babygirlsIf you were asked to name the technologies whose proliferation inadvertently threatens the human race, what would you include? Landmines? Assault rifles? Nuclear warheads?

Add this one to your list: the sonogram machine.

The widespread use of sonogram technology—coupled with liberal abortion laws—has made it easier than ever for women to identify the sex of their child so that those without a Y chromosome can be killed before they’re even born.

The effects of this war on baby girls can be clearly seen in the changes in sex ratios at birth. As demographer Nicholas Eberstadt explains, there is a “slight but constant and almost unvarying excess of baby boys over baby girls born in any population.” The number of baby boys born for every hundred baby girls, which is so constant that it can “qualify as a rule of nature,” falls along an extremely narrow range along the order of 103, 104 or 105. On rare occasions it even hovers around 106.

These sex ratios vary slightly based on ethnicity. For example, rates in the U.S. in 1984 were as follows: White: 105.4; Black: 103.1; American Indian: 101.4; Chinese: 104.6; and Japanese 102.6. Such variations, however, remain small and fairly stable over time.

But Eberstadt finds that during the last generation, the sex ratio at birth in some parts of the world have become “completely unhinged.” Consider this graph he provides, showing the provinces in China in 2000:
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No doubt the Crusades have a long and complex history. Today, debate over exactly what the Crusades were about and why they were fought still continues.

Thankfully, you now have a simple picture to help fend off silly statements. You are welcome. (more…)

witherspoonIn the spring of 1776, John Witherspoon preached his first sermon on political matters, about a month before he was elected to the Continental Congress. The sermon, “The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men,” is a fascinating exploration of how God can work through human crises, and how even the “wrath of man” can lead us to glorify God in unexpected ways.

Surrounded by the conflict of the Revolution, Witherspoon calls on his countrymen to “return to duty,” neither letting blind rage get the best of them, nor retreating out of fear or for idols of security and “peace.” Yet while all this is directed specifically to the crisis of his time, I’m struck by how far his wisdom actually applies.

In today’s context, our conflicts vary, from economic woes to fights about religious liberty to racial tensions to terrorist threats to brazen abuses of power and authority within the halls of our own government. In each area, we can benefit from Witherspoon’s advice, learning to “hearken the rod” when times get tough, not only in terms of our own salvation, but for the sake and the cause of a free and virtuous society. (more…)

middle-east-conferenceIt’s time to stop talking about persecution of Christians in the Middle East and time to do something to stop the violence. That was the message of a recent conference on Christians in the Middle East held in Bari, Italy, and organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay movement.

Marco Impagliazzo, the president of Sant’Egidio, floated a different idea: the creation of an international police force capable of intervening in emergency situations when minority groups such as Christians are under assault.

As a model, Impagliazzo mentioned UNIFIL, a peacekeeping force under the Italian flag and the United Nations that is currently working in Lebanon.

Also at the Bari gathering, Gregory III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, called for “an ecumenical initiative of all Churches, able to work out a peace plan to bring to the common table of the great powers.”

Argentinian Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Eastern Church, said the indifference and inaction regarding the “true and real dismantling” of the centuries-old coexistence of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Middle East is “a scandal.”

Christians of the region “deserve our solidarity, our gratitude, and every possible support,” Sandri said.

Read more . . .

mum_baby_reading“One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.”

“Why are families a good thing exactly?”

“We should accept that lots of stuff that goes on in healthy families—and that our theory defends—will confer unfair advantage.”

One of my co-workers thought he was reading an article from the satirical website The Onion. Alas, that is not the case. No, these are quotes from philosopher Adam Swift, who believes we must acknowledge the “fact” that children growing up in an intact, mom-and-pop family have an “unfair advantage” to those children who don’t. Even worse, he thinks we should set things aright. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, May 7, 2015
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A conservative anti-poverty agenda: School choice
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week

If the system had been specifically designed to entrench class privilege and inequality, it could hardly have been put together much better than this.

The Nature of Poverty
David Brooks, New York Times

Lately it seems as though every few months there’s another urban riot and the nation turns its attention to urban poverty. And in the midst of every storm, there are people crying out that we should finally get serious about this issue.

Conservatives and Low-skilled Workers
Pete Spiliakos, First Things

Why should we be advocating policies that reduce the wages of our poorest workers (both the foreign- and native-born)?

Thai army finds six more bodies near suspected human trafficking camp
Surapan Boonthanom , Reuters

Authorities in Thailand have dug up the bodies of six suspected Rohingya migrants from Myanmar at a rubber plantation near a mountain where a mass grave was found at the weekend, the military said on Wednesday.

cartoon free speechThankfully, a bunch of attorneys did not write the founding documents of our nation. Otherwise, we’d be stuck with a Bill of Rights about 700 pages long, and a “we’ll have to pass it to find out what’s in there” attitude. Instead, we have simple things, like Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. That’s easy, isn’t it?

Not to everyone. As NRO’s Jonah Goldberg notes, some folks think that free speech has a whole bunch of clauses, sub-sets or rules that apply before you can actually say what’s on  your mind. He is particularly upset that there are a number of people who believe that it’s okay to say what’s on your mind, as long as it isn’t upsetting to, well, Muslims. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimage“Three recent events have made me reflect on a certain theme that should be of interest to religious-minded advocates of the free society,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary.

The three events were: 1) an interview I gave to an Italian online publication in response to a French professor who claims that capitalism is the root cause of gender theory and other cultural and social revolutions associated with liberalism; 2) a talk given by a German professor on “liberalism as an attitude” at the European Students for Liberty conference in Berlin last month; and 3) the controversy caused by the upcoming papal encyclical on human ecology.

Now, I realize that the term “liberal” can mean many things, but let’s assume that it describes those who, when considering political, social and economic questions, give greater priority to individual freedom than to other goods such as equality, tradition or order. Liberty need not be the only consideration, but it tends to be the dominant one. There are right-wing, moderate and left-wing liberals who disagree on different issues and may prefer another good in a particular instance but none of them question the good of liberty as such.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

chinamapMany Muslims believe the use of tobacco products is forbidden (haram) because “tobacco is unwholesome, and God says in the Qur’an that the Prophet, peace be upon him, ‘enjoins upon them that which is good and pure, and forbids them that which is unwholesome’.” Similarly, the Quran prohibits the use of intoxicants, such as alcohol, and considers such use to be sinful. For these reasons, many Muslim shopkeepers consider it against their religious beliefs to sell alcohol and cigarettes.

The refusal to engage in those vices does not sit well with the leaders in Xinjiang, a region of northwest China. The fact that some Muslims do not smoke is even considered “a form of religious extremism.” According to Adil Sulayman, a local party official in the region, “We have a campaign to weaken religion here and this is part of that campaign.”

As part of the campaign the Chinese authorities have issued an order in the Muslim Uyghur village that “all restaurants and supermarkets in our village should place five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes in their shops before [May 1, 2015].” In addition to directing owners to create “eye-catching displays” to promote the products, the April 29 announcement stated that “anybody who neglects this notice and fails to act will see their shops sealed off, their business suspended, and legal action pursued against them.”

“Our village is the key village—we have to implement the ‘Weaken Religion’ campaign effectively,” says Sulayman, “Religious sentiment is increasing and this is affecting stability.”
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Blog author: jsunde
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
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00979473.JPGI recently gave a hearty cheer for bringing back childhood chores, which are shockingly absent in a majority of today’s homes. The same appears to be the case with summer work for teenagers, which is increasingly avoided due to sports activities, cushy internships, video games, clubs and camps, and, in many cases, a lack of employment prospects altogether.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Dave Shiflett explores the implications of this development, recalling the “grit and glory of traditional summer work, which taught generations of teenagers important lessons about life, labor and even their place in the universe.”

Whether it was newspaper delivery, construction, factory work, fast food, or manual labor on the farm or the railroad, such jobs have introduced countless kids to responsibility, creativity, and service, helping connect the dots between God-given gifts and the broader social order. (more…)