China orders journalists to ‘master Marxist news values’ in new guidelines


No matter your thoughts about the freedom, accuracy, and slants of news media, here is what Chinese in the south of China had to read on August 30, 2014 as published by The South China Post.

Fr. Orthohippo

All China Journalists’ Association publishes new list of rules in latest round of party’s crackdown on media

 
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 5:25pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 5:28pm
 
 

China today ordered its journalists to learn “Marxist news values” and uphold the principles of news as prescribed by the ruling Communist Party – the latest step in President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on the media.

The guidelines by the All China Journalists’ Association, published by state news agency Xinhua, are aimed at both traditional and online media.

The guidelines are another sign of Xi’s politically conservative agenda.

The association said journalists “must learn to master Marxist news values”.

“Let us hold high the banner of socialist core values,” the report said, using the party’s term for orthodox beliefs.

Xi has espoused old school Maoism as he seeks to court powerful conservative elements in the party. Like many officials before him, Xi is steeped in the party’s long-held belief that loosening control too quickly or even at all could lead to chaos and the break up of the country.

In July, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said the government would toughen curbs on journalists disclosing state and commercial secrets.

Early this year, Chinese journalists also had to pass a new ideology exam to keep their press cards. They were required to do a minimum 18 hours of training on topics including Marxist news values and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

Some reporters and academics trace the start of the tougher attitude on media to a strike in January 2013 by journalists at the outspoken Southern Weekly newspaper. Photo: NYT

It was the first time reporters have been required to take such a test en masse, state media said.

The exam would be based on a 700-page manual being sold in bookshops. The manual is peppered with directives such as “it is absolutely not permitted for published reports to feature any comments that go against the party line” and “the relationship between the party and the news media is one of leader and the led”.

Chinese state media has traditionally been the main vehicle for party propaganda. Reforms over the past decade that have allowed greater media commercialisation and limited increases in editorial independence – which, combined with the rise of social media, have loosened the party’s grip slightly, academics said.

China media watchers point to a flurry of editorials after Xi spoke to propaganda officials in August as evidence of concern within the party that control over public discourse was slipping.

The official Beijing Daily described the party’s struggle to win hearts and minds as a “fight to the death”.

Some reporters and academics, however, trace the start of the tougher attitude on media to a strike lasting several days in January 2013 by journalists at an outspoken newspaper, the Southern Weekly, after censors scrapped a New Year editorial calling for China to enshrine constitutional rights. Xi had taken over the Communist Party only several weeks earlier.

The strike ended after local propaganda officials promised to take a lighter hand with censorship.

In August last year, the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department announced the rule that the nation’s more than 300,000 reporters, producers and editors would soon have to sit through at least two days of Marxism classes, to promote “ideological unity”, the Post reported.

Journalists reacted with apathy to the announcement at the time. “I’ve studied Marxism for so many years, the more I study it, the less I understand it,” one Beijing-based journalist said.

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Supersonic submarine


SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes by Chinese supersonic submarine

 

Chinese eye ‘supercavitation’ technology as future of underwater travel

 
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 August, 2014, 5:22am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 August, 2014, 5:22am
 

China has moved a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.

New technology developed by a team of scientists at Harbin Institute of Technology’s Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab has made it easier for a submarine, or torpedo, to travel at extremely high speeds underwater.

Li Fengchen, professor of fluid machinery and engineering, said the team’s innovative approach meant they could now create the complicated air “bubble” required for rapid underwater travel. “We are very excited by its potential,” he said.

Water produces more friction, or drag, on an object than air, which means conventional submarines cannot travel as fast as an aircraft.

However, during the cold war, the Soviet military developed a technology called supercavitation, which involves enveloping a submerged vessel inside an air bubble to avoid problems caused by water drag.

A Soviet supercavitation torpedo called Shakval was able to reach a speed of 370km/h or more – much faster than any other conventional torpedoes.

In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h, which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001.

However, supercavitation technology has faced two major problems. First, the submerged vessel has needed to be launched at high speeds, approaching 100km/h, to generate and maintain the air bubble.

Second, it is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to steer the vessel using conventional mechanisms, such as a rudder, which are inside the bubble without any direct contact with water.

As a result, its application has been limited to unmanned vessels, such as torpedoes, but nearly all of these torpedoes were fired in a straight line because they had limited ability to turn.

Li said the team of Chinese scientists had found an innovative means of addressing both problems.

Once in the water, the team’s supercavitation vessel would constantly “shower” a special liquid membrane on its own surface. Although this membrane would be worn off by water, in the meantime it could significantly reduce the water drag on the vessel at low speed.

After its speed had reached 75km/h or more the vessel would enter the supercavitation state. The man-made liquid membrane on the vessel surface could help with steering because, with precise control, different levels of friction could be created on different parts of the vessel.

“Our method is different from any other approach, such as vector propulsion,” or thrust created by an engine, Li said. “By combining liquid-membrane technology with supercavitation, we can significantly reduce the launch challenges and make cruising control easier.”

However, Li said many problems still needed to be solved before supersonic submarine travel became feasible. Besides the control issue, a powerful underwater rocket engine still had to be developed to give the vessel a longer range. The effective range of the Russian supercavitation torpedoes, for example, was only between 11 km and 15 km.

Li said the supercavitation technology was not limited only to military use. In future, it could benefit civilian underwater transport, or water sports such as swimming.

“If a swimsuit can create and hold many tiny bubbles in water, it can significantly reduce the water drag; swimming in water could be as effortless as flying in the sky,” he said.

Besides Russia, countries such as Germany, Iran and the United States have been developing vessels or weapons using supercavitation technology.

Professor Wang Guoyu, the head of the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at Beijing Institute of Technology who is leading another state-funded research project on supercavitation, said the global research community had been troubled for decades by the lack of innovative ideas to address the huge scientific and engineering challenges.

“The size of the bubble is difficult to control, and the vessel is almost impossible to steer,” he said. While cruising at high speed during supercavitation, a fin could be snapped off if it touched the water because of the liquid’s far greater density.

Despite many scientists worldwide working on similar projects, the latest progress remains unclear because they are regarded as military secrets.

Wang, a member of the water armament committee of the China Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, said even he had been kept in the dark about recent supercavitation developments in China.

“The primary drive still comes from the military, so most research projects are shrouded in secrecy,” he said.

 
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THIS GROUP PREDATES ISIL AND HAS, IN BRUTALITY AND PRACTICE, SET AN EXAMPLE FOR IS, NOW ESTABLISHES THE REAL CALIPHATE. THERE SHOULD ONLY BE ONE CALIPHATE


Nigeria: Boko Haram claims it is Islamic Caliphate

Boko Haram, Nigeria’s Islamic extremist rebel group, said it controls the northeastern city of Gwoza and has added it to an Islamic state that it claims it has established in Nigeria.

Gwoza, in Borno state, is now part of its “Islamic Caliphate” asserted Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a video seen on Sunday.

“We are grateful to god for the big victory he granted our members in Gwoza and made the town part of our Islamic Caliphate,” Shekau said in the video.

But Nigeria’s army said on Twitter: “That claim is empty … the Nigerian state is still intact.”

President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states in May last year, saying the militants had taken over parts of Borno state, Boko Haram’s birthplace.

After the emergency was imposed, the military seemed to be gaining control of parts of the northeast, killing militants and sending them fleeing into neighboring states. But Boko Haram’s violent attacks have increased, killing thousands this year.

A Nigerian military official, who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, on Monday confirmed that soldiers fighting Boko Haram in the town of Gamboru Ngala, on the border with Cameroon, were forced to flee into Cameroonian territory.

“The fight in Gamboru-Ngala is still ongoing; and our men are living up to their bid; that is all I can say for now,” said the official. He couldn’t give more details on the clash.

More than 4,000 people — mostly civilians — have been killed this year alone in the conflict, including in attacks by Boko Haram and in responses by the security forces, Amnesty International said on Aug. 5. This compares to an estimated 3,600 people killed in the first four years of the Islamic extremist insurgency.

Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram began in 2009 but took the international spotlight in mid-April when the militants kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls, who still remain captive.

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China to Pope Francis: Don’t ‘interfere’ with religion


 

Vatican City

942366_454801584603389_1892622825_nChina has reacted cautiously to a bid by Pope Francis to open new dialogue with Beijing, with some officials quick to warn the Vatican not to “interfere” with the country’s religion.

On his return flight from a five-day tour of South Korea, Francis said he was ready to go to China — “For sure! Tomorrow!” — after receiving a positive response to two goodwill telegrams he sent to President Xi Jinping as the pope flew over Chinese airspace.

“We respect the Chinese people,” Francis told journalists on the return flight Monday. “The church only asks for liberty for its task, for its work.”

That is still a huge challenge, as the Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with China since 1951. The Catholic church in China is divided between an “official” church known as the Catholic Patriotic Association, answerable to the Communist Party, and an underground church that swears allegiance to Rome.

The state-run Catholic Patriotic Association was quick to respond to the pope’s overtures for greater dialogue, albeit with a warning.

winter sun on frozen woods,  lake“China will always safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and it never allows foreign forces to interfere with religion. The Vatican should respect China in terms of the personnel of a diocese,” Liu Yuanlong, vice president of the association, told the state-run Global Times in a report also published in English.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is unhappy with the Vatican’s diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, while the Vatican is unhappy with Beijing’s strict control of religious institutions, particularly the appointment of bishops.

Zhuo Xinping, director of the Institute of World Religions at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told another state-run outlet, China Daily, that he welcomed the pope’s move, saying Francis had been active in improving Vatican ties with Beijing since he was elected in March 2013.

Zhuo described the 77-year-old Argentine pontiff as “a friend of developing economies” with “special feelings” for people in those countries due to his Latin American origins.

 
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The Ancient Mass in the “House Churches” was not as Informal as Many Think


dura_church_diagramAs you may know, the Catholic Faith was illegal in the Roman Empire prior to 313 AD, when the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan permitting the Christian Faith to flourish publicly. Prior to that time, Church buildings as we know them today were rare—Mass was usually celebrated in houses.

Now be careful here; these “houses” were usually rather sizable, with a central courtyard or large room that permitted something a little more formal than Mass “around the dining room table.”  I remember being taught (incorrectly) that these early Masses were informal, emphasized a relaxed, communal quality, and were celebrated facing the people. Well, it turns out that really isn’t true. People didn’t just sit around a table or sit in circle—not at all. They sat or stood formally, and everyone faced in one direction: east.

In the drawing  (to the right) you can see the layout of an ancient house church (actually more often called a Domus Dei (House of God)) drawn based on an excavated 3rd century house church in Dura-Europos (located in what is now today’s Syria). Click on the diagram for a clearer view. The assembly room is to the left and a priest or bishop is depicted conducting a liturgy (facing east) at an altar against the east wall. A baptistery is on the right and a deacon is depicted guarding the entrance door. The lonely-looking deacon in the back of the assembly hall is there to “preserve good order,” as you will read below. The photograph below shows the baptistery of the Dura-Europos house church.

What is remarkable about these early liturgies is how formal they were despite the fact that they were conducted under less-than-ideal circumstances. The following text is from the Didiscalia, a document written in about 250 AD. Among other things, it gives rather elaborate details about the celebration of the early Catholic Mass in these “house liturgies.” I have included an excerpt here and interspersed my own comments in RED. You will find that there are some rather humorous remarks in this ancient text toward the end.

Dura Europos house-churchNow, in your gatherings, in the holy Church, convene yourselves modestly in places of the brethren, as you will, in a manner pleasing and ordered with care. [So these "house liturgies" were NOT informal Masses. Good order and careful attention to detail were essential.] Let the place of the priests be separated in a part of the house that faces east. [So even in these early house Masses, the sanctuary (the place where the clergy ministered) was an area distinct from where the laity gathered. People were not all just gathered around a dining room table.] In the midst of them is placed the bishop’s chair, and with him let the priests be seated. Likewise, and in another section let the lay men be seated facing east. [Prayer was conducted facing east, not facing the people.] For thus it is proper: that the priests sit with the bishop in a part of the house to the east and after them the lay men and the lay women, [Notice that men and women sat in separate sections. This was traditional in many churches until rather recently, say the last 150 years.] and  when you stand to pray, the ecclesial leaders rise first, and after them the lay men, and again, then the women. Now, you ought to face to east to pray for, as you know, scripture has it, Give praise to God who ascends above the highest heavens to the east. [Again, note that Mass was NOT celebrated facing the people as some suppose of the early Church. Everyone was to face to the east, both clergy and laypeople. Everyone faced in the same direction. The text cites Scripture as the reason for this. God is to the east, the origin of the light.]

Now, of the deacons,

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WHEN DO YOU REALIZE YOU ARE WATCHING HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF. IT’S NOT EASY EARLY ON


 

Recently I have joined many others following the IS  actions in the Mideast. Any seminary graduate knows about the Muslim original Caliphate in history and now once more proclaimed by IS. What most people are foggy about are the original details and its implementation by some of today’s Muslims. I mean, when might it become dangerous to me?

Iraq_ISIS_Abu_Wahe_2941936b
News reports are filled with many executions by IS of persons not deemed pure enough, other Sunni Muslims, Shia and other Muslim “heretics”, non-Muslims who are all kafir, or ‘unbelivers’. As a result of their extreme fundamentalist Islamic views, IS has chosen to recognize a conversion to Islam as the only response by unbelivers as acceptable. They usually dismiss the paying of a tax and avoiding harassment or death, but will sometimes allow non-Muslims to immediately leave IS territory.

        Last weekend we happened to watch the 5 hour PBS presentation on Jewish history. What shook me up was the reports of what went on in Northern Lithuania 1941. Survivors of that year shared what had happened to them when Soviet forces invaded their country followed immediately by German Army troops who ousted the Soviets. The graphic descriptions of numerous genocide events which wiped out 740, 1220, and other smaller numbers of Jews by the Nazi forces sounded very similar to IS reports from today. German SS choices of method were different. They did not cut off heads, but were equally effective by other gruesome methods of annihilation perhaps more barbaric. It was the similarity of these separate events which got me thinking about the meaning of actions some 74 years later.

BabiYar(photo Babi Yar SS cleansing, Ukraine WWII)

IS, of course, is fueled by religious extremism. They see themselves purifying and converting the world, and have stated they expect their version of Sharia Law to rule the world. It is a religious crusade to please Allah and, of course, bring enlightenment and joy of acknowledging Allah to all. In an exceptionally short time, surprising everyone, they graduated from guerrilla forces to conventional army. Much of their heavy weapons were originally supplied by the USA to Syria and other countries and captured by IS forces.

Nazi Germany also saw itself as purifying and taking over the world. Hitler expected that eventually German rule would be the world’s rule. It was not only Jews which were eliminated. The list included the physically handicapped, homosexuals, Gypsies, various religious groups, racial groups not Aryan, and others. The Nazis often waited a brief time before including groups other the Jews. Hitler used the Jews as the source of all unfairness and difficulties which the German Volk (people) had been experiencing. So, Hitler initiated the Nazi cleansing of his territory and elimination of the problems.

If you read the expectations of the German groups targeted by their Nazi government, many believed such persecution would never happen to them in civilized, moral Germany. Such brutality was unthinkable that Germans would stoop to such levels.  What happened to criminals was what they deserved. It was the state protecting them. Some Jews thought their military service and medals would protect them. Hitler, after all, had served with a Jew in his unit in WWI.

Such similarities as these has made me wonder if we might not be observing history about to repeat itself if corrective action is not applied sooner rather than later.

Bruce cropped Fr. Orthohippo

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