Lack of Swordsmen

English: Saudi Arabia
They are progressing in Saudi Arabia. Soon they’ll join the eleventh century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes it is hard to find good people to do a difficult and demanding job. For example, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may have to resort to firing squads to execute murderers and sorcerers since there is starting to be a shortage of swordsmen to behead criminals.

Is this what progress looks like in Saudi Arabia? The kingdom is considering ending execution by beheading in favor of firing squads, reports the Egyptian English-language news website Ahram Online. A committee consisting of representatives from the Ministries of Interior, Justice and Health says there are shortages in government swordsmen and argue that a change to execution by firing squad would not violate Islamic law, the Saudi daily newspaper al-Youm writes. According to an official statement from the committee, “This solution seems practical, especially in light of shortages in official swordsmen or their belated arrival to execution yards in some incidents.”

I have to wonder, how hard can the job be? It’s not like brain surgery where precision is needed, just a stroke at the neck. It can’t be a highly skilled job or one that demands much education. I imagine that it would be desirable to behead the victim with one stroke and that might take practice. You don’t want the person executed to be just lying there screaming as the executioner whacks away over and over.

I wonder if the Saudi government provides the sword, or would you have to use your own? Do they have regular inspections to make sure the swordsmen keep their sword properly sharpened? What about laundry bills from blood spatters? Maybe they get a special uniform. It might be interesting to be able to tell people at a gathering that you are a beheader, or is this the sort of job that makes people not want to have anything to do with you?

Kidding aside, I suppose this is progress, of a sort. Personally, I am less concerned about the death penalty than Saudi standards of jurisprudence.

Execution by beheading in Saudi Arabia has continually been condemned by human-rights groups. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), at least 69 people were executed by beheading in 2012, while Amnesty International says 79 were killed under the death penalty in the same period. In 2012 HRW wrote, “Saudi Arabia has no penal code, so prosecutors and judges largely define criminal offenses at their discretion.” Rape, murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking and even suspected “sorcery” are punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s Islamic law.

The Saudi death penalty recently made headlines following the execution of Rizana Nafeek, a young Sri Lankan woman who was beheaded for the murder of her employers’ 4-month-old son. Nafeek arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2005 at age 17 but spent the next seven years in Saudi jails after the baby died under her care, writes CNN. The family of the boy believed he had been strangled by Nafeek, while she claimed he had choked on his milk. The young Sri Lankan immigrant had no access to a lawyer during her pretrial interrogation during which she said she was forced to sign a confession, notes CNN. The execution of this young woman revealed how “woefully out of step they [the Saudi justice system] are with their international obligations regarding the use of the death penalty,” said Philip Luther from Amnesty International. It highlighted how Saudi law tends to treat children as adults in criminal cases even though international law prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18, writes HRW.

I don’t mind the idea of chopping people’s heads off so much, but I would like proof beyond a reasonable doubt that they actually are guilty of a crime.

Two Revolutions

Rand Paul gives his opinion on two recent populist movements, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. I read about his comments at the Washington Examiner.

Speaking yesterday at a National Review breakfast, Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. explained what he thought about the Tea Party movement vs. the Occupy Wall Street movement, as Jon Ward reports in the Huffington Post.
“The Tea Party, I always say, is more like the American Revolution, and Occupy Wall Street is more the French Revolution,” Paul said.

Paul explained that the Tea Party looked back to the rule of law.

“We hearken back to sort of rules,” Paul said, identifying with the Tea Party. “We weren’t unhappy with people just because they were rich; we weren’t happy with you if you were making money off of our taxes and we were bailing you out. If you were making $100 million, your bank goes bankrupt and all of a sudden we bail you out and you’re still making $100 million — that upset us.”

Occupy Wall Street, Paul suggested was more of an emotional protest.

“I think Occupy Wall Street was more of a generic sort of, ‘We just hate people who have any money, and why can’t they give it to us?’ kind of thing,” he said.

I agree, though I would identify the two movements in slightly different terms, orcs vs. hobbits.

 

Pope Francis I

English: Cardinal Jorge M. Bergoglio SJ, Archb...
The New Pope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, that didn’t take long. Somehow, I thought the process of choosing the new Pope would take longer than two days. The new Pope is Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Buenos Aires, Argentina and he has taken the name Francis I. Francis is the first Pope from the New World and the first Pope from outside Europe in many centuries.

The 76-year-old – now known as Pope Francis I — was the archbishop of Buenos Aries and was appointed by Pope John Paul II.

Bergoglio became the first pope from the Americas elected and the first from outside Europe in more than a millenium.

“I thank you for this greeting you give me,” Francis told thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“Let us pray always, not just for ourselves, but for others and everyone in the world because there is a great brotherhood among us,” Francis said.

CBS News papal consultant Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo said Bergoglio “did not want to be pope.”

“This man did not expect to be pope,” Figueiredo said, adding that Bergoglio’s selection is an “incredibly courageous choice.”

The new pope, who had a lung removed when he was a teenager due to a lung infection, reportedly got the second most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election to replace Pope John Paul II. Bergoglio is the first Jesuit to become pontiff.

CBS News reports that Bergoglio is not a favorite of the Vatican curia.

“This man now has a clear mandate from 115 cardinals to come in and clear out the curia,” Monsignor Figueiredo said.

Cardinals overcame deep divisions to select Pope Francis I – the 266th pontiff — in a remarkably fast conclave.

Tens of thousands of people who braved cold rain to watch the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel jumped in joy when white smoke poured out, many shouting “Habemus Papam!” or “We have a pope!” — as the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica and churches across Rome pealed.

Chants of `’Long live the pope!” rose from the throngs of faithful, many with tears in their eyes. Crowds went wild as the Vatican appeared on the square, blaring music, followed by Swiss Guards in silver helmets and full regalia. At least 50,000 people jammed into the square.

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be Pope. It seems to be a lot of trouble to me, though maybe the job pays well. Anyway I wish the new Pope well and I hope he is successful.

By the way, why do they keep picking old men as Pope? Francis I is 76. Benedict XVI was 78 when he was made Pope. Why not a younger, more vigorous man. Maybe not as young as Benedict IX, was either 20 or 11 depending on the source, ( it was nepotism), but maybe someone in their fifties.