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Vatican embraces Oscar Wilde

In a week in which the Vatican made its peace with that dangerous consorter with witches Harry Potter, the Holy See has also revealed an unexpected soft spot for Oscar Wilde.

Earlier this week the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, which had previously described JK Rowling’s books as presenting a “vision of the world and the human being full of deep mistakes and dangerous suggestions”, praised the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince for making it clear that good must overcome evil “and that sometimes this requires costs and sacrifice”.

Despite the Catholic Church’s condemnation of practising homosexuality, the newspaper has now run a glowing review of a new book about the famously doomed lover of Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde was “one of the personalities of the 19th century who most lucidly analysed the modern world in its disturbing as well as its positive aspects”, wrote author Andrea Monda in a piece about Italian author Paolo Gulisano’s The Portrait of Oscar Wilde.

In an article headlined “When Oscar Wilde met Pius IX”, Monda wrote that Wilde was not “just a non-conformist who loved to shock the conservative society of Victorian England”; rather he was “a man who behind a mask of amorality asked himself what was just and what was mistaken, what was true and what was false”.

“Wilde was a man of great, intense feelings, who behind the lightness of his writing, behind a mask of frivolity or cynicism, hid a deep knowledge of the mysterious value of life,” he said.

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Cringe moment of the month (This must have come via inter-party memos. I doubt the Foreign Office would be so wrong): “Turning the Tide on Democratic Pessimism”: The speech David Miliband delivered at Monday’s memorial lecture.

Now that Labour knows about Marousi that fourth term is in the bag =)

But I am struck by an example from a Parliamentary system closer to home. Only one European socialist party really did well in the European elections – in Greece – is also the party that has been most radical in its institutional reforms. The changes have been profound:

opening up the party so that now over 900 000 Greeks, out of a population of 11 million, have equal rights as members or ‘friends’

tackling a macho culture with quotas for male and female representation

taking forward innovation with the use of deliberative democracy to select the PASOK candidate for an Athens municipality, and open primaries to select party candidates for local elections

promoting high standards through a Members’ Ombudsman to guard ethical standards

committing to education through an Institute for Adult Education for all officers, members and friends

improving society through Every Day a Citizen, an organization dedicated to citizen engagement

and a pre Congress dialogue with debate on the political programme in 1600 teams and committees

We need to be exploring all these ideas.

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(via @vrypan)

Find God, win a trip to Mecca (or Jerusalem, or Tibet)

t sounds like the beginning of a joke: what do you get when you put a Muslim imam, a Greek Orthodox priest, a rabbi, a Buddhist monk and 10 atheists in the same room?

Viewers of Turkish television will soon get the punchline when a new gameshow begins that offers a prize arguably greater than that offered by Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Contestants will ponder whether to believe or not to believe when they pit their godless convictions against the possibilities of a new relationship with the almighty on Penitents Compete (Tovbekarlar Yarisiyor in Turkish), to be broadcast by the Kanal T station. Four spiritual guides from the different religions will seek to convert at least one of the 10 atheists in each programme to their faith.

Those persuaded will be rewarded with a pilgrimage to the spiritual home of their newly chosen creed – Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for Christians and Jews, and Tibet for Buddhists.

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Grandmosque

To be honest

A bitter new row over ownership of the Elgin marbles has erupted, threatening to eclipse the inauguration this week of a major new museum in Athens designed to house the contested masterpieces.

Just days before the opening of the €130m (£110m) New Acropolis Museum, officials in Athens and London were this weekend engaging in barbed exchanges over the classical treasures.

The dispute, which has indirectly dragged in the Queen, the Greek-born Duke of Edinburgh, and Gordon Brown, re-erupted when Hannah Boulton, the British Museum’s spokeswoman, told an Athens radio station that it would consider a loan request from Greece provided that it acknowledged, as is customary with all borrowing institutions, that London owned the pieces. The sculptures, she said, could be displayed in the New Acropolis Museum for three or four months, “the length of time for an average loan of objects”.

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To be honest, I couldn’t care less where the marbles are. They could be on a beach in Palau (with the 17 Uyghur detainees reclining on them, I guess), or in central Lagos. Much less do I think that they are, for some reason more precious than all the other displays in the museum. Needless to say that I certainly wouldn’t dedicate my life to trying to “bring them back”, as there are some far bigger fish to fry in our brief stay on this earth. Yet I am still truly appalled by the British Museum’s all too transparent colonial mentality that says “if we had to share that would mean giving everything back”. Well, what are you waiting for?

Peled proposes Israeli sanctions on US

Charmant comme tout !

In a sign of growing concern in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government over US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies, Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled proposed Israeli sanctions on the US in a letter to cabinet ministers on Sunday.

In the 11-page letter, obtained by The Jerusalem Post from a minister on Monday, Peled recommends steps Israel can take to compensate for the shift in American policy, which he believes has become hostile to Israel.

Culte de la semaine: EU – Cringe moment of the last term: Deliberative Polling (EU) / LOL!

eustar

Fishkin‘s sales pitch has not changed for almost two decades now –why should it change if makes taxpayers money flow his way?

Citizens are often uninformed about key public issues. Conventional polls represent the public’s impressions of sound bites and headlines. Deliberative Polling® is an attempt to use public opinion research in a new and constructive way. The process is designed to tell us what conclusions the public could reach, if people had the opportunity to get together, to gain balanced information, and to become more engaged by the issues.

Read more (assuming you care that is).

And those of you who have forgotten the domestic-democracy-debauchery involving Fishkin & Co. click here and (even more embarrassing) here.