Mark Steyn predicts an unhappy New Year.
Everything he warns about is real, but he writes about it so engagingly that he waltzes with our minds rather than rubs our noses in the messy facts.
Ring out the new, ring in the old. No, hang on, that should be the other way around, shouldn’t it?
Not as far as 2011 was concerned. The year began with a tea-powered Republican caucus taking control of the House of Representatives and pledging to rein in spendaholic government. It ended with President Obama making a pro forma request for a mere $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. This will raise government debt to $16.4 trillion — a new world record! If only until he demands the next debt-ceiling increase in three months’ time.
At the end of 2011 … tens of millions of Americans remain unaware that this nation is broke — broker than any nation has ever been.
A few days before Christmas, we sailed across the psychological Rubicon and joined the club of nations whose government debt now exceeds their total GDP. It barely raised a murmur — and those who took the trouble to address the issue noted complacently that our 100% debt-to-GDP ratio is a mere two-thirds of Greece’s.
That’s true, but at a certain point per capita comparisons are less relevant than the sheer hard dollar sums: Greece owes a few rinky-dink billions; America owes more money than anyone has ever owed anybody ever.
Public debt has increased by 67% over the last three years, and too many Americans refuse even to see it as a problem. For most of us, “$16.4 trillion” has no real meaning, any more than “$17.9 trillion” or “$28.3 trillion” or “$147.8 bazillion.” It doesn’t even have much meaning for the guys spending the dough.
Look into the eyes of Barack Obama or Harry Reid or Barney Frank …
… and you realize that, even as they’re borrowing all this money, they have no serious intention of paying any of it back. That’s to say, there is no politically plausible scenario under which the $16.4 trillion is reduced to $13.7 trillion, and then $7.9 trillion, and eventually 173 dollars and 48 cents.
At the deepest levels within our governing structures, we are committed to living beyond our means on a scale no civilization has ever done. Our most enlightened citizens think it’s rather vulgar and boorish to obsess about debt. The urbane, educated, Western progressive would rather “save the planet,” a cause which offers the grandiose narcissism that, say, reforming Medicare lacks.
So, for example, a pipeline delivering Canadian energy from Alberta to Texas is blocked by the president on no grounds whatsoever except that the very thought of it is an aesthetic affront to the moneyed Sierra Club types who infest his fundraisers.
The offending energy, of course, does not simply get mothballed in the Canadian attic: The Dominion’s prime minister has already pointed out that Canada will sell it to the Chinese, whose politburo lacks our exquisitely refined revulsion at economic dynamism, and indeed seems increasingly amused by it. Pace the ecopalyptics, the planet will be just fine: Would it kill you to try saving your country, or state, or municipality?
The “ecopalyptics”: a coinage that should go into general circulation.
Last January, the BBC’s Brian Milligan inaugurated the New Year by driving an electric Mini from London to Edinburgh, taking advantage of the many government-subsidized charge posts en route. It took him four days, which works out to an average speed of 6 mph — or longer than it would have taken on a stagecoach in the mid-19th century. This was hailed as a great triumph by the environmentalists. I mean, c’mon, what’s the hurry?
What indeed? In September, the 10th anniversary of a murderous strike at the heart of America’s most glittering city was commemorated at a building site: The Empire State Building was finished in 18 months during the Depression, but in the 21st century the global superpower cannot put up two replacement skyscrapers within a decade.
The 9/11 memorial museum was supposed to open on the 11th anniversary, this coming September. On Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced there is “no chance of it being open on time.” No big deal. What’s one more endlessly delayed, inefficient, over-bureaucratized construction project in a sclerotic republic?
Barely had the 9/11 observances ended than America’s gilded if somewhat long-in-the-tooth youth took to the streets of Lower Manhattan to launch “Occupy Wall Street.” The young certainly should be mad about something. After all, it’s their future that got looted to bribe the present.
As things stand, they’ll end their days in an impoverished, violent, disease-ridden swamp of dysfunction that would be all but unrecognizable to Americans of the mid-20th century — and, if that’s not reason to take to the streets, what is?
Alas, our somnolent youth are also laboring under the misapprehension that advanced Western societies still have somebody to stick it to. The total combined wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans is $1.5 trillion. So, if you confiscated the lot, it would barely cover one Obama debt-ceiling increase.
Nevertheless, America’s student princes’ main demand was that someone else should pick up the six-figure tab for their leisurely half-decade varsity of social justice studies. Lest sticking it to the Man by demanding the Man write them a large check sound insufficiently idealistic, they also wanted a trillion dollars for “ecological restoration.”
Hey, why not? What difference is another lousy trill gonna make?
Underneath the patchouli and pneumatic drumming, the starry-eyed young share the same cobwebbed parochial assumptions of permanence as their grandparents: We’re gayer, greener and groovier, but other than that it’s still 1950 and we’ve got more money than anybody else on the planet, so why get hung up about a few trillion here and a few trillion there?
In a mere half-century, the richest nation on earth became the brokest nation in history, but the attitudes and assumptions of half the population and 90% of the ruling class remain unchanged. …
At this stage in a critical election cycle, we ought to be arguing about how many government departments to close, how many government programs to end, how many millions of government regulations to do away with. Instead, one party remains committed to encrusting even more barnacles to America’s rusting hulk, while the other is far too wary of harshing the electorate’s mellow.
“Harshing the mellow”. Only Mark Steyn could write that.
The sooner we recognize the 20th century entitlement state is over, the sooner we can ring in something new. The longer we delay ringing out the old, the worse it will be. Happy New Year?
Individuals find their happiness – if they find it – in their private lives. “Public affairs vex no man,” said the great Dr. Samuel Johnson.
The trouble is, a wrecked economy affects private lives by reducing the chances for happiness.
But may we all still pursue it. The Declaration of Independence says it’s our right to do so. And if we can get rid of the collectivist-minded Obama and his henchmen and henchwomen, maybe we’ll catch it eventually in a bright new year.
Will the United Nations pause in its continual condemnation of Israel for daring to exist, and say a word or two against the enslavement of children by Arabs?
We all know the answer to that question.
Will the US State Department censure the practice?
We know the answer to that one too.
This is by Stephen Brown from Front Page:
It is perhaps the most pernicious of evils. The words “child slavery” would cause most people nowadays to recoil in horror, but in the oil-rich countries of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula, it apparently still doesn’t.
There are … many … parents among Pakistan’s large, poverty-stricken population willing to sell their male offspring into the Persian Gulf. Boys as young as three are bought from poor parents, and sometimes simply kidnapped from the street, principally in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and sent as slaves to these oil-rich states for one purpose only: to win camel races for their new Arab masters. The boys are expected to do this after being trained as riders under very brutal conditions for what is a very popular sport in that region. …
The unfortunate boys kept on an “ousbah,” an isolated camel farm, are caught up in a nightmare of hellish proportions. After experiencing the trauma of suddenly being separated from their families, they are made to work 18-hour days. A camel jockey-in-training is also starved, beaten and sometimes sexually abused. Serious injury, even death, is a fate that also awaits many of the child riders, some as young as five, when training or racing over distances between four and 10 kilometres atop of 800-900 pound animals that can run as fast as 40 miles per hour. Even if the rider does not fall, damaged genitals is one of the serious wounds the slave boys often suffer. …
Along with the boys, young girls from South Asia and other impoverished countries are also trafficked to the Arabian Peninsula but for sexual exploitation. …Traffickers have also sometimes been taught at Third World airports leaving for the Arabian Peninsula with their human cargo. In 2007, one was caught in Karachi with both a boy and a young, pregnant woman. He was headed for Oman where he planned to sell the boy as a camel jockey and the girl as a sex slave. Her unborn baby was also destined to become a camel jockey or a sex slave, according to Pakistani police, who claim pregnant women are being trafficked for the purpose of producing future slaves. …
Unfortunately for its innocent victims, both present and future, the eradication of slavery on the Arabian Peninsula will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. It is an ingrained, centuries-old institution. … Under sharia law, which governs Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Muslims are legally allowed to own slaves. … Another reason for this inhuman sense of entitlement is that the prophet Muhammad was also a slave owner, setting the example for the fundamentalists. …
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to abolishing slavery in places like the Arabian Peninsula and Mauritania is the mindset. In these countries, enslaving non-Arab human beings, including children, is simply viewed as the natural order of things. …
Victims of child slavery also cannot look to the United Nations Human Rights Council for help. It contains despots and tyrants whose human rights records are just as bad as Mauritania’s and Saudi Arabia’s, as well as Islamic countries that bribe them and may be practising slavery themselves.
There is a UN agency that ostensibly exists to prevent the exploitation of human beings: the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The ILO does nothing to save little boys and young girls from Arab enslavement.
Arabs are never to be offended by any UN interference in their affairs. Islam is never to be offended by any criticism whatsoever.
That being its policy - unofficial but fully implemented – the UN is not only the protector of slave owners and traffickers, it is collaborating with them. By permitting slavery, it encourages it.
The UN must be destroyed.
If you find yourself plunged now and then into cynicism and enjoy a bitter laugh, try this report from the Washington Post:
A team of Arab League monitors began its second day of work in Syria on Wednesday as the death toll continued to climb in the restive cities of Homs and Hama and questions mounted about the observers’ methods and credibility.
The delegation, which was in Homs, is tasked with observing whether Syrian authorities are upholding an agreement to withdraw troops from cities, free political prisoners and end the use of deadly force to quell a nine-month-old uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Syrian forces fired teargas and reportedly live ammunition at protesters in central Syrian cities despite the presence of an Arab League observer team on hand to monitor compliance with plans to stop the bloodshed.
On the monitors’ first day in Homs, residents gathered by the thousands to demonstrate against the government and plead for help from the outside world.
Saleem al-Qabani, a member of the Local Coordination Committees opposition group, said in a telephone interview that he had canceled a planned meeting with the observers because they insisted on having army officers with them, including at least one whom Qabani said he recognized as having killed protesters. …
Another activist, who is in contact with people in the area, said government forces fired from buildings in Baba Amr while observers were nearby.
Because Syria has closed its borders to journalists, it is not possible to independently confirm such reports. …
Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch … expressed concern about reports obtained by the rights group that … detainees [ie prisoners] were being moved, possibly in advance of planned inspections by the monitors.
Whitson also raised concerns about whether the Arab League monitors are properly qualified for their mission. About 60 monitors are in Syria, with more due to arrive. Their names have not been released. She said the Arab League should have offered some assurances that the group had received training in human rights investigations before being deployed to Syria.
“It’s not enough to have once been in government. They need training in finding things that governments are trying to hide,” Whitson said.
She must be sitting somewhere very safe and remote from the scene to imagine that that is possible. Somewhere in the West. A bureau. Air-conditioned, sound-proofed, comfortable, where all tyranny and violence are only theoretical. Still, she has valid concerns:
Specifically, Whitson questioned what she called “troubling” information about the head of the delegation, Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, a veteran of the Sudanese intelligence service.
A Facebook group of Damascus-based doctors said Dabi was a senior army officer in the 1990s, when Sudanese forces played a brutal role in their country’s ethnic war. “Many questions were raised about his knowledge of Darfur massacres,” a statement by the group said.
Questions such as: “Could he have been one of the leading perpetrators of the massacres?” With an answer such as: “Could have been and was.”
The Arab League did not respond to requests for comments about how its monitors were selected and trained, or the circumstances under which they are conducting their mission.
Opposition activists said shelling and gunfire continued in Homs on Wednesday, killing at least three people. They also reported troops opening fire on unarmed protesters in Hama, killing at least six.
But Dabi told Reuters news agency that “the situation seemed reassuring so far” in Homs and that he had seen “nothing frightening.”
And in any case there’s nothing much to worry about because the “international community” is keeping an eye on the Syrian civil war, even though it can receive no reliable information about it so is staring into the dark.
“Used to the dilatory maneuvers of the Damascus regime, the international community will be vigilant in the face of all attempts at dissimulation or manipulation,” Bernard Valero, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, said in Paris.
- Another observer in a comfy bureau.
And here’s one more reason why we can all rest easy about Syria. The Russians, renowned for their strictness when it comes to truthfulness and disinterested impartiality, are also seeing to it that only independent, objective monitoring will be acceptable:
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose government until recently was a staunch ally of Assad, told reporters: “The mission [Dabi and co] should be able to visit any part of the country, any towns or villages, and come up with its own independent, objective opinion about what is happening and where.”
Ha-ha-ha! Whoo! Let us recover our breath.
In the Arab world it’s a farce without end!
This report is from RTT News:
Rival groups of Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics clashed with each other at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity using broomsticks …
The clashes broke out as rival groups were cleaning the church in preparation for the Orthodox Christmas, which falls on January 7. The exchange was reportedly triggered after a Greek Orthodox priest encroached on the territory of the other group.
The fighting was halted after Palestinian policemen at the scene intervened and separated the quarreling priests using batons and shields. … The rival sections resumed their cleaning activities after the brawl ended. …
Such clashes between rival clergy members are common during joint religious or cleaning ceremonies at the Church of the Nativity. …
Just like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem … is shared by various branches of Christianity, with each group guarding their part of the church with passion.
We know that fights do break out between Christian factions in the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but on reflection we think this “riot” was staged – or a real one was re-enacted – for the camera. Why otherwise would the Palestinian police appear so quickly to quell a few priests or monks with brooms? A push, a flourish of a broom or two, and in marches a phalanx of Muslim police in full riot gear, when the camera is strategically placed to catch it all.
The video was probably made for Muslim consumption, to show the Palestinian police in a powerful and effective role as peace-makers between Christian rivals. Heroes! Braving the brooms!
Making the incident even more fun, actually.
(Hat-tip Don L)
Czar of lies 10
Oh-oh, czar of fraud and czar of blight,
Czar of lies as black as night!
Why would Obama want to appoint a political ally to head the Bureau of Labor Statistics?
An unsurprising explanation comes from PJ Media, by Richard Pollock:
On the eve of the 2012 election, the White House is pushing to politicize the impartial U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The administration is also trying to bypass the congressional oversight that protects the independence of the neutral agency.
The BLS is the nation’s premier nonpartisan statistical agency reporting on the state of the American labor market. For more than a century, both political parties have considered BLS to be independent and politically untouchable.
The BLS monthly unemployment data is a key factor contributing to the president’s unpopularity.
Over the last year, the administration has refused to fill the two top BLS positions. …
The labor secretary and deputy secretary … made it clear that they wanted someone of their choosing from outside the existing career cadre. …
This has led to speculation that the White House is trying to circumvent the Senate so as to appoint a deputy whose position does not need Senate confirmation, and who would defer to the White House and to politically aggressive Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
One source told PJ Media the president would like to install Betsey Stevenson as the deputy commissioner. Stevenson is a Princeton academic and loyal political ally who worked as chief economist for Solis. Stevenson would be rejected by many in the Senate, which has regarded political allies as inappropriate for running the nonpartisan BLS.
Although the meddling with the BLS has received little coverage, economists and Republicans in Congress are decrying the effort. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor under the Bush administration, called the administration’s tactics “outrageous.” She told PJ Media that meddling with the BLS personnel process could be a prelude to eventual tampering with unemployment surveys and results. …
In a November 29 letter to Secretary Solis, Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) — ranking Republican on the Senate Labor Committee — expressed alarm over the administration’s handling of personnel at the bureau. He warned it would be counterproductive to try to politicize the bureau through appointments that circumvent Senate confirmation: “To have credibility, an agency must be free — and perceived to be free — of political interference and policy advocacy.” …
The administration’s job description for the deputy position illustrates the administration’s politicization effort — rather than emphasize the independent status of the post, it states the deputy commissioner will be “assisting the Secretary of Labor in presenting the Department’s interests and policies to Congress, other government agencies, and the public.” In other words: instead of an independent official, the deputy commissioner would be an advocate for administration positions.
To be plain, the appointee would be a Czar of Lies.
According to this report and analysis by Tom Blumer, the manipulation of figures has already started in the Census Bureau:
The Census Bureau’s recently created “Supplemental Poverty Measure” (SPM) looks like a ruse to artificially show economic and poverty-reducing improvement in time for the 2012presidential election. Longer-term, it appears to be a rigged mechanism for demonstrating how ObamaCare … is a resounding success. …
SPM radically redefines what it means to be “low income,” in the process adding almost 40 million more people to that category in 2010 compared to the number in the bureau’s official income and poverty report. …
The only problem that matters to Barack Obama and his reelection team is the political impact of the official poverty rate. During the supposed era of Hope and Change, the rate has stubbornly and sharply increased. In 2007, the year before the arrival of what I have been calling the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy since mid-2008, that official rate was 12.5%, about the same as the previous four years. After increasing to 13.2% in 2008, it zoomed to 14.3% in 2009. When it hit 15.1% in 2010, it meant that the administration’s supposedly brilliant set of Keynesian policies had essentially taken us back to where we were in the early 1990s. The official poverty rate seems virtually assured to increase yet again when the bureau releases its results in September 2012, at which point the rate will likely be higher than at any time since the mid-1960s.
To be clear, the problem from Team Obama’s perspective isn’t that more and more people are living in economic misery. … The real problem is that the American people have learned that more and more of their fellow citizens are economically miserable. Even worse, they will have that message reinforced less than two months before Election Day 2012 — unless something is done about how poverty is measured and reported.
For years the left wanted figures to show as many poor people as possible.
Now suddenly they want the numbers to go down.
Enter SPM. The irony of its creation is more than a little hard to take. After decades during which leftists ridiculed conservatives and others who validly criticized official poverty measurements for excluding obvious items like the value of non-cash government benefits such as food stamps and traditional welfare from available resources, all of a sudden effective in 2009 the administration tasked the Census Bureau with developing SPM, which incorporates those and similar items into its measurement base.
But SPM … arbitrarily deducts a number of expenses from income to arrive at a new “resource measure” … then compares that new “resource measure” to a clearly higher poverty threshold than the bureau has officially used for almost 50 years … [so] when next year’s SPM report comes out, millions of Americans will no longer be “low income” under its framework. I can imagine the campaign verbiage already: “Barack Obama … singlehandedly moved millions into the middle class … undoing much of the damage of the past decade’s misguided policies.”
As to the ObamaCare gambit: State-run health care will very visibly and quickly remove most medical out-of-pocket expenses from millions of Americans. In return, of course, we know from experience in other countries that they’ll have longer waits for care, be subject to rationing, receive lower quality care, and see a virtual end to medical innovation. But those things won’t be as immediately visible. Thus, ObamaCare will in its early years appear to almost painlessly move millions more from SPM’s “low income” category into the middle class. Again, thanks to artifice, Obama will look like a hero.
It must be nice to be able to create your own customized measurement to arrive at the conclusions you want.
As Mark Twain said that Disraeli said, there are three degrees of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
This is by Ileana Johnson Paugh and comes from Canada Free Press:
I bet you did not know that we had an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. I did not realize that global women existed. I did not know that we had a czarina to represent third world female population’s interests in our administration. The post was created by President Obama on April 6, 2009.
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, traveled to Durban, South Africa to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in order “to highlight the critical and largely untapped potential of women to combat climate change.” Who knew that women were so powerful that they could affect climate change!
As I read this brief report, I envisioned billions of dollars washing down the proverbial drain with the blessing of an eager administration to re-distribute our “socially unjust” and “unfairly earned, evil capitalist” wealth.
Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer mentioned studies that have shown that women “are on the frontline of, and suffer disproportionately from, the impacts of climate change.” As I googled women’s suffering from the impact of climate change, I found no such studies.
Ambassador-at-Large Verveer states that women are a “powerful force for finding solutions to climate change across the board, including areas of agriculture, sustainable forest management, and energy access.” Because “a small minority of women farmers have access to land tenure (Food and Agriculture Organization report and we know how reliable UN reports are),” women’s potential to combat climate change is limited.”
Who knew that the simple act of owning land could combat climate change?
Using a generic statement, “studies have shown,” without mentioning any studies, Ambassador-at-Large Verveer states, “women with right to property are significantly more capable of investing in climate-smart agricultural productivity.” I had no idea that such a practice existed in agriculture, “climate-smart productivity.” It seems that there is no end to the leftist push to justify UN schemes to milk more funds from the United States in order to enrich the coffers of third world dictatorships.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines “climate-smart productivity” as “conservation agriculture, integrated pest management, agroforestry, and sustainable diets.”
This type of agriculture promoted by FAO “sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes greenhouse gases (mitigation) while enhancing the achievement of national food security development goals.” …
Ponderous jargon characterizes left-wing official-speak. A special torment of our time, all too “sustainable”.
According to Ambassador-at-Large Verveer’s report, “women have untapped potential for increasing energy access, which directly relates to climate change.” In case you are confused, the report continues, “3 billion people globally still rely on traditional cookstoves and open fires to prepare food for their families.” Since women are responsible for cooking and collecting fuel, the resulting smoke exposure causes an “estimated two million premature deaths annually, with women and children being most affected.” She follows that it “puts women at risk of gender based violence.”
What does climate change have to do with gender based violence? Would less gender based violence decrease climate change? If we were to cook less and eat raw food, would that alter climate change? …
I am trying to understand this climate change contorted logic. Humans use stoves to cook and that causes climate change; females collect wood to burn in the stoves to prepare food and they contribute to climate change; smoke exposure causes premature deaths but women and children are most affected. I still cannot figure out how it causes gender-based violence; I am still scratching my head.
But as Whatsisname said: Arguing with a woman is like trying to crack an egg on a pillow.
Ambassador-at-Large Vermeer suggests that we have to “build a global market for clean cookstoves” because they impact the climate through “greenhouse gases and short-lived particles such as black carbon.” In her opinion, if women were integrated into the supply chain of clean cookstoves, new economic development opportunities would be created for women. She follows with a quote by Secretary Clinton that “women create a multiplier effect in local communities because they disproportionately spend more of their earned income on food, healthcare, home improvement, and schooling.”
Now I am totally lost. The Ambassador-at-Large Verveer introduces more variables to the role of women in combating climate change: food, healthcare, home improvement, and schooling, without really explaining how it all ties in with her flawed hypothesis. Since she references two more UN organizations, Feed the Future and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, it is important to note that the Global Alliance is a “private-public UN initiative to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.”
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which was launched on September 21, 2010 in Washington, D.C., has 240 partners and the following founders: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Government of Norway, Peru, Morgan Stanley, Shell, Shell Foundation, the Netherlands, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of State., Environmental Protection Agency, and the United Nations Foundation.
The United States is in the platinum donor category with $5 million dollars, Department of Energy, EPA, Department of State are in the gold donor category with $1-5 million each, along with socialist European nations such as bankrupt Spain and Ireland, the World Bank, and other UN affiliates.
The Department of Energy is awarding “Clean Biomass Cookstove Technologies” grants of $100,000 and $750,000 at a time when our country is broke, unemployment is at an all time high, taxpayers are unhappy, and the administration is demanding that we reduce our consumption of energy.
The “science” provided under the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves consists of two articles, one published in Le Monde by Bertrand d’Armagnac on November 13, 2011 and another published in Bloomberg by Jonathan Alter on November 24, 2011. Both cross-reference World Health Organization data that 2 million people die annually from smoke inhalation, more than malaria, TB, and AIDS combined. Apparently the fuel, wood, dung, makeshift charcoal, and agricultural waste, are directly responsible for 2 million deaths, particularly in women and children. These third world dictatorships are incapable of running their countries, feeding, sheltering, and caring for their people properly. It is mind boggling and highly suspicious that they can keep such accurate disease and death rate data.
I am not disputing the fact that people have died throughout history from unsanitary and unhealthy living conditions. We have waged education wars to improve living conditions and spent trillions of dollars to alleviate poverty around the world, yet we do not seem to be any closer today than we were in the beginning. The corrupt governments have stolen the money and personally enriched themselves instead of improving their citizens’ living conditions. To continue this pattern is absolute madness.
Ambassador-at-Large Verveer is very proud of “our efforts to build on the gender equality and women empowerment language in the Cancun agreements.” It seems that lip service is quite an accomplishment as long as the “language on gender balance related to the composition of the board of the new Green Climate Fund, the Standing Committee, and the Adaptation Committee” are in line with the UN Agenda. …
We have quoted Dr Ileana Johnson Paugh a number of times with appreciation.
We compliment her on not being a woman like Melanne Verveer. (See our post Of adults and women, September 4, 2010)
We’d bet that she – as Margaret Thatcher once said of herself – owes nothing to feminism.*
Or “women’s studies”. Pseudo disciplines like ”women’s studies” are exercises in self-inflicted-wound-licking. If Isaac Newton had concentrated on “scientist studies” instead of science, we might never have had the Enlightenment.
*Feminism: a fake cause; a division of Victimology; a sustained gripe by Western women belonging to the most privileged class in human history.
An especially revolting example of the sort of low trick that the Obama administration is happy to play is the deception it has now practised, in the (deeply disgusting) United Nations, giving Islam a victory it has long sought: protection from criticism; while pretending to do the opposite: protecting free speech. It has done it by a sleight-of-mouth, a cunning piece of wording.
With the help of the State Department, the UN General Assembly has passed a resolution that amounts to a resolution against free speech by means of apparently reaffirming it.
General Assembly resolutions carry no legal force, but this one, like so many others, augments the influence of Islam throughout the world.
This is from CNS News:
The U.N. General Assembly on Monday [December 19, 2011] adopted a resolution condemning the stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of people based on their religion, and urging countries to take effective steps “to address and combat such incidents.”
No member state called for a recorded vote on the text, which was as a result adopted “by consensus.”
The resolution, an initiative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), is based on one passed by the U.N.’s Human Rights Council in Geneva last spring. The State Department last week hosted a meeting to discuss ways of “implementing” it.
See our post about that meeting, Protecting Islam from criticism (December 18, 2011). What was finally worked out by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, when they went into their conspiratorial huddle, was a formula which they trust will pull the wool over your eyes – as well as your mouth.
Every year since 1999 the OIC has steered through the U.N.’s human rights apparatus a resolution condemning the “defamation of religion,” which for the bloc of 56 Muslim states covered incidents ranging from satirizing Mohammed in a newspaper cartoon to criticism of shari’a and post-9/11 security check profiling.
Critics regard the measure as an attempt to outlaw valid and critical scrutiny of Islamic teachings, as some OIC states do through controversial blasphemy laws at home.
Strongly opposed by mostly Western democracies, the divisive “defamation” resolution received a dwindling number of votes each year, with the margin of success falling from 57 votes in 2007 to 19 in 2009 and just 12 last year.
This year’s text was a departure, in that it dropped the “defamation” language and included a paragraph that reaffirms “the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.”
The nod to freedom of expression won the resolution the support of the U.S. and other democracies, with the Obama administration and others hailing it as a breakthrough after years of acrimonious debate.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the opportunity of the State Department-hosted talks with foreign governments, the OIC and other international bodies last week to stress the importance of freedom of speech in the U.S. She argued that “the best way to treat offensive speech is by people either ignoring it or combating it with good arguments and good speech that overwhelms it.”
Nonetheless, the resolution adopted in New York on Monday does contain elements that concern some free speech and religious freedom advocates.
It calls on states “to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries in the conduct of their public duties do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief.”
Governments also are expected to make “a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures.”
“Effective measures” to counter cases of religious stereotyping and stigmatization include education, interfaith dialogue and “training of government officials.”
And in the worst cases, those of “incitement to imminent violence” based on religion, the resolution calls on countries to implement “measures to criminalize” such behavior.
As Austria has done in the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, who has been sentenced to a fine or imprisonment for telling a truth about Muhammad that Muslims do not like non-Muslims to mention. See our post Sharia is the law in Austria (December 25, 2011).
Also of note is the fact that the resolution singles out for praise only one interfaith initiative – and that initiative was established by Saudi Arabia, a leading OIC member-state with a long history of enforcing blasphemy laws.
Blasphemy in Saudi Arabia includes saying anything positive about any religion other than Islam, or anything against religion as such, and the penalty is death.
The resolution commends the establishment of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, “acknowledging the important role that the Centre is expected to play as a platform for the enhancement of interreligious and intercultural dialogue.” …
The US administration, particularly the State Department, is thrilled with the slimy trick its has brought off:
The U.S. representative, John Sammis, said the United States was pleased to join the consensus.
It had been unable to support previous resolutions of this type because they sought to restrict expression and were “counterproductive,” he said, but the new one upholds respect for universal human rights.
Of course it does nothing of the kind. Quite the opposite. It allows Saudi Arabia to go on cutting people’s heads off for criticizing Islam or preaching a different belief, and encourages Austria to go on fining or imprisoning people for speaking the truth about Muhammad and his nasty religion.
“The United States welcomes all international, national, and regional initiatives that respect universal human rights and that recommend these types of measures to promote interfaith harmony and combating discrimination against individuals on the basis of religion or belief,” Sammis said. “Such initiatives can promote respect for religious diversity in a manner that respects universal human rights.”
“Respect for religious diversity in a manner that respects human rights”. Translation: Gagging anyone who tries to criticize Islam on the excuse that to do so is an offense against human rights.
Another victory for Islam. Another abject defeat for Western values.
The UN must be destroyed.
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff has been found guilty of saying that Muhammad was a pedophile. Which he was.
However, she didn’t actually say what she is being penalized for saying.
This is by Ned May from Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace:
On February 15, 2011, the Austrian anti-jihad activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted of hate speech in a Vienna courtroom. The original charge against her was “incitement to hatred”. On the second day of her trial, the judge decided to added a second charge, “denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion.” The latter count is the one on which Elisabeth was convicted. …
The prosecution and the judge in Elisabeth’s case apparently settled on the sentence long before considering a verdict. …
The judge in the case, Bettina Neubauer, convicted Elisabeth for saying that Mohammed was a pedophile. There’s only one problem: Elisabeth never said any such thing. As the transcript of her seminar demonstrates, Elisabeth in fact said that “Mohammed had a thing for little kids”, the plain facts of which even the judge was forced to accept.
In other words, the judge in Elisabeth’s trial, acting on her own initiative, put words into Elisabeth’s mouth and then convicted her for saying them.
We have unqualified sympathy with Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, but have to say that we cannot see any significant difference between the alleged and the actual statement. She should have been free to say it either way, to make her point as she chose.
Here is the story behind the prosecution from Front Page, also by Ned May:
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is the daughter of a retired diplomat in the Austrian foreign service. During her childhood and young adulthood she experienced Islam up close and personal, in places such as Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran. She was in Tehran with her parents during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. As a student, she was working during her summer break in Kuwait when Saddam Hussein invaded the country. On September 11, 2001, Elisabeth was working in the Austrian embassy in Tripoli. She saw the Libyan people celebrate the destruction of the World Trade Center and the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans. All of these experiences were lessons she took to heart, but 9-11 motivated her to examine Islam more closely over the next few years.
In October 2007 Elisabeth attended the Counterjihad Brussels conference and delivered the country report on the state of Islamization in Austria. In early 2008 she began a series of seminars on Islam in Vienna, explaining to interested parties what the Qur’an and the hadith actually teach, along with the basic tenets of Islamic law.
For the next year and a half the interest in her seminars grew, and attendance increased. The success of her lectures drew the interest of Austrian leftists, who are as determined as leftists in other Western countries to discredit and destroy the work of those they view as “racists”, “fascists”, and “Islamophobes”. Unbeknownst to Elisabeth, the left-wing magazine NEWS sent a reporter to one of her seminars to make a surreptitious recording of it. …
The complainant in the case against Elisabeth was not the state, but NEWS magazine itself, the publication whose reporter had infiltrated the seminar. For the next ten months the possibility of a formal charge was left hanging over Elisabeth’s head, but she received no official word about what might happen to her. All she could do was retain legal counsel and wait.
In February 2010 she gave a deposition to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Prevention of Terrorism. After that there was nothing from the prosecutor’s office. Finally, on September 15, Elisabeth learned that a formal charge would be filed against her. Ironically enough, she didn’t find out through a court document, an official summons, or her lawyer. Instead she learned of the charge by reading about it in the press — in NEWS, the very same magazine that had published the undercover report and filed the complaint against her. … A few days later she received official notice from the court [setting] her trial date …
Now the verdict has been given. She has been notified of it by her lawyers, who wrote in part:
You were found, however, to have committed the offense of denigration of a religion because of your statements in the seminars of October 15, 2009 and November 12, 2009 about Mohammed and his sexual intercourse with nine year-old Aisha. The judge’s basis for that focused on the circumstance that the offense of § 188 StGB is an abstract criminal threat, and therefore the mere aptness to cause offense was sufficient to qualify as the crime. What was incomprehensible was the judge’s conclusion that Mohammed’s sexual contact with nine-year-old Aisha was not pedophilia, because Mohammed continued his marriage to Aisha until his death.
Punishment was set at 120 per diem payments of €4, in total €480 or an alternative sentence of 60 days imprisonment.
Further, the costs of the trial must be paid.
Ned May comments:
Take a deep breath, everyone, and think about the implications of the above material.
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted for stating the plain facts: the prophet Mohammed had sex with a nine-year-old-girl. She never used the word pedophilia; she simply described in everyday language the prophet’s … tastes.
The statements she made are not considered false by [observing] Muslims. They are written down in Islamic scripture, and are considered correct and authoritative by virtually every Islamic scholar and theologian.
These scriptural passages are not considered offensive to Muslims when they are recited in a mosque or a madrassa. Mohammed was the perfect man, so by definition his actions cannot be offensive. They are in fact exemplary. That is why Muslim men continue to marry little girls to this day.
Elisabeth’s statements are offensive because they were made by a non-Muslim in public, and brought discredit upon Islam in the eyes of other non-believers.
This offense is referred to as “Islamic slander”, and is a grave violation of Islamic law. Under sharia, the penalty is death.
But it is only illegal under sharia.
Monday’s verdict had nothing to do with Austrian law, or European law. It was based solely on the unwritten laws of politically correct Multiculturalism, which absolutely forbids the offending of Muslims.
This entire judicial farce was necessary in order to establish a sharia-based precedent in Austria.
- and so in Europe.
Europe is retreating from the Enlightenment. Going back into the darkness that reigned before it in the European mind. The thinkers who brought the new morning after the long night when Christian churches of one sort or another had tyrannized over the nations of the continent and beyond, took the great leap forward by denigrating religious belief. Hume, Spinoza, Diderot, Voltaire …… dared to criticize religious belief both specifically and generally. Their intellectual victory made the scientific discoveries of the last three hundred years possible. But the ruling class of Europe cares nothing for its heritage.
If Austria wants to save itself, every decent Austrian should now go into the streets and shout “Muhammad was a pedophile!” If Europe wants to save itself, every European should do it.
They should write it on walls, print it on the front page of every newspaper, on bumper-stickers, on T-shirts, on billboards, on banners trailed in the sky; announce it on the stage of every theatre, in movies, in television ads, at sports events, on radio, in parliament, in songs; write it in emails, on facebook, on twitter, in cartoons, jokes, books ……
The fact that Arab culture generally was what we might justifiably call “pedophilic” when Muhammad lived, in that little girls, even pre-pubescent little girls, were forcibly married to men any number of years older than themselves, and still are, can only make such a campaign the more vital at any time. But the really important thing right now is that a non-Muslim is not allowed to say that Muhammad was a pedophile in Austria (or anywhere else in Europe it is safe to guess), because Muhammad and his nasty religion Islam are protected from criticism.
It is good and right to criticize Muhammad and Islam. More, it is an absolute necessity if we are to win the war Islam is waging against us; and if we are to preserve the legacy of the Enlightenment, free and open enquiry into everything and anything, not only in the natural world but also in history and the world of ideas. That is what Islam must fear the most.
The left has long since given up on the proletariat as its purported concern, to feel angelic about and to justify increasing state power.
The workers have been fired, the planet has been hired.
Collectivist tyranny is now extended in the name of preserving the earth.
“Green” technology, say the statists, is the way to go because it is clean.
It isn’t actually, but they’ll keep pushing for it as long as they can bluff themselves, and insist to the rest of us, that it is.
Amy Oliver and Michael Sandoval write at Townhall:
“Renewable” technology is neither renewable, nor clean, nor green because it relies upon rare earth elements. …
China accounts for ninety five percent of the world market in rare earth elements (REEs). …
The Chinese have labeled areas around rare earth mines …as “cancer villages.” … The toxic by-products literally kill everything – animals, vegetation, and people by contaminating the air, soil, and water. …
For each metric ton of REEs produced, an equal amount of radioactive waste is also produced. At approximately 2,204 lbs, that’s about the weight of an average sedan. As for those 75 cubic meters of acidic waste water, just think of a swimming pool measuring thirty feet long by fifteen feet wide by six feet deep. That’s approximately 20,000 gallons of acid water. …
To further the perspective, each 3 MW wind turbine requires two tons of REEs for the permanent magnet that converts wind into electricity. So much for “clean.” …
Thinking electric such as Chevy Volt? So far in 2011, auto manufacturers have sold 15,068 electric vehicles in the U.S., and each one requires 10 pounds of rare earth magnets.
That means that through the end of November, hybrids and electric vehicles sales consumed between 4,904,820 and 6,093,355 pounds of rare earths. That’s somewhere between 2,452 and 3,047 tons.
If processing one ton of rare earth elements produces approximately 75 cubic meters of acidic waste water and about one ton of radioactive waste residue, then hybrid and electric vehicles alone produce between 183,900 and 228,525 cubic meters of acidic waste water and between 2,452 and 3,047 tons of radioactive waste. …
To add insult to ecological injury, these cars are expensive and don’t perform or handle very well. And owners still need fossil fuels either to run them (oil, gasoline) or for the electricity to charge them (coal).
So why on earth would anyone buy one?
Because, as always with lefties, the buyers want to feel good about themselves.
It’s a clear example of their moral vanity.
Apparently hybrid vehicles owners don’t really want to save the world, they just want to look like they do.
The New York Times reported in 2007 that the number one reason why people buy the Toyota Prius is “it makes a statement about me”. …
It isn’t just hybrid owners that are sanctimonious eco-evangelicals. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explains that being green is a status symbol of both wealth and altruism. …
The age of “conspicuous conservation” will have to compete with more important things such as national security, as much of our high tech weaponry requires rare earth minerals. The demand for “green” will also compete with our love of gadgets such as iPods and computers, and with those civilization-required things like lighting, batteries, and basic electricity.
The new “high efficiency light bulbs” require rare earths while old fluorescents did not. …
While alternative vehicle owners, solar panel supporters, and wind turbine advocates may feel better about themselves, they’re actually polluting the planet with their “clean/green” technology.
The article is informative on rare earths and the pollutants produced by their mining. Read it all here.