Friday, July 31, 2015


Oregon Female Accused of Rape


Alejandra Espinoza

(Clatsop County, Oregon) A 20-year-old woman, Alejandra Espinoza, has pleaded not guilty to allegations of raping and sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy.

Espinoza faces counts of rape and third-degree sex abuse.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Missouri Woman Accused of Raping Boy


Nicole Porter

(Sedalia, Missouri) A 20-year-old local woman, Nicole Porter, has been accused of having sex with a 13-year-old boy.
A few days later during an interview at the Pettis County Sheriff’s office, Porter admitted to getting drunk with the teen at her home on Southwood Drive.

She said she had sex with the boy twice within the last few weeks and knew he was 13.
Porter was booked into the Pettis County Jail.

  British cops investigating after three youngsters sparked a race row by 'blacking up' as golliwogs

Is that the best they have got to do with their time. They don't have the personnel to attend the scene of most burglaries but they have got time for this triviality?



Police have launched an investigation to identify three teenagers who sparked a race row after they blacked up as Golliwogs for their town's summer parade.

Two girls and a boy painted their faces black, wore curly wigs and donned distinctive red, blue, white and black costumes at the Wick Gala, in Caithness, Scotland, on Saturday.

Police launched a probe into the incident after a member of the public raised the alarm over 'inappropriate behaviour' at the gala.

Golliwogs were a character in children's books in the late 19th century usually depicted as a type of rag doll. But the term has become a racial slur applied to black people in recent years.

Saskia Leighton, 23, from Wick, Caitness, added: 'Gala is a fantastic day of the year that really brings the community together.

'It's a real shame to see that great atmosphere spoiled by a few naive, thoughtless youngsters. I hope that they have learned from this and understand that although Wick may be remote they understand what it means and why it caused offence.

Wick Gala Committee have also been contacted by police as part of their probe.

Police Scotland confirmed it is carrying out an investigation but would not comment further.

SOURCE

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).





Arizona Educator Accused of Sex Abuse of Student


Nikki Suanez

(Tempe, Arizona) Special education teacher at La Joya High School, Nikki Sianez, 25, has been accused of sexual abuse of a male student, 17.
Authorities uncovered the relationship while investigating the victim’s status as a runaway. The victim told investigators that he had been staying with Sianez at her mother’s home in Tempe.

According to court documents, a search warrant on Sianez phone showed “numerous photographs of Nikki and the victim hugging and kissing, as if they were in a romantic relationship."
Sianez was booked into custody at the Tempe City Jail.

New York Teacher and Male Student, 16


Ashley Kaufmann

(Port Jervis, New York) A 30-year-old Orange County teacher, Ashley Kaufmann, has been arrested for engaging in a relationship with a 16-year-old male Port Jervis High School student.

Kaufmann faces counts of forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


A syndrome of general biological fitness appears again

I have been pointing out for many years that there seems to be a syndrome of general biological fitness -- such that high IQ people are healthier, live longer and have better emotional balance. High IQ, in other words, is just one part of general bodily good functioning. The recent study below is another indicator of such an association and goes on to show that the link is genetic.  Some people are just born healthier and fitter. If so, all your bits work well -- including your brain, which is just another bodily organ.   A wise man from long ago knew that.  He said: "For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." (Mark 4: 25).  "All men are equal" exists neither in the Bible nor in life


The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic

By Rosalind Arden et al.

Abstract

Background: Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.

Methods: We analysed data from three genetically informative samples containing information on intelligence and mortality: Sample 1, 377 pairs of male veterans from the NAS-NRC US World War II Twin Registry; Sample 2, 246 pairs of twins from the Swedish Twin Registry; and Sample 3, 784 pairs of twins from the Danish Twin Registry. The age at which intelligence was measured differed between the samples. We used three methods of genetic analysis to examine the relationship between intelligence and lifespan: we calculated the proportion of the more intelligent twins who outlived their co-twin; we regressed within-twin-pair lifespan differences on within-twin-pair intelligence differences; and we used the resulting regression coefficients to model the additive genetic covariance. We conducted a meta-analysis of the regression coefficients across the three samples.

Results: The combined (and all three individual samples) showed a small positive phenotypic correlation between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample observed r = .12 (95% confidence interval .06 to .18). The additive genetic covariance model supported a genetic relationship between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%; in the US study, 84%; in the Swedish study, 86%, and in the Danish study, 85%.

Conclusions: The finding of common genetic effects between lifespan and intelligence has important implications for public health, and for those interested in the genetics of intelligence, lifespan or inequalities in health outcomes including lifespan.

SOURCE

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).


Bill Cosby and 35 Women


Bill Cosby Accusers

(New York City)
The latest cover of New York Magazine features 35 women who told the magazine their stories of being assaulted by Bill Cosby.
Frankly, I don't see a way for Cosby to walk away from his troubles.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Indiana Prostitution Arrest


Tiffany Anne Cottrell

(Muncie, Indiana)
Authorities allege a Hagerstown woman arranged to sell sex to two East Central Indiana men through a Craigslist ad.

Tiffany Anne Cottrell, 31, is charged with two counts of prostitution, a Class A misdemeanor carrying a maximum one-year jail term, in Wayne Superior Court 3.
Reportedly, men paid $125 for a sex act.

Your poverty is in your brain

We sort of knew that already.  The correlation between low IQ and poverty is well-attested. The latest journal article below however takes the story a bit further in that it identifies which brain regions are responsible.  Certain areas of poor people's brains are actually shrunken! The authors seem to have frightened themselves by their boldness, however, as they have tacked a totally illogical conclusion on to their findings.

If poverty is a result of the shrunken brain you were born with, does it not follow that there is not much you can do about it?  The authors below avoid that conclusion.  Instead they say that poor households "should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments".   An hereditary problem can be fixed by changing the environment?  That's a pretty good Non Sequitur as far as I can see.

It's not totally daft in that genetics accounts for only about two thirds of IQ.  There are some other influences that have an effect.  But all the research shows that family environment is NOT part of those other influences on IQ.   It's jarring but that is what all the twin studies show. So the hairy lady and her colleagues below are just ignoring the evidence.  But they need to in order to sound nicely Leftist about it all.

Footnote:  The authors of course avoid the term "IQ" like the plague but the standardized tests  of  academic achievement they used are little more than IQ tests and correlate highly with acknowledged measures of IQ.  So their findings show that IQ, income and brain development all cluster together.


Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement

By Nicole L. Hair et al.

ABSTRACT

Importance:  Children living in poverty generally perform poorly in school, with markedly lower standardized test scores and lower educational attainment. The longer children live in poverty, the greater their academic deficits. These patterns persist to adulthood, contributing to lifetime-reduced occupational attainment.

Objective:  To determine whether atypical patterns of structural brain development mediate the relationship between household poverty and impaired academic performance.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Longitudinal cohort study analyzing 823 magnetic resonance imaging scans of 389 typically developing children and adolescents aged 4 to 22 years from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development with complete sociodemographic and neuroimaging data. Data collection began in November 2001 and ended in August 2007. Participants were screened for a variety of factors suspected to adversely affect brain development, recruited at 6 data collection sites across the United States, assessed at baseline, and followed up at 24-month intervals for a total of 3 periods. Each study center used community-based sampling to reflect regional and overall US demographics of income, race, and ethnicity based on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions of area income. One-quarter of sample households reported the total family income below 200% of the federal poverty level. Repeated observations were available for 301 participants.

Exposure  Household poverty measured by family income and adjusted for family size as a percentage of the federal poverty level.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Children's scores on cognitive and academic achievement assessments and brain tissue, including gray matter of the total brain, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus.

Results:  Poverty is tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain associated with school readiness skills, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households. Regional gray matter volumes of children below 1.5 times the federal poverty level were 3 to 4 percentage points below the developmental norm (P less than .05). A larger gap of 8 to 10 percentage points was observed for children below the federal poverty level (P less than .05). These developmental differences had consequences for children's academic achievement. On average, children from low-income households scored 4 to 7 points lower on standardized tests (P less than .05). As much as 20% of the gap in test scores could be explained by maturational lags in the frontal and temporal lobes.

Conclusions and Relevance:  The influence of poverty on children's learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.

JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 20, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1475

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Monday, July 27, 2015


Is the Pope a Fascist?

If we compare him with Fascists of the past, his ideas are clearly Fascist.  Fortunately, however, he has none of their power.  "But how can such a nice guy be a Fascist?" one might ask. In answer to that remember that "Pope" is a version of the Italian word for "father" and that both Mussolini and Hitler were seen as fatherly figures in their times.  Hitler had most Germans convinced that he loved them. And even in the mouth of a holy man bad ideas can be destructive when other people take them seriously.

And the church has always accomodated Fascism.   In 1929 Mussolini and Pope Pius 12th signed the Lateran treaty -- which is  the legal basis for the existence of the Vatican State to this day -- and Pius in fact at one stage called Mussolini "the man sent by Providence".  The treaty recognized Roman Catholicism as the Italian State religion as well as recognizing the Vatican as a sovereign state.  What Mussolini got in exchange was acceptance by the church -- something that was enormously important in the Italy of that time.

It should also be noted that Mussolini's economic system (his "corporate State") was a version of syndicalism  -- having workers, bosses and the party allegedly united in several big happy families --  and syndicalism is precisely what had been recommended in the then recent (1891) "radical" encyclical De rerum novarum of Pope Leo XIII.  So that helped enormously to reconcile Mussolini to the church.  Economically, Fascism was more Papal than capitalist (though in the Papal version of syndicalism the church naturally had a bigger role).

Syndicalism was of course a far-Leftist idea (with Sorel as a major prophet) long before it was a Papal one but the Holy Father presented a much more humanized and practical version of it and thus seems in the end to have been more influential than his Leftist rivals.  Mussolini was of course acutely aware of both streams of syndicalist thinking and it was a great convenience to him to be able to present himself as both a modern Leftist and as a supporter of the church.

So that is the Catholic intellectual inheritance, making Frank's ideas not at all outlandish in a Catholic context.  Catholic economic ideas in fact formed the basis of Italian Fascism.  And Frank has built on that foundation using more modern ideas.

In his recent encyclical, Frank has made it clear that he idealizes a simple and definitely non-capitalist rural past. Hitler did the same.  So exactly from where did Frank get those ideas?  As well as from Catholic economic thinking, he got them from liberation theology.  Liberation theology is widespread among South American priests and Frank is a South American priest.  So where did South American Priests get their ideas?  From the prevailing South American cuture.  And South American thinking is typically Fascist.  Latin America has had heaps of Fascist-type dictatorships in the recent history of its governance so that is hardly controversial.  Fascism explains Latin-American poverty.  Fascism is a form of Leftism and Leftism is always economically destructive.

So where did South American Fascism come from?  Initially from Simon Bolivar, the great liberator of South America.  Bolivar wanted to replace the king of Spain by a South American elite, not by mass democracy.  And to this day the Venezuelan regime describes itself as Bolivarian.  Bolivar and his ideas are far from forgotten.  Bolivar emphasized the importance of a strong ruler and the constitution he wrote aimed to establish a lifelong presidency and an hereditary senate. He explicitly rejected the liberal ideas of the U.S. founders. Fascist enough?  Memories of  a certain Tausend Jahr Reich come to mind. So the Latin American dictators have simply been good Bolivarians.

So that is the mental world that formed Pope Frank as he was growing up in Argentina.  And who is to this day the most influential political figure in Argentina?  Juan Peron, another Fascist and a friend of Mussolini in his day.  And it was of course Peron who gave refuge to many displaced Nazis after WWII.  And what was Peron's appeal?  He claimed to be standing up for the descamisados", the "shirtless ones".  In typical Leftist style he claimed to be an advocate for the poor.

Is Frank's thinking coming into focus yet?  He is actually a pretty good Peronist.  He has brought Argentinian Fascism to the Holy See.  He is certainly no original thinker. Paul Driessen  sets out below how his prescriptions would perpetuate poverty, disease, and premature death in the Third World -- just as they have done in Argentina


The Laudato Si encyclical on climate, sustainability and the environment prepared by and for Pope Francis is often eloquent, always passionate but often encumbered by platitudes, many of them erroneous.

“Man has slapped nature in the face,” and “nature never forgives,” the pontiff declares. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as in the last 200 years.” It isn’t possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and wealthier sectors of society. “Each year thousands of species are being lost,” and “if we destroy creation, it will destroy us.”

The pope believes climate change is largely manmade and driven by a capitalist economic system that exploits the poor. Therefore, he says, we must radically reform the global economy, promote sustainable development and wealth redistribution, and ensure “intergenerational solidarity” with the poor, who must be given their “sacred rights” to labor, lodging and land (the Three L’s).

All of this suggests that, for the most part, Pope Francis probably welcomes statements by his new friends in the United Nations and its climate and sustainability alliance.

One top Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change official bluntly says climate policy is no longer about environmental protection; instead, the next climate summit will negotiate “the distribution of the world’s resources.” UN climate chief Christiana Figueres goes even further. UN bureaucrats, she says, are undertaking “probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the global economic development model.” [emphasis added]

However, statements by other prominent prophets of planetary demise hopefully give the pope pause.

Obama science advisor John Holdren and Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, in their Human Ecology book: “We need to de-develop the United States” and other developed countries, “to bring our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation.” We will then address the “ecologically feasible development of the underdeveloped countries.” [emphasis added]

Ehrlich again: “Giving society cheap energy is like giving an idiot child a machine gun.” And most outrageous: The “instant death control” provided by DDT was “responsible for the drastic lowering of death rates” in poor countries; so they need to have a “death rate solution” imposed on them.

Radical environmentalism’s death campaigns do not stop with opposing DDT even as a powerful insect repellant to prevent malaria. They view humans (other than themselves) as consumers, polluters and “a plague upon the Earth” – never as creators, innovators or protectors. They oppose modern fertilizers and biotech foods that feed more people from less land, using less water. And of course they are viscerally against all forms and uses of hydrocarbon energy, which yields far more energy per acre than alternatives.

Reflect on all of this a moment. Unelected, unaccountable UN bureaucrats have given themselves the authority to upend the world economic order and redistribute its wealth and resources – with no evidence that any alternative they might have in mind will bring anything but worse poverty, inequality and death.

Moreover, beyond the dishonest, arrogant and callous attitudes reflected in these outrageous statements, there are countless basic realities that the encyclical and alarmist allies sweep under the rug.

We are trying today to feed, clothe, and provide electricity, jobs, homes, and better health and living standards to six billion more people than lived on our planet 200 years ago. Back then, reliance on human and animal muscle, wood and dung fires, windmills and water wheels, and primitive, backbreaking, dawn-to-dusk farming methods made life nasty, brutish and short for the vast majority of humans.

As a fascinating short video by Swedish physician and statistician Hans Rosling illustrates, human life expectancy and societal wealth has surged dramatically over these past 200 years. None of this would have been possible without the capitalism, scientific method and hydrocarbon energy that radical, shortsighted activists in the UN, EPA, Big Green, Inc. and Vatican now want to put in history’s dustbin.

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels – mostly coal – helped 1.3 billion people get electricity and escape debilitating, often lethal energy and economic poverty. However, 1.3 billion still do not have electricity. In India alone, more people than live in the USA still lack electricity; in Sub-Saharan Africa, 730 million (equal to Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung.

Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and 4-6 million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having clean water, refrigeration and unspoiled food.

Providing energy, food, homes and the Three L’s to middle class and impoverished families cannot happen without nuclear and hydrocarbon energy and numerous raw materials. Thankfully, we still have these resources in abundance, because “our ultimate resource” (our creative intellect) has enabled us to use “fracking” and other technologies to put Earth’s resources to productive use serving humanity.

Little solar panels on huts, subsistence and organic farming, and bird-and-bat-butchering wind turbines have serious cost, reliability and sustainability problems of their own. If Pope Francis truly wants to help the poor, he cannot rely on these “alternatives” or on UN and Big Green ruling elite wannabes. Who are they to decide what is “ecologically feasible,” what living standards people will be “permitted” to enjoy, or how the world should “more fairly” share greater scarcity, poverty and energy deprivation?

We are all obligated to help protect our planet and its people – from real problems, not imaginary ones. Outside the computer modelers’ windows, in The Real World, we are not running out of energy and raw materials. (We’re just not allowed to develop and use them.) The only species going extinct have been birds on islands where humans introduced new predators – and raptors that have been wiped out by giant wind turbines across habitats in California and other locations. Nor are we encountering climate chaos.

No category 3-5 hurricane has struck the USA in a record 9-3/4 years. (Is that blessing due to CO2 and capitalism?) There has been no warming in 19 years, because the sun has gone quiet again. We have not been battered by droughts more frequent or extreme than what humanity experienced many times over the millennia, including those that afflicted biblical Egypt, the Mayas and Anasazi, and Dust Bowl America.

The scientific method brought centuries of planetary and human progress. It requires that we propose and test hypotheses that explain how nature works. If experimental evidence supports a hypothesis, we have a new rule that can guide further health and scientific advances. If the evidence contradicts the hypothesis, we must devise a new premise – or give up on further progress.

But with climate change, a politicized method has gained supremacy. Based on ideology, it ignores real-world evidence and fiercely defends its assumptions and proclamations. Laudato Si places the Catholic Church at risk of surrendering its role as a champion of science and human progress, and returning to the ignominious persecution of Galileo.

Nor does resort to sustainable development provide guidance. Sustainability is largely interchangeable with “dangerous manmade climate change” as a rallying cry for anti-hydrocarbon, wealth redistribution and economic transformation policies. It means whatever particular interests want it to mean and has become yet one more intolerant ideology in college and government circles.

Climate change and sustainability are critical moral issues. Denying people access to abundant, reliable, affordable hydrocarbon energy is not just wrong. It is immoral – and lethal.

It is an unconscionable crime against humanity to implement policies that pretend to protect the world’s energy-deprived masses from hypothetical manmade climate and other dangers decades from now – by perpetuating poverty, malnutrition and disease that kill millions of them tomorrow.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).


Nebraska Woman Accused of Sex with Girl


Molleigh Valdez

(Box Butte County, Nebraska) A 23-year-old woman, Molleigh Valdez, has been accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

Valdez faces a charge of sexual assault of a minor.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"I Am Martol" A Huge Success - Update




(Willoughby, Ohio) Americans United (AU) admitted in a fiery rebuttal of a Plain Dealer editorial, "Yes, we do poke our nose into other people's business..."

Despite the National AU's efforts, the show went on and "I Am Martol," the controversial opera, was performed at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, OH on June 9th and 10th. Almost $2500 had been raised on "Go Fund Me" for the new venue.

According to one attendee at the nearly packed house,
"... It is an opera, after all. Some of it may even have been in Norwegian — the language of the original composer. The themes were all there — light vs. dark, good vs. evil. Subtitles, anyone?

I don’t know if the audience knew any better than me what it was all about.

But there was dance. Photography. Music that was spectacular, truly collegiate level in its sparkling excellence. Outstanding musicians. Simple staging. The audience was riveted.

And that’s when I had an epiphany. This audience knew EXACTLY what was going on.

Forget the plot. Art was going on. And they loved it."
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State will continue to bully. Congratulations to Willoughby's South High School students – oops, "The Willoughby Singers" – for persevering!

Updated by Note Taker

* * * * *

Controversial Opera Is Squashed
[Previous 4/25/15 post]



(Willoughby, OH) This weekend's Willoughby South High School presentation of an original opera has been canceled due to a lawsuit threat that suggests that the opera promotes religion and is a violation of the separation of church and state.
The production, called "I am Martol" was written partially by Ben Richard, the school's choir director. According to the school district, Richard used music by Ola Gjeilo, a young Norwegian composer.

[Alex Luchenitser, a legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State] called it a religious opera and said public school teachers have no business promoting religion. He acknowledged he had not read the opera and relied on the complainant's description.
Students say "I Am Martol" is simply an opera about the struggle between good and evil. Participation was voluntary and no students are being forced to attend the production. The Willoughby-Eastlake School District’s legal department is reviewing the situation. A Go Fund Me account has been created to raise money for a new venue for the performance in anticipation that the show can be presented at a later date.

Interesting that Mr. Luchenitser has not even read the opera.

Posted by Note Taker

US Navy Secrets


USS Alexandria

(Groton, Connecticut) A US Navy submarine sailor, Kristian Saucier, is seemingly facing big trouble.
The FBI says a sailor took illegal photographs of classified systems on the U.S. Navy's Groton-based, nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Alexandria and later tried to destroy the evidence when he learned that the Navy and FBI were investigating.

The Navy was alerted to the security breach when the town dump foreman in Hampton found a cellular telephone in a Dumpster and decided to keep it to replace his own. When he noticed that the phone contained photographs, he showed them to a retired Navy chief, who called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said Friday that a federal grand jury has charged Kristian Saucier, 28, of Arlington, Vt., with unlawfully retaining photos taken inside restricted areas of a nuclear attack submarine, and obstructing an investigation.
OK

"Salon" discusses using courts to punish climate deniers

Bring it on! Skeptics should be looking forward to this.  A court case would be a great opportunity to expose the hollowness of the global warming scare.  You can see why "Salon" is very tentative about the idea.  For political reasons, the Dutch government could not mount a defense on the basis of the science but other individuals and bodies would not be under that constraint.  Al Gore's movie was declared inaccurate by a British court but it would have much more impact if the whole hoax was declared inconclusive by a court

Last month a court at The Hague ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions by at least 25% compared to 1990 levels by 2020, the first ruling of its kind anywhere in the world. The victory was the result of a class action lawsuit brought by an NGO called the Urgenda Foundation (short for “Urgent Agenda”), which charged the Dutch government with “hazardous state negligence” in the face of climate change. Along with the rest of the EU, the Netherlands is taking a promise to cut 40% against 1990 by 2030 to the Paris climate talks in December, but they are off track, looking to achieve only a 17% cut by 2020. The court extracted a confession from the government’s lawyers that more could be done, and therefore ruled that not doing more was negligent.

The case has excited activists around the world. This week Marjan Minnesma, Urgenda’s co-founder and director, was in Australia, advising groups looking to emulate her success. “It’s the kind of action we’d love to run and we’re investigating”, environmental lawyer Sean Ryan told the Guardian. Australia is of course headed by the government of Tony Abbott, an aggressive climate change denier. In the face of such apathy, courts may be the best option. The speculative Australian attempt is one of five cases found by RTCC.org that might benefit from the Urgenda example, including one almost identical in its goal and reasoning brought (and recently won) by eight teenagers in Washington State.

Historically, courts seem to have backed away from climate change, preferring to leave it up to legislators and diplomats. In 2008, for example, the tiny Alaskan village of Kivalina sued several major oil corporations, including ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, for putting it under threat of rising sea levels and erosion. It’s handful of citizens wanted compensation to move the entire community to a different location. All courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case as an issue for the executive and legislative branches. This refusal to play a role may be about to change. Ceri Warnock analyzing the Urgenda decision for the Journal of Environmental Law, believes that the case and a handful like it may indicate that courts are moving, in the face of an extreme danger such as climate change, to close a constitutional gap between the duty of governments to protect their citizens and their means of doing so. Climate change makes the unthinkable — that courts might be called upon to “re-balance” the constitution — thinkable. Such an internal conflict was on display as far back as 2007′s landmark Massachusetts vs Environmental Protection Agency, where the justices of the Supreme Court clashed over the threat posed by climate change and the causal link with emissions. Declaring that emissions caused climate change and climate change was a threat to the plaintiffs, the majority ordered the EPA to reconsider its refusal to treat carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions as pollutants.

With the nations of the world lining up to promise vague or inadequate emissions cuts, and with no mechanism yet in place to enforce them, is it time to call in the lawyers? Do courts have a duty to push governments to act on the threat of climate change, or is this better (and perhaps more legitimately) left to governments?

SOURCE

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).



Saturday, July 25, 2015


WV Woman Arrested for Sex with Boy


Amanda Sammons

(Tucker County, West Virginia) A 31-year-old local woman, Amanda Sammons, has been arrested for engaging in sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Sammons faces multiple counts of sexual abuse.
The boy told police that earlier in June, he went to stay all night with a 14-year-old male friend. Sammons, whom the boy saw snorting pills at the home, began watching YouTube videos with the boys.

When the 14-year-old friend left the room, Sammons touched the victim's genitals through his shorts. The boy told police he told Sammons that he didn't want her to do that to him, but she refused to stop.
Sammons was booked into custody at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Some reflections about education -- old and new

By JR

I guess lots of people have heard old fogies like me complaining  that education "ain't what it used to be". And of course it is not.  The world of today is different from the past and education must reflect that to some extent.

A century ago, a "Greekless" person was regarded as not fully educated, for instance.  Even if you were not fluent in ancient Greek, you were expected to know the more famous quotations and be able to at least figure out the bits that you did not know.  These days a knowledge of html is much more important and helpful.  It certainly makes blogging easier.

But good stuff has undoubtedly been lost in today's schools and replaced with blah. Important areas of cultural awareness have been supplanted by lessons about fluid sexual identities and the importance of saving the planet! Not to mention the evils of patriarchy and lies about Hitler being a conservative.

And it takes us old guys to be aware of that.  If you have never been exposed to something you cannot know what you have missed. And to have missed exposure to our great cultural heritage is a great loss indeed.  There is, of course, culture of all sorts. But what I am talking about is areas of enjoyment that have stood the test of time.  And poetry, literature and music are such areas.

Contrary to what Leftists seem to believe, the world did not begin yesterday.  It's possible that half of all the great minds that have ever existed are alive today -- but what about the other half?  And the traditional role of education was to tell us about that other half

And it is particularly in the area of culture that the other half is important.  Scientists, engineers and philosophers of the past have now mostly been completely superseded.  Isaac Newton, for instance, was brilliant in his day but physics has long gone beyond him in its understanding of the universe.  But cultural contributions are really never superseded.  Monteverdi might have written the Vespro della Beata Vergine 400 years ago but  it is still performed and enjoyed to this day.  And, for religious music, no-one has surpassed J.S. Bach, who lived from 1685 to 1750.

And its the same in poetry.  Poets like Coleridge and Tennyson just simply cannot be replaced.  They are sui generis and give particular pleasures that no-one else does.  There are other good poets but to miss out of Tennyson and Coleridge is to miss out on much of the pleasure that poetry can bring.  Tennyson died in 1892. Samuel Taylor Coleridge died in 1834.  And if you like poetry but know nothing of either of those dead white men, you have simply missed out on a great experience.

So I am glad that I went to school when the importance of the culture of the past was still recognized.  In the '50s I went to a totally undistinguished Australian country school but came away from it not only with some knowledge of mathematics, chemistry  and physics but also a knowledge of the great poets, a basic grasp of Latin and Italian -- and a good introduction to the language and literature of Germany.  At age 15 I was even learning to recite and sing Schubert Lieder  in the original German.  And I knew English language poems by Tennyson and others by heart.  And it was also courtesy of my school that, at age 13 or thereabouts, I first heard Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

But most of that will be Greek to young readers today.  They have no idea of how much enjoyment and satisfaction has been hidden from them.

So how come I learnt all that highbrow stuff in a country school half a world away from where it originated?  It was basically because Britain's very prestigious "public" (meaning private!) schools taught that sort of thing.  And because of the acknowledged excellence of such schools, they became a model that everyone wanted to emulate.  I was, in short, taught a curriculum not too different from what I would have got at Eton.

But nowadays everything from the past is wrong in our Left-dominated educational system so Eton traditions are the last thing that a "modern" educator would respect.

And yet the past can be so helpful.  Readers of novels, for instance, always have the problem that you usually have to read a fair bit of a novel before you know whether it is any good.  Without guidance of some sort you cannot know in advance whether a novel is worth reading and you can waste a lot of time on something that in the end gives you nothing.

But classic novels are classics because lots of people have found them good over a long period of time and recommended them to others.  They are the sort of book of which people have long said:  "You MUST read ...".   So knowing which are the classic novels can greatly upgrade the pleasure you get out of reading.

For instance, I greatly enjoyed reading many years ago what some say is only the second novel ever written in English --  "Joseph Andrews" by Fielding. Can anybody who has read that book forget "Madam Slipslop"?  I cannot.  Sometimes a classic novel has great insights but it is always entertaining. And fortunately, you can get a reading list of great novels and enjoy them.

It's not so simple with poetry.  The great pleasure of poetry is not to read it just once but to KNOW it.  And that means to know at least some of it by heart. If you do, you will often recite it, either out loud or just in your head.  And you will enjoy doing that.  But there's the difficulty:  The older you get the harder it is to memorize things.  Anything that needs memorizing basically has to be done when you are young -- preferably at school.  So if you were never taught any of the great classic poems at school, the pleasure of poetry has basically been ripped away from you.  Sorry.  But that's it.  If you want to try yourself out, here is a famous but short poem by Tennyson. It's a lament over the death of his homosexual lover.  The Left seem to think they have invented homosexuality recently.  They have not.

Break, Break, Break

BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

Break, break, break,
         On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
         The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
         That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
         That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
         To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
         And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
         At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
         Will never come back to me.

It's a wonderful and heartfelt poem by a master of the English language.  I learnt it at school.

And then there is music.  Fortunately, the simpler music from the past has been  much revived by the folk music movement -- so remains accessible regardless of your education. It was the folkies who introduced to "Cutty Wren", written over 200 years ago. If you know that song can you ever forget "John the red nose"?  I cannot.

But some of the slightly more complex songs from the past should also be enjoyable to many.  I think particularly of madrigals. They were once taught as part of a good education. In some private schools they still are.  Take Monteverdi's Chiome d' Oro ("Tresses of gold").  It's a love song to a lady with blonde hair! A not unfamiliar idea, though probably politically incorrect these days.  The many ladies who blond their hair these days would sympathize.  A good performance here. It's wonderful.  Monteverdi wrote it around 400 years ago.  Words translated from the Italian  here.

And that brings me to another important cultural element:  languages.  If you learn (say) German at school you will almost certainly never get to the point of being able to have a reasonable conversation in it.  That is not the point.  It is much more likely that you WILL get to the point where you  can make  some fist of reading texts in that language.  And that IS useful.

Translating plain text into English from another language is difficult enough but translating a work of art into English is just about impossible.  The translation will never be as gracious as the original. That came home forcefully to me when I was reading the translation of Chiome d' Oro.  Italian was one of the languages I studied in my schooldays and the translation of Chiome d' Oro is nowhere as magical as the original Italian.  Every Italian would agree with me on that!  You just miss so much if your cultural awareness is limited to English.

All that came back to me recently when Anne asked me "Who is this Goethe fella?".  Johann  Wolfgang von Goethe is of course Germany's most famous and beloved poet.  And seeing that he wrote in the land of music, it is no surprise that his poems have been set to music -- by Hugo Wolf, Franz Schubert and others.  Some of Schubert's most famous Lieder are to texts written by Goethe. So I was able to introduce Anne to Goethe via the Schubert Lieder.

So, for the benefit of anybody reading this who might have an interest in classical music let me link to just two of the songs I found. Let me revisit some things that it has been my great good fortune to enjoy for nearly 60 years.

There is for instance here a good rendition of Gretchen am Spinnrade set by Schubert.  It is a love song.  It is from the legend of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the Devil.  Faust wanted Gretchen so the Devil made her fall frantically and hopelessly  in love with him.  The song tells of her feelings.  A translation from the German:

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.
Where I do not have him,
That is the grave,
The whole world
Is bitter to me.

My poor head
Is crazy to me,
My poor mind
Is torn apart.

For him only, I look
Out the window
Only for him do I go
Out of the house.

His tall walk,
His noble figure,
His mouth's smile,
His eyes' power,

And his mouth's
Magic flow,
His handclasp,
and ah! his kiss!

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

My bosom urges itself
toward him.
Ah, might I grasp
And hold him!

And kiss him,
As I would wish,
At his kisses
I should die!

And if the song is good, just the music Schubert wrote for it is great too.  There is an incredibly sensitive performance of it for solo piano by a Chinese lady -- Yuja Wang -- here.  What a treasure it is that the East Asians seem to like our classical music even more than we do! If, as seems likely, the Leftists achieve the destruction of our civilization, China will preserve our great cultural treasures.

And, getting back to Goethe, there is Erlkoenig set by Schubert -- one of the most famous of the Schubert Lieder. A version sung by the young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (a famous German baritone) is here -- with English subtitles.  The story is of an ill child who is having hallucinations while his father is riding frantically to get the child home.  It is very dramatic.

Will the screed above benefit anyone?  Probably not. But I still think it concerns things that should be noted down -- JR.

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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