Monday, October 31, 2022

Seasonal entertainment

In case anyone is in the mood for a good chiller, I can reccomend this classic from 1977. The BBC adaptation starring the late Louis Jourdan is widely regarded as the most faithful to the original work by Bram Stoker.

Monday, October 24, 2022

UK: Most children who think they’re transgender are just going through a ‘phase’

Most children who believe that they are transgender are just going through a “phase”, the NHS has said, as it warns that doctors should not encourage them to change their names and pronouns.

NHS England has announced plans for tightening controls on the treatment of under 18s questioning their gender, including a ban on prescribing puberty blockers outside of strict clinical trials.

The services, which will replace the controversial Tavistock clinic, will be led by medical doctors rather than therapists and will consider the impact of other conditions such as autism and mental health issues.

The plans, which are currently under public consultation, are for an interim service for young people with gender dysphoria whilst Dr Hilary Cass continues her review into the treatment offered by the NHS.

They note that there is a need to change the services because there is currently “scarce and inconclusive evidence to support clinical decision-making”.

NHS England says that the interim Cass Report has advised that even social transition, such as changing a young person’s name and pronouns or the way that they dress, is not a “neutral act” that could have “significant effects” in terms of “psychological functioning”.

Parent groups and professionals have long raised concerns that NHS medics have taken an “affirmative” approach to treating children, including using their preferred names and pronouns.

The proposals say that the new clinical approach will for younger children “reflect evidence that in most cases gender incongruence does not persist into adolescence” and doctors should be mindful this might be a “transient phase”.

Instead of encouraging transition, medics should take “a watchful approach” to see how a young person’s conditions develop, the plans state.

Read the rest here. (paywalled)

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Rishi Sunak Likely to be the Next Prime Minister of the UK

It appears that he has all but locked it up and will be the fifth PM in the last six years (if you're keeping track). On which note; the Conservatives better get their act together. When people are making unfavorable comparisons between your party's track record of governance and Italy, that's not a great look. A general election must be called not later than two years from now. And according to current polls, if that election were being held in the here and now, the Tories would be in for a severe thumping. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Trump Signed Sworn Statement After Lawyers Warned It Was False

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the release of emails from John Eastman, a former Donald Trump attorney, to House investigators, saying the communications were made in furtherance of a crime related to Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” Judge David O. Carter wrote.

“The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States,” he added.

Carter, who sits on the federal district court in central California, already released many of Eastman’s emails from around January 2021 to the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack, but the two sides were still arguing over 562 additional documents from Eastman’s Chapman University email account.

For eight of the 500-plus Eastman documents the judge was examining, the judge said that the materials could be released because they fit in the so-called crime-fraud exception, which allows disclosure of otherwise privileged materials if the communications were related to or in furtherance of illegal or fraudulent conduct.

Four of the documents were from email threads discussing prospective election litigation. In them, Carter wrote, “Dr. Eastman and other attorneys suggest that – irrespective of the merits – the primary goal of filing is to delay or otherwise disrupt the January 6 vote.”

Carter’s new order cited one email where Trump’s attorneys state that “merely having this case pending in the Supreme Court, and not ruled on, may be enough to delay consideration of Georgia.”

“This email, read in context with other documents in this review, make clear that President Trump filed certain lawsuits not to obtain legal relief, but to disrupt or delay the January 6 congressional proceedings through the courts,” the ruling stated.

“The Court finds that these four documents are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of the obstruction crime,” it adds.

Read the rest here.
(I was going to link this news item at Fox News, but as of this posting Fox does not appear to be covering the story.)

Monday, October 17, 2022

Supreme Court Leaves Controversial "Insular Cases" Intact

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider whether American Samoans have full U.S. citizenship at birth, a dispute that would have given the justices the opportunity to repudiate past rulings suffused with racist language that helped determine that those in U.S. territories would not have the same rights as other Americans.

A group of American Samoans challenging the current law, in which people from the group of islands in the Pacific Ocean are considered U.S. “nationals” at birth but not citizens, say it is a vestige of racist policies toward territories. They say that the Justice Department, in defending the law, and an appeals court, in upholding it, relied upon the so-called “Insular Cases,” a series of long-criticized early 20th century Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case means the lower court ruling remains in place.

The challenge was brought by three American Samoans who live in Utah: John Fitisemanu, Pale Tuli, and Rosavita Tuli, as well as the Southern Utah Pacific Island Coalition, an advocacy group based in Utah.

“The subordinate, inferior non-citizen National status relegates American Samoans to second-class participation in the Republic," the challengers’ lawyers say in court papers. They note for example, that U.S. nationals cannot run for president or serve in Congress. If living in a state, they cannot vote and are barred from certain occupations.

U.S. nationals can live and work anywhere within the United States and can travel under a U.S. passport, although the challengers’ lawyers note that their passports include a statement saying “NOT A UNITED STATES CITIZEN,” which they say carries a stigma. U.S. nationals can apply for full U.S. citizenship via an expedited process.

American Samoa, with a population of around 50,000, is one of five U.S. territories, the others being Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Norther Mariana Islands. Puerto Rico, with about 3 million residents, is by the far the largest by population.

American Samoa is the only territory to which Congress has not extended birthright citizenship. No residents of territories can vote in presidential elections or elect voting members to Congress.

The Insular Cases were a series of rulings issued in the 1900s soon after the United States had acquired Puerto Rico and other territories in which the court said people in those jurisdictions did not have all the same constitutional rights as those living in the mainland.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

"It was as if time stood still."

(CNN) — For years, several vintage Orient Express train carriages lay, forgotten, at a small railway station on the border between Poland and Belarus called Malaszwewicze.

One day in 2015, French railway fan Arthur Mettetal spotted the distinctive blue carriages in a YouTube video, kickstarting a journey across Europe to track down the lost trains.

Hospitality group Accor purchased the rediscovered carriages and enlisted Parisian architect Maxime d'Angeac to meticulously restore them, ready for operation on a Paris to Istanbul rail route that's set to operate from 2025.

The first glimpse of the renovated interiors suggest a glamorous travel experience combining Art Deco glamor with modern luxury.

Read the rest here with images

Sunday, October 09, 2022

Orwellian Synodality

Been a while since I've posted anything touching on Rome. The main reason being that the news from that quarter is almost invariably depressing. That said, I think this is worth a read. 

HT: Fr. Z

Industrial-scale destruction of Ukrainian culture

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The exquisite golden tiara, inlaid with precious stones by master craftsmen some 1,500 years ago, was one of the world’s most valuable artifacts from the blood-letting rule of Attila the Hun, who rampaged with horseback warriors deep into Europe in the 5th century.

The Hun diadem is now vanished from the museum in Ukraine that housed it — perhaps, historians fear, forever. Russian troops carted away the priceless crown and a hoard of other treasures after capturing the Ukrainian city of Melitopol in February, museum authorities say.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, now in its eighth month, is being accompanied by the destruction and pillaging of historical sites and treasures on an industrial scale, Ukrainian authorities say.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ukraine’s culture minister alleged that Russian soldiers helped themselves to artifacts in almost 40 Ukrainian museums. The looting and destruction of cultural sites has caused losses estimated in the hundreds of millions of euros (dollars), the minister, Oleksandr Tkachenko, added.

“The attitude of Russians toward Ukrainian culture heritage is a war crime,” he said.

For the moment, Ukraine’s government and its Western backers supplying weapons are mostly focused on defeating Russia on the battlefield. But if and when peace returns, the preservation of Ukrainian collections of art, history and culture also will be vital, so survivors of the war can begin the next fight: rebuilding their lives.

“These are museums, historical buildings, churches. Everything that was built and created by generations of Ukrainians,” Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, said in September when she visited a Ukrainian museum in New York. “This is a war against our identity.”

Workers at the Museum of Local History in Melitopol first tried hiding the Hun diadem and hundreds of other treasures when Russian troops stormed the southern city. But after weeks of repeated searches, Russian soldiers finally discovered the building’s secret basement where staff had squirrelled away the museum’s most precious objects — including the Hun diadem, according to a museum worker.

The worker, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, fearing Russian punishment for even discussing the events, said the Ukrainians don’t know where Russian troops took the haul, which included the tiara and some 1,700 other artifacts.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 08, 2022

Charles plans drastically slimmed down coronation

For those hoping for a long day of pomp and pageantry, you are likely to be greatly disappointed.

  • The service is to be slimmed down from four hours to roughly one.
  • The guest list is being reduced from around 8000 to 2000.
  • Numerous ancient rituals are being given the axe.
  • The dress code is to be greatly relaxed. Gone are the elaborate ermine coronation robes, full court dress with knee britches and knickers for men and tiaras for the ladies. It's not going to be jeans and T shirts. But lounge suits are expected to be the order of the day.
  • No specially commissioned furniture for the affair. Simple chairs and benches will do.
  • Less Anglican ritual and a more ecumenical and culturally diverse service is in the planning.
  • The language of the ceremony is being radically updated into modern English in order to be more accessible to the people. Why does that sound painfully familiar?
Some of the core parts of the ceremony are being preserved. 
  • The King will still be anointed and receive the symbols of the throne, i.e., orb and sceptre and Charles will still be crowned along with the Queen Consort.
  • Charles will still vow to serve as defender of the faith (not faiths as has been rumored).
  • The gold state coach commissioned for the coronation of George II will be brought out for the occasion. 
All in all, if these reports are proven true, I will be deeply disappointed. 

Final Update

Neighbors reported that power came back on late this afternoon. Lots of debris and long lines. But the clean-up is progressing. I am visiting family for a few weeks and won't be returning to Florida before November, circumstances depending.