10 marzo 2008

My First NFL Mock Draft

1. Miami Dolphins
Jake Long T Michigan 6-7 305
I think Parcells know that if his QB is to have a chance, he needs a premier LT. Jake is the man.

2. St. Louis Rams
Vernon Gholston DE Ohio State 6-4 260
The Rams would have loved Jake long, but he's gone. Now they go after the one DE who could beat Long in college - Vernon Gholston. He immediately impacts this awful defensive unit.

3. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan QB Boston College 6-5 225
The Vick era is over. The Ryan era begins.

4. Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden RB Arkansas 6-1 217
While Chris Long makes the most sense, Al Davis is senile. He likes the flash of McFadden. He might also trade with Dallas here.

5. Kansas City Chiefs
Jeff Otah T Pittsburgh 6-6 340
I'll copy Mayock here, Otah fits the scheme and for Croyle to succeed, the O-Line needs HELP! Also, Herm Edwards wants to keep his job.

6. New York Jets
Chris Long DE Virginia 6-4 285
Mangini is salivating over this one, Long falls to them and the Jets fans actually cheer the pick.

7. New England Patriots
Dominque Rodgers CB Tennessee State 6-1 185
Belichick might want a better player. but he has no cornerbacks. Rodgers Cromartie, who may be the most naturally talented, is his choice to replace Asante Samuel.

8. Baltimore Ravens Sedric Ellis DT Southern California 6-1 295
The Ravens have other needs, but Ellis' value is just too good to pass up here.

9. Cincinnati Bengals
Glenn Dorsey DT LSU 6-2 300
The Bengals, who lost out on Shaun Rodgers, take Dorsey, injury concerns or not, this guy will help out an awful defensive unit.

10. New Orleans Saints
Aqib Talib CB Kansas 6-1 180
The Saints' secondary is a liability, and they pick Talib at #10.

11. Buffalo Bills
Ryan Clady T Boise State 6-5 320
Many people have Buffalo taking a WR here, but there will be talent available in the 2nd round. They look to strengthen their O-Line with Ryan Clady.

12. Denver Broncos
Derrick Harvey DE Florida 6-4 252
Harvey really helps this awful defensive unit.

13. Carolina Panthers
Keith Rivers OLB Southern California 6-3 230
The Panthers can't pass up on Rivers' talent, they'll address RB in the 2nd round.

14. Chicago Bears
Rashard Mendenhall RB Illinois 5-11 225
Surprise move in the Bears making a smart pick, but maybe they realize that Cedric Benson sucks, so they take Illinois hero Mendenhall to eventually take the reins at starting RB.

15. Detroit Lions
Mike Jenkins CB South Florida 5-11 200
The Lions are lucky that they can choose between Jenkins and McKelvin at CB. Then end up going with Jenkins.

16. Arizona Cardinals
Leodis McKelvin CB Troy 5-11 190
The Cardinals are another team who need help in the secondary, and they address that need with McKelvin.

17 . Minnesota Vikings
Malcolm Kelly WR Oklahoma 6-4 220
The Vikings want a tall wideout who can get a hand on Tarvaris Jackson's errant passes.

18. Houston Texans
Kenny Phillips FS Miami 6-1 202
Will Demps was a Pro-Bowl alternate by accident. The Texans take the only safety worthy of first round consideration.

19. Philadelphia Eagles
Limas Sweed WR Texas 6-4 220
The Eagles finally give McNabb his first round WR. Jackson is a consideration but his small frame might be snapped in half in minicamp.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DeSean Jackson WR California 5-11 165
The Bucs take Jackson, a speedster at WR and a guy who can help in the return game.

21. Washington Redskins
Calais Campbell DE Miami 6-7 282
Washington takes the first bust of the Jim Zorn era, Calais Campbell. Now they have a Campbell on each side of the ball.

22. Dallas Cowboys
Jonathan Stewart RB Oregon 5-10 235
Although they need more help in the secondary, Jerry Jones can't resist a Barber-Stewart backfield combo.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sam Baker T Southern California 6-5 308
After losing Alan Faneca, and their line allowing Roethlisberger to be sacked more times than is healthy, the Steelers take the top lineman on the board, who can play G or T, to protect their $100M QB.

24. Tennessee Titans
Mario Manningham WR Michigan 5-11 180
Vince petitions Fisher for a wideout. Despite a poor combine, they take Mario.

25. Seattle Seahawks
Branden Albert G Virginia 6-7 315
They signed Julius Jones to take over at RB, now they look to fill the void open since Hutchinson left.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars
Phillip Merling DE Clemson 6-5 270
Jack del Rio likes the big DE Merling. I have a good feeling about this one.

27. San Diego Chargers
Reggie Smith CB/FS Oklahoma 6-0 200
Reggie Smith can play both corner and safety, he can pair with Eric Weddle or replace Drayton Florence. They'll need the help against Brady and Peyton in the playoffs.

28. Dallas Cowboys
Chris Williams T Vanderbilt 6-6 315
Flozell Adams is 38. Osi Umenyiora is 25. Need I say more?

29. San Francisco 49ers
James Hardy WR Indiana 6-6 220
A reach, but this round has stolen the top WRs. They need a tall guy to catch Alex Smith's non-spiraling overthrows.

30. Green Bay Packers
Pat Sims DT Auburn 6-4 315
Eventual replacement in the middle for Corey Williams.

31. New York Giants
Antoine Cason CB Arizona 6-0 182
Jerry Reese likes Cason. Madison and McQuarters are old. Giants go CB for the second straight year.

03 marzo 2008

The New Marriage-Wrecker

Internet Pornography Burrows Deeper Into Culture

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, FEB. 24, 2008 (Zenit.org).- In Lent we should think of fasting not only in relation to food and drink, but also from images, recommended Benedict XVI. The Pope’s advice came during a question-and-answer session with Rome’s clergy, held Feb. 7.

The question dealt with how best to evangelize people as to what is true beauty in the context of contemporary culture. Part of the Pontiff’s reply dealt with the use of images and also the problems created by mistaken ideals of beauty. During Lent:, “we need a space that is free from the permanent bombardment of images,” Benedict XVI commented.

One application of the Pope’s counsel would be to fast, not only during Lent, but permanently, from the ever-increasing presence of pornography. A Feb. 12 article posted on the ABC News Web site cited data from a trade publication that put at $14 billion the sales generated in the United States related to pornography in one form or another. The article also reported that one estimate puts at 4.2 million the number of pornographic sites online, with 40 million visitors daily.

Federal government attempts to control the flourishing industry have not had much success. Obscenity investigations into adult pornography by the FBI have diminished due to other issues such as terrorism, reported Reuters on Sept. 19. The FBI has, however, taken action in fighting child pornography.

As well, attempts to regulate the Internet pornography industry have run into repeated legal defeats. Last year a federal judge upheld previous rulings invalidating the Child Online Protection Act, on the grounds it denied free-speech rights, reported the Washington Post on March 23.

The law made it a crime for those running Internet sites to let anyone under 17 have access to sexual material. The law, approved in 1998, never entered into force as it was blocked by a series of legal actions.

Dangerous consequences

The increasing use of pornography is creating not a few problems. Late last year a judge in Melbourne, Australia, sentenced a man to 11 years in jail on a rape charge, reported the Age newspaper on Jan. 3.

Judge Damian Murphy, said that the Andrew Bowen had acted out a fantasy seen in material downloaded from the Internet.

The article’s authors, Maree Crabbe and David Corlett, commented that one consequence of Internet-based pornography is a shift to more extreme and violent sexual imagery. Scenes that are so degrading and humiliating that they would be banned from film and television are now freely available to anyone with a Web connection.

Crabbe and Corlett said that research shows a link between consumption of pornography and male sexual aggression. Even when the pornography is not violent, exposure to it tends to increase in the viewer tolerance of sexual violence.

Earlier last year a report published in Australia revealed record numbers of visitors to porn Web sites. According to a May 26 article in the Sydney Morning Herald, a survey found that 35% of Internet users had visited an “adult” site at least once in the preceding three months.

According to the article, psychologists and counselors say Internet pornography is a growing cause of marital problems due to increasing numbers of men who become compulsive users.

A lengthy feature article on this issue was published in the Age newspaper May 26. “The impact of internet pornography on sexual attitudes, practice and relationships may prove to be as profound as the introduction of the contraceptive pill in 1961," the article affirmed.

Terming it as the “new marriage-wrecker,” the article commented that not only do large numbers of men become habitual users, but also that it causes unhappiness and self-doubt for many women.

Mobile images

After the Internet, it is now mobile phones that are becoming an avenue for pornography. Already widespread in Europe, the use of cell phones for this purpose is set to take off in the United States, according to a Jan. 30 Reuters article.

According to Reuters, pornography sales via cell phones in Europe reaped $775 million in 2007, compared to just $26 million in the United States. One study cited in the article estimated that worldwide, the porn industry could generate $3.5 billion in revenue by 2010.

Phone companies in the United States are planning to loosen controls on their networks, allowing more gadgets and services. As well, newer phone models have higher quality images and an improved ability to browse the Web. Video-sharing sites are also expanding to offer services to those with more advanced cell phones.

The spreading use of pornography via cell phones sparked off a confrontation last year in the Church of England, when an ecclesiastical tribunal ruled against the use of phone antennas in church spires and towers, reported the Times on March 17.

Churches can make more than 10,000 pounds ($19,621) a year in rent from mobile phone companies, the article noted. This was put in danger when a church judge in Chelmsford, Essex, ruled against an application to install a mast in the tower of St. Peter and St. Paul in Chingford. Judge George Pulman concluded that some of the material transmitted “is not consistent with the Christian use of a church.”

His ruling, however, was overturned shortly afterward by the Court of Arches, the highest ecclesiastical body in the Church of England, reported the Telegraph newspaper on July 25. The court said that it must be remembered that human beings are "imperfect" and to refuse the mast on that ground would be an "unbalanced approach.”

Fortunately a saner view is prevailing in other circles. The Feb. 10-16 edition of the National Catholic Register reported on action being taken by some Catholic colleges in the United States to block pornography and gambling Web sites.

Starting in 2006, St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, put filters in place to block access to such sites from all public and residence hall computers. “As a parent of five children, I assumed that at a Catholic college you couldn’t stream porn into your dorm room,” commented college president, Jim Towey, who introduced the policy shortly after taking office.

Other Catholic institutions that filter access include Franciscan University of Steubenville and Wyoming Catholic. Nevertheless, the Register article noted that many other Catholic colleges do not put any filters in place.

Chaste living

Concern over pornography was expressed in a publication approved by the November 2007 meeting of the U.S. episcopal conference: “Catechetical Formation in Chaste Living: Guidelines for Curriculum Design and Publication."

Chastity, the document explained, “is not a matter of repression of sexual feelings and temptations but the successful integration of the gift of sexuality within the whole person.”

One of the pitfalls identified by the text is the misuse of the Internet that enables easy access to virtual pornography. Sexually explicit content in blogs, instant messages, and posting photos on social networking Web sites are also other avenues that violate chastity.

“Pornography defames the intimacy of the marital act and injures the dignity of viewers and participants,” the guidelines observed. “Christians are to shun all participation in pornography as producers, actors, consumers or vendors."

More catechetical instruction and education is needed in order to help us appreciate the value of chastity, the document commented. It might also help to remember what Benedict XVI mentioned in his Feb. 7 remarks on images and beauty.

God can liberate us from “the inflation of images,” the Pope said. In fact, he continued, through Christ’s incarnation God has shown us his image. Convincing the world of the beauty of the truth revealed in Christ may well be the key to overcoming the allurement of impoverished images that only degrade our humanity.

Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-21874?l=english

AIDS in Africa: Abstinence Works

Interview With Expert Matthew Hanley
By Carrie Gress

BALTIMORE, Maryland, FEB. 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- In the fight against AIDS, abstinence-based programs that focus on changing behaviors rather than handing out condoms simply work better, says an AIDS expert.

Matthew Hanley has been a HIV/AIDS technical adviser at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for the last seven years and is the author of the forthcoming book "Avoiding Risk, Affirming Life: Science, Love, and AIDS."

In this interview with ZENIT, Hanley comments on the programs and principles that have led to dropping rates of HIV prevalence in Africa.

Q: You seem to be something of a lone voice in the wilderness promoting Catholic principles in the fight against AIDS, and yet so much of the research is showing that this approach is really what is heading off the disease. How and where is this actually working?

Hanley: First, actual changes in patterns of sexual behavior have led to the most significant reductions in HIV prevalence. Take the well-known case of Uganda, where the prevalence rate dropped from 15% in 1991 to a little over 5% in 2001. Behavior change was so thorough in Uganda that by the mid-1990s, 95% of adults in that country said they had only one partner or none at all. But it is not only Uganda.

The most important factor in recent HIV declines observed in several other countries, such as Kenya, Zimbabwe and Haiti has been an increase in fidelity or "partner reduction." This should not be altogether surprising, considering that in a large swath of southern Africa, where over half of new infections globally come from, the AIDS epidemic is being driven by the dynamics of multiple and often concurrent sexual partnerships.

Where this kind of behavior change has not taken place, HIV incidence has remained high. This is the case in South Africa, which has been a vigorous promoter of condoms, but rather silent about the need for a more profound modification of behavior, specifically multiple partnerships.

The primacy of behavior change comes into even sharper relief when we consider that the two other major planks of HIV prevention besides condoms -- treating other sexually transmitted infections, and the promotion of voluntary counseling and testing -- have not been particularly effective in decreasing HIV incidence.

Q: One currently popular approach to AIDS prevention is called ABC -- Abstinence, Be Faithful, Condoms. The Catholic Church supports the AB. As someone who works in the fight against AIDS in a Catholic organization, how do you present the Church's teaching against condom use?

Hanley: First, we try to articulate what the Church actually proposes, abstinence and fidelity, in a positive manner. I have found in my trips to Africa that there is a real thirst for something different, something hopeful. We all know that people yearn for more than the satisfaction of their appetites. In other words, they yearn for love, for respect and for meaning in life. In his first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," Benedict XVI reminded us of long-standing Christian tradition, namely that human beings are a "union of body and soul," that love is characterized by exclusivity, or fidelity, and that love contains a quality of permanence over time.

When we conducted training recently with five dioceses in Ethiopia, one of the participants, a wife and a mother, spoke for the group by saying how much she appreciated the emphasis on fidelity and related human values such as respect and communication. She was puzzled as to why such basic themes are not more routinely promoted in the context of HIV prevention, adding: "Why hasn't anyone explained it like this before?"

So we try to address the whole human person, their deeper aspirations, and in proposing love, affirm basic Christian sexual ethics. It is on this level that the Church then encounters the wider culture, which as Pope John Paul II suggested in "Familiaris Consortio," often holds "fundamentally irreconcilable views of the human person and of human sexuality," leading many to aggressively reject these first principles.

Perhaps one of the most helpful means that I have seen of expressing the moral significance of the issues involved comes from the Kenyan bishops. In their pastoral letter on AIDS, they hit upon the crux of the matter: The Church proposes the same sexual morality even "when and where AIDS poses no danger." The central issue with respect to the Church's consistent teaching on sexual matters is thus not the risk of HIV, but the lack of chastity, and "this is not easy for 'the world' to grasp."

So the Catholic Church, among others, objects to the widespread promotion of condoms, primarily on legitimate moral and ethical grounds, over and above the practical limitations observed to date in practice.

I think it is also fair to point out that even from a practical point of view, the claims made by religious leaders -- that the promotion of condom use could lead to a false sense of security and even end up increasing overall risk -- have been echoed in the scientific literature; even long-time condom advocates have described this phenomenon as real.

Q: From your experience, why is there so much pressure to promote the C of the ABC approach given that despite the moral implications, it is not proving to be effective?

Hanley: Yes, researchers have noted that in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV transmission rates have remained high despite a considerable increase in condom use. For example, condom sales in Botswana increased from 1 million in 1993 to 3 million in 2001, while HIV prevalence among pregnant urban women increased from 27% to 45%. In Cameroon, during the same period, condom sales rose from 6 million to 15 million, while HIV prevalence increased from 3% to 9%.

A study commissioned by UNAIDS concluded, "Prevention campaigns relying primarily on the use of condoms have not been responsible for turning around any generalized epidemic."

I also found one survey conducted in Lesotho to be particularly revealing. It found that about 75% of respondents could identify condoms as a means of preventing HIV, but only approximately 5% of respondents identified abstinence or faithfulness as a means of avoiding HIV.

The more interesting element to consider, implicit in your question, is the underlying assumptions and philosophy behind how prevention measures are prioritized and emphasized. Since the primary approach of condoms, voluntary counseling and testing and treatment of other sexually transmitted infections, has not produced the intended results, in terms of achieving reductions in HIV prevalence, it would be difficult to avoid concluding that these interventions maintain their privileged position not because of empirically observed scientific excellence, but at least in part because of the desire of their proponents to cling to an underlying vision of the human person, freedom and sexuality.

Yet it is the Church that is routinely characterized as being opposed to science, or "dogmatic." But this charge does not stand up to scrutiny. The reference to dogma, though, calls to mind one of G.K. Chesterton's observations, "There are two kinds of people: Those who have a dogma and know it, and those who have a dogma and don't know it."

In other words, any approach to these issues is inherently charged with meaning. As products of our own time and place, we all naturally bring some sort of vision to the table, some presuppositions about life, relationships, sexuality, the dignity of the human person, family and so many other fundamental topics.

Beyond that, public health is deeply influenced by a kind of utilitarianism, known for its aim to achieve the "greatest happiness for the largest number." As it applies to HIV prevention policy, the objective becomes seeking to maximize the good of sexual pleasure while minimizing the pain of AIDS. But as the very name suggests, utilitarianism allows for the use or the manipulation of one person by another. In Christian thought, to "use" another person is the polar opposite of loving another person.

Public health approaches also borrow heavily from an inflated sense of "human autonomy" within the wider culture. This form of individualism exalts personal freedom as the supreme value. Freedom is thus enthroned above truth, as opposed to being subject to it. It is a concept of freedom that is, rather sadly, unencumbered by human relationships.

These schools of thought, in denying and rejecting objective moral and philosophical truths, advance no internally consistent or coherent rationale for limiting sexual partnerships, and thus tend to yield interventions that would rightly only be considered "secondary" measures of HIV prevention.

Source Article