22 dicembre 2009

Shakedown in Copenhagen

By Patrick J. Buchanan

December 18, 2009

If you would know what Copenhagen is all about, hearken to this nugget in The Washington Post's report from the Danish capital:

"Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi--who is representing all of Africa here--unveiled his proposal Wednesday for a system in which rich countries would provide money to poor ones to help deal with the effects of climate change. ...

"Zenawi said he would accept $30 billion in the short term, rising to $100 billion by 2020. ... This was seen as a key concession by developing countries, which had previously spurned that figure ... as too low." [At Copenhagen, both rich and developing nations offer concessions, By Juliet Eilperin and David A. Fahrenthold, December 17, 2009]

There was a time when a U.S. diplomat would have burst out laughing after listening to a Third World con artist like this.

But not the Obamaites. They are already ponying up.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack just pledged $1 billion at Copenhagen to developing countries who preserve their forests. Thus America, $12 trillion in debt and facing a second straight $1.4 trillion deficit, will borrow another $1 billion from China to send to Brazil to bribe them to stop cutting down their trees.

When you slice through the blather about marooned bears and melting ice caps, oceans rising and cities sinking, global warming is a racket and a crock. It is all about money and power.

Copenhagen has always been about an endless transfer of wealth from America, Europe and Japan and creation of a global bureaucracy to control the pace of world economic and industrial development.

End game: enrichment and empowerment of global elites at the expense of Western peoples whose leaders have been bamboozled by con artists.

When Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and Rita came ashore in Texas in 2005, we were told this was due to global warming, and hurricane seasons would now get worse and worse until the world radically reduced the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

President Bush ignored the hysteria. What happened?

As Michael Fumento reports, the 2009 hurricane season ended quietly, with the fewest hurricanes since 1997, and not one hurricane made landfall in the United States.

When the feds sought to list the polar bear as an endangered species, Gov. Sarah Palin protested this "politicized science" and sued, claiming the polar bear was a healthy species whose numbers had doubled in recent years.

Was she wrong?

Is the Arctic ice cap melting? So we are told. But what harm has befallen mankind other than to have a Northwest Passage opened up to maritime traffic in the summer?

The Antarctic ice sheet is nine times as large as the Arctic, and here is what the British Antarctic Survey wrote last April:

"(D)uring the winter freeze in Antarctica this ice cover expands to an area roughly twice the size of Europe. Ranging in thickness from less than a meter to several meters, the ice insulates the warm ocean from the frigid atmosphere above. Satellite images show that since the 1970s the extent of Antarctic sea ice has increased at a rate of 100,000 square kilometers a decade."

One hundred thousand square kilometers a decade?

This would mean Antarctic sea ice expanded by 300,000 square kilometers since the 1970s, or 116,000 square miles, which is an area larger than all of New England.

How can the Antarctic ice cap grow for three decades as the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has steadily increased, unless carbon dioxide has little or nothing to do with global warming?

Unlike the Arctic, Antarctica is a continent, and while chunks of ice are cracking off in Western Antarctica, in Eastern Antarctica, four times larger, the ice sheet is thickening and expanding. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research reported last April that the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades."

In April 1992, as the alarm over the Earth's end times began, scientists worldwide issued what was called the Heidelberg Appeal, aimed at just the kind of hysteria we are witnessing now in Copenhagen.

"We are ... worried ... at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development," said the scientists.

"We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look towards the past, does not exist and has probably never existed since man's first appearance in the biosphere. ... (H)umanity has always progressed by increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse.

"We do, however, forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet's destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data."

Since then, 4,000 scientists and 72 Nobel Prize winners have signed on. Again, it needs be said: Global warming is cyclical, and has been stagnant for a decade. There is no conclusive proof it is manmade, no conclusive proof it is harmful to the planet.

Source: http://www.Buchanan.org

John McCain on the Health Care Bill

an important snippet from an email he sent to his supporters on 12/21/09

Early this morning at 1am, the Senate voted 60 to 40 in favor of moving the Democrats' health care bill forward. The final vote to pass the bill is scheduled for Christmas Eve, and I pledge to you that I will not only continue to cast my vote against this bill, but will actively fight it every step along the way.

Democrats have used Bernie Madoff-style accounting to assess the cost of health care reform. And when this bill becomes law, the reality of higher taxes and Medicare cuts for seniors will settle in on the American public.

President Obama made a promise when he campaigned for president to sit down and negotiate health care reform with Republicans and Democrats. He also promised C-SPAN cameras would be in the room. But, that was all campaign rhetoric. This disastrous health care bill was negotiated behind closed doors and Republicans were never brought into the negotiations.

The result is a health care bill supported by 60 Democratic Senators, but opposed by 60% of the American public.

transmitted via email.

18 dicembre 2009

Italian Supreme Court Decision Signals Sovereign Resistance to European Overreach

By Piero A. Tozzi, J.D.

Volume 13, Number 1
December 17, 2009

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) A little-publicized decision by Italy's Constitutional Court last month may have significant implications concerning the direction of Europe, strengthening national sovereignty as a bulwark against transnational overreach by European institutions. It also signals the continued importance of national constitutions, despite the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty earlier this month.

In Sentenza N. 311, the Italian Constitutional Court stated that where rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) conflict with provisions of the Italian Constitution, such rulings "lack legitimacy." Sources close to the Italian judiciary told the Friday Fax that the decision was intended as a warning that activist rulings by the Strasbourg-based ECHR overstepping jurisdictional boundaries will not be given deference.

Sources point to the timing of the decision, which followed an early November ECHR ruling, Lautsi v. Italy, directing that crucifixes be removed from the Italian classroom. The Italian government is appealing that decision to the full Grand Chamber.

According to Roger Kiska, European legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, Lautsi is flawed on a number of grounds, including overreach – the ECHR is not a constitutional court – and its disregard for "the cultural sovereignty of each Member State." The Constitutional Court decision – which deals with civil service matters entirely unrelated to the crucifix case – signals that Italy may be prepared to break with the ECHR if it were to lose its appeal.

Kiska also notes that the ECHR recently heard arguments in the case A, B, & C v. Ireland, which involves a direct challenge to Ireland's constitutional protection of unborn life. The Italian court decision could embolden Ireland's Supreme Court in the event of an adverse decision.

Underlying the debate is the question of what role "subsidiarity" will play in post-Lisbon Europe. Subsidiarity is the notion that decisions are best made at the local level closest to the people affected by them, guaranteeing that national norms and values will not be overrun by top-down-dictates.

Observers note that the foundational documents of a united Europe – the 1957 Treaties of Rome establishing the European Economic Community – enshrine the concept of subsidiarity, and a protocol to the Lisbon Treaty states that European institutions shall "ensure constant respect for the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality."

By asserting that Italy's Constitution is the final word when confronted with decisions by transnationalist bodies, the Constitutional Court is drawing a line in the sand similar to that drawn by the United States (US) Supreme Court in 2008, when it rejected a directive from the World Court in The Hague as incompatible with the US Constitution.

Italy has two High Courts – one dealing with constitutional issues, and a second, the Corte Suprema di Cassazione, which is the court of final resort on all issues other than those with constitutional implications. The ECHR, a Council of Europe body, is distinct from the European Court of Justice, which is the European Union's highest court.

Source: C-FAM

New Paper Links UN Promotion of "Safe" Abortion to Maternal Deaths

By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

Volume 13, Number 1
December 17, 2009

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) A recent submission to the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) provides evidence of the potentially fatal consequences of "safe" abortion promoted by UN agencies, and includes a list of 113 studies linking abortion dangerous complications such as pre-term birth in subsequent pregnancies.

"The encouragement by [the UN Population Fund] UNFPA and [the World Health Organization] WHO of the use of mifepristone (RU-486, Mifegyne) and misoprostol (Cytotec) as ‘safe’ abortifacients in medically resource poor nations is unconscionable" the paper says, "and a violation of the human right to health of women."

Submitted by Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) [publisher of the Friday Fax] and authored by Donna Harrison, M.D., President of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), the paper calls on the Human Rights Council "to defend the right to bodily integrity of all human beings from fertilization to natural death" and "refrain [from] supporting in law and policy measures…empirically proven to hurt rather than help pregnant women."

The paper reports that "in the first three years of 'safe' mifepristone (Mifegyne) abortions in the United States…one third of the women with adverse events (237) experienced severe bleeding requiring emergency surgery, half of these required hospitalization, and forty two women bled over half of their blood volume." What is more, a WHO study showed that "one out of every five women who had ‘safe’ misoprostol abortions failed to abort and required surgical intervention." In poor countries where women do not have access to emergency care or even skilled birth attendants, the paper concludes, "these events would be fatal."

WHO studies show that the top killers of women in childbirth are bleeding, hypertensive disorders, anemia and sepsis. Abortion – including "spontaneous abortion" or miscarriage – is tenth on the list and accounts for 5% of deaths. The paper says "it is scientifically, medically, and morally unacceptable to divert resources" from what is really needed to save women’s lives: skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care.

The leaders of UN member states explicitly rejected inclusion of "Universal Access to Reproductive Health" in the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit, the paper reports, because it "included a target to eliminate ‘unsafe’ abortion," which some UN bureaucrats "defined as any abortion in a country where abortion was not legal." Even though member states rejected the goal, "the monitoring mechanisms for achievement of [Millennium Development Goal] MDG 5 have nevertheless implicitly incorporated the targets related to that rejected goal" which amounts to "cultural imperialism" that "deprives member nations of their right and duty to evaluate medical and policy effects of induced abortion within their own religious, cultural, and regional contexts" the paper says.

The submission to OHCHR was made in response to its request for information relevant to a thematic study on "Preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights," which was called for in a UN Human Rights Council resolution last June. One veteran UN observer told the Friday Fax he welcomed the submission by C-FAM and AAPLOG, commenting that it helps address the paucity of alternative viewpoints.

Source: C-FAM

17 dicembre 2009

Benedict XVI on John of Salisbury

"We Witness a Worrying Separation Between Reason ... and Liberty"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience in Paul VI Hall.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we will meet the figure of John of Salisbury, who belonged to one of the most important philosophical and theological schools of the Middle Ages, that of the cathedral of Chartres, in France. John, too, like the theologians about whom I've spoken over the past weeks, helps us to understand how faith, in harmony with the just aspirations of reason, pushes thought toward revealed truth, in which the true good of man is found.

John was born in England, in Salisbury, between the year 1100 and 1120. Reading his works, and above all, his rich epistles, we discover the most important events of his life. For 12 years, between 1136 and 1148, he dedicated himself to study, availing of the most qualified schools of the epoch, where he heard lectures from famous teachers.

He headed to Paris and then to Chartres, the environment that particularly marked his formation and from which he assimilated his great cultural openness, his interest for speculative problems, and his appreciation of literature. As often happened in that time, the most brilliant students were picked by prelates and sovereigns, to be their closest collaborators. This also happened to John of Salisbury, who was presented by a great friend of his, Bernard of Claraval, to Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury -- the primary see of England -- who happily took him in among his clergy.

For 11 years, from 1150 to 1161, John was the secretary and chaplain of the elderly archbishop. With tireless zeal, despite continuing his studies, he carried out an intense regimen of diplomatic activities, traveling 10 times to Italy with the specific objective of nourishing the relationship of the kingdom of England and the Church there with the Roman Pontiff.

Among other things, during those years, the Pope was Adrian IV, an Englishman who was a close friend of John of Salisbury. In the years following the 1159 death of Adrian IV, a situation of serious tension was created in England between the Church and the kingdom. The king, Henry II, aimed to wield authority over the internal life of the Church, limiting its liberty. This endeavor brought about a reaction from John of Salisbury, and above all, valiant resistance from Theobald's successor in the episcopal see of Canterbury, St. Thomas Becket. St. Thomas went to exile in France because of this. John of Salisbury accompanied him and remained at his service, always working for reconciliation. In 1170, when both John and Thomas Becket had returned to England, Thomas was attacked and killed in the cathedral. He died as a martyr and was immediately venerated as such by the people.

John continued faithfully serving the successor of Thomas as well, until he was elected bishop of Chartres, where he stayed from 1176 to 1180, the year of his death.

I would like to point out two of John of Salisbury's works, which are considered his masterpieces and which are elegantly named with the Greek titles of "Metalogicon" (In Defense of Logic) and "Policraticus" (The Man of Government).

In the first work -- and not lacking that fine irony that characterizes many men of culture -- he rejects the position of those who had a reductionist concept of culture, considering it empty eloquence and useless words. John instead praises culture, authentic philosophy, that is, the encounter between clear thought and communication, efficient speech. He writes, "As in fact eloquence that is not enlightened by faith is not only rash but also blind, so wisdom that does not engage in the use of the word not only is weak, but in a certain way, is truncated: Although perhaps wisdom without words could be of benefit to the individual conscience, rarely and little does it benefit society" (Metalogicon 1,1 PL 199,327).

This is a very relevant teaching. Today, what John defines as "eloquence," that is, the possibility of communicating with instruments ever more elaborate and widespread, has enormously increased. For all that, there is an even more urgent need to communicate messages gifted with "wisdom," that is, messages inspired in truth, goodness and beauty. This is a great responsibility that particularly involves those who work in the multiform and complex realm of culture, communication and the media. And this is a realm in which the Gospel can be announced with missionary vigor.

In "Metalogicon," John takes up the problems of logic, which were something of great interest in his time, and he proposes a fundamental question: What can human reason come to know? Up to what point can it respond to this aspiration that is in every person, that of seeking the truth? John of Salisbury takes a moderate position, based in the teaching of certain treatises of Aristotle and Cicero. According to him, ordinarily human reason can reach knowledge that is not indisputable, but probable and contestable. Human knowledge -- this is his conclusion -- is imperfect, because it is subject to finitude, to the limits of man. Nevertheless, it increases and becomes perfected thanks to experience and the elaboration of correct and concrete reasoning, capable of establishing relationships between concepts and reality; thanks to discussion, to confrontation, and to knowledge that is enriched from one generation to another. Only in God is there a perfect knowledge, which is communicated to man, at least partially, by means of revelation welcomed in faith. Thus the knowledge of faith opens the potentialities of reason and brings it to advance with humility in knowledge of the mysteries of God.

The believer and the theologian, who go deeper into the treasure of the faith, are opened as well to a practical knowledge that guides daily activity, that is, moral law and the exercise of virtue.

John of Salisbury writes: "The clemency of God has conceded us his law, which establishes what is useful for us to know, and indicates how much is licit to know of God and how much is justifiable to investigate. ... In this law, in fact, the will of God is made explicit and manifested, so that each one of us knows what is necessary for him to do" (Metalogicon 4,41, PL 199,944-945).

According to John of Salisbury, there also exists an objective and immutable truth, whose origin is God, accessible to human reason. This truth regards practical and social actions. This is a natural law, from which human laws and political and religious authority should take inspiration, so that they can promote the common good. This natural law is characterized by a property that John calls "equity," that is, the attribution to each person of his rights. From here descend precepts that are legitimate for all peoples and which in no case can be abrogated. This is the central thesis in "Policraticus," the treatise on philosophy and political theology, in which John of Salisbury reflects on the conditions that enable a political leader to act in a just and authorized manner.

While other discussions taken up in this work are tied to the historical circumstances in which it was written, the theme of the relationship between natural law and a positive-juridical ordering, arbitrated by equity, is still today of great importance. In our times, in fact, above all in certain countries, we witness a worrying separation between reason, which has the task of discovering the ethical values linked to the dignity of the human person, and liberty, which has the responsibility of welcoming and promoting these values. Perhaps John of Salisbury would remind us today that only those laws are equitable that protect the sanctity of human life and reject the legalization of abortion, euthanasia and limitless genetic experimentation, those laws that respect the dignity of matrimony between a man and a woman, that are inspired in a correct secularity of state -- secularity that always includes the protection of religious liberty -- and that pursue subsidiarity and solidarity at the national and international level.

If not, what John of Salisbury calls the "tyranny of the sovereign" or, what we would call "the dictatorship of relativism," ends up taking over -- a relativism that, as I recalled some years ago, "recognizes nothing as definitive and that has as its measure only the self and its desires" (Misa pro eligendo Romano Pontifice, homily, April 19, 2005).

In my most recent encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," addressing men and women of good will, who endeavor to ensure that social and political action is never disconnected from the objective truth about man and his dignity, I wrote: "Truth, and the love which it reveals, cannot be produced: they can only be received as a gift. Their ultimate source is not, and cannot be, mankind, but only God, who is himself Truth and Love. This principle is extremely important for society and for development, since neither can be a purely human product; the vocation to development on the part of individuals and peoples is not based simply on human choice, but is an intrinsic part of a plan that is prior to us and constitutes for all of us a duty to be freely accepted" (No. 52).

This plan that is prior to us, this truth of being, we should seek and welcome, so that justice is born. But we can find it and welcome it only with a heart, a will and reason purified in the light of God.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we now turn to John of Salisbury, an outstanding philosopher and theologian of the twelfth century. Born in England, John was educated in Paris and Chartres. A close associate of Saint Thomas Becket, he was involved in the crisis between the Church and the Crown under King Henry II, and died as Bishop of Chartres. In his celebrated work, the Metalogicon, John teaches that authentic philosophy is by nature communicative: it bears fruit in a message of wisdom which serves the building up of society in truth and goodness. While acknowledging the limitations of human reason, John insists that it can attain to the truth through dialogue and argumentation. Faith, which grants a share in God’s perfect knowledge, helps reason to realize its full potential. In another work, the Policraticus, John defends reason’s capacity to know the objective truth underlying the universal natural law, and its obligation to embody that law in all positive legislation. John’s insights are most timely today, in light of the threats to human life and dignity posed by legislation inspired more by the "dictatorship of relativism" than by the sober use of right reason and concern for the principles of truth and justice inscribed in the natural law.

I offer a warm welcome to the student groups present today from England, Ireland and the United States. My cordial greeting also goes to the pilgrims from Kenya and Nigeria. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[He added in Italian:]

With great affection, I greet you dear youth, ill people and newlyweds. In this period of Advent, the Lord tells us in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, "Turn to me and be saved" (45:22). Dear boys and girls, coming from so many schools and parishes of Italy, leave space in your heart for Jesus who comes to give testimony of his joy and peace. Dear sick people, welcome the Lord in your lives so as to find support and consolation in the encounter with him. And dear newlyweds, make of the message of the love of Christmas the rule of life for your families.

[Translation by ZENIT]

ZE09121605 - 2009-12-16
Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-27863?l=english

Pope: 12th-Century Lesson on Natural Law Needed

Warns of "Dictatorship of Relativism"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A 12th-century scholar has a lesson for today on what makes for fair and equal treatment in law, Benedict XVI says.

The Pope proposed today during the general audience the teaching of John of Salisbury, an English theologian and philosopher who served as bishop of Chartres, France, from 1176 until he died in 1180.

The Holy Father explained how John taught that "there also exists an objective and immutable truth, whose origin is God, accessible to human reason. This truth regards practical and social actions. This is a natural law, from which human laws and political and religious authority should take inspiration, so that they can promote the common good."

John said this law is characterized by "equity," or attributing to each person his rights.

"From here descend precepts that are legitimate for all peoples and which in no case can be abrogated," the Pope said, proposing that this teaching "is still today of great importance."

Growing distant

Benedict XVI contended that today we see the consequences of a lack of respect for natural law, as reason and liberty grow distant.

"In our times, in fact, above all in certain countries, we witness a worrying separation between reason, which has the task of discovering the ethical values linked to the dignity of the human person, and liberty, which has the responsibility of welcoming and promoting these values," he said.

The Pontiff proposed that the wisdom of John of Salisbury could speak to lawmakers of today: "Perhaps John of Salisbury would remind us today that only those laws are equitable that protect the sanctity of human life and reject the legalization of abortion, euthanasia and limitless genetic experimentation, those laws that respect the dignity of matrimony between a man and a woman, that are inspired in a correct secularity of state -- secularity that always includes the protection of religious liberty -- and that pursue subsidiarity and solidarity at the national and international level."

Different tyranny

Without these equitable laws based on human dignity, the Bishop of Rome warned, "what we would call 'the dictatorship of relativism,' ends up taking over -- a relativism that, as I recalled some years ago, 'recognizes nothing as definitive and that has as its measure only the self and its desires.'"

Citing "Caritas in Veritate," the Pope recalled: "Truth, and the love which it reveals, cannot be produced: they can only be received as a gift. Their ultimate source is not, and cannot be, mankind, but only God, who is himself Truth and Love.

"This principle is extremely important for society and for development, since neither can be a purely human product; the vocation to development on the part of individuals and peoples is not based simply on human choice, but is an intrinsic part of a plan that is prior to us and constitutes for all of us a duty to be freely accepted."

"This plan that is prior to us, this truth of being, we should seek and welcome, so that justice is born," the Holy Father concluded. "But we can find it and welcome it only with a heart, a will and reason purified in the light of God."

--- --- ---

On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-27863?l=english

ZE09121609 - 2009-12-16
Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-27867?l=english

16 dicembre 2009

Climate conference emits its share of carbon

By MICHAEL CASEY, Associated Press Writer – Tue Dec 15, 8:42 pm ET

COPENHAGEN – If they fail to reach a climate deal in Copenhagen, world leaders flying in their private jets and huddling in five-star hotels will have little to show for their efforts beyond a big, fat carbon footprint.

The U.N. estimates 40,500 tons of carbon dioxide will be pumped into the atmosphere during the 12-day conference — 90 percent of it from flights. The rest comes from waste and electricity related to transport to and from the conference center and lodging in and around the Danish city.

Most of the leaders were flying either on commercial airlines or government-owned jets and Sweden was one of the few to announce plans to offset those aviation emissions — something it does routinely. Most are doing nothing to boost their green credentials and some saw no reason to treat their trip to the U.N. climate talks any differently.

"This prime minister is the last person in India or maybe even the world to do anything for effect," said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's spokesman Harish Khare. "It'll be a normal visit, like any other visit by the prime minister." Singh was scheduled to travel in a private jet to Copenhagen for security, his office said.

Those traveling on commercial flights include Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

Barack Obama is traveling on Air Force One, French President Nicolas Sarkozy in his special Airbus and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on a presidential jet nicknamed "Aerolula."

A handful of Europeans made a point of taking the train, like the environment ministers of the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Few environmentalists at the conference made an issue of the carbon footprints from more than 100 world leaders. They were more worried that governments are failing to make progress on reaching a global climate pact.

Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg — who often gives green advice to Norwegians — was criticized at home, however, for deciding to take a private jet from Oslo to Copenhagen rather than one of the 17 shuttles that daily make the hour-long run between the two Scandinavian capitals.

"If he tells everybody to take the bus, take the train, stop wasting energy, then you'd have to expect Stoltenberg to sacrifice something too," said Oerjan Holm, vice president of the Norwegian Conservation Society.

A statement from Stoltenberg's office said he decided to travel by private jet because he wanted the "flexibility" to match the somewhat unstable schedule of the climate conference. It added that the government buys carbon credits at the end of every year to offset the prime minister's air travels.

Some activists said leaders should at least find ways to make their trip more sustainable, especially if they aren't serious about reaching a deal.

"There is an obsession by world leaders to be able to come in here with big entourages on their special airplanes, land at the airport and be driven in big limousines, with bigger entourages," said Asad Rehman, spokesman for the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

"What they should be looking at is how they could travel here with the minimal carbon impact that they can have," he said. "But also, more importantly, are they coming here to actually sign a deal and make a deal that will save both the people and the planet? If they're coming here with an empty pocket and empty promises, then they should stay at home."

Susan Burns, the chief executive officer of the Global Footprint Network, a California-based sustainability research institute, said it would be wrong to scale back negotiations over concerns about carbon emissions, especially with so much work to be done.

"They should have a Copenhagen every month until they figure this out," Burns said. "We need to spend our carbon very wisely. And getting world leaders together and locking them in a room while they get this done is one such investment, as is investing it in the economy of the future."

Climate summits, which attract thousands of delegates and are often held in far-flung or glitzy locations like Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro, are easy targets for critics.

The last big climate conference, in 2007 on the Indonesian island of Bali, blew through 47,000 tons of carbon — equal to the daily emissions of Marseilles, one of the biggest cities in France. Delegates were criticized for running their air conditioners as they chatted in beach-side villas.

This time, it's the idling limos waiting in subzero temperatures to shuttle delegates between their hotels and the conference center.

Organizers from the Danish government said they were doing everything they could to minimize the conference's carbon footprint.

They have reduced emissions 20 percent through a number of energy efficiency measures, promoted public transport, encouraged hotels to provide environmentally certified rooms and installed efficient lighting in the conference center, according to Jan-Christoph Napierski, who heads conference logistics for the Danish Foreign Ministry.

They are offsetting the rest of the emissions by investing in a program to upgrade antiquated brick kilns in Bangladesh with the help of the World Bank.

"Bangladesh is one of the countries hardest hit by climate change and there's a great need to assist the country with technology and capital contributions," said conference president Connie Hedegaard. "In addition, the project will result in significant environmental improvements for the local community, where particle pollution from the existing old brick works is clearly visible."

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/climate_carbon_footprint

Catholic Makes Health Bill Accessible Online

Former Steubenville Professor Offers Searchable Version
By Karna Swanson

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, DEC. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As the Senate looks to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill by Christmas, a former professor of business at the Franciscan University of Steubenville is looking to help Congress make a more informed decision.

Douglas Lowry, founder and president of Marpex Inc., has made available to legislators and the general public a searchable, online version of the health care reform legislation, as it is currently being debated in the Senate.

Lowry, who holds a doctorate from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told ZENIT he developed the online version of the bill for "decision-makers, reporters, and commentators. At the same time, it is free to all who want to download or search, since an informed populace is the backbone of democracy."

"Busy people, least of all senators, do not have time to fully digest 2,074 pages of legal prose," he explained. "The search engine is designed to get at meaning quickly on whatever topics happen to be of particular interest.

"For example, if someone inputs the three words 'long term care' (without the quotes), the top three of the six hits are directly on topic, the fourth suggests further search on 'chronic care,' the fifth indicates an alternate spelling (long-term) and suggests further search on combinations such as 'elderly disabled care.'

"The person searching is not obliged to sift through many dozens of poor hits in which the desired terms are far apart. There are just a few hits, and almost all those are on target."

Above all, Lowry said that the online version provides "a quick way to fact-check statements," and to "help people to get at meaning that is relevant to them, quickly."

The developer said that he hasn't heard yet if any senators are using his service, but he hopes some will be able to use it and maybe even send him the amendments as they are added.

The online version of the health care bill is part of his Words Close Together project, which seeks to create more adequate search engines for research purpose.

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Senate's health care reform bill: http://www.marpx.com/

10 dicembre 2009

"On Suzi Oppenheimer's gay marriage bill lament"

December 9, 2009

To the Editor:

NY State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer lamented in a recent letter to the editor that the New York State Senate “missed an opportunity to repair a part of the world when it failed to pass the marriage equality bill last week.” I do not lament the Senate’s vote; I applaud it.

I am encouraged to see that there are senators wise enough not to bend to special interests and to see this issue for what it truly is. They saw what Ms. Oppenheimer failed to see: this is not about equal or civil rights. Rather, by redefining marriage we would be redefining the meaning of the family and society. Marriage is the backbone of the family, and the family is the backbone of society. Redefine marriage and you redefine society; it’s as simple as that. I applaud those senators who had the courage to stand up to the special interest groups and see through the smoke screen that the gay marriage agenda is pushing. It is extremely dangerous for us to tamper with the very foundation of society without thinking hard and long about the consequences of doing so.

Numerous letters to the editor have opined something to the effect of “what difference does it make?” and “Let’s worry about more important issues such as the economy.” It makes a critical difference. Economies rise and fall. Our economy will eventually improve and the effects of the present situation will pass away. But changing the definition of marriage would be shaking our very moral foundation, and when a society’s moral foundation collapses, the society collapses with it, and from that we may never recover.

Ms. Oppenheimer made reference to a belief in her religious faith that commands us to “repair the world.” But did she ever stop to look at from where the “mistake” she wishes to correct originated? It came from the very word of God. There are six scriptural texts in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures which explicitly forbid homosexual activity as sinful and contrary to God’s command. When did Suzi Oppenheimer become so enlightened that she can tell God he’s wrong? How arrogant and audacious of any of us to pass judgment on the moral dictates of the Almighty and hold Him guilty of discrimination! What Divine Being appointed her to save mankind from the errors of God? She and all those who jump on the “anti-discrimination” bandwagon seems to have forgotten who saves whom. Any society that decides it will save the world from the “errors of God” has already begun to self-destruct. I pray we will all wake up and see what we’re doing before it’s too late.

Rev. Andrew P. Carrozza
Pastor, St. Ann’s Church
854 Midland Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10704

08 dicembre 2009

The Decline of Dogma and the Decline of Church Membership

Ronald Knox | From The Belief of Catholics | Ignatius Insight

Editor's Note: Originally written in 1927, Ronald Knox's The Belief of Catholics remains a fresh, engaging, and timely work of apologetics. Part of the reason is that Knox was a brilliant stylist. Another is that he had a gift for going to the heart of a matter. In this excerpt he considers the growing skepticism and faddish denial of dogma of his time, and in so doing sheds light on problems that continue to perplex Christians today.

It appears, then, that the two processes are going on side by side, the decline of Church membership and the decline of dogma; the evacuation of the pew and the jettisoning of cargo from the pulpit. I have been at pains to adduce instances of the fact, though indeed it was hardly necessary, for the two tendencies are pretty generally admitted; the one openly deplored, the other openly defended. Are the two processes interrelated? And, if so, does the decline of Church membership cause the decline of dogma, or result from it, or is it a parallel symptom? Reflection shows, I think, that there is truth in all three suggestions.

To some extent, the decline of Church membership causes the decline of dogma. Obviously, the grievance of the man in the street against organised religion is partly an intellectual one. Other influences may prevail to keep him away from Church; as, a general unreasoning dislike towards all forms of authority, or absorption in pleasures and in worldly distractions. But the reason he alleges, at any rate, for his nonattendance is commonly his inability to believe "the stuff the parsons preach." What wonder if this attitude makes the preacher reconsider his message? He would blame himself if he allowed souls to lose contact with religion through undue insistence on any doctrine that was not true--or even not certainly true-- or even not theologically important. Hence comes the impetus to take stock afresh of his own theological position; is he really convinced of the truth, the certainty, the importance of such and such a doctrine? He is bound, indeed, to declare the whole counsel of God. But what is the whole counsel of God? If he could accept the inerrancy of Scripture, like his fathers before him, he would have at least a chart to guide him. But he has no ground for believing in the inerrancy of Scripture, unless it be guaranteed to him by the Church. What Church? His Church? If the Church of England be meant, or "a fortiori" any of the Nonconformist bodies, he can find no help in such a refuge; for a religious connection which claims no infallibility for itself can hardly be justified in investing the Bible with inerrancy! If, on the contrary, he appeals to the Catholic Church, he knows that he is appealing to a tribunal by whose judgments he himself does not abide. Somehow, then, he has to construct his own theology for himself, and to take responsibility for the construction; in doing so, would he be human if he were not influenced a little by the unbelief of those about him, by those unfilled pews which reproach him, Sunday by Sunday, with preaching a message unacceptable to the spirit of the age?

I do not mean to suggest that the desire to meet infidelity half-way is the sole or even the main cause responsible for the loose theology of our time. No preacher would deliberately judge the credibility of his message by the credulity of his audience. But the prevalent irreligion of the age does exercise a continual unconscious pressure upon the pulpit; it makes preachers hesitate to affirm doctrines whose affirmation would be unpopular. And a doctrine which has ceased to be affirmed is doomed, like a disused organ, to atrophy.

That modernism among the clergy and scepticism among the laity are to some extent parallel effects of the same causes, hardly needs demonstration. The confident assertions of the philosopher, the scientist, the historian--that truth is relative, not absolute; that we can no longer believe in Genesis; that Christianity descends straight from the heathen mystery religions-- will differ in their effect on different minds. One man will say, quite simply, "Then it's no good believing in Christianity any longer"; another will prefer to consider how the abiding truth of Christianity can best be reconciled with these apparently discouraging notions, how best restated in the light of these recent additions to human knowledge. Sometimes it is a matter of training and outlook; A is already looking out for, nay, is almost prepared to welcome, an excuse for abandoning his old religious ideas; B would sooner bid farewell to reason itself than impugn the veracity of the Church which has nourished him. Sometimes it is a matter of temperament; the world may be divided (amongst other convenient dichotomies) into the people who take it or leave it and the people who split the difference. Sometimes there is a real intellectual struggle in one conscientious mind as to whether any accommodation can consistently be made between the new truth and the old tradition.

It must not be supposed that we have finished with materialism. Yesterday, it was the concept of Evolution that was in the air. To one mind, it seemed a disproof of the very basis of religious truth; it had knocked the bottom out of Christianity. To another mind, this same concept of Evolution seemed a convenient solder for patching up the holes in a leaky system; apply its doctrines to the Christian faith, and it would begin to hold water once more. Today the rage is for psychology; to some minds the new psychology has already destroyed, or is beginning to destroy, the whole notion of free will. Others, within the Christian camp, are beginning to take up the jargon of the new empiricism and apply it to the problems of religion, not less joyfully than their fathers did yesterday. What is one man's poison is another man's drug.

In a sense, then, the decline of Church membership explains the decline of dogma. In a sense, it is a parallel effect of the same causes. But there is a sense, also, in which the decline of dogma explains the decline of Church membership.

Such a suggestion is, of course, clean contrary to the fashionable platitudes of our day. When "the failure of the Churches" is discussed in public print, our well-meaning advisers always insist, with a somewhat wearying reiteration, on the need for a more comprehensive Christianity, which shall get away from forms and ceremonies, from dogmas and creeds, and shall concentrate its attention upon those elementary principles of life and devotion which all Christians have at heart. Each prophet who thus enlightens us makes the curious assumption, apparently, that he is the first person who has ever suggested anything of the kind. As a matter of fact, the brazen lungs of Fleet Street have been shouting these same directions at us for a quarter of a century past. And have "the Churches" taken no notice? On the contrary, as I have suggested above, the pilots of our storm-tossed denominations have lost no opportunity of lightening ship by jettisoning every point of doctrine that seemed questionable, and therefore unessential; hell has been abolished, and sin very nearly; the Old Testament is never alluded to but with a torrent of disclaimers, and miracle with an apologetic grimace. Preachers of the rival sects have exchanged pulpits; "joint services" have been held on occasions of public importance; even the inauguration of a new Anglican cathedral cannot take place nowadays without a fraternisation of the Christianities. In hundreds of churches and chapels everything has been done that could be done to meet this modern latitudinarian demand. And the result?

The result is that as long as a man is a good preacher, a good organiser, or an arresting personality, he can always achieve a certain local following; and among this local following a reputation for broad-mindedness stands him in good stead. But the ordinary man who does not go to church is quite unaffected by the process. He thinks no better of Christianity for its efforts to be undogmatic. It is not that he makes any articulate reply to these overtures; he simply ignores them. Nothing, I believe, has contributed more powerfully to the recent successes of the "Anglo-Catholic" movement than the conviction, gradually borne in upon the clergy, that the latitudinarian appeal, as a matter of experience, does not attract. Dogmas may fly out at the window but congregations do not come in at the door.

So much, as a matter of daily experience, will hardly be gainsaid. What follows is more controversial; indeed, it is a thesis which hardly admits of exact proof. It seems to me that (let us say) seven in ten of our fellow-countrymen, if they give a thought to the matter at all, think the worse, not the better, of our modem leaders for their willingness to throw dogma overboard to the wolves of unbelief. They are scandalised, rather than impressed, by the theological chaos which two generations of controversy have left behind them. It is the common assumption of all these modem prophets, whatever their school, that religious truth is something not yet determined, something which is being gradually established by a slow process of testing and research. They boast of their indecisions; they parade their dissensions; it shows (they say) a healthy spirit of fearless inquiry, this freedom from the incubus of tradition. Such sentiments evoke, I believe, no echo of applause outside their own immediate circles. The uneasy impression is left on the average citizen that "the parsons do not know their own business"; that disagreements between sect and sect are more, not less disedifying when either side hastens to explain that the disagreement is over externals, rather than essentials; that if Christianity is still in process of formulation after twenty centuries, it must be an uncommonly elusive affair. The average citizen expects any religion which makes claims upon him to be a revealed religion; and if the doctrine of Christianity is a revealed doctrine, why all this perennial need of discussion and restatement? Why should a divine structure send in continual bills for alterations and repairs? Moreover, he is a little suspicious of these modern concessions, these attempts to meet him half-way. Is the stock (he asks in his commercial way) really a sound investment, when those who hold it are so anxious to unload it on any terms?

It is not only the theological speculations of the modem Christianities which produce this sense of uneasiness. It is the whole accommodating attitude taken up by the religions of to-day and their professors--accommodating, and for that reason, not reassuring. It is an infinitely small point, but does the abandonment, total or partial, of the clerical garb by some modem clergymen really make the laity feel more at home with them? Does it not rather create the suspicion that they are ashamed of being what they are? Distrust may even be aroused, sometimes, by the modem sympathy of official Anglicanism for the movement towards democracy; to some minds, it comes too late to be impressive. The gesture made by "the Churches" at the time of the General Strike was, I fully believe, the result of a sincere desire for the national well-being. But this confidence was not everywhere felt; many preferred to think it dictated by panic, rather than by genuine concern. Even in matters of grave and practical moral import, representatives of the Christian bodies have, before now, given forth an uncertain sound, and affirmed the traditional ethics of Christianity with a minority protest. Most outside critics sympathised, no doubt, with the minority; but it is questionable whether they felt much respect for a religion whose spokesmen could differ so fundamentally.

Do the Churches know their own mind, or even their own minds? That is, in effect, the question which bewilders men to-day far more than any strictly theological problem. I do not mean that the ordinary Englishman is for ever worrying about the question; the sad truth is that he lacks the necessary interest in religious matters altogether. You will only catch occasional glimpses of his attitude; but they are, to my mind, unmistakable. "Let the Churches make up their own mind what they believe," he says, "and then come and tell me." Meanwhile, there is no sign that such an event is probable. The present effort to unify belief and practice within the Church of England is the heir to a long line of failures.

07 dicembre 2009

New UNFPA Report Goes Green to Promote "Reproductive Rights"

By Piero A. Tozzi, J.D.
C-FAM / Volume 12, Number 49 / November 19, 2009

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released its annual State of the World Population Report yesterday, linking efforts to promote "sustainable development" and affect "climate change" to its "reproductive rights" agenda. Critics see the report as a thinly-veiled attempt to harness popular environmental concerns in service of population control.

The report, "Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate," asserts that achieving "universal access to reproductive health" would both contribute to declines in fertility and "help reduce green-house gas emissions in the long run." It calls upon nations to "fully fund family planning services and contraceptive supplies."

Sounding alarmist, UNFPA claims that "The harsh realities of high per capita emissions among industrialized countries and swiftly rising ones among developing countries highlight the urgency of mobilizing all of humanity to stop collectively at the brink of this possible climate disaster zone." In a statement accompanying the report, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid avers that "rapid population growth and industrialization have led to a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions. We have now reached a point where humanity is approaching the brink of disaster."

Peter C. Smith of the International Right to Life Federation observes that agencies such as the UNFPA always need a "looming disaster" to secure their funding." Smith sees the "true looming disaster" as the "demographic implosion of the developed world" which is being exported to the developing world. The report touts declining birth rates in Japan and the European Union (EU) as positives and criticizes higher fertility in the United States (US).

In places, the report disavows overt population control arguments and acknowledges development specialists such as Bangladesh's Atiq Rahman, who attributes climate change to "consumption patterns" rather than "demographic considerations." Yet it also asserts that "Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendents. Hence, the emissions savings from intended or planned births multiply with time." 

Further, the report states that "fear of appearing supportive of population control has until recently held back any mention of 'population' in the climate debate. Nonetheless, some participants in the debate are tentatively suggesting the need at least consider the impacts of population growth." It points to an EU proposal "that population trends be among the factors that should be taken into consideration when setting greenhouse-gas mitigation targets."

Critics also point to the report's favorable citation of Obama administration's science czar, John Holdren, as signaling openness to coercive measures. In the 1970s, Holdren called for forced abortion and sterilization in his writings. 

 Concern over UNFPA's role in facilitating China's one-child policy, which is beset by allegations of forced and sex-selective abortion, contributed to a recommendation by the US State Department under then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to suspend funding of the agency. In March of this year, the Obama administration reversed the Bush administration policy and directed that $50 million be given to UNFPA, despite continued concerns over its China role.

Language May Begin Before Birth

New York Times
November 17, 2009, 2:26 pm

They are listening in there — far more closely than previously thought.

How early does language — a particular language — begin?

Researchers have studied the cries of 60 newborns, ages 3 to 5 days old, born to families who speak French and German. As they reported in this month’s issue of the journal Current Biology, the French infants cried with a rising tone, and the German infants cried with a falling one.

What does this mean? That they are listening in there — far more closely than previously thought. Kathleen Wemke, the lead researcher from the University of Wurzberg told the BBC, “The dramatic finding of this study is that not only are human neonates capable of producing different cry melodies, but they prefer to produce those melody patterns that are typical for the ambient language they have heard during their fetal life.”

It also means it’s just a matter of time before there are gadgets intended to teach French, German and so on, to fetuses. Already, there is a new app that turns your iPhone into “a cry translator.” For $30, it deciphers what its creator call the “five cries universal to all babies” — hungry, sleepy, stressed, annoyed and bored.

Those who peddle it say it is 96 percent accurate, which is more or less what the makers of a dog collar said a few years ago about its ability to translate barks into 178 phrases like “Why don’t you talk to me?” and “I love to be at your side.” When a vet who specializes in canine communication tested the device, however, she was less than impressed.

The message here? It sure won’t hurt to talk to your baby in the womb. You will probably understand her cries better than any device shortly within days of knowing her. And if your dog barks — feed him, pet him or walk him.

03 dicembre 2009

Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?

By James Delingpole
Last updated: November 20th, 2009


If you own any shares in alternative energy companies I should start dumping them NOW. The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth (aka AGW; aka ManBearPig) has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka CRU) and released 61 megabytes of confidential files onto the internet. (Hat tip: Watts Up With That)

When you read some of those files – including 1079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest:

Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.

One of the alleged emails has a gentle gloat over the death in 2004 of John L Daly (one of the first climate change sceptics, founder of the Still Waiting For Greenhouse site), commenting:

“In an odd way this is cheering news.”

But perhaps the most damaging revelations – the scientific equivalent of the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses scandal – are those concerning the way Warmist scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause.

Here are a few tasters.

Manipulation of evidence:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

Private doubts about whether the world really is heating up:

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

Suppression of evidence:

Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?

Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.

Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.

We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

Fantasies of violence against prominent Climate Sceptic scientists:

Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat
the crap out of him. Very tempted.

Attempts to disguise the inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP):

……Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back–I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back….

And, perhaps most reprehensibly, a long series of communications discussing how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process. How, in other words, to create a scientific climate in which anyone who disagrees with AGW can be written off as a crank, whose views do not have a scrap of authority.

“This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…What do others think?”

“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”“It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice !”

Hadley CRU has form in this regard. In September – I wrote the story up here as “How the global warming industry is based on a massive lie” - CRU’s researchers were exposed as having “cherry-picked” data in order to support their untrue claim that global temperatures had risen higher at the end of the 20th century than at any time in the last millenium. CRU was also the organisation which – in contravention of all acceptable behaviour in the international scientific community – spent years withholding data from researchers it deemed unhelpful to its cause. This matters because CRU, established in 1990 by the Met Office, is a government-funded body which is supposed to be a model of rectitude. Its HadCrut record is one of the four official sources of global temperature data used by the IPCC.

I asked in my title whether this will be the final nail in the coffin of Anthropenic Global Warming. This was wishful thinking, of course. In the run up to Copenhagen, we will see more and more hysterical (and grotesquely exaggerated) stories such as this in the Mainstream Media. And we will see ever-more-virulent campaigns conducted by eco-fascist activists, such as this risible new advertising campaign by Plane Stupid showing CGI polar bears falling from the sky and exploding because kind of, like, man, that’s sort of what happens whenever you take another trip on an aeroplane.

The world is currently cooling; electorates are increasingly reluctant to support eco-policies leading to more oppressive regulation, higher taxes and higher utility bills; the tide is turning against Al Gore’s Anthropogenic Global Warming theory. The so-called “sceptical” view – which is some of us have been expressing for quite some time: see, for example, the chapter entitled ‘Barbecue the Polar Bears’ in WELCOME TO OBAMALAND: I’VE SEEN YOUR FUTURE AND IT DOESN’T WORK – is now also, thank heaven, the majority view.

Unfortunately, we’ve a long, long way to go before the public mood (and scientific truth) is reflected by our policy makers. There are too many vested interests in AGW, with far too much to lose either in terms of reputation or money, for this to end without a bitter fight.

But to judge by the way – despite the best efforts of the MSM not to report on it – the CRU scandal is spreading like wildfire across the internet, this shabby story represents a blow to the AGW lobby’s credibility from which it is never likely to recover.

UPDATE: I write about this subject a lot and the threads below my posts often contain an impressive range of informed opinion from readers with solid scientific backgrounds (plus lots of cheap swipes from Libtards – but, hey, their discomfort and rage are my joy).

18 novembre 2009

Time to Quit Using China as Our ATM

China and our other major creditors increasingly have the power to literally destroy our economy without destroying their own.

By Elizabeth Factor and Mallory Factor
- FOXNews.com
- November 18, 2009

This week in China, President Obama is practicing a new form of American diplomacy --assurance. With China now America's largest debt holder, the president is reassuring China that their investment in the U.S. economy is secure. In analyzing the president's visit, the American media seems to have suddenly realized that America has lost the upper hand in its relationship with China. But this has been coming for a long time.

President Obama is reassuring China that America is credit-worthy so that China will not dump our debt onto the world markets. But he is also trying to ensure that China will continue to purchase our debt in the future to pay for his elaborate government initiatives like the health care bill, cap-and-trade, and other spending programs. China holds over $1.7 trillion dollars of our currency and debt, which is well over 10% of our gross domestic product--how high can our indebtedness to China go? Hard as it may be to stop going back to our foreign lenders for more support, we are just piling more dirt on a mountain that is about to come down and bury us. America would suffer if it stopped borrowing from abroad, but paying the price later will be much more devastating.

From the U.S. perspective, China's investment in our debt and economy may seem to be just what our credit-starved American businesses and financial industry need. But while creditors may not always exert influence over the debtor nation's foreign policy, they have the power to do so if their holdings of currency or debt of the other nation are sufficiently large. The fact is that by borrowing so extensively from China and other nations, we have already significantly compromised our ability to promote democracy, the rule of law, human and civil rights reforms, and environmental policy--in China and around the world.

And China and our other major creditors increasingly have the power to literally destroy our economy without destroying their own. They can do this simply by refusing to buy our treasuries, agencies and currency, or worse, by dumping what they already own on the world market, which can be likened to a"nuclear option." Without enough demand for our debt, the United States would have to either offer huge interest rates to entice the remaining market into purchasing our debt or print more money leading to a crashing dollar and massive inflation. Although each of our creditors would suffer from the decline in value of our debt and currency, they would suffer less than we would.

The "nuclear option" allows a creditor nation to present its debtor nations with terms under which lending will continue. For example, China could press the United States to buy Chinese goods over the goods of other nations or could require us to open up our markets on terms unfavorable to the United States. China could use its economic influence over the United States to curb our support for Taiwan or other allies.

Anyone who does not believe that China has a far reaching geopolitical agenda should look at their former leader Deng Xiaoping's "24 character" strategy. Deng developed this policy in the 1990s to bring China back to the prominence and power on the global stage which it had enjoyed for over 3,000 years prior to domination by Europe in the 19th century. His policy consists only of 24 Chinese characters, and continues to be quoted--and followed--by the current Chinese leadership. It is as follows: "observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership."

China's influence over its debtors' foreign policy is growing. In 2008, the UK, another profligate Chinese debtor, stopped advocating for a free Tibet and formally recognized the legitimacy of Beijing's direct rule over Tibet. And we are responding to their pressure also. The political reality is very simple -- it is hard to press for "change" in China when we need to be concerned about maintaining Chinese investment in our economy.

The solution to this critical problem is simple and yet extremely difficult to achieve: The United States needs to stop increasing its deficits. We need to bring them down, reduce our foreign borrowing and therefore, improve our global economic standing.

And, if we are not able to change the trajectory we have begun, then what? At some point--not too far in the future, America will have a meltdown. The world will stop lending us capital and investing in our economy, and the value of our debt will crash. Our financial pressures will change our American way of life-- in small ways at first and then, in big ways. Even our current reduced level of consumption--cars, electronics and consumer goods--will no longer be possible. And this crisis will lead to many unforeseeable shifts in our political alliances, domestic policies and business practices.

And it will no longer be the U.S. that will be speaking softly and carrying a "big stick." On his visit to China, the president went through the motions of addressing human rights and environmental issues to appease his base at home, but even he must realize that his remarks will have no impact on Chinese policy.

Soon, American presidents will not even mention human rights violations or other issues for fear of offending China or our other important creditors. We are already learning that we cannot promote democracy, civil rights, environmental policy, and a fair legal system to our creditors. At best, we may be able to preserve and defend these principles at home.

Instead of reassuring China, our president needs to be reassuring the people of our nation that he understands the connection between overspending and our future prosperity. Looming debt has made increases in spending simply impossible to consider and yet, Democrats in Congress and the White House seem to be throwing America "under the bus" with its rampant over-spending. President Obama needs to take steps immediately to halt our reliance on foreign borrowings and to ensure that America and our way of life are preserved.

Elizabeth Factor is an international tax lawyer and former investment banker.

Mallory Factor is the co-chairman and co-founder of the Monday Meeting, an influential meeting of economic conservatives, journalists and corporate leaders in New York City. Mr. Factor is a well-known merchant banker and speaks and writes frequently on economic and fiscal topics for news stations, leading newspapers and other print and online publications. Mr. Factor writes frequently for the Fox Forum and is seen regularly on Fox News Channel. Mr. Factor can be reached at mallory.factor@malloryfactor.com

16 novembre 2009

Crucifix out, warming in

It's official – global warmingism has court-warranted standing as a religion

by Rex Murphy
Published on Friday, Nov. 06, 2009 6:45PM EST
Last updated on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 3:17AM EST


What was once venerated is now, in many ways, dismissed and even despised.

Matthew Arnold, the great Victorian poet, marked the turning moment. He had early intimations of “the way we live now,” a way largely evacuated of its Christian allegiances, certainly – in the public sphere – evacuated of the regard and respect that the profession of Christianity once automatically evoked.

The Sea of Faith/ Was once, too, at the full,” he wrote, before going on in lines of immense power to record:

But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Arnold was more than a bit of a prophet. Blasted by the great cold winds of secularism and scientism, faith in the old sense, faith in Christianity in once or so-called Christian countries, is not only in decline and defensive. Faith is, at the public level, being actively pushed away, visited with dismissive scorn. At the same time, ideas, attitudes and “positions” that have never been seen under the rubric of faith increasingly seek the protections of “sanctified” belief.

What else to make of a human-rights ruling (no, not from one of our own restless engines of pseudo equity) from the European Court this week. According to this ruling, the crucifixes that hang in most Italian classrooms violate religious and educational freedoms. Yes, the cross in the Catholic country violates religious and educational freedoms. Is Dan Brown on the European Court?

A case was brought before this noble court (we know it's noble because it bears the banner of human rights) by a Finnish-born woman, an atheist, who complained that her children – in Italian classrooms, mind you – were “exposed” to crucifixes. Crucifixes in Italy – who would have guessed? It's like going to Newfoundland and complaining about wharves.

The court said this imposition might “disturb” children who weren't Christian and, to ward off a wave of trauma, ordered Italy to remove the crucifixes from its schools.

A case could be made that, whenever you hear of an action by a human-rights tribunal of any kind, you should mark it down that – quite likely – they are busy circumscribing the real rights or dignity of the various branches of Christianity, with a particular focus on Catholicism.

In this case, the European Court of Human Rights – in response to one complaint, from one atheist – told an entire country that has been the centre of world Christianity for 2,000 years to get rid of its most revered and cardinal symbol. It's the same old story: In the name of official tolerance, mandated intolerance.

At least the Italian authorities mustered something of an appropriate response to this insolent busybodyness. One government minister, Roberto Calderoli, loosed this volley: “The European court has trodden on our rights, our culture, our history, our traditions and our values.” Another minister noted that preventing the crucifix from being displayed is “an act of violence against the deep-seated feelings of the Italian people and all persons of goodwill.”

Meantime, in the country of Matthew Arnold's birth, another judge was busy passing an Alice in Wonderland verdict. This case arose from a wrongful-dismissal claim by a man of intense Green passions who said he was fired because of his global warming beliefs. The judge ruled that “a belief in man-made climate change … is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief” for the purpose of the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations.

So there you have it: Global warming is a philosophical belief and, if you “genuinely” believe it, has the status of a religion. And will be zealously protected by some courts when an actual religious symbol is objected to by someone who “genuinely” does not believe in any religion.

I have no idea what this “genuinely” believing something has to do with the actual belief in question. Some people genuinely believe the details of An Inconvenient Truth. Is the Al Gore sermon now protected as an “article of faith”? A PowerPoint version of the Mosaic tablets?

I have long thought that the “ism” in environmentalism was a very worrisome suffix. All “isms” are thought-blockers, flags of ardent belief, signals more of passionate intensity than mature judgment.

Well, now it's official. Global warmingism has court-warranted standing as a religion. And a 2,000-year-old religion is banned from manifesting its most precious symbol in front of the eyes of trauma-prone atheists. Lord, have mercy on us. Please.

Is everything sacred – except religion?

Disciple of Secularism Turns Catholic

Vittorio Messori Speaks About His Own Conversion

By Nicolas de Cardenas

ROME, NOV. 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- In his latest book, the author who interviewed many people, including the last two Popes, himself becomes the subject of an inquiry, leading him to reveal his story of conversion.

Vittorio Messori, author of "The Jesus Hypothesis" (1976), is the first journalist in history to publish a book-length interview with a Pope, the best-selling "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" (1994).

He also published "The Ratzinger Report" (1987), based on an interview with then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

In this interview with ZENIT, Messori talks about his latest book, "Por qué creo" [Why I Believe] (published by LibrosLibres in Spain), in which he is interviewed by Vatican expert Andrea Tornielli.

Part 2 of this interview will be published Friday.

ZENIT: At the beginning of the book, you seem very reticent to open your soul, although you have already accepted the challenge of addressing Tornielli's questions. Was it as hard as it seems for you to take on the systematic recounting of your conversion experience?

Messori: I have waited many years before responding. First, because I have written 23 books, all of religious research, but I always refused to recount my conversion.

My readers know that in my life there is a before and after. They know I wasn't born a Catholic and that I had a very anti-clerical and anti-religious education.

And they know that now I am a "Papist," an orthodox Catholic, and they are very curious to know how this happened. Why? What happened in my life?

I have passed from being anti-clerical to being a rigorous Catholic in thought, though not so much in life. Because I don't present myself as devout. I am like everyone else, a sinner who does many inconsistent things.

I have been very guarded about my inner life; I have not had the courage to talk about it.

Actually, conversion is a mystery and it is very difficult to talk about a mystery. My work is in words, I am a journalist and writer, I work with words. But it was very difficult for me to find the necessary words to talk about this mystery.

Finally, I decided to respond not only to the request of readers, but to that of this journalist, this colleague, Andrea Tornielli, who in my opinion is the best Italian Vatican expert, in addition to being a great journalist and writer.

Now I have decided for the first time to talk about it because my life is divided into two stages, passing from unbelief to faith.

ZENIT: The Spanish edition of the book "Why I Believe" has more than 350 pages, yet even with such an impressive exposition of your experience, a doubt remains. Can one truly encompass a person's mystical experience with the printed word? Is it possible to verbalize all the intellectual and moral change that a convert experiences?

Messori: This is one of the reasons why I always said no. I repeat, it is difficult to talk about mystery.

I'm not a mystic, I am not a visionary. I have always been a very pragmatic person, very concrete, very rational. However, there was a period in my life, of some two months in the summer, I don't know why, when I discovered a new dimension in which truth, which I thought did not exist in capital letters, became evident to me. It is in the Gospel.

I was a good student, I loved to study and I prepared myself not only to be a journalist but also a university professor. I had read very many books, but I had not read that small book that is the Gospel. I did not suspect that the Truth was in it.

Now I have continued to use my reason as before, but it is open to mystery. My teachers taught me to use pure reason, but I have discovered that by using it, at the end of reason one always comes to mystery.

In all my books I have sought to reason. I have not worked at preaching, spirituality, homilies. I try to help the reader to reason on faith and, at the end, to bet on the veracity of faith.

ZENIT: Although your conversion seems to be linked also to an "extraordinary event," you do not refer to it as a process of rational argumentation, or the seeking of objective reasons and historical principles for the credibility of the Church. What is your opinion of apologetics based not so much on the rationality of the faith as on individual experiences?

Messori: There is no contradiction between the two. The truth of the faith is understood by reasoning and living.

It is 40 years since my "fracture" and in that time I have reasoned and studied a lot, but above all I have lived and have found that the fruit of my reasoning made sense in a complete life.

The Gospel recounts that the disciples asked Jesus who he was. He did not give them sermons, did not offer them reasoning, he said to them: "Come, and follow me." Come with me, live with me and you will see that I am the Messiah.

Christianity is not a philosophy, it isn't an ideology. It is a meeting of two persons.

ZENIT: In the book one perceives a certain regret because of the abandonment of your former teachers, those who introduced you to the path of agnosticism. Did you feel betrayed by those who defended reason as the only possible basis, when that same rationality is the pivot of your coming to the faith?

Messori: For me faith was a surprise. I was not seeking it, I was fine. I had no religious worry.

I was satisfied with the secular and rationalist culture of my teachers. I did not wish to be a Catholic. The faith did not resolve the problems of life. On the contrary, it complicated life, because I come from a non-believing family.

I studied in a school that was more than secular, it was based in laicism. I prepared myself to be a journalist; I always had a great vocation, but [as] a journalist of political, social and economic affairs.

In my last year of university I had my life planned and I had to change the plan completely. My parents thought I had gone mad and my professors were afflicted and disappointed. They thought that "my thing" was related to a nervous depression.

How can a disciple of our secularism become a Catholic! It was very hard, because one can think at first that faith resolves all problems.

Of course I am very happy and glad to have problems, but in fact it was quite a rupture. In any case, I have had the good fortune to work for important newspapers such as "La Stampa," FIAT's newspaper, and also with "Il Corriere della Sera," always, however, writing about religious affairs, which is the opposite of what I planned in the beginning. In the end I found my place, but it was hard to change my plans completely.

ZENIT: Let us now address a question of current importance. How to you evaluate the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has just decided that Italian schools must remove crucifixes from the walls of their classrooms because their presence might disturb the children who are not Christians?

Messori: The concordat between the Italian state and the Church states that the crucifix must be present in schools and courts and this is perfectly in tune with the Italian constitution.

I am saddened because these officials [the judges] don't know anything, because for a long time the cross has been more than a religious symbol; it is a human symbol of justice, of suffering and of hope.

The position of laicism regarding the crucifix is absurd, because the denial of the Christian roots of Europe is not a sin against religion but against history. Without St. Benedict or the Medieval Popes, Europe wouldn't exist. It is a sin against history.

I am not scandalized because I believe that mass Christianity is finished. Jesus says that his disciples will always be a small group. I am not nostalgic for mass Christianity, for the Spain at the [time of the] Inquisition, for [a world in which] 90% of people go to Mass on Sunday.

As Benedict XVI says, I believe that we Christians must discover our own vocation.

ZENIT: Very many of your answers end by making a defense of "et-et" (this and that), in contrast to "aut-aut" (either this or that), as an essential characteristic of Catholicism; it is the idea that "everything fits" in the Church, an explanation of its unfathomable richness. However, where is the limit between what fits within the Church in some interpretation, and what doesn't fit because it is contrary to it?

Messori: The fundamental principle of Catholicism, to say it in Latin, is the "et-et," as opposed to the principle of heresy "aut-aut."

Let us think of Protestantism, which is an "aut-aut": Either the Bible or Tradition. Either Jesus Christ or the Virgin and the saints. Either grace or free will. Either Christ or the Pope. The heresy of Protestantism chooses either this or that.

Whereas the motto of the Catholic is "I want all": the Pope and the Bible, Jesus and his Mother, divine grace and man's liberty, the Gospel and the Church.

Now, I believe that a Catholic must discover this synthesis, of accepting everything that is good. This is very important because today there is much Catholicism subscribing to "aut-aut." The title of my next book will be "We Want All."

ZENIT: You are a defender of the rationality of the faith, of the existence of solid, almost scientific reasons for credibility of the Church, and at the same time a defender of miracles, a promoter of the Virgin's apparitions. A Catholic understands this well, but how do you explain it to an atheist?

Messori: There is no contradiction between faith and reason. There isn't a battle.

Faith is the point of arrival of reason used to the end. I am very grateful for what my university teachers taught me, though they later denounced me. I have not denounced them, because they taught me to use reason, and to be a believer does not mean to give up reason but to use it to the maximum.

I blame these teachers, [though] I esteem them, for having converted reason to an ideology, rationalism, which says there is nothing beyond reason. They must understand that there are things beyond reason that aren't against it, which encourages them to use it to the end.

I have written much on the apparitions of Lourdes and now I am finishing a volume on this subject. However, it isn't a book of supernatural explanations, but research on the historical plane of apparitions. In the end, I must bow before the fact that history researched in depth leads to mystery.

Half of my readers in Italy are believers, and the other half are not. The majority of the latter are not in agreement with my conclusions, but they are pleased to follow my reasoning.

What I try to demonstrate is that the Christian is not a cretin, he isn't someone who gives up the use of reason.

The Christian is one who using reason, breaks the walls of rationalism to come to a reality that is greater than our own reason.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Part I: http://www.zenit.org/article-27530?l=english
Part II: http://www.zenit.org/article-27536?l=english

09 novembre 2009

Iraqi Christians: Long History, Precarious Future

Documentary Sends Cry for Help to the World

By Genevieve Pollock

ARBIL, Iraq, NOV. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A new video documentary produced by Catholics in Iraq invites people to experience the history, culture, martyrs and struggles of one of the oldest Christian communities.

Hank and Diane McCormick, a missionary couple working in Northern Iraq, told ZENIT that the first episode of this five-part documentary can be viewed online by people worldwide who want to "meet" the Middle Eastern Catholics.

The video exposes stories about Christian martyrs of that region as well as Catholics -- bishops, priests and laypeople -- who are currently living there and working in schools, hospitals and other services. It incorporates scenes from the area's holy places, footage of ancient artifacts, glimpses of liturgical celebrations and local music.

Diane, who worked on the project as an assistant editor, explained that it was a joint effort of the Chaldean, Syrian, Maronite and Latin Churches, produced as a cry for help.

The message from the Catholics to the world, she said, is: "Help, help now while there is still large enough numbers for the rites to survive."

Diane continued: "They can clearly see the end to their existence within the next 10 years.

"Their departure is a loss, even for Muslims; an East without Christians would not be the same. They cannot cry out any louder for help from the universal Church."


The video introduction reports that the situation of that region's Christian community, which dates its origin back to St. Thomas the Apostle, is presently "precarious."

"These Catholics cannot remain in their homeland of 2,000 years without assistance from their Catholic brothers and sisters" on other continents, it states.

The video, titled "An Open Door," offers "insight into the minds and hearts of Catholics living in Iraq."

It explains that their "peaceful nature and status as a minority too small to defend themselves have caused Iraqi Catholics to be targeted and made victims of war after war."

Thus, the number of Christians in the region has dropped from 1.5 million to some 350,000, and it is continuing to fall.

Hank, who served as cameraman and translator for the video, explained to ZENIT that the Church leaders are hoping that people will see this video and "come and help."

He stated that aid is needed in order to "build industry, build Catholic schools, minor seminaries, and hospitals, and adopt parishes inside Iraq, thus opening up communication between Iraqis inside and the world beyond."

"Catholics in the Middle East are neither terrorists nor refugees," the video explains. "They are people, individuals with a deep faith, rich heritage and courage."

Modern martyr

The first episode tells the story of Father Ragheed Ganni, a 34-year-old pastor in Mosul who was shot four times through the heart in front of his church in 2007.

On the video, a fellow priest shows the icon, with a bullet hole through it, that was in Father Ganni's pocket when he was killed.

"The situation here is worse than hell," the pastor had written in an e-mail to a former professor the day before he died.

In his honor, some 37 miles from where he died, Catholics established the Father Ragheed Ganni Medical Center, where volunteers work to distribute medicine free of charge to Christians and Muslims alike.

Doctor Ranna Enwyia, who works at the clinic, was a close friend of Father Ganni. She affirmed that the priest was constantly aware that his life could be taken at any time, and yet he was always working, "always happy."

"He taught us how to be happy," she affirmed.

The doctor recalled that the priest used to pray to God: "Even if I lose my life, it's okay, because it will be with you and for you."

She stated: "He taught me that I will live just once. So I have to make every moment of my life to be useful to the other. And if it is useful to the other, it will make me happy."

Enwyia works alongside Doctor Basman Gilal Marcos, a Catholic who, through the medical center ministry, came back to practice his faith after being away for 20 years. They serve hundreds of people that come each Friday and Sunday for medicine.

Hank explained that the impact of Catholics in that area comes from the schools, hospitals and services they provide. "Even in the midst of war they are succeeding," he added.

Father Rayan Atto, a diocesan priest who directs the medical center, tells stories on the video of how Father Ganni has been interceding for the project and aiding with "many miracles."

Compelling stories

As the documentary continues into other episodes, Bishop Jack Ishaak, dean of Babel College in Arbil-Ankowa, explains the rich heritage of the community's 2,000 years of history and the current role of religion in daily life. He and other prelates explore the Chaldean liturgy and its ancient roots in the Jewish rites from Jerusalem.

Episode three reveals how success in Catholic education is being translated into "security" for the future of Christians "living among 25 million Muslims."

The final episode presents testimonies of the Catholics who have been kidnapped or have been victims of crime and religious persecution, and their own explanations of "why they want to stay in their homeland of 2,000 years."

It calls on the global community to help provide opportunities to "enable Christians to shed their refugee status."

Hank noted that this project is "a response to the Church's call for ecumenism and the Holy Father's call to help Christians in the Middle East."

"Because of the wars and the civil violence," he said, "which is constantly shown on the news, people -- Catholics especially -- need to see the picture of Northern Iraq, and to see and hear the stories of Catholics in action."

Father Jean Abou Khalife, founder and director of TV Charity, an apostolate of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries, took responsibility for producing the video.

The Chaldean Catholic Church, through St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Arbil, took charge of the content and the directing.

The agenda

Diane explained that the video was "a cooperative effort among the Churches" that they hope will "promote the agenda" of the 2010 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East "through lay means."

She told ZENIT that the documentary's message, as presented by Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, "mirrors the main points to be discussed in the Synod."

The Chaldean archbishop emphasizes the local Church's need to move from focusing on the past to preparation for the future, to center on identifying its vocation and mission in Northern Iraq today.

This is not something that the Iraqis can do alone, he noted, but it will be possible in communion with the universal Church.

Hank affirmed: "Our job is to raise awareness in the West of the dimensions of the problem, and then generate support for the building of schools, hospitals, clinics and more.

"Iraqi Catholics form a professional class. They have initiative, skills, and the desire to succeed. But the war has left them displaced and unemployed in an economy that cannot absorb their numbers.

"There has to be investment from the outside. The Church will use the Synod to do her part. And we lay need to do ours, which is to cooperate, donate, and sacrifice to help the Catholic community to survive in Iraq."

The first part of the video is currently available for online viewing, but with the completion of the other episodes, expected by the end of the month, a DVD will be produced for distribution.

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On the Net:

Online viewing of first part of An Open Door: www.charityandjustice.org

TV Charity: www.tvcharity.org

To order DVDs by email: anopendoor@tvcharity.org