Tuesday, October 20, 2015
There is no United Nations
SOMEDAY, IN A better world, countries may join together to form a global body. It would transcend atavistic nationalism and speak for all humanity. Perhaps it would be called the "United Nations." Lamentably that day has not arrived. There is no such thing as the United Nations.
A body with that name maintains a headquarters in New York. It holds all manner of meetings and often issues reports, demands, and judgments. Yet it remains what it was at its founding 70 years ago: a tool of big powers. It exists to legitimize their goals - and to maintain the global power structure as it existed when the founding charter was signed in 1945.
A true United Nations would rise above the interests of individual countries. It would place the good of the planet and its people above the good of governments. The organization now based in New York cannot do this. Perhaps no world body ever will.
All countries represented at the General Assembly in New York have one thing in common: They are sovereign states. Their overriding interest is to maintain the supremacy of the nation-state. A powerful supra-national organization would undermine that.
The world body based in New York was created to give every country a voice - but also to assure that big powers would speak loudest. It was designed to give those powers a moral and legal fig leaf behind which to promote their own interests. Often they do it in the name of promoting peace and punishing evil.
According to the 1945 charter, punishment can only be meted out by the Security Council, where the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China have veto power. The council works as intended: Nothing happens unless the masters of the world agree to act.
During the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Iraq bombed Iran with chemical weapons banned by international law. Iran asked the world body to send fact-finders to verify what had happened. The United States objected. Iraq was then our ally, and we had sold helicopters to Saddam - possibly the ones he used to drop poison gas. Our diplomats maneuvered in New York to make sure no fact-finders were ever sent. The United Nations not only failed to ascertain the truth about these attacks. It served as a cover beneath which the United States pursued its foreign policy goals.
Several years later, the general in charge of peacekeepers in Rwanda repeatedly begged New York to send him reinforcements. He warned that genocide was looming and said he could prevent it with just a few thousand soldiers. Rather than reinforcements, he was given orders to cut his force and limit its work. That was because France supported the regime that was planning genocide and saw peacekeepers as a threat.
More recently, the United States vetoed Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's effort to secure a cease-fire in Syria. In January 2014, the secretary general invited all parties to the Syrian conflict to a peace conference. The United States objected because Iran was invited. American diplomats demanded that the invitation be rescinded, and Ban Ki-Moon had no choice but to obey. With Iran disinvited, the peace conference never happened. It was a graphic example of the secretary general's impotence when big powers see their interests at stake.
The world body in New York is an indispensable talking shop. It is the only place on earth where nearly every country maintains a strong mission and where heads of state converge each year. This contributes to the contact that reduces conflict. So do fine agencies like the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the UN Development Program.
It would be best, however, to recognize these achievements without blessing them with the misleading name United Nations. There can be no true United Nations as long as countries place their own interests first - and they always will.
Bishop at Vatican Synod: 'One Can Still Perceive the Smell' of the 'Smoke of Satan' in Vatican Document
Referencing Blessed Pope Paul VI's statement in 1972 that "the smoke of Satan" had entered the Catholic Church, one of the leading archbishops at the Vatican's ongoing synod (meeting) on the family, said the "smoke of Satan" tried to enter last year's meeting on the family and now "one can still perceive the smell of this 'infernal smoke' in some items" of the working document the bishops are using in the current meeting.
Archbishop Tomash Peta, head of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Kazakhstan, added that this "smell" of the demonic is also evident in the presentations ("interventions") of "some synod fathers this year."
In his own intervention on Oct. 10 at the synod, as reported by the Catholic group Voice of the Family, Archbishop Peta remarked: "Blessed Paul VI in 1972: 'From some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.' I am convinced that these were prophetical words of the holy pope, the author of 'Humanae vitae' [On Human Life]."
"During the Synod last year, 'the smoke of Satan' was trying to enter the aula of Paul VI," said Archbishop Peta.
Satan was entering, the archbishop continued, in three ways:
1) The proposal to admit to Holy Communion those who are divorced and living in new civil unions;
2) The affirmation that cohabitation is a union which may have in itself some values;
3) The pleading for homosexuality as something which is allegedly normal.
Commenting on the situation today, as Church leaders meeting at the Vatican for the Synod on the Family, Archbishop Peta said, "Some synod fathers have not understood correctly the appeal of Pope Francis for an open discussion and started to bring forward ideas which contradict the bi-millennial Tradition of the Church, rooted in the Eternal Word of God."
"Unfortunately, one can still perceive the smell of this 'infernal smoke' in some items of the 'Instrumentum Laboris' and also in the interventions of some synod fathers this year," said the archbishop. The Instrumentum Laboris is the "working instrument" or working document the clerics are using to discuss the family and faith in the world today.
Archbishop Peta then stressed that a synod must adhere to the teachings of Christ on marriage and family, and not seek to destroy that teaching.
"To my mind, the main task of a Synod consists in indicating again to the Gospel of the marriage and of the family and that means to the teaching of Our Savior," said Archbishop Peta. "It is not allowed to destroy the fundament - to destroy the rock."
In his closing words, the archbishop said, "May the Holy Spirit, who always wins in the Church, illuminate all of us in searching the true good for the families and for the world. Mary - Mother of the Church, pray for us!"
Archbishop Tomash Peta, 64, was born in Poland. In addition to overseeing the metropolitan archdiocese of Saint Mary in Kazakhstan, Peta is the president of the Bishops' Conference of Kazakhstan
Elizabeth and Sheldon Torquemada
Pursuing an agenda of intolerance and retribution against critics of their ultra-liberal policies
As Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition for 15 years, Tomas de Torquemada presided over the interrogation, torture, imprisonment and execution of thousands, for the "crimes" of religious heresy and pretended conversion to Christianity. Historian Sebasti n de Olmedo titled him "the hammer of heretics."
Today Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are pursuing their own inquisition against perceived "heretics." Thankfully, they don't have Friar Torquemada's torture devices or sentencing options. But they are vindictive and effective nonetheless - abusing their congressional powers to silence critics of their policy agendas, often with the help of media, White House, Justice Department, Internal Revenue Service and Big Green allies.
Warren's latest coup was sacking economist Robert Litan from his position as a scholar with the liberal Brookings Institution, for having the temerity to criticize financial rules she was championing. The fact that Litan is a "progressive" Democrat and former Clinton administration official was irrelevant.
Whitehouse wants the Justice Department to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to investigate and prosecute organizations and individuals who challenge his view that mankind's use of oil, natural gas and coal is causing climate catastrophes. He has targeted "skeptical" organizations and scientists, while alarmists like Michael Mann and Jagadish Shukla have their own enemies lists.
Their attitudes and actions epitomize today's liberals, who cannot stomach anyone who disagrees with their views or policies. These modern "hammers of heretics" refuse to debate and instead do all they can to silence critics and destroy their careers. As Fox News commentator Kirsten Powers observes, too many liberals support tolerance only for themselves and only to advance their intolerant agendas.
More than ever before, says political analyst George Will, they are "aggressively and dangerously . attacking the theory of free speech, the desirability of free speech, the very possibility of free speech."
They compound the outrage with double standards. Senator Whitehouse rages about climate skeptics - but utters not a peep about biased government-funded science, models and propaganda; not a word about EPA's far-fetched "social cost of carbon" estimates and refusal to even mention how its regulations kill jobs and reduce living standards, health and welfare. Senator Barbara Boxer disgraced Congress when she excoriated physician, medical researcher and author Michael Crichton, for daring to suggest that "double blind" studies be required for climate research, just as FDA does for medical research.
Senator Warren's intolerance and double standards make her colleagues look like pikers.
Former Brookings VP and economic studies director Robert Litan is highly regarded as an expert on the unintended effects of regulations on businesses, workers and families. But when he testified before Congress last July, saying a proposed regulation would deprive poor and middle class investors of valuable financial advisors and advice, Ms. Warren was livid. She had vigorously supported the Labor Department rule, even though many Democrats and virtually all Republicans in Congress oppose it.
In September, Senator Warren suddenly discovered that the Litan study behind his testimony had been funded in part by the Capital Group, a major investment management company whose business would likely be affected by the regulation. Both the study and testimony made the arrangement crystal clear.
But Senator Warren saw her chance to pound the heretic. Instead of trying to rebut his testimony, Wall Street Journal columnist Gordon Crovitz observed, she decided to punish the witness. At 8:30 am September 29, the Washington Post posted her letter to Brookings criticizing Litan and claiming his funding disclosure was somehow "vague." An hour later, spineless Brookings president Strobe Talbott threw Litan under the bus, despite his loyal and productive decades of service to the institution.
The senator is on a roll. She has also prevented economist Antonio Weiss from getting a senior Treasury position, and former Harvard president and Clinton and Obama official Larry Summers from becoming Federal Reserve chairman, because their views on certain issues offended her ultra-liberal sensibilities.
She is fortunate that the lofty, inflexible standards she inflicts on others are not applied to her.
OpenSecrets.org reveals that Warren has accepted over $600,000 from securities and investment firms, including some $6,000 from Capital Group executives! Law firms that stand to benefit from her legislation, advocacy and policy interventions have lavished $2.2 million on her campaigns - and the education industry that benefits from her constant promotion of increased education subsidies has given her a hefty $1.4 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Even more outrageous is the BFF relationship Ms. Warren has with Better Markets. This tax-exempt 501(c)3 "educational" organization in Washington, DC is funded almost entirely by multi-millionaire hedge-fund manager Michael Masters, via some $3 million a year that flows from him or his Marlin Fund to his Spring Foundation charity to Better Markets - which testifies and lobbies persistently, consistently and quite successfully for legislation and regulations advocated by the progressives' favorite senator.
As political reporter Brendan Bordelon observes in the National Review, "By failing to adequately disclose its relationship with Masters to lawmakers, observers say Better Markets is doing exactly what Warren accused Brookings of doing - covertly taking money from a finance-industry player to influence regulators with the power to approve policies from which that player can earn huge profits."
Former Obama appointee to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Jill Sommers calls it a "huge" and "unprecedented" conflict of interest. It's "outrageous," says a former SEC counsel.
Masters uses market "triggers" to identify stocks whose prices may rise or fall in response to investor anxiety over political events such as proposed financial rules, Bordelon says. In spring 2015, The Marlin Fund held "call options" worth hundreds of millions of dollars in MetLife, CitiGroup and Prudential. A proposed regulation, reclassifying them as "systematically important financial institutions," would have increased federal controls and driven their share prices downward - giving Marlin and Masters big profits from "short selling" shares, and using their call options as a hedge against unexpected price increases.
Better Markets president Dennis Kelleher testified before Warren's Senate Banking Committee and filed an amicus brief supporting the rule change. But they never disclosed their obvious self-interest in the change: their sole source of income (Marlin and Masters) stood to profit enormously from the change.
Warren would have gone ballistic if an opponent of the rule had such an arrangement. But she has said nothing about this classic conflict of interest. That's hardly surprising.
She was a keynote speaker at a 2013 Better Markets meeting, wrote a laudatory testimonial for its website, and works closely with Kelleher and his group to ensure support for her legislative, regulatory and political crusades, Bordelon notes. Campaign contributions may create more ties that bind.
Meanwhile, Kelleher has testified at numerous Dodd-Frank and other Capitol Hill hearings, and is the go-to guy for many journalists who want insights on the finance industry or Senator Warren's viewpoints.
Ms. Torquemada is clearly not content to have or win debates on policy issues. She intends to prevent debates, penalize anyone who challenges her, intimidate and silence would-be critics, and impose her agenda - regardless of its impacts on the "poor and helpless" she professes to care so much about.
So much for the Senate as "the world's greatest deliberative body," or the notion that, despite disagreeing with what you say, liberals would "defend to the death your right to say it." Torquemada's reincarnation must not become the new reality for constitutional rights, robust debate, and informed decision-making.
Australian anti-Muslim group wins hearts
Plenty of abuse too -- in the usual Leftist way
An interview with the mums and dads that founded the Reclaim Australia movement has caused a fiery divide on social media.
Reclaim Australia's founders, who call themselves 'patriotic Australians' and claim to be stopping the 'spread of Islam' in Australia, appeared on Channel Seven's Sunday Night program in their first ever television interview.
But attempts to expose and challenge their controversial views may have backfired with support for the group growing on social media to 40,000 followers.
Co-founders Wanda Marsh and John Oliver, as well as Sydney mum Catherine Brennan, explained how the movement was started by concerned parents who believed the Martin Place siege was an act of Islamic terrorism.
But the Facebook group quickly attracted aggressive anti-Islam campaigners and an Australia-wide protest turned violent when groups like the United Patriots Front (UPF) showed support.
The show on Sunday night was billed as an in-depth look at how the group began and its founders who claim to be ordinary Australians.
'I can't let my kids grow up in a country where kids are getting murdered in the streets. It's just not Australian,' Mr Oliver told Sunday Night.
Ms Brennan said: 'I'm just an everyday mum living in the suburbs doing the best job that I can for my family.'
#ReclaimAustralia started trending on social media immediately after the story aired as thousands showed support for the group's views, while others criticised Channel Seven for giving them publicity.
A viewer poll asking whether Reclaim Australia represents Australian values was sitting at 78 - 22 in support of the group before changing to 37 - 63.
'#ReclaimAustralia I will say this once how many more people will have to die before we kick Islam out of this nation,' one user wrote on Twitter in support of the group. Others were quick to condemn it.
'I'm so ashamed/embarrassed that#ReclaimAustralia is trending. I apologise profusely to my Muslim friends for the racist bs that is flying,' one wrote.
'If #ReclaimAustralia represents Aussie values, then Aussie values suck. We truly are a nation of self-righteous, xenophobic hypocrites.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.