Category Archives: News and Info

News and Information Posts from Bro Bo

Doctor’s orders: Let children just play

 

 

 

Imagine a drug that could enhance a child’s creativity, critical thinking and resilience. Imagine that this drug were simple to make, safe to take, and could be had for free.

The nation’s leading pediatricians say this miracle compound exists. In a new clinical report, they are urging doctors to prescribe it liberally to the children in their care.

What is this wonder drug? Play.

“This may seem old-fashioned, but there are skills to be learned when kids aren’t told what to do,” said Dr. Michael Yogman, a Harvard Medical School pediatrician who led the drafting of the call to arms. Whether it’s rough-and-tumble physical play, outdoor play or social or pretend play, kids derive important lessons from the chance to make things up as they go, he said.

The advice, issued Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, may come as a shock to some parents. After spending years fretting over which toys to buy, which apps to download and which skill-building programs to send their kids to after school, letting them simply play — or better yet, playing with them — could seem like a step backward.

The pediatricians insist that it’s not. The academy’s guidance does not include specific recommendations for the dosing of play. Instead, it asks doctors to advise parents before their babies turn 2 that play is essential to healthy development. It also advocates for the restoration of play in schools.

“Play is not frivolous,” the academy’s report declares. It nurtures children’s ingenuity, cooperation and problem-solving skills — all of which are critical for a 21st-century workforce. It lays the neural groundwork that helps us “pursue goals and ignore distractions.”

When parents engage in play with their children, it deepens relationships and builds a bulwark against the toxic effects of all kinds of stress, including poverty, the academy says.

In the pediatricians’ view, essentially every life skill that’s valued in adults can be built up with play.

“Collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, self-advocacy, decision-making, a sense of agency, creativity, leadership, and increased physical activity are just some of the skills and benefits children gain through play,” they wrote.

The pediatricians’ appeal comes as American kids are being squeezed by escalating academic demands at school, the relentless encroachment of digital media, and parents who either load up their schedules with organized activities or who are themselves too busy or stressed to play.

The trends have been a long time coming. Between 1981 and 1997, detailed time-use studies showed that the time children spent at play declined by 25 percent. Since the adoption of sweeping education reforms in 2001, public schools have steadily increased the amount of time devoted to preparing for standardized tests. The focus on academic “skills and drills” has cut deeply into recess and other time for free play.

By 2009, a study of Los Angeles kindergarten classrooms found that 5-year-olds were so burdened with academic requirements that they were down to an average of just 19 minutes per day of “choice time,” when they were permitted to play freely with blocks, toys or other children. One in 4 Los Angeles teachers reported there was no time at all for “free play.”

Increased academic pressures have left 30 percent of U.S. kindergarten classes without any recess. Such findings prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue a policy statement in 2013 on the “crucial role of recess in school.”

Pediatricians aren’t the only ones who have noticed.

In a report titled “Crisis in the Kindergarten,” a consortium of educators, health professionals and child advocates called the loss of play in early childhood “a tragedy, both for the children themselves and for our nation and world.” Kids in play-based kindergartens “end up equally good or better at reading and other intellectual skills, and they are more likely to become well-adjusted healthy people,” the Alliance for Childhood said in 2009.

Indeed, new research demonstrates why playing with blocks might have been time better spent, Yogman said. The trial assessed the effectiveness of an early mathematics intervention aimed at preschoolers. The results showed almost no gains in math achievement.

Another playtime thief: the growing proportion of kids’ time spent in front of screens and digital devices, even among preschoolers.

Last year, Common Sense Media reported that children up through age 8 spent an average of two hours and 19 minutes in front of screens each day, including an average of 42 minutes a day for those under 2.

This escalation of digital use comes with rising risks of obesity, sleep deprivation and cognitive, language and social-emotional delays, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned in 2016.

Yogman acknowledged that many digital games and screen-based activities can nurture some of the same areas that kids get through free play: problem-solving, spatial skills and persistence.

But in young kids, especially, they are often crowding out games of make-believe, not to mention face-to-face time with peers and parents, Yogman said.

“I respect that parents have busy lives and it’s easy to hand a child an iPhone,” he said. “But there’s a cost to that. For young children, it’s much too passive. And kids really learn better when they’re actively engaged and have to really discover things.”

The decline of play is a special hazard for the roughly 1 in 5 children in the United States who live in poverty. These 14 million children most urgently need to develop the resilience that is nurtured with play. Instead, Yogman said, they are disproportionately affected by some of the trends that are making play scarce: academic pressures at schools that need to improve test scores, outside play areas that are limited or unsafe, and parents who lack the time or energy to share in playtime.

“We’re not the only species that plays,” said Temple University psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek. “Dogs, cats, monkeys, whales and even octopuses play, and when you have something that prevalent in the animal kingdom, it probably has a purpose.”

Yogman also worries about the pressures that squeeze playtime for more affluent kids.

“The notion that as parents we need to schedule every minute of their time is not doing them a great service,” he said. Even well-meaning parents may be “robbing them of the opportunity to have that joy of discovery and curiosity — the opportunity to find things out on their own.”

Play may not be a hard sell to kids. But UCLA pediatrician Carlos Lerner acknowledged that the pediatricians’ new prescription may meet with skepticism from parents, who are anxious for advice on how to give their kids a leg up in the world.

They should welcome the simplicity of the message, Lerner said.

“It’s liberating to be able to offer them this advice: that you spending time with your child and letting him play is one of the most valuable things you can do,” he said. “It doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of money or time, or joining a parenting group. It’s something we can offer that’s achievable. They just don’t recognize it right now as particularly valuable.”

 

Source: Doctor’s orders: Let children just play | National | bakersfield.com

France, the Nazis, and Gun Control

France, the Nazis, and Gun Control

The value of an armed citizenry – and the futility of gun control – were clearly revealed during the years when France was under Nazi control.

In 1935, French prime minister Pierre Laval, who later served in the Vichy government during the Nazis’ four-year occupation of France, commanded French citizens to surrender their firearms.  Laval and France’s ruling parties feared social revolution and banned “war” weapons, instituting strict gun registration policies.  They believed that repressive limits on civilian gun ownership were necessary at a time of Depression-sparked unrest and ongoing conflicts among various political factions.  Strict time limits for firearms registration and harsh penalties for noncompliance, including forfeiture, fines, and imprisonment, were put in place.  Laval’s government did not foresee the impact these restrictive measures would have on a Nazi-conquered France just five years later, when firearms surrender would be required under threat of death.

In Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, attorney Stephen P. Halbrook explores the impact and efficacy of gun control measures on Wehrmacht-controlled France and how these measures hindered the French Resistance’s fight against Nazi tyranny.  The author asserts that Laval’s 1935 gun control efforts left the French people vulnerable to the Nazi invaders and ill equipped to deal with the Nazi invasion of 1940, plus simplified the Nazi efforts to confiscate firearms and impede a French resistance.

In 1940, when the Vichy government negotiated an armistice with Germany after the successful German blitzkrieg, Laval’s pre-war firearms registration proved to be a boon to Nazi disarmament efforts.  Halbrook explains that Hitler based his occupation model on the historic premise that conquerors who allowed subjugated populations to possess arms were ultimately defeated.  So, when he rose to power in 1933 Germany, Hitler disarmed all “enemies of the state,” including all Jews.

The French occupation was unique, with a German-occupied zone and the unoccupied Vichy regime, administered by Marshall Philipe Pétain.  Hitler’s forces depended on armed French police to control French citizens and, over time, confiscate their weapons.  In other occupied territories where the Wehrmacht retained sole responsibility for maintaining law and order, gun ownership was banned outright, except for Germans.  Vichy France pursued a progression of increasingly severe gun confiscation edicts with multiple periods of amnesty and ever-expanding lists of illegal weapons, Halbrook says.

Initially, all firearms, ammunition, hand grenades, and other weaponry were required to be surrendered with 24 hours under threat of death, forced labor, or prison.  Even hunting guns were prohibited and handed over to the French police for safekeeping.  In addition, the gendarmes themselves were limited to a rubber truncheon and a pistol with nine rounds.  Eventually, bayonets and swords were also banned.  The bans expanded to anti-German flyers, radio transmitters, and public assemblies, followed by measures against Jews, restrictions on hunting, and other repressive constraints.

From 1940 to 1941, when the French police were responsible for collecting guns, executions were rare, Halbrook reports.  In 1942, when armed resistance accelerated and the Nazi SS assumed police duties, executions for firearms possession increased markedly.  To deter gun-hoarding, the Nazis publicized executions in newspapers and plastered brightly colored posters with ominous warnings on city walls.  French and German police conducted frequent house-to-house searches and solicited tips from informers.  Nonetheless, the Germans found collecting firearms a daunting, near impossible task.  Despite the death penalty, many civilians risked keeping their guns.

From his research and survivors’ responses to questionnaires about German arms collections, Halbrook learned that although hundreds of thousands of guns were surrendered, many French citizens hid weapons, often burying them in their yards or in underground caches.  Although the author found no reliable data on the total number of firearms in France before the Nazi invasion, he discovered that out of 3 million hunting guns, only 835,000 were turned in to the Nazis.

As the Resistance expanded and accelerated in 1942, its need for firearms grew.  Défense de la France, an underground newspaper, captured the mood of the partisans: “[o]btain firearms; a rifle, a submachine gun, a light machine gun, a machine gun[.] … The day will come.”

When the U.S. entered the war, the morale of the occupying Germans plummeted, spurring Resistance activities.  Arms concealment became more efficient and organized, despite continuing cooperation between the German military police and French gendarmes.  The Nazis tightened gun restrictions, issuing a new order to execute anyone who knew a fellow citizen with a gun and failed to inform authorities.  No further amnesties were issued, and those possessing arms were summarily shot.

By 1942, Hitler viewed the Vichy government as uncooperative, Halbrook writes, although the French people perceived the government as enemy accomplices.  By spring of that year, General Charles de Gaulle, in exile in England, broadcast a call from the BBC to rise against the Nazis.  On May Day 1942, as many as 100,000 demonstrators in Lyon screamed, “Death to Laval” and sang the French national anthem, famous for its call to arms, “Aux armes, citoyens.

Shortly thereafter, Hitler brought in the SS to assume command over the French and German police.  Press censorship and anti-Jewish policies began.  Jews were ordered to wear the yellow Star of David, and the French police under SS direction began gathering Jews to deport them to death camps.  Resistance family members were dealt with harshly; male relatives were shot and women sent to hard labor.

Two watershed events helped mobilize and unify the Resistance during this dark time: in 1942, 12,000 Jews were herded into the Vélodrome d’Hiver for deportation to death camps, and in 1943, the Laval-enabled Obligatory Labor Conscription (STO) required all 18- to 20-year-old males to become forced laborers in Germany.  Resistance groups began urging Jews to arm themselves, hide their children with others, and join the partisans.  The STO brought a steady stream of recruits as young men fled conscription.  They retreated into the mountains, acquired firearms, and engaged in sabotage, ambushing supply convoys, derailing trains, and attacking patrols.  Still, Halbrook recounts that Laval continued to collaborate with the Nazis, delaying their defeat.  Under Laval’s leadership, the Milice, a political paramilitary organization, was formed in 1943 to repress anti-Nazi forces and hunt down Resistance members.

Resistance groups began to seize arms from unguarded collection depots, hidden French military stores, and local German forces.  Most of their weapons came from British and American airdrops, often in exchange for intelligence.  Allied supplies were limited by weapons scarcity, logistical problems, and political considerations, as some Resistance groups were part of the French Communist Party who sought a communist takeover of France following liberation.

By the end of 1943, news of an Allied invasion circulated, and Resistance groups urged all citizens to gather arms and prepare each house as a fort to await the German departure.  On June 5, 1944, the day before the D-Day invasion, the BBC sent coded messages to the Resistance.  They were to perform sabotage operations and diversionary attacks before and during the next day’s landings at Normandy.  Although suffering many casualties, Resistance groups instigated street fights, including sniper shots at Germans.  They blocked some German lines of retreat and provided valuable intelligence to the Allied troops.  The Germans fought back viciously and, in at least one case, razed the entire village of Oradour-sur-Glane and killed almost all its inhabitants.  Fighting erupted in Paris as an estimated 25,000 partisans faced a remaining German force of 20,000.  Hitler insisted that Paris was not to be surrendered.  As the situation deteriorated, he ordered the City of Lights torched.  The commander of Paris refused.

By August 1944, de Gaulle resumed control of France and ordered dissolution of the Resistance militias.  His order resulted in deep resistance and resentment, Halbrook recounts. The partisans had fought and died for France, while he had remained safely ensconced in England.

Despite the many gun control and confiscatory measures, first under Laval, who was later executed for treason, and then the Nazis, many French did not comply.  The value of an armed citizenry to resist tyranny was demonstrated.  The author notes little that correlation existed between severe punishments, including the threat of death, and arms possession or reduction of attacks on German occupiers.

Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France raises interesting questions about the enforceability of firearms registration, confiscation, and prohibition.  In the end, an armed French citizenry proved to be an asset for the fight against an occupying enemy and ably assisted the regular armies.  Halbrook illuminates the role armed civilians played, conducting the only armed resistance in France until D-Day and paving the way for the Allied invasion and ultimate victory.

Source: France, the Nazis, and Gun Control

LGBTQ Totalitarianism in Boston: The Destruction of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Irish heritage and the legacy of one of Catholicism’s greatest missionaries take a backseat to sexual dysfunction.

In 1995, a remarkable 9-0 ruling was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court.  A Catholic veterans’ group, organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston, were vindicated in their refusal to allow a homosexual activist group to march in their parade.  The Court confirmed that the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council was protected by the First Amendment and could reject a group if it “impart[ed] a message that the [parade] organizers do not wish to convey.”

Twenty-three years later, orthodox Boston Irish Catholics will no longer have the prominent public voice on St. Patrick’s Day.  They’ve been elbowed out by secular celebrants of disordered sexuality.

South Boston has fallen.  LGBTQ radicals have just seized complete control of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, with the director of a front group, OUTVETS, put in charge of the event.

The shocking evolution of the parade from a celebration of Irish Catholic heritage to an overtly LGBTQ event should be a warning to those who advocate “inclusion” within their institutions.  The infusion of LGBTQ sexuality will inevitably upend tried and true traditions and moral standards.  We see this happening most clearly in our schools and churches.

Profile of an LGBTQ Takeover

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts and the pro-family groupMassResistance have chronicled the sad demise of the St. Patrick’s Day event (while attempting to save it).  The League’s executive director, C.J. Doyle, explained in a recent press release:

During the 2013 Boston mayoral election … then State Representative [Marty] Walsh promised homosexual activists that, if elected, he would compel the Veterans Council to reverse their position [not allowing “gay” groups in the parade].  Shortly after taking office in January, 2014, Walsh began a campaign of intimidation which included threats to boycott the parade, threats to withhold city permitsclaims that the Boston Police could not prevent violent disruptions of the parade, and personally shouting, in a public forum, threats and obscenities at [the] parade marshal[.]

In 2014, Mayor Walsh – a former union boss – first tried to force inclusion of the “LGBTQ rights” group MassEquality.  The Catholic Action League andMassResistance helped hold off this first assault.  The would-be invaders regrouped.

The mayor secured a foothold in 2015. That year, Boston Pride marchers wereallowed in the parade.  Its president said, “We are wicked proud of … finally breaking that wall.  It’s a huge change, especially 20 years later, to have that understanding and make sure people feel welcome in the parade.”  The Boston Pride organization had no discernable connection to the parade’s Boston Irish Catholic theme, but only to LGBTQ activism.  A wall certainly was broken.

Another LGBTQ group, OUTVETS, marched in the 2015 parade, wearing rainbow patches and carrying a rainbow banner reading, Pride – Honor – Sacrifice.  MassResistance reported, “By all accounts, OUTVETS is a contrived group of Boston city employees created in late 2014 by Mayor Marty Walsh specifically to be a homosexual ‘veterans’ presence in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

St. Patrick was not pleased.  Nor were the local Knights of Columbus, who refused to march in 2015 because the event had “become politicized and divisive.”

The two LGBT groups marched again in 2016.  The Catholic Action League and MassResistance amassed over 6,000 signatures demanding that “organizers remove the name of ‘St. Patrick’ from the parade because the inclusion of anti-Catholic homosexual groups made it impossible to honor a Catholic saint.”

The rainbow symbols proclaiming LGBTQ identifications of the two groups clearly violated the organizers’ rules.  But their objection was weakly voiced.

The final capitulation came in 2017.  Mayor Walsh was determined to wipe out any glimmer of resistance to sexual radicals’ participation.  The Veterans Council’s objection to LGBT symbols had to be overcome.  The mayor continued to strong-arm the parade organization.  Powerful politicians and corporate sponsors threatened to withhold support.

Worse, Antifa-style riots were being planned to disrupt the 2017 parade if LGBTQ groups were not given full participation.  No mainstream outlet reportedon those threats of violence.

A former Veterans Council commander told MassResistance that the Boston police commissioner’s office had warned parade organizer Tim Duross:

[B]usloads of LGBT activists from other states were planning to come to Boston to protest the parade and disrupt it.  Furthermore, there would likely be violence and even possible deaths.  The police strongly implied that they could not contain such violence – and that Duross would be responsible if it happened – unless he allowed the homosexual group to march.

This was confirmed by the 2017 council commander.  And parade organizer Duross said:

[T]he threats had been discovered through various social media, and that he had met with the Police Commissioner who said that the threats were real, that busses of activists would be coming to converge on the parade – similar to other recent organized riots around the country – and this needed to be taken seriously.  There seemed to be the implication that the police would not be able to contain it.  “If anybody got hurt because of this, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself,” Duross told MassResistance.  He said that he felt he had no choice but to let the homosexual group in.  Duross said that he had also been personally targeted with harassment and threats.

Sadly, the Boston Archdiocese never stepped in to corral the errant nominal Catholics (such as the Boston mayor).  So leftist strong-arm tactics and threats of violence won once again.

C.J. Doyle (Catholic Action League) laments:

Saint Patrick’s Day was instituted to commemorate the Apostle who brought the Catholic Faith to Ireland.  It is impossible to honor Saint Patrick while showcasing those who not only repudiate the moral code of Saint Patrick’s religion, but who castigate that code as bigotry, prejudice, hatred and homophobia.

Everything which OUTVETS represents is radically discordant with the life and mission of Saint Patrick, who rescued an entire nation from paganism and its libertine moral practices.  OUTVETS cares nothing for the traditional culture and heritage of once Catholic Ireland.  For them, this event is an opportunity to impose their anti-Catholic ideology on an historically Catholic celebration.

This also speaks to the totalitarian instincts of homosexual activists, who must, evidently, not only defeat the victims of their aggression, but then dispossess them of their organizations, and prevent them from ever opposing them again.

It’s not enough that LGBTQ groups overrun Boston during the month of June with their “pride” parades and orgies.  Now they control another big parade in March.

The demise of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is just one example of how allowing LGBTQ individuals to openly serve in the U.S. military has opened doors for their activist interference in other social realms.  If LGBTQ participation in the military is recognized as legitimate, who can refuse to recognize their inclusion in other settings?

LGBTQ groups parading their identities is not just about advocating sexual freedom or inclusion.  It’s about politics (wielding power).  It’s about making everyone else bow to LGBTQ feelings and demands.  And it’s about crushing orthodox religion.

Why are conservatives institutions (hello, Catholic Church) not fighting back?

Amy Contrada is with MassResistance and author of Mitt Romney’s Deception.  She has degrees from Tufts and Brown plus a diploma in violin-making.  See AmyContrada.com for some of her writing.

 

Source: LGBTQ Totalitarianism in Boston: The Destruction of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Freedom from Religion

‘Freedom from Religion’ Atheists Ignorant of the Constitution

The Freedom of Religion Foundation seeks to impose its values and restrict the free exercise of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment.

 

Freedom from religion was not what those who fled the oppression and persecution of European monarchies sought and not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution.  Yet the Freedom of Religion Foundation seeks to impose its values and restrict the free exercise of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment.

Its latest targets are high school football camps in Arkansas, where, presumably, you are allowed take a knee to protest our racist flag but cannot take a knee in thanks to the Creator the Declaration of Independence notes endowed us with our unalienable rights:

It’s not just illegal for public schools to host pre or postgame prayer sessions. They can’t do it at summer football camps, either.

At least that’s the stance of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which has sent a letter to the Danville (Ark.) Public School District citing a Constitutional violation related to the comments made to high school football campers by a local pastor named Konnor McKay.

The FFRF letter, which you can see here, insists that Danville, “not allow its football program to be used as a captive audience for evangelists.” That came in response to this social media post by McKay himself, celebrating his speech to a group of high school football players at Waldron High School.

In the ongoing struggle for religious liberty, constitutional conservatives like to say the Constitution was written by those fleeing from religious persecution and that the First Amendment guaranteed freedom of religion and not freedom from it.  The FFRF begs to differ.

One of the atheist group’s recent targets were the athletes at West Branch High School in Beloit, Ohio who liked to gather in prayer at their games:

A southern Mahoning County school district is no longer saying a prayer before sporting events.

The school’s superintendent says it all stemmed from a local complaint that got a national organization involved.

West Branch Superintendent Tim Saxton said he received a complaint letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an anti-Christian organization, based out of Madison, Wisconsin.

The letter claimed a prayer performed at a public school sporting event violates the constitution and does not provide for a separation between church and state.

The FFRF is on a crusade to expunge religious expression from the public square, and the group gets the meaning of “separation of church and state,” a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution, all wrong.

This isn’t the first time its target has been high school football.  The FFRF went ballistic not long ago over the baptism of an on-the-field high school football coach in Villa Rica, Georgia.  Attendance was voluntary, and the students who attended did so on their own time and of their own free will.  When the FFRF saw a video of the ceremony, it fired off a letter of righteous indignation to the Carroll County School superintendent:

“It is illegal for coaches to participate in religious activities with students, including prayer and baptisms,” attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote.  “Nor can coaches allow religious leaders to gain unique access to students during school-sponsored activities.”

They called the full emersion [sic] baptisms an “egregious constitutional violation.” …

“I believe we live in a free country,” the pastor said.  “These people that are trying to say you can’t do that – well – they’re taking away freedom.  When did it become illegal to bow your head and pray?  When did it become illegal to say I’m a Christian?”

Indeed, one would think publicly baptizing a high school football coach, rather than threatening the constitutional foundations of our democracy, is covered under the “free exercise thereof” clause in the First Amendment.  The irony here is that the FFRF on its website touts itself as “the largest free thought association in North America.”  It seems it depends on what you’re thinking about to these thought police.

Expressions of religion in sports are not uncommon, from the baseball pitcher pointing heavenward after a big strikeout to the singing of “God Bless America” in the 7th inning of baseball games after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.  Such expressions of religious liberty guaranteed by the Constitution are not always well received by those seeking to expunge all expressions of religious belief from the public square.

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow believed, as was written in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed, not by government, but by our Creator, with inalienable rights.  Tebow believed that his talents and opportunities, as well as his rights, come from that Creator, and for that, he was roundly mocked by his secular critics.

lawsuit filed on December 27, 2012 by the FFRF concerned sermons considered by the political left political speech by tax-exempt organization in alleged violation of federal law.  These sermons, which can contain commentary on issues of the day in a religious context, are considered electioneering by the atheist left.

The FFRF sought enforcement by the IRS of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which states that tax-exempt groups, including churches, are not allowed to endorse political candidates.  But the FFRF stretches that law to interpret churches taking positions from the pulpit in opposition to, say, the redefinition of marriage or the Obanacare mandates on providing contraceptive coverage as support for political candidates, albeit unnamed, who might share that opposition.  The FFRF even asked the IRS to monitor and regulate religious speech.

Investor’s Business Daily, in a biting July 31, 2014 editorial, ripped apart the FFRF’s faulty logic:

But is the Catholic Church “politicking” when it proclaims its “Fortnight for Freedom” dedicated to opposing ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandate and the government’s forcing schools and charities it considers an extension of its faith to include it in insurance coverage or face crippling fines?

Are Protestant and evangelical churches “politicking” when they participate in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” this year on Oct. 5 to encourage congregations to “vote their faith,” which they consider to be an exercise of free speech and freedom of religion?

The FFRF says that such events at “rogue churches” have “become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity.”  But doesn’t the Constitution say that Congress can make no such laws?

The Constitution if fact guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from it.  Thomas Jefferson, source for the “separation of church and state” phrase often invoked by liberals, also said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against any form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

That should apply to those who speak their mind from the pulpit or on a high school football field as well.

As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized, those opposed to the free expression of religion and free speech get the establishment clause and church and state thing all wrong:

The phrase “separation of church and state” in fact appears nowhere in the Constitution but in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to a group of Danbury Baptists assuring them that the First Amendment prohibited Congress from establishing a national church, such as the Church of England.

Imposing political correctness upon the Tim Tebows of the world is tyranny.  Thomas Jefferson feared what the British Crown tried to do: impose a state church on all the American people.  The fact is that in Jefferson’s time, the state and the church were inextricably linked.

The Founding Fathers did fear the possible establishment of a national church like the Church of England, and to prevent it, they wrote the First Amendment to say “Congress” shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion, meaning any particular religion.  But it says nothing about the states, and it also says Congress shall make no laws restricting the free exercise thereof.

Anyone who wants to know what the Founding Fathers intended with their words should analyze their actions.  As Yale’s Prof. Jon Butler writes:

[T]he 1780 Massachusetts constitution authorized ‘towns, parishes, precincts and other bodies politic to levy taxes ‘for the institution of public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality.’ …

Connecticut and New Hampshire had similar laws.  Virginia, on the other hand, moved rapidly after the Revolutionary War to disestablish the Anglican church and separate the state from formal religious institutions.  Curiously, no framer of the Constitution ever declared that Massachusetts, with its state-supported religious education, or Virginia, with its official secularism, were guilty of violating the 1st Amendment or any other fundamental constitutional principle.

The Constitution mandates government’s neutrality to religion, but its alleged desire to avoid any endorsement of religion has mutated into an unmistakable hostility.  Perhaps the most egregious example occurred in April 1995, when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed and  attorneys for the Clinton administration were ready to deny churches the same disaster assistance that every other building with collateral damage received because of the alleged separation of church and state.  It took special congressional action to prevent this absurdity.  I don’t think this is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind.

We have drifted a long way from the Founding Fathers’ clear intent about the relationship between the free exercise of religion and government.  People are no longer free to apply their religious beliefs to their businesses, as the vendetta against Hobby Lobby demonstrates.  The Obama administration went to court to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraceptive coverage to their workers.  Bakers were forced to bake cakes for same-sex ceremonies in violation of their religious beliefs.

As the late Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, former head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, once observed, President Obama’s idea of religious liberty, an idea shared by many liberals, differs little from Josef Stalin’s:

“Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union,” Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George recently wrote.

“You could go to church, if you could find one.  The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship – no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith.  We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society.”

Indeed, we did.  Our country was founded by those seeking freedom of religion and the free speech and free exercise that come with it.  Forgive those who think otherwise, including the FFRF, for they know not what they do.

 

 

 

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications

 

 

 

Source: ‘Freedom from Religion’ Atheists Ignorant of the Constitution

 

 

 

 

The Sound of Freedom | THE BROOK NETWORK

 

 

The Sound of Freedom

Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.

Leviticus 25:10

If you go to the city of Philadelphia today, you can visit a historic eighteenth-century building which contains a room called Independence Hall. This ordinary room was the place where, on July 4, 1776, men signed the Declaration of Independence and where, in 1787, the Constitution of the United States was drafted. A huge bell, which we know as the Liberty Bell, hung in the bell tower there. Inscribed on its side are the words of Moses written three thousand years earlier declaring a year of Jubilee: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.”

They rang the bell in that tower before the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, as they had rung it on important occasions before. But only decades later did the bell become a kind of icon when it was first depicted on the cover of a new magazine called Liberty, a publication devoted to the cause of the abolition of slavery. Freedom in this new nation was not just freedom from the taxes of the king of England. It had to be freedom for every man and woman, boy and girl—the freedom that is the God-endowed dignity of the human race.

When God told the Israelites in the Old Testament that they should observe a year of Jubilee every fiftieth year, one of his purposes was to teach the people again that he, the living God, stood for freedom. In the year of Jubilee, the Israelites were supposed to let their slaves go free—a hint that one day slavery would be abolished altogether.

We know that liberty is important to God, because the Bible talks over and over again about the Exodus from Egypt as God’s great act of salvation and the hint of his ongoing liberating work in the world.

God knows we all have taskmasters. One person is enslaved to alcohol or drugs, another to a domineering person. One person is trapped in guilt and shame imposed by others, another is in the bondage of being the taskmaster—an addiction to control.

All people need to hear the sound of liberty ring loudly and clearly through their hearts and minds. And only the living God can deliver that kind of liberty.

The sound of freedom rings throughout the New Testament. For instance, the Apostle Paul says something in Galatians 5:1 that seems obvious: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.”

Why did the apostle Paul say, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free”? When someone is set free, aren’t they free? Not necessarily.

A convict can be set free, but still think like a convict, talk like a convict, and behave like a convict. Constricted, suppressed, and afraid. Like a person who lived for a long time in a controlling, abusive relationship, he or she may go on cowering in life even when the oppression is gone.

Galatians 5 talks about a bondage to the way of the law. It is the belief that we achieve a truce with God our creator if we follow all the rules just right, make visible displays of righteousness, and track all our spiritual accomplishments. That was the way of Pharisees—and Paul had had enough of it. He was really good at it, but he saw it as spiritual death.

The laws of the Old Testament are good. The Ten Commandments have ongoing relevance. But when Jesus came—Jesus who liberates us from every form of bondage—everything changed. He demonstrated that while the Law came through Moses (and that law was necessary to teach the human race that there is a difference between right and wrong), he brought grace and truth. By God’s mercy, we are allowed to repent and turn to God for a whole new life. He frees us from the childish way of following “do’s” and “don’ts” so that we can freely live in obedience to Christ. We do what is right because we are right with God and our instincts have been trued up to who he is.

But we must remember that we are free. We must rehearse it. Any person can become a Pharisee on any given day. We can turn faith into performance, like a kid trying to gain mom or dad’s favor by being a star player on the soccer field.

No. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Proclaim liberty!

 

Source: The Sound of Freedom | THE BROOK NETWORK

Thirty Years On, How Well Do Global Warming Predictions Stand Up? – WSJ

 

Thirty Years On, How Well Do Global Warming Predictions Stand Up?

James Hansen issued dire warnings in the summer of 1988. Today earth is only modestly warmer.

By Pat Michaels and Ryan Maue June 21, 2018 7:24 p.m. ET

 

James E. Hansen wiped sweat from his brow. Outside it was a record-high 98 degrees on June 23, 1988, as the NASA scientist testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during a prolonged heat wave, which he decided to cast as a climate event of cosmic significance. He expressed to the senators his “high degree of confidence” in “a cause-and-effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming.”

With that testimony and an accompanying paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Mr. Hansen lit the bonfire of the greenhouse vanities, igniting a world-wide debate that continues today about the energy structure of the entire planet. President Obama’s environmental policies were predicated on similar models of rapid, high-cost warming. But the 30th anniversary of Mr. Hansen’s predictions affords an opportunity to see how well his forecasts have done—and to reconsider environmental policy accordingly.

James Hansen at home in New York City, April 12.

James Hansen at home in New York City, April 12. PHOTO: MARSHALL RITZEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mr. Hansen’s testimony described three possible scenarios for the future of carbon dioxide emissions. He called Scenario A “business as usual,” as it maintained the accelerating emissions growth typical of the 1970s and ’80s. This scenario predicted the earth would warm 1 degree Celsius by 2018. Scenario B set emissions lower, rising at the same rate today as in 1988. Mr. Hansen called this outcome the “most plausible,” and predicted it would lead to about 0.7 degree of warming by this year. He added a final projection, Scenario C, which he deemed highly unlikely: constant emissions beginning in 2000. In that forecast, temperatures would rise a few tenths of a degree before flatlining after 2000.

Thirty years of data have been collected since Mr. Hansen outlined his scenarios—enough to determine which was closest to reality. And the winner is Scenario C. Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000, discounting the larger-than-usual El Niño of 2015-16. Assessed by Mr. Hansen’s model, surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect. But we didn’t. And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong. Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago.

James Hansen testifies before a Senate Transportation subcommittee in Washington, D.C., May 8, 1989. PHOTO: DENNIS COOK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

What about Mr. Hansen’s other claims? Outside the warming models, his only explicit claim in the testimony was that the late ’80s and ’90s would see “greater than average warming in the southeast U.S. and the Midwest.” No such spike has been measured in these regions.

As observed temperatures diverged over the years from his predictions, Mr. Hansen doubled down. In a 2007 case on auto emissions, he stated in his deposition that most of Greenland’s ice would soon melt, raising sea levels 23 feet over the course of 100 years. Subsequent research published in Nature magazine on the history of Greenland’s ice cap demonstrated this to be impossible. Much of Greenland’s surface melts every summer, meaning rapid melting might reasonably be expected to occur in a dramatically warming world. But not in the one we live in. The Nature study found only modest ice loss after 6,000 years of much warmer temperatures than human activity could ever sustain.

Several more of Mr. Hansen’s predictions can now be judged by history. Have hurricanes gotten stronger, as Mr. Hansen predicted in a 2016 study? No. Satellite data from 1970 onward shows no evidence of this in relation to global surface temperature. Have storms caused increasing amounts of damage in the U.S.? Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show no such increase in damage, measured as a percentage of gross domestic product. How about stronger tornadoes? The opposite may be true, as NOAA data offers some evidence of a decline. The list of what didn’t happen is long and tedious.

The problem with Mr. Hansen’s models—and the U.N.’s—is that they don’t consider more-precise measures of how aerosol emissions counter warming caused by greenhouse gases. Several newer climate models account for this trend and routinely project about half the warming predicted by U.N. models, placing their numbers much closer to observed temperatures. The most recent of these was published in April by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry in the Journal of Climate, a reliably mainstream journal.

These corrected climate predictions raise a crucial question: Why should people world-wide pay drastic costs to cut emissions when the global temperature is acting as if those cuts have already been made?

On the 30th anniversary of Mr. Hansen’s galvanizing testimony, it’s time to acknowledge that the rapid warming he predicted isn’t happening. Climate researchers and policy makers should adopt the more modest forecasts that are consistent with observed temperatures.

That would be a lukewarm policy, consistent with a lukewarming planet.

Mr. Michaels is director and Mr. Maue an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science.

 

386 COMMENTS

 

 

Source: Thirty Years On, How Well Do Global Warming Predictions Stand Up? – WSJ

FBI’s fractured fairy tale

If the FBI’s real goal — in this fractured fairytale — was to frame one individual and all his employees, its actions makes sense.

The FBI’s fractured fairy tale

Once upon a time, the FBI said some thugs planned to rob a bank in town. Thugs are always looking to rob banks. They try all the time. But at this particular time, the FBI was hyper-focused on potential bank robberies in this particular town.

The best way to prevent the robbery – which is the goal, after all – would be for the FBI to alert all the banks in town. “Be on high alert for suspicious activity,” the FBI could tell the banks. “Report anything suspicious to us. We don’t want you to get robbed.”

Instead, in this fractured fairytale, the FBI followed an oddly less effective, more time-consuming, costlier approach. It focused on just one bank. And, strangely, it picked the bank that was least likely to be robbed because nobody thought it would ever get elected president – excuse me, I mean, because it had almost no cash on hand. (Why would robbers want to rob the bank with no cash?)

Stranger still, this specially-selected bank the FBI wanted to protect above all others happened to be owned by a man who was hated inside and outside the FBI.

So, to protect this bank owned by the guy the FBI hated, the FBI secretly examined a list of bank employees and identified a few it claimed would be likely to help robbers – or, at least, would not stop a robbery. How did it select these targets? By profiling them based on their pasts.

These particular bank employees, the FBI said, were chosen because they worked long ago with customers who might have known bank robbers in the past – maybe not the particular robbers planning a bank robbery this time, but different people who knew people who were thought to have robbed banks in the past … or, perhaps, people who thought of robbing banks at some point but never got around to it.

So the FBI decided these particular bank employees, who may have known or met with suspicious people in the past, might be capable of committing a future crime.

Mind you, these targeted bank employees had never served time in prison, never been convicted of anything, never even been charged with a crime. If the FBI had just gone to them and said, “Hey, we think some people are going to rob this bank and we’ve got our eye on you, too,” the bank robbery probably would be avoided. Everybody would be watching out for the robbers.

Instead, the FBI secretly sent at least one spy – er, “informant” – to commingle with the bank employees and get info. Yes, you are thinking, it would seem to make a lot more sense to spy on the would-be robbers than their intended victims. But the FBI chose to spy on the victims. You know, for their own good.

At least one of the FBI informants/spies met with the targeted bank employees, pretending to be interested in them, and asked questions like “If you could have a million dollars tomorrow, what would you buy?” and “Would the owner of this bank be happy for you if you came across a sudden inheritance?” The FBI informant/spy then reported back to FBI headquarters that the bank employees were clearly thinking about robbing the bank, and that the owner of the bank was part of the scheme.

Next, because the FBI claimed these employees were clearly acting suspiciously and had criminal minds, the FBI unleashed the most intrusive, sensitive intel tools on them, tools that are rarely to be used against U.S. citizens – surveillance and wiretapping. FBI officials also leaked information about their investigation to the local press – not information that disparaged the robbers so much as cast suspicion on the bank’s owner and employees. In fact, it almost seemed like the FBI had forgotten all about the robbers.

And so, while all this was going on, the robbers robbed the bank.

Despite all the media innuendo, the secret surveillance and the spies/informants, the FBI said the robbers made off with a lot of cash. Even though the bank didn’t have much cash.

Afterward, the FBI stepped up its investigation of the bank employees. It couldn’t find solid proof the employees had anything to do with any bank robbery but claimed they were present a couple of times when the robbers cased the joint, so they must have known a robbery was going to happen. The owner must have known, too, the FBI concluded.

After digging deeply into the bank employees’ background, the FBI found other things: One bank employee hadn’t paid proper taxes six years before; another had been briefly accused of embezzling from a previous employer years ago but was never charged; a third said things in an FBI interview that the FBI concluded were untrue. The FBI charged them all with crimes and pressured them to become witnesses – not against the robbers, but against the bank owner.

In the end, the FBI held out hope that the townsfolk wouldn’t focus on the idea that all the FBI’s hard work and planning to supposedly protect the town’s banks only resulted in the utter failure of its stated mission: The bank got robbed, the cash would never be recovered, and the robbers would never serve time. Yet, some of the bank employees might – not for the robbery but for that other stuff.

The moral of the story: It’s a weird way to prevent a bank robbery.

On the other hand, if the FBI’s real goal – in this fractured fairytale – was to frame the hated owner of the bank and his employees, it all makes sense.

 

Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy-award winning investigative journalist, author of the New York Times bestsellers “The Smear” and “Stonewalled,” and host of Sinclair’s Sunday TV program, “Full Measure.”

Source: The FBI’s fractured fairytale | TheHill

The Spiritual Battle on D-Day: ‘This Great and Valiant Struggle’

A tense and tired world is awaiting word of an Allied invasion of Western Europe, crushed for years under the jackboots of the Nazi war machine.

In the early morning hours of June 6, the news flashes over American radios: The greatest amphibious invasion in history has begun on the beaches of Normandy, France. As paratroopers leap from their planes and landing craft speed toward the coast, another great battle is being waged at home: a prayer battle, imploring God for victory over the dark forces of fascism.

It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of the D-Day invasion. As one historian notes, “Without question, a failed invasion of France would constitute a calamity of incalculable proportions for the Western allies.” Who knows how long it would have taken to organize a second invasion attempt—time that might have allowed a German victory.

So as word of the assault trickled out, Americans began to pray. Stores closed, and prayer services were swiftly organized in small towns and big cities.

Photographs taken on June 6 show just how widespread these prayers were. One picture shows a sign in the window of a novelty button shop reading, “Sorry, no covered buttons today. We are praying for the success of the invasion.” A sign in front of a church reads, “Come in and pray for Allied victory: Hourly intercessions on the hour.” Another photo shows Americans in a synagogue, bowing their heads in prayer. At a noon Mass, we see men and women on their knees, fervently praying.

New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia took to the airwaves, urging citizens to “send forth [their] prayers to Almighty God . . . to bring total victory . . . in [this] great and valiant struggle . . .”

In Washington, President Roosevelt, who had sons in uniform, urged Americans to join him in prayer for all the nation’s sons: “With Thy blessing,” he prayed, “We shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy.”

And, by heaven, prevail they did. On D-Day, and in the bloody days that followed, allied soldiers brought to vivid life the words of Winston Churchill: “We shall fight in France . . . We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets . . . We shall never surrender.”

As President Reagan put it 40 years later, speaking at Normandy to surviving Army Rangers: “These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”

Today, I can’t help wondering: How much did the prayers of their loved ones back home have to do with this great victory?

War correspondent Ernie Pyle, who arrived at Normandy on June 7, observed that the Allies achieved victory “with every advantage on the enemy’s side and every disadvantage on ours.” Despite this, he wrote, the total Allied casualties “were remarkably low—only a fraction, in fact, of what our commanders had been prepared to accept.”

“Now that it is all over,” Pyle finished, “it seems to me a pure miracle that we ever took the beach at all.”

Yes, it WAS a miracle—a miracle backed up by millions upon millions of believers assaulting the gates of heaven.

We must never forget what the Allies gallantly sacrificed for the world on D-Day. Today—the 74th anniversary of that invasion—we should set aside time to remember what they did. And then we should pray for the safety of our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines who are serving across the globe today—men and women fighting and sacrificing for the freedoms we—and others—enjoy.

 

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children’s books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Physicist: Climate Scientists Are Giving Science a Bad Name

Climate scientists are giving science a bad name, says a leading atmospheric physicist in an essay on the global warming debate.

Click here to read report – essay .

Professor Garth Paltridge, formerly a chief scientist with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Division of Atmospheric Research, says that the behavior of certain members of the climate science establishment is “seriously threatening the public’s perception of the professionalism of scientists in general.”

Many climate scientists are much less sure about man-made global warming than they will admit in public, he says. But rather than reach out to skeptics in order to open up the debate and explore the uncertainties, they have instead closed ranks and rubbished anyone who disagrees with them:

Some of the more vocal of the establishment climate researchers have fallen into a mode of open denigration of climate sceptics (“deniers” is the offensive popular terminology of the day). They insist that only researchers directly within the climate-change community are capable of giving authoritative advice. They insist that one can find true and reputable science only in peer-reviewed climate literature. But most significantly, they seem to have evolved a policy of deliberately excluding sceptics from climate-change forums of one sort or another, and indeed of refusing to take part in any forum where sceptics may share the podium.

Their high-handedness, Paltridge says, is redolent of “medieval religion”:

The priests of that time opposed translation of the written scriptures from Latin into the local languages. They believed that only people fully trained in the theology of the time were capable of interpreting the scriptures correctly. They believed it would be highly dangerous to allow non-trained people to have direct access to the word of God because the chances were high that they would get it wrong. They were not backward in applying their peculiarly nasty forms of denigration on those who thought otherwise about the matter.

But the medieval priests eventually lost the battle. As will the climate alarmists because the public simply do not trust them:

The modern equivalent with regard to AGW is that, despite the claim that 95% or more of climate scientists support the AGW establishment position, support for the position among the general public (of the western nations anyway) is only of the order of 50%. The reputation of climate science, and as a consequence the reputation of science in general, seems to have lost a good deal of its public gloss.

It is not even certain that climate science qualifies as an actual science. Being driven by a political agenda rather than by experimentation and evidence, it is more akin to post-modernism:

Post-modern science is a counterpart of the relativist world of post-modern art and design. It is a much more dangerous beast, where results are valid only in the context of society’s beliefs, and where the very existence of scientific truth can be denied. Post-modern science envisages a sort of political nirvana in which scientific theory and results can be consciously and legitimately manipulated to suit either the dictates of political correctness or the policies of the government of the day. At a more mundane level, there is little doubt that some players in the climate research establishment – not many, but enough to have severely damaged the reputation of climate scientists in general – have stepped across the boundary of what is generally regarded as acceptable scientific behaviour.

Scientists — even climate scientists, Paltridge generously argues — are not generally “wicked, idiotic or easily suborned.” But they do have to eat, and almost all the research money right now is available for scientists pushing the alarmist side of the argument, not the skeptical one. Also, the whole field is mired in such uncertainty that is quite impossible for anyone — whether skeptic or alarmist — to prove their position.

Climate research has to rely on spectacularly inaccurate data for information on Earth’s climate of more than a century or two ago; it has to rely on proxy information from tree rings and ice cores and corals and so on, and abstracting a coherent story from it all is something of a statistical nightmare. Even for the most recent century, the huge data sets of directly measured surface temperatures have their problems, and the stories that these data tell are revised in one way or another as new ideas about the correct method of analyzing the data appear on the scene. Such revisions make for tremendous arguments and competing claims about whether cherry picking of data has been used to support the predictions of the AGW theoretical models.

Climate science is an example of what Funtowicz and Ravetz call ‘post-normal science’ in which ‘the facts are uncertain, values are in dispute, stakes are high and decisions are urgent’. In such circumstances it is virtually impossible to avoid sub-conscious cherrypicking of data to suit the popular theory of the time. Even Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were not immune from the problem.

It is nonetheless the case that once freed of the burden of having to earn a living or retain their tenure in an academe in thrall to the man-made global warming narrative, scientists do seem much more ready to take a skeptical position:

There are many examples where the transition from paid employment in climate research to retirement has been accompanied by a significant change of heart away from acknowledging the seriousness of global warming. It seems that scientists too are conscious of the need to eat, and like everyone else must consider the consequences of public dissent from the views of the powers-that-be. One example was Dr Brian Tucker. He was the Director of the Australian Numerical Meteorology Research Centre, and subsequently became Chief of the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research. He was heavily involved in the development of the IPCC. During his time with CSIRO he was the ‘go to’ man for journalists and radio programmers seeking stories on matters to do with climate change. On retirement he became a writer and speaker for the Institute of Public Affairs, and greatly surprised his former colleagues with his very public change to an openly sceptical view on the subject.

 

Source: Physicist: Climate Scientists Are Giving Science a Bad Name | Breitbart

No wonder he never got the Nobel prize: Tom Wolfe made the left look stupid

 

 

He went after the left because the left was the establishment.

It’s couched in oh, so delicate terms, as pretty much everyone mourns the death of the great Tom Wolfe.  Tom Wolfe was a reporter; Tom Wolfe was an observer.  Tom Wolfe eyed status-seeking.  Tom Wolfe skewered the establishment.  And through his incredible mastery of words, he entertained the hell out of us.

Yes, true enough.  But somehow he never got a Nobel Prize in literature, despite vastly outranking almost everyone else who has.

So I guess I am corrupting things a little when I state the obvious about Wolfe: he did write; he did observe; he did skewer; and by gosh, it all added up to making the left look stupid, particularly the cultural left, because it is the establishment.  There is no way a writer this honest could not find them.  And because he was a ferocious believer in and chronicler of American exceptionalism, he got them good.

Oh, he made the left look stupid.  It’s why reading his work is such a delicious pleasure.

I read through the long, awesome piece in Vanity Fair by Michael Lewis, called “How Tom Wolfe Became Tom Wolfe,” to make sure I didn’t miss any clues, and though it took me an hour to read, it was extremely useful.

Turns out Wolfe got his start in red country, the genteel world of Richmond, Virginia, and was close to his conservative father.  He never abandoned that world, which meant he stayed an outsider, a “deplorable” all his life.  He was amused by President Trump and seemed to like the man – read this short passage of his thoughts in this American Spectator here, an incisive, original analysis from Wolfe about Trump.

There’s a heck of a lot more from deep in his background.  Lewis wrote that Wolfe was right on to the left from his late college days, at least – his Ph.D. at Yale was all about the communist influence in American literature, a topic that almost didn’t pass muster from the leftists at Yale then and certainly wouldn’t even be entertained at such an establishment now (except in oozingly flattering terms, perhaps).

Wolfe understood the importance of rural America in the creation of heroes and the stultifying groupthink of too much exposure to cities, a “deplorable” idea indeed that we are living now.  Such were the good takeaways from Lewis.

As a result, Wolfe’s glory was in destroying the left with his words.

How on Earth can anyone look at Lenny Bernstein sucking up to the 1960s Black Panthers the same way after a passage like this?

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.  THESE ARE NICE.  LITTLE Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts.  Very tasty.  Very subtle.  It’s the way the dry sackiness of the nuts tiptoes up against the dour savor of the cheese that is so nice, so subtle.  Wonder what the Black Panthers eat out here on the hors d’oeuvre trail?  Do the Panthers like little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts this way, and asparagus tips in mayonnaise dabs, and meatballs petites au Coq Hardi, all of which are at this very moment being offered to them on gadrooned silver platters by maids in black uniforms with hand-ironed white aprons?

When I first read that as a college student, I couldn’t stop laughing.  I memorized that passage because it was so funny.

Wolfe did fantastic work targeting the academic left in general.  One of his finest passages was on how leftists always yelled about fascism in America, yet it was Europe that had the problem:

The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.

He wrote about what a bunch of perverts these fashionable lefties were, too, lusting after the college girls as they gave their pompous progressive lectures, with one such lecturer thinking:

“The little blonde bud from the creative-writing class is a sure thing, but she’ll insist on a lot of literary talk first[.] … The big redhead on the lecture committee will spare me that, but she talks to me as if I’m seventy years old[.] … Little Bud? … or Big Red?

He went after the mainstream media, too, acting as paparazzi on the astronauts ofThe Right Stuff, seeking to interview “the dog, the cat, the rhododendrons,” which told you all you needed to know – and was hysterically funny, too.

He fried the “Me Generation” and all the nut-bags from California’s quiche-eating, hot-tubbing cultie groups, mouthing New Age drivel.  “Let’s talk about me,” as he summed these jackasses up.  It was the only right way to treat them.

So many leftists got it good from Wolfe.  There were the ad men in “The Commercial” who wanted to bow to political correctness by casting the first black baseball player in a deodorant ad and how they tiptoed around the subject of race as “flatfoot Irishmen” scared and dancing around in their great fear of being thought of as racist, even as they were breaking racial barriers.

There were the suck-up liberal bureaucrats in “Hush Puppies,” who gladly atemerde at the feet of Tiki-stick stomping minority groups “mau-mauing” them in their quest for “summer jobs for youth” out in the San Francisco projects, a classic case of left-wing-on-left-wing stupidity.

He tore apart the Rev. Al Sharpton as a colossal charlatan in his later novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, exposing him for his left-wing race-baiting.

He made the art world, with all its nutty emperor’s new clothes ideas about what’s art and how ugly some of its stuff looked, look like a bunch of idiots in The Painted Word.

He trashed the disgusting hook-up culture that has ruined university culture in I am Charlotte Simmons.

All of this stuff riled the left.  In one passage in one of his books – think it was the one on meeting porny feminist Germaine Greer, who set her hair on fire because she was bored (you’d never forget a passage like that) – somewhere in the piece spoke of an enraged lefty who wanted to dump spaghetti sauce all over his own suit.

And as a coda, Wolfe stated the obvious about the heroism and self-sacrifice of our military and American exceptionalism in spades in his oh, so dazzling and utterly readable more than once masterpiece, The Right Stuff.

What a treasure he was.  He wrote about the world as it is, telling our American story because he loved our American story.  How sad that we don’t have him to write about the ongoing story of America.  He wrote about the world as an outsider, and he examined the establishment as it needed to be examined, and naturally, that added up to making the left look stupid.  There was no other way for a writer this honest, and we are the richer for it.

By Monica Showalter

 

Source: No wonder he never got the Nobel prize: Tom Wolfe made the left look stupid

Drew Cloud Is a Well-Known Expert on Student Loans. One Problem: He’s Not Real

 

Cloud is everywhere. The self-described journalist who specializes in student-loan debt has been quoted in major news outlets, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and CNBC, and is a fixture in the smaller, specialized blogosphere of student debt.

He’s always got the new data, featuring irresistible twists:

One in five students use extra money from their student loans to buy digital currencies.

Nearly 8 percent of students would move to North Korea to free themselves of their debt.

Twenty-seven percent would contract the Zika virus to live debt-free.

All of those surveys came from Cloud’s website, The Student Loan Report.

Drew Cloud’s story was simple: He founded the website, an “independent, authoritative news outlet” covering all things student loans, “after he had difficulty finding the most recent student loan news and information all in one place.”

He became ubiquitous on that topic. But he’s a fiction, the invention of a student-loan refinancing company.

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After The Chronicle spent more than a week trying to verify Cloud’s existence, the company that owns The Student Loan Report confirmed that Cloud was fake. “Drew Cloud is a pseudonym that a diverse group of authors at Student Loan Report, LLC use to share experiences and information related to the challenges college students face with funding their education,” wrote Nate Matherson, CEO of LendEDU.

Before that admission, however, Cloud had corresponded at length with many journalists, pitching them stories and offering email interviews, many of which were published. When The Chronicle attempted to contact him through the address last week, Cloud said he was traveling and had limited access to his account. He didn’t respond to additional inquiries.

And on Monday, as The Chronicle continued to seek comment, Cloud suddenly evaporated. His once-prominent placement on The Student Loan Report had been removed. His bylines were replaced with “SLR Editor.” Matherson confirmed on Tuesday that Cloud was an invention.

Pressed on whether he regretted deceiving news organizations with a fake source, Matherson said Cloud “was created as a way to connect with our readers (ex. people struggling to repay student debt) and give us the technical ability to post content to the WordPress website.”

Cloud had an elaborate back story. Before being scrubbed from the website, he was described as having “a knack for reporting throughout high school and college where he picked up his topics of choice.” Since graduating from college, the site said, “Drew wanted to funnel his creative energy into an independent, authoritative news outlet covering an exclusive and developing industry.”

Cloud was not the only facade. The website’s affiliation with LendEDU was also not previously disclosed.

In his email, Matherson called The Student Loan Report “very much a side project for our organization.”

He continued: “Our goal, from the beginning, is to create an informative source of news and educational content for consumers. We are not focused on monetizing from Student Loan Report, LLC. As you may have noticed, there are very few advertisements on the website.”

Matherson elaborated: “Our parent company, Shop Tutors, Inc., acquired the online assets of studentloans.net in 2016. The Student Loan Report, LLC is a separate entity. For context, it is very common practice for online media companies to own or acquire additional media assets. Student Loan Report, LLC is a for-profit organization and is paid by some of the companies featured on our website. Student Loan Report, LLC may earn a fee when our readers apply or receive a financial product featured on our website.”

But in 2016, Matherson described the relationship in simpler terms in an email obtained by The Chronicle. In that message, sent to a potential contributor, he wrote, “We have a new project that you might be able to help us with. We are launching a student loan industry news site called Student Loan Report located at studentloans.net.”

A Punch From Mike Tyson

Even without this evidence, close observers would have been able to divine the connection between the two organizations. In 2016, LendEDU and The Student Loan Report posed a series of oddball questions meant to test the lengths to which student borrowers would go to free themselves of debt. About 56 percent of them would take a punch from Mike Tyson, wrote LendEDU.

A few months later, The Student Loan Report issued a report on its own survey asking how far borrowers would go to erase their debt. About 62 percent said they would star in a pornographic film. Forty-three percent said they would hook up with Caitlyn Jenner. The report, issued by Cloud, included a link to a list of student-loan-refinancing companies, LendEDU among them.

Both surveys featured an odd mixture of juvenile and mean-spirited humor. They had another similarity as well: an uncommon typo in the word “meant.” Here’s LendEDU on drug use: “56.14 percent of borrowers would abstain from alcohol and drug use for life, if it mean’t that they would have no more student loan debt.” And The Student Loan Report on a similar topic: “85% of borrowers would give up smoking marijuana for life, if it mean’t that they would have no more student loan debt.”

This is Drew Cloud, according to The Student Loan Report. “He always had a knack for reporting throughout high school and college,” read his website bio, which has been removed.

Cloud may no longer appear on his own site, but his footprint in the wider world remains. He was quoted by a number of media outlets this year in connection with a survey finding by The Student Loan Report that one in five students had used money from their student loans to invest in digital currencies. Experts in the field told The Chronicle that the study’s opaque methodology raised concerns.

Cloud has often appeared on financial-advice sites, either as a guest writer or as the subject of an interview. In those cases, he doesn’t mention where he attended college, but he does mention that he, too, had taken out student loans.

When people reached out to Cloud for his expertise on student debt, he often suggested that they refinance their loans.

That’s one of the services offered by LendEDU. Matherson and Matt Lenhard started what would become LendEDU while they were both students at the University of Delaware. The two had originally created a tool that allowed people to book tutors online. But they appeared to spin it into a place from which students can apply for multiple loans.

Today, LendEDU describes itself as “marketplace for private student loans, student loan refinancing, credit cards, and personal loans – among other financial products.”

In a post on the website, Matherson seemed to affirm his commitment to a virtuous way of conducting business.

“We started LendEDU to offer transparency in the student loan market,” he wrote. “Today, we are working to provide transparency to the personal finance industry as a whole.”

Chris Quintana is a staff reporter. Follow him on Twitter @cquintanadc or email him at chris.quintana@chronicle.com.

Dan Bauman is a reporter who investigates and writes about all things data in higher education. Tweet him at @danbauman77 or email him at dan.bauman@chronicle.com.

Wisdom and the Smartest People Ever

 

How did the smartest people ever to exist screw up our country and our society so badly?

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden pose with the full Cabinet for an official group photo in the East Room of the White House on Sept. 10, 2009.
Seated from left: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Standing second row, from left: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan E. Rice, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Back row, from left: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, and Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph.

We value intelligence and knowledge.  With good reason.

Intelligent, thoughtful illumination has an uplifting effect on individuals and a civilization. We’ve seen that many times throughout history.  The founding of our American Republic is one such stellar example.

Back in the 1980s, I recall someone lamenting how the most qualified and best candidate to never become president was Adlai Stephenson.  Certainly, the Democratic Party has been trying since Stephenson to claim the mantle of “intelligent.”  Democrats are always the smart ones – smarter, better policies, and as a result morally superior.

Now, it’s hard not to notice that the pinnacle of the left being smarter than everyone came to us with one Barack Obama, with his incredibly über-intelligent, superior group of advisers and administration.

Nobody was ever smarter.  Ever.

Except they really weren’t.  For smart people, they actually did some of the dumbest things ever in public life.  The tragedy of so many believing they were the smartest people ever may haunt us for years.

There is a huge disconnect between the true concept of wisdom and the smartest people ever.

Culturally, valuing knowledge and intellect has three main sources: the Greek philosophers, the Bible, and the Church.  There were others, but these three more than any other sources provided the basis for the respect for knowledge and wisdom in our culture.  The concept of highly valuing the realm of the mind became imbedded in the West because of them.  Jordan Peterson loves to praise how clean our lives are, how things work so well, and how wonderful we have it.  He lets us know in so many ways that all this bounty came from our belief system, one where we cherish achievement of thought.

Wisdom is the subject of Solomon in the Book of Proverbs.  Some central quotes:

“Seek wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.  Find wisdom.  Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

“Does not wisdom call out?”

“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”

These, and so many other lines from Proverbs, form the genesis of why we prize intellect, or wisdom.  If the search for and the study of wisdom can bring us so much, then indeed it was right for our culture to value it.

What we call the Protestant work ethic came straight from Solomon.  Perhaps it should rightfully be called the Jewish work ethic.  The important thing to note is that having that value imbedded in our civilization makes things better, makes things nicer, and does great things for us and our culture.

Our culture.  It’s why we are prosperous, live longer, live better, and have so much in depth in so many areas of life.  C.S. Lewis called the Bible our “instruction manual.”  If you follow the manual, the human machine works at its best, tuned finely for maximal effect and output.  The wisdom of Solomon was a huge part of the manual.

Enter the deconstructive left.

Leftists authored this divorce from wisdom.  They divorced themselves from the “instruction manual” and its source.  They began the effort to take away the moral underpinnings from our culture.  The great Greek philosophers were no longer to be held in high esteem.  Likewise, the great Church figures, and the Founding Fathers, they were simply dead white males who should be made fun of.

The deconstruction has been slow but effective.

The eight years of Barack Obama were the West at its low point.  My take: I never thought our culture could turn so wrong so fast.  Things happened in our government and culture during those eight years we never deemed possible even ten years ago.  Destructive trends, destructive ideas, destructive social movements.  All at their peak through the Obama years:

*The destruction of our health care system through the oh, so smart Obamacare.

*The worst economy since WWII, in any measure – jobs, GDP, unemployment, spending, etc.

*The worst race relations since the 1960s.  Race-baiting, straight from the top.

*The worst foreign policy ever.  Iran.  Cuba.  ISIS.  Help our enemies.  Betray our friends.  Bolster Islamists; destroy American confidence and its military.

*The most corrupt administration ever.  By far.  We’re just now seeing how bad.

*A turn in leftist immigration policy – its clear intent to replace the current electorate with a malleable, ignorant new electorate willing to believe the leftist siren songs so the left can have unchallenged power.

*The worst of pay to play.  Leftists at the trough of government sucked deep.  The Clinton Foundation sucking the deepest.  Follow the money if you dare.

*The moral preening of Hollywood and the media.  All the while, they lived and played in the cesspool of Weinstein and Matt Lauer.  #MeToo was caused by them and still is.

The list is longer and should be a book by itself.  The list of failures could get to over a hundred easily.  And yes, it was that bad.  Like frogs in the simmering pot, we were being cooked.  “Transformed.”  Also known as destroyed.

So how does all this horrible stuff happen under a group of people who were considered by our elites, our media, and themselves the smartest people ever?  How did our media get away with calling so many major failings wonderful?  Cow patties strewn around the pasture on stale bread were described as culinary treasures.  It was, and is, sickening.

How is it possible to morph from JFK to Barack Obama in one generation?  From revering wisdom to wearing a dunce cap in fifty years?  That is surely what so many did.

The Book of Proverbs gives an answer.  It gave us the overwhelmingly beautiful description of wisdom, but it also gave us this clear warning: “be not wise in your own eyes.”

On the surface, that doesn’t seem like much.  But it’s really the key to understanding what has happened to the left.

They became arrogant.  Filled with hubris.  A group of narcissists who believe their own P.R.  They really were the smartest people ever.  Obama himself, and those surrounding him, really believed it.  It’s a Greek tragedy written for today – a group of narcissists in charge of the levers of power, doing terrible things in the name of good.

Most of them thought there was no reason to heed the “instruction manual.”

They replaced centuries of wisdom with their own image and called it good.

They replaced generations of wonderful ideas with degenerate, unworkable, truly horrific notions that had never worked anywhere else they were tried.  These ideas had failed miserably so many times.  Except they were now so smart and morally superior that they would surely make them work.  The pinnacle of smart.

And it showed for eight years.  And it was covered up for eight years.  And it was reported as wonderful for eight years.  Stupidity linked with hubris was mistaken for wisdom by so many of our elites.  And that’s all it was.  True wisdom and its rewards are described beautifully by Solomon.  It needs be sought, to avoid these horrors.

Wisdom should be exalted – just not the fake kind as espoused by the left.

Source: Wisdom and the Smartest People Ever

Why The Media Stopped Reporting The Russia Collusion Story

The press has played an active role in the Trump-Russia collusion story since its inception. It helped birth it. That’s why they’re done now.

 

The Media Stopped Reporting The Russia Collusion Story Because They Helped Create It

The press has played an active role in the Trump-Russia collusion story since its inception. It helped birth it.
Half the country wants to know why the press won’t cover the growing scandal now implicating the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice, and threatening to reach the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, and perhaps even the Obama White House.

After all, the release last week of a less-redacted version of Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s January 4 letter showed that the FBI secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to search the communications of a Trump campaign adviser based on a piece of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The Fourth Amendment rights of an American citizen were violated to allow one political party to spy on another.

If the press did its job and reported the facts, the argument goes, then it wouldn’t just be Republicans and Trump supporters demanding accountability and justice. Americans across the political spectrum would understand the nature and extent of the abuses and crimes touching not just on one political party and its presidential candidate but the rights of every American.

That’s all true, but irrelevant. The reasons the press won’t cover the story are suggested in the Graham-Grassley letter itself.

Steele Was a Media Informant

The letter details how Christopher Steele, the former British spy who allegedly authored the documents claiming ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, told the FBI he wasn’t talking to the press about his investigation. In a British court, however, Steele acknowledged briefing several media organizations on the material in his dossier.

According to the British court documents, Steele briefed the New York TimesWashington Post, Yahoo! News, The New Yorker, and CNN. In October, he talked to Mother Jones reporter David Corn by Skype. It was Corn’s October 31 article anonymously sourced to Steele that alerted the FBI their informant was speaking to the press. Grassley and Graham referred Steele to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation because he lied to the FBI.

The list of media outfits and journalists made aware of Steele’s investigations is extensive. Reuters reported that it, too, was briefedon the dossier, and while it refrained from reporting on it before the election, its national security reporter Mark Hosenball became an advocate of the dossier’s findings after November 2016.

BBC’s Paul Wood wrote in January 2017 that he was briefed on the dossier a week before the election. Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald likely saw Steele’s work around the same time, because he published an article days before the election based on a “Western intelligence” source (i.e., Steele) who cited names and data points that could only come from the DNC- and Clinton-funded opposition research.

A line from the Grassley-Graham letter points to an even larger circle of media outfits that appear to have been in contact with either Steele or Fusion GPS, the Washington DC firm that contracted him for the opposition research the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee commissioned. “During the summer of 2016,” the Grassley-Graham letter reads, “reports of some of the dossier allegations began circulating among reporters and people involved in Russian issues.”

Planting the Carter Page Story

Indeed, it looks like Steele and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson may have persuaded a number of major foreign policy and national security writers in Washington and New York that Trump and his team were in league with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Those journalists include New Yorker editor David Remnick, Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, former New Republic editor Franklin Foer, and Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum.

A Foer story published in Slate on July 4, 2016 appears to be central. Titled “Putin’s Puppet,” Foer’s piece argues the Trump campaign was overly Russia-friendly. Foer discusses Trump’s team, including campaign convention manager Paul Manafort, who worked with former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovich, a Putin ally; and Carter Page, who, Foer wrote, “advised the state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom and helped it attract Western investors.”

That’s how Page described himself in a March 2016 Bloomberg interview. But as Julia Ioffe reported in a September 23, 2016 Politico article, Page was a mid-level executive at Merrill Lynch in Moscow who played no role in any of the big deals he boasted about. As Ioffe shows, almost no one in Moscow remembered Page. Until Trump read his name off a piece of paper handed to him during a March interview with the Washington Post, almost no one in the Washington foreign policy world had heard of Page either.

So what got Foer interested in Page? Were Steele and Simpson already briefing reporters on their opposition research into the Trump campaign? (Another Foer story for Slate, an October 31, 2016 article about the Trump organization’s computer servers “pinging” a Russian bank, was reportedly “pushed” to him by Fusion GPS.) Page and Manafort are the protagonists of the Steele dossier, the former one of the latter’s intermediaries with Russian officials and associates of Putin. Page’s July 7 speech in Moscow attracted wide U.S. media coverage, but Foer’s article published several days earlier.

The Slate article, then, looks like the predicate for allegations against Page made in the dossier after his July Russia trip. For instance, according to Steele’s investigations, Page was offered a 19 percent stake in Rosneft, one of the world’s energy giants, in exchange for help repealing sanctions related to Russia’s 2014 incursion into Ukraine.

Building an Echo Chamber of Opposition Research

Many have noted the absurdity that the FISA warrant on Page was chiefly based, according to a House intelligence committee memo, on the dossier and Michael Isikoff’s September 23, 2016 news story also based on the dossier. But much of the Russiagate campaign was conducted in this circular manner. Steele and Simpson built an echo chamber with their opposition research, parts of the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and the press all reinforcing one another. Plant an item in the open air and watch it grow—like Page’s role in the Trump campaign.

Why else was Foer or anyone so interested in Page? Why was Page’s Moscow speech so closely watched and widely covered? According to the Washington Post, Page “chided” American policymakers for an “often-hypocritical focus on democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change” in its dealings with Russia, China, and Central Asia.

As peculiar as it may have sounded for a graduate of the Naval Academy to cast a skeptical eye on American exceptionalism, Page’s speech could hardly have struck the policy establishment as shocking, or even novel. They’d been hearing versions of it for the last eight years from the president of the United States.

In President Obama’s first speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on September 23, 2009, he insisted that no country, least of all America, has the right to tell other countries how to organize their political lives. “Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside,” said Obama. “Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect. Each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its people and in its past traditions.”

Obama sounded even more wary of American leadership on his way out of office eight years later. In his 2016 UNGA speech, the 2009 Nobel laureate said: “I do not think that America can — or should — impose our system of government on other countries.” Obama was addressing not just foreign nations but perhaps more pointedly his domestic political rivals.

In 2008 Obama campaigned against the Iraq War and the Republican policymakers who toppled Saddam Hussein to remake Iraq as a democracy. All during his presidency, Obama rebuffed critics who petitioned the administration to send arms or troops to advance U.S. interests and values abroad, most notably in Ukraine and Syria.

In 2016, it was Trump who ran against the Republican foreign policy establishment—which is why hundreds of GOP policymakers and foreign policy intellectuals signed two letters distancing themselves from the party’s candidate. The thin Republican bench of foreign policy experts available to Trump is a big reason why he named the virtually unknown Page to his team. So why was it any surprise that Page sounded like the Republican candidate, who sounded like the Democratic president?

Why Didn’t the Left Like Obama’s Ideas from a Republican?

On the Right, many national security and foreign policy writers like me heard and were worried by the clear echoes of Obama’s policies in the Trump campaign’s proposals. Did those writing from the left side of the political spectrum not see the continuities?

Writing in the Washington Post July 21, 2016, Applebaum explained how a “Trump presidency could destabilize Europe.” The issue, she explained, was Trump’s positive attitude toward Putin. “The extent of the Trump-Russia business connection has already been laid out, by Franklin Foer at Slate,” wrote Applebaum. She named Page and his “long-standing connections to Russian companies.”

Did Applebaum’s talking points come from Steele’s opposition research?

Even more suggestive to Applebaum is that just a few days before her article was published, “Trump’s campaign team helped alter the Republican party platform to remove support for Ukraine” from the Republican National Committee’s platform. Maybe, she hinted, that was because of Trump aide Manafort’s ties to Yanukovich.

Did those talking points come from Steele’s opposition research? Manafort’s relationship with Yanukovich had been widely reported in the U.S. press long before he signed on with the Trump campaign. In fact, in 2007 Glenn Simpson was one of the first to write about their shady dealings while he was still working at the Wall Street Journal. The corrupt nature of the Manafort-Yanukovich relationship is an important part of the dossier. So is the claim that in exchange for Russia releasing the DNC emails, “the TRUMP team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue.”

The reality, however, is that the Trump campaign team never removed support for Ukraine from the party platform. In a March 18, 2017 Washington Examiner article, Byron York interviewed the convention delegate who pushed for tougher language on Russia, and got it.

“In the end, the platform, already fairly strong on the Russia-Ukraine issue,” wrote York, “was strengthened, not weakened.” Maybe Applebaum just picked it up from her own paper’s mis-reporting.

For Applebaum, it was hard to understand why Trump would express skepticism about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, except to appease Putin. She referred to a recent interview in which Trump “cast doubt on the fundamental basis of transatlantic stability, NATO’s Article 5 guarantee: If Russia invades, he said, he’d have to think first before defending U.S. allies.”

The Echoes Pick Up

In an article published the very same day in the Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg made many of the very same observations. Titled “It’s Official: Hillary Clinton is Running Against Vladimir Putin,” the article opens: “The Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” What was the evidence? Well, for one, Page’s business interests.

Trump’s expressed admiration for Putin and other “equivocating, mercenary statements,” wrote Goldberg, are “unprecedented in the history of Republican foreign policymaking.” However, insofar as Trump’s fundamental aim was to find some common ground with Putin, it’s a goal that, for better or worse, has been a 25-year U.S. policy constant, across party lines. Starting with George W.H. Bush, every American commander-in-chief since the end of the Cold War sought to “reset” relations with Russia.

Starting with George W.H. Bush, every American commander-in-chief since the end of the Cold War sought to ‘reset’ relations with Russia.

But Trump, according to Goldberg, was different. “Trump’s understanding of America’s role in the world aligns with Russia’s geostrategic interests.” Here Goldberg rang the same bells as Applebaum—the Trump campaign “watered down” the RNC’s platform on Ukraine; the GOP nominee “questioned whether the U.S., under his leadership, would keep its [NATO] commitments,” including Article 5. Thus, Goldberg concluded: “Donald Trump, should he be elected president, would bring an end to the postwar international order.”

That last bit sounds very bad. Coincidentally, it’s similar to a claim made in the very first paragraph of the Steele dossier — the “Russian regime,” claims one of Steele’s unnamed sources, has been cultivating Trump to “encourage splits and divisions in the western alliance.”

The West won the Cold War because the United States kept it unified. David Remnick saw it up close. Assigned to the Washington Post’s Moscow bureau in 1988, Remnick witnessed the end of the Soviet Union, which he documented in his award-winning book, “Lenin’s Tomb.” So it’s hardly surprising that in his August 3, 2016 New Yorker article, “Trump and Putin: A Love Story,” Remnick sounded alarms concerning the Republican presidential candidate’s manifest affection for the Russian president.

Citing the “original reporting” of Foer’s seminal Slate article, the New Yorker editor contended “that one reason for Trump’s attitude has to do with his business ambitions.” As Remnick elaborated, “one of Trump’s foreign-policy advisers, has longstanding ties to Gazprom, a pillar of Russia’s energy industry.” Who could that be? Right—Carter Page. With Applebaum and Goldberg, Remnick was worried about Trump’s lack of support for Ukraine and the fact that Trump “has declared NATO ‘obsolete’ and has suggested that he might do away with Article 5.”

Where Did All These Echoes Come From?

This brings us to the fundamental question: Is it possible that these top national security and foreign policy journalists were focused on something else during Obama’s two terms in office, something that had nothing to do with foreign policy or national security? It seems we must even entertain the possibility they slept for eight years because nearly everything that frightened them about the prospects of a Trump presidency had already transpired under Obama.

Whatever one thinks of Obama’s foreign policy, it is hardly arguable that he ceded American interests in Europe and the Middle East in an effort to avoid conflict with Russia.

The Trump team wanted to stop short of having the RNC platform promise lethal support to Ukraine—which was in keeping with official U.S. policy. Obama didn’t want to arm the Ukrainians. He ignored numerous congressional efforts to get him to change his mind. “There has been a strong bipartisan well of support for quite some time for providing lethal support,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff. But Obama refused.

As for the western alliance or international order or however you want to put it, it was under the Obama administration that Russia set up shop on NATO’s southern border. With the Syrian conflict, Moscow re-established its foothold in the Middle East after 40 years of American policy designed to keep it from meddling in U.S. spheres of influence. Under Obama, Russia’s enhanced regional position threatened three U.S. allies: Israel, Jordan, and NATO member Turkey.

In 2012, Moscow’s Syrian client brought down a Turkish air force reconnaissance plane. According to a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised alarms in the U.S. by suggesting that Turkey might invoke NATO’s Article V.” However, according to the Journal, “neither the U.S. nor NATO was interested in rushing to Article V… NATO was so wary of getting pulled into Syria that top alliance officials balked at even contingency planning for an intervention force to protect Syrian civilians. ‘For better or worse, [Syrian president Bashar al- Assad] feels he can count on NATO not to intervene right now,’ a senior Western official said.”

Whatever one thinks of Obama’s foreign policy, it is hardly arguable that he—wisely, cautiously, in the most educated and creative ways, or unwisely, stupidly, cravenly, the choice of adjectives is yours—ceded American interests and those of key allies in Europe and the Middle East in an effort to avoid conflict with Russia.

When Russia occupied Crimea and the eastern portion of Ukraine, there was little pushback from the White House. The Obama administration blinked even when Putin’s escalation of forces in Syria sent millions more refugees fleeing abroad, including Europe.

Was Anyone Paying Attention When This Happened?

Surely it couldn’t have escaped Applebaum’s notice that Obama’s posture toward Russia made Europe vulnerable. She’s a specialist in Europe and Russia—she’s written books on both. Her husband is the former foreign minister of Poland. So how, after eight years of Obama’s appeasement of a Russia that threatened to withhold natural gas supplies from the continent, did the Trump team pose a unique threat to European stability?

Is it possible that Goldberg never bothered to research the foreign policy priorities of a president he interviewed five times between 2008 and 2016?

What about Goldberg? Is it possible that he’d never bothered to research the foreign policy priorities of a president he interviewed five times between 2008 and 2016? In the last interview, from March 2016, Obama told him he was “very proud” of the moment in 2013 when he declined to attack Assad for deploying chemical weapons. As Obama put it, that’s when he broke with the “Washington playbook.” He chose diplomacy instead. He made a deal with Russia over Assad’s conventional arsenal—which Syria continued to use against civilians throughout Obama’s term.

Again, regardless of how you feel about Obama’s decisions, the fact is that he struck an agreement with Moscow that ensured the continued reign of its Syrian ally, who gassed little children. Yet only four months later, Goldberg worried that a Trump presidency would “liberate dictators, first and foremost his ally Vladimir Putin, to advance their own interests.”

Remnick wrote a 2010 biography of Obama, but did he, too, pay no attention to the policies of the man he interviewed frequently over nearly a decade? How is this possible? Did some of America’s top journalists really sleepwalk through Obama’s two terms in office, only to wake in 2016 and find Donald Trump and his campaign becoming dangerously cozy with a historical American adversary?

All’s Fair in War and Politics

Of course not. They enlisted their bylines in a political campaign on behalf of the Democratic candidate for president and rehearsed the talking points Steele later documented. But weren’t the authors of these articles, big-name journalists, embarrassed to be seen reading from a single script and publishing the same article with similar titles within the space of two weeks? Weren’t they worried it would look like they were taking opposition research, from the same source?

The stories were vessels built only to launch thousands of 140-character salvos to then sink into the memory hole.

No, not really. In a sense, these stories weren’t actually meant to be read. They existed for the purpose of validating the ensuing social media messaging. The stories were written around the headlines, which were written for Twitter: “Putin’s Puppet”; “It’s Official: Hillary Clinton is Running Against Vladimir Putin”; “Trump and Putin: A Love Story”; “The Kremlin’s Candidate.” The stories were vessels built only to launch thousands of 140-character salvos to then sink into the memory hole.

Since everyone took Clinton’s victory for granted, journalists assumed extravagant claims alleging an American presidential candidate’s illicit ties to an adversarial power would fade just as the fireworks punctuating Hillary’s acceptance speech would vanish in the cool November evening. And the sooner the stories were forgotten the better, since they frankly sounded kooky, conspiratorial, as if the heirs to the Algonquin round table sported tin-foil hats while tossing back martinis and trading saucy limericks.

Yes, the Trump-Russia collusion media campaign really was delusional and deranged; it really was a conspiracy theory. So after the unexpected happened, after Trump won the election, the Russiagate campaign morphed into something more urgent, something twisted and delirious.

Quick, Pin Our Garbage Story on Someone

When CNN broke the story—co-written by Evan Perez, a former colleague and friend of Fusion GPS principals—that the Obama administration’s intelligence chiefs had briefed Trump on the existence of the dossier, it not only cleared the way for BuzzFeed to publish the document, it also signaled the press that the intelligence community was on side. This completed the echo chamber, binding one American institution chartered to steal and keep secrets to another embodying our right to free speech. We know which ethic prevailed.

Now Russiagate was no longer part of a political campaign directed at Trump, it was a disinformation operation pointed at the American public.

Now Russiagate was no longer part of a political campaign directed at Trump, it was a disinformation operation pointed at the American public, as the pre-election media offensive resonated more fully with the dossier now in the open. You see, said the press: everything we published about Trump and Putin is really true—there’s a document proving it. What the press corps neglected to add is that they’d been reporting talking points from the same opposition research since before the election, and were now showcasing “evidence” to prove it was all true.

The reason the media will not report on the scandal now unfolding before the country, how the Obama administration and Clinton campaign used the resources of the federal government to spy on the party out of power, is not because the press is partisan. No, it is because the press has played an active role in the Trump-Russia collusion story since its inception. It helped birth it.

To report how the dossier was made and marketed, and how it was used to violate the privacy rights of an American citizen—Page—would require admitting complicity in manufacturing Russiagate. Against conventional Washington wisdom, the cover-up in this case is not worse than the crime: Both weigh equally in a scandal signaling that the institution where American citizens are supposed to discuss and debate the choices about how we live with each other has been turned against a large part of the public to delegitimize their political choices.

This Isn’t the 27-Year-Olds’ Fault

I’ve argued over the last year that the phony collusion narrative is a symptom of the structural problems with the press. The rise of the Internet, then social media, and gross corporate mismanagement damaged traditional media institutions. As newspapers and magazines around the country went bankrupt when ownership couldn’t figure out how to make money off the new digital advertising model, an entire generation of journalistic experience, expertise, and ethics was lost. It was replaced, as one Obama White House official famously explained, by 27-year-olds who “literally know nothing.”

But the first vehicles of the Russiagate campaign were not bloggers or recent J-school grads lacking wisdom or guidance to wave off a piece of patent nonsense. They were journalists at the top of their profession—editors-in-chief, columnists, specialists in precisely the subjects that the dossier alleges to treat: foreign policy and national security. They didn’t get fooled. They volunteered their reputations to perpetrate a hoax on the American public.

That’s why, after a year of thousands of furious allegations, all of which concerning Trump are unsubstantiated, the press will not report the real scandal, in which it plays a leading role. When the reckoning comes, Russiagate is likely to be seen not as a symptom of the collapse of the American press, but as one of the causes for it.

Lee Smith

By 

Lee Smith is the media columnist at Tablet and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

 

Source: Why The Media Stopped Reporting The Russia Collusion Story

The Lunar Anthropic Principle | Daily Planet | Air & Space Magazine

The Lunar Anthropic Principle

Is humanity destined to live on the Moon?

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Humanity’s progress into air and space is dramatically illustrated by artist Bob McCall. Does the Moon exist to aid our progress into space? (NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center)

One of the most remarkable books of the last 30 years is The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John Barrow and Frank Tipler. The “principle” is really nothing more than a statement that the laws governing how the universe operates seem to be arranged so as to require our existence and participation. In other words, the human race is not some accidental byproduct of creation, but an essential component of the way the universe is put together. This philosophical gem came up recently during a wide-ranging discussion of ideas at a post-lecture dinner with media/journalism honors students and their advisors at the University of Texas at Tyler. Though we discussed many things, the anthropic principle came up during questions regarding lunar development. And as good conversation always does, it made me think deeper.

I hadn’t previously connected the Barrow-Tipler principle with a quote (in the same vein) that I use in my lunar development talks. This quote comes from Krafft Ehricke, a member of Wernher von Braun’s original rocket design team from Peenemunde. Ehricke spent a lifetime thinking about the broader, philosophical aspects of space travel and the colonization of other worlds. Ehricke remarked in 1984 that, “If God wanted man to become a spacefaring species, He would have given man a Moon.” Ehricke’s quote distills down to its essence the truth about the Moon’s utility—its singular value in developing new spaceflight capabilities and our ability to travel throughout space. I’m tempted to call Ehricke’s statement “the lunar anthropic principle.”

I’ve detailed in previous writings the Moon’s value. The Moon’s proximity to Earth and its material and energy resources make possible the construction of a permanent spaceflight transportation infrastructure, thereby giving us the means to live and work on another world for extended periods of time. Because the Moon is close (in orbit around the Earth, 400,000 km away) we can travel to and from the Moon at will—launch windows are continuously open. There is no other extraterrestrial body for which this is true.

Our closeness to the Moon (three-second round-trip light travel time) also permits near-real-time control from Earth of machines located on the lunar surface—an amazing advantage in that much of the hard, repetitive or difficult work on the Moon can be accomplished using teleoperated robots. This capability positions humans for more creative pursuits, such as surface exploration, while limiting our exposure to harsh environments, as we build up our knowledge about our new surroundings—valuable information for those planning to venture further out into space.

The Moon’s resources come in two forms: energy and materials. The energy actually comes from the Sun—the Moon provides a place on its surface to collect solar photons nearly continuously. This illumination can be converted into electrical power via solar arrays. The poles offer multiple locations where the Sun can be seen for more than 80-90 percent of the year. The periods of darkness are short, from a few hours to a few tens of hours. We can bridge these dark periods with fuel cells that combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate electrical power, producing water as a byproduct. When the Sun is visible, the power generated by solar arrays can be used to crack stored water into its component hydrogen and oxygen gases. Thus, water becomes a medium of energy storage and permits the continuous generation of power, an essential condition for human habitation and productive work off the Earth.

Fortunately, the other side of the resource coin offers us the feedstock for this power system. The latest round of robotic spacecraft mapping the Moon have found significant quantities of water ice at both poles. The exact amounts and physical state of this water is still uncertain (we need to send robotic landers down to the surface to characterize the deposits in detail), but there is no doubt that the quantities of water present are significant, as much as 10 billion tons of water at each pole.

Thus, there are two areas of the Moon where resources (water and sun) are placed side-by-side: the poles, where the Moon’s axial tilt creates just the right conditions for light (solar energy) and darkness (water ice-traps). Before humans return to the Moon, we must send numerous small robotic probes to the poles to map and survey potential prospects. Such strategic knowledge is critical to selecting the optimum site for a permanent outpost.

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The illuminated rim crest of the crater Shackleton, located near the south pole of the Moon. Points on the rim of this crater are illuminated by the Sun for more than 90% of the year, permitting the generation of nearly continuous electrical power. (NASA/ASU LROC)

Considering all of these fortunate coincidences, Ehricke’s conjecture is not far off the mark. No other space destination brings together such enabling proximity and utility as does the Moon. So why is the idea of resource utilization on the Moon still met with resistance by some? Over my long career in lunar studies, I’ve learned that part of this resistance comes from the reluctance of some engineers to consider the use of extraterrestrial materials. We have used solar energy on spacecraft for almost 60 years—it is a proven and well-founded technology. Extracting materials from space-based sources and forming them into useful spaced-based products is another matter. Since this has never been done, it carries with it the undeserved suspicion of being excessively risky. In truth, processing lunar material requires technology no more advanced than 19th-century industrial chemistry. Melt the ice, fractionally distill it to remove impurities, crack it into its component hydrogen and oxygen, then cryogenically freeze those gases for use as rocket propellant.

The Moon is ideally placed and provisioned to provide us what we need to build a permanent transportation and habitation system in space. In that sense, it is a form of the anthropic principle, and it requires human ingenuity to take advantage of what the Moon has to offer. It is a body ideally placed for our use and benefit—a “stepping stone,” if you prefer to see it that way. Of course, all this is enabled by our ability to perceive and decipher the physical laws that make spaceflight possible, again circling back to the original cosmological anthropic principle—that how the universe operates seems to be arranged so as to require our existence and participation.

The ability to simply fly into space and back is somewhat miraculous in itself. What Don Pettit explains as the “Tyranny of the Rocket Equation,” describes how getting into orbit is not only extremely difficult, but barely possible—as most of the mass of a rocket is propellant (what he identifies as “dumb mass”), leaving only a small fraction (usually less than 10 percent) available for the deliverable (“smart mass”) payload. In fact, as Pettit explains, if the radius of the Earth were 50 percent greater, spaceflight would not be possible—there is simply not enough energy in the chemical bonds of known propellants to get a payload to orbit. Again, it appears that our universe is constructed in a way that allows us to venture off the planet, but only “just”—and even then, only with great difficulty.

We can break the Tyranny of the Rocket Equation once we learn how to use what we find in space—first on the Moon, using lunar resources to provision and fuel spacecraft and habitation systems. By utilizing the Moon and its assets over time, flights between Earth and Moon, and all points in between, will become affordable, profitable and routine. Through the development of this new system, we will finally move from an Earth-based to a space-based operational template, one holding huge economic and national security benefits. It’s as if the Moon was created for our use and benefit. To ignore its value and importance to our future would be extremely shortsighted.

Paul D. Spudis

Paul D. Spudis is a senior staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. His website can be found at www.spudislunarresources.com. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or his employer.

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Source: The Lunar Anthropic Principle | Daily Planet | Air & Space Magazine

Bill Nye Does Not Speak for Us and He Does Not Speak for Science 

 

 

 

 

Bill Nye Does Not Speak for Us and He Does Not Speak for Science

By attending the State of the Union with NASA administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine, the Science Guy tacitly endorses climate denial, intolerance and attacks on science

Tonight, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will accompany Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Trump’s nominee for NASA Administrator, to the State of the Union address. Nye has said that he’s accompanying the Congressman to help promote space exploration, since, he asserts, “NASA is the best brand the United States has” and that his attendance “should not be … seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community.

But by attending the SOTU as Rep. Bridenstine’s guest, Nye has tacitly endorsed those very policies, and put his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large. Rep. Bridenstine is a controversial nominee who refuses to state that climate change is driven by human activity, and even introduced legislation to remove Earth sciences from NASA’s scientific mission. Further, he’s worked to undermine civil rights, including pushing for crackdowns on immigrants,ban on gay marriage, and abolishing the Department of Education.

As scientists, we cannot stand by while Nye lends our community’s credibility to a man who would undermine the United States’ most prominent science agency. And we cannot stand by while Nye uses his public persona as a science entertainer to support an administration that is expressly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, ableist, and anti-science.

Scientists are people, and in today’s society, it is impossible to separate science at major agencies like NASA from other pressing issues like racism, bigotry, and misogyny. Addressing these issues should be a priority, not only to strengthen our own scientific community, but to better serve the public that often funds our work. Rather than wield his public persona to bring attention to the need for science-informed policy, Bill Nye has chosen to excuse Rep. Bridenstine’s anti-science record and his stance on civil rights, and to implicitly support a stance that would diminish the agency’s work studying our own planet and its changing climate. Exploring other worlds and studying other planets, while dismissing the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change and its damage to our own planet isn’t just dangerous, it’s foolish and self-defeating.

Further, from his position of privilege and public popularity, Bill Nye is acting on the scientific community’s behalf, but without our approval. No amount of funding for space exploration can undo the damage the Trump administration is causing to public health and welfare by censoring science. No number of shiny new satellites can undo the racist policies that make our Dreamer colleagues live in fear and prevent immigrants from pursuing scientific careers in the United States. And no new mission to the Moon can make our LGBTQ colleagues feel welcome at an agency run by someone who votes against their civil rights.

As women and scientists, we refuse to separate science from everyday life. We refuse to keep our heads down and our mouths shut. As someone with a show alleging to save the world, Bill Nye has a responsibility to acknowledge the importance of NASA’s vast mission, not just one aspect of it. He should use his celebrity to elevate the importance of science in NASA’s mission—not waste the opportunity to lobby for space exploration at a cost to everything else.

The true shame is that Bill Nye remains the popular face of science because he keeps himself in the public eye. To be sure, increasing the visibility of scientists in the popular media is important to strengthening public support for science, but Nye’s TV persona has perpetuated the harmful stereotype that scientists are nerdy, combative white men in lab coats—a stereotype that does not comport with our lived experience as women in STEM. And he continues to wield his power recklessly, even after his recent endeavors in debate and politics have backfired spectacularly.

In 2014, he attempted to debate creationist Ken Ham—against the judgment of evolution experts—which only served to allow Ham to raise the funds needed to build an evangelical theme park that spreads misinformation about human evolution. Similarly, Nye repeatedly agreed to televised debates with non-scientist climate deniers, contributing to the false perception that researchers still disagree about basic climate science. And when Bill Nye went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to “debate” climate change in 2017, his appearance was used to spread misinformation to Fox viewers and fundraise for anti-climate initiatives.

Bill Nye does not speak for us or for the members of the scientific community who have to protect not only the integrity of their research, but also their basic right to do science. We stand with others who have asked Bill Nye to not attend the State of the Union. Nye’s complicity does not align him with the researchers who have a bold and progressive vision for the future of science and its role in society.

At a time when our ability to do science and our ability to live freely are both under threat, our public champions and our institutions must do better.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
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Source: Bill Nye Does Not Speak for Us and He Does Not Speak for Science – Scientific American Blog Network

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God as Gardener

Ravi Z

I took up gardening a few years ago. (Well, actually gardening seemed to take me up.) It all started very innocently when a friend gave me a cutting from her jade plant. I knew nothing about plants. I had watched for years as my mother worked in her garden and I appreciated the interplay of color and texture created by the various flowers, trees, and shrubs. But I didn’t know the first thing about the process of cultivating or caring for a garden, and as far as I was concerned, the details involved in that process were best left up to my mother.

But all of that changed when I received my Jade cutting from my friend. She knew just how to initiate me into the wonders of gardening, without overwhelming me with the details. Jade plants are succulents; for those of you who do not know what a succulent plant is, it’s simply a plant that doesn’t need a great deal of water or attention. In other words, it’s the perfect kind of plant for a novice gardener! I was amazed by how quickly this one plant put down roots in my heart. Watching this little cutting grow tiny, threadlike roots, planting it in a pot filled with simulated desert soil, and experiencing the wonder as it grew into the small Jade tree that it is today—over 15 years later—amazed me at how something so small, so ordinary could become extraordinary.

I can tell you that it didn’t take long before I began to try my hand at plants that required more attention and care: african violets, cyclamen, gerbera daisies, iris, lilies, tulips, and a whole assortment of garden flora and fauna. I grew enchanted by the variety of color, texture, and arrangement each new species added to my garden. I learned about specific care regimens, their particular pests, the difference between a partial-sun and partial-shade plant, and how soil acidity impacts the color of certain types of plants.

More than all of this, gardening took me up because gardening quickly grew in me a sense of wonder. I suspect my friend knew this when she introduced me to my first, little jade plant. She knew that gardening would introduce me to the extraordinary in the ordinary. You cannot help but begin to pay attention to the tiniest details as you garden, and in turn, begin to notice all kinds of other awe-producing details all around you. The varieties of the color green in the trees, grasses, plants and shrubs, the nuances of blue and aqua hues that shimmer on lakes and oceans, and the little creatures that share the world with us—birds, rabbits, coyotes, skunk, deer, dogs, and cats.  Living now in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, where gardening is beloved and beauty envelopes us, this is all the more true for me.

The Christian Scriptures indicate that the natural response to wonder is worship. Indeed, the psalmist suggests that the very detailed elements of creation proclaim the glory and worship of God: The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands!  Whether we realize it or not, we are drawn into the very presence of God when we wonder in God’s creation. We affirm the beauty and the goodness of God as we wonder at and with and for creation. And as we wonder, we agree with God that all God made “was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Have you lost your sense of wonder? Has your life gotten too busy, too laden with care or comfort or grief that you cannot see God’s extraordinary presence in the ordinary details of life? Or maybe God seems far off and unreachable, and you long for the tending and nurturing of a gardener yourself. I cannot explain away that longing any more than the psalmist, who expressed a similar lament when God felt far off to him. But I do know that nurturing my own garden and wondering aloud at the beauty of color and intricacy, I am comforted by the declarations of creation—of gardens and waters and heavens who seem confident, not only that there is a gardener, but one who is very good.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

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