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Apr 4th, 2010

Dozens Killed Near Baghdad Embassies

Three car bombs slay at least 42, injure more than 200

People leave a building destroyed by a car bomb attack near the Egyptian Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, April 4, 2010. Several Iraqi guards were killed in the attack near the Egyptian consulate, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said. (Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP)

Reuters and The Associated Press via
April 4, 2010

BAGHDAD — Suicide attackers detonated three car bombs near embassies in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 42 people and wounding more than 200 in back-to-back bombings. Authorities said they foiled two other attacks aimed at diplomatic targets.

The bombings came two days after Sunday’s blasts come two days after a chilling execution-style attack by gunmen who raided homes south of Baghdad, killing 24 people, many of them believed to be anti-al-Qaida fighters. …

Sunday’s blasts went off within minutes of each other — one near the Iranian Embassy and two others in an area that houses several embassies, including the Egyptian Consulate, and the German and Spanish embassies, said Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for the city’s operations command center. …

The carnage might have been worse. Officials say they thwarted two additional attacks.

Security forces shot and killed a man wearing a suicide belt in a fourth bomb-rigged car near the former German embassy, which is now a bank in the capital’s Karrada district, home to several other diplomatic missions, al-Moussawi said.

Another senior Iraqi security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a fifth bomber was captured on his way to the Mansour area where two of the explosions occurred. …

Sunday’s coordinated blasts were the deadliest in the capital since suicide bombers attacked three Baghdad hotels favored by Western journalists on Jan. 25, killing at least 41 and wounded more than 100. …

The March 7 parliamentary elections failed to give any candidate a decisive win, and many fear a drawn-out political debate could spill over into violence and complicate American efforts to speed up troop withdrawals in the coming months.

Sunday’s explosions occurred shortly before 11:30 a.m. after a number of far smaller blasts overnight and early Sunday. One of those earlier blasts, believed to be caused by a bomb underneath a parked car, killed one civilian and injured nine others, according to police.


Deadly car bombs highlight Iraq’s fragility (NBC Nightly News, April 4, 2010) — Officials say diplomats were the targets of the attacks that killed at least 42, but it was ordinary Iraqis who suffered the most. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports. (02:01)


4/6/10 Update

Series of Baghdad Blasts Kills Dozens

Five bombs kill at least 49, injure more than 160

Image: Onlookers and resecue teams gather at the scene of a massive blast in central Baghdad
Onlookers and rescue teams gather at the scene of a massive blast which targeted a restaurant in the center of Baghdad on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. (Photo credit: Ali al-Saadi / AFP — Getty Images)

April 6, 2010

BAGHDAD — At least five bombs ripped through apartment buildings across Baghdad Tuesday and another struck a market, killing 49 people and wounding more than 160, authorities said.

Iraqi officials blamed al-Qaida in Iraq insurgents for the violence —the latest sign the country’s fragile security is dissolving in the chaos of the unresolved election.

It was the fourth set of attacks with multiple casualties across Iraq in five days, a spate of violence that has claimed more than 100 lives. Attacks have spiked as political leaders scramble to secure enough support to form a government after the March 7 elections failed to produce a clear winner. …

Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman for Baghdad’s operations command center, said the attackers detonated blasts using homemade bombs and, in one case, a car packed with explosives. He said there were at least seven blasts; the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said there were five. …

Image: Smoke billows in the sky over Baghdad following a large explosion
Ali al-Saadi / AFP — Getty Images
Smoke billows in the sky over Baghdad following a large explosion which rocked the center of the Iraqi capital.

The explosions started at about 9:30 a.m. at a residential building in the Shula area of northwest Baghdad. Then a car bomb struck in an intersection about a mile away, damaging nearby buildings, police and hospital officials said. …

A few minutes later, at 9:45 a.m. a bomb left in a plastic bag exploded at a restaurant in the Allawi district downtown, near the government’s Culture Ministry. Dozens of people gathered at the bomb site in the hours after the explosion, digging through bricks in the hopes of finding survivors.

Several hours later, a parked car bomb exploded in a market, killing six civilians, a police officer said. …

On Monday, a Shiite couple and four of their children were gunned down in their home outside Baghdad, while more than 40 were killed Sunday after suicide attackers detonated three car bombs near embassies in Baghdad. On Friday, gunmen went house-to-house in a Sunni area south of Baghdad, killing 24 villagers execution-style. …



Cardinal Condemns ‘Gossip’ at Easter Mass

Pontiff maintains his silence on mounting sex abuse scandal during address

Image: Pope Benedict XVI (R seat) listens to the speech of Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Pope Benedict XVI, right, seated, listens to the speech of Cardinal Angelo Sodano during the celebration of Easter mass on Sunday at St. Peter’s square at the Vatican. Sodano’s ringing tribute marks an unusual departure from the Vatican’s Easter rituals. (Photo credit: Alberto Pizzoli / AFP — Getty Images)

Reuters and The Associated Press via
April 4, 2010

VATICAN CITY — A senior cardinal defended Pope Benedict XVI from “petty gossip” on Sunday as the pontiff maintained his silence on mounting sex abuse cover-up accusations during his Easter message.

The ringing tribute by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, at the start of Mass attended by tens of thousands of faithful in St. Peter’s Square, marked an unusual departure from the Vatican’s Easter rituals. …

The change of protocol underscored just how much the Vatican is feeling the pressure from the growing sex-abuse scandal and possible cover-up that have inched closer to the pope himself.

Dressed in gold robes and shielded from a cool drizzle by a canopy, Benedict looked weary as he listened to Sodano’s speech at the start of Mass in the cobblestone square bedecked with daffodils, tulips and azaleas. …

Later, the pope did not mention the scandal in his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) address, which touched on a series of world problems.

‘Trials and sufferings’

Benedict singled out the “trials and sufferings” of Christians in Iraq and Pakistan, noting that these believers have risked persecution and death for their faith. He urged hope for the people of Haiti and Chile, devastated by earthquakes. He said Easter could “signal the victory of peaceful coexistence and respect” in crime-ravaged areas of Latin American countries plagued by drug trafficking and said he would pray for peace in the Middle East.

But, despite repeated appeals by victims of clerical sexual abuse that he take responsibility for his role in the handling of pedophile priests, he stayed silent on that issue. The victims contend there were decades of systematic cover-up by bishops in many countries, including the United States, Ireland and Benedict’s native Germany. …

The accusations against the pope stem from his leadership as archbishop of Munich before he came to the Vatican three decades ago, as well as his long tenure in Rome of the Holy See’s office dealing with a growing pile of dossiers about pedophile priests.

“Victims are seeking consolation and healing and should not be insulted and told that our speaking out is petty gossip,” said Barbara Blaine, a leader of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). …



Image: Pope Benedict XVI holds a cross
Pope Benedict XVI
AFP — Getty Images

Easter 2010

Cantemus Domino: gloriose enim magnificatus est.
“Let us sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!”
(Liturgy of the Hours, Easter, Office of Readings, Antiphon 1)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I bring you the Easter proclamation in these words of the Liturgy, which echo the ancient hymn of praise sung by the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea. It is recounted in the Book of Exodus (cf. 15:19-21) that when they had crossed the sea on dry land, and saw the Egyptians submerged by the waters, Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, and the other women sang and danced to this song of joy: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed wonderfully: horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!”

Christians throughout the world repeat this canticle at the Easter Vigil, and a special prayer explains its meaning; a prayer that now, in the full light of the resurrection, we joyfully make our own: “Father, even today we see the wonders of the miracles you worked long ago. You once saved a single nation from slavery, and now you offer that salvation to all through baptism. May the peoples of the world become true sons of Abraham and prove worthy of the heritage of Israel.”

The Gospel has revealed to us the fulfilment of the ancient figures: in his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has freed us from the radical slavery of sin and opened for us the way towards the promised land, the Kingdom of God, the universal Kingdom of justice, love and peace. This “exodus” takes place first of all within man himself, and it consists in a new birth in the Holy Spirit, the effect of the baptism that Christ has given us in his Paschal Mystery. The old man yields his place to the new man; the old life is left behind, and a new life can begin (cf. Rom 6:4). But this spiritual “exodus” is the beginning of an integral liberation, capable of renewing us in every dimension — human, personal and social.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, Easter is the true salvation of humanity! If Christ — the Lamb of God — had not poured out his blood for us, we would be without hope, our destiny and the destiny of the whole world would inevitably be death. But Easter has reversed that trend: Christ’s resurrection is a new creation, like a graft that can regenerate the whole plant. It is an event that has profoundly changed the course of history, tipping the scales once and for all on the side of good, of life, of pardon. We are free, we are saved!  Hence from deep within our hearts we cry out: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”

The Christian people, having emerged from the waters of baptism, is sent out to the whole world to bear witness to this salvation, to bring to all people the fruit of Easter, which consists in a new life, freed from sin and restored to its original beauty, to its goodness and truth. Continually, in the course of two thousand years, Christians — especially saints — have made history fruitful with their lived experience of Easter.

The Church is the people of the Exodus, because she constantly lives the Paschal Mystery and disseminates its renewing power in every time and place. In our days too, humanity needs an “exodus,” not just superficial adjustment, but a spiritual and moral conversion. It needs the salvation of the Gospel, so as to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences.

I pray to the Lord Jesus that in the Middle East, and especially in the land sanctified by his death and resurrection, the peoples will accomplish a true and definitive “exodus” from war and violence to peace and concord. To the Christian communities who are experiencing trials and sufferings, especially in Iraq, the Risen Lord repeats those consoling and encouraging words that he addressed to the Apostles in the Upper Room: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:21).

For the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that are seeing a dangerous resurgence of crimes linked to drug trafficking, let Easter signal the victory of peaceful coexistence and respect for the common good. May the beloved people of Haiti, devastated by the appalling tragedy of the earthquake, accomplish their own “exodus” from mourning and from despair to a new hope, supported by international solidarity. May the beloved citizens of Chile, who have had to endure another grave catastrophe, set about the task of reconstruction with tenacity, supported by their faith.

In the strength of the risen Jesus, may the conflicts in Africa come to an end, conflicts which continue to cause destruction and suffering, and may peace and reconciliation be attained, as guarantees of development. In particular I entrust to the Lord the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria.

May the Risen Lord sustain the Christians who suffer persecution and even death for their faith, as for example in Pakistan. To the countries afflicted by terrorism and by social and religious discrimination, may He grant the strength to undertake the work of building dialogue and serene coexistence.

To the leaders of nations, may Easter bring light and strength, so that economic and financial activity may finally be driven by the criteria of truth, justice and fraternal aid. May the saving power of Christs resurrection fill all of humanity, so that it may overcome the multiple tragic expressions of a “culture of death” which are becoming increasingly widespread, so as to build a future of love and truth in which every human life is respected and welcomed.

Dear brothers and sisters, Easter does not work magic. Just as the Israelites found the desert awaiting them on the far side of the Red Sea, so the Church, after the resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish. And yet, this history is changed, it is marked by a new and eternal covenant, it is truly open to the future. For this reason, saved by hope, let us continue our pilgrimage, bearing in our hearts the song that is ancient and yet ever new: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”

© Copyright 2010 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 4, 2009

Bachmann Climate Change Forum

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I provided an update on the security situation in North Korea and reported that Rep. Michele Bachmann announced forums in St. Cloud and Woodbury to debunk global climate change and President Obama’s proposed carbon “cap and tax” plans, featuring Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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