August 30, 2009

China admits to harvesting organs from executed prisoners

China admits that 65% of Organ "Donations" Come from Death Row Prisoners

In a rare admission of the extent to which this takes place, China Daily - citing unnamed experts - said on Wednesday that more than 65% of organ donations come from death row prisoners.

China executes more people than any other country. Amnesty International said at least 1,718 people were given the death penalty in 2008.

 Organ-Harvesting Death-Row

Many of the executed are Falun Gong, a new religion in China that uses  physical exercise much like qigong   to cultivate the qualities if  truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.    In the materialistic culture of China, Falun Gong may have attracted as many as 70 million adherents.  When several thousand appeared on day in 1999 in a silent protest ,  they terrified with government who arrested them all and  began an all-out persecution of the sect.

The China Daily quoted Vice-Health Minister Huang Jiefu as saying that condemned prisoners were "definitely not a proper source for organ transplants".

The new scheme is therefore designed to reduce the reliance on death row inmates, as well as regulating the industry by combating the illegal trafficking of organs.

China admits to organ tourism

Whose organ do you want?
Death vans

Some of the corpses are sold to be skinned and then displayed in the  Bodies exhibition touring the country

More on skinned cadavers for profit

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2009

test

LM test

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test

LM test

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August 12, 2009

When dying becomes the fullness of life

Jack Fowler remembers Karen Laub-Novak, wife of Michael Novak who died earlier today

And then, a few weeks before the cruise, a memo circulated among friends: Karen’s cancer had spread widely. “Incurable” short of a miracle. I e-mailed Karen’s daughter Jana Miller: Did this mean they weren’t coming? No, just the opposite — the trip was of great importance, as it would allow the family to spend time together. So on July 8, the guests that boarded the Noordam included Karen Novak. Pushed along in a wheelchair, with a broad smile that never vanished, welcoming all into her aura of happiness, Karen was enjoying every second of her life, and enjoying everyone who was about, whether family member or friend or new acquaintance.

She had one major cruiserly objective: visiting Ephesus. It is the site of the house of Mary, but of greater importance to Karen was its 6th-century Basilica of St. John, the evangelist who was a particular inspiration to her as an artist. We did not arrive there until the end of the day — a very long day, some of it spent crossing terrain that did not seem intended for anyone less than a mountain climber. But here we were, finally, and it was — beautiful. Simply beautiful, as if arranged by the Higher-Ups. And in the midst of it, having communed, sat a woman weathered by her disease but absolutely satisfied, surrounded by her loving husband, children, grandchildren, and in-laws, all of whom were immersed in her overwhelming happiness.

R.I.P.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:08 PM | Permalink

August 11, 2009

Baby alive in coffin

Grieving father finds 'dead' baby son ALIVE in coffin

A premature baby declared dead by doctors was found to be alive hours later when he was taken home for a funeral wake.

The baby's father, Jose Alvarenga, was told by doctors that his son had died shortly after birth.

Staff from the state-run hospital in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital, delivered the infant's body to Mr Alvarenga's home fours hours later.

Shortly afterwards, the grieving father opened the baby's coffin to bid an emotional farewell to his son.

"I opened it to look at his remains and found that the baby was breathing," Mr Alvarenga said. "I began to cry."

He rushed back to the hospital with his unnamed baby in his arms and nurses placed the infant in an oxygen chamber.
He is now reported to be in a stable condition.

"This is a very unusual case," said Ernesto Weber, head of paediatric intensive care at the hospital.

No kidding.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 AM | Permalink

Hoisted on his own petard

Man killed by shards of glass after hurling girlfriend through shop window

A man bled to death when he was impaled on a large shard of glass after throwing his girlfriend through a shop window in a street row.

The 30-year-old victim was seen arguing with the woman in the Regent Street area of London's West End shortly after 2am today.

Witnesses told police he hurled the woman against the window of a branch of Banana Republic up to three times.

The woman, also 30, was taken to hospital for treatment to multiple cuts, none of which are thought to be life-threatening.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2009

"She didn't have a chance in hell"

They were so cute  the bears that came to her backyard to feast on the dog food, fruit and yoghurt she left out for them.

A wildlife lover, she paid no attention to the protests of her neighbors, phone calls from the sheriff or his certified letters telling her in no uncertain terms to stop feeding  the bears

Donna Munson, 74, told her friends that "when the time came, she wanted to go out with the bears."

She got her wish.  She was found dead outside her home, being eaten by a bear.

Cabin owner fed bruins for years despite state's pleas.

The night before her death, Munson planned to feed an injured baby bear hard-boiled eggs and yogurt, another former tenant said. And she had planned to swat a large bear that was bothering the baby bear with a broom.

"She didn't have a chance in hell," said Connie Barnes, who lived with Munson for five years and never went outside after dark without a spotlight, her husband and his BB gun.

Munson lived in the cabin, which bordered federal land, with her husband, "Ridgway Jack," until his death about 14 years ago, Barnes said. Jack Munson adopted a baby elk and made their home into an animal sanctuary, even letting a fawn sleep in his bed, Barnes said.

Donna Munson continued caring for animals after her husband's death, leaving a tub of cat food on her picnic table for critters and tossing food in the backyard and out her windows for bears. The elderly woman, who used a walker, bought giant bags of Ol' Roy dog food for the bears and had pallets of grain delivered for elk and deer, Barnes said.

Two women who cleaned Munson's home found her being eaten by a bear Friday, Barnes said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:23 PM | Permalink

Harry Patch, Britain's last World War 1 Warrior

John Burns on Britain's Oldest Warrior

He was a 19-year-old private when he was struck by the burst of a German shell over the British trenches in September 1917 and sent home to recover from his wounds. Working as a plumber in Wells until his retirement, he lived to the age of 111 before he died on July 25, when he was listed by Britain’s Defense Ministry as the last survivor among the millions of British soldiers who fought in the trenches on the Western Front. The last French and German veterans of the trenches died earlier this decade.
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In his last years, he became a national celebrity, memorialized in a poem written by Andrew Motion, then the poet laureate, and in a song fashioned from Mr. Patch’s own words about the fighting in the trenches that was recorded by the pop group Radiohead (“I’ve seen devils coming up from the ground/I’ve seen hell upon this earth.”) He met it all with the same modesty, saying that it was not he who should be honored but the men who fell at the battlefront, “the ones who didn’t come home.”
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When Mr. Patch finally broke 80 years of silence, it was in the final decade of a life that was honored by thousands of mourners who gathered at his funeral on Thursday in this quiet cathedral town set in rolling green hills 140 miles west of London. But his message was not the traditional story of valor and patriotism under fire. Rather, he took as his themes the futility of war and the common humanity of soldiers who meet as enemies on the battlefield.
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the feature that would have been likely to please Mr. Patch more than any other was the presence, as honorary pallbearers, of two German soldiers in full dress uniform, part of a six-man contingent that also included soldiers from Belgium and France. A German diplomat, Eckhard Lübkemeier, offered a New Testament reading from Corinthians that spoke of Christ’s “message of reconciliation.”
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A  Belgian diplomat read an excerpt from Mr. Patch’s 2007 autobiography, “The Last Fighting Tommy,” in which he described an offensive during the battle at Passchendaele, the bloodiest chapter in the Ypres fighting, when he came across a fellow soldier “ripped from his shoulder to his waist by shrapnel” during a British assault on German lines.

The episode reinforced in Mr. Patch, a devout Christian, the belief that there is a life after death. “When we got to him, he looked at us and said, ‘Shoot me,’ ” he recalled. “He was beyond all human help, and before we could draw a revolver he was dead. And the final word he uttered was ‘Mother!’ It wasn’t a cry of despair, it was a cry of surprise and joy.”

He added, “I’m positive that when he left this world, wherever he went, his mother was there, and from that day, I’ve always remembered that cry, and that death is not the end.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:43 AM | Permalink

At Cahokia, Sacrificial Virgins

In the southern part of Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri, lies  2200 acres with 120 earthen  mounds that's been designated a National Historic Site and a World Heritage Site.  Cahokia Mounds is the largest prehistoric earthen construction in the Americas, the last remnants of an American Indian people called the Mississippians.

The focus of ongoing archaeological study, Cahokia was once the largest city in America with about 20-40,000 people at its peak.  Nobody knows what the original name of the ancient great city on the MIssissippi because the people left no written records.

 Cahokia Monks Mound

Andrew O'Hehir brings us up to date with what's been learned from the archaeological studies including the evidence of human sacrifice on a large scale. Sacrificial virgins of the MIssissippi.

At its peak in the 12th century, this settlement along the Mississippi River bottomland of western Illinois, a few miles east of modern-day St. Louis, was probably larger than London, and held economic, cultural and religious sway over a vast swath of the American heartland. Featuring a man-made central plaza covering 50 acres and the third-largest pyramid in the New World (the 100-foot-tall "Monks Mound"), Cahokia was home to at least 20,000 people. If that doesn't sound impressive from a 21st-century perspective, consider that the next city on United States territory to attain that size would be Philadelphia, some 600 years later.
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Cahokians performed human sacrifice, as part of some kind of theatrical, community-wide ceremony, on a startlingly large scale unknown in North America above the valley of Mexico. Simultaneous burials of as many as 53 young women (quite possibly selected for their beauty) have been uncovered beneath Cahokia's mounds, and in some cases victims were evidently clubbed to death on the edge of a burial pit, and then fell into it. A few of them weren't dead yet when they went into the pit -- skeletons have been found with their phalanges, or finger bones, digging into the layer of sand beneath them.

What they found at Mound 72.

This mound contained a high-status burial of two nearly identical male bodies, one of them wrapped in a beaded cape or cloak in the shape of a thunderbird, an ancient and mystical Native American symbol. Surrounding this "beaded burial" the diggers gradually uncovered more and more accompanying corpses, an apparent mixture of honorific burials and human sacrifices evidently related to the two important men. It appeared that 53 lower-status women were sacrificed specifically to be buried with the men -- perhaps a harem or a group of slaves from a nearby subject village, Pauketat thinks -- and that a group of 39 men and women had been executed on the spot, possibly a few years later. In all, more than 250 people were interred in and around Mound 72.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2009

In pursuit of ratings

In Brazil, the pursuit of ratings goes too far.

A TV crime show host faces jail after allegedly ordering MURDERS in a bid to boost ratings

Wallace Souza is accused of arranging crimes and then broadcasting exclusive footage of the scenes.

His show built up a huge audience by showing dramatic film of police raids and arrests, with presenters often shown following police chases in a helicopter.

But police chief Thomas Augusto Correa said: "Investigations indicate they created scenes themselves. They determined which crimes would be committed in order to generate news for the programme."

Ex-cop Moacir Jorge da Costa claimed he had carried out at least one hit on behalf of the presenter.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:17 PM | Permalink

August 7, 2009

The Gompertz Law of Mortality

Your body wasn't built to last: a lesson in human mortality rates

What do you think are the odds that you will die during the next year?  Try to put a number to it — 1 in 100?  1 in 10,000?  Whatever it is, it will be twice as large 8 years from now.

This startling fact was first noticed by the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz in 1825 and is now called the “Gompertz Law of human mortality.” 
Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every 8 years

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2009

The Funeral of Cory Aquino

From Richard Fernandez

The city ground to a halt. Ships sounded their mournful horns at harbor. Bells rang and millions stood in the rain along the 14 mile route to the cemetery.  Former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Howard Dee said:

“I was in Magsaysay’s and Ninoy’s funeral. This is the greatest outpouring of love the nation has ever witnessed.” Dee, … was referring to the funerals of President Ramon Magsaysay in 1957 and of Aquino’s murdered husband, opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., in 1983.

Like those events, this funeral was also political. The Aquino family had pointedly refused a state funeral and mourned her instead as an honored daughter of the Church, laying her in the coffin with a rosary in her hand. It was a pointed slap at the current President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who had been accused of trying to extend her term of office past its constitutional limit, a la the Honduran Zelaya. Her carefully staged trip to Washington had been wholly eclipsed by Aquino’s death, from which she returned in haste. She was clearly unwelcome and made a brief, almost furtive appearance at the wake. Her reception was correct. No one would have called it warm.  Even in death Cory would bar authoritarianism.

That procession in the rain was Cory’s last duty of state; the final act in the public drama. It was also, to those who understood it, the concluding chapter in a love story. At the end of the cortege was a relatively modest grave, no grander than that which a successful small businessman might have, dug beside the spot where Ninoy lay. It was where she wanted to go. When she first learned she had colon cancer more than a year ago, Aquino told her family she would refuse aggressive treatment. Her time, she said, had come. Her daughter Kris related how, when end was near, she was called back into the room by a nurse from the corridor, where she had stepped out to drink some coffee. Cory bade her daughter bend and said, “I can see him now. Your father is holding out his hand to me.” Dylan Thomas wrote of grave men “near death, who see with blinding sight”; of those on their deathbeds who, perhaps from the effects medication, their last delirium or that blinding sight see before them those to whom they would come. Underneath the story of the People Power revolution was also a story of a woman who avenged her husband and reached out to him at the last across the gulf of death with the frail hand of love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 PM | Permalink

Funeral Home Horror

NYC Family Sues Over Funeral Home Horror

Bronx Business Accused Of Doing The Unspeakable After Man Has Holes In Head, Flies Buzzing On Body During Viewing

The La Paz Funeral Home in the Bronx is being sued after a family said it did little to prepare a loved one's body for a viewing following an autopsy.

The viewing at La Paz Funeral Home on East 149th Street near Lincoln Hospital was delayed because of problems preparing the body. When the mourners filed in they weren't prepared for what they saw.

Tears filled William Maldonado Jr.'s eyes as he described the condition of his younger brother's corpse.

"Bleeding," he said. "There were exposed wires, there were flies going in and out of the wound."

In fact, by the end of the funeral the flies buzzing around the body's open wound became so persistent the funeral home placed a white veil over the corpse's head to protect it.
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The crux of the lawsuit is that funeral homes are bound under long-standing common law to protect grieving families from such horrors.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Chapel of Our Lady of Hope

Several years before he died, Bob Hope converted to Catholicism.  McNamara's Blog reports

Before his death, the Hopes funded the building of a new chapel at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. The name of the chapel? Our Lady of Hope!

In 1994 the Washington Post announced:

A new chapel donated by Bob Hope and his wife, Dolores, will be consecrated tomorrow at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The chapel was given in memory of Hope's mother, Avis Townes Hope, and honors Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain, France. Devotion to Our Lady of Hope began with four children in Pontmain who saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary in January 1871, as Prussian troops approached the town. They said she told them, "Pray, my children. God will soon grant your request."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2009

Corazon "Cory" Aquino, R.I.P.

London Times

Corazon Aquino was propelled into office as President of the Philippines in an extraordinary sequence of events which began with the assassination of her husband and culminated in the unceremonious ejection of a military dictatorship.

In 1986 the country’s ruler, Ferdinand Marcos, declared himself winner of the general election, but the contest had been so obviously rigged that a wave of what was called “people power” swept him into exile. Four US Air Force helicopters spirited Marcos and his wife, Imelda, out of their impoverished country after 20 years of dictatorship during which she famously accumulated 2,700 pairs of expensive shoes.

Into office in their place came Mrs Aquino, a slight, bespectacled mother of five who had been widowed when her husband, Benigno, was shot dead in broad daylight at an airport ringed by Marcos’s troops. The killing spelt the beginning of the end for the Marcos regime. Many in Washington and elsewhere had backed him, despite his trademark brutality and corruption, because he seemed a bulwark against communism.
Into office in their place came Mrs Aquino, a slight, bespectacled mother of five who had been widowed when her husband, Benigno, was shot dead in broad daylight at an airport ringed by Marcos’s troops. The killing spelt the beginning of the end for the Marcos regime. Many in Washington and elsewhere had backed him, despite his trademark brutality and corruption, because he seemed a bulwark against communism.

But the public murder of a political rival sealed his fate. Mrs Aquino’s coming to power was greeted with huge international approval, but her term in office would turn out to be beset with difficulties, both for her country and for herself. The first woman President of the Philippines, she inherited a political and economic mess which she called the “basket case of South-East Asia”. When she left office in 1992 few of the high hopes she raised had been fulfilled. Yet she had the satisfaction of achieving a peaceful handover of power to an elected successor, no mean feat in a country which had little enough experience of democracy.

Cory Aquino Madame-President
Madame President - Time magazine

Richard Fernandez

And the most incredible aspect of it was that at the center of this gift was not an atom bomb, but an ordinary woman. A woman who had until then remained almost invisible within her husband’s shadow; whose deepest beliefs would laughed to scorn in any fashionable salon. Yet she was the real thing. Fearless beyond measure, honest in the way that only a person who really believes in honesty can be. Cory had the power to awe not only the simple, but the cynical: the simple because she was like them, only greater; and the cynical because she was unlike them and yet still greater.

Philippines President Arroyo said, "The nation lost a national treasure. An icon of democracy."

Time magazine People Power's Philippine Saint: Corazon Aquino

Midnight always threatened Aquino but never struck; and she was a good woman whose goodness alone, at the very end, was what proved enough, if only by an iota, to save her country.
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Benigno Aquino,  returned to the Philippines after three years of exile in the U.S. only to be shot dead even before he could set foot on the tarmac of Manila's international airport. Filipinos were outraged, and suspicion immediately fell on Marcos. At Benigno's funeral, mourners transformed Corazon into a symbol.

Cory Aquino Obit 03
The Martyr's Wife - Time

The devout and stoic Roman Catholic widow became the incarnation of a pious nation that had itself suffered silently through more than a decade of autocratic rule. Millions lined the funeral route and repeated her nickname as if saying the rosary: "Cory, Cory, Cory."
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But it would be nearly three years before she would learn to take advantage of her power. Instead, she concentrated on the fractious opposition, using her moral influence to help it choose a leader to oppose Marcos.

 Woman Of The Year Time

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 PM | Permalink

Leszek Kolakowski, R.I.P.

“We learn history not in order to know how to behave or how to succeed, but to know who we are.”

Leszek Kolakowski, Jefferson Lecture 1986

 Leszek Kolakowski 2

The Economist

HIS life was learning—about history, about his times, about himself. Like some other erstwhile true believers, he became one of most cogent critics of his former faith. Having spent his youthful years as an ardent communist and atheist, Leszek Kolakowski, one of the great minds of the modern era, turned into Marxism’s most perceptive opponent, and one with a profound respect for religion.

His intellectual life started in the misery of Nazi-occupied Poland—he had to study in secret, mostly alone—and finished in one of the nicest places imaginable: Oxford’s All Souls College. In a university tailor-made for gifted misfits, Mr Kolakowski was happy: he was left alone to read, write, and, less often, talk. All Souls provided a glorious academic retreat: the only obligation is to dine there regularly. His distinctive hat, craggy features, idiosyncratic English and perspex walking stick established him as a landmark even in a city studded with oddities and treasures.

London Telegraph

Leszek Kolakowski, the Polish-born philosopher who died on Friday aged 81, began as an orthodox Marxist but moved towards "Marxist humanism" in the 1950s and 1960s, and was closely involved in the movement towards liberation that led, in 1956, to Poland's brief "October dawn"; later dismissed from the Communist Party, in 1968 he moved to the West, where he became a trenchant critic of Communism and its western apologists.
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In an article published in 1975, he observed that the experience of Communism had shown that "the only universal medicine (Marxists) have for social evils – State ownership of the means of production – is not only perfectly compatible with all the disasters of the capitalist world – with exploitation, imperialism, pollution, misery, economic waste, national hatred and national oppression, but it adds to them a series of disasters of its own: inefficiency, lack of economic incentives and above all the unrestricted rule of the omnipresent bureaucracy, a concentration of power never before known in human history".

 Leszek Kolakowski

New York Times

Leszek Kolakowski, a Polish philosopher who rejected Marxism and helped inspire the Solidarity movement in his native land while living in exile, died Friday in Oxford, England. He was 81.
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Early in his life he embraced Communism as a reaction to the destruction inflicted upon his country by Nazism, greeting the Red Army as liberators after years of German oppression. But a trip to Moscow intended as a reward for promising young Marxist intellectuals proved instead to be a turning point, exposing for him what he described as “the enormity of material and spiritual desolation caused by the Stalinist system.”
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His most influential work, the three-volume “Main Currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution,” published in the 1970s, was a history and critique that called the philosophy “the greatest fantasy of our century.” He argued that Stalinism was not a perversion of Marxist thought, but rather its natural conclusion.
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Mr. Kolakowski published more than 30 books in a career spanning more than five decades. He was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest honor, and the MacArthur Foundation fellowship known widely as the genius grant.

In 2003 he became the first recipient of the United States Library of Congress’s $1 million John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities and Social Sciences, given in fields where there are no Nobel Prizes. In announcing the prize, James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, noted not only Mr. Kolakowski’s scholarship but also his “demonstrable importance to major political events in his own time,” adding that “his voice was fundamental for the fate of Poland, and influential in Europe as a whole.”

George Weigel

Just as unforgettable, though, was the walk I took with Leszek the next day. A kind of tent city had been set up at one end of Red Square, full of poor people from the countryside who had come to Moscow to ask for redress of their various grievances, many of which were displayed on crudely fashioned homemade posters. The exquisite sensitivity with which the great philosophical pathologist of Marxism engaged one after another of these sad souls -- listening carefully, offering words of encouragement -- bespoke a decency and a capacity for human solidarity that was nothing short of inspiring.
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Another colleague and I decided to spend a few free hours exploring the Kremlin, and we enlisted as guide and translator a bright young Russian who had been hanging around the hotel lobby, obviously looking to practice his English. He took us to one of the newly restored cathedrals inside the Kremlin walls, where we soon found ourselves standing before a brilliant fresco of the Last Supper. There was no doubt that it was the Last Supper; it couldn't have been anything else. Yet this obviously intelligent young Russian looked at us and said, "Please tell me: who are those men and what are they doing?"

That was what 70 years of Marxism had done to a generation: it had lobotomized them culturally. Leszek Kolakowski's philosophical project was a long, rigorous, deeply humane protest against that kind of spiritual vandalism. Kolakowski knew that European civilization was built on the foundations of biblical religion, Greek philosophy, and Roman law. It was built, that is, on the conviction that life is not just one damn thing after another; a robust confidence in the human capacity to get to the truth of things; and a settled determination to order societies by means other than sheer coercion. Leszek Kolakowski's defense of the civilization of the West against the barbarism he was convinced was inherent in the Marxist enterprise was an impressive intellectual accomplishment. It was also the accomplishment of a noble soul.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 PM | Permalink