News and Views: Syria and Lebanon

Background context: Infoplease has a basic map of these two countries showing their geographical relationship to each other and the Mediteranean Sea.

The CIA’s World Fact Book has a slightly more detailed map with the sort of information you would find in an atlas.
Lebanon’s information is here.
Syria is here.
Compare and contrast.

Current Events as detailed by Publius Pundit:

The United Nations has issued another report regarding the situation between Lebanon and Syria, which takes notice of Syrian actions above and beyond that of the assassination of ex-PM Hariri as laid out in the Mehlis Report. The Larsen report, prepared by UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen for the purpose of measuring the success of implementing resolution 1559, warns about an increase of arms flow from Syria to Palestinian camps, as well as the continued presence of Syria-backed Hizb’allah and the economic pressures that Syria is trying to exert on Lebanon. The full text is here, and here are the relevant parts about Syrian involvement.


More, much more, at Publius.

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Book Banning

From Dean Esmay:

There are people right now in Dover, Pennsylvania fighting to ban a completely harmless book called Of Pandas And People from public school science classes, against the express wishes of a majority of the parents. Tap-dance around it all you want, that is an attempt to ban a book from the classroom and censor ideas. You can put all the lipstick you want on this pig, with armwaving generalizations about “separation of church and state,” but the pig won’t get any prettier. It is censorship that is being advocated here, period. It will belong right on the ALA’s Banned books list, alongside The Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn. If the Stalinist ACLU and the self-proclaimed “defenders of science” have their way, anyhow.

[snip]

Let them have the debate. The kids will learn more from that than they ever will by simply regurgitating whatever’s in their Court-Approved textbooks, textbooks that are Carefully Filtered By The Commissars Of Science To Remove All Dangerous Thoughts.

And maybe, just maybe, the kids will learn that rigorous discussion and debate of ideas, weighing evidence and counterevidence, and learning and exploring are among the most wonderful things about science.

That link is in the original. Dean Esmay is referring to a post by Michael Balter. He notes that opinion polls show that Americans still don’t buy evolution as the best answer to life’s origins. He suggests this is because

“In large part, Americans’ skepticism toward evolutionary theory reflects the continuing influence of religion. Yet it also implies that scientists have not been persuasive enough, even when buttressed by strong scientific evidence that natural selection alone can account for life’s complexity.

Could it be that the theory of evolution’s judicially sanctioned monopoly in the classroom has backfired?”

Including Included amongst our most delightful friends is a homeschooling family who term themselves ‘approximate atheists.’ By this they mean that they are not at all interested in Christianity or Christianity’s God, but they are not dogmatic about it, and recognize that science has nothing conclusive to say about whether or not a deity exists. Both are scientists by degree, training, and employment. They have commented that evolutionary propaganda is extremely heavy handed that it actually backfires. This propagandistic approach is used in public schools, children’s television, the exhibits at the zoo, and museums, and the father of the family says that it’s dogmatic and so obviously designed to squelch any sort of debate that even though he believes completely in the facts of evolution darwinian evolution as factual, there are times he would find a contradiction of the propaganda refreshing.

He also notes that it is counterproductive. It’s not just evolution approached this way, but most sex education courses, the ‘just say no’ campaign, and multiculturalism- these and other issues are taught in a very shallow, sloganeering fashion designed to cut off all disagreement or independent thinking. He believes that kids are not as stupid as we think they are, and they sense when they are being fed propaganda rather than true learning, and they learn to shut off the propaganda- even if behind it there are truths.

This works in other areas, too, by the way, and the underlying principles here are part of why we do not prevent our children from ever hearing a word of dissent from our own views. A child brought up to believe that all ideas different from those he’s been taught are ‘stupid’ is going to be ripe for the plucking the first time he meets an intelligent person who disagrees with him- and that will happen about five minutes after he walks out the front door into the world.

But, as ever, I digress. Dean Esmay links to another excellent article, this one by Fred Reed, who asks, “Why, oh why, are the curricula of the schools the business of the courts? If Pennsylvania wants to mention Creationism, or to require three years of French for graduation, it seems mightily to me that these things are the business of parents in Pennslyvania. Yes, I know: In practice, both freedom of expression and local government are regarded as ideals greatly to be avoided. The desire to centralize government, impose doctrine, and punish doubt is never far below the surface, anywhere. Thus our highly controlled media, our “hate-speech” laws, our political correctness and, now, Evolutionary Prohibition. The Catholic Church once burned heretics. The Church of Evolution savages them in obscure journals and denies them tenure and publication. As a heretic I believe that I would prefer the latter, but the intolerance is the same.”

Fred also notes that,

“the more incensed of the Evolutionists tend to be either of the hard Right or the hard Left: those who need to believe one thing categorically seem to need to believe other things categorically. Which means that if they are wrong, they are unlikely to notice it.

And this is what disturbs me about them. I do not object to the content of Evolutionism. Some, all, or part of it may be correct. I would like to know. A more fascinating question does not readily come to mind. But dispassionate discussion with them is not possible, anymore than it is with Gloria Steinem or Herbert Marcuse or Cornell West, and for exactly the same reasons. They are the same people. How sad.”

There are large and important questions here, of course- questions about the origins of life, the meaning of academic freedom, and the proper role of the courts in public schools, if any. A more personal question to consider is what and how we are teaching our children. Are there any topics where we substitute propaganda for carefully thought out ideas?

Clarification: My point is that we can teach even true things propagandistically (if that is not a word it still conveys my meaning), and this does the truth no service. I presume most parents have already examined what we believe. I think we should also examine how we teach what we believe.

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Commonplace Book

Whatever the child feels in his heart, whatever lives in his soul, whatever he cannot express in his own words, he would fain have others express for him.
~ Friedrich Froebel

Front matter, Child’s Calendar Beautiful

The DHM’s note- In this, as in so many other matters, I do not think the child is so very different from the rest of us. My favorite writers often include those who express something I have felt but been unable to put into words.

Posted in Child's Calendar Beautiful (nature and other seasonal poems from the book) | Leave a comment

Interesting U.S. Census Info

What percentage of households in your state have a computer, and what percentage have internet access? The WAPO has the answer.
How does your state compare? Ours is on the low end of both.
Via Drudge

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Banning

From Dean Esmay:

There are people right now in Dover, Pennsylvania fighting to ban a completely harmless book called Of Pandas And People from public school science classes, against the express wishes of a majority of the parents. Tap-dance around it all you want, that is an attempt to ban a book from the classroom and censor ideas. You can put all the lipstick you want on this pig, with armwaving generalizations about “separation of church and state,” but the pig won’t get any prettier. It is censorship that is being advocated here, period. It will belong right on the ALA’s Banned books list, alongside The Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn. If the Stalinist ACLU and the self-proclaimed “defenders of science” have their way, anyhow.

[snip]

Let them have the debate. The kids will learn more from that than they ever will by simply regurgitating whatever’s in their Court-Approved textbooks, textbooks that are Carefully Filtered By The Commissars Of Science To Remove All Dangerous Thoughts.

And maybe, just maybe, the kids will learn that rigorous discussion and debate of ideas, weighing evidence and counterevidence, and learning and exploring are among the most wonderful things about science.

That link is in the original. Dean Esmay is referring to a post by Michael Balter. He notes that opinion polls show that Americans still don’t buy evolution as the best answer to life’s origins. He suggests this is because

“In large part, Americans’ skepticism toward evolutionary theory reflects the continuing influence of religion. Yet it also implies that scientists have not been persuasive enough, even when buttressed by strong scientific evidence that natural selection alone can account for life’s complexity.

Could it be that the theory of evolution’s judicially sanctioned monopoly in the classroom has backfired?”

Including Included amongst our most delightful friends is a homeschooling family who term themselves ‘approximate atheists.’ By this they mean that they are not at all interested in Christianity or Christianity’s God, but they are not dogmatic about it, and recognize that science has nothing conclusive to say about whether or not a deity exists. Both are scientists by degree, training, and employment. They have commented that evolutionary propaganda is extremely heavy handed that it actually backfires. This propagandistic approach is used in public schools, children’s television, the exhibits at the zoo, and museums, and the father of the family says that it’s dogmatic and so obviously designed to squelch any sort of debate that even though he believes completely in the facts of evolution darwinian evolution as factual, there are times he would find a contradiction of the propaganda refreshing.

He also notes that it is counterproductive. It’s not just evolution approached this way, but most sex education courses, the ‘just say no’ campaign, and multiculturalism- these and other issues are taught in a very shallow, sloganeering fashion designed to cut off all disagreement or independent thinking. He believes that kids are not as stupid as we think they are, and they sense when they are being fed propaganda rather than true learning, and they learn to shut off the propaganda- even if behind it there are truths.

This works in other areas, too, by the way, and the underlying principles here are part of why we do not prevent our children from ever hearing a word of dissent from our own views. A child brought up to believe that all ideas different from those he’s been taught are ‘stupid’ is going to be ripe for the plucking the first time he meets an intelligent person who disagrees with him- and that will happen about five minutes after he walks out the front door into the world.

But, as ever, I digress. Dean Esmay links to another excellent article, this one by Fred Reed, who asks, “Why, oh why, are the curricula of the schools the business of the courts? If Pennsylvania wants to mention Creationism, or to require three years of French for graduation, it seems mightily to me that these things are the business of parents in Pennslyvania. Yes, I know: In practice, both freedom of expression and local government are regarded as ideals greatly to be avoided. The desire to centralize government, impose doctrine, and punish doubt is never far below the surface, anywhere. Thus our highly controlled media, our “hate-speech” laws, our political correctness and, now, Evolutionary Prohibition. The Catholic Church once burned heretics. The Church of Evolution savages them in obscure journals and denies them tenure and publication. As a heretic I believe that I would prefer the latter, but the intolerance is the same.”

Fred also notes that,

“the more incensed of the Evolutionists tend to be either of the hard Right or the hard Left: those who need to believe one thing categorically seem to need to believe other things categorically. Which means that if they are wrong, they are unlikely to notice it.

And this is what disturbs me about them. I do not object to the content of Evolutionism. Some, all, or part of it may be correct. I would like to know. A more fascinating question does not readily come to mind. But dispassionate discussion with them is not possible, anymore than it is with Gloria Steinem or Herbert Marcuse or Cornell West, and for exactly the same reasons. They are the same people. How sad.”

There are large and important questions here, of course- questions about the origins of life, the meaning of academic freedom, and the proper role of the courts in public schools, if any. A more personal question to consider is what and how we are teaching our children. Are there any topics where we substitute propaganda for carefully thought out ideas?

Clarification: My point is that we can teach even true things propagandistically (if that is not a word it still conveys my meaning), and this does the truth no service. I presume most parents have already examined what we believe. I think we should also examine how we teach what we believe.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Commonplace Book

Whatever the child feels in his heart, whatever lives in his soul, whatever he cannot express in his own words, he would fain have others express for him.
~ Friedrich Froebel

Front matter, Child’s Calendar Beautiful

The DHM’s note- In this, as in so many other matters, I do not think the child is so very different from the rest of us. My favorite writers often include those who express something I have felt but been unable to put into words.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Interesting U.S. Census Info

What percentage of households in your state have a computer, and what percentage have internet access? The WAPO has the answer.
How does your state compare? Ours is on the low end of both.
Via Drudge

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Naked Emporer Prances, Preens, and Denies Feeling any Draught

“More than 2,200 companies… made illicit payments totalling $US1.8 billion … to Saddam Hussein’s government during the UN oil-for food program, a report says.”

From Belmont’s post on this disgraceful UN performance (yes, UN performance, read on):

The fundamental argument against international military action is the supposition that effective alternatives exist to containing rogue states and tyrants. But what if it does not? The Volcker Report essentially describes the history of the decade-long diplomatic battle to proscribe the movements of Saddam Hussein following the Gulf War. It is an account of the unmitigated defeat of the “international community” at the hands of Saddam; not only a defeat but a rout and a surrender. And although the surrender had already taken place, the world was told categorically by the capitulators themselves that they were fighting and winning the good fight against the forces of lawlessness.

Wretchard rather tellingly titles his post The Third Airplane.

Instapundit focuses on the French connection.

More at the Telegraph, UK, where we learn that Russia and France led the way, but Saddam earned more money still by smuggling oil to Turkey and JOrdan. Saddam’s smuggling was aided by the fact that the U.S. signed a waiver for them.

The A.P. has an extensive article about the report and the concerns it raises:

It meticulously detailed how the $64 billion program became a cash cow for Saddam and more than half the companies participating in oil-for-food — at the expense of Iraqis suffering under U.N. sanctions. It blamed shoddy U.N. management and the world’s most powerful nations for allowing the corruption to go on for years.

“What I do want to emphasize is that the corruption of the program by Saddam … could not have been nearly so pervasive had there been more disciplined management by the U.N. and its agencies,” said Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman who led the investigation.

Volcker and many nations said the report underscored the urgent need to reform the United Nations. Earlier reports in his investigation have already led to criminal inquiries and indictments in the United States, France, and Switzerland. Volcker said his team would cooperate with legal authorities following up on the report.

The investigators found that companies and individuals from 66 countries paid illegal kickbacks using a variety of methods, and those paying illegal oil surcharges came from, or were registered in, 40 countries.

[skip] There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this article, and I wish I could just copy and paste the entire thing. One of the many small and large ironies is the way DaimlerChrysler got the UN to pay for its illegal kickbacks out of the UN fund. You’d have to click onthe link and scroll to the bottom of the article to see how they managed that.

In a letter to Annan, the committee said its task had been to find mismanagement and evidence of corruption, and “unhappily, both were found and have been documented in great detail.”

Yet the report cleared former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who headed the world body when the oil-for-food program was launched, of accepting bribes. Volcker had earlier raised suspicion about the extent of his involvement.

The letter said responsibility should start with the U.N. Security Council, which is dominated by its five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. “It was, as one past member of the council put it, a compact with the devil, and the devil had means of manipulating the program to his ends.”

The United States said the report again showed the need for urgent reform of the United Nations.

“I do think it does highlight that there are certain management practices within the U.N. that need reform,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “We’re going to continue to urge and push for management reform at the United Nations.

Frankly, the reform I am most interested in seeing is a clean sweep and subsequent implosion of a failed idea.

Oh, yes- this article has some eye popping information. Remember when Marc Rich received a last minute Clinton pardon?

The report found that Marc Rich & Co financed oil purchases from Iraq and the associated kickbacks for the son of a French MP shortly after the company’s founder received a controversial pardon from President Clinton.

More at Yahoo News

Read the whole report for yourself (if you have nothing else to do between now and breakfast) here.

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for the Commonplace Book

“The acquisition of good poetry,” said Matthew Arnold, that practical thinker, “is a discipline in the whole range of our public schools. More than any other, too, it works of itself.” It works of itself!
I believe that if, for one-half hour a day, a teacher were to read good poetry aloud with his pupils, not fretting them with comments, not harrying them with too frequent questions, but doing his best by voice and manner to hold their attention, and encourage them to read in their turn, pausing only at some salient beauty, or some unusual difficulty, above all giving the poetry time to sink in–I believe thoroughly he would find himself rewarded beyond all calculations. For a child’s mind is a wonderful worker if we only trust it. A child’s imagination is as susceptible of improvement by exercise as his judgment or memory. Can we not so persuade our schoolmasters that our children may hear this music more clearly and more constantly than we?

~A. T. Quiller-Couch

From the front matter of Child’s Calendar Beautiful, compiled by R. Katharine Beeson

front matter A Child’s Calendar Beautiful

Posted in Child's Calendar Beautiful (nature and other seasonal poems from the book) | 1 Comment

Naked Emporer Prances, Preens, and Denies Feeling any Draught

“More than 2,200 companies… made illicit payments totalling $US1.8 billion … to Saddam Hussein’s government during the UN oil-for food program, a report says.”

From Belmont’s post on this disgraceful UN performance (yes, UN performance, read on):

The fundamental argument against international military action is the supposition that effective alternatives exist to containing rogue states and tyrants. But what if it does not? The Volcker Report essentially describes the history of the decade-long diplomatic battle to proscribe the movements of Saddam Hussein following the Gulf War. It is an account of the unmitigated defeat of the “international community” at the hands of Saddam; not only a defeat but a rout and a surrender. And although the surrender had already taken place, the world was told categorically by the capitulators themselves that they were fighting and winning the good fight against the forces of lawlessness.

Wretchard rather tellingly titles his post The Third Airplane.

Instapundit focuses on the French connection.

More at the Telegraph, UK, where we learn that Russia and France led the way, but Saddam earned more money still by smuggling oil to Turkey and JOrdan. Saddam’s smuggling was aided by the fact that the U.S. signed a waiver for them.

The A.P. has an extensive article about the report and the concerns it raises:

It meticulously detailed how the $64 billion program became a cash cow for Saddam and more than half the companies participating in oil-for-food — at the expense of Iraqis suffering under U.N. sanctions. It blamed shoddy U.N. management and the world’s most powerful nations for allowing the corruption to go on for years.

“What I do want to emphasize is that the corruption of the program by Saddam … could not have been nearly so pervasive had there been more disciplined management by the U.N. and its agencies,” said Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman who led the investigation.

Volcker and many nations said the report underscored the urgent need to reform the United Nations. Earlier reports in his investigation have already led to criminal inquiries and indictments in the United States, France, and Switzerland. Volcker said his team would cooperate with legal authorities following up on the report.

The investigators found that companies and individuals from 66 countries paid illegal kickbacks using a variety of methods, and those paying illegal oil surcharges came from, or were registered in, 40 countries.

[skip] There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this article, and I wish I could just copy and paste the entire thing. One of the many small and large ironies is the way DaimlerChrysler got the UN to pay for its illegal kickbacks out of the UN fund. You’d have to click onthe link and scroll to the bottom of the article to see how they managed that.

In a letter to Annan, the committee said its task had been to find mismanagement and evidence of corruption, and “unhappily, both were found and have been documented in great detail.”

Yet the report cleared former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who headed the world body when the oil-for-food program was launched, of accepting bribes. Volcker had earlier raised suspicion about the extent of his involvement.

The letter said responsibility should start with the U.N. Security Council, which is dominated by its five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. “It was, as one past member of the council put it, a compact with the devil, and the devil had means of manipulating the program to his ends.”

The United States said the report again showed the need for urgent reform of the United Nations.

“I do think it does highlight that there are certain management practices within the U.N. that need reform,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “We’re going to continue to urge and push for management reform at the United Nations.

Frankly, the reform I am most interested in seeing is a clean sweep and subsequent implosion of a failed idea.

Oh, yes- this article has some eye popping information. Remember when Marc Rich received a last minute Clinton pardon?

The report found that Marc Rich & Co financed oil purchases from Iraq and the associated kickbacks for the son of a French MP shortly after the company’s founder received a controversial pardon from President Clinton.

More at Yahoo News

Read the whole report for yourself (if you have nothing else to do between now and breakfast) here.

Technorati Tags:

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment