Was the failure of Christianity to develop anything like Halakah or Sharia an enabler for the birth of liberalism in europe? Could we simplify this to christianity as a social movement, with rare exceptions (e.g. Aquinas), neglecting philosophy, leading to its eventual weakening in western society? Were the foundations of modern secular law made possible by there never having been a substantial Christian Legal theory? Were there pressures to develop anything akin to this when Christians, living under Islamic multiculturalism, were left to organise their internal affairs while rubbing shoulders with those organised under a beth din or sharia courts?
I admire Obama for being willing to sum up, in Cairo, most of the relevant issues between the various Islamic cultures and the various Western cultures. Israel, particularly with its current president, needs to be pushed *very* hard on the settlers, and hopefully a working long-term plan can be dropped into place before Hamas or Al Qæda can botch it. I dislike the two-state solution in principle because it aims to preserve a status quo of at least one state based on racial/religious preference - I hold such things in general to be ugly (see also preference for the Han in China), but if a lasting peace can be made through that route it's better than the status quo. The continued growth of settlements complicates matters - either the possibility of them being uprooted to allow a viable Palestinian state, their transfer to Palestine along with all their people (this creating people who are Hebrew/Judaist/former-Israeli Palestinian nationals), or other solutions are all ugly. Given that people are repeatedly attempting to establish new settlements and are being arrested by Israeli police, a good start would be declaring them subject to PA law and both outside the protection of the Israeli state ("outlaws") and outside consideration for land-trades and the like would be a start. So long as people feel their interests will be considered in the end when they break the law in the short-term with population games, they will continue to do this. On the other hand, the settlers tend to be well-armed and the PA would probably have a tough time arresting them or dismantling their communities, even small ones starting tomorrow.
Without the commitment to doing what is necessary to curb obstacles to peace, even at political and other costs, neither the PA nor the Israelis will be able to build a lasting foundation for peace.
Mostly unrelated, it's interesting watching the Saudis squirm as the US attempts to engage Iran politically. The old power triangle of SA/Iraq/Iran probably felt solidly gone to them with the US squarely in their camp, even as the wisdom of toppling Iraq was highly suspect and helped Iran's position. If we can rebuild ties with Iran (a good idea, I think), we'll have more leverage on the Saudis, not being so dependent on them. Valuewise, the Saudis may be better for business, but Iran is better by liberal standards.
I would probably kill without guilt if anyone did anything like this to my cats, quite possibly to pets in general. This might have to be filed into the category of "understandable acts that the legal system should probably not protect" - I am uncertain if it should be described as reasonable. On a personal level, I treat my cats as kin and would defend or avenge them using that same framework. I am uncertain how a good legal system *should* handle either direct and horrific abuse as described in that article or defense of them - should deadly force be acceptable to protect one's pets or animals in general? I suspect revenge is and should remain extralegal - even as people may feel commanded to recognise it in their personal morality, the tension between that personal mandate and the legal punishment (even if mitigated by a lesser penalty) is useful in keeping endless chains of blood feud from forming. Recognising the usefulness of such tensions seems like something a legal framer should consider, as well as secular notions of more than just Fard-Haram - I like the notion of having a more nuanced spectrum, perhaps something like the Islamic spectrum of Required-Virtuous-Neutral-Repugnant-Forbidden and with a commitment to "paving the path" and granting greater weight in situations of legal conflict for things that are seen as virtuous.
I have been wrestling with a terrible headache all day.