Quondam Paupere: the life and death of Father Francis Van Der Lugt SJ

On Monday, 7 April 2014, a man of God, a Dutch priest, Father Francis Van Der Lugt SJ, was dragged from his house, beaten and murdered. 


Citing Mitchell Prothero of McClatchy:  to Father Francis Van Der Lugt, 75, a Dutch Jesuit priest, came to Syria in 1966 and eventually founded a home for children and adults with mental disabilities outside Homs, where he lived before the three-year-old civil war started. After fighting began, he relocated to the rebel-held neighborhood of Bustan al Diwan in Homs Old City, where he worked with refugees and civilians during the more than two-year-old siege by regime forces.


In a statement, a spokesman for the Jesuit order spoke of Van Der Lugt’s dedication to sharing the suffering of the ordinary citizens he’d lived alongside for more than 40 years.

He “died as a man of peace, who with great courage in an extremely dangerous and difficult situation wanted to remain faithful to the Syrian people to whom he had dedicated so many years of his life and spiritual service,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “Where people die, their faithful shepherds also die with them. In this time of great sorrow, we express our participation in prayer, but also great pride and gratitude for having had a brother so close to the most suffering in the testimony of the love of Jesus to the end.”



Microfinance for the poor gets legitimate.

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Big news here.  The Reserve Bank has finally accepted that microfinance companies are not all scamsters and corrupt.


In the last round of granting licences to form a bank 10 years ago, only two relative unknowns made the cut.  This time, most of the large corporates made bids, all of which were rejected.


Still deluded after all the intervention in AfPak.

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So the NYT has an extensive article about how Osama bin Laden was deliberately protected by the ISI, with the full knowledge of the State.


The mystery of MH370 deepens and Ukraine worsens

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Not only is it becoming ever more clear that Flight MH370 was hijacked by either the flight crew or some passengers or both, we now know that the 777 was in the air for over seven hours.


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It's looking more and more likely that Flight MH370 was deliberately flown way off course, crossing waypoints in the direction of the Andaman Islands near India.

Military radar data suggests a Malaysia Airlines jetliner missing for nearly a week was deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course, heightening suspicions of foul play among investigators, sources told Reuters on Friday.

Where's the Boeing 777? Open Thread

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Terrorists?  Chinese missile?  Russian missile (misfire from Sevastopol)?  North Korean test?  Satellite debris on re-entry?




The E-weapon pea shooter

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I'm presuming that Crimea is already lost.

Because its gets almost a third of its natural gas from Russia, the EU does not have economic leverage against the Putin regime for his invasion of Crimea because Russia has a significant energy weapon. The Russian government has control over its natural gas industry and Putin has the ability to control the supply and price of natural gas. In this I generally agree.

Hillary has a point

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Yesterday, Hillary said the following with respect to the present Crimean unpleasantness.

Putin's alternate view of reality [Updated]

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There are really only two interpretations of Putin's remarks last night, the less charitable (he's lying) and the more charitable (he's delusional). The international community's response, most notably expressed by Merkel, is the latter.

Even more Ukraine [Update: Crimea river]

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I sort of agree with Spengler. There isn't going to be a war over Ukraine. Putin will get his way and there's not a lot the U.S. can do about it.

More Ukraine [With a Bonus Edition!]

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Events are moving right along.

Today, Obama had a 90-minute conversation with Putin. Obama's proposals sounded reasonable but the key phrase is "Putin gave little ground..."

Does sport addle the brain?

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I really don't get it.  


Let us consider any modern collective human activity - if more than 20 presumably fit young men performing physical labour die every month,  (die, that is, not be disabled or be otherwise unable to carry on) - would we be able to suggest that this was a normal state of affairs and get away with it?

Double WAMI

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Juan Cole has a recap on the recent violence in Iraq, calling it a "Sunni civil war". Yes, al-Maliki has behaved like a dick toward the Sunni population, but the militant activity would not have occurred as it did without the civil war in Syria. The prime actor in the civil unrest in Iraq is a group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. By its own proclamations, ISIS is affiliated with al Qaeda.

The State of the al Qaeda Union

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David Gartenstein-Ross has a recap on how al Qaeda fared in 2013. In a nutshell, it fared pretty well although hard numbers are hard to come by. A complicating factor is the number of militant Islamist groups not named al Qaeda but share the same ideology and tactics.

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