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    Haiyan, climate change, death toll and the bleating of deniers

    December 1st, 2013

    Yesterday, November 30, the official death count from typhoon Haiyan passed 5,600, with more than 1,700 people still missing. Yet growing louder we hear the voice of those claiming that climate change poses no risk—sounding as credible as the bleating of an earlier generation of deniers who kept repeating that smoking tobacco was harmless.

    How many more tens of thousands of people must die before we learn the lessons of Haiyan?

    How many millions more left homeless before we learn that we must cut back on burning coal, oil and natural gas, as fast as possible?

    Haiyan is tragic confirmation that climate change is hurting now, not at some time in the distant future. And it’s getting worse. Weather disasters— storms, floods, droughts, heat waves and Read the rest of this entry »

    Busy Bugger Billy Bishop and the air aces who shot down the Red Baron

    July 26th, 2013

    “You have been a busy bugger, haven’t you?” King George V, on awarding the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military award, to Billy (William Avery) Bishop (1894-1956), Canadian First World War flying ace, July 1917.

    Bishop is officially credited with destroying 72 German aircraft, exceeded among allied pilots in the First World War only by French aviator Rene Fonck, who shot down 75.

    Not all Bishop’s victories were witnessed, Read the rest of this entry »

    Chinese idiots and the fight for democracy

    May 3rd, 2012

    Beatings, torture and repeated jail terms did nothing to dissuade Chinese activist Wei Jingsheng (1950- ) from his staunch advocacy of democracy and scathing attacks on Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, calling him an “idiot,” in letters written from his prison cell. Read the rest of this entry »

    Single parents, falling fertility: a global threat?

    March 16th, 2012

    If the 1960’s pattern of nuclear families—married couples with children—prevailed as extensively in 2012, in the United States there would now, each year, be:

    •750,000 fewer children repeating grades;
    •1.2 million fewer school suspensions;
    •500,000 fewer acts of teenage delinquency;
    •600,000 fewer kids receiving therapy; and
    •70,000 fewer suicide attempts.

    Nor are the claimed ill effects of the decline of two-parent families limited to the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

    The gift of an egg

    March 14th, 2012

    “You must have a vision, to believe in something. You must also have perseverance. There were times when my better sense wondered whether I should be continuing Read the rest of this entry »

    The peasant girl who rallied a demoralized France

    February 24th, 2012

    Faith in the sacred voices she heard enabled an illiterate, peasant teenager, Joan of Arc, to rally a demoralized France and successfully lead its armies into battle against Read the rest of this entry »

    The $8 billion car

    February 16th, 2012

    Television and film actor Don Johnson — who starred in the 1970s TV series “Miami Vice” — had just crossed the border from Switzerland into Germany in his black Mercedes, headed for the Maybach car factory of Daimler Chrysler near Stuttgart, when he was stopped by German customs officials. Read the rest of this entry »

    How to save a drowning nation

    February 14th, 2012

    Tuvalu is expected to be the first nation to disappear under the Pacific Ocean, because of rising ocean levels caused by global warming. The prime minister doesn’t seem too concerned. He has a plan. Read the rest of this entry »