Liberals Attack Florida Bishop, Appeal to Pope Francis

A letter and petition accusing Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, Florida, of authoritarian leadership will soon be on its way to Rome, asking Pope Francis to intervene.

The campaign has been orchestrated by two liberal groups agitating for a more lay-directed Church. The Southwest Florida chapter of Call to Action wrote the letter, together with the support of the local chapter of Voice of the Faithful.

Call to Action, a group pushing for radical reform such as the ordination of women and a relaxing of sexual ethics, has accused Bishop Dewane of employing scare tactics including bullying and intimidation in his dealing with lay people. It also accuses him of dismissing several pastors and firing more than 20 workers without reason or hearing.

The letter calls Bishop Dewane “a man who operates more like the CEO of a large corporation than the shepherd of his community.”

Call to Action, though a Catholic dissident group, apparently thinks it can harness Pope Francis for its cause. “While Pope Francis values openness, dialogue, and consultation,” their letter states, “our bishop suppresses the open exchange of ideas.”

Though dated Aug. 28, the letter is only now being sent on to Rome after garnering 1,296 signatures, about 65% of the signatures that the group had hoped for.

The letter states that morale in the diocese “has never been so low” as it is now, but no evidence is adduced to back up that claim. The Diocese of Venice comprises some 70 parishes and missions and represents 223,605 Catholics, so it may be wondered how 1,296 signatures could signify a representative sample.

To put the petition and its 1,296 signatures in perspective, an online petition asking that Michelle Obama not speak at the Topeka High School graduation ceremony last April drew some 1,200 signatures. An online petition organized against the South Carolina Lay Midwife Act, which sought greater regulation of the activities of midwives, drew more than 6,000 signatures in March 2013. And last February, a petition demanding an investigation into the judging of the Olympic women’s figure skating competition drew more than 1 million signatures.

This past Friday the diocese issued a response in the form of a 2-page statement signed by Benedict Nguyen, chief spokesman for the diocese.

The statement roundly denies the accusations, and claims that Call to Action is promoting divisiveness within the diocese. It also questions the validity of the petition, noting that many of the signatures could be from people outside the area who have a personal grudge with the Catholic Church, “and likely have never met or even heard of Bishop Dewane.”



Source: Breitbart Feed

Snailgate: The Slime Trail Left By the Royal Society’s Vanishing Credibility

The story of the “extinct” giant snail – supposedly killed by global warming, but recently found alive and well on the same Indian Ocean atoll it has inhabited for the last 80,000 years – is developing into a major environmental scandal.

A scandal that obviously deserves the title Snailgate.

As we reported ten days ago under the heading Extinct Giant Snail Killed By Climate Change Crawls Back From The Dead, the sorry tale began in 2007 with the publication in one of the Royal Society’s journals Biology Letters of a “peer-reviewed” study by Justin Gerlach.

Gerlach’s study claimed that the Aldabra Banded Snail (Rhachistia aldabrae) had gone extinct in the late 1990s due to climate change.

However, this was immediately disputed by four experts in the field, led by Oxford University ecologist Clive Hambler who argued that there simply wasn’t enough evidence to justify to claim, and urged Biology Letters to print their prepared rebuttal.

It said: “The vast majority of the habitat is virtually inaccessible and has never been visited. It is unwise to declare this species extinct after a gap in known records of ten years. We predict ‘rediscovery’ when resources permit.”

Had Biology Letters published this, it would have spared itself the embarrassment of being proved wrong this year when the snail was indeed rediscovered, alive and well, on its island home.

Instead, Biology Letters refused to publish the rebuttal on the grounds that it had failed to pass “peer-review.”

Thanks to new research by Times environment correspondent Ben Webster, we now have an inkling as to how this may have happened. The two “peer-reviewers” who accepted the erroneous J Gerlach paper were the same two referees who rejected the subsequent rebuttal paper. Though their reasons for doing so are unclear, one evident possibility is that they did not wish to make themselves look foolish by accepting a paper explicitly rejecting the one they had so recently approved.

None of this would have come to light if the snail had stayed conveniently “extinct.” Unfortunately for the Royal Society, Biology Letters, J Gerlach and those two “peer-reviewers”, the resurrection snail has come back to haunt them by raising some very awkward questions.

Like:

What on earth did Biology Letters think it was doing submitting Hambler et al’s rebuttal paper to the same referees who had approved the study it was rebutting? Could it not see a potential conflict of interest here?

Why, given that it has now been demonstrated beyond all doubt, that the J Gerlach paper was seriously flawed, is Biology Letters still procrastinating about printing a retraction? Hambler has suggested that it publish the original 2007 rebuttal he prepared with his three expert colleagues, one of whom unfortunately has since died. But Biology Letters is demanding Hambler submit a completely new paper which – apparently without irony – it insists must be subject to “peer review.”

But the damage has already been done. Not only was the snail cited in another Royal Society paper, published in 2013, as the clearest example of extinction caused by climate change, but it even made it into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment report as evidence that “future species extinctions are at high risk.”

Snailgate is only the latest in a series of scandals to beset the Royal Society and its activist president Sir Paul Nurse. Founded in 1660 by luminaries including Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Christopher Wren, the Royal Society was for over three hundred years renowned as the world’s pre-eminent scientific institution. However, under its last three presidents, it has been accused of abandoning the scientific method and the pursuit of pure knowledge in favour of political advocacy and media campaigning.

Under Nurse (a former hard-left activist who sold the Socialist Worker and who still believes scientists should play a role in politics) and his two predecessors Lord Rees and Lord May, the Royal Society has become an especially fervent advocate of man-made global warming theory. This may be yet another reason why it was so keen to publish the snail paper. Had it been correct, it would have lent credence to the Royal Society’s passionate belief that man-made global warming is doing irreparable damage to the planet.

What the Royal Society’s recent presidents appear to have forgotten is that the job of learned bodies is to endorse science not to take nakedly political positions. As Andrew Montford noted in a damning paper on the Royal Society’s politicisation, written for the Global Warming Policy Foundation:

“Each year that temperatures refuse to rise in line with the nightmare scenarios trumpted by one Society president or another, the risk grows that the Society becomes a laughing stock. If government money is a drug that the Society can not or will not rid itself of, its leadership could still remind itself of those words of [former president] Lord Adrian over 50 years ago:

It is neither necessary nor desirable for the Society to give an official ruling on scientific issues for these are settled far more conclusively in the laboratory than in the committee room.”




Source: Breitbart Feed

How Qatar is Funding the Rise of Radical Islam

This article originally appeared in The Telegraph:

Few outsiders have noticed, but radical Islamists now control Libya’s capital. These militias stormed Tripoli last month, forcing the official government to flee and hastening the country’s collapse into a failed state.

Moreover, the new overlords of Tripoli are allies of Ansar al-Sharia, a brutal jihadist movement suspected of killing America’s then ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and of trying to murder his British counterpart, Sir Dominic Asquith.

Barely three years after Britain helped to free Libya from Col Gaddafi’s tyranny, anti-Western radicals hold sway. How could Britain’s goal of a stable and friendly Libya have been thwarted so completely.

Step forward a fabulously wealthy Gulf state that owns an array of London landmarks and claims to be one of our best friends in the Middle East.

Qatar, the owner of Harrods, has dispatched cargo planes laden with weapons to the victorious Islamist coalition, styling itself “Libya Dawn”.

Western officials have tracked the Qatari arms flights as they land in the city of Misrata, about 100 miles east of Tripoli, where the Islamist militias have their stronghold. Even after the fall of the capital and the removal of Libya’s government, Qatar is “still flying in weapons straight to Misrata airport”, said a senior Western official.

So it is that Qatar buys London property while working against British interests in Libya and arming friends of the jihadists who tried to kill one of our ambassadors. A state that partly owns 1 Hyde Park, London’s most expensive apartment block, and the Shard, the city’s tallest building, is working with people who would gladly destroy Western society.

Read the full story in The Telegraph.




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POLITICO: The Collapse of Arab Civilization

Hisham Melhem, the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, writes in POLITICO:

Arab civilization has collapsed. It won’t recover in my lifetime.

With his decision to use force against the violent extremists of the Islamic State, President Obama is doing more than to knowingly enter a quagmire. He is doing more than play with the fates of two half-broken countries—Iraq and Syria—whose societies were gutted long before the Americans appeared on the horizon. Obama is stepping once again—and with understandably great reluctance—into the chaos of an entire civilization that has broken down.

Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world.

Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?

No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies. No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule.

Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies.

There is no one single overarching explanation for that tapestry of horrors in Syria and Iraq, where in the last five years more than a quarter of a million people perished, where famed cities like Aleppo, Homs and Mosul were visited by the modern terror of Assad’s chemical weapons and the brutal violence of the Islamic State. How could Syria tear itself apart and become—like Spain in the 1930s—the arena for Arabs and Muslims to re-fight their old civil wars? The war waged by the Syrian regime against civilians in opposition areas combined the use of Scud missiles, anti-personnel barrel bombs as well as medieval tactics against towns and neighborhoods such as siege and starvation. For the first time since the First World War, Syrians were dying of malnutrition and hunger.

Iraq’s story in the last few decades is a chronicle of a death foretold. The slow death began with Saddam Hussein’s fateful decision to invade Iran in September 1980. Iraqis have been living in purgatory ever since with each war giving birth to another. In the midst of this suspended chaos, the U.S. invasion in 2003 was merely a catalyst that allowed the violent chaos to resume in full force.

Read the rest here.




Source: Breitbart Feed

Homeland Security Approves Design of Driver’s Licenses for California’s Illegal Immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has approved the design of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants in California. DHS had previously rejected an earlier design (pictured above) because it was not sufficiently distinctive from regular driver’s licenses.

According to the Sacramento Bee, DHS sent a letter to Department of Motor Vehicles director Jean Shiomoto on September 17 informing them of their approval.

“DHS commends California’s efforts to improve the security of its licenses and identification cards and looks forward to continuing to work with you on this matter,” the letter read. 

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in October a bill that provides illegal immigrants in California with specially-marked driver’s licenses, calling the move “the first step” of a national movement. 

But the Department of Homeland Security rejected the initial design of the licenses, saying they were too similar to regular licenses. According to the Los Angeles Times, the only distinction on the first proposed design were the letters “DP,” for “Driving Privileges,” in the space where “DL,” for “Driver’s License” was.

According to the Bee, the new, accepted design has the words “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” written across the front of the license. 

“We tried to have much more subtle changes, but that was not acceptable to the Department of Homeland Security,” Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), the author of the original bill, told the Bee. “We got the best compromise under the situation.”

An estimated 1.4 million illegal immigrants will apply for the new driver’s licenses over the next three years, the AP reported in October. This year’s budget includes $67 million for opening new DMV offices and training staff to handle the expected increase in applications. 

According to the Bee, state officials estimate the licenses will cost California $141 million over the next three years.




Source: Breitbart Feed