MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS – TERROR AGAINST DEMOCRACY, THE OHIO STATE BUCKEYES, AND ASSORTED THOUGHTS ON OSCAR, AUTISM, AND SCHOOLS

Special Early Edition for the Week of March 7th

While the Middle East continues in turmoil and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton demands that Kaddafi relinquish power and stop bombing his dissidents, another kind of terror continues in a place called Pakistan. Shabbaz Bhatti, a Christian and that nation’s Minister for Minorities, was gunned down in their capital city Wednesday in the second killing this year of a liberal, senior government official who had spoken out against the nation’s stringent blasphemy laws. Read more …

Shahbaz Bhatti, shown here in 2007, was gunned down in Islamabad on Wednesday. His killing is the second this year of a liberal senior official who had spoken out against Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws. (Anjum Naveed – AP)

This is a disturbing development in a nation that has been our ally against worldwide terrorism and a reminder that one of the great enemies of democracy in the world remains the institutional terrorism that is often perpetrated by those forces that want to impose Sha’ria, strict Islamic law upon the nations they control (or rule or influence). In practice this often leads to a removal of both the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. It is a reminder that we must not be naive about the persons we ally ourselves with and the systems we go to war to defend.

Jon Diebler, 3-point king

Last week after convincing wins against two Big Ten opponents and the crashing of Kansas, Texas, and Duke, The Ohio State Buckeyes recaptured the no. 1 ranking in college basketball. They also clinched a tie for the Big Ten regular season title. A victory over Wisconsin pretty much assures them being the no. 1 seed overall in the Big Dance. It continues to be an amazing, unselfish group of young men who play as a team. When likely NCAA Player of the year freshman Jared Sullinger got into foul trouble against Indiana, another freshman (ironically from Indiana) Deshaun Thomas stepped up and led them to victory, And last Tuesday night, Jon Diebler simply took over the game reigning down 10 three point shots as the Buckeyes demolished an excellent Penn State team. The Big Ten postseason tournament starts now and I predict a Buckeye-Boilermaker final on Sunday. (By the way, Purdue clearly deserves a no. 2 seed somewhere in the NCAA tournament.)

My predictions at this point for the four no. 1 seeds – Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Brigham Young University, and Kansas Let’s see next Sunday how close I came.

DeShaun Thomas

And here are some random observations and reflections in brief.

The King’s Speech won the Oscar, a triumph for really good film-making with an edifying purpose.

Rising gas prices are one of the biggest enemies to balanced household budgets, Those governors who campaigned against mass transit need to be taking on Big Oil.

Autism Speaks is a new Facebook app and a link that more of us need to connect with. This is an area of national life that needs knowledge, understanding, compassion, dedication, and money.

School districts have begun laying off teachers as the Obama stimulus funds dry up and no real gains have been made in the economy thereby providing new income for those districts. Yet Congress and state houses continue to pass unfunded mandates that further tie up funds. Unfortunately this is turning the local debate into a battle between senior citizens on fixed incomes and parents of children who know that a quality education is essential to a thriving economy and healthy democracy. (And the Administration chooses this time to make ending the Defense of Marriage Act a priority.)

But just in case your sense of humor is departing you, let me offer this in closing.

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