Category - News

Jehovah’s Witnesses Church Accused Of Hiding More Than 1,000 Child Sex Abuse Cases In Australia

Reuters, By Matt Siegel, July 27

Sydney – The Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Australia failed to report to police more than 1,000 cases of child sexual abuse going back more than 60 years, a government investigation into abuse and its aftermath heard on Monday.

Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which was launched in 2013 amid allegations of serial child abuse inside the Catholic Church in Australia, has a broad mandate to examine religious and secular organizations.

At the opening hearing into the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Monday, Angus Stewart, senior council assisting the commission, described the church as an insular sect with rules designed to stem the reporting of sexual abuse.

“Evidence will be put before the Royal Commission that of the 1,006 alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse identified by the Jehovah’s Witness Church since 1950, not one was reported by the church to secular authorities,” he said.

Farming Had an Earlier Start, a Study Says

New York Times, By Sindya H. Bhanoo, July 27

Farming may have originated 23,000 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study.

Researchers discovered a large number of seeds at an ancient hunter-gatherer site known as Ohalo II on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Many of the seeds had scars, a mark that distinguishes domesticated species from wild forms.

Additionally, about 150,000 plant remains were retrieved from the site, comprising more than 140 species. The mix included 13 known weeds, as well as edible cereals like wild emmer, barley and oats.

Hillary Clinton unveils climate change policy

Los Angeles Times, By Evan Halper & Seema Mehta, July 26

Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to position herself as a crusader against climate change Sunday by unveiling some robust goals, even as she continued to avoid some of the more contentious battles around global warming.

Clinton announced that she will push to vastly expand the number of solar panels installed in the United States, as well as to boost overall renewable energy to the point that it will be able to fuel all homes and businesses by 2027.

The proposals reflect Clinton’s commitment to continuing the path on climate change set by President Obama, who champions numerous policies that bolster renewables and push a reduction in fossil fuel consumption.

The Clinton package is incomplete, however. Unlike her rivals in the Democratic presidential contest, Clinton has yet to take a position on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast ports. She also has yet to weigh in on a campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing nationwide, or to take a firm position on offshore oil drilling.

The proposal Clinton released Sunday for boosting solar installations by 700% is vague on details about how it would be funded.

Think Progress: Clinton Campaign Releases Horror Film Montage Of Climate-Denying Presidential Candidates

Mammoths killed by abrupt climate change

Science Daily, July 23

New research has revealed abrupt warming, that closely resembles the rapid human-made warming occurring today, has repeatedly played a key role in mass extinction events of large animals, the megafauna, in Earth’s past.

Using advances in analysing ancient DNA, radiocarbon dating and other geologic records an international team led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales (Australia) have revealed that short, rapid warming events, known as interstadials, recorded during the last ice age or Pleistocene (60,000-12,000 years ago) coincided with major extinction events even before the appearance of man.

Published today in Science, the researchers say by contrast, extreme cold periods, such as the last glacial maximum, do not appear to correspond with these extinctions.

“This abrupt warming had a profound impact on climate that caused marked shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns,” said University of Adelaide lead author and Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Professor Alan Cooper.

Atticus: The Beta Version

I finally bought a copy of Go Set A Watchman and finished reading it only about fifteen minutes ago. Here is my reaction.

First, I found most of it entertaining if only because I love Southern language and Harper Lee renders it really, really well. It is her authentic language and in many ways she delivers it in Watchman better than Mockingbird.

Lee uses her gift of language to draw colorful characters all of whom I can recognize from my own upbringing. Lee has a well-developed eye and ear. The book resonates for me in that way.

If I were asked to characterize the book, I would answer: It’s actually a coming-of-age story that spends most of its time disguised as a fish-out-of-water story. In terms of simplified, ancient television models, it is like John-Boy returning to Walton’s Mountain after living for years as a transplant in some faraway city and then suffering through an excruciating high school class reunion populated by people he thinks he has grown beyond. The self-aware protagonist spends a lot of time wondering (as a coming-of-age teenager might) am I the one who’s different? did I change or did they? How can you tell?

Jean Louise’s relationships to her home and family crystallize in her final disillusionment with Atticus. The stuff about race relations is powerful, but only momentarily poignant. It is the device Lee uses to move Scout’s transformation forward. It has an arbitrary feel about it.  It read like a transparent literary contrivance, and ultimately the excuse for a rant delivered by Jean Louise in the closing chapters. Interestingly, Scout declares during her rant she probably agrees with practical difficulties of having Black people participate fully in Maycomb governance and civic life. She too dances on the head of a pin.  The worst offense of the book lies in the end–and this is where it reminded me of the Waltons.  At least some of her anguish seems to have been anticipated, even encouraged by Atticus and his brother to help Scout “grow up”—at least that is how it reads to me. It isn’t that anyone changes their opinions on race, religion or politics. It is more like Scout becomes Jean Louise when she discovers she cannot borrow anybody else’s conscience, anybody else’s “watchman”.  She has to get comfortable with her own and know everyone else has their own.  Sigh!

I am not too good at finely tuned literary analysis and probably do not do this book justice. However I can say that is was worth my time and I did enjoy the book. I think Harper Lee’s original editor was absolutely right in recommending she re-cast the story to remove a lot of the self-conscious , self-aware reporting by Scout in this book. She turned in a superior book on the second try. Seems to me that Mockingbird is needed if only to explain the true depth of young Scout’s perception of Atticus and her hometown. You can better understand how Watchman works (or is intended to work) if you have read Mockingbird first.  Without that foreknowledge, Watchman would seem even more superficial, more contrived.

As I have said, the people in this book are people I grew up with. They are still around me…and you.

Do I think Atticus 1.0 and 2.0 are the same people?  Yes, I do.

Your Federal Reserve

Maybe I am the only one on the planet who did not know this, but here is a paragraph or two from a report at The Hill regarding the highway fund legislation before Congress and how someone proposed it be funded:

“When banks join the Federal Reserve system, they are required to buy stock in the central bank equal to 6 percent of their assets. However, that stock does not gain value and cannot be traded or sold, so to entice banks to participate, the Fed pays out a 6 percent dividend payment.

The Senate proposal says it would slash that “overly generous” payout to 1.5 percent for all banks with more than $1 billion in assets. While the summary language outlining the proposal said that change would only impact “large banks,” industry advocates argued that banks most would identify as small community shops could easily have assets in excess of that amount.

Banks are working to mobilize against the provision, even as lawmakers are pushing to pass a highway bill before program funding expires at the end of the month.”

Does this make any sense?

You pay a membership fee to a club that then pays you to stay in the club AND will bail you out even if you screw up and go insolvent?  And not just you–you and all of your insolvent club-buddies?


UPDATE: July 29 2015: Congress passed a 3 month extension to funding highways. Three months should be sufficient for the Bankster Lobby to change the prescription involving the Federal Reserve.



Turkey expands bombing raids to PKK targets in Iraq

PM’s office says jets bombed Kurdish targets in northern Iraq, hours after planes pounded ISIL positions in Syria.

Al Jazeera, July 25

Turkish fighter jets have bombed military positions of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in neighbouring Iraq.

The air raids came just hours after Turkish planes pounded Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in Syria on Friday morning, marking a significant shift in Ankara’s position on how to deal with armed groups in Syria and Iraq.

“Strikes were carried out on targets of the Daesh [ISIL] terror group in Syria and the PKK terror group in northern Iraq,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, adding that shelters and warehouses containing PKK weapons were hit in the northern Iraq operation.


Turkey also approved the full use of its airbases by the US-led coalition against ISIL, according to the foreign ministry, marking a major change in its policy following a suicide bomb attack in Suruc, bordering Syria.

“The cabinet of ministers has given approval for the stationing in our country’s bases of manned and unmanned aircraft of the US and other coalition countries … taking part in air operations against Islamic State,” the foreign ministry said, adding that Turkey’s own aircraft would also be deployed.

RT: Turkey attacks Kurdish militia & ISIS positions – PM’s office

Prime Minister Davutoglu told reporters that some 590 suspected members of IS and PKK and other militant groups had been arrested in raids across Turkey that began on Friday, according to AFP.

Donald’s Coming Up Trumps!

A few weeks ago on these pages I half-seriously wondered why nobody had yet bothered to compare Donald Trump to Ross Perot. Today, I heard the first media speculation that “maybe he ought to run as a 3rd party candidate”. This time it is the Republicans who feel threatened by one of their own– an egotistical business outsider who likes the sound of his own voice a little too much. Mind you, that isn’t what they are saying right now, but it soon will be. Trump is already anathema to the other fifteen or so Republican hopefuls intent upon splintering their own Tea Party. He is to them as Perot was to the Democrats and to Bill Clinton whom he characterized as the mere governor of a minor state of the union. Podunk! Not like Tex-ass.

Isn’t that like calling John McCain a faux hero for being captured? Isn’t that like saying the greatest place on planet earth can only be New York?

Surely I am not the only one who sees the likeness here.

Still the media has begun warming up to the idea of taking Trump very seriously, and the logic sounds a great deal like what I said: “The sad thing is that many Americans do “get it” … even if they aren’t Trump supporters. A successful rich guy (net worth $8.73 billion*) must be rich and successful for a damn good reason. He must know something the rest of us don’t. Sounds like presidential material to me.” And the presidential material he sounds like resembles the “straight talk” once uttered by Mr. Perot when characterizing what is wrong with the world, which is to say what is wrong with America, which is further to say Washington, DC.

One NPR pundit  alleged today that Trump is attractive because speaks the unspeakable—he says what many people claim to ‘think’, but feel too inhibited to say out loud. Another reported that Trump cannot be co-opted because he is too rich to be “bought”.

Really? I suppose Romney was also too rich. And if you dare read anything on the net or in the press, you would be hard put to find anyone too inhibited to hurl racial and ethnic epithets. They are issued by an exhaustive list of politicians at all levels of government, law enforcement representatives, and continually-booked talking heads on the Sabbath Gasbag news shows. Then there’s the increasing number of political shootings–and racial shootings are political shootings–well, show me how anyone is inhibited.

Donald is coming up Trumps all right. Where is Jack Burton when you need him?

Amazonians’ ancient links to Indigenous Australians

Sydney Morning Herald, By Bianca Hall, July 22

Distant DNA links have been discovered between Aboriginal Australians and tribes living deep within the Amazon rainforest.

Researchers in the US and Denmark have established that people sharing DNA links with Aboriginal people crossed the Bering land bridge between Siberia and the Americas thousands of years ago.

The revelations, published in Nature and Science Magazine, are the strongest signs yet that there could have been multiple migrations from Siberia to the Americas tens of thousands of years ago.

The findings have captivated the international science community, with Jennifer Raff, an anthropological geneticist at the University of Texas, telling Nature on Tuesday they were, “honestly one of the most exciting results we’ve seen in a while.”