News Briefs June 19-25

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News Briefs June 19-25

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Prophet of Decline: An interview with Oriana Fallaci
Oriana Fallaci faces jail. In her mid-70s, stricken with a of the most renowned journalists of the modern era has been indicted by a judge in her native Italy under provisions of the Italian Penal Code which proscribe the "vilipendio," or "vilification," of "any religion admitted by the state." In her case, the religion deemed vilified is Islam, and the vilification was perpetrated, apparently, in a book she wrote last year--and which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe--called "The Force of Reason." Its astringent thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves fecklessly to the "sons of Allah." So in a nutshell, Oriana Fallaci faces up to two years' imprisonment for her beliefs--which is one reason why she has chosen to stay put in New York. Let us give thanks for the First Amendment. It is a shame, in so many ways, that "vilipend," the latinate word that is the pinpoint equivalent in English of the Italian offense in question, is scarcely ever used in the Anglo-American lexicon; for it captures beautifully the pomposity, as well as the anachronistic outlandishness, of the law in question...

Pope: Search for Unity 'Irreversible'
Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday the search for unity between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christians was "irreversible," underlining his desire to improve relations and heal the 1,000-year-old rift with the Orthodox Church. Benedict made the comments in a meeting with...Samuel Kobia, the leader of the World Council of Churches, the fellowship of more than 300 churches from nearly all Christian traditions, including Protestants and the Orthodox. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member, but cooperates with the WCC...In Turkey, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew II, welcomed Benedict's remarks...In an interview with the AP ahead of the papal audience, Kobia said he was hoping for progress in one area in particular that has vexed some Protestant members of the World Council. The issue stems from a 2000 document from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was headed by the pope when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.The document, "Dominus Iesus," which Ratzinger signed, framed the role of the Catholic Church in human salvation in an exclusive manner. It suggested that non-Catholic "ecclesiastical communities" were "not churches in the proper sense." "There are many Protestant churches that are members of the WCC and are concerned that they are defined as 'ecclesiastic communities' and not full churches," Kobia said. He said he wasn't looking for Benedict to renounce the 2000 document, but said he hoped the two sides could "move beyond it"...Benedict's prepared remarks made no mention of the issue...

Pandemic could kill half million in U.S. - report
A new report out says that an Avian flu outbreak could kill more than a half million Americans and put up to 2 million in the hospital. "This is not a drill. This is not a planning exercise. This is for real,"...Read more .

Vatican publishes book by Pope Benedict
Pope Benedict, in his first book published since his election, says the Catholic Church can never accept laws allowing abortion because there is no such thing as "small murders." "The Europe of Benedict -- In the Crisis of Cultures," is a compilation of three major addresses he gave between 1992 and 2005, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and headed the Vatican department that safeguards doctrinal orthodoxy.
The book is published in Italian but you can read the some of highlights here.

Zimbabwe Slum Dwellers Are Left With Only Dust
This report on Zimbabwe will break your heart. President Mugabe is systematically destroying homes of the poorest urban citizens of Harare in an effort o punish those who voted against him in recent elections. If allowed to go unchecked he will effectively destroy all political opposition and cripple the will of this nation. Hundreds of thousands face eviction and starvation in what was once a prosperous southern African nation. Oh, but that was during a time know as "white minority rule", the so called time of "white imperial colonization". Read this story ...and weep.