Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Rhine Meadows "Death Camps" Hoax

Claims that the Allies ran a network of de facto death camps where up to a million German POWs died from deliberate maltreatment, including starvation, have been rampant on the internet for years. While it is true that the administration of the camps were not without serious problems, mostly beyond the control of Allies; the claims made by various revisionists and conspiracy theorists have been repeatedly investigated by both governements and reputable historians, and found to be false.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Birthrate decline in the West is accelerating

During the past year, living in the shadow of Covid, I have been completing a book on the big global trends in population. This forced me to ask – what effect will the pandemic have on birth rates? There are countless factors to consider.

On the one hand, with more time at home and fewer distractions, we might expect there to be a baby boom. On the other, with couples under each other’s feet from dawn to dusk, sexual attraction may be waning. Delayed weddings, a lack of dating opportunities and a shortage of contraception in the developing world will all be taking their toll in various ways, too.

Then there is the fear factor. With the pandemic raging, women don’t necessarily want to get into a situation in which they will end up in a hospital, where the chance of picking up an infection is high. We now know that a woman of child-bearing age is unlikely to get seriously ill from Covid, and the chance of her passing on any infection to a foetus is probably zero – but that was not clear at the start of the pandemic and might have had the effect of putting some couples off procreation. Economic uncertainty and job insecurity compound the fear.

Overall, in more developed countries like Britain, the data shows that the net impact of these various factors has been a sharp drop in birth rates. Surveys of couples during the early days of the pandemic suggested that many were abandoning plans to start or grow a family, both in the short term and permanently. Meanwhile, early data suggests that the number of children born in the US this year will fall by at least half a million. In continental Europe, the picture is worse: in France, it looks like births are down 13 per cent, in Italy and Spain, 20 per cent.

If this were just a short-term dip, the overall economic impact would be limited. But it isn’t short term. Before anyone had heard of Covid, births were depressed across the developed world. Fertility rates in North America and Japan have been below replacement level for decades, and sinking. Even the better performers among the rich countries – the US, the UK, France and Scandinavia – were already set for steady population decline, mitigated only by ever higher levels of immigration. And small family syndrome is catching. The end of the One Child Policy has done little or nothing to increase childbearing in China; an increasingly educated and urban population, focused on material advancement and now long accustomed to small family size, has no interest in taking up the increased rations in family size now permitted to them by the Communist Party.

Read the rest here.

Marine Insurance Firms Brace for a Wave of Claims

More than $3 billion of insurance is in place for liability claims against the owner of the grounded container ship Ever Given, officials with its insurance program said Friday.

It is unclear whether that will be enough to cover losses that are likely to be claimed by some of the more than 200 ships in the canal as of Friday, plus the owners of the cargo they are carrying, if the vessel continues to block the Suez Canal, industry executives said.

Cargo-delivery delays are where a lot of the economic damage would be expected if the critical waterway doesn’t soon open up again to traffic. Delayed shipments could result in manufacturers’ not receiving parts needed for assembly lines or retailers’ not getting spring merchandise in time to stock shelves. At the same time, shipowners who anticipated using their vessels for other cargo loads lose that opportunity as they sit in the canal.

Some ship and cargo owners could end up filing claims with both their own insurers and Ever Given’s insurer—and ultimately suing the container ship’s owner—to receive compensation.

A total of $3.1 billion of liability coverage is available to the ship’s owner, Japan-based Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., through a longstanding shipping-industry program that relies on 13 so-called Protection & Indemnity Clubs, said Nick Shaw, chief executive of the international association of those clubs, which are not-for-profit mutual insurers.

A spokesman for the Club in the U.K., to which Ever Given belongs, said by email, “P&I insurance would cover the shipowner’s legal liability to the cargo owners.”

Read the rest here.

Clearly nobody paid any attention to the bumper sticker on the ship's stern...

Friday, March 26, 2021

In Scotland- A whiff of scandal

“It’s very clear that Nicola Sturgeon is damaged goods and her days are numbered. She is by no means off the hook.”

The sort of verdict you might expect from a flag-waving Unionist at the end of a tempestuous week for the Scottish National Party. Except that those words were spoken by a former deputy leader of the SNP itself, even before Alex Salmond’s extraordinary return to politics yesterday.

The jubilation among the First Minister’s supporters after she survived two inquiries into her role in the Alex Salmond affair lasted all of three days before Mr Salmond pulled back the tarpaulin on his ultimate vengeance weapon, the Alba Party, which threatens to blow up the SNP’s chances of a Holyrood majority in the May 6 elections.

If the SNP – currently a minority government – achieves an overall majority, the party’s plans to force a second independence referendum will be rapidly accelerated.

There is a growing belief within the SNP, however, that the party will fall short of the mark, and that if “IndyRef2” does happen, it might not be with Ms Sturgeon at the helm.

The SNP’s poll rating peaked at 58 per cent last autumn, and stayed above 50 per cent for the whole of last year, putting the party on course for a majority, but that figure is now 46 per cent, according to a recent Opinium poll, suggesting the controversy has taken its toll.

The twin inquiries into the SNP’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations made against former leader Mr Salmond have exposed to public view the toxic civil war between the Sturgeonites and the Salmondites, like a manhole cover being lifted off a sewer. Mr Salmond now intends to go another round with Ms Sturgeon in a fresh court case that could reveal damaging details suppressed in the inquiries.

Then, at 2pm on Friday, came the unexpected announcement that Mr Salmond is to lead a new party into the elections. Its aim, he claims, is to achieve a “supermajority” for independence in the Scottish parliament, but its effect is more likely to be splitting the vote between the SNP and Alba (the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland).

Mr Salmond said on Friday that Alba was “planting our saltire on a hill” and that “in the next few weeks we shall see how many will rally to our standard”.

In truth, he is parking his tanks on Ms Sturgeon’s lawn, driving a wedge into the split that already exists in the SNP, and calling on its members, MPs and MSPs to defect to his side.

If he is elected to Holyrood, it will be the start of an all-out war between Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond for the leadership, and the future, of Scotland.

Jim Sillars, the former deputy leader of the SNP, said: “I was a long-term critic of Alex Salmond when he led the SNP, and he of me. I take back not a word, and I expect him to be the same.

“But Brexit, the pandemic, the failures of the SNP, the embarrassing stark lack of quality in its ranks in Holyrood, means we are in a new situation when old grievances need to be set aside. I welcome his return to frontline politics.”

He added: “People have seen a face of the Scottish government that is unacceptable. People are not stupid. They know the government has misbehaved and engaged in a gross misuse of power.

“This government is politically corrupt and the tentacles of political corruption have spread to institutions in civic society.”

One serving SNP MP admitted: “Nicola’s brand has been tarnished. I think this will have an impact at the polls because people have seen the in-fighting and the rage.”

Read the rest here.

Pope Francis rejects title of "co-redemptrix" for the Virgin Mary

Vatican City, Mar 24, 2021 / 05:00 am MT (CNA).- Pope Francis on Wednesday said that Jesus entrusted the Virgin Mary to us as a Mother, “not as co-redeemer.”

Speaking at his general audience on March 24, the pope said that while Christians had always given Mary beautiful titles, it was important to remember that Christ is the only redeemer.

He was addressing a theological debate about whether the Church should issue a dogmatic definition declaring Mary “Co-Redemptrix,” in honor of her role in humanity’s salvation.

“Jesus extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross,” the pope noted.

“From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle, as depicted in certain medieval frescoes or paintings. Even the first Latin antiphon -- sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: the Madonna who ‘covers,’ like a Mother, to whom Jesus entrusted us, all of us; but as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother.”

He continued: “It is true that Christian piety has always given her beautiful titles, as a child gives his or her mamma: how many beautiful things children say about their mamma whom they love so much! How many beautiful things.”

“But we need to be careful: the things the Church, the saints, say about her, beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole Redemption. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love like a child for his or her mamma -- some are exaggerated. But love, as we know, always makes us exaggerate things, but out of love.”

Read the rest here.

Thursday, March 25, 2021


A beautiful church temple with an interesting history.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Bill Maher on China

I am not the world's biggest fan of Bill Maher, but he hit this one out of the park. (I shouldn't have to say this, but for the benefit of anyone who doesn't know who Bill Maher is, yes; there is some salty language in here.)

Monday, March 22, 2021

On this date in 1638

Anne Hutchinson was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony as part of the resolution of the Antinomian Controversy

Thursday, March 18, 2021

A E PRITCHARD- Europe is a train-wreck and capital is fleeing

Ursula von der Leyen has invoked the nuclear option of the Lisbon Treaty. By threatening to activate emergency powers under Article 122 she has told the world that Europe is no longer a safe place for private capital or inward investment.

The clause allows Brussels to seize factories, take direct control over the production process and redirect vaccine flows. It enables war-time occupation of companies.

A regime that behaves like this is liable to impose capital controls without compunction, or block energy flows through the interconnectors, as has been threatened three times already (I keep count). And as we have seen, anything can be politicised, even random stochastic blood clots. Will global pharma ever build a plant again on EU territory after this episode?

“We want to see reciprocity and proportionality in exports,” said Mrs Von der Leyen. Delicious. The EU is currently refusing to reciprocate temporary UK waivers to smooth post-Brexit trade flows or to reciprocate on bare-bond equivalence in financial services.

If these daily antics from Brussels and Berlin continue, the eye-wateringly large capital outflows from the eurozone that have already been occurring may accelerate into something closer to outright capital flight.

HSBC says outflows reached half a trillion euros in the fourth quarter, an annualised pace of 20pc of GDP. It quickened to €250bn (£214bn) in the single month of December. The scale is breathtaking. It happened before the vaccine debacle condemned Europe to an extra quarter of economic recession and social despair.

“Relative to GDP, these outflows were the largest we have seen going back 20 years,” said Paul Mackel, HSBC's currency chief. Hedging contracts have prevented this setting off a disorderly slide in the euro but that does not change the fundamental picture.

You can interpret these outflows in many ways but one thing they are not is a vote of confidence in eurozone growth and recovery, or indeed the political management of the EU. The exodus is likely to gather pace this quarter as American reflation and the vast funding needs of the Biden treasury suck capital out of the global system.

But the accelerant is what the German vice-chancellor calls the vaccine “sh-- show”, made more destructive by the failure of every major EU state to heed the lesson from Britain and to let the B117 variant run rampant. The waning epidemic from the old variant and the rising epidemic from the new variant created an illusory stability in case numbers. Epidemiologists issued warnings. Politicians again refused to listen.

Read the rest here.

St. Tikhon's Monastery: The Great Canon of Repentance

Tech stocks fall as the bond rout continues

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday led by technology shares as a spike in bond yields fueled fears of equity valuations and caused investors to sell growth-focused high flyers.

The S&P 500 slid 0.4%, falling from a record closing high reached in the previous session. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.4% as Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook all fell at least 1%. Tesla slipped more than 3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 150 points higher, supported by bank shares.

The move came as the 10-year Treasury yield jumped 11 basis points to 1.75%, its highest level since January 2020. The 30-year rate also climbed 6 basis points and breached the 2.5% level for the first time since August 2019. Rising bond yields can have an outsized impact on growth stocks as they make their future returns less valuable today.

“Risk of rates rising too fast remains a key concern,” said Craig Johnson, technical market strategist at Piper Sandler. “Buying pressure has not been equal over the last several weeks as growth stocks lag behind due to headwinds from higher interest rates.”

Investors digested a mixed bag of economic data Thursday. Weekly initial jobless claims totaled 770,000 for the week ended March 13, worse than an estimate of 700,000, according to economist polled by Dow Jones.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

On the Eve of the Great Fast

This last year has been a brutal one on so many levels. I beg forgiveness for any offense I have given by act, word, or omission, and most especially for anything posted on this blog. 

No blogging before Clean Thursday.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Amazon Won’t Sell Books Framing LGBTQ+ Identities as Mental Illnesses

Amazon.com Inc. AMZN 1.83% said it recently removed a three-year-old book about transgender issues from its platforms because it decided not to sell books that frame transgender and other sexual identities as mental illnesses.

The company explained its decision in a letter Thursday to Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The senators had written last month to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos requesting an explanation of why “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” was no longer available on Amazon AMZN 1.83% nor on its Kindle and Audible platforms.

“As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Amazon said in the letter, which was signed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, referring to sexual identities that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, among others.

“When Harry Became Sally,” written by the conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson, was published in February 2018. The book focuses on a variety of issues including gender identity.

“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” said Mr. Anderson and Roger Kimball, the publisher of Encounter Books, the New York-based nonprofit that published the book, in a statement Thursday in response to Amazon’s letter.

“There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria,” they added, calling their book “an important contribution” to that conversation. “Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process,” they said.

Read the rest here.

Prayers please

In your charity please pray for the daughter of God Dianne, a close friend, whose son Bud just died following a long illness. She is Catholic, I am unsure if her son was religious. 

Pope admits charges of ‘heresy’ are ‘risk’ he’s willing to take to ‘move forward with other religions’

ABOARD PAPAL PLANE, March 10, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis said charges that he acts against “Catholic doctrine” and is even on the verge of committing “heresy” are a “risk” he’s willing to take to move forward on the path toward “human fraternity” with believers of other religions.

“This is important, human fraternity, that as men we are all brothers, and we must move forward with other religions,” said the Pope on March 8 while speaking to reporters on the plane returning from his trip to Iraq.

“The Second Vatican Council took a big step in this, and also the institutions after, the Council for Christian Unity and the Council for Interreligious Dialogue,” continued the Pope.

“Cardinal (Miguel) Ayuso accompanies us today. You are human, you are a child of God and you are my brother, period! This would be the greatest indication, and so many times you have to risk to take this step,” he said.

It was at this point that the Pope mentioned the risks he is willing to take.

“You know that there are some criticisms: that the pope is not courageous, he is a reckless person who is taking steps against Catholic doctrine, that he is one step away from heresy, there are risks. But these decisions are always made in prayer, in dialogue, in asking for advice, in reflection. They are not a whim and also are the line that the Council taught,” he said.

The Pope made these comments while responding to a question about his meeting two years ago in Abu Dhabi with Imam Al Tayyeb of Al Azhar where both Pope and Imam signed the controversial Declaration on Human Fraternity, sometimes referred to as the Abu Dhabi statement.

The document stated, among other things, that the “pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God.” At no point does the document mention the name of Jesus.

A number of prominent Catholic clergymen and scholars reacted by accusing Pope Francis of committing heresy. In an April 2019 open letter to the Pope, they charged him of backing the notion that “God not only permits, but positively wills, the pluralism and diversity of religions, both Christian and non-Christian.”

Read the rest here.

HT: Blog reader JL.

I am not opposed to conversations with the leaders of other faith groups. After all you can't convert someone you won't talk with. And if conversion is not on the table then a certain level of mutual respect and tolerance aimed at peaceful coexistence is desirable. But "dialogue," the favorite word of the left, should never be at the expense of religious indifferentism or a watering down of the Faith. 

Sunday, March 07, 2021

When we remember Zion

Remember William Sulzer?

Probably not, and it's OK. I never heard of the guy until I checked to see when, if ever, New York has impeached a governor before. As it happens "plain Bill" Sulzer has the dubious distinction of being the one and only New York Governor to be impeached and removed from office. 

In a nutshell he was a reform minded Democrat back when political machines ran both parties. He won the office in the 1912 election and promptly announced his support for bills to require open primaries that would determine the nominees for public office. The practice hitherto was that party bosses typically met over drinks and cigars to decide who their candidates would be. He also told Tammany Hall (the Democratic machine from downstate) where they could go when they sent him a list of party hacks they wanted given state jobs. Once the Democratic bosses figured out that Bill really meant the things he had promised in his campaign and that he was not in fact their boy, things got ugly. Suddenly, claims were made that he had lied under oath about some campaign finance money which it was said he actually used to buy stock for himself. And there were assertions he had been sued for "breach of promise" back in the 90s by some woman from Philadelphia among other salacious claims. Evidence supporting at least some of these claims appeared rather mysteriously with efforts to question or challenge said evidence being disallowed.

In short, historians largely agree that the whole thing was a frame up and the resulting impeachment and trial were a farce. The machine boys wanted him gone and they made it happen. He was governor for just over nine months. 

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Pope Francis to begin historic Iraq visit despite virus and security risks

Pope Francis will fly to Iraq on Friday for the first ever papal visit to the country and his first international trip since the start of the pandemic.

The four-day trip is meant to reassure Iraq's dwindling Christian community and foster inter-religious dialogue.

The Pope will meet Iraq's most revered Shia Muslim cleric, say a prayer in Mosul and celebrate Mass at a stadium.

He has insisted on travelling despite a new spike in Covid-19 infections in Iraq and concerns over his security.

Hours after a rocket attack on a base hosting US troops on Wednesday, the Pope said Iraqi Christians could not be "let down for a second time".

Pope John Paul II cancelled plans for a trip at the end of 1999 after talks with then-President Saddam Hussein's government broke down.

In the two decades since then, one of the world's oldest Christian communities has seen its numbers plummet from 1.4 million to about 250,000.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

100 years ago

Harding Is made President in Simple Ceremony; No League, Ample Tariff and Prosperity His Creed

  • Usual Pomp Absent From Ceremony
  • Wilson a Pathetic Figure as He Retires in An Atmosphere of Deep Sympathy
  • New Cabinet is Confirmed in Ten Minutes
  • 3 Generations of Coolidges See Calvin Sworn in as Vice President


Traveling in Europe in the 1930s

A series of home movies shot while traveling in Europe. The nature and sequence of the footage suggests it was likely shot over more than one trip and visual evidence strongly points to the second half of the 1930s as the approximate time frame. (appx 1 hr with AI clean up and coloring added)

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Miami's new plan for climate change and rising sea levels

It looks like a lot of crossed fingers and hoping for a best case scenario. I live in south Florida, on the other coast, about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Given my age, I doubt I will live long enough to see it. But I am more or less resigned that my home and a lot of this end of the state is going to be underwater by the 2050s. Most people are in serious denial about how much of the coastal US is in danger. 

Here's Miami's plan

Israeli Says Converts to Non-Orthodox Judaism Can Claim Citizenship

JERUSALEM — The question of who is and isn’t a Jew has always been a subject of debate within Israel. Since the state was founded, the government has largely deferred to Orthodox Jewish authorities, who do not view converts to more liberal forms of Judaism as Jewish.

But on Monday, the Israeli Supreme Court struck a symbolic blow for a more pluralistic vision of Jewish identity: It granted the right to automatic citizenship to foreigners who convert within the state of Israel to Conservative, also known as Masorti, or Reform Judaism.

The decision was mainly symbolic because typically, only 30 or 40 foreigners convert to Reform or Masorti Judaism in Israel every year, according to the Israel Religious Action Center, the rights group that led efforts to obtain the court ruling.

But the ruling chips away some of the monopoly Orthodox rabbis have held over questions of religious identity that are central to frictions within Israeli society. It also inflames a long-running debate about the relationship between Israel’s civil and religious authorities — and particularly the role of the Supreme Court.

The Israeli right has portrayed the court as a bastion of the country’s secular and liberal elite, acting without democratic legitimacy. And though the court delayed ruling in this case for years, hoping Parliament would vote on it instead, the court’s critics were already making political capital from the decision on Monday night.

The party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a regular antagonist of the Israeli courts who is on trial on corruption charges, swiftly cited the decision as a reason to vote for the party and “ensure a stable right-wing government that will restore sovereignty to the people.”

Israel’s “Law of Return” gives foreign-born Jews, or anyone with a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse, the automatic right to claim Israeli citizenship. Those who convert to non-Orthodox Judaism in another country have been able to gain Israeli citizenship for decades.

Read the rest here.