Bethlehem, a place of Christian pilgrims for centuries is quickly becoming engulfed by Israel's security barrier. Once consistently overrun with tourists it is increasingly emptied of life, now resembling a bleak prison town with its checkpoints, sandbags, breeze blocks and heavy military presence. A picture essay by Mark Power (Magnum Photos)
Paper Clippings The Blog of The Crossroads Cultural Center
Paper Clippings, more than a classical blog, is a service providing valuable reading material in order to help readers reach a judgment about current affairs. Comments and discussion are more than welcome.
"Nepal, sandwiched between the two rising economic and demographic behemoths of the age—China and India—could be the first country since the fall of the Berlin Wall where communists emerge triumphant." A provocative essay by Robert Kaplan, a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and author of "Imperial Grunts" (Random House, 2005).
Katrina, Iraq, John Paul II. The New York Times website has an interactive gallery of some of the biggest events of 2005.
What makes it fascinating is that there are no words here, just pictures. Which is something we'd love to see more often on the NYT...
This report from India is interesting. One could make many comments, e.g. on power, on how slippery the concept of "culture" is, on how humanity is affected by material factors etc. We will leave it at this quote from an unsurpassed classic: "The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations... The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication ... compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image." The one thing poor Karl did not expect was that the proletarians in Bangalore would end up joining the petit bourgeoisie at TGI Friday's...
But, is that all life is about?
"More than 2,000 years ago, a virgin gave birth to a Son, and the God of heaven came to Earth". Read President George W.Bush message for Christmas 2005. Maybe there is a lot of rethoric here, but is good rethoric...
The new column by Spengler draws an elementary but important observation from the Iraqi elections: DEMOcracy is only as good as the DEMOS, i.e. it relies on the existence of a people. In turn a people is shaped by education. All the problems involving both Western liberals and Islamic fundamentalists can be traced back to an inability to educate.
This discussion of the comically named phenomenon of polyamory has a couple of good points: 1) the so-called "crisis of marriage" is really a crisis of fatherhood; 2) as civil marriage loses every significance, real families will lose state support, but it will also become clear that marriage does not originate from the state and does not belong to it.
The New York Times reports on the big Korean stem-cell scandal. It is remarkable how "science" has an almost religious value for certain people, as if it were the only method of knowledge that is exempt from the weaknesses of human freedom (including social pressure, greed, unhealthy ambition, wishful thinking etc.). On the contrary it is very much a human affair, and desperately in need of "salvation."
For an interesting discussion on these issues, we invite you to attend the upcoming Crossroads Conference on regenerative medicine.