April 4, 2012

'This is a dignified end before I have to start scrounging food from the trash'

'This is a dignified end before I have to start scrounging food from the trash': Desperate man, 77, shoots himself dead outside Greek parliament during rush hour.

A cash-strapped Greek pensioner shot and killed himself outside parliament in Athens today after saying he refused to scrounge for food in the rubbish.

The public suicide by the 77-year-old retired pharmacist quickly triggered an outpouring of sympathy in a country where one in five is jobless and a sense of national humiliation has accompanied successive rounds of salary and pension cuts.

After becoming desperate at his financial plight, the Greek pensioner is said to have put a handgun to his head in the busy central Athens square before declaring, 'So I won't leave debts for my children', and pulling the trigger.

 Greek Age77 Suicide

How terribly sad.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 PM | Permalink

Human sacrifice in modern day Mexico

This is an horrific story about human sacrifice in modern day Mexico.

Cult of the 'Holy Death': Eight arrested in Mexico after woman and two 10-year-old boys are 'ritually sacrificed'

The 'Santa Muerte' (Holy Death) cult in Mexico places great importance on the dead

Eight people have been arrested in northern Mexico have over the killing of two 10-year-old boys and a woman in what appears to be ritual sacrifices.

Prosecutors in Sonora, in the north-west of the country have accused the suspects of belonging to the La Santa Muerte (Holy Death) cult.

The victims' blood has been poured round an altar to the idol, which is portrayed as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes.

The cult, which celebrates death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico in the last 20 years, and now has up to two million followers.
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Mr Larrinaga said the murders took place at a ritual during the night, lit by candles.

'They sliced open the victims' veins and, while they were still alive, they waited for them to bleed to death and collected the blood in a container,' he said.

Many of those arrested belonged to the same family, reports said.

Silvia Meraz, one of the suspects, and her son, Ramon Palacios, were allegedly leaders of the cult, according to prosecutors.  Speaking to reporters, she said: 'We all agreed to do it. Supposedly she [one of the victims] was a witch or something.'

Human sacrifice has existed from the beginning of human history.  I thought immediately of Father Barron who says in his review of The Hunger Games that as society de-Christianizes, you can expect human sacrifice to return.

Brian Greene explains Rene Girard's theory of scapegoat and sacrifice - 'something is wrong and somebody has to pay for it,'  reality-TV, and Christ's sacrifice which exposed the scapegoating ritual thus ending it in Christendom.

You can read Shirley Jackson's story of The Lottery online.  One teacher who has taught the story over 20 years noticed a disturbing change in the attitude of the students.  Archbishop Chaput writes 

A few years ago, a college writing professor, Kay Haugaard, wrote an essay about her experiences teaching “The Lottery” over a period of about two decades.

She said that in the early 1970s, students who read the story voiced shock and indignation. The tale led to vivid conversations on big topics -- the meaning of sacrifice and tradition; the dangers of group-think and blind allegiance to leaders; the demands of conscience and the consequences of cowardice.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, however, reactions began to change.

Haugaard described one classroom discussion that -- to me -- was more disturbing than the story itself. The students had nothing to say except that the story bored them. So Haugaard asked them what they thought about the villagers ritually sacrificing one of their own for the sake of the harvest.

One student, speaking in quite rational tones, argued that many cultures have traditions of human sacrifice. Another said that the stoning might have been part of “a religion of long standing,” and therefore acceptable and understandable.

An older student who worked as a nurse, also weighed in. She said that her hospital had made her take training in multicultural sensitivity. The lesson she learned was this: “If it’s a part of a person’s culture, we are taught not to judge.”
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Haugaard’s experience teaches us that it took less than a generation for this catechesis to produce a group of young adults who were unable to take a moral stand against the ritual murder of a young woman. Not because they were cowards.  But because they lost their moral vocabulary.

Haugaard’s students seemingly grew up in a culture shaped by practical atheism and moral relativism. In other words, they grew up in an environment that teaches, in many different ways, that God is irrelevant, and that good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood can’t exist in any absolute sense.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

Death by police recorded by medical alert device

Killed at home;  Killed at Home: White Plains, NY Police Called Out on Medical Alert Shoot Dead Black Veteran, 68

Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old African-American Marine veteran, was fatally shot in November by White Plains, NY, police who responded to a false alarm from his medical alert pendant. The officers broke down Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, and then shot him dead. Audio of the entire incident was recorded by the medical alert device in Chamberlain’s apartment.

We’re joined by family attorneys and Chamberlain’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., who struggles through tears to recount his father’s final moments, including the way police officers mocked his father’s past as a marine. "For them to look at my father that way, (with) no regard for his life, every morning I think about it," he says.

Condolences to his family.  May he rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink

The Astonishing Toll of the Civil War

A new analysis ups the number of the Civil War dead by 20% , an equivalent to 6.2 million deaths today.

U.S. Civil War Took Bigger Toll Than Previously Estimated, New Analysis Suggests

Historian David Hacker says

"The traditional estimate has become iconic.  It's been quoted for the last hundred years or more. If you go with that total for a minute -- 620,000 -- the number of men dying in the Civil War is more than in all other American wars from the American Revolution through the Korean War combined. And consider that the American population in 1860 was about 31 million people, about one-tenth the size it is today. If the war were fought today, the number of deaths would total 6.2 million."
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Like earlier estimates, Hacker's includes men who died in battle as well as soldiers who died as a result of poor conditions in military camps.

"Roughly two out of three men who died in the war died from disease," Hacker says. "The war took men from all over the country and brought them all together into camps that became very filthy very quickly." Deaths resulted from diarrhea, dysentery, measles, typhoid and malaria, among other illnesses.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink