Cosmetic ‘Fight Against Corruption In Nigeria’; Antigraft Agency Withdraws from APC Senator Goje’s N25b corruption trial


June 8, 2019 Adejumo kabir

Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s withdrawal from the corruption trial of a former governor, Danjuma Goje, just after he agreed to back President Buhari’s candidate for the Senate Presidency, has caused an uproar among Nigerians.

The anti-graft agency withdrew from the prosecution of the senator-elect for allegedly misappropriating N25 billion while in office as governor.

The decision of the EFCC to withdraw from the case which has been on for about eight years, came a day after Mr Goje stepped down from the race for Senate President in the 9th National Assembly.

He stepped down on Thursday after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari who urged him to support his colleague, Ahmed Lawan. Mr Lawan is also backed by the governing APC.

Mr Goje later said he stepped down for Mr Lawan out of respect for the party and President Buhari.

When Mr Goje’s corruption trial came up for an emergency hearing before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court II in Jos, the EFCC counsel, Wahab Shittu, told the court the agency was withdrawing from the case and handing it over to the office of the attorney-general for continuation.

“My Lord, this case was earlier adjourned for June 20 for the continuation of hearing, but then we are here today on the latest development on the matter,” he said.

“We as EFCC counsels are withdrawing from the matter and handing it over to the office of the attorney-general for continuation with the prosecution.”

“As you can see in court today is a state counsel from the AGF’s office to formally take over this case from us,” EFCC counsel was quoted to have said.

While Mr. Goje’s lawyer, Paul Erokoro did not object the anti-graft agency’s withdrawal, the lawyer representing the office of the attorney-general, Pius Asika, applied for an adjournment to enable him to prepare for the case proper.

The matter was adjourned to June 21, 2019 for continuation of hearing.

This newspaper on Saturday also reported how the public reacted to the matter.

Nigerians react as EFCC is unaware

The spokesperson of the commission, Tony Orilade, told PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday he was not aware of the matter yet.

Responding to PREMIUM TIMES question on why the EFCC had withdrawn just after Mr. Goje’s stepped down for Mr Lawan, Mr Orilade told our correspondent via SMS that he had no idea on the case.

“For now, I have no idea on the subject matter. When I am properly briefed, I shall reach out to you”, he said.

Meanwhile, the matter has caused an uproar among Nigerians.

Senator Danjuma Goje

Both critics and supporters of Mr. Buhari’s government have reacted to the sudden withdrawal on social media. Many believed that the Presidency was aware of the matter.

Farooq Kperoogi, a journalism professor, wrote on Twitter that a witness of the meeting on Thursday said it was President Buhari that gave the withdrawal order.

“I’ve just learned from someone who witnessed Danjuma Goje’s meeting with Buhari in Aso Rock that it was Buhari who PERSONALLY gave orders that Goje’s N25b fraud case be withdrawn,” he wrote. “It was d condition Goje gave Buhari for supporting Ahmed Lawan for senate Pres.”

He dismissed Mr Buhari’s claim to “integrity”.

Kayode Odundamisi, one of the supporters of Mr. Buhari’s government, said the timing of EFCC withdrawal was suspicious.

“The timing of @officialEFCC withdrawal is suspicious, the office of the AGF historically and currently is the weakest link in the anti corruption campaign, to remove any doubt or conspiracy theories, the AGF office must prosecute Goje’s case diligently. N25 billion isn’t small.”

Reno Omokri, a government critic, said: “Danjuma Goje withdraws from the Senate President’s race in favour of @MBuhari‘s anointed candidate, Farouk Lawan, and the next day the @OfficialEFCC withdraws from his corruption case. I like the way Buhari fights corruption! #FreeLeahSharibu#RenosNuggets”.

Deji Adeyanju, another critic, also tweeted: @ adeyanjudeji “You can’t leave Goje alone for N25billion & be disturbing Nigerians. EFCC should stop harassing Nigerians,” he said. “There’s no one they ever accused of corruption that Buhari has not negotiated with. From Akpabio to Goje, to Orji Uzo Kalu, etc; he has negotiated with them. The only people he didn’t negotiate with were those who refused to cross over to support him. Even the Bullion Van guy.”

Balance Your Job and Writing


by Phoebe Quinn

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that being a full-time writer, a fully-fledged author, is one of your dream scenarios. Working for yourself and doing what you love – it couldn’t get better.

Unfortunately, most of us have a day job, and it may not be that great.

My employment record hasn’t been awash with jobs I’ve sprang from my bed for each day; in fact, I’ve only had one job that I truly enjoyed. My current job is one of the worst I’ve had, coming second only to the private mental healthcare company who paid me five thousand pounds less than the living wage for working 48-hour weeks and asking me to devise and deliver therapies to adults with serious mental health problems, with no training or adequate supervision.

So it’s quite bad, really.

Luckily I’ve only two months left in my contract, so now it’s a question of counting down the weeks. But it’s been far from easy and at one point I was signed off with stress and depression.

Knowing this, a friend emailed me recently, having started a new job that she hates, and asked me how I cope with mine. Below is the advice I gave her, practical advice you can implement tomorrow, to make your days easier to get through and give you the headspace to devote to your passions beyond work.

So if you wake up every morning wondering if that headache is enough to let you take the day off sick, or divide up your day into manageable chunks just to get through it, or have sudden breakdowns on a semi-regular basis because the reality that you’re stuck in your current position hits you yet again – I know how you feel.

Get up earlier. No, no, stay with me! There’s a good reason for this. When you get up and start getting ready for work straight away, the tone for the day is set: it’s not yours, and you are beholden to what you hate. While getting up an hour earlier may seem unappealing, it means you have time to yourself in the mornings – you become the first order of the day. I now get up at 6am, and whether I spend that hour napping or on Twitter or organising my schedule for the week, I go to work knowing I’ve already had some time that was just for me.

Walk when you can. I don’t walk any part of my journey in as I’m rubbish in the mornings – despite the early start, I never leave on time – but on the way home I get off the Overground two stops early and walk the last mile. Any frustrations I’ve had from the day get stamped into the pavement and it means I come home with a clear head.

Always have something else in the pipeline. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, like a holiday, just something else. A day out with friends, or a weekend set aside for writing. It needs to be something you can look forward to when you’re sat on the loo at work debating how long you can stay there before everything assumes you’re having digestion problems. I’ve been lucky enough to schedule two festivals and two holidays in the last couple of months in this job, and it’s pretty much the only thing stopping me from going into Hulk Smash mode every half hour.

Take one minute. The piece of advice I emphasized most to my friend, who is having trouble with her boss, is simply zoning out for sixty seconds and focusing on your breathing. It can be on the loo or at your desk or while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, but unless someone is in mortal danger there is nothing that can’t wait for sixty seconds. Just don’t do it while someone is talking to you. Especially your boss.

Having an ‘I’m home’ ritual… Mine is: dump keys, dump bag in the kitchen, go through the post, leave my phone in the kitchen for at least half an hour, and open up my laptop. Sometimes it includes tea. Fifteen minutes later I feel at home, not at work.

…and changing out of your work clothes. It does wonders for your frame of mind. I’m a pyjama fan, no matter what time of day it is, so those are my go-to clothes to tell my brain that it’s home now, it doesn’t need to think about work until tomorrow.

Write that sh*t down. Still thinking about work? Get yourself a dedicated ‘work crap’ notebook and write a brief list of what’s in your head, then close the book and put it in your work bag.

Set yourself a deadline. If you need this list, your current situation isn’t sustainable. It just isn’t. Tell yourself you will be out by a certain date and mark it on your calendar (just make sure your boss can’t see it). You may need to stay in the role a little longer than you’d like to get the experience, so work out how long will look good on your CV and schedule accordingly. Three months before your deadline, start applying for jobs and going for interviews. That should give you enough time to secure something else and give your four weeks’ notice by your deadline.

In the meantime, think ahead. What do you want to do next? Do you have the right experience, training, and skill set to move onto that role? If not, now is the time to act. Take on extra training at your current job, do some reading at home, start researching your desired field. Use whatever is available to maximise your chances of ticking all of the ‘essential’ criteria on your next job’s person specification.

Keep writing. Don’t let your sucky job take over your life. I have, and I keep letting it, but it’s doing both me and my time a disservice. Whether your job is frustrating or soul-destroying or scary or boring or any combination of the above, keep writing. Turn those awful co-workers or clients into characters; use your boss as the inspiration for your novel’s diabolical supervillain. You may not laugh about this one day, unless it’s a rueful, eye-rolling sort of laugh, but you will be in a position where you’ll be able to look back at it.

Confessed serial killer now linked to 60 deaths in 14 states in U.S.


CHRIS FRANCESCANI and LUKE BARR,Good Morning America 12 hours ago

A confessed serial killer who claims to have left a trail of women’s bodies in a decades-long, cross-country killing spree from Florida to California has now been linked to 60 deaths, a Texas prosecutor said on Friday, according to The Associated Press.

Samuel Little, 79, is serving life sentences for killing three women in Los Angeles, and has been cooperating with federal officials and authorities in a sprawling series of investigations in multiple states for some time now. As far back as last fall the FBI described him in a report as “among the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history.”

At the time, authorities said they had linked him to 36 murders.

Little — who claims his killing spree stretched from 1970 to 2005 — is in poor health, so investigators are racing to identify as many of his victims as possible and help close as many unsolved cases as possible.

PHOTO: A sketch drawn by convicted serial killer Samuel Little of one of his victims, a black female between 28 to 29-years-old killed in 1984 in Arkansas. Little picked her up in Memphis, Tenn. (FBI)

Ecton County District Attorney Bobby Bland said Little has exhausted his appeals, leading him to be forthcoming with investigators.

“At this point in his life I think he’s determined to make sure that his victims are found,” he said, according to the AP.

(MORE: FBI ‘unraveling’ extent of convicted killer’s crimes after he confesses to 90 murders)

In February, the FBI released 16 portraits drawn by Little based on his memories of his victims. The agency has also released a map showing the incidents linked to unidentified victims.

Little’s confessions that have not yet been corroborated by law enforcement.

PHOTO: Samuel Little, who often went by the name Samuel McDowell, leaves the Ector County Courthouse after attending a pre-trial hearing, Nov. 26, 2018, in Odessa, Texas. (Mark Rogers/Odessa American via AP)

Last fall, FBI officials told ABC News that it is was working with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Texas Rangers and dozens of other state and local law enforcement agencies “to match Little’s confessions with evidence from women who turned up dead in states from California to Florida between 1970 and 2005.”

Little’s life of crime spanned decades, according to FBI officials. After dropping out of high school in Ohio, Little “lived a nomadic life” and was first arrested in 1956, according to the FBI. He displayed a “dark, violent streak” in his many crimes, which included shoplifting, fraud, drug charges, solicitation and breaking and entering, FBI officials said.

(MORE: FBI releases serial killer Samuel Little’s drawings of women he killed)

FBI officials said the challenge in connecting the dots is partly due to the fact that Little moved around frequently and often preyed on vulnerable women, some of whom were believed to be involved in the sex trade or addicted to drugs.

Little, who was once a competitive boxer, often knocked out his victims and then strangled them, sometimes leaving no clear signs of a homicide, according to the FBI. Many of their deaths were attributed to natural causes, overdoses or accidents, officials said.

PHOTO: A sketch drawn by convicted serial killer Samuel Little of one of his victims, a white female between 20 to 25-years-old killed in 1972. The victim was possibly from Massachusetts. (FBI)

In 2012, Little was arrested at a Kentucky homeless shelter and extradited to California on a narcotics charge, the FBI said. That’s when police in Los Angeles matched his DNA to three unsolved murders from the late 1980s in which all three women were killed the same way, according to FBI officials.

“In all three cases, the women had been beaten and then strangled, their bodies dumped in an alley, a dumpster, and a garage,” the FBI said in its report.

PHOTO: A sketch drawn by convicted serial killer Samuel Little of one of his victims, a black female between 35 to 45-years-old killed in 1977 in Mississippi. (FBI)

After linking his DNA to those crimes, police in Los Angeles asked the bureau’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) for a full background report on Little, and “the FBI found an alarming pattern and compelling links to many more murders,” according to the report.

Authorities are using the same program to help connect the dots on other crimes.

Despite asserting his innocence, Little was convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for the California killings in 2014, the FBI said. He appealed the life sentences but lost, the AP reported.

Communion Prohibited to Pro-Abortion Illinois Catholic Lawmakers


Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois (Diocese of Springfield)

Jun. 6, 2019 Matthew E. Bunson

In an interview with the Register, the Springfield bishop discusses his decree that specifically calls on Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton not to present themselves for Communion.

This week, Illinois passed the most extreme pro-abortion state legislation in America — with some Catholic lawmakers taking the lead in pushing forward this anti-life bill.

In response, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, today issued a public decree communicating to his priests that all Illinois Catholic lawmakers who voted for the state’s new Reproductive Health Act, or for an earlier 2017 bill that legalized taxpayer funding of abortions, should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion in the Diocese of Springfield “without first being reconciled to Christ and the Church.” The decree, and an accompanying letter, were mailed earlier in the week to all of the Catholic lawmakers who voted in favor of the bills.

And the new decree singles out by name House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, stating that because of their important leadership roles in the passage of the pair of pro-abortion bills, they “are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois because they have obstinately persisted in promoting the abominable crime and very grave sin of abortion.”

In this interview with the Register, Bishop Paprocki discusses why he felt impelled to issue the decree, the harm being caused to the faith nationwide by U.S. Catholic politicians who continue to ignore their bishops and pastors by supporting extreme pro-abortion laws like the one just passed in Illinois, and the Church’s unequivocal and unchanging teachings regarding the intrinsic evil of abortion.

This is a decree that will be of great interest in Illinois, but also nationally, as the entire abortion debate continues in the United States. How did we reach this moment where it is necessary for a decree like this?

It seems to me that we’ve arrived at a point where we really need to be clear about the teachings of the Church, and an action like this is really designed to protect the integrity of our sacraments and the clarity of our teaching.

It wasn’t too long ago where you had the so-called pro-choice politicians at least saying abortion needed to be “safe, legal and rare,” and we’ve unfortunately come to the point where the politicians are celebrating the fact that abortion legislation is passing that allows for abortions right up until the moment of birth; that declares abortion to be “a fundamental right”; that requires taxpayer funding of abortion and additional measures like that that are really quite extreme.

And so now we’ve got politicians, Catholic politicians who are saying that they think the Church is wrong. They think the Church is wrong about abortion and euthanasia and our teachings on marriage and family life. And I think that cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. We have to be clear that you cannot be pro-abortion and be a Catholic in good standing. And that’s what this is really intended to do.

Have you been surprised over the years at the shift of a number of Catholic politicians in support of abortion — 14 Catholic U.S. senators voted against an important bill just last year [the Pain-Capable Unborn Children’s Act] and that involved Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois — and so many other acts the Church considers intrinsically evil?

Yes, it is somewhat surprising, but it’s especially disappointing because you have politicians who have publicly embraced their Catholicism and have made it made known that they considered themselves to be Catholics, and they want Catholic voters especially to know that they’re Catholic; but they seem then to have taken this position that they know better than the Church. And, in fact, it seems to be the goal of some of them, that they’re going to force the Church to change her teaching on these matters.

And I think that we have to be quite clear, as I [am] in my decree on this matter. I’ve got several paragraphs in there that try to trace the history of this matter going back to the first century of the Church, where you had the declaration and the document called the Didache — “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion.” “You shall not cause the newborn to perish.” So it goes back all the way from the earliest beginnings of Christianity.

But even for those who want to say, “Well, you know, times have changed and we’re in the post-Vatican II era and we have to adapt to the times …,” I also have in my decree a statement from the declaration from the Second Vatican Council document on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et Spes; in Paragraph 51, it says, “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: Abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.” This is the Second Vatican Council calling abortion and infanticide “abominable crimes.”

And, even more recently, Pope Francis has used very similar language. In 2016, he used the terminology such as abortion is “a very grave evil.” He called it “a horrendous crime.”

So we can’t have politicians today saying, “You know what? The Church is wrong. It was wrong 2,000 years ago. It was wrong at the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis is wrong. The Church needs to get with it and start accepting the reality of abortion.” And we have to be clear that if that’s their intent then that’s simply not acceptable.

Pope Francis, I think just a few days ago, used the somewhat-colorful image of that you’re essentially hiring a hitman, stressing again that this is beyond simply a medical procedure, that this is the taking of a human life. But to go back to your pointing out, the Didache and others, can we explain, for those who may not be that familiar with the Church’s teachings on this — and it always bears worth repeating: why we consider abortion and euthanasia in particular, but other things, to be intrinsically evil. And what do we mean as a Church by intrinsically evil?

Things are intrinsically evil if they are evil in and of themselves. So, aside from circumstances that may condition a particular action or the intent of the person, it is, the action itself is intrinsically evil. Now, a person’s subjective culpability may be a different question, whether or not they are going to be judged by God for this act. And that could depend on things like their own formation, their knowledge, perhaps even whether or not they have proper use of reason, a deformed conscience, malformed conscience, but something in and of itself: You can never say that murder is okay, that murder is acceptable. You can say there are some justifiable moments, for example, where killing is acceptable, such as self-defense. It’s unfortunate that someone might be killed while you’re defending your own life, but that’s justifiable.

However, there’s no situation where you may intentionally go out and just murder someone, and, in effect, that’s what abortion is doing. It’s taking the life, a human life, which we respect as beginning at the moment of conception, because there really is no other point that you can draw this line, and I think we see the legislation passing and some states that are trying to protect life when a heartbeat is detectable, or when doctors and medical experts say that the unborn baby is capable of feeling pain, and so they’re recognizing that this is not just some tissue with a potential for human life, but it is real human life.

And we saw that very clearly in the recent movie Unplanned, about a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, Abby Johnson, in which she quit her job with Planned Parenthood after clearly seeing on an ultrasound that this was a baby in the mother’s womb who was actually trying to push away from the suction tube as it was about to kill that little baby. And so, things like that have helped us to recognize that we’re talking about protecting human life, and it really is abominable when people are arguing that you should be able to take that human life right up until the moment of birth.

You have mentioned that we have gone from 1992, and the Democratic Party platform under Bill Clinton declaring abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” to today, which is effectively abortion on demand. From your perspective as a pastor and then certainly as a bishop, this progression toward a more radicalized approach, far more radical than anything being previously proposed: How, from your standpoint, how do we respond to that? Because we need to respond very forcefully, and I know your decree is part of that, but for the average Catholic, what should they think of this?

I think they should see this as a clear affirmation of Church teaching about the respect for human life from conception to natural death. It should be also an affirmation of the clear teaching that abortion is wrong. It should also be seen as a clear effort to uphold the integrity of the sacraments and to maintain the consistency between all of those.

It is scandalous, I think, to people — that’s another issue here — it is truly scandalous to people when they see Catholic politicians saying, “I’m a Catholic but I am going to vote for this abortion legislation.” And then they do vote for it, and they vote for this extreme legislation that is promoting abortion, and other faithful Catholics wonder: How can they do that? How can they do that and get away with it?

This document is not intended as a political document. The legislation has already passed. What this document is saying is that the people who have done this have done something that is simply not acceptable to the Catholic Church.

So the approach I’m taking here is, there’s two canons in the Code of Canon law, Canon 915 and Canon 916, that are applicable. Canon 915 is the one that has received a lot more media attention, and that is the one that basically says that those who have obstinately persisted in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. So obstinate persistence requires more than one act. And that’s why my decree really just singles out the speaker of the House here in Illinois, Michael Madigan, as well as the president of the state Senate, John Cullerton, because they have persistently, over a number of years now, pushed this pro-abortion legislation.

There was a bill that was passed in 2017 that was basically the bill that provided for taxpayer funding of abortion and also said that if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned that Illinois would remain a state where abortion would continue to be legal. And then, two years later, these same legislative leaders, the speaker of the House and the Senate president, are pushing for this passage of this so-called Reproductive Health Act of 2019, that purports to declare abortion to be “a fundamental right” and also declares that an unborn baby does not have independent rights under the laws of the state. In addition to that, another aggravating factor that I would add is the fact that, by virtue of their position as legislative leaders, they have facilitated the passage of this legislation. And so, for that reason, Canon 915 applies, that says they are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.

Canon 916 is the one that applies to really anybody who is conscious of grave sin. And that doesn’t require any kind of obstinate persistence. One mortal sin. If you commit one mortal sin, you shouldn’t go to Communion. And that’s basically what Canon 916 is saying. So, in that case, in a sense, I’m just reminding — it’s a declaration or a reminder to — other Catholic legislators who have voted even for one pro-abortion bill. In a sense that is a very grave sin to be promoting abortion. And so, in that case is really a question of themselves not presenting themselves for Holy Communion, according to Canon 916. So I think it’s important to keep both of those canons in mind and for people to be aware of how they apply at different times to different people.

Right. Because there is often some confusion about what exactly these are trying to accomplish in the sense of from the Church’s standpoint, that people like to consider these simply penalties or punishments when in fact there is a very important spiritual component to this, isn’t there? In trying to bring them to reconciliation with what the Church actually teaches?

Yes. And again, with Canon 916, it’s really something that every Catholic should be aware of. And I think years ago people seemed to be more aware of that. People who were conscious that they had committed some mortal sin, didn’t have a chance to go to confession, so they would go to Mass, as everyone’s always obliged to go to Mass, whether you go to Communion or not, but they would refrain from going to Holy Communion. Whereas now it seems everybody thinks, well, I’m at Mass; I have to go to Communion. But, really, if a person is conscious of having committed a mortal sin and has not gone to confession, a sacramental confession prior to going to Mass, they should not approach themselves. Now, in many cases, the priest, the deacon, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is not going to know that. They’re not going to know what people have done in their lives privately that may have been a mortal sin.

That’s why the burden or the obligation on Canon 916 is really on the individual person. Canon 915 is a situation where you have someone who is very public. That’s why it says this “obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.” And so that’s why, in the case of abortion, you get somebody who was persistently, very obstinately, just saying, “No, I’m going to go ahead and support this. I disagree with the Catholic Church.” And in that case, that’s what’s giving scandal to the faithful. And that has nothing to do in a sense with the person’s subjective relationship with God, whether or not they are a culpable in a subjective sense. What it has to do with is objectively speaking. And the bishop ultimately is the one in a diocese who was responsible for determining that. And when there are people who, by their external objective actions, are behaving in a way that is obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin, then I feel it is my duty as a bishop that I have to respond and act accordingly.

So you have an obligation as a pastor to teach clearly and to reiterate what the Church believes and teaches, but you also have an obligation to make certain that there isn’t confusion among the faithful as to what we actually do believe. Is that right?

Yes. And that’s why I talk about the integrity of the sacraments and the integrity of the faith, that what we’re talking about here is the burden, then, on a diocesan bishop, in terms of his responsibility for defending the faith.

It’s not enough to simply say, “Well, under Canon 916, if that person thinks they’ve committed a mortal sin, they shouldn’t go to [Communion].” There’s an additional responsibility on the shepherd of the flock to say, “The wolf is here; the wolf is in our midst.” And sometimes that wolf is wearing sheep’s clothing. And we have to say that to the faithful and the members of the flock, “Beware the wolf is in your midst. And do not follow that wolf because he will lead you down the wrong path.” And, ultimately, the very last canon in the Code of Canon law is that the salvation of souls is the highest law.

And for any bishop we have to be concerned with the salvation of souls. I’m concerned for the salvation of the souls of these politicians who are voting and promoting legislation that is gravely sinful. But I’m also, as a shepherd of souls, concerned about the scandal that they are giving to other people who, if we don’t respond appropriately, they’re looking at this saying, “Well, the bishop’s not saying anything. So I guess it’s maybe not that bad.” And that’s very scandalous, not only for the politician to be doing that, but also for the bishop’s inaction, in a sense. And what kind of message is that giving?

How do you respond to those politicians, those Catholic politicians, who say, “Well, I may be personally opposed to abortion, but it would not be appropriate for me to ‘impose my religious beliefs’ on the civil community?”

Well, that’s an argument that goes back to the former governor [of New York], Mario Cuomo, who tried to make that argument, but I think that argument has been pretty well shredded over the years. I mean, it has been shredded in terms of how we understand moral theology; but even from a political point of view, what other area of politics does a politician ever say, “This is my personal point of view, but I’m not going to impose that on anybody.”

If somebody believes, for example, that we shouldn’t have borders and that we should be more generous about migrants, they would never say, “Well, that’s my personal view, but I’m not going impose that on anybody.” Somebody thinks there should be greater gun-control laws: I’ve never heard a politician say, “Well, gun control is my personal view, but I’m not going to impose that view on anybody else.”

So, why do we elect legislative leaders? We elect them. They have platforms. They state their views, and then it’s up to the voters to decide, “Well, if this politician has views that agree with mine, I’ll vote for him or her. And, if he or she doesn’t, then I won’t vote for that person.” But you know, for a politician to say, “Well, these are my personal views, but I’m not going to seek to have that enshrined in legislation,” well, then, you should resign your job because your whole job is really about how you promote certain values. That’s what laws are. Laws are embodiments or codifications of values and, many cases, moral values. And so it’s really an abdication of responsibility. And it’s a falsehood, also, for somebody to use that argument that “I’m personally opposed, but I’m not going to impose that on somebody else.”

Your Excellency, we’re almost out of time, but I know that a number of other bishops across the United States have issued similar statements. Do you expect that as the abortion controversy, as the struggle against abortion continues, that more decrees like this will be necessary in more and more dioceses?

Well, I hope so. You know, there have been more statements made along those lines. The chairman of our bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City [Kansas], just this past February, made a statement that politicians who support abortion should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion. So this is the chairman of the committee elected by the bishops of the United States. The majority of the bishops elected him. We elected someone because he stands for certain values. And so when, when he is saying this, he’s speaking as our leader on pro-life issues. And so I hope other bishops will take a cue from him. I think we are at a point now where we simply have to be more vocal and we have to be more clear about what the Church teaches in this regard and how this affects politicians and the consequences when they do, so very persistently and obstinately, reject Church teaching on abortion.

Tackling Big Challenges in A Networked World


Strategic Doing

TACKLING THE BIG CHALLENGES when there is no single, simple, rational answer can rarely be done by a single individual or company working alone. Certainly, this is true when facing global, national, or community issues, but it is increasingly true within organizations and small groups.

When faced with complex problems, we tend to find a rational answer by analyzing increasing amounts of data and polling for opinions and then announcing the answer to those who must follow. It’s a rigid approach to strategic planning. We need an agile approach that leverages all of the cognitive diversity available to us.

In a networked world, the question becomes. “How do you design and guide complex collaborations in open, loosely connected networks when no one can tell anyone else what to do?” Without going into a critique of society, this has become a major concern across a wide range of organizations and institutions.

To answer this question, Ed Morrison and his Strategic Doing team* have designed an agile approach to strategic planning that they present in their book, Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership.

Good strategy answers two questions: Where are we going? and How will we get there? The answers to these questions will provide you with an effective strategy, but by themselves, they don’t inspire the engagement that is sorely needed in our time.

Strategic Doing divides these two questions into four questions: What Could We Do? and What Should We Do? to provide destination. Then to answer the how we have What Will We Do? and finally, What’s Our 30/30?

Strategic Doing Questions

These questions encourage networking and real collaboration—“linking, leveraging, and aligning resources in ways that enhance one another’s capacity to create a shared outcome, a mutual benefit.” In telling example, a civic group came together and implemented Strategic Doing concluding, “Strategic Doing broke our grant addiction.” They were able to come together and identify and unlock assets so that the sum was greater than the parts.

In a hierarchy, the challenge is to communicate information about what to do down, and to get information about the results up.

In a network, on the other hand, the challenge is to get the members’ resources and efforts aligned toward a chosen objective.

The Strategic Doing method contains a set of ten skills that work within the framework of the four strategic questions. “Complex collaborations emerge when we follow a small set of simple rules. These rules—really, just the implementation of each of the skills—embed a lot of practices that academics have found valuable in a wide range of academic fields.” The ten skills themselves encourage collaboration as no one person is good at all ten. Transformative results can happen when you enlist a diverse team to bring each of these skills to the network.

The Four Questions of Strategic Doing

Skills 1 and 2 begin the process by setting the stage for productive, collaborative conversations.

Skill 1: Build a safe place for deep and focused conversations. An agile leader will communicate and reinforce equity of voice and the commitment to behave in ways that build trust and mutual respect. Keeping the group size small—5 to 7 people—can also increase our chances of success.

Skill 2: Use an appreciative question to frame your conversation. “We live in the world our questions create. We spend time developing framing questions to assure we are all in the same world, as it were—looking a closely as can at the same conversation.” So, we need to define the issue with an asset-based, personally meaningful question that has many answers to encourage people to reflect and think.

Question 1: What Could We Do?

Skill 3: Identify the assets at your disposal, including the hidden ones. There are assets that team members have control or influence over, but there are also assets that people don’t even know they have. Often these must be coaxed out by others in the group as we all too often, undervalue what we bring to the table. These can include hobbies, skills, and interests that someone has pursued independently over the years.

Skill 4: Link and leverage your assets to create new opportunities. Connecting assets allows us to think horizontally. That is, to combine assets from different discipline, fields, or bodies of knowledge. It’s thinking together and extending our minds.

Question 2: What Should We Do?

Skill 5: Identify a big opportunity where you can generate momentum. Deciding which option has the greatest chance of success is not easy. The authors suggest a 2×2 matrix that considers two criteria to draw out better thinking from the group.

Skill 6: Rewrite your opportunity as a strategic outcome with measurable characteristics. At this stage, you are trying to define a shared outcome that everyone can agree on and see in their mind’s eye. It must be emotional, or people will not move on it. It’s not a vague vision statement. The authors suggest asking three qualitative questions to draft an agile strategy: If we are successful, what will we see? What will we feel? and Whose lives will be different and how? Then name ways you might measure the outcome so that you can be sure that everyone understands the outcome in the same way.

Question 3: What Will We Do?

Skill 7: Define a small starting project to start moving you toward your outcome. You’re not looking for the perfect plan here; you’re looking for action. A small step towards your outcome keeps you from becoming overwhelmed. You don’t need the whole path laid out before you do anything. You just need to begin—and learn as you go. “We really can’t learn how to make progress toward that outcome until we start doing something.”

Four qualities of a good start are first, short enough. They engage everyone on the team. The create buzz, garnering attention for the work. They test some key assumptions. And finally, they don’t require permission.

Skill 8: Create a short-term action plan in which everyone takes a small step. No spectators. Make sure everyone on the team shares the responsibility for implementation.

Question 4: What’s Our 30/30?

Skill 9: Meet every 30 days to review progress, adjust, and plan for the next 30 days. Without feedback, we easily get off-track. “Agile leaders need a specific kind of feedback loop: a learning loop.” Change is inevitable, so we need to make adjustments along the way. What are we learning? Does everyone still agree with the outcome we are after? Do we need to make changes? The 30/30 is a guideline 30 days look back and a look forward to the next 30 days. You may need to shorten the timeline to 7/7 or perhaps longer.

Skill 10: Nudge, connect, and promote to reinforce your new habits of collaboration. Establishing new habits and making changes are not easy. Agile leaders provide guidance. “If it is vaguely assumed that the network will thrive on its own, it won’t.” Agile leaders nudge everyone to move ideas into action and complete their tasks. They strengthen their network by connecting new people and other networks to it. And they promote it by publishing the successes.

These ten skills implemented within the framework of the four questions will create conversations that can lead to transformative change. The four questions are a cycle that you return to again and again to build on what you’re learning by doing and to refine your strategy

Top Gun Pilot Chased a UFO in an F/A-18F Super Hornet


By Billie Brownstein Nauer Jun 5, 2019

WINDHAM, New Hampshire — In 2004, Commander David Fravor, an aviator in the U.S. Navy, saw something in the skies he’d never seen before. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he decided to follow it in his F/A-18 Super Hornet, and he became convinced that the object’s maneuvering could not be explained by the existing capabilities of modern aircraft.

“It was far beyond the technology that we have,” he told VICE News. Advertisement

For a long time, Fravor, a skeptic of the notion of extraterrestrial visitors, said nothing. But in 2017, he and his co-pilot went public with their stories in the New York Times. The response was immediate: The UFO community saw their accounts as proof of extraterrestrial life, and Fravor became a sort of messiah.

The newfound notoriety made Fravor deeply uncomfortable.

“I’m not that kind of person,” he said. “I underestimated the power of a New York Times article. I’ll never do that again.”

He also vowed to stay out of the spotlight. But last month, Fravor reluctantly agreed to be a featured speaker at the McMenamins UFO Fest, in McMinnville, Oregon, the world’s premier extraterrestrial expo.