Archived Posts November 2006 | Acton PowerBlog

I have read through the opening arguments (PDF) in Massachusetts, et al., v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al. (05-1120) conducted yesterday morning before the Supreme Court. From a layperson’s perspective I would have to say that Jonathan Adler’s characterization of the nature of the proceedings in not quite correct.

Adler writes, “It is also important to underscore that this case is not about the science of climate change. There is no dispute that human emissions of greenhouse gases affect the global climate. Rather, the fundamental issues are whether the Clean Air Act mandates the sort of regulatory action the petitioners seek, and whether these (or any) petitioners are entitled to bring these claims in court.” It seems to me, however, that as much of the discussion focused on the issue of the petitioners’ standing, it necessarily included and touched on their ability to prove imminent threat of loss due to climate change.

As Lyle Denniston writes in summary of yesterday’s action, “The Supreme Court’s first public discussion of global warming was, in large part, an inquiry into the opportunity — or lack of it — to bring a lawsuit to try to force the government to promptly address the problem (the “standing” issue). And, it seemed clear that the deciding vote on that question probably lies with the Court’s key centrist Justice, Anthony M. Kennedy.”

With regard to Kennedy’s questioning, Denniston states, “Kennedy suggested that the Court could not bypass the larger question of whether global warming is a problem, in order to assess who might be harmed by it, ‘because there’s no injury if there’s not global warming.'”

Thus, the “science of climate change” is an issue…and a large one at that.

Blog author: kschmiesing
Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Acton Institute’s newest publication is volume 10 in the Christian Social Thought Series, The Good That Business Does, by Robert G. Kennedy.

From my foreword:

[Professor Kennedy] helps to elucidate the place of the modern business enterprise within contemporary society. In the best tradition of Christian social thought, his starting points are what we know about morality through reason and revelation and what we know about business through empirical observation. Using this method he articulates the responsibilities of business in a way that is both realistic and in keeping with the timeless truths of the moral law.

It is an excellent, compact treatise on business from the perspective of Christian moral reflection and will be of interest to those in the fields of business, business ethics, or Catholic social teaching.

Click here to learn more about the book or to order now.

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Barthmolomew light a candle as they enter the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George. (Photo: N. Manginas)

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Benedict XVI are preparing to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Andrew tomorrow, a high point during the pope’s visit to Turkey.

Below are the remarks offered today by Patriarch Bartholomew to Pope Benedict after the prayer service at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George. For more on the visit, see the special Web site that the Patriarchate has published for the event.

Your Holiness, beloved Brother in the Lord,

It is with sentiments of sincere joy and satisfaction that we welcome you to the sacred and historical city of Istanbul.

This is a city that has known a treasured heritage for the growth of the Church through the ages. It is here that St. Andrew, the “first-called” of the Apostles founded the local Church of Byzantium and installed St. Stachys as its first bishop. It is here that the Emperor and “equal-to-the-Apostles,” St. Constantine the Great, established the New Rome. It is here that the Great Councils of the early Church convened to formulate the Symbol of Faith. It is here that martyrs and saints, bishops and monks, theologians and teachers, together with a “cloud of witnesses” confessed what the prophets saw, what the apostles taught, what the church received, what the teachers formulated in doctrine, what the world understood, what grace has shone, namely…the truth that was received, the faith of the fathers. This is the faith of the Orthodox. This faith has established the universe.

So it is with open embrace that we welcome you on the blessed occasion of your first visit to the City, just as our predecessors, Ecumenical Patriarchs Athenagoras and Demetrios, had welcomed your predecessors, Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. These venerable men of the Church sensed the inestimable value and urgent need alike of such encounters in the process of reconciliation through a dialogue of love and truth.

Therefore, we are, both of us, as their successors and as successors to the Thrones of Rome and New Rome equally accountable for the steps – just, of course, as we are for any missteps – along the journey and in our struggle to obey the command of our Lord, that His disciples “may be one.”

It was in this spirit that, by the grace of God, we visited repeatedly Rome and two years ago in order to accompany the relics of Saints Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, formerly Archbishops of this City, whose sacred remains were generously returned to this Patriarchal Cathedral by the late Pope. It was in this spirit, too, that we traveled to Rome only months later to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul.

We are deeply grateful to God that Your Holiness has taken similar steps today in the same spirit. We offer thanks to God in doxology and express thanks also to Your Holiness in fraternal love.

Beloved Brother, welcome. “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”

“Blessed is the Name of the Lord now and forevermore.”

Two different stories from two different countries highlight two different aspects of a single theme: the West’s growing lack of cultural confidence.

First, this story from The Telegraph:

Islamic sharia law is gaining an increasing foothold in parts of Britain, a report claims.

Sharia, derived from several sources including the Koran, is applied to varying degrees in predominantly Muslim countries but it has no binding status in Britain.

However, the BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action produced evidence yesterday that it was being used by some Muslims as an alternative to English criminal law. Aydarus Yusuf, 29, a youth worker from Somalia, recalled a stabbing case that was decided by an unofficial Somali “court” sitting in Woolwich, south-east London.

Mr Yusuf said a group of Somali youths were arrested on suspicion of stabbing another Somali teenager. The victim’s family told the police it would be settled out of court and the suspects were released on bail.

A hearing was convened and elders ordered the assailants to compensate their victim. “All their uncles and their fathers were there,” said Mr Yusuf. “So they all put something towards that and apologised for the wrongdoing.”

And so under the guise of “Legal Pluralism,” we see a western nation begin to give up the ability to fairly and equally apply the law to all of its citizens – although this doesn’t seem to concern the chap quoted in the article:

Mr Yusuf told the programme he felt more bound by the traditional law of his birth than by the laws of his adopted country. “Us Somalis, wherever we are in the world, we have our own law,” he said. “It’s not sharia, it’s not religious — it’s just a cultural thing.”

A “cultural thing,” indeed – I’d say that a large immigrant population that doesn’t feel bound by the laws of their new country is a pretty serious cultural problem for Great Britian.

Meanwhile, back in the good old U.S. of A, our defenders on the left are back at it, working to slay the evil Wal-Mart dragon, this time in San Diego, California:

The City Council here voted late Tuesday to ban certain giant retail stores, dealing a blow to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s potential to expand in the nation’s eighth-largest city.

The measure, approved on a 5-3 vote, prohibits stores of more than 90,000 square feet that use 10 percent of space to sell groceries and other merchandise that is not subject to sales tax. It takes aim at Wal-Mart Supercenter stores, which average 185,000 square feet and sell groceries.

Well, thank goodness! I can’t imagine what sort of havoc would be unleashed on the city if these new jobs were made available to job seekers. And hey, doesn’t everybody know by now that Wal-Mart is bad for the poor?

In sum: Western culture continues to be attacked from within and without. Our legal foundations continue to be undermined in the name of multiculturalism, and we continue to shackle our economic systems in the misguided belief that doing so will help the poor and downtrodden. My friends, we live in interesting times.

Blog author: jspalink
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Supreme Court is hearing a case today brought by 12 states and a coalition of environmental groups that sued the Bush administration in 2003 for refusing to issue regulations limiting carbon emissions. “On a global scale, forced cutbacks in CO-2 emissions would create an unconscionable setback for developing countries where economic development is just beginning to pull people out of poverty,” writes Jay Richards.

Read the commentary here.

In the wake of the November elections, with politicians promising less partisan bickering, a perfect opportunity presents itself for real cooperation: educational choice. Kevin Schmiesing looks at the state initiatives that have already empowered “poor and middle class parents to send their children to schools that they believe will best serve their educational goals.”

Read the commentary here.

Blog author: kschmiesing
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It won’t be news to anyone that the pope is currently visiting Turkey. It is tempting to read too much into a single visit, which can only accomplish so much one way or another, but it is true that the implications and symbolism of the visit are manifold. One of John Paul’s great disappointments was a failure to improve relations with Orthodoxy—and Benedict is meeting with the ecumenical patriarch in what used to be Constantinople. Then there was Benedict’s Regensburg address—and now, in one of his earliest trips abroad, he visits Turkey, which is at once a testing ground for a secular government in an Islamic nation and a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. And the pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, is already on record expressing doubts about Turkey’s bid to enter the European Union.

Full coverage of the trip’s official meetings and addresses can be found at ZENIT.

More anecdotal coverage from on the ground comes via Jim Geraghty at NRO.

Find stories and commentary also at John’s Allen’s NCRcafe.