Canada’s Torture "Watchlist"

Whew, I’m sure we feel better after this report.

Canada’s foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, today said would remove the United States and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.

Both nations expressed unhappiness after it emerged that they had been listed in a document that formed part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats.

The article goes on to note it was all a misunderstanding, though it’s not quite clear if the misunderstanding was that the US and Israel were on the list, or that anyone found out that the US and Israel were on the list.

And what were those things that got us on the list in the first place?

Under ”definition of torture” the document lists US interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners.

Folks, if that’s "torture", the word no longer has meaning.  Blindfolding?  You want to debate waterboarding, that’s fine.  But if that debate is going to take us down a road that leads to the banning of blindfolding, then the Left needs to come clean on this before the debate starts. 

Some say they’ll know torture when they see it, and for most people that ain’t it.

To evolve morality

A fatal flaw for the notion of natural process evolution is that it has no way to explain the abstract. In a world of the strictly natural, what are we to make of, say, love?

At the pro-evolution site, Panda’s Thumb, we see a post titled, Evolution of altruistic cooperation and communication in robot societies. The author states,

Discovery Magazine reports on a continuation of experiments involving evolvable robots, communication and concepts such as altruistic cooperation and lying.

By the 50th generation, the robots had learned to communicate—lighting up, in three out of four colonies, to alert the others when they’d found food or poison. The fourth colony sometimes evolved “cheater” robots instead, which would light up to tell the others that the poison was food, while they themselves rolled over to the food source and chowed down without emitting so much as a blink.

Some robots, though, were veritable heroes. They signaled danger and died to save other robots. “Sometimes,” Floreano says, “you see that in nature—an animal that emits a cry when it sees a predator; it gets eaten, and the others get away—but I never expected to see this in robots.”

Fascinating how simple processes of variation and selection can explain the evolution of altruism, cooperation as well as cheating. What has ID done recently that increases our understanding of how cooperation, cheating and altruism arose?

Is he serious? A contrived experiment (PDF), with designed parameters, mimicking established social group characteristics explains the evolution of altruism, cooperation as well as cheating?

Be on the lookout, whenever natural process evolutionists attempt to explain the abstract, they always end up sneaking in the back door and stealing concepts that don’t belong to them. You see, in the world of naturalism (i.e., the strictly natural), there is no basis with which one can declare that some action is altruistic or someone is a cheater. Without an objective moral understanding that altruism is good, and cheating is wrong, the words lose their meaning.

Get ready for more, or fewer hurricanes

From MSNBC, Study on hurricanes, warming creates storm,

Global warming could reduce how many hurricanes hit the United States, according to a new federal study that clashes with other research. The new study is the latest in a contentious scientific debate over how manmade global warming may affect the intensity and number of hurricanes.

Stem Cell Miracles

Again we find that stem cells could be the cure for things that had been incurable.

Heart attacks occur when the heart muscle is starved of oxygen, usually because the arteries that supply it with blood become blocked with fatty deposits. A bypass operation restores this blood supply, but the lack of oxygen leads to permanent scarring of the heart muscle.

Even after the operation the heart’s activity does not return to normal. "If you have a large heart attack like this and you are lucky and are referred for a bypass operation, your quality of life will be permanently affected because the pumping function of your heart is reduced," said Raimondo Ascione, the surgeon who is leading the research. "Your tolerance to exercise is reduced so you can’t really enjoy your life."

The trial will involve patients with the worst prognosis, those who have scarring on at least half of the left ventricular wall. "It’s the worst heart attack you can have. Most patients just die," said Ascione.

The team will extract bone marrow from all 60 patients and separate out a class of stem cells that makes up 1% of the tissue. Previous studies have suggested that this cell type is able to regenerate heart muscle cells and blood vessels. By using the patient’s own cells there will be no problems with tissue rejection.

But again, as well, is a missing word in the article.  It’s implied in that last quoted paragraph, but it’s not said by name.  These are adult stem cells, from the patient.  Very little these days is said about adult stem cells, because of the agenda of folks who want embryonic stem cell research to get federal funding. 

The question isn’t whether or not embryonic stem cells would be useful.  The real question is; if adult stem cells have such wide, varied uses, and have been proven to work time after time, why do we want to step into the ethical quagmire of using embryos?

[tags]stem cells,Raimondo Ascione,heart disease,medicine[/tags]

Things Heard: edition 1v2

Seen around yesterday:

  • Yon, with a little more epistemic weight than the ordinary Joe (or newsman or pundit for that matter), on Petraeus reassignment.
  • Cranmer lays out the, err, his case for conservatism.
  • Iraq noted (a briefing) and an article and cautionary note from Yon. I think the safest assumption is that the Conventional Wisdom of both “sides” is fraught with error and simplistic sloganizing.
  • The Lucifer effect. One thing noted at the bottom of this piece, there is a reverse Lucifer effect that the experiment can be recast prompting heroism not evil from us. One wonders if that could be used to good effect regarding the Pontius Pilate pro-choice argument.
  • An endorsement, well that and a buck can buy you a soda.

Seeking Understanding: Abortion

So often in our world today, we grind up against those who have strongly held positions that we cannot understand. For myself, at this time, I fail to understand how anyone could hold a pro-abortion or even pro-choice point of view. The arguments “for” seem so weak as to be almost non-existent. Now this might be because I fail to enumerate or see the key insight behind a particular argument. So, below the fold, I’m going to attempt to enumerate all the arguments I know for the silencing of the lambs and summarize briefly why they are fundamentally unsound. My request for any readers of this would be to point out what I’m missing, why my critique misses the point, or to pass this on to someone who might be able to do so. Read the rest of this entry

An Educated Citizenry…

…is apparently the gay-rights crowd’s worst enemy. Via the Jawa Report we read that what is being called, vaguely, the "Citizens Bill of Rights" has provisions that are not mentioned on the ballot.

Miami voters are being asked Jan. 29 to approve a ‘Citizens’ Bill of Rights” that would, among other things, promote religious freedom, clean air and scenic beauty. It would also ban discrimination on the basis of domestic relationship status, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression — though relatively few people are aware of it. The proposed city charter change hasn’t drawn much attention. The actual ballot wording never mentions gay or transgender rights. On Monday, even some leading gay and Christian activists didn’t know anything about it.

Apparently, the gay-rights groups don’t have the guts to fight for what they want. They prefer to sneak it in under the radar.

Heddy Peña, executive director of SAVE, Miami-Dade County’s largest gay-rights group, said her organization has been sending out e-mails urging supporters to vote yes. ”We’ve been trying not to call special attention so that it becomes highly politicized,” Peña said. “You politicize it and you have a fight on your hands.”

Politicize? Sorry, more like "publicize". I think the real fear hear is the latter, not the former. Giving the issue a fair hearing and fair representation is not politicization; it’s underhanded. Knowing they can’t sell their issue on its merits, they do what they always accuse the Religious Right of doing; force it down our throats.

Floridians, you have six days to get educated.

[tags]Florida,gay rights,homosexuality,transgender,Miami,Heddy Peña[/tags]

Have we in the cultural west, in the midst of our technological advancement, nurtured a generation of self-absorbed humans? Have we, by providing what is probably the most Utopian existence known to mankind, also laid the foundations for a nation of teenage adults?

Consider what author Vicki Courtney details on her blog Virtue Alert. In The Bribery (part one), she describes her surprise at discovering her college-age son’s dating habits, or lack thereof. Per Courtney,

Yesterday, I was writing away on the culture’s attitudes about dating for my new book and feeling disturbed that many of our Christian youth have conformed to the culture’s mindset. Now, let me just state that I am all for “hanging out in groups” in the middle and high school years. In fact, I encouraged it with my own children and we even added a gameroom onto our house to provide a safe “hang-out” place. I don’t personally feel that our teens are ready to tackle the responsibility of being in a serious “dating” relationship that often ushers in physical temptations, emotional trauma (and drama), and so forth…

I share this background for the sake of revealing a downside to this “hang-out-with-your-friends” model that many Christian parents have endorsed in their homes (including myself). As I was researching for my book, I began to see evidence of a trend where dating is all but extinct on college campuses, having instead been replaced by “hanging-out” or “hooking-up.” I have written on this in the past in my “Your Girl” book and grieved that many of our daughters will fail to experience the excitement of an old fashioned “date.” You know the kind where the boy works up his nerve to call, drives over to pick-up his date, takes his date out to dinner/movie and actually picks up the tab, and then politely drops his date off at her doorstep with no expectation of anything further…

Upon further reflection, Courtney decides to ask her son about the dating methodologies he and his friends practice. From her conversation,

Mom: “Hmmm….So, let me ask you this: Let’s say you are hanging out with your “group”… and you meet a girl in the “group” and you think, ‘Wow, I might want to get to know her better.’ So, what do you do?”

College boy: “Uh, well I had that happen with one girl, so I just texted her later to see if she wanted to ‘hang-out’ and just come over and watch The Office, or something.”

Mom: (beginning to hyperventilate) “Wait a minute. Let me get this straight: You asked her to get in her car and drive over to your apartment to watch an episode of The Office? And then, at the end of the evening, she got into her car and drove her little self home (insert sarcastic tone, here)?”

College boy: “Yeah, pretty much.”

Mom: (praying out loud) “Lord Jesus, where did I go wrong?” (to son): “And at what point in the process do you ask her out on a real-live date?”

College boy: “I don’t know. Nobody really expects that.”

I’m wondering. If nobody really expects to be asked out on a real date, then what would be the basis for developing an intimate (in the encompassing and not the erotic sense) relationship? Certainly, in times past there has been that convenient little concept known as the “arranged marriage”, yet, in today’s “my rights above everything else” culture I guess we (as men) simply text the particular female we’re interested in, offering them the privilege of our company, at our place of residence, as long as they provide their own transportation. How much longer until the female in question is also asked (by text) to stop by the local Chinese take-out, so as to provide the evening’s nourishment?

Courtney rightly questions whether or not Christian women should take a stand and expect Christian men to act like men and actually ask them out on a date, pick them up, take them somewhere, and drop them off at home. Unfortunately, she is finding out that those women who do take such a stand often find themselves left at home, alone, because the men males simply find other women who are all too ready to acquiesce to the “text date”.

Many homeschoolers have been promoting the notion that there are no “teenagers” in our midst. Rather, there are “young adults”. While the cultural notion of “teenager” mandates that they be adolescent in nature, seeking fun, and having little or no responsibility, the notion of “young adult” extols the virtue of responsibility and how it ties in with privileges. The young adult is given responsibility which, in turn, leads to earned privileges. Fail at the responsibility, lose the privileges. Excel at the responsibility, earn more privileges. It kind of sounds like – real life – doesn’t it?

Interestingly enough, this notion of the myth of adolescence is gaining popularity in secular culture. It is a topic I hope to discuss, at length, in the future.

In the meantime, I leave you with a YouTube clip, providing an extreme example of what can become of a young adult-age male in a teenager-based culture. (HT: Ron’s Bloviating)


Things Heard edition 1

Out in the blogs yesterday:

  • Bill Clinton lying. Say it ain’t so. Actually, that brings out a question, the left is outraged that they think Bush lied. And how then do they remember Mr “never inhaled” Clinton, who was certainly a reflexive liar, in a good light one wonders?
  • Lots of Spirit building/improving posts today. One on marriage. On prayer. On improving everything. And fasting.
  • Economics and the Laffer thing.
  • Jihad comes to Atlanta.
  • The Christian Carnival is up at Chasing the Wind.

And now, from the left coast

I would like to thank the “powers that be”, at Stones Cry Out, and Doug, for graciously inviting me to be a part of this group blog. I am honored.

Being the group’s official West Coast Stone, and being a native Californian, I will do my best to maintain a distinctly southern Californian flavor to my contributions here (whatever that may mean). I tend to write about cultural issues and I also delve into the topics of apologetics, homeschooling, evolution, intelligent design, photography and theology. I dabble in politics, but have already become weary of the 2008 Presidential race (especially since my man Fred tossed in the towel). So, I suppose I’ve become a “Stuck with Romney” man.

With regards to my Christian faith, I grew up in an Assemblies of God household yet, while I still attend an AG church, I would describe my theological stance as CAG (i.e., Calvinistically Assemblies of God). My favorite Christian authors and teachers include, but are not limited to: R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Greg Koukl, Hugh Ross, J.I. Packer, C.S. Lewis, and J. Budziszewski.

Looking forward to this journey.

The Script Keeps Playing Out

You know, the one where the socialist dictator does whatever he can to stifle dissent and prop up the failing socialist economy? How many times does it need to be repeated?

First off, Chavez v. farmers.

President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to take over farms or milk plants if owners refuse to sell their milk for domestic consumption and instead seek higher profits abroad or from cheese-makers.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez pours powder milk on his desk during his weekly broadcast.

With the country recently facing milk shortages, Chavez said “it’s treason” if farmers deny milk to Venezuelans while selling it across the border in Colombia or for gourmet cheeses.

“In that case the farm must be expropriated,” Chavez said, adding that the government could also take over milk plants and properties of beef producers.

“I’m putting you on alert,” Chavez said. “If there’s a producer that refuses to sell the product … and sells it at a higher price abroad … ministers, find me the proof so it can be expropriated.”

Addressing his Cabinet, he said: “If the army must be brought in, you bring in the army.”

Hugo calls anything that goes against his socialist vision “treason”. So here we see that central planning of the economy is failing, there are shortages, farmers are trying to get the best price for their product, and the government is ready to send in the army. Yeah, a socialist paradise.

Well, if you don’t believe that it is, you’d better not say that to loudly. Here is Chavez v. dissent.

Judge Monica Fernandez, a Venezuelan human rights advocate, was shot on January 4 in what police ruled a botched car robbery. The night before, she was branded an enemy of the state on state television. Coincidence?

For those who still have this belief that George W. Bush is the real dictator and the worst terrorist, please open your eyes and see what real creeping totalitarianism looks like.

[tags]Venezuela,Hugo Chavez,socialism,Monica Fernandez,totalitarianism[/tags]

Some Linkage

As a former “Blogwatch” contributor and as well on my home blog, I am in the habit, whenever schedule, time, and life permit, to collect some “highlights” or links from my morning RSS dump. At Blogwatch I posted 4 links per day. I plan to offer 4 (or so) links that might be of interest from my slightly larger collection posted at my blog.

  • Is this man noted on the left, if so … how? A view from one on the right.
  • Facts, who needs facts? One wonders why the networks don’t have a running “real-time” fact-check on a ticker. Mr Gardner also comments on the former President’s “help” on Ms Clinton’s campaign.
  • 90% of Iraqi suicide/homicide bombers were foreigners.
  • Another view of the state of the debate on abortion here. Pro-choice “losing the moral high ground.” In which high ground is seen as “respectability”?

The Importance of the VP nod

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson surprised no one by withdrawing from the presidential race today. His third place finish in South Carolina last Saturday sealed his fate.

Now comes word via Fox News’ Carl Cameron that Thompson’s plan all along was to put himself in a position to be the Republican nominee’s choice for vice-president. (Hat tip: My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy)

Thompson would make a terrific vice-president and would immediately shore up the Republican ticket and appeal to the base. The most logical person to pick him would be John McCain who needs the most help getting the conservative base behind his candidacy.

As Joe Carter pointed out in his post-SC primary analysis, Mike Huckabee would also make a great VP nominee also. Hopefully he’ll also be smart enough to decline and make another run for the presidency in 2012.

Even Mitt Romney, who has yet to win a primary in a prominent, solidly Republican state, could benefit from having Thompson as his running mate to bolster his appeal among conservatives.

On the Democratic side, the VP sweepstakes will also be important but for much different reasons. Given the bitter divide between Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns it would make sense for the winner to offer the VP slot to the runner-up in order to heal divisions within the party. If they don’t, the could end up resembling Republicans of 1976 and losing the White House again.

In most years, the VP nomination is almost an afterthought. This year, the person occupying the number two slot may be as important as who is number one.

Thanks! … and a Reflection on Dr King and the Church

Thank you Doug (and the rest) for allowing me to be part of the conversations and the community you have here. On that note, here is a start (from my point of view).
Yesterday our Nation celebrated the remembrance of Dr King and his message. In the following, I reflect on the offerings found on two other blogs and some of my own thoughts on that event.

At Scriptorium Daily, Matt Jensen offers a short essay/homily. He starts by considering the term “catholic” in the creed, noting that Protestants need not tremble at the term, as it origin: “Its etymology renders it simply ‘according to the whole’.” Mr Jensen cites two ways in which catholic touch the Christian via creedal declaration. The first is, that it connects us to the church universal, to the rest of the worshipers alive and dead through the (almost) 2000 years of our history. The second is a more telling point, especially in light of the day. For this second meaning, unlike the first, should make Protestants, (big “C”) Catholics, and Orthodox all tremble a little as it indicts the current divided nature, the non-ecumenical nature of our church. Matt quotes Dr King:

Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I- it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. Paul Tillich said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression ‘of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? (‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’)

The current state of our church is one of ecclesial segregation. A church where one see no goodness in man, and at the same time another can congratulate self for 0% agreement with Calvin, where ethnic, racial, and political division can all too often whelm our unity.

Brandon at Siris writes insightfully:

And that brings me to the view expressed in the title of this post. I’m inclined to think the divisions of the Church are rifts beyond all human healing; reunion comes not by human argument and scheming but by moral miracle, if at all. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can contribute anything to it except insofar as we may be instruments of it. The pen does not write for the writer, the scalpel does not have the wisdom of the surgeon, the staff does not possess deep insight into the ways of the shepherd. Our task is not to invent the solution to the problem. It is not to force the other side to listen. It is not invincibly to refute them. Our task is what it is in every other part of our lives, to walk the path of Christ in the manner of Christ, prayerfully and through His grace, doing good to those around us as is befitting of children of the Father, teaching not with clever words but with the power of the Spirit. Our task is to begin in the right place. And it is only if we do this that there is any sure hope at all in this regard; the only certainty for hope is in the Lord. Reunion will come not because we have designed it, not because we have been smarter than our opponents, not because we have brought it about; it will only come about, when and if it comes about, as a living outgrowth of the Spirit-inspired conversation of the saints through the ages.

Theology and theological cleverness will not unmake the division in our churches unless we recall that theology is not sophistry, philosophy, or cleverness. As Lossky writes, theology is conversation with God. It is, essentially then, prayer. It is, also, ultimately a rejection (or replacement) of Mr Buber’s quoted reference of Dr King noting the substitution “I->it” and “I->thou” … is incomplete. For the second, “I->thou” is also not what, I think, Christ, St. Paul, and the Saints and Fathers taught. We should always remember that arrow might be better written, “I-> (who am servant of)->thou” (note this parable also from Brandon). Those divisions and rifts also will not be healed until we remember, every Presbyterian, every Methodist, every Anglican, every Baptist, every Orthodox, every Evangelical, and every Catholic, and (really) everyone you meet needs to be treated as if he/she were Christ or his Angel.

CNN Readers Respond to ‘Race and Gender’ Story

And they’re not happy with it.

Within minutes of posting a story on CNN’s homepage called “Gender or race: Black women voters face tough choices in South Carolina,” readers reacted quickly and angrily.

Readers want media to focus more on the candidates and how they feel about the issues not their gender or race.

Many took umbrage at the story’s suggestion that black women voters face “a unique, and most unexpected dilemma” about voting their race or their gender.

CNN received dozens of e-mails shortly after posting the story, which focuses largely on conversations about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that a CNN reporter observed at a hair salon in South Carolina whose customers are predominantly African-American.

The story states: “For these women, a unique, and most unexpected dilemma, presents itself: Should they vote their race, or should they vote their gender?” Read the story

An e-mailer named Tiffany responded sarcastically: “Duh, I’m a black woman and here I am at the voting booth. Duh, since I’m illiterate I’ll pull down the lever for someone. Hm… Well, he black so I may vote for him… oh wait she a woman I may vote for her… What Ise gon’ do? Oh lordy!”

Frankly, it’s very heartening to hear this, after the news reports that the African-American women at Atlanta’s Spelman College were seriously fretting over this very question. Possibly, maybe, hopefully, this is the beginning of the end for identity politics.

[tags]identity politics,CNN,Spelman College,South Carolina,Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama[/tags]

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