

But Republicans and Democrats of all stripes are likely to return to party lines when the subject shifts to judicial nominations. And that suggests the fight could be even nastier than the Schiavo affair.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company
Terri Schiavo's remains cremated
Parents, husband plan separate funerals
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 6:43 p.m. ET April 2, 2005
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - Terri Schiavo’s body was cremated Saturday as disagreements continued between her husband and her parents, who were unable to have their own independent expert observe her autopsy.
The cremation was carried out according to a court order issued Tuesday establishing that Michael Schiavo had the right to make such decisions, said his lawyer, George Felos. He said plans for burying her ashes in Pennsylvania, where she grew up, had not yet been completed.

Terri Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had wanted to bury their daughter in Pinellas County so they could visit her grave.

Terri Schiavo, 41, died Thursday after the removal of the feeding tube that had kept her alive since 1990, when she suffered brain damage that court-appointed doctors determined had placed her in a persistent vegetative state. Her parents had fought in court to keep her alive, disputing the doctors’ opinions and saying there was hope of improvement.

Michael Schiavo has not spoken publicly since his wife’s death, but Felos said Saturday: “He’s holding up. It’s very difficult for him.”

Michael Schiavo is required to tell his wife’s parents of any memorial services he plans for Terri Schiavo and where her ashes are interred.

The Schindlers plan to have their own memorial service Tuesday at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Gulfport.

Autopsy completed
The Schindlers had sought to have independent medical experts observe their daughter’s autopsy Friday at the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s office, but the agency refused their request, family attorneys David Gibbs III and Barbara Weller said Saturday.

"The examination included routine forensic autopsy procedures, supplemented by full post mortem X-rays," the Pinellas County, Fla., medical examiner's office said in a statement. "Terri Schiavo's remains are ready for release to the establishment selected by the legally authorized person, for purposes of final disposition. "

Representatives of the medical examiner’s office did not return a call seeking comment Saturday. The examiner’s office has said it would conduct routine examinations and look for any evidence of what might have caused her 1990 collapse.

The Schindlers have accused Michael Schiavo of abusing his wife, a charge he vehemently denies.

Over the years, the couple have sought independent investigation of their daughter’s condition and what caused it. Abuse complaints to state social workers were ruled unfounded — although one investigation remains open — and the Pinellas state attorney’s office did not turn up evidence of abuse in one brief probe of the case.

Gibbs said the medical examiner’s videotape, pictures and tissue samples from the autopsy could be reviewed by other experts if the family asks. While the autopsy report will be a public document, images will not be made public under a 2001 law passed after the death of race car driver Dale Earnhardt.

© 2005 MSNBC Interactive
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