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from FaithWorld:

Thoughts on Obama’s Nobel Theology Prize speech

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President Barack Obama in Oslo, 10 Dec 2009/John McConnico

If there were a Nobel Prize for Theology, large parts of President Barack Obama's Oslo speech could be cut and pasted into an acceptance speech for it. The Peace Prize speech dealt with war and he made a clear case from the start for the use of force when necessary. While he began with political arguments for this position, his rationale took on an increasingly religious tone as the speech echoed faith leaders and theologians going back to the origins of Christianity.

It started with a hat-tip to Rev. Martin Luther King when he said "our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice" -- echoes of King's 25 March 1965 Montgomery speech saying "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Obama then went into the "just war" theory that says war is justified only if it is a last resort or self-defense, if force is proportional to the threat and civilians are spared if possible. This is a classic Christian doctrine elaborated by Saint Augustine in the fifth century and then by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th. In 2003, Pope John Paul II used this doctrine to justify his opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Obama noted that this doctrine was "rarely observed" but called for new ways of thinking "about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace ... Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct."

The president used the "just war" theory to put a theological interpretation on Islamist militancy, saying that "no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint — no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one's own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith."

Obama’s linguistic high wire act

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President Barack Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech gave equal weight to war and peace – as  shown in this wordcloud.

Did he carry it off?

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from The Great Debate UK:

Where schooling is sabotaged

Kennji_KIZUKA- Kennji Kizuka was a consultant to the children’s rights division of Human Rights Watch and conducted research for their new report, Sabotaged Schooling: Naxalite Attacks and Police Occupation of Schools in India’s Bihar and Jharkhand States. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Late in the evening of November 29, 2008, a group of guerrilla fighters entered the remote village of Dwarika in the Indian state of Jharkhand and detonated improvised bombs inside the village’s only school. Doors blew apart, desks and chairs splintered, and portions of the classroom walls crumbled. No longer suitable or safe for learning, the school closed.

Does Obama fit the Nobel mould, asks exhibit?

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Obama dolls

Obama dolls

Some say U.S. President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace prize was at best premature, others say it should go to his speech writers and a number believe it’s groundless?
But what would Alfred Nobel think? That’s the question the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo seeks to answer in an exhibition due to open to the public on Saturday.
“The relation between Nobel’s testament and Barack Obama’s visions and actions has become a global debate and the theme for this exhibition,” the centre’s director Bente Erichsen told Reuters a day before Obama picks up his Nobel in Oslo.

The exhibit itself resembles a library, where Obama’s speeches and deeds are documented side-by-side the words and will of the Swedish dynamite inventor. It includes a number of pictures revealing “the person who is Barack Obama”.

Nobel winner says Ceausescu’s spirit lives on in Romania

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NOBEL-PRIZE/Brutal dictator Nicolae Ceausescu has been dead for 20 years, but Romania remains dominated by his henchmen, the winner of this year’s Nobel prize for literature says.

Herta Mueller, a small, raven-haired writer who grew up in Romania and now lives in Germany, is in Stockholm to receive her award.  She is a reticent speaker, but her message — born from experiencing the bitterness Ceausescu’s repressive regime — is powerful.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan and Afghanistan:how do al Qaeda and the Taliban respond?

peshawar twoIn openDemocracy, Paul Rogers writes that one of the great mistakes of the media is that it tends to assume the only actors in the campaign against Islamist militants are governments, with al Qaeda and the Taliban merely passive players.

"Beyond the details of what the Taliban and its allies decide, it is important to note that most analysis of Barack Obama’s strategy published in the western media is severely constrained by its selective perspective. There is a pervasive assumption - even now, after eight years of war - that the insurgents are mere “recipients” of external policy changes: reactive but not themselves proactive," he writes.  

On a dark Swedish afternoon, thoughts of eternal life

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NOBEL-MEDICINE/ It’s not everyday one meets a Nobel laureate who is said to have offered a tantalising clue in the search for the fountain of youth.

American scientist Elizabeth Blackburn was here in Stockholm to collect her Nobel prize for medicine and everyone attending her news conference wanted to know the same thing. When will our lives be measured in centuries not decades? Could we one day stave off death itself? But for those hoping the scientific Holy Grail was in reach, Blackburn had some sad news. She said scientists were a long way off from being able to significantly slow the ageing process.

Darfur: Is the war over or is the world losing interest?

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A girl holds her sleeping brother in Zam Zam camp in Darfur, Sudan in June 2008. REUTERS/Louis CharbonneauIt’s more than six years since mostly non-Arab rebels in Sudan’s western Darfur region revolted after accusing Khartoum of neglecting their remote corner of Africa’s biggest country. Khartoum’s U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, declared in New York this week that the “war in Darfur is over.”

But Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, disagrees. Although levels of violence in Darfur have fallen, he told the Security Council that crimes “are continuing.” He said those crimes include indiscriminate bombings of civilians, creation of inhumane conditions for displaced people in order to “exterminate” them, rapes and sexual violence, and the use of child soldiers.

The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, another government official and a former Janjaweed militia leader for war crimes in a government-led counter-insurgency campaign that drove more than 2 million from their homes. The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have died since the conflict erupted in 2003, but Khartoum rejects that figure.

What to do while the world burns

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A firefighter puts out a fire at a village near Bangkok March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

This opinion piece by Mort Rosenblum originally appeared in GlobalPost. The views expressed are his own. For the full article, click here.

Other rumbles in the Iran nuclear storm

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In the sound and fury following the U.N. nuclear governors’ censure of Iran last week for its cover-up of a second uranium enrichment site, and Tehran’s rejection of a nuclear cooperation deal with world powers, a broader, festering issue was obscured.

 

That is the question of “alleged military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear programme — that is, whether Tehran illicitly coordinated projects to process uranium, test high explosives and revamp the cone of a missile to fit a nuclear payload.

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