2 April 2005

fere sede vacante

Universi Dominici Gregis

61. Finally, in order that the Cardinal electors may be protected from the indiscretion of others and from possible threats to their independence of judgment and freedom of decision, I absolutely forbid the introduction into the place of the election, under whatsoever pretext, or the use, should they have been introduced, of technical instruments of any kind for the recording, reproducing or transmitting of sound, visual images or writing.

Chapter V: The Election Procedure
62. Since the forms of election known as per acclamationem seu inspirationem and per compromissum are abolished, the form of electing the Roman Pontiff shall henceforth be per scrutinium alone.

I therefore decree that for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff two thirds of the votes are required, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present.

Should it be impossible to divide the number of Cardinals present into three equal parts, for the validity of the election of the Supreme Pontiff one additional vote is required.

Article 61 is evidently directed against the dangers of a blogclave. I'll put together a list of papabile some time today. Broadly, fat popes are succeeded by thin popes and whoever enters the conclave a pope comes out a cardinal. I don't think I'll surprise anyone by saying I think this pope was wrong on women priests, on gays, on abortion and contraception. He was blind in some ways when it came to the Third World. His inaction on clerical sexual abuse was a scandal. On human rights, peace, social justice and the environment he was almost always right and as harsh a critic of unbridled capitalism and war as he was of communism.

1 April 2005

UN Rights Expert Charges US Using Food Access as Military Tactic

UN Rights Expert Charges US Using Food Access as Military Tactic
A UN human rights expert sharply condemned the invasion of Iraq and the global anti-terror drive, accusing the US-led coalition of using food deprivation as a military tactic and of sapping efforts to fight hunger in the world.

Jean Ziegler sharply condemned the invasion of Iraq and the global anti-terror drive, accusing the US-led coalition of using food deprivation as a military tactic in a report to the UN human rights commission. (AFP/Orlando Sierra)

'The situation of the right to food in Iraq is of serious concern,' the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, said in a report to the UN human rights commission.

The report also highlighted 'widespread concerns about the continued lack of access to clean drinking water' and allegations by British campaigners that water sources were deliberately cut off by coalition forces.

'Those are the allegations, but what is proven is that at Fallujah, denial, the blockade imposed on food and the destruction of water reservoirs was used as weapon of war,' Ziegler told journalists.

He insisted that the practice was a 'clear violation' of the Geneva Conventions and delivered a firm condemnation of any attempt to deny food or water supplies.

The UN expert insisted he was not judging the legitimacy of the invasion or the tactics used by military forces.

'I am simply maintaining a firm condemnation, very firm, of the humanitarian consequences of this strategy and the military tactics applied since March 2003 by the occupying forces,' he said.

Citing previous studies reported last year, the report said that 'acute malnutrition amongst Iraqi children under the age of five has almost doubled from four percent to 7.7 percent,' since Saddam Hussein was toppled.

Perhaps if they were on feeding tubes...

Amanda plays a straight bat

Doctors denied visas for gay partners
Two overseas-trained doctors have been prevented from taking positions at Campbelltown and Liverpool hospitals because the immigration department will not issue their same-sex partners with a family visa.

Frustrated health officials and the Australian Democrats have appealed to the Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone, saying the decision exacerbated the chronic shortage of psychiatrists in public hospitals.

Both jobs were classed as 'area of need' positions as there were not enough doctors willing or able to fill them.

'Given this situation ... discriminatory barriers, such as the non-recognition of same-gender relationships as de facto relationships for the purpose of granting a visa are inappropriate,' a NSW health official said in a letter to the department.

The clinical director of Liverpool Hospital's mental health unit, Roger Gurr, said it was a major blow for south-western Sydney to lose both overseas-trained psychiatrists.

'Now the situation is drastic ... NSW needs 41 trainee psychiatrists to enter the system every year to provide the services - last year only 22 people were accepted into training. This year there was only 19. So there is an enormous backlog of vacancies.'

Len Holt, the national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, said that unlike married or de facto heterosexual couples who were granted a four-year residency visa as a family, only the doctor being offered an area-of-need position was granted a long-term visa. Their same-sex partner could apply for a 12-month visitor's visa that must be renewed overseas and did not allow them to work while in Australia.

'The same-sex partners do not meet the definition of spouse, which in this day and age doesn't make a whole lot of sense,' Mr Holt said.

Really doesn't merit much of a comment, does it? Perhaps the minister was frightened by a pink shrink as a small child?

31 March 2005

Ancient Music

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

Ezra Pound

29 March 2005

scary eagles and friendly dragons

Our new nightmare: the United States of America

Australians are as just as concerned about United States foreign policy as Islamic extremism and regard the US as more dangerous than a rising China, according to a new poll.

The Australians Speak: 2005 survey, commissioned by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, found 57 per cent of Australians were 'very worried' or 'fairly worried' about the external threat posed by both US foreign policy and Islamic extremism.

'We asked about a series of threats from the outside,' said the institute's executive director, Allan Gyngell. 'Most startling of all was the precise equivalence of Islamic fundamentalism and US foreign policy as a source of concern.

'The question is whether this is a response to a particular administration or a broader cultural drifting apart.'

More than two-thirds - 68 per cent - said Australia took too much notice of the US in its foreign policy deliberations.

The findings would not be welcomed by the Howard Government, which has railed against perceived anti-Americanism and emphasised the importance of the alliance as the US takes a more unilateralist and activist posture in world affairs.

The Lowy Institute found that 72 per cent regarded the US alliance as very important or fairly important. But in another finding, the survey of 1000 people found respondents were strongly opposed to siding with the US over Taiwan should conflict flare between Taipei and Beijing.

Mr Gyngell said he was also very surprised that China rated so positively. Only 35 per cent of respondents had concerns about China's growing power.

I suspect the US figures would be much more positive if the Australian government was more truthful in discussing the alliance and less supine in its response to US requests. The Australian government has constistently defended the US military tribunals, even in the face of cases like that of Murat Kurnaz.

The full report is available for download.