Saturday, May 26, 2012
By Rev. Dick Kozelka (ret)
First Congregational Church of Minnesota
Creator of years, of centuries,
Lord of whatever is beyond time,
Maker of all species and master of all history --
How shall we speak to you
from our smallness and inconsequence?
Except that you have called us to worship you
in spirit and in truth;
You have dignified us with loves and loyalties;
You have lifted us up with your lovingkindnesses.
Therefore we are bold to come before you without groveling
[though we sometimes feel that low]
and without fear
[though we are often anxious].
We sing with spirit and pray with courage
because you have dignified us;
You have redeemed us from the aimlessness
of things' going meaninglessly well.
God, lift the hearts of those
for whom this holiday is not just diversion,
but painful memory and continued deprivation.
Bless those whose dear ones have died
needlessly, wastefully [as it seems]
in accident or misadventure.
We remember with compassion those who have died
serving their countries
in the futility of combat.
There is none of us but must come to bereavement and separation,
when all the answers we are offered
fail the question death asks of each of us.
We believe that you will provide for us
as others have been provided with the fulfillment of
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Space station astronauts floated into the Dragon on Saturday, a day after its heralded arrival as the world's first commercial supply ship.NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, the first one inside the docked capsule, said the Dragon looks like it carries about as much cargo as his pickup truck back home in Houston. It has the smell of a brand new car, he added.
"I spent quite a bit of time poking around in here this morning, just looking at the engineering and the layout, and I'm very pleased," Pettit said from the brilliant white compartment.
To protect against possible debris, Pettit wore goggles, a mask and a caver's light as he slid open the hatch of the newest addition to the International Space Station. The complex sailed 250 miles above the Tasman Sea, just west of New Zealand, as he and his crewmates made their grand entrance. The atmosphere was clean; no dirt or other particles were floating around.
"This event isn't just a simple door opening between two spacecraft — it opens the door to a future in which U.S. industry can and will deliver huge benefits for U.S. space exploration," the Space Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group, said in a statement.
The California-based SpaceX — formally Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — is the first private company to send a vessel to the space station. It's run by Elon Musk, a billionaire who helped create PayPal and founded the electric car company Tesla Motors.
Now that the space shuttles are retired, NASA is handing over orbital delivery work to American business in order to focus on bigger and better objectives, such as getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars. The space agency hopes astronaut ferry trips will follow soon; SpaceX contends its Dragons could be carrying space station astronauts up and down within three or four years.
Flight controllers were ecstatic to be at the cusp of this new commercial era.
"It's great to see you guys inside Dragon. It looks great," Mission Control radioed.
The six space station residents have until the middle of next week to unload Dragon's groceries and refill the capsule with science experiments and equipment for return to Earth. Unlike all the other cargo ships that fly to the orbiting lab, the Dragon is designed for safe re-entry. It will be freed on Thursday and aim for a Pacific splashdown.
The Dragon contains 1,000 pounds of food, clothes, batteries and other provisions. It will bring back 1,400 pounds' worth of gear.
Until now, only major governments have launched cargo ships to the space station. Russia, Japan and Europe will keep providing supplies, and Russia will continue to sell rocket rides to U.S. astronauts until SpaceX or other companies are ready to take over. Several American enterprises are competing for the honor.
Pettit noted that the Dragon — 19 feet tall and 12 feet wide — is roomier than the Russian Soyuz spacecraft he rode up in.
"Flying up in a human-rated Dragon is not going to be an issue," he assured reporters during a news conference.
The unmanned bell-shaped capsule was launched Tuesday from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Pettit used the space station's robot arm Friday to snare the craft.
During Saturday's news conference, Pettit played down his role in the historic event. He noted that the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, which opened up America's Western frontier, was commemorated by the pounding of a golden spike.
"This is kind of the equivalent of the golden spike," he said. "And one other interesting detail — nobody remembers who pounded that golden spike in. The important thing is to remember that the railroad was completed and was now open for use."
Success or failure of the new commercial space effort — the cornerstone of President Barack Obama's vision for NASA — does not hinge on a single mission but rather many missions over many years, Pettit stressed.
"Commercial spaceflight will blossom due to its own merits," he said.
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq paid tribute Saturday to the "glorious revolution" that toppled Hosni Mubarak, a dramatic turn-around for the former regime official who fought his way into the runoff elections by appealing to public disenchantment with last year's uprising.Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak, vowed there would be no "recreation of the old regime" as he prepared to face off against Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in a runoff on June 16-17.
"I am fed up with being labeled 'old regime,'" Shafiq told a news conference in his campaign headquarters. "This talk is no longer valid after seven million people voted for me." When pressed on the issue, he said: "All Egyptians are part of the old regime. Why do you keep saying the same thing over and over again?"
Shafiq and Morsi were the top vote-getters after a two-day election on Wednesday and Thursday which none of the 13 candidates could win outright. Now, both must appeal to the roughly 50 percent of voters who cast ballots for someone else.
Shafiq appeared to use the news conference to try and cast off his image as an anti-revolution candidate who spoke disparagingly about the youth groups that engineered the anti-Mubarak uprising, reaching out to all segments of society in a bid to rally voters who favored his rivals during the first-round.
A former air force commander and a personal friend of Mubarak's, Shafiq was booted out of office by a wave of street protests shortly after Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11, 2011.
The 15 months since Mubarak's ouster have seen a surge in crime, a faltering economy and seemingly endless street protests, work stoppages and sit-ins. The disorder has fed disenchantment with the revolutionary groups, and may have played to Shafiq's advanatge.
However, ex-officer Shafiq is also associated with Egypt's military leadership. The generals who took over from Mubarak, say critics, have mismanaged the transitional period and failed to reform corrupt institutions or to provide security.
Furthermore, they are blamed for the death of more than a hundred protesters, torturing detainees and trying before military tribunals at least 12,000 civilians.
"I pledge to every Egyptian that there will be no turning back and no recreation of the old regime," said Shafiq, 70. "Egypt has changed and there will be no turning back the clock. We have had a glorious revolution. I pay tribute to this glorious revolution and pledge to be faithful to its call for justice and freedom."
Shafiq also tried to enlist the support of youth groups, singling out the large associations of soccer fans known as "ultras" and April 6, both of which played a key role in the uprising.
His outreach was swiftly rejected by April 6, whose spokesman Ahmed Maher told a news conference that his group will never talk to the former prime minister, whom it considers as a pillar of the Mubarak regime.
He paid special tribute to Hamdeen Sabahi, a socialist and a champion of the poor who finished in third place. He held out the possibility of naming him as his deputy if elected president.
Morsi's Brotherhood, meanwhile, has called for a meeting of the nation's political forces to "deal with the challenges facing the nation" — a thinly veiled attempt to enlist support for its candidate.
More than a year after protesters demanding democracy toppled Mubarak, the face-off between the Morsi and Shafiq looked like a throwback to his era — a rivalry between a military-rooted strongman promising a firm hand to ensure stability and Islamists vowing to implement religious law.
The head-to-head match between them is the most polarized outcome possible from the first round, and will likely lead to a heated campaign. Each has die-hard supporters but is also loathed by significant sectors of the population.
The first round race turned out close. By Friday evening, counts from stations around the country reported by the state news agency gave Morsi 25.3 percent and Shafiq 24.9 percent with less than 100,000 votes difference.
A large chunk of the vote — more than 40 percent — went to candidates who were seen as more in the spirit of the uprising that toppled Mubarak, that is neither from the Brotherhood nor from the so-called "feloul," or "remnants" of the old autocratic regime that Shafiq is considered one of.
In particular, those votes went to leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, who narrowly came in third in a surprisingly strong showing of 21.5 percent, and a moderate Islamist who broke with the Brotherhood, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh.
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- View GalleryPope Benedict XVI waits prior to a private audience with Macedonia's Prime Minister …
- Paolo Gabriele (Bottom), the pope's …
Vatican police arrested Friday a man -- reportedly the pope's butler -- on allegations of having leaked confidential documents and letters from the pontiff's private study to newspapers.The man was caught in possession of secret documents, the Vatican said, but it would not confirm the suspect's identity, age, or when he had been arrested.
But informed sources said the man was Paolo Gabriele, 46, who had been working as a butler in the papal apartments since 2006. One source said the pope was "saddened and shocked" by this "painful case."
"The inquiry carried out by Vatican police... allowed them to identify someone in possession of confidential documents. This person is currently being questioned," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told journalists.
Il Foglio newspaper and ANSA news agency named the detained man as Gabriele, a member of the small team which works daily in Pope Benedict XVI's apartments.
The Italian daily said he is likely to be used by the Vatican as "a handy scapegoat" for several others suspected of being involved in leaking documents, some of which ended up in a new book on the tiny state published a week ago.
Gianluigi Nuzzi's "His Holiness" reproduces dozens of top secret and private letters and faxes which were smuggled out by whistle-blowers tired of the corruption and unhealthy bitterness in the Vatican.
The number of people who have access to the pope's private study is very limited, and includes his butler, four nuns and Benedict's two secretaries, Georg Gaenswein and Alfred Xuereb.
Last month, the pope set up a special commission of cardinals to probe the leaks, which began in January and have seen private documents splashed in the Italian media -- to the embarrassment and rage of the Holy See.
Among papers leaked to Italy's press are some that have dealt with allegations of corruption within the Vatican.
They have mainly centred on the activities of the Vatican bank and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The arrest came a day after the head of the Vatican Bank was ousted for failing to clean up the image of an institution that has come to symbolise the opacity and scandal gripping the Holy See's administration.
Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was thrown out by the bank's board for failing to do his job -- but had also recently been suspected of being one of those behind the leaks.
Gotti Tedeschi, an expert on financial ethics, was put in charge of the bank -- also known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) -- in 2009, in an effort on the part of the Vatican to rid the institution of scandal.
Moneyval, the Council of Europe's experts on anti-money laundering, is due to rule at the beginning of July on the whether the Holy See has managed to clean up its act and meet international monetary standards.
But the former head of Spanish bank Santander's Italian operations tasked with bringing transparency to the bank came under suspicion in 2010 when he was investigated as part of an inquiry by magistrates into money-laundering.
Gotti Tedeschi, 67, was accused of violating laws set up in 2007 that tightened rules on disclosure of financial operations to the Italian central bank in a bid to stamp out money laundering.