Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sitting makes you fat

By Donald Sensing

ABC News reports,

When we sit, the researchers [at the University of Missouri] found, the enzymes that are responsible for burning fat just shut down.

The researchers injected fat containing a radioactive tracer into laboratory animals and human volunteers.

The radioactive tracer revealed that when the animals were sitting down, the fat did not remain in the blood vessels that pass through the muscles, where it could be burned. Instead, it was captured by the adipose tissue, a type of connective tissue where globules of fat are stored. That tissue is found around organs such as the kidneys, so it's not really where you want to see the fat end up.

The researchers also took a close look at a fat-splitting enzyme, called lipase, that is critical to the body's ability to break down fat.

After the animals remained seated for several hours, "the enzyme was suppressed down to 10 percent of normal," [associate professor of biomedical sciences Marc] Hamilton said. "It's just virtually shut off."

So the simplest method of weight control, say the scientists, is to "stand up and putter" around.

About a year ago, CBS News reported that, "Americans spend about $35 billion a year on weight-loss products." Contrast that with the "mere" $1.9 billion spent (in 2003) on Viagra.

When you find out the first pharmaceutical company that develops a pill to stimulate production of lipase, sell all your worldly goods and buy its stock.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is the warming bubble bursting?

By Donald Sensing

I posted earlier about how NASA satellite measurements show that the earth's temperatures have been falling since 1998.

But that's not all. Even the UN's IPCC, which is set to host a global-warming party in Bali early next month, knows that this is so. Environmental scientist Prof. Bob Carter writes:

[T]he accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2.

Second, lower atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little if any global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 per cent).

Third, there are strong indications from solar studies that Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.

And that really is bad news. "Global cooling" has happened before; climatologists call it the "Little Ice Age."

Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850 that brought dire consequences to its peoples. The colder weather impacted agriculture, health, economics, social strife, emigration, and even art and literature. Increased glaciation and storms also had a devastating affect on those that lived near glaciers and the sea. ...

The cooler climate during the LIA had a huge impact on the health of Europeans. As mentioned earlier, dearth and famine killed millions and poor nutrition decreased the stature of the Vikings in Greenland and Iceland.

Cool, wet summers led to outbreaks of an illness called St. Anthony's Fire. Whole villages would suffer convulsions, hallucinations, gangrenous rotting of the extremities, and even death. Grain, if stored in cool, damp conditions, may develop a fungus known as ergot blight and also may ferment just enough to produce a drug similar to LSD. (In fact, some historians claim that the Salem, Massachusetts witch hysteria was the result of ergot blight.)

Malnutrition led to a weakened immunity to a variety of illnesses. In England, malnutrition aggravated an influenza epidemic of 1557-8 in which whole families died. In fact, during most of the 1550's deaths outnumbered births (Lamb, 1995.) The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) was hastened by malnutrition all over Europe.

One might not expect a typically tropical disease such as malaria to be found during the LIA, but Reiter (2000) has shown that it was an important cause of illness and death in several parts of England. ...

I'm not willing to trade one kind of alarmism for another, but it's interesting to compare the reports of the effects of the Little Ice Age with those of the Medieval Warm Period.

Not sneaky enough

By Donald Sensing

But when the "bride" and groom are both wanted terrorists, what do you call that? I guess an unsuccessful evasion technique:

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Soldiers manning a checkpoint near Baghdad stopped a wedding convoy to find that the purported bride and groom were wanted terror suspects, an Iraqi Defense Ministry official said Monday.

The Army set up the checkpoint last week in the Taji area, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

The soldiers became suspicious of the convoy because its members -- save the "bride" -- were all male and because one of the cars in the convoy did not heed orders to stop, the official said.



Not a good disguise - at least try shaving next time!

Also, soldiers said, the people in the car seemed nervous and the groom refused to lift his bride's veil when soldiers asked him to, according to the official.

Soldiers ordered everyone out of the car, the official said.

Upon inspecting the convoy, soldiers found a stubbly-faced man, Haider al-Bahadli, decked out in a white bride's dress and veil.

Bahadli was wanted on terror-related charges, as was his groom, Abbas al-Dobbi, the official said.

Two other terror-related suspects were detained as well.

A job well done by the Iraqi army.

Monday, November 26, 2007

They saved it!

By Donald Sensing

A UK Telegraph columnist reports,

... the latest US satellite figures [show] temperatures having fallen since 1998, declining in 2007 to a 1983 level - not to mention the newly revised figures for US surface temperatures showing that the 1930s had four of the 10 warmest years of the past century, with the hottest year of all being not 1998, as was previously claimed, but 1934.

How long until we will be advised that the fight against global warming has succeeded in turning the dire situation around?

Not until there's no more big money to be made by being alarmist.

I am reminded of the Candid Camera put on when Peter Funt and crew set up a botth outside a big supermarket with a banner that said, "Save the Grand Canyon! Donate Here!" They studiously avoided explaining to people just what the Grand Canyon needed saving from, but told people who asked that they could help save it by putting money into the big, glass jar on the table.

Peter Funt

They collected a large sum of money during the day. The skit ended with Funt talking to someone about donating when Funt's cell phone rang, right on schedule. Funt answered it, said,"Okay thanks, that's great!" and hung up. Then he started taking down all the displays and the banner.

"What are you doing?" the other man demanded.

"Going home," answered Funt. "They saved it."

"Saved what?" said the man.

"The Grand Canyon," said Funt. "They saved it. Well, bye."

They saved it!

By Donald Sensing

A UK Telegraph columnist reports,

... the latest US satellite figures [show] temperatures having fallen since 1998, declining in 2007 to a 1983 level - not to mention the newly revised figures for US surface temperatures showing that the 1930s had four of the 10 warmest years of the past century, with the hottest year of all being not 1998, as was previously claimed, but 1934.

How long until we will be advised that the fight against global warming has succeeded in turning the dire situation around?

Not until there's no more big money to be made or given in being alarmist.

I am reminded of the Candid Camera put-on when Peter Funt and crew set up a booth outside a big supermarket with a banner that said, "Save the Grand Canyon! Donate Here!" They studiously avoided explaining to people just what the Grand Canyon needed saving from, but told people who asked that they could help save it by putting money into the big, glass jar on the table.



Peter Funt

They collected a large sum of money during the day. The skit ended with Funt talking to someone about donating when Funt's cell phone rang, right on schedule. Funt answered it, said,"Okay thanks, that's great!" and hung up. Then he started taking down all the displays and the banner.

"What are you doing?" the other man demanded.

"Going home," answered Funt. "They saved it."

"Saved what?" said the man.

"The Grand Canyon," said Funt. "They saved it. Well, bye."

Back in the real world, environmental scientist Prof. Bob Carter writes:

[T]he accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2.

Second, lower atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little if any global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 per cent).

Third, there are strong indications from solar studies that Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.

And that really is bad news. "Global cooling" has happened before; climatologists call it the "Little Ice Age."

Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850 that brought dire consequences to its peoples. The colder weather impacted agriculture, health, economics, social strife, emigration, and even art and literature. Increased glaciation and storms also had a devastating affect on those that lived near glaciers and the sea. ...

The cooler climate during the LIA had a huge impact on the health of Europeans. As mentioned earlier, dearth and famine killed millions and poor nutrition decreased the stature of the Vikings in Greenland and Iceland.

Cool, wet summers led to outbreaks of an illness called St. Anthony's Fire. Whole villages would suffer convulsions, hallucinations, gangrenous rotting of the extremities, and even death. Grain, if stored in cool, damp conditions, may develop a fungus known as ergot blight and also may ferment just enough to produce a drug similar to LSD. (In fact, some historians claim that the Salem, Massachusetts witch hysteria was the result of ergot blight.)

Malnutrition led to a weakened immunity to a variety of illnesses. In England, malnutrition aggravated an influenza epidemic of 1557-8 in which whole families died. In fact, during most of the 1550's deaths outnumbered births (Lamb, 1995.) The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) was hastened by malnutrition all over Europe.

One might not expect a typically tropical disease such as malaria to be found during the LIA, but Reiter (2000) has shown that it was an important cause of illness and death in several parts of England. ...

I'm not willing to trade one kind of alarmism for another, but it's interesting to compare the reports of the effects of the Little Ice Age with those of the Medieval Warm Period.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The global warming cash cow

By Donald Sensing

The Daily Tech asks, "Will the UN's scenario for AIDS repeat for global warming reports?"

A new report from the United Nations acknowledges the agency has routinely overstated both the size and growth rate of the AIDS epidemic. ...

Critics have long maintained the U.N. overstated cases to gain political and financial support. "There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda" said author and AIDS expert Helen Epstein.

Daily Tech goes on to report,

Climatologist and IPCC expert reviewer Vincent Gray has called the IPCC process "fundamentally corrupt" and its predictions a fraud. Dr. Madhav Khandekar, another IPCC expert reviewer, has called the review process scientifically unsound, and notes the latest report fails to acknowledge a growing number of scientists now question the theory of greenhouse gas-based climate change.

Is there a linkage between the UN's handling of AIDS and global warming? According to journalist Claudia Rosett, the UN routinely overstates crises to generate funding, then uses it to fund a massive system of kickbacks, payoffs, and lavish expense accounts. According to Rosett, IPCC climate pronouncements are just part of this long-standing pattern.

The idea of the bureaucracy of the United Nations being made up of selfless, altruistic servants of humanity, who toil tirelessly for the benefit of all humankind, simply can't be held by objective people. In fact, corruption of the highest order pervades almost everything the UN touches.

That aside, there are compelling (IMO, convincing) reasons to assert that global warming alarmism is really nothing more than the latest cash cow to milk. Consider the view of Dr William Gray, "a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts," reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the earth. ...

"We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realise how foolish it was," Dr Gray said. ...

"It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong," he said. "But they also know that they'd never get any grants if they spoke out. I don't care about grants."

As I wrote last February, environmentalism is not merely a religion, it is an apocalyptic religion. And just like the sleaziest televangelist's pleas, this religion requires massive cash inflows to survive.

Another thing - if global warming is the dire crisis the UN says it is, then why is the UN doing this?

Endnote: for more on the UN's corruption, read , "Seeing the UN Plain: Corruption as a Way of Life," by a US State Dept. official and this essay by Richard Sanchez at Belmont Club.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Global warming" UN conference? You bet it will!

By Donald Sensing

Someone once wrote about the jet-setting, celebrity, global-warming alarmists, "I'll believe global warming is a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis."

I posted earlier about the "sky is falling," forthcoming report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. The looming apocalypse of global warming is so imminent, we're told, that unless drastic measures are taken right now to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, "catastrophic" consequences will begin by 2020.

But that's a trivial concern compared with the need for 10,000 UN bureaucrats to have their tax-paid, global-warming conference at one of the plushest resorts on earth, Bali. That the UN is based in New York, and that the bulk of the conference delegates live in New York, is apparently of little consequence when it comes to telling others to live a way that the UN itself won't adopt. Scott Kirwin points out the global-warming consequences of the UN's air travel alone:

For this single trip, each participant from New York City will use 1,731 kg of fuel, producing 5,282 kg of CO2 with the warming effect of 16,146 kg. ...

But 10,000 people are expected to attend the conference and so far I’ve been unable to find any type of geographic breakdown. So I’m going to make some assumptions:

4,000 participants from New York - that’s where UN headquarters is.1,000 from Los Angeles - for press, Hollywood UN groupies, and UN personnel stationed at west coast consulates.3,000 from Rome - for European NGO, UN and official contingents1,000 from Hong Kong - that will cover participants and press from Japan, China and SE Asia1,000 from Delhi - which will cover South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. ...

I will update this post with better numbers as I find them. However my estimate is that the UN conference in Bali will spew over 40,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in air travel alone. This CO2 has the warming effect of just over 122,000 metric tons of CO2.

According to this Wikipedia article, trees planted in the tropics remove 22kg of CO2 from the
atmosphere per year. That’s roughly 100 trees to remove one metric ton of CO2.

So in order to cover the 40,000 metric tons we would have to plant roughly 4,000,000 trees in the tropics.

"Live simply so others may simply live"? Not for the Yoo-Enn-ocrats.

Is Washington, DC's National Guard unconstitutional?

By Donald Sensing

University of Tennessee law Professor Glenn Reynolds has a piece to day in the NY Post, "Lawyers, Guns & Washington," discussing the legal angles of the upcoming Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of Washington, DC's ban of privately-owned firearms.

Glenn writes there are really just three types of rulings that SCOTUS can decide on:

  • One is that the 2d Amendment is a "relic of an older era" that need not apply today, but that, of course, leaves open the question of what other parts of the Bill of Rights can be similarly discarded.
  • Another is that "the court can find ... that the Second Amendment supports an individual right on the part of law-abiding citizens to possess firearms of the sort that are in ordinary use."
The third option Glenn discusses is this:
It can find that the Second Amendment doesn't grant individual rights, but only protects the right of states to arm their militias (or "state armies," as some gun-control advocates put it). This would make the DC case go away, but at some cost: If states have a constitutional right, as against the federal government, to arm their militias as they see fit, then states that don't like federal gun-control laws could just enroll every law-abiding citizen in the state militia and authorize those citizens to possess machine guns, tanks and other military gear.
But the District of Columbia is not a state, it is a federal district, founded by act of Congress and not even enjoying full representation in the Congress. In fact, for most of America's history, DC had no representation at all nor any political autonomy, being governed more or less directly by the Congress itself.

As UCLA law prof. Eugene Volokh explains, the "states rights" view of the 2d Amendment,
... is probably among the strongest intuitive foundations for he view—after all, “State” appears right there in the text, seemingly referring to each state’s needs and interests. The reading would suggest the right might cover only those whom each state explicitly chose as its defensive force, perhaps a state-selected National Guard. And it would suggest the Amendment doesn’t apply outside states, for instance in the District of Columbia: “‘the District of Columbia is not a state within the meaning of the Second Amendment and therefore the Second Amendment’s reach does not extend to it’” [citing the D.C. Circuit dissent].
But if the 2d Amendment refers solely to the rights of states of the union to have "state armies," as Glenn puts it, and if DC is not a state within the meaning of the Amendment, as the DC Circuit Court's dissent held, then how can the District constitutionally have a National Guard?

I wonder whether this angle will come up before the court.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Linkagery

By Donald Sensing

Via Knoxnews blogger Fred Brown, here are three items that caught my eye.

Having already invented an invisible tank, those clever Brits have now invented the see-through warplane, or maybe more accurately, the seeing-through helmet.



A pilot sitting on the ground in Nevada has flown remote-controlled, close-air support missions for ground troops in the Stan. Yes, folks, the Air Force's (Grim) Reaper has joined the fray.



Harry Patch is the last British trench fighter from World War One, now 109. Read the whole thing.

God, guns and signs

By Donald Sensing

A Bible scholar she ain't:



Here is what Malachi 1:3 says in its entirety: "3but I have hated Esau; I have made his hill country a desolation and his heritage a desert for jackals."

Sorry, I don't get the connection. Perhaps she was thinking of Eric Scheie.

Small town crushers attack web site! Legions of lawyers send memos!

By Donald Sensing

According to Computer World, Wal-Mart's lawyers have sent threatening letters to web sites publicizing the merchant chain's "Black Friday" ads, as yet unpublished by the company but leaked to the sites.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has threatened legal action against Web sites that leak its Black Friday ads, according to one Web site that received a warning letter from the retail company's lawyers. ...

A Wal-Mart spokesman acknowledged the company's efforts to prevent the information from appearing online but downplayed the letter's legal threats.

"In the past, certain Web sites have posted seasonal promotion advertising from Wal-Mart -- and many other retailers -- without authorization," said Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley in an e-mail. "Because these Web sites have violated laws covering trade secrets and copyright protection, we have merely reminded them of their obligations under the law and asked them to observe those laws."

The letter itself is posted here. Harvard Law Prof. Wendy Seltzer points out that,

... copyright claims ... fit poorly with the posting of price compilations. Copyright doesn't protect facts or ideas, only original expression. Yet the stores were trying to squelch pre-announcement of facts: the prices they intended to affix to items, not any expressive element of the circulars' graphic design or its arrangement of items. Copyright claims probably looked attractive because they pull in the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure, giving reason for the service provider to disable customers' sites.

She also discusses the infringement of trade secrets angle Wal-Mart is trying to invoke.

That being said, the reaction of the folks at the web site, Black Friday Ads, was pretty, well, uh, I dunno. You be the judge:

The Black Friday Ads site said it had no choice but to comply with the letter.

"Let's be real here. Wal-Mart is a corporate conglomerate that crushes small towns on its way to world dominance,"

World dominance? By crushing small towns? Jeepers, BFA, get a grip. The site's operators are not so blinded by their own rhetoric that they can't see the writing on the wall, though.

Even if we were in the right in posting Wal-Mart's advertisements, we in no way have the means or time to bother with a potential litigation. We have no course of action here and unless Wal-Mart rescinds their threat, don't expect the Wal-Mart advertisement to appear on any Black Friday site until November 19th.

I might be wrong here, but I think that's what Wal-Mart had in mind.

Chalk up one in the W column for the small-town crushing, world-dominating, mega-conglomerate retailer.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The looming apocalypse … again

By Donald Sensing

For some reason, I watched the NBC Nightly News tonight. Lester Holt was the weekend anchorman. About the second story was a breathlessly urgent story about how time has simply run out to stop global warming. If the world does not act now - right this very minute! - to reverse the greenhouse effect, then it will be too late. The linked report is not a transcript of the broadcast report, which, as of now, is still viewable online at msnbc.com under the title, "strong warming warning." It's javascript, so there's no link to it.

Specifically, the broadcast segment says that "catastrophic" consequences will begin within 13 years unless by 2012 the world reduces CO2 emissions to five percent below 1990's level. The text story says,

As early as 2020, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will suffer water shortages, residents of Asia’s large cities will be at great risk of river and coastal flooding, according to the report.

Europeans can expect extensive species loss, and North Americans will experience longer and hotter heat waves and greater competition for water, says the report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore this year.

The panel portrays the Earth hurtling toward a warmer climate at a quickening pace and warns of inevitable human suffering. ...
"Hurtling" toward warming at a "quickening pace" with "inevitable human suffering"! And as further proof of global warming, South America is having one of the coldest springtimes on record. There's suffering, all right - from the cold.

The report also quotes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as saying he "witnessed the devastation of climate change in disappearing glaciers of Antarctica... ." You know, these "disappearing" glaciers:

Antarctic sea ice area

The white area is the land mass of Antarctica. The purple area is the sea ice, the color indicating that its concentration is at or near 100 percent. This image is from the University of Illinois' cryosphere center, which shows that Antarctic sea ice has been steadily growing since 1978.


Click for full-size image

It's true, as the cryosphere center also shows, that Arctic-area sea ice has been falling in volume, but Antarctic ice has been growing. So in what way is global warming, well, global? And how does a theory of atmospherically-induced global warming account for record low springtime temperatures right now in South America and the growth of sea ice in the south polar regions?

Speaking of Arctic ice, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's news release this week,
A team of NASA and university scientists has detected an ongoing reversal in Arctic Ocean circulation triggered by atmospheric circulation changes that vary on decade-long time scales. The results suggest not all the large changes seen in Arctic climate in recent years are a result of long-term trends associated with global warming. [italics added] ...

"Our study confirms many changes seen in upper Arctic Ocean circulation in the 1990s were mostly decadal in nature, rather than trends caused by global warming," said [James]Morison [of the University of Washington's Polar Science Center Applied Physics Laboratory].
Back in Antarctica,
The Brazilian Base Comandante Ferraz in Antarctica is rationing water. Never in the last twenty years the weather was so cold and snowy this time of the year in the Brazilian post in the South Pole. The nearby lakes that provide water to the base are frozen since September. The heliport that allows the arrival of food and bottled water by air is under three meters of snow. Water for human consumption is limited to the fifty Brazilian researchers in the region and the situations turns more dangerous each day.
The link for that is to this Word document found on Icecap.us.

It would be well to remember that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, IPCC, is primarily a political body rather than a scientific one. And for any political entity anywhere, it is well to remember Den Beste's Law: "The job of bureacracies is to regulate, and left to themselves they will regulate everything they can." Get ready for another round of regulation coming our way.

The rich get poorer and the poor get richer

By Donald Sensing

So say the Treasury Department's latest 10-year study of tax-returns analyses.

The Treasury study examined a huge sample of 96,700 income tax returns from 1996 and 2005 for Americans over the age of 25. The study tracks what happened to these tax filers over this 10-year period. One of the notable, and reassuring, findings is that nearly 58% of filers who were in the poorest income group in 1996 had moved into a higher income category by 2005. Nearly 25% jumped into the middle or upper-middle income groups, and 5.3% made it all the way to the highest quintile.



Only one income group experienced an absolute decline in real income--the richest 1% in 1996. Those households lost 25.8% of their income. Moreover, more than half (57.4%) of the richest 1% in 1996 had dropped to a lower income group by 2005. Some of these people might have been "rich" merely for one year, or perhaps for several, as they hit their peak earning years or had some capital gains windfall. Others may simply have not been able to keep up with new entrepreneurs and wealth creators. ...

The key point is that the study shows that income mobility in the U.S. works down as well as up--another sign that opportunity and merit continue to drive American success, not accidents of birth. The "rich" are not the same people over time.

That the poor are getting richer is not news, and it's happening all over the world. See, for example, "Economic iconoclasm," and, "World income inequality decreasing." Yet it's amazing how much the populist hokum that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer continues to drive American politics and churches' "social justice" agendas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Europe stands for nothing today"

By Donald Sensing

Kejda Gjermani:

Ethnic nation-states in the Old West are crumbling under a scary moral void. Too many European citizens have no such thing as a comprehensive set of principles behind their various national identities; all they've got is their measly "Germanness", "Frenchness", "Britishness" or whatnot to hold on to, all of which are rapidly eroding in the acid of Cultural Relativism that the Europeans have been so eager and so stupid to embrace. Europe cannot stomach the backwardness of its Muslim Immigrants, yet it has no new cultural home to offer them. The French want their immigrants to participate in their "Frenchness" somehow, but "Frenchness" is inherited, it can never be acquired. Of course Sarkozy's father was an outcast because of his Hungarian last name. There's no way to get around it: Europe never forgets anyone's ethnic otherness. The Holocaust is very eloquent on this subject. The European identity is ethnic/tribal at its core, not ideological. Europe has no moral shelter to offer even its natives, let alone its immigrants. Now that the church has been dethroned from its historic position of moral hegemony, the Old Continent is mutely agonizing like a giant headless cockroach awaiting slow starvation.

But there is hope, after all, sort of.

Chicken, egg, religion, family

By Donald Sensing

Mary Tedeschi Eberstadt of the Hoover Institution has a fascinating essay about the relationship between family size and religion, "How the West Really Lost God." She explains the conventional wisdom of the anti-religious class , that large families result from religious belief and, not quite so explicitly, that the diminution of religion has resulted in the shrinking of the family - especially in Europe, where the birth rate has plummeted in just the last generation or two.

But Mary stands this thesis on its head and posits that the demographic data of Europe and America show just the opposite: that religion is inculcated by large families, and that the decline of religion in Europe generally and in certain American demographic classes has followed rather than preceded shrinking family size.

Southern Baptists are worried about their birth rates, as are other denominations:

It is time for us, as Southern Baptists, to recognize that our success can kill us. As a denomination that once was derided as "redneck" and backward, we're now invited to the Rotary Club meetings. We're being elected to Congress. We're not in the trailer parks anymore. Our young men are successful, suburban, and careerist, and our young women are too. And we think that's a sign of health. Meanwhile our baptisms go down, and our birthrates do too. It turns out keeping up with the Episcopalians can have a downside.

See my related essay, "The Coming End of Methodism."

Update: John Ballard has some commentary on Eberstadt.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rape victim punished by court for being raped

By Donald Sensing

Yes, really, in (no surprise) Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The coming end of Methodism

By Donald Sensing

I've just returned from three days of the Bishop's Convocation of the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences of the United Methodist Church. The theme of the convocation was "Restoring Methodism." I'll not address the content of the convocation in this post except to note that the presenters, Professors James and Molly Scott, offered excellent ideas and processes for a potential restoration, if one is to be done. Their book and CD can be found here.

However, despite my enthusiasm for their ideas, I am pessimistic that anything can be done to reverse the decades-long downward trend in the number of people belonging to the UMC in the United States. (The UMC is a worldwide denomination and is growing outside the US.) In 1968 there were almost 13 million UMs; now there are about 8 million. Of these, we were told, the average age is 60. They didn't say what the median age is, but I expect it's higher. However, for this post I'll assume that the median age and the average age are about the same. The median age for all Americans is 36.4 years (Census tables here).

What the convocation ignored was what the graying of the denomination portends. Once the mention was made of UMs' ages, the subject was dropped and we moved on to discussing how to fix the machinery of the denomination as a whole.

Having written about Europe's demographic death spiral, I could not help but ponder whether United Methodism is in the same fix. The thrust of the convocation was that we UMs can reverse the decline if we return to Wesleyan basics. Now, I'm keen to return to Wesleyan basics and think we should do that anyway, but the idea that we can evangelize faster than the Grim Reaper reduces our numbers is a proposition that I find highly dubious.

Consider some actuarial facts. If indeed the median age is about the same as the average age, 60, that means that of the 8 million UMs living today, one-fourth, or 2 million, will be dead within 20 years, and another million dead about eight years later. So in less than 30 years, we will lose from death alone three-eighths of our present membership, leaving us at 5 million.

That decline does not include the hemorrhage of our youth who, when graduating from high school, graduate from the church as well (an issue affecting all denominations). I don't have the demographic breakdown for that age group as a percentage of the UM total, but the church admits that, relative to the general population, people under 35 are underrepresented.

So the decline due to death of our numbers will be amplified by dropouts, mostly, though not exclusively the under-35 cohort. There is only a small chance, IMO, that the number of people electing to leaved the denomination can be matched by those joining. But the idea that new members can offset losses from both dropouts and death is simply not supportable. If we could do that (or were willing to do it), we would already be doing it. And the losses from death in the coming years will only accelerate.

It goes without saying that with an average age of 60, United Methodists are generally no longer bearing children. Of course there are families in our churches, but there is a very large number of UM churches that have no children. The fertility rate among European-descended, American women is lower than the 2.1 replacement rate. The overall American fertility rate of 2.08 is that high only because non-white women are having more than two children each (on average, of course). See, "The vanishing American family."

This national trend is reflected in the UMC, so I think I stand on safe ground in saying that, on average, UM adults of childbearing age are not having enough children to replace themselves when they die, much less replace themselves and one or more older members.

But no one I know of in the Methodist church's hierarchy or think tanks is addressing this part of the issue.

We might also consider that the median age of UM elders (who serve as senior pastors of churches) is 52, which is my own age. The average age is almost 51. Of the 17,000-plus elders in the denomination, only about 840 are 35 or younger. As a rule, older clergy will not attract younger members, especially families. Furthermore, with a mandatory retirement age of 70.5, half of all elders will retire within 20 years (most clergy elect to retire before 70). So in addition to a shrinking membership, the UMC will be faced with a steadily graying clergy and an accelerating shortage to boot.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Israel's Security Wall - a view from Israel

By Donald Sensing

By Daniel Jackson, blogging from Israel

How do Israelis feel about The Wall?

As opposed to what?

Susan and I have been looking at land in the community of Yonatan. It is a wonderful spot out in the Golan with light, wonderful air, excellent stars at night, and stalwart folks who work the land, albeit in the high tech mode of capitalist agriculture.



Moon Rise at Yonatan

The community is in the process of developing some prime view lots. Before they put in the power, water, and sewage, they put in the most important ingredient to Israeli life — the security fence.



The Security Fence at Yonatan

Looking around the lots, taking in the beauty of the evening, I commented to Efrat, the young woman showing us around, “It’s a pity about that fence.” “I agree,” she said, “but, our neighbors, the Syrians, have other ideas about us. What you call ‘crime’ in the States, our neighbors call ‘acts of resistance’.”

In Yonatan, it is the Syrians. In Ephrat in the Gush and Jerusalem, it is the Palestinians. In the Galil, it is Arab Israelis. Only the very largest cities and areas go without some sort of fence. Arab Israeli towns are built on the sides of very steep hills; utilizing the architectural style of feudal peasant towns clearly defensible from a frontal assault by marauding warlords and other terrorists. Jewish Israeli towns, however, are platted like suburbia throughout the US and Europe but with a controlled access gate across all entrances and a substantial fence (sometimes with a moat).



Front Gate



Although the actual number of times is small where a team of freedom fighters entered a Jewish Israeli settlement, murdered women and children in their homes before fleeing, most Jewish Israelis are not willing to take such chances.



Now in the States, the idea of “gated communities” is against the law—perhaps, when the US finally takes control of Israel, the rule of US Civil Rights will prevail. In Israel, it is important to remember what the enemies of the freedom fighters really look like.



Enemies of the Liberation Army

Back in the days of the Second Intifada (was there ever an end to it?), Jerusalem was the center of the War. There were regular bombings. School kids, shoppers, bus riders, and those who went out for pizza or drinks were targets. After the bombing of S’Barros in downtown Jerusalem ...



S’barros, Jerusalem

and the regular bombings at Ben Yehuda Street ...



Ben Yehuda Street

... I began to go downtown to the scene of the liberation act as an act of solidarity to the true soldiers in the Second Intifada War—pedestrians, shop owners, police men and women, and all of those children who rode public transportation to and from school. The huge open air market ...



Night Market

... Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem was regularly hit by homicidal maniacs — within hours the place was cleaned up and back in business.



Dried Fruit

If they were willing to sell, then the least I could do was go right down there and buy.



Salted Fish

God Bless them all. These are the true heroes of that war.

So, what stopped the carnage? The Wall. Israelis will tell you that anyone who says differently is lying. Since the advent of The Wall, there have been no bombings. All of the increased intelligence and firepower of the IDF was empty until there was a place to stop those who enter Jerusalem at a Gate; and a gate is useless if there is no wall. The tourists have come back; retro hippies and the India world travelers hang out in Ben Yehuda at night where before only zealots like me walked as an act of defiance. Now, the normal defiance of youth against authority and parents flourishes in public spaces and town squares. They may complain about the Man, man, but The Wall has made it happen.

So how do Israelis think about The Wall? They don’t. It’s a non issue. It is part of the normal order of life—another manifestation of their daily routine all over the country. Now, Jerusalem is truly the capital of the country—it has a wall and a gate, just like the folks at home. Tel Aviv is the temple to the Old World; but Jerusalem is the model of the future.

The perpetual sucker game?

By Donald Sensing

Caroline Glick:

AND THEN of course there are the Palestinians. Here American policy has been a double failure. First of all, it has destroyed American deterrence toward the Arab world.

To divert American attention away from their support for jihadist terrorism, the leaders of the Arab world sought to convince the Americans that the only way to end their support for terror and jihad was by resolving the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

Rather than stop to question the validity of the Arabs' strange assertion, the Americans believed them. ...

Aside from that, it bears noting that it is largely because of the strengthening of jihadist forces in the Arab world that there is no possibility of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Rather than understand this, the Americans have allowed the Arabs to send them on a wild goose chase that will never end.

The very fact that this week US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thought that it was more important to come to Israel for the ninth time this year than to deal with the crisis in Pakistan shows clearly just how deeply the Americans have internalized this Arab fiction.

I would say that any serious student of Palestinian politics can take only with much reservation the recent comments by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the upcoming Annapolis peace conference can lead to Palestinian state being achieved before the end of the Bush administration. There are two questions that no one is confident of answering in advance: Does Mahmoud Abbas himself genuinely want to accept a two-state solution? An d if he does, is he actually capable of making it work with his own people?

Even Israelis who think the answer to the former question is affirmative are highly dubious about the latter. Abbas is seen as very weak both personally and politically. When I visited Israel's foreign ministry on Oct. 21 as part of a small study group, we spoke privately, though on the record, with Mr. Igal Pallmor, who is the director of the North Africa, Syria and Lebanon departments. His boss is the foreign minister. Mr. Pallmor said that the question of whether Abbas can pull it off is at best "open." But he also said that regardless of Abbas' will and ability, the response of other Arab countries will be crucial. More on the view from the ministry later.

“Eternal Father, Strong to Save” - a hymn for Veterans Day

By Donald Sensing

In the century and a half since, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," was composed, it has come into widespread use by both Britain's Royal Navy and the US Navy, becoming known as the Royal Navy Hymn in the former and the Navy Hymn in the latter. William Whiting of England, composed the poem in 1860 for a student of his who was soon to sail for America. The music was composed by another Englishman, Rev. John Bacchus Dykes, an Episcopalian clergyman. The music was published in 1861, but I don't know how the lyrics and the music came to be put together.

The hymn was sung at Franklin D. Roosevelt's funeral, as well as the funerals of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. And as the 1999 movie, Titanic shows, it was sung during services aboard the doomed vessel the Sunday before she sank. (However, the version sung in the movie was not arranged until 1940.)

Since the hymn was penned, a number of other verses have been composed by various persons over the years. Some of these have been adopted by the Armed Forces Chaplain's Board for inclusion in worship services conducted by military chaplains. These additional verses, prayers for the Marines, aviators, astronauts, the wounded, families at home and others, are included as an addendum on the US Navy's web page devoted to the hymn.

Verses for the hymn are easy to write. The rhyming is simply, aabbcc, with each line consisting of eight syllables in iambic tetrameter (which, definitionally, is eight syllables anyway).

The original hymn itself, of course, long ago passed into the public domain, so anyone may use the music or compose a verse thereto. In my church service today, we will sing the hymn in five verses honoring all who serve at sea, on the land or in the air, finished by a verse of prayer for our country, thus:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Lord of hosts, to you we turn
To give us grace we cannot earn.
Our soldiers guard our way of life;
Be with them all in times of strife.
Let courage flow from your command;
We pray for those who fight on land.

Eternal Father, grant, we pray,
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength, and skill
Their land to serve, thy law fulfill;
Be thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps

Lord, guard and guide all those who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air!

Almighty God, whose arm is strong,
protect us e'er from doing wrong.
We pray to always do what’s right,
for justice only be our fight.
Let peace now reign across our land,
brought to us by your gracious hand.
Of the verses above, authorship is as follows:

Verse 1 - William Whiting, the original first verse.
Verse 2 - me, composed for this day as a prayer for the Army
Verse 3 - J. E. Seim, 1966
Verse 4 - Mary C. D. Hamilton, 1915
Verse 5 - me again

You can hear the US Navy Sea Chanters, the service's chorus, sing the first verse by clicking here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sunnis to US: Stay away, we'll kill al Qaeda on our own

By Donald Sensing

Not content with losing the logistics war, now al Qaeda is just plain losing the war. And this is a new wrinkle:

BAGHDAD (AP) — Former Sunni insurgents asked the U.S. to stay away, then ambushed members of al-Qaida in Iraq, killing 18 in a battle that raged for hours north of Baghdad, an ex-insurgent leader and Iraqi police said Saturday.

The Islamic Army in Iraq sent advance word to Iraqi police requesting that U.S. helicopters keep out of the area since its fighters had no uniforms and were indistinguishable from al-Qaida, according to the police and a top Islamic Army leader known as Abu Ibrahim.

Abu Ibrahim told The Associated Press that his fighters killed 18 al-Qaida militants and captured 16 in the fight southeast of Samarra, a mostly Sunni city about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

"We found out that al-Qaida intended to attack us, so we ambushed them at 3 p.m. on Friday," Abu Ibrahim said. He would not say whether any Islamic Army members were killed.

Much of the Islamic Army in Iraq, a major Sunni Arab insurgent group that includes former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, has joined the U.S.-led fight against al-Qaida in Iraq along with Sunni tribesmen and other former insurgents repelled by the terror group's brutality and extremism.

Those who've cared to know learned months ago that the vast majority of Sunnis in Iraq have turned against al Qaeda, though Sunni Baathist "dead enders" and anti-Shia insurgents had mostly allied themselves with al Qaeda to fight US forces not long after the Coalition's invasion in the spring of 2003. Before the middle of 2005, the first cracks in the Sunni's affiliation, and sometime alliance, with al Qaeda had started to appear. Not many months after that, there was occasional combat between some AQI formations and Sunni militias.

Understand that the Islamic Army in Iraq is not pro-American. It was the largest Sunni anti-coalition insurgent group in Iraq after Saddam's fall, and was devoted mainly to regaining power for the Baathists. Despite its name, the IAI is not especially hardline Muslim in character and would be mischaracterized as Islamist, though it did openly ally itself with al Qaeda in Iraq for a long time. But AQI's harsh brutality in taking over Sunni towns, executing townspeople (and even beheading children) who wouldn't toe the hardcore Islamist line, finally turned IAI against AQI early this year, and it began fighting AQI. However, AQI and IAI soon came to a ceasefire agreement under the proposition that they each alike were bound first to fight the Americans. Even so, IAI never signed on to AQI's version of Islam and never agreed to help al Qaeda'a in it goal of instituting the Islamic State of Iraq.

Evidently, the ceasefire has broken down. At this stage of the war, for al Qaeda to lose 18 fighters to death with almost as many captured is a serious loss for them.

The Islamic Army in Iraq cannot be counted as friendly to the US or to Iraq's central government. However, it now appears that they are no longer enemies, either.

There's bad news for AQI elsewhere, too.

Meanwhile, farther east, in Diyala province, members of another former insurgent group, the 1920s Revolution Brigades, launched a military-style operation Saturday against al-Qaida in Iraq there, the Iraqi Army said.

About 60 militants were captured and handed over to Iraqi soldiers, an Army officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to media.

Afterward, hundreds of people paraded through the streets of Buhriz, about 35 miles north of Baghdad, witnesses said. Many danced and fired their guns into the air, shouting "Down with al-Qaida!" and "Diyala is for all Iraqis!"

Well, when it rains, it pours.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Al Qaeda losing the log war in Iraq

By Donald Sensing

When you've lost the logistics war, you've simply lost the war.

November 9, 2007: The various terrorist groups in Iraq, especially the Sunni Arabs and al Qaeda, appear to be having supply problems. In a word, the enemy is running out of ammunition. Their logistical "tail" is being chopped to bits. Captured documents and prisoner interrogations mention these shortages. There are other signs as well. Many of the bomb factories, or bomb storage sites, are full of homemade explosives. Apparently most of the Saddam era, ready-made stuff, is gone. Most of the pre-2003 military explosives have been found and destroyed by American combat engineers over the last four years.

In every operations planning meeting I attended or presented, discussion of logistics occupied easily two-thirds of the time, and usually about three-fourths. Correct tactics, after all, is simply using firepower and maneuver in order to achieve an advantage that is logistically supportable.

The more desperate al Qaeda in Iraq becomes to sustain itself, the more visible it will become. And the more visible it becomes, the more of them Iraqi and American forces will kill or capture.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Palestinians flocking to Israel

By Donald Sensing

Ynet news reports, "Thousands of Palestinians apply for Israeli citizenship." Subtitle: "Intensive talks over division of Jerusalem has prompted its Palestinian residents to make a move once considered the ultimate treason."

Well, yeah. I refer you to my post of the evening I spent with Mr. Bassem Eid, the only Palestinian documenting the human-rights abuses of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

In 2000, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to Yasser Arafat to hand over to the Palestinian Authority about three-quarters of Jerusalem - every historic quarter except, of course, the Jewish Quarter. The three quarters concerned were, and are, the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. Arafat simply said no.

During my visit to Israel last month, our study group spent an afternoon conferring with an Israeli-citizen Arab, whose safety was so precarious that he asked his photo not be taken, saying, "I don't want my picture to wind up on someone's blog so that certain people will know what I look like." (Hint: it was not Jews he was afriad of, nor Israeli Christians.) Though his name is well known, since he writes for the Jerusalem Post, I'll refer to him only by his first name, Khaled.

Khaled was very candid about the difference of the lives of Palestinians living under the PA (to say nothing of those living under Hamas in Gaza) and the lives of Israeli Arabs. He did point out that Arabs are a minority in Israel, and they know it. Israel is a Jewish state, and all its Arab citiziens, whether the 70 percent who are Muslim or the 30 percent who are Christian, are not merely ethnic minorities, but religious minorities.

But Khaled also pointed out that despite the mild oppression that Israeli Arabs generally feel, they know they are the freest Arabs anywhere in the Middle East. That's why the reverse of yNet's headline is never printed: Israeli Arabs are neither crazy nor stupid enought to migrate into the West Bank or Gaza, where they would live under the mere facsimile of democracy in the former and outright tyranny in the latter.

yNet explains:

In the months leading up to the upcoming Annapolis peace conference talk of a future division of the city has prompted a staggering increase in nationalization requests by Palestinians seeking to escape life under the Palestinian Authority.

Some 250,000 Palestinians currently reside in Jerusalem. Only 12,000 of them have sought to obtain an Israeli citizenship since 1967, an average of about 300 new citizens a year.

But over the past four months the Interior Ministry has registered an unprecedented 3,000 applications, primarily residents of the Arab neighborhoods unlikely to remain under Israeli sovereignty according to the political initiative currently on the agenda.

But the blunt fact is that Israel is not about to receive these vast numbers of Palestinians. Several officials we spoke to, including very senior persons at Israel's Foreign Ministry, indicated clearly that they are well aware of the demographics between Jews and Arabs in and around Israel. Almost one-fourth of Israelis are Muslims. One official said clearly that because Israel is a democracy, it simply was unthinkable that its government would allow massive numbers of Palestinian Muslims to take up citizenship and ultimately vote the Jewish state out of existence.

Regardless, the fact is that people vote with their feet when there is no other effective recourse. As the Annapolis Conference, now scheduled for next month, draws nearer, expect increasing number of requests by Palestinians for Israeli citizenship, or at least asylum.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Instant replay review for MLB? Nope.

By Donald Sensing

That's my summary assessment of the new proposal to allow "limited" use of video instant replay to review calls by umpires in Major League Ball games. The proposal has been floated by the league's general managers by a 25-5 vote. The commissioner will decide how (and whether) to move the proposal forward.

Unlike the NFL, which has a wide range of calls that may be reviewed via video at the behest of a coach (except in the last two minutes of each half), the general managers' proposal calls for replay to be used "only to determine the validity -- or lack thereof -- of a home run." Further, like the NHL, there would be only one replay-reviewing location, for MLB likely at the commissioner's office area.

Even if instant replay is approved by whatever procedure the commissioner sets up, it would still have to be approved by both the players' association and the umpires association before being used.

I don't think that will happen.

More at the MLB site.

The great biofuel hoax - and the evil resulting

By Donald Sensing

Until biofuels can be manufactured economically and in quantity from plant waste byproducts, they should, I think, be resisted by any person who claims to have a moral sense.

As everyone knows, biofuels have been touted with great vigor by the Bush administration, as well as practically every other Western government, as the answer to over-reliance on petroleum fuels. The reason is not that the world is running out of oil - on the contrary, the globe is practically floating in it (though the wrong places have most of the reserves). The reason for the shift to biofuels is to stop global warming.

There are excellent reasons to move our energy reliance away from oil, but shifting to biofuels to stop global warming isn't one of them. I won't even address here the issue of whether (a) the world really is warming, or (b) whether petroleum use is a the principal cause. Both these matters are still unsettled by scientists (though not by politicians). My point here is that what we are doing is growing food crops to convert to ethanol, and this fact has two very deleterious effects: (a) it produces more, not less, gases presently described as "greenhouse" gases, said to cause global warming, and (b) makes all foods more expensive.

The Guardian newspaper has an article today focusing on the latter aspect, but does touch on the former.

A recent study by the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen shows that the official estimates have ignored the contribution of nitrogen fertilisers. They generate a greenhouse gas - nitrous oxide - that is 296 times as powerful as CO2. These emissions alone ensure that ethanol from maize causes between 0.9 and 1.5 times as much warming as petrol, while rapeseed oil (the source of more than 80% of the world's biodiesel) generates 1-1.7 times the impact of diesel. This is before you account for the changes in land use.

A paper published in the journal Science three months ago suggests that protecting uncultivated land saves, over 30 years, between two and nine times the carbon emissions you might avoid by ploughing it and planting biofuels. Last year the research group LMC International estimated that if the British and European target of a 5% contribution from biofuels were to be adopted by the rest of the world, the global acreage of cultivated land would expand by 15%. That means the end of most tropical forests. It might also cause runaway climate change.

That's what happens when activists and politicians focus on only one thing, carbon dioxide, the the big meanie of global warming. Yet methane and nitrous oxide are said by climatologists to be far more powerful in inducing global warming than CO2. Why focus on CO2? Michael Crichton pointed out in his book, State of Fear, that if the atmosphere was a football field, the amount of CO2 would be one inch of the field. Nonetheless, gobal warming alarmists say that a minute increase of that one inch places the entire earth in jeopardy.

Yet, according to the Guardian, the most damaging fact about biofuels is not they that will make global warming worse, but that

... using food to produce biofuels "might further strain already tight supplies of arable land and water all over the world, thereby pushing food prices up even further". This week, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation will announce the lowest global food reserves in 25 years, threatening what it calls "a very serious crisis". Even when the price of food was low, 850 million people went hungry because they could not afford to buy it. With every increment in the price of flour or grain, several million more are pushed below the breadline.

The cost of rice has risen by 20% over the past year, maize by 50%, wheat by 100%. Biofuels aren't entirely to blame - by taking land out of food production they exacerbate the effects of bad harvests and rising demand - but almost all the major agencies are now warning against expansion. And almost all the major governments are ignoring them.

Get the irony? Global petroleum reserves are at an all-time high, while global food reserves are at one of their lowest levels in the modern era, yet we're reducing the amount of food we grow in order to use less oil. Already in the US, 15 percent (1.6 billion bushels) of corn production is devoted not to the table, but to the tank. The effect on the prices of other foods has been felt hard, especially animal foods, such as chickens, for which corn is a major foodstuff. Feed corn for livestock has risen sharply in price.

The Guardian concludes, perhaps somewhat hyperbolically, "If the governments promoting biofuels do not reverse their policies ... [m]illions will be displaced, hundreds of millions more could go hungry." Couldn't happen, you say? Well, consider that the banning of DDT in 1972 has resulted in the deaths of more people than died around the world in World War II (see this piece in 21st Century Science and and Technology magazine). Never underestimate the power of governments to destroy, and be especially wary when they claim the best of intentions in order to do so.