Monday, May 25, 2015

Warning, Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!


The Sustainability Project: Part I

By Rich Kozlovich

On May 23rd the Shanghai Daily ran an article titled, “UN chief sees biodiversity key tosustainable development, ending poverty”.

The article starts out stating that, “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Friday called on everyone to recommit to global action to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, for people and for our planet, saying that biodiversity is essential to sustainable development and eradicating poverty.”  The article goes on to quote the Secretary-General saying, “Protecting ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services by poor and vulnerable groups are essential to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger." 

 And how does Ban think this is going to be accomplished?  The article states, “Ban said reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, dry lands, (Is he advocating the building of dams becuase the environmental movement is against that?) range lands and crop lands generate significant benefits and are cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change.”  He continues saying, “any sustainable development framework must provide conditions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for more equitable sharing of benefits”.
 
Souza Dias claims, "Biodiversity underpins all those ecosystem functions and benefits essential to human well-being, not only in terms of our economies, but also for our health, food security, prevention of natural hazards, and our cultural roots”.  He also states that, “biodiversity sustainably can provide solutions to a range of challenges to sustainability and human well-being, including poverty eradication, food security, sustainable production and consumption, water security, disaster risk reduction and climate change.”

For those who don’t follow this stuff you will read these comments and it may sound rational.  But what happens when we take them one at a time, analyze them and then ask what they're really saying and what these statements mean?

First of all sustainable development is indefinable, or unendingly re-definable according the the green whim of the moment, which is common in all things the left promotes, especially when it comes to the green movement.  The word sustainable means to be able to do something over and over again.  What exactly is it that’s not being done over and over again they wish to restore or prevent from disappearing?  What exactly is the current generation destroying for future generations?  They never tell us what isn’t being done over and over again, since they only declare things are unsustainable without any evidence to support these hysterical speculations.  What is it they actually want?   Remember when they claimed using  traditional energy souces was unsustainable?  Which of course meant modern agriculture was unsustainable.  All of that turned out to be blatantly false.  As for biological sustainability - its even less definable and borders on neo-pagan nature worshipping mysticism.   

Are we to assume no species of animal or plant can be allowed to go extinct?  If that’s the case what steps should be taken to prevent that?  Under the Endangered Species Act that requires setting aside “suitable habitat”, which can include ridiculous amounts of acreage.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Anything done around that “suitable habitat zone” can be restricted because some bureaucrat decides it’s detrimental to some bug, or plant that’s been designated as endangered.  That stopped the Keystone Pipeline.  How is that going to reduce hunger and support good economic policy?
 
Let’s take a look at the comments made by Ban and Diaz.

1.  Ban is quoted saying: “biodiversity is essential to sustainable development and eradicating poverty.”  - If there ever was a logical fallacy – this is it!  Okay, so now we have to ask - why and how? If biodiversity is essential to eradicating poverty there must be some firm logical foundation to support that statement.  What is it?  Just exactly how is biodiversity going to eradicate poverty?  If anything - it will increase it!  Unless of course you reduce the world’s population dramatically, which is the underlying motive of the environmental movement, and that doesn’t really supply an answer to endng poverty.  Poverty has been with mankind for all of human history.  The idea of eradicating poverty is just more leftist utopian blather, and will never be achieved by any of the means discussed.  It’s a red herring to deflect attention from the real goal.  World governance by the most corrupt and incompetent organization the world has ever known.  The United Nations!

2.  “Ban said reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, dry lands, range lands and crop lands generate significant benefits and are cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change.”  - What exactly does “enhancing carbon stocks mean”?  First let’s define REDD+.  “Launched in September 2008, the United Nations Collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, known better simply as UN-REDD was created with the goal of helping countries implement REDD+ strategies. What are REDD+ strategies? To quote the UN: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) - is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. “REDD+” goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
 
A key component of the REDD+ strategy, it includes forest management activities such as restoring existing but degraded forests and increasing forest cover through environmentally appropriate afforestation and reforestation.

So this is all about CO2 and the false premise that CO2 is causing catastrophic global warming! Since the incredibly small amount of warming that was taking place ended over 18 years ago it’s now “climate change”, in spite of the fact that levels of CO2 has increased.  The very premise for Ban’s comments is fraudulent.  Ban’s solution to end poverty is to take farm land and turn it into forests.  Did I understand that correctly? Not the Sahara desert, or the Gobi desert, or some other largely “pristine” but desolate area of the world, but areas that are already inhabited with large populations needing agricultural acreage.  Acreage that’s being eaten up with crops to make ethanol.  A policy the UN and the green movement supports.  Does this seem like cognitive dissonance, or is it a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the facts? 

3. Ban claims, “any sustainable development framework must provide conditions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for more equitable sharing of benefits”.  What does, “the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for more equitable sharing of benefits”.  What does that mean? And how is that to be accomplished?  We come right back to the leftist's desire of controlling outcomes that are acceptable to leftist elites.  In effect - when the word’s conservation, sustainability and biodiversity are used by leftists they're nothing more than triggers to promote worldwide socialism under the guise of equitability. In short - it's the same old socialist theme - you are being cheated by the rich so we're going to forcibly take it from them and give it to you.  Just give us the power!  

4. Souza Dias claims, "Biodiversity underpins all those ecosystem functions and benefits essential to human well-being, not only in terms of our economies, but also for our health, food security, prevention of natural hazards, and our cultural roots”…..“biodiversity sustainably can provide solutions to a range of challenges to sustainability and human well-being, including poverty eradication, food security, sustainable production and consumption, water security, disaster risk reduction and climate change.”  - First of all there’s no such thing as an eco-system other than the planet itself.  These ‘eco-systems’ they talk about are never stable. Too much rain and plant and animal species are changed.  Too little water and another change will take place.  Forest fires destroy untold acreage and the plants and animals inhabiting the area changes.  Furthermore, species become extinct as a result of being biologically incompetent, and will be replaced by plants or animals that can adapt to change.  How many species have gone extinct?  Over 95% of all species that have ever lived are extinct, and all the species living today will become extinct.  Extinction is the rule, not the exception!

Let’s break down Dias’ thoughts individually.

  • "Biodiversity underpins all those ecosystem functions and benefits essential to human well-being". That statement is a red herring. What is it he wants to implement?  Controlled habitat that prevents use by humans so certain species will not be effected? 
  • "Not only in terms of our economies", How is this really an economic issue? Explain!
  • "But also for our health," How is this a health issue? Explain!
  • "Food security" - How does committing to a UN biodiversity project provide food security? Explain!
  • "Prevention of natural hazards" - How does biodiversity prevent natural hazards, and what exactly qualifies as a natural hazard, and if they’re natural, how could they be prevented?  Do we really believe global warming causes hurricanes, tornadoes, etc?  We know those claims have been proven false.  Perhaps a commitment to biodiversity prevents earthquakes?
  • Cultural roots” - And the least definable and least meaningful of them all….cultural roots. What does that mean?  Never change what we do…forever?  End cultural patterns disapproved by the UN? Perhaps it means destroying the US Constitution.  Since the green movement is so hot on "going back to nature" perhaps it means abandoning all the advances that make modern life possible. 

Dias claims “biodiversity sustainably can provide solutions to a range of challenges to sustainability and human well-being, including poverty eradication, food security, sustainable production and consumption, water security, disaster risk reduction and climate change.”   
 
All these sound bites sound appealing, but this is nothing more that another emotional appeal by the left claiming they have the answers that will bring about utopia.  The problem is all they ever deliver is dystopia.  Following a UN sponsored biodiversity program will not end poverty, provide food security, disaster risk reduction (whatever that means) or climate change.  Oh, it will provide “production and consumption” controls, but I don't think anyone except the ruling elite will like that outcome.  Because misanthropic leftists will be telling the world what to produce and how much of it everyone will be allowed to consume.
 
They will also control how much water you may use and for what.  If we have any delusions about what that will mean then just take a look at what's being done in California (which is facing a devastating drought) with the delta smelt, allowing thousands of gallons of fresh water to flow into the delta for the benefit of a bait fish, while destroying the farms that need it.   
 
As for climate change?  It’s the greatest fraud perpetrated by any human organization in all of human history.   The mere fact the UN continues to use this as a reason to adopt any of their schemes is a clear demonstration of the deliberate fraudulence behind their sustainable development and biodiversity programs.
 
Let's not be fooled by clever sounding rhetoric.  The answer is in the history.  The history of the left is filled with tyranny, misery, squalor, suffering, disease and early death, and if the world accepts these deliberate misrepresentations and red herrings of "sustainable development" and "biological diversity" - that's what will follow, and their warnings are as valid as The Monkey Stampede!
Question: So What Are You Waiting For?
Answer: January 21, 2017




Science publication is hopelessly compromised, say journal editors

Posted @ The American Council on Science and Health 

A symposium was held a few weeks ago in the U.K., sponsored by several academic institutions, with the participation of journal editors, academics, business interests (pharmaceutical), among others. The topic was of utmost importance and interest:


Nothing less! The sponsors were (all based in the UK): The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust.

In The Lancet’s April 11th edition, editor-in-chief Dr. Richard Horton published his own perspectives on the symposium. In what amounts to an editorial, entitled “What is medicine’s 5 sigma,he wrote:

“A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I’m not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Why the paranoid concern for secrecy and non-attribution? Because this symposium — on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research — touched on one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of our greatest human creations.

The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”.

This is chilling information: the sum and substance of it is that our edifice of scientific progress, the peer-reviewed medical/scientific literature, is a can of worms rather than the gold standard we thought it to be. Well, not all of us: we here at ACSH have often taken pains to skewer published studies in “respected” journals which are clearly flawed, data-dredged junk, and/or clearly devoted to propagating the researcher’s career-oriented agenda, facts be damned. Indeed, a news article on this symposium referred to a citation from yet another former editor-in-chief and her opinion of the sad state of peer-reviewed publication:

Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime Editor in Chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ)[sic], which is considered to another one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, makes her view of the subject quite plain:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.”

ACSH’s Dr. Gil Ross had this comment: “These editors, charged with making the decisions of such publications, should clearly be pointing the finger of guilt at themselves; yet, I saw no solutions being offered. Dr. Horton’s comments in particular are nothing if not ironic, given that he is responsible for possibly the worst publication decision in recent times: Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent ‘study’ in The Lancet in 1998 alleging some link between the MMR vaccine and autism, which led to a significant decline in vaccinations rates in the UK and globally. Another scientist notable for pointing out the lack of support for much of the published medical literature has been Stanford’s Dr. John Ioannidis, who tried to reproduce many published studies and found that less than half were reproducible.”

Quote of the Day!

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. - Federalist Paper #51


Observations From the Back Row!

What if We Didn’t Have a Constitution? - By Andrew P. Napolitano
What if we didn’t have a Constitution? What if the government were elected by custom and tradition, but not by law? What if election procedures and official titles and government responsibilities merely followed those that preceded them, and not because any of this was compelled by law, but because that’s what folks came to expect? What if those elected to office, and those appointed to it, as well, took oaths to uphold the Constitution? What if those who took the oaths promised fidelity to the Constitution? What if the Constitution declares itself to be the supreme law of the land? What if the supreme law of the land means what it says?  What if all in government, from presidents to park rangers, from generals to janitors, from judges to jail guards, take substantially the same oath? What if very few who have taken their oaths take them seriously? What if very few who have taken their oaths have actually read the Constitution? What if very few who have taken their oaths understand the values the Constitution upholds?....

Hillary Clinton: The Worst of the Worst Opportunist - By Rod Eccles
We are seeing the ramping up of the campaign season for the next election in 2016 and there is bad opportunity all around. We see candidate after candidate not living up to what we believe is still the American Dream. We see candidate after candidate from all levels of government telling us about their ideas to help the American people as a whole and individually. The reason this is a bad opportunity is because history has shown and taught us that big government can never help us on an individual level. I cannot even begin to fathom how someone, anyone, would argue that fact since we have overwhelming evidence which includes data and history that over shadows any small successes there might have been in this area.

A new decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals holds that New York’s state government has the right to ban “Choose Life” license plates on the grounds that such a statement is “patently offensive.”  The dispute stems from a now-suspended program offered by New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) which allowed private organizations to create custom license plates. If drivers purchased the plates, the purchasing price was split between the DMV and the non-profit.  The Children First Foundation (CFF), an organization promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion, submitted a design for a “Choose Life” license plate, which featured a drawing of two children’s faces in front of a yellow sun.

I love Pamela Geller. I have known and loved her for years. She is a great American! If only everyone who has the honor of calling himself American could grow courage like hers we would be un-terrorizable as a nation. Pamela gets that we are at war and stands as an example for those of us who have lost our way.  Many of you under fifty have been educated by the whackerino indoctrinators crowding reality out of our High Schools and Universities. These liars and fantasists are so busy obliterating, truncating or revising history (when they're not entirely ignoring it), that our true history has drifted out the window like so much smoke wafting in the wind. As a consequence there are few Americans left to say, "Hey, whoa, that's not the way it goes...that's not the way it is"; especially when it comes to our Constitution….."The First Amendment is "an ABSOLUTE". This is contrary to Leftists, who would re conform our culture of liberty to please the tastes of savage, knife-wielding hordes. According to a report, one-half of Democrats and one-third of Republicans want to ban "hate-speech". Whaaaa? Let’s just get rid of our sacred free thought amendment?...... An Imam …..[said]…. "You have to know that when you say such things there will be consequences!"….. She was forced to talk over his incessant shrieking….”…… the very idea of such freedom makes him hysterical.…

With today’s news that the 170-member Republican Study Committee is opposed to reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, the House appears poised to allow the troubled agency to finally expire on June 30 without taking any action. That, however, hasn’t stopped proponents of the bank from staking their hopes on the Senate’s taking action to jam the House. Fortunately, that path seems to be increasingly difficult to walk. While it is conventional wisdom to believe the Senate can “jam the House,” the reality is that doing so is extremely difficult. There are two general scenarios in which Senate action could spur House action, but those situations are unlikely to materialize into significant threats...
 
A Nation Of Wimps? - By Steven Laib
In a recent column for Townhall John Hawkins asks an important question. When Did America Turn Into Such A Nation Of Wimps? Yes, he probably knows several answers for this question, and so do many other intelligent people, but it seems proper to address it anyway. So, for what it is worth, here is one answer that provides some interesting insight on the reasons……

The Global Warming Scam -- So Simple, a 5th Grader Can Debunk It  - By Jonathan Henderson
I seem to find myself frequently of late reading various frequently-published commentaries by non-certified psychobabblers how "Climate Change skeptics" suffer from mental illness. Apparently, skepticism rather than abstaining from being a sheep herded to his pending slaughter must be akin to not laughing when Democrats or a global government body like the United Nations sanction rape. Not only am I profoundly disabled intellectually, I need something else far more applicable to my ills than a taste of their own medicine. According to the UN, I must be one of the many targeted for eradication to fulfill their depopulation initiatives. Far be it from moi, given the Left already has me cast into "White Man's Hell" just because of my racial genetic code some call a "privilege"... except most on the Left do not believe in God, so therefore, I cannot go to hell. I will be sent to the purgatory of one of Obama's FEMA camps nearest me as soon as Operation: Jade Helm 15 rears its ugliest head…

The Tyranny of Radical Secularism (Part 2 of 3)  - By Justin Soutar
A major propaganda weapon in the militant secularists' assault on America's Christian identity and on religious liberty is their re-interpretation of the concept of the "separation of church and state" implicitly enshrined in the First Amendment. Our nation's founders intended the distinction between religious and civil authority to allow each governing entity to fulfill its proper public role. Radical secularists reinterpret this common-sense distinction as a radical divorce between the religious and civil spheres. In their view, every trace of religion must be scrubbed from American public life: no references to God should be made by government leaders; no symbols of the Christian religion should be displayed on public property. This malicious anti-God and anti-Christian animus would have struck the Founders as not only quite alien but extremely dangerous to the well-being of our nation. Here is what General George Washington wrote to the governors of the original thirteen states in a letter announcing the disbanding of the Continental Army on June 8, 1783 (note that this was an official U.S. military document):……

The Mississippi city of Richland has a new $4.1 million police station, a top-level training center and a fleet of black-and-white Dodge Charger police cars.  All of it was paid for through civil forfeitures of property and cash seized during traffic stops of what police say were suspected drug runners on Interstate 20. TEARFULLY DONATED: The sign for Richland’s $4.1 million police station, which was paid for entirely by civil forfeiture. Civil libertarians question the constitutionality of civil forfeiture, which has become a key part of revenue for state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide. Under the laws of many states, citizens can be deprived of their property or even cash if police merely suspect the owners to be involved in criminal activity…..

A Washington state senator has survived a campaign by Western Washington University students who demanded their school revoke his master’s degree because he’s not radical enough on global warming.  Doug Ericksen, a Republican and chair of Washington’s Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, has blocked efforts to force businesses and residents to go green, but he supports voluntary compliance. He opposes mandated cap-and-trade programs and low-carbon fuel standards. But the effort to yank Ericksen’s degree — he earned his MA in political science and environmental policy at WWU — met with a stiff rebuke last week from the university’s president.

“Green” power is smacking Texans with higher utility bills, but Democratic lawmakers in Austin, aided by wayward Republicans, don’t care. They’re stalling legislation that would reel in wind-energy costs. The price of putting up power lines to connect wind farms in West Texas to customers in the central and eastern parts of the state has blown away initial estimates. The $4.9 billion venture has hit $6.8 billion, and counting. The Senate passed SB 931 to curb the program and relieve ratepayers, but Democrats determined to push more wind power have blocked the measure in the House. The bill, authored by state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Abilene, is on deathwatch with barely more than a week remaining in the legislative session. Texans will pay an average of $300 more per year on their electric bills to fund the power-line project. Continued expansion would increase costs.  State Sen. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville was the lone Democrat to vote for Fraser’s bill…. “The wind industry is apoplectic about this,”…… “If Texas (approves SB 931), other states will follow.”

The collapse of Hawaii’s state-run health exchange has observers wondering which of the other beleaguered exchanges could be next to fail. Hawaii dumped its Obamacare exchange last week after state lawmakers refused to pump an additional $28 million into what they saw as a failed experiment. Despite using up $135 million of an appropriated $205 million, Hawaii Health Connector fell well short of goals, enrolling just 37,000 Hawaiians since 2013. The program ceased taking new enrollees on Friday, and health officials will end outreach services at the end of the month. The exchange’s 70-plus employees, temps and contractors will go home for good on Feb. 28, 2016. The decision by lawmakers to abandon the exchange came after the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services restricted the state’s grant money. Earlier this year, the group warned Hawaii Health Connector would lose funding for not integrating with Medicaid or reaching target enrollment goals…….

Ferguson Rent-A-Mobs Exposed - By Matthew Vadum
ACORN’s successor group in Missouri has been paying protesters $5,000 a month to generate civil unrest in Ferguson, the troubled St. Louis suburb where black youth Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer last August. We know this because some of the protesters haven’t been paid and, now, they are demanding what they were promised. They held a sit-in at the offices of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and posted a demand letter online.  MORE is the rebranded Missouri branch of the former Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) which filed for bankruptcy in late 2010. That ACORN state chapter reconstituted itself in December 2009 as MORE under orders from ACORN’s national headquarters. President Obama used to work for ACORN and he represented it in court as a lawyer. (See my previous article on MORE.)….

Simply put: The March Against Monsanto (MAM) is a menace to society. It spreads lies and distrust about science and scientists. Its organizers frequently compare themselves to great American civil rights leaders like Rosa Parks and Dr. King. They believe they are protecting society from something they feel is a danger, but what they are really doing is failing to comprehend basic biology. For two years its gone unchecked, but not anymore! A group of activists is readying to “Take Science to the Streets” to fight back. The group, led by 3 science activists from the midwest, have organized a counter protest against MAM which they are calling the March against Myths about Modification (MAMyths). The organizers say the event is happening “everywhere”; but formal marches are scheduled for many cities in the US including Chicago, Portland, Oregon, Washington DC and Seattle, and globally in cities from Ottawa to Brisbane to Amsterdam. The group is also encouraging people who cannot attend a rally to participate on social media……

We have lavished well-deserved praise on McGill University’s Dr. Joe Schwarcz on several occasions over the years. Unlike many of his “science-y” colleagues whose news media megaphones take the sensationalist, “sky is falling” approach to trace levels of anything in the environment, he usually presents a voice of reason amidst the clamor.  So it was in his column in a recent posting to the Montreal Gazette, where he has a regular gig (“The Right Chemistry”), entitled Don’t Worry About Teflon Pans. Apparently, even though the “concern” about the fluorinated chemical PFOA was debunked almost a decade ago (see ACSH’s publication here), and even though the amount of PFOA that was present in the finished products was always undetectable, some folks somewhere remained fearful of toxic contamination by this ephemera.

In April, we brought you the story of Mark Lynas, a former anti-GMO activist who converted to supporting the technology when he observed the power of GMOs to revolutionize the third world. One specific example for his conversion he cited was Uganda, where the bacterial wilt is devastating banana crops and two viruses are decimating starchy cassava crops. Both plants are staples of the Ugandan diet and economy, and both have GMO lines that are resistant to their respective diseases. Currently, it is illegal for farmers to use these modified crops, however new legislation is expected to change this….

When it comes to government policies regarding health policy, we’ve seen pretty much every type: Meaningless, but mostly harmless, anti-science, money driven, and ill-conceived and harmful.  Some of these (the full list would shut down the Internet) include the Hatch DSHEA act of 1994, which allowed untested drugs to be sold under the guise of “food supplements,” state laws that permit vaccine exemptions based on religious and personal beliefs, and the routine banning or restricting of chemicals that are harmless, only to have them replaced by another chemical that has been much less studied.  Arguably, the worst of them all was the decision by the FDA in 2005 to ban CFC propelled albuterol (the drug in asthma inhalers) by 2008. This ridiculously silly rule is the epitome of what happens when bad policies are put into place.  The US Clean Air Act was first introduced in 1963, and has since been amended and modified several times. It is clear that it has done a very good job in reducing air pollution:….

Getting vaccinated against measles is not only important for preventing the disease itself, but for preventing many other potential diseases. A new study finds that the measles vaccine reduces deaths from other infections by protecting the immune system…… In the latest study, authors led by Michael Mina, a medical student at Emory University, analyzed measles cases and death rates from other infections before and after widespread measles campaigns in the United States, England, Wales, and Denmark. They found that after vaccinations, measles cases declined in all the countries, as expected. But deaths from other infectious diseases dropped as well for up to three years. They concluded that this was because the measles virus caused the body to “forget” some of the immunity it had developed to fight other contagions. By getting vaccinated to prevent measles, “you preserve your ability to fight off all of these other infections,” said Mina…..

Chemophobia Rampant, Science in Retreat: This Cannot End Well - The baseless, superstitious fear of chemicals has certainly gripped our supposedly advanced population in a haze of inchoate panic akin to the residents of 17th century Salem, or Europeans of the Dark Ages. Sadly, science ignorance pervades our populace, largely because the perception is "Who cares?" or “How do I know what to believe?” And perhaps even more important: "Do I really need to know that?” Yes, you do.  Here's why: when charismatic charlatans and quacks—and there is hardly a shortage of them— purvey miracle cures and "nutritional supplements" to supposedly support healthy bodily functions, only those with a modicum of scientific insight will be armed to distinguish salesmanship from factual information. Those without become easy marks.

 

 

Thinking About China

Posted by Alan Caruba @ Warning Signs

Napoleon Bonaparte purportedly said “Let China sleep, for when China wakes, she will shake the world.”

As Thomas J. Christensen, the author of his recently published “The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power”, reminds us, “For millennia China was arguably the greatest civilization on the planet and for many previous centuries its most powerful empire.”

China is no longer an empire, but it remains a huge nation geographically and huge in terms of its population.

From the website worldometers.info, we learn:
  • The population of China is estimated at 1,393,783,836 as of July 1 2014.
  • China's population is equivalent to 19.24% of the total world population.
  • China ranks number 1 in the list of countries by population.
  • 54% of the population is urban (756,300,115 people in 2014).
  • The median age in China is 35.7 years.
Christensen is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Currently he is the William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics and director of the China and World Program at Princeton University. After reading his book, you might well conclude that there is little about China and Asia he does not know.

We are mostly dependent on various news stories about China to have any idea what is occurring, but the fact remains that just as the U.S. has its optimists and pessimists, conservatives and liberals who influence policy the same exists for China, so a lot depends on who is being quoted. Generally, though, it is only the top leaders who are. That means we are getting the Chinese “party line” and the occasional general or admiral warning against any aggression.

China did not begin to awaken as a modern nation until after the death of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, a Communist with a capital “C.” Christensen notes that, while keeping its political ideology, the leader that followed him made a “peaceful transformation launched under CCP leader Deng Xiaopping in 1978 and the collapse of the superpower Soviet Union thirteen years later that made China appear to stand tall again among the great powers.” The transition was to a capitalist-based economy.

These days the Chinese and the Russians are making efforts to achieve areas of cooperation and, in particular, their militaries. They hold drills together for common defense strategies.

Christensen believes that “China’s return to great power status is perhaps the most important challenges in twenty-first century American diplomacy”, but to put that in context he points out that “China’s per capita income is only one fifth that of the United States” and “though a true trade superpower, many of its exporters are controlled at least in part by foreign investors.”

“Still, the pessimists do not give enough credit to the sustainability of U.S. leadership in Asia,” says Christensen. “For example, they often underestimate the value of American’s unparalleled network of allies and security partners.” You can be sure that the Chinese leadership does not.

They also have, as one would expect, concerns about U.S. military power in their area of the world, but they feel the same about Japan and South Korea as well. “China is not currently an enemy of the United States,” says Christensen, nor is it likely to be for a long time to come.

“It does not need to be contained like the (former) Soviet Union. Nor should China become the kind of regional or global adversary that we have faced in the past, although that outcome, unfortunately, is still a distinct possibility.” That possibility depends on China’s leadership now and in the future. For now they are concentrating on their economy and are likely to do so for many years to come.

“China’s economic clout is real and growing rapidly, especially since the 2008 financial crisis. China has been the main engine of growth for the world’s economy since that time and, by some measures, has become the world’s number one trading state.” There is only one reason why the U.S. has not yet recovered from the financial crisis and his name is Barack Obama.

I suspect that Obama is held in disdain by the Chinese leadership despite all the public handshakes. For one thing, China weathered the financial crisis far better than the U.S. “One of the burdens the new Obama administration inherited in early 2009 was a China bearing a mix of cockiness and insecurity that would negatively influence its policies in 2009-2010,” says Christensen and as the U.S. foundered in Afghanistan and Iraq “American power inspired less awe.”

“Sometime in 2012, the ‘Asia pivot’” of the Obama administration “would be jettisoned in Washington for the more subtle ‘Asia rebalance.’” If you get the feeling that the Obama administration has no real China policy or one that will have little influence, you are right.

With regard to China, It likely does not matter what the Obama administration does for its remaining one and a half years in office.

Various scholars and diplomats will continue to keep a watchful eye on China and most surely many corporate leaders and U.S. entrepreneurs will do so as well given its huge population as a marketplace. It’s already a great tourist destination.

Napoleon was right.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Slow Death of Common Core

Posted By Alan Caruba @ Warning Signs

Think about the major policy undertakings of the Obama administration over the past six and a half years. It began with a “stimulus” that wasted trillions in the quest of generating jobs, but did little to nothing in achieving that goal. That was followed by ObamaCare which most agree has been a disaster for the nation’s healthcare sector and, finally, Common Core, a one-size-fits-all testing program intended, we were told, to improve learning standards in the nation’s schools. The only thing it has achieved is the opposition of parents, teachers unions, and entire states.

In the April edition of The Heartland Institute’s School Reform News, one could find headlines that included “Arizona House Votes to Repeal and Replace Common Core”, “Arizona House Votes to Repeal Common Core”, ”West Virginia House Passes Common Core Repeal Bill”, and “Ohio Bill Would Protect Students Opting Out of Common Core Tests.” In March, some 19 states had introduced legislation to either halt or replace Common Core. Do you see a trend here?

One trend of significance was noted in a commentary by Jason L. Riley in the May 6 edition of The Wall Street Journal. “The Soccer Mom Revolt Against Common Core” cited a national poll released by Fairleigh Dickinson University earlier this year that put “approval for the new standards at 17%, against 40% who disapproved and other 42% who were undecided. A breakdown by gender had Common Core support 22% for men and only 12% for women.”

Perhaps the greatest surprise among these numbers is that the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Educational Association, as Rob Bluey of the Heritage Foundation noted in February “is no longer a cheerleader for Common Core national education standards.” In a letter to the union’s three million members, its president, Dennis Van Roekel, took Common Core to task for its failure to even provide information for implementing it in their classrooms. The American Federation of Teachers had raised similar concerns nearly a year earlier!

Writing on September 2014, Joy Pullman, a Heartland Institute research fellow whose expertise is education held forth on the “Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core.” Among them was “The senseless, infuriating math.” “If Common Core hadn’t deformed even the most elementary of our math abilities so that simple addition now takes dots, dashes, boxes, hashmarks, and foam cubes, plus an inordinate amount of time”, you are not going to get the right answer.

Parents in growing numbers have discovered, as Pullman notes, that “when they do go to their local school boards, often all they get are disgusted looks and a bored thumb-twiddling during their two-minute public comment allowance.” Pullman says, “The bottom line is, parents have no choice whether their kids will learn Common Core, no matter what school they put them in.” That, obviously, is changing as state after state pulls out of the Common Core program.

In a new book by Samuel Blumenfeld and Alex Newman, “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children”, Blumenfeld points to “Growing levels of illiteracy, plunging international rankings, the decline of critical-thinking skills, mushrooming decadence, mass shootings, and companies that can’t find the skilled workers they need—these have become some of the atrocious hallmarks of U.S. public schools.”

“Common Core schemers are engaged in what can only be described as consumer fraud with monumental implications for education and the future of America.” The bottom line is that “the scheme was never field-tested before being foisted on America.”

There is no part of student’s education that Common Core does not impede or corrupt. In the area of science, Blumenfeld says “Instead of teaching children about science—real science—the standards will offer students a steady stream of controversial propaganda presented as unchallenged fact.” Regarding climate change “students will be required to learn that human activities are mostly to blame, even though this notion is disputed by countless scientists and a vast, growing body of actual scientific observational evidence.”

Closest to home are Common Core’s “National Sexuality Education Standards” aimed to begin the “sexualization of children in kindergarten” says Blumenfeld. “Is learning about ‘homosexual marriage’ before first grade in government schools really ‘age appropriate’ or necessary?” But it gets more radical “with graphic lessons promoting everything from masturbation and fornication to transgenderism and homosexuality.”

We shouldn’t be surprised at the backlash Common Core has received from both parents and teachers unions among others. Like the “stimulus” and ObamaCare, Common Core demonstrates a thorough lack of understanding of the values of individuality that have underwritten our nation’s free market economy, helped create a respected healthcare system, and which parents have expected the educational system to pass on to new generations.

Instead Common Core teaches collectivism—socialism—and degrades various elements of education from math to English to science.


It cannot be removed from our nation’s schools soon enough.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Surgical Strike!


De-Islamization is the Only Way to Fight ISIS

Posted by Daniel Greenfield @the Sultan Knish blog 4 Comments

Obama can’t defeat ISIS with soft power, though ISIS could beat him with soft power assuming its Caliph ever decided to agree to sit down at a table with John Kerry without beheading him. Iran has picked up billions in sanctions relief and the right to take over Yemen and raid ships in international waters in the Persian Gulf just for agreeing to listen to Kerry talk for an hour.

And that might be a fair exchange.

As bad as having your capital or ship seized by Iran is, listening to John Kerry talk is even worse.

If ISIS were to agree to a deal, it could pick up Baghdad and Damascus just in exchange for showing up. All it would have to do is find a Jihadi who hasn’t chopped off any heads on camera to present as a moderate. The administration and its media operatives would accuse anyone who disagreed of aiding the ISIS hardliners at the expense of the ISIS moderates who also represent the hardliners.

If Obama did that, he would at least lose in a way that he understands; instead of in a way he doesn’t.

So far ISIS has preferred the classical approach of killing everything in its path. The approach, deemed insufficiently nuanced by masters of subtlety like Obama and Kerry, has worked surprisingly well. Their response, which is big on the Bush arsenal of drone strikes, Special Forces raids and selective air strikes, hasn’t. But Bush was fighting terrorist groups, not unrecognized states capable of taking on armies.

It’s hard to destroy something if you don’t know what it is. And it’s hard to know what a thing is if you won’t even call it by its name or name its ideology.

The left loves root causes, but the root cause of ISIS isn’t poverty, unemployment or a lack of democracy.

It’s Islam.

The Islamic State isn’t unnatural. Its strength comes from being an organic part of the region, the religion and its culture. Its Arab enemies have performed so poorly fighting it because their institutions, their governments and their armies are unstable imitations of Western entities.

The United States can’t make the Iraqi army work because Iraq isn’t America. The assumptions about meritocracy, loyalty to comrades and initiative that make our military work are foreign in Iraq and Afghanistan where the fundamental unit is not the nation, but the tribe, clan and group.

Iraq and Syria aren’t countries; they’re collections of quarreling tribes that were forced into an arrangement that included the forms of Western government without any of the substance. When the Europeans left, kingdoms quickly became military juntas. Now the juntas are fighting for survival against Islamic insurgencies that are striving to return the region to what it was in the days of Mohammed.

ISIS is the ultimate decolonization effort. It’s what the left claims that it wants. But real decolonization means stripping away everything the Europeans brought, including constitutions, labor unions and elections. The cities that ISIS controls have been truly decolonized. There is no music, there are no rights, slavery is back and every decision is made by a cleric with a militia or a militia leader with a cleric.

That’s Mohammed. It’s the Koran. It’s Islam.

ISIS, or something very much like it, was always waiting to reemerge out of the chaos. Before ISIS, there were the Wahhabi armies of the Ikhwan which did most of the same things as ISIS. The British bombed them to pieces in the 1920s and the remainder became the Saudi Arabian National Guard. The insistence on democratic institutions weakened the military juntas holding back Islamist insurgencies. Islamists took power across the region. Where they couldn’t win elections, they went to war. But whether they won on the battlefield or the ballot box, violence and instability followed them.
 
The fundamental mistake of the Arab Spring was the failure to understand that Islamist democracy is still a road leading to the Caliphate. Turkey’s Erdogan, the Islamist whose rule was used to prove that Islamist democracy can work, now openly promotes the reestablishment of the Ottoman Empire. Or as Mullah Krekar of Ansar Al-Islam put it, “The resistance is not only a reaction to the American invasion; it is part of the continuous Islamic struggle since the collapse of the Caliphate. All Islamic struggles since then are part of one organized efforts to bring back the Caliphate.” A decade later, the Norwegian Jihadist leader has proven to be more accurate than his Western hosts.

ISIS is not a reaction. It’s the underlying pathology in the Muslim world. Everything planted on top of that, from democracy to dictatorships, from smartphones to soft drinks, suppresses the disease. But the disease is always there. The left insists that Western colonialism is the problem. But the true regional alternative to Western colonialism is slavery, genocide and the tyranny of Jihadist bandit armies.

Our policy for fighting ISIS is colonialism by another name. We are trying to reform Iraqi institutions in line with our values and build a viable Iraqi military along the lines of our own military. We’re doing much of what the British were doing, but without their financial interests or imperial ambitions.

And all of this is reluctantly overseen by Barack Obama; the progressive campaigner against colonialism.

To deal with a problem, we must be honest about what it is and what we are doing about it. If we lie to ourselves, we cannot and will not succeed. After the failure of democracy and political Islam, Obama has been forced to return to what works. Islamization has failed and so we are back to trying Westernization. The missing element is admitting that Islamization has failed because Islam was the problem all along. The West is the solution.

But institutional Westernization that that never goes beyond a few government offices and military officers won’t work. Neither will the attempt to artificially inject a few big ideas such as democracy into an undemocratic tribal culture. The only alternative to depending on military juntas is transforming the people. Sunni Gulf Arabs responded to their military and economic dependence on the West with a largely successful campaign to Islamize the West. The West won a culture war with the USSR. It is capable of winning one with Saudi Arabia. It has even unintentionally won a culture war with Iran.

ISIS is not a military force. It is a cultural one. Much of its success has come from its cultural appeal.

As long as the Middle East is defined in terms of Islam, some variation of the Islamic State or the Muslim Brotherhood bent on recreating the Caliphate will continue reemerging. We can accept that and give up, but the growing number of Muslim migrants and settlers mean that it will emerge in our country as well.

We have a choice between Islamization and de-Islamization.

After defeating Saddam, we pursued the de-Baathization of Iraq. If we are going to intervene in the Muslim world, it should not be to reward one Islamist group, whether it’s Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood, at the expense of another. Instead we must carve out secular spaces by making it clear that our support is conditional on civil rights for Christians, non-believers and other non-Muslims.

Our most potent weapon isn’t the jet, it’s our culture. We disrupt Islamists with our culture even when we aren’t trying. Imagine what we could accomplish if we really tried.

But first we must abandon the idea that we need to take sides in Islamic civil wars. Any intervention we undertake should be conditioned on a reciprocal degree of de-Islamization from those governments that we are protecting. Instead of pursuing democracy, we should strengthen non-Islamic and counter-Islamic forces in the Muslim world.

We can’t beat ISIS with Islam and we can’t fight for freedom while endorsing constitutions that make Sharia law into the law of the land in places like Iraq and Libya.

We don’t only need to defeat ISIS. We must defeat the culture that makes ISIS inevitable.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Observations From the Back Row

Agriculture

“Yes, Monsanto is pure evil,” I said. This was about a year ago, in 2013, and I was defending science and nuanced thinking in the same sentence, no less. “Monsanto is pure evil,” I said, “but genetic engineering is just a tool and in itself is neither good or bad.” My University course literature had given a balanced view of many possible benefits to GM while highlighting a couple of areas of caution. My main insight on Monsanto came from the movie Food Inc., confirmed by plenty of common internet knowledge and a couple of trusted friends of mine……..

In 2012, a new tool was invented that revolutionizes how scientists can examine—and manipulate—plant genetic processes. It’s called CRISPR-Cas9, and unlike its predecessors in the world of genetic modification, it is highly specific, allowing scientists to zero in on a single gene and turn it on or off, remove it or exchange it for a different gene. Early signs suggest this tool will be an F-16 jet fighter compared with the Stone Age spear of grafting, the traditional, painstaking means of breeding a new plant hybrid. Biologists and geneticists are confident it can help them build a second Green Revolution—if we’ll let them……

Benghazi

Treason …. plain and simple. This president and apparently our next one are guilty of treason. And America is down with this? She’s the favorite. The country is broken — whether it is irretrievably broken remains to be seen.  Treason? “What difference does it make?” 

“leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish,” says an email written by one of Clinton’s top aides--and forwarded to Clinton herself--as the Libyan rebellion that sought the overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi appeared to be nearing a triumphant moment. The email is one of those the State Department has thus far given to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. It is among 349 pages of those emails that were obtained by the New York Times and that the Times has posted online in a PDF.

Civil Rights

This is the fight. This is where we make our stand. The Democrats are the party of treason. So this is expected, but the Republicans must be taken to the woodshed on this.

This is the new reality: not only is anyone who stands for the freedom of speech excoriated, mocked and shunned, but the emboldened thugs also now issue threats even to teenagers in high school. France and the West are in for a troubled, bloody future. Teachers, parents and media freedom activists are urging police action after death threats against a French teenager over a school newspaper issue about the extremist attack against satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.  The 17-year-old student, chief editor of the paper at the Marcelin Berthelot school in the Paris...

Economics

Richard Ebeling, Epic Times
CBO calculates that by 2025 “modest” annual budget deficits will add more than $7.5 trillion to the existing $18.3 trillion of federal government debt, for a total a decade from now of almost $26 trillion. This will be more than a 40 percent increase in the federal government’s debt over the coming ten-year period.

Patent law is not something most Americans are passionate about or have ever contemplated — which is exactly why the Obama White House and Congress got away with making radical changes to our time-tested traditions of protecting the fruits of entrepreneurial inventors' labor.  It's yet another progressive horror story of abandoning what works in the name of what's politically trendy. For left-wing saboteurs and their Big Business GOP enablers, this means throwing our unique patent system and its constitutional underpinnings under an 18-wheeler. So-called "patent reform" proposals continue to plague Capitol Hill. But like health care "reform" and education "reform," these government cures are worse than any purported disease.

Education


Pity poor Emma Sulkowicz lugging a mattress around the Columbia University campus now for almost a full academic year.

This act, recalling Christ carrying his cross (that is if any on our college campuses know about this part of our Judeo-Christian heritage any more) has drawn attention to her alleged rape by fellow student and one-time lover, Paul Nungesser, who in turn has filed a Title IX suit against the university for allowing the campaign of harassment against him. Nungesser was cleared by a “campus court” (itself a disturbing extra-legal development).

Sulkowicz’s back-bending activity, however, is actually her senior thesis, “Carry That Weight,” directed by Jon Kessler, a professor in the School of Visual Arts. Kessler, who has received several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, in the 1980s and 1990s made “kinetic sculptures,” and used video and surveillance equipment in his work to express “political urgency” after 9/11.

Sulkowicz seems to have learned from her professor about the new academic requirements and purposes of art, as her words in an email to AP reveal:

“I think it’s ridiculous that Paul [Nungesser] would sue not only the school but one of my past professors for allowing me to make an art piece. It’s ridiculous that he would read it as a ‘bullying strategy,’...when really it’s just an artistic expression of the personal trauma I’ve experienced at Columbia. If artists are not allowed to make art that reflect on our experiences, then how are we to heal?”

Sadly, Sulkowicz’s performance art project reflects a growing trend of professors giving students assignments that have little to do with real academics. Most colleges now require (or at least allow students to get credit for) service-learning, a sort of charity for liberal causes that garners academic credit. The exercises typically require work in homeless shelters, inner-city schools, parks, and even prisons.

For example, at Boise State University students taking Advanced Spanish Conversation and Composition (SPAN 303) last month went to Idaho Correctional Center in order to translate letters by Hispanic inmates for the American Prison Writing archive page. Students also learned about the collection in the prison library and job training programs for the inmates.

Predictably, the students’ “reflection papers,” many handwritten and on posters interspersed with photos, testified to how the program succeeded in changing stereotypes they held about prisoners. No doubt, the professor, Doran Larsen, whose c.v. includes a collection of prisoners’ writings, was pleased.

In this advanced Spanish language course, discussions with inmates and casual writing (in English) pushed aside hours of study that could have been devoted to Cervantes and Marquez. Likewise, the assignments accompanying service-learning projects are a degraded form of academics. “Reflection papers” replace traditional essays and research papers. One handwritten reflection paper on a poster board display paper looks like a third-grader’s journal. In the past, it would have been their language skills and knowledge about Spanish that mattered. Today, however, students are judged by their attitudes, not their knowledge.

Even in composition classes, reflection papers and participation in preselected protests, such as “Take Back the Night,” take the place of writing formal essays. Composition teachers, as I learned at the 2011 Conference on College Composition and Communication, take students on protests to study the “rhetoric” of slogans and “bodies,” instead of having them read classic works.

Such ideological and emotional assignments, and “performance art,” grew out of the 1960s protest movement and the rejection of Western standards. The radicals who went into academe embraced the new standards and have passed them on.

Performance art has become a favorite of feminists, who follow theorist Helene Cixous, who insisted, “Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes...."

One of the most famous purveyors of this mode is Karen Finley, who in her younger days famously smeared chocolate and honey over her body to express her feelings about the objectification of women. She then took her outrage over the revoking of funding by the National Endowment for the Arts to the Supreme Court, where she, along with her three co-litigants, lost. What is such a transgressive artist going to do without public funding?

She soon found a teaching position at New York University.

She landed there after she was denied a position at Georgia State University (where I earned my master’s degree) as a visiting professor after she refused to sign Georgia’s loyalty oath (requiring that applicants promise not to overthrow the government by violent means). At a 2009 South Atlantic Modern Language Association meeting, English department co-chair Matthew Roudané introduced her and related the story about how he had offered her the position after her NEA difficulties.

In her presentation, Ms. Finley recounted going into “a subtle form of body trauma” after seeing Georgia’s loyalty oath.

“You have to start with an individual, emotional place,” she insisted, describing her principled resistance and her form of art.

She would have fit in at Georgia State. One of my professors allowed another graduate student to write her final paper in the form of a “quilt” of colored paper. A feminist, she was defying the linear, patriarchal form of writing, i.e., organized with a thesis statement and argued logically.

Students are now being asked to follow the lead of performance artists like Finley and do assignments in the nude. This is the case of a visual arts class at UC-San Diego taught by Roberto Dominguez, who famously concocted an electronic Transborder Immigrant Tool, winning awards from the Endowment for Culture Mexico-US. In 2010 he used students to conduct a virtual sit-in to protest cuts in the budget for the California state university system.

Dominguez, naturally, has given a different version to the original complaint by a parent. He told Inside Higher Ed that students have two “clothes-free” options for the class: “The students can choose to do the nude gesture version or the naked version (the naked gesture means you must perform a laying bare of your ‘traumatic’ self, and students can do this gesture under a rug or in any way they choose—but they must share their most fragile self—something most students find extremely hard to do).”

In contrast, “’The nude self gesture takes place in complete darkness, and everyone is nude, with only one candle or very small source of light for each individual performance.... A student may decide to focus on their big toe, their hair, an armpit, as being a part of their body that is ‘more them than they are.’”

Presumably, this should alleviate parental concerns. But a room with naked (in distinction from nude) students in front of their nude professor blubbering about how they feel about their armpits illustrates vividly the decay of academe.

Such assignments do not prepare students for the world of work and adult responsibilities, where their emotions do not factor in performance reviews, where they are expected to communicate in a clear and logical manner, and where they will have to know certain facts in order to build a bridge, argue a legal case, treat a heart attack victim, or teach children to read. Nor do such assignments prepare them to participate as free and literate citizens in a constitutional republic.

So where is the oversight? In the case of the Boise State prison service-learning program, we can see that the inmates are indeed running the asylum. Sadly, this is happening in most of our institutions of higher learning.

Heartland Senior Fellow Bruno Behrend joins Dave Elswick to discuss the latest on Common Core. Behrend and Elswick talk about the popular perceptions of Common Core and public education, and why even more government control is not the solution to our educational problems.

Energy

Ron Arnold, The Daily Caller
John Kerry talks a good game about how we should all reduce our carbon footprint, but he doesn’t put his wife’s money where his mouth is. Kerry invests in at least 365 securities connected to fossil fuel industries. Among the “sinners” in Kerry’s portfolio: ExxonMobil and a Canadian firm with ties to the Keystone XL pipeline.

James M. Taylor and Justin Haskins, Forbes
Fracking for oil and natural gas has created thousands of jobs in the United States. With those jobs come billions of dollars in government tax revenues and immeasurable U.S. economic benefits. What’s not to like? Democratic Party strategist Robert Weiner claims, implausibly, that America’s new energy boom will cause a new Great Depression.

Global Warming

Jim Lakely, Somewhat Reasonable
Carol Andress, director of legislative operations for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), was humiliated in a televised debate with CFACT’s Marc Morano. It is impossible to overstate what a blow-out this debate was for Morano. He was the Harlem Globetrotters to EDF’s Washington Generals.

Health Issues

Posted on by admin

Hardly a week goes by without a “surprise” popping up in the world of cancer research. The understanding of how genetic mutations cause certain cancers continues to evolve, and this is radically changing how we view cancer, which could lead to a revolution in its treatment.

For example, should all leukemias be treated with leukemia drugs? Five years ago there was not much choice. But, back in February we discussed an article by Gina Kolata of The New York Times, which gave us a preview of an entirely new paradigm in cancer research. An elderly woman was extremely ill with a rare (and essentially untreatable) form of leukemia. But instead of trying another leukemia drug, her doctors gave her a melanoma drug. Her response was astounding.

Why give a patient who has leukemia a melanoma drug? You’d have to be out of your mind, right?

Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The genetic mutation that was responsible for the woman’s cancer was the same one that causes at least certain melanomas, and this explains why the drug worked. A completely different way of looking at cancer.

It is important to note that the article was based on a single example, and this type of approach has failed far more than it has succeeded. But the the real story is the concept—examining the genetics of the tumor rather than using a drug that has historically worked against a particular cancer in large populations. This is the essence of personalized medicine.

An article in the May 21st Wall Street Journal gives us another surprise — courtesy of gene sequencing. It sounds crazy, but there appears to be a relationship between breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

Dr. Charles Sawyers, the chairman of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Sloan Kettering Cancer and colleagues reported in the journal Cell that when samples of tumors from men with late-stage prostate cancer were examined, 15 percent of them contained mutations in the n0w-famous (because of Angelina Jolie) BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. (Despite the fact that the BRCA stands for breast cancer, men also carry these genes.)

Dr. Sawyers said, “Prior to this no one would have entertained treating these patients with those drugs.”

More importantly, the Sloan study demonstrated that 89 percent of these patients had known genetic mutations that could respond to other drugs that would have not have been used to treat prostate cancer. This is incredible.

ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom cautions, “These revolutionary concepts of how to view cancer are in their infancy. There will be some spectacular successes and almost certainly many more failures. The entire strategy could even end up being a dead end. It is way too early to predict how this plays out.

“But,” he adds, “Medical breakthroughs do happen and the results can be spectacular. If someone was infected with HIV in 1985, they died. But if it was in 1995, there is a good chance they are still alive. No one in 1985 would have predicted that people who were HIV-positive would, 30 years later, have a nearly normal life span. Unfortunately, many died during the time this research was being done, and the same will certainly be true in this case. This is the nature of biomedical research. Breakthroughs are nearly impossible to anticipate.”

Sean Parnell, The Heartlander
“The real scandal here is the citizens of states send their tax dollars to Washington, DC and the feds will only let them have their money back if they do what Washington wants them to do. It would be a great campaign theme for the various presidential candidates: The only tax money going to Washington should be for what the federal government needs to fulfill its limited, constitutional obligations.”

Jim Waters, The Heartlander
Yet another Obamacare promise broken: Three-quarters of doctors responding to a nationwide survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians indicate they have seen an increase in ER visits since Obamacare became law.

Heartland Senior Fellow Dr. Brad Rodu urges the Food & Drug Administration to “show its work.” Rodu says the raw data of taxpayer-funded studies on tobacco use are being kept from the public. Meanwhile, government agencies selectively release sound-bites to media outlets and spin the story towards preferred narratives.

Internet Control

Warner Todd Huston, The Heartlander
“Net neutrality is massive regulatory protectionism for government-crony businesses,” said Seton Motley, president of Less Government. “It outlaws charging bandwidth-hog companies for being bandwidth-hog companies, which means our Internet access prices skyrocket to augment the profits of companies like Google and Netflix.”

Privacy Rights

Jen Kuznicki, The Heartlander
“It’s alarming that one company said they gathered about three million records a day, scooping up info to sell to other companies and possibly the government,” said Melissa Ngo, privacy consultant and former senior counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “This is personal information about where you’ve been and where you’re likely go to, because most of us have set patterns for work, school, and home life.”

Rape!

Another in an endless line of horror stories hit the UK media today about yet another Muslim child sex trafficking gang. Thousands of young girls raped, trafficked, tortured with nowhere to turn. Members of a “horrifying” child sex ring abused two schoolgirls, taking advantage of their vulnerability on a “massive scale”, a court has heard. One girl, who was aged 12 or 13 at the time, alleges that throughout the period she was abused, she was passed between 60 men who had sex with her Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Eleven men are on trial accused of committing sexual offences against the youngsters, who had allegedly been conditioned into believing that what they were being subjected to was...