domingo, 29 de enero de 2017

Under the U.S.Constitution, a populist “moment” is not sufficient to win the long game.

Populism, V: A bulwark against tyranny

On the structural safegaurds of the U.S. Constitution

by James Piereson

In a pre-election issue of The New Yorker, the editors placed a cartoon on the cover of the magazine depicting George Washington and Abraham Lincoln looking in horror at a television screen showing Donald Trump delivering one of his campaign speeches. The message was clear enough: Mr. Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, if they could be with us today, would be appalled at the spectacle of the billionaire mogul running for president as the authentic voice of the people. Many commentators on the left and right, and in between, joined in agreement to say that the Founders designed the Constitution precisely to prevent populist demagogues from getting anywhere near the presidency. There was considerable confusion in these circles as to whether they judged Mr. Trump to be an authentic populist or just another standard-brand candidate claiming to speak for the people—or, indeed, if they were saying nothing more than that a successful candidate who disagrees with them must be by definition a demagogue. Nevertheless, now that Mr. Trump has won the election, they are singing a slightly different tune, now relying upon the checks and balances in the Constitution to keep him from carrying out some of the policies he called for during his campaign.

It is heartening to hear these appeals to the Founding Fathers from liberals and leftists who typically scorn the Constitution as an out-of-date relic from the eighteenth century that does far too much to protect minorities and not enough to empower majorities. This is the refrain that we have been hearing for close to a century since Progressives like Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt launched the modern critique of the Constitution. The separation of powers promotes gridlock and governmental ineffectiveness; the equal representation of the states in the Senate gives too much power to small states at the expense of the large ones; federalism is a tool that permits states to resist national majorities; the Supreme Court has more power than it should have in a popular system; the Constitution is far too difficult to amend and far too complex for the average citizen to understand. These critics, and there are many of them, prefer a framework of government that is less complex and more democratic or majoritarian than the one the Founders left us with, perhaps something resembling the parliamentary system in Great Britain or the initiative and referendum system for making policy used in California and in a few other states. In those systems, electoral majorities are able quickly to translate their victories into public policy without much regard for the opinions of the minority, which is the standard the critics use to measure “democracy” and “majority rule.”

Many find these arguments against the Constitution persuasive from an intellectual point of view—at least until they find themselves on the losing side of an election or two, at which point the indirect and complicated character of the Constitution looks like a political lifeboat that is conveniently available to save them from being overwhelmed by the majority. This seems to be where we are today with those in the national press or others close to the centers of power in Washington who never imagined that Mr. Trump could be elected President, much less carry his party into majorities in the House and Senate. Many who yesterday saw the Constitution as an impediment to their desires are relieved today to find that it also acts as a reciprocal impediment for their adversaries. Their credo, to paraphrase Mr. Dooley, might be summarized as, “Throw out the Constitution—on the other hand, not so fast!”

The framers of the Constitution did not use the term “populism,” but they were aware of the phenomenon it describes—that is, an uprising by the voters against what they judge to be a corrupt or out-of-touch elite. James Madison, for example, referred to something roughly similar in his extensive discussions in the Federalist of factions and “factious majorities.” To a considerable degree, the challenges posed by “populism” were front and center in the debates that eventually produced the Constitution. For better or worse, the framework Madison was instrumental in creating does not easily allow for the kind of popular referendum through which a majority of voters in Great Britain decided to pull that country out of the European Union, or the more recent referendum in Italy through which voters turned down a package of constitutional reforms. In this sense, theU.S. Constitution operates as an impediment to populism because it substitutes representation and deliberation for national referenda and direct democracy.


Just because something is nonsense, of course, does not mean that people fail to believe it

Medical correctness

On the creep of P.C. culture into medical scholarship.

by Anthony Daniels

Beware of false prophets,
which come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
—Matthew 7:14

In Russia in 1839, Custine wrote that Tsar Nicholas I was both eagle and insect: eagle because he soared over society surveying it with a sharp raptor’s eye from above, and insect because he bored himself into every tiny crack and crevice of society from below. Nothing was either too large or too small for his attention; and sometimes one feels that political correctness is rather like that. For the politically correct, nothing is too large or too small to escape their puritanical attention. As a consequence, we suspect that we are living an authoritarian prelude to a totalitarian future.

Whether medical journals be large or small depends, of course, on the importance that you attach to them. As a doctor I am inclined to accord them more importance than the average citizen might; but what is indisputable is that they are not immune from political correctness, quite the reverse. Reading them, one has the impression of being buttonholed by a terrific bore at a cocktail party, who won’t let you go unless you agree with his assessment of the situation in Somalia.
Political correctness came comparatively late to medical journals.
At first sight, medicine might appear an unpromising subject for political correctness. You are ill, you go to the doctor, he tries to cure you, whoever you might be: what could be more straightforward than that? But in fact medicine is a field ripe for political correctness’s harvester. The arrangement by which health care is delivered is eminently a subject of politics; moreover we live in the golden age of epidemiology, in which the distribution of health and disease is studied more closely even than the distribution of income. Inequalities are usually presented as inequities (they have to be selected carefully, however: I have never seen the superior life expectancy of women, sometimes considerable and present almost everywhere, described as an inequity, even though the right to life is supposedly the most basic of all in the modern catechism of human rights). The decent man abominates unfairness or injustice: therefore the man who abominates unfairness or injustice is decent.

Political correctness—linguistic and semantic reform as the first step to world domination—came comparatively late to medical journals. This is because, where intellectual fashions are concerned, doctors are usually in the rear, rather than the vanguard. Their patients plant their feet on the ground for them, whether they want them planted there or not; for there is nothing quite like contact with a cross-section of humanity for destroying utopian illusions. Of course, there have been politically radical doctors—many of the informants of theBlue Books praised by Marx for the honesty of their exposure of truly appalling conditions were doctors—but their radicalism has been generally of the practical variety in response to the very real and present miseries that they encountered in their work. Their reformism was neither utopian nor a manifestation of the search for transcendent purpose in a post-religious world.

Medical journals have thus gone over to political correctness—admittedly with the zeal of the late convert—comparatively recently. Such correctness, however, is now deeply entrenched. WithThe New England Journal of Medicine for July 16, 2016 in hand, I compared it with the first edition I came across in a pile of old editions in my slightly disordered study: that for September 13, 2007, as it happened, which is not a historical epoch ago. What started as mild has become strident and absurd.

The first article in the earlier NEJM concerned the insufficient use of typhoid vaccination in those parts of the world in which the disease is still prevalent. It was titled “Putting Typhoid Vaccination on the Global Health Agenda.” “The Global Health Agenda”: the very phrase is a masterpiece of suggestio falsi and suppressio veri, which one suspects immediately (and correctly) of having a vast hinterland of saccharine, politically correct, and potentially dictatorial sentiment. In an article titled “Global Health Agenda for the Twenty-First Century,” we find:
Health in its own right is of fundamental importance and, like education, is among the basic capabilities that give value to human life (Sen & Sen 1999). It is an intrinsic right as well as a central input to poverty reduction and socioeconomic development. Health-related human rights are core values within the United Nations and WHO, and are endorsed in numerous international and regional human rights instruments. They are intimately related to and dependent on the provision and realization of other social and economic human rights such as those of food, housing, work and education.
Apart from being execrably written, this is, where it can actually be understood, the most patent nonsense. My rights are not infringed because I fall ill; I have, for example, no right to an unenlarged prostate though I would much prefer to have one; and there can be no right to immortality as there is to freedom from arbitrary arrest.

Just because something is nonsense, of course, does not mean that people fail to believe it, and the notion that health care is a human right is now all but unassailable, and unassailed, in our medical journals (which see every sectional interest but their own). I used to ask medical students whether they could find any good reason for providing medical attention to people other than that they had a right to it: and on the whole they could not, so thoroughly had the notion of rights entered their mind and destroyed their moral imaginations.


In comparison with the pop music of today, The Beatles almost do seem like Monteverdi. Almost.

An update on the culture wars

by Roger Kimball

Moral virtue is the quality of acting in the best way in relation to pleasures and pains, and vice is the opposite.
—Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

We have witnessed what amounts to a cultural revolution, comparable to the one in China if not worse, and whereas the Chinese have to some extent overcome their cultural revolution, I see many signs that ours is getting worse all the time… . I do not know what the future will bring, and my expectations are rather grim not only for our education and scholarship, but also for our economic, legal, and political future.
—Paul Oskar Kristeller,“A Life of Learning” (1991)

A year or two ago, The New York Times reported in its science pages on the unhappy fate of one Phineas P. Gage, a foreman for the New England Railroad. In 1848, Gage was helping to lay track across Vermont. His job involved drilling holes in large rocks, into which he would pour blasting powder and lay down a fuse. He would then cover the explosives with sand, tamping it down with a long metal rod. One day, he inadvertently triggered an explosion. The metal rod went hurtling through his skull, entering just under his left eye and landing some yards away. Amazingly, Gage survived the assault. He was stunned but able to walk away. And although he lost an eye, he seemed otherwise to recover. It soon became clear, however, that Gage was a diminished man. His intellectual powers were apparently intact; but what the writer for the Times called his “moral center” had been destroyed. Phineas Gage had become a moral cripple, utterly unable to make ethical decisions.

Pondering the state of American cultural life today, I have often had occasion to recall the sad story of Phineas Gage. Like him, our culture seems to have suffered some ghastly accident that has left it afloat but rudderless, its “moral center” a shambles. The cause of this disaster was not an explosion of gunpowder, but the more protracted and spiritually convulsive detonation of what the eminent philosopher Paul Oskar Kristeller has rightly called America’s “cultural revolution.” As anyone familiar with the culture wars now raging throughout American society knows—and who can have entirely escaped the spectacle?—it is a revolution whose effects are still very much with us. In his reflections on the life of learning, Professor Kristeller was concerned primarily with the degradation of intellectual standards that this cultural revolution brought in its wake. “One sign of our situation,” he noted, “is the low level of our public and even of our academic discussion. The frequent disregard for facts or evidence, or rational discourse and arguments, and even of consistency, is appalling.” Who can disagree?
The frequent disregard for facts or evidence, or rational discourse and arguments, and even of consistency, is appalling.
As Professor Kristeller suggests, however, the intellectual wreckage visited upon our educational institutions and traditions of scholarship is only part of the story. There are also social, political, and moral dimensions to America’s cultural revolution—or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the spiritual deformations we have witnessed are global, and affect everything.

The movement for sexual “liberation” (not to say outright debauchery) occupies a prominent place in the etiology of this revolution, as does the mainstreaming of the drug culture and its attendant pathologies. Indeed, the two are related. Both are expressions of the narcissistic hedonism that was an important ingredient of the counterculture from its earliest beginnings in the 1950s. The salon Marxist Herbert Marcuse was not joking when, inEros and Civilization (1955)—one of many inspirational tracts for the movement—he extolled the salvific properties of “primary narcissism” as an effective protest against the “repressive order of procreative sexuality.” “The images of Orpheus and Narcissus reconcile Eros and Thanatos,” Marcuse wrote. “They recall the experience of a world that is not to be mastered and controlled but to be liberated: … the redemption of pleasure, the halt of time, the absorption of death; silence, sleep, night, paradise—the Nirvana principle not as death but as life.” The succeeding decades showed beyond cavil that the infantilizing pursuit of sexual perversity that Marcuse advocated was really a form of death-in-life, not “liberation.” But of course this was something that neither this guru of liberation nor his many followers ever acknowledged or perhaps even recognized.

One of the most conspicuous, and conspicuously jejune, features of the culture wars has been the union of such hedonism with a species of radical (or radical chic) politics. This union fostered a situation in which, as the famous slogan put it, “the personal is the political.” The politics in question were seldom more than a congeries of radical clichés, serious only in that they helped to disrupt society and blight a good many lives. In that sense, to be sure, they proved to be very serious indeed. Apocalyptic rhetoric notwithstanding, the behavior of these “revolutionaries” consistently exhibited that most common of bourgeois passions, anti-bourgeois animus —expressed, as always, safely within the swaddling clothes of bourgeois security. As Allan Bloom remarked in The Closing of the American Mind, the cultural revolution proved to be so successful on college campuses partly because of “the bourgeois’ need to feel that he is not bourgeois, to have dangerous experiments with the unlimited… . Anti-bourgeois ire is the opiate of the Last Man.” It almost goes without saying that, like all narcotics, the opiate of anti-bourgeois ire was both addictive and debilitating.
...the opiate of anti-bourgeois ire was both addictive and debilitating.
The effect of these developments on cultural life has been incalculable. One of the most far-reaching and destructive effects has been the simultaneous glorification and degradation of popular culture. Even as the most ephemeral and intellectually vacuous products of pop culture—rock videos, comic books, television sit-coms—are enlisted as fit subjects for the college curriculum, so, too, has the character of popular culture itself become ever more vulgar, vicious, and degrading. A watershed moment came with the apotheosis of The Beatles in the mid-1960s. The literary critic Richard Poirier wasn’t the only academic to make a fool of himself slobbering over the Fab Four; but his observation that “sometimes they are like Monteverdi and sometimes their songs are even better than Schumann’s” in the Partisan Review in 1967 did establish a standard of fatuity that has rarely been bettered. Unfortunately, the more popular culture has been raised up— the more vigorously it has been championed by the cultural elite—the lower popular culture has sunk. In comparison with the pop music of today, The Beatles almost do seem like Monteverdi. Almost. At the same time, though—and this is one of the most insidious effects of the whole process—the integrity of high culture itself has been severely compromised by the mindless elevation of pop culture. The academic enfranchisement of popular culture has meant not only that trash has been mistaken as great art, but also that great art has been treated as if it were trash. When Allen Ginsberg (for example) is taught beside Shakespeare as a “great poet,” the very idea of greatness is rendered unintelligible and high art ceases to function as an ideal.


En Venezuela hay ya cerca de 30.000 asesinatos al año ...

Monseñor Ubaldo Santana: «En Venezuela hay ya un baño de sangre»


En una reciente entrevista publicada por AlfayOmega, el arzobispo de Maracaibo, Monseñor Ubaldo Santana, ha denunciado la grave situación que vive Venezuela con la situación de alimentos, medicinas, y violencia de los grupos armados.

(InfoCatólica) En una reciente entrevista publicada porAlfayOmega, el arzobispo de Maracaibo, Monseñor Ubaldo Santana, ha denunciado la grave situación que vive Venezuela, en un contexto en el que en las últimas semanas los obispos venezolanos han endurecido las críticas al Gobierno.

«No hay derecho a que nuestra gente tenga que sufrir tanto», había dicho ya el arzobispo de Maracaibo con lágrimas en los ojos, a un emocionado auditorio en una charla organizada la semana pasada por la iniciativa jesuita EntreParéntesis y la cátedra de América Latina de la Universidad Pontificia de Comillas.

A la mañana siguiente, en una entrevista con AlfayOmega durante su visita a la Conferencia Episcopal Española, expresó supreocupación por «la desnutrición infantil» y la falta de medicinas, «sobre todo las que se necesitan para los tratamientos más costosos, como el cáncer o la diabetes». Otro problema serio es, para él «la polarización política» en Venezuela, que dificulta una salida a la crisis. Todo ello –recuerda– acaban de denunciarlo los obispos venezolanos en su recién aprobada exhortación pastoral Jesucristo: luz y camino para Venezuela.

Relación con el gobierno

Respecto a la relación de los obispos venezolanos con el gobierno, Monseñor las califica como «difícil». Señala el incremento de robos y asaltos a las parroquias con una forma de actuar que «estuviera como articulada o concertada». Agrega que esto «todavía es inicial, y no sabemos si va a aumentar en el futuro, pero indudablemente no han mejorado las relaciones entre la Iglesia y algunos estamentos del Gobierno nacional».

Grupos armados en todo el país

Respecto a la pregunta de la existencia de grupos armados ha afirmado que los hay «en todo el país», pero en Maracaibo tienen adicionalmente el problema de «grupos de delincuentes y pandilleros que parecieran gozar de cierta impunidad». Denuncia que la situación de hacinamiento en las cárceles ha hecho que las autoridades algunas veces opten por «la liberación masiva de presos para descongestionarlas». A esto se suman «grupos de extorsión» de los que muchos están « encubiertos por organismos de la seguridad, y no pocas veces reforzados por efectivos de algunos de esos grupos» y los «grupos armados irregulares en la frontera, procedentes de Colombia».

Respecto a los paramilitares observa que «guerrilleros, del ELN y de algunas facciones de las FARC, siguen todavía operando. No todas las FARC se han desmovilizado».

Baño de sangre

Aunque ha agregado que en estos momentos «hablar de una guerra civil sería en términos muy asimétricos», «eso no significa que no pueda existir un baño de sangre. De hecho, podemos decir que en Venezuela hay ya un baño de sangre de considerables proporciones. Hablamos de cerca de 30.000 asesinatos al año».

Puede leer la entrevista completa en el siguiente enlace:

Entrevista con Monseñor Ubaldo Santana – AlfayOmega

La concentración provida de este viernes en Washington desbordó todas las previsiones.


Fuente: (link vídeo)

La concentración provida de este viernes en Washington desbordó todas las previsiones. Esta filmación a intervalos permite ver en un minuto y medio la riada humana que discurrió desde el National Mall hasta la sede del Tribunal Supremo.

The Order of Malta: what is falling is not only the head of Grand Master Festing

After the Grand Master, Another Head Is About To Fall: That of Cardinal Burke


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Decapitated by the pope of its Grand Master, the Englishman Matthew Festing, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta not only has ratified his forced resignation on Saturday, January 28, but it has turned back the hands of time to the fateful 6th of December, 2016, reinstating in the role of Grand Chancellor the very man who on that day had been removed from it and suspended from the Order, the German Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.

What reversed the fortunes within the Order, to the point of driving it to this act of total submission to the bidding of Pope Francis, were three acts carried out in rapid succession by the pontiff himself: the summoning of the Grand Master on January 24 with the order given to him to resign; the letter on the following day from secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin with the specification of the pope’s wishes; and finally two letters on January 27 from the pope himself, with a further specification of the role to be performed by the “pontifical delegate” whose arrival has been announced: “for the spiritual renewal of the Order.”

And it is this last element that is the most newsworthy in the statementreleased this evening by the Order. As Settimo Cielo had correctly reported, Pope Francis has in effect granted the Order the faculty of proceeding according to its constitutions concerning its interim regency - now assumed by the Grand Commander of the Order, Fra' Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein - and the appointment of the new Grand Master. So the “pontifical delegate” will neither replace nor overlap the legitimate governance of the Order, as many had hoped or feared. Instead he will accompany it with the task of “spiritual” guide. A task, that is, very similar to the one that already belongs by statute to the cardinal patron.

The decapitation inflicted by Pope Francis on the Order of Malta is therefore twofold. Because what is falling is not only the head of Grand Master Festing, but also, de facto, that of cardinal patron Raymond Leo Burke. Meaning the ones who had brought about the removal of Boeselager in the certainty that they were thereby putting into practice the mandate entrusted to them by the pope, in a December 1 letter to Burke: to “promote the spiritual interests of the order and remove any affiliation with groups or practices that run contrary to the moral law.”

That removal, instead, set in motion an unprecedented clash within the Order of Malta and between the Order and the Holy See, the narrative of which was discernible in the combative statements released by the Order until a few days ago.

Today there is no more trace of those statements. They have all been removed from the official website of the Order.

But it is difficult to believe that the tumult can be neutralized simply by the act of submission to the pope carried out by the new regency of the Order on Saturday, January 28.


The most detailed and documented reconstruction of the affair can be found in these three articles by Edward Pentin for the National Catholic Register:

January 7, 2017

Order of Malta: expressing gratitude to Pope Francis & Card. Parolin “for their interest in & care for the Order”

Order of Malta thanks Pope for his “determination to strengthen its sovereignty”

by Catholicism Pure & Simple

By Deacon Nick Donnelly,

The Sovereign Order of Malta has released a press statement announcing the resignation of Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, and expressing gratitude to Pope Francis & Card. Parolin “for their interest in & care for the Order”. The press statement goes on to express appreciation for Pope Francis’ decisions which it characterises as coming from the Holy Father’s “determination to strengthen its sovereignty”:

“The Sovereign Order of Malta is most grateful to Pope Francis and the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for their interest in and care for the Order. The Order appreciates that the Holy Father’s decisions were all carefully taken with regard to and respect for the Order, with a determination to strengthen its sovereignty.”

The statement was released following the meeting of The Sovereign Council, the government of the Sovereign Order of Malta, in Rome.

Though Pope Francis requested and received the resignation of Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing last Tuesday, the press statement makes no reference to this unprecedented action on the part of a pope, but instead states “the Pope has been notified of the resignation of Fra’ Matthew Festing.”

On the 25th January 2017, the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin issued a letter declaring Pope Francis’ unilateral decision that that all actions taken by Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing and the Sovereign Council after December 6, 2016, to be null and void.

The Sovereign Council of the Sovereign Order of Malta’s press statement makes no reference to Pope Francis’ unilateral declaration but instead states that the Sovereign Council decided to annul the decrees issued by Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing and the Sovereign Council:

Subsequently, the Sovereign Council presided over by the Lieutenant ad interim annulled the decrees establishing the disciplinary procedures against Albrecht Boeselager and the suspension of his membership in the Order. Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor immediately.


The Sovereign Order of Malta’s statement of appreciation for Pope Francis’s “determination to strengthen its sovereignty” is in marked contrast to previous statements issued during the crisis between the Order and the Holy See. In December 2016 the Grand Magistry of the Sovereign Order of Malta issued a statement making it clear that the Holy See did not have the authority to appoint a commission to investigate the replacement of the former Grand Chancellor. The Grand Magistry clearly saw the Holy See’s actions as an infringement on its long established sovereignty:

“The replacement of the former Grand Chancellor is an act of internal governmental administration of the Sovereign Order of Malta and consequently falls solely within its competence.”

On the 10th January 2017 the Order of Malta issued another statement protesting the Holy See’s investigation into its internal decisions:

“Thus, considering the legal irrelevance of this group and of its findings relating to the legal structure of the Order of Malta, the Order has decided that it should not cooperate with it.”

Both of these statements appear to have been removed from The Sovereign Order of Malta’s website, the statement for the 23rd December 2016 and the statement for the 10th January 2017

More on this from Father Z

and from OnePeterFive

Les contours d'un paysage mental tout à fait inédit, dans lequel la Bible et la science semblent maintenant pouvoir partager les mêmes paradigmes

Vers la fin du rationalisme ?

Alain Monestier vient de publier un ouvrage original, intitulé L'athéisme va-t-il mourir? ou l'évidence indécise. Si la science ne prouvera jamais l'existence de Dieu, de surprenantes découvertes ont progressivement ébranlé le credo déterministe et la vision mécaniste de la physique classique, et elles ne manqueront pas d'affecter en profondeur les modalités de pensée de l'homme "postmoderne". Tôt ou tard une évolution se produira dans son esprit qui pourrait bien lui faire redécouvrir la Torah et l'Evangile et le réconcilier avec la religion.

Alain Monestier convoque ces théories nouvelles et procède à des rapprochements inattendus, interroge quelques-uns des récits comme "la ruine de Babel" ou "l'entretien de Jésus avec Nicodème". Il indique ainsi que le rationalisme hérité de René Descartes empêche notre intelligence de se déployer et il montre que les dernières découvertes scientifiques viennent mettre à mal ce cartésianisme, qui est la source intellectuelle du monde moderne. Il laisse ainsi entrevoir l'avènement d'une nouvelle façon de penser, qui renouerait avec le symbole et le mythe, et surtout avec cette "pensée féconde" dont le judaïsme a su préserver les précieux secrets.
"La Bible ne connaît pas cette relation binaire de l'esprit et du corps qui nous a été légué par Descartes et qui a l'inconvénient d'obérer le sens spirituel en ne distinguant pas l'âme d'avec l'esprit (et donc d'avec le psychisme). [...]
Or si l'on peut définir le cartésianisme comme une pensée du doute et de la déduction logique, on pourrait dire que la tradition biblique est au contraire une pensée de l'évidence et du mystère. En précisant toutefois que le mot mystère n'y désigne pas un domaine radicalement imperméable à la connaissance, mais le caractère d'une réalité sans fond que l'esprit ne viendra jamais à bout de découvrir dans sa totalité : et que l'évidence dont il s'agit n'est pas de celles qu'on obtient par le bricolage de "longues chaînes de raisonnements", mais qu'elle fonde sa possibilité sur cette singulière anthropologie de la vie mentale dont Jésus suggère le fonctionnement à Nicodème, à travers les paraboles associées du vent et de la Lumière".

Che brutta strana storia quella a cui stiamo assistendo all’Ordine di Malta in questi giorni.


Marco Tosatti

Che brutta strana storia quella a cui stiamo assistendo all’Ordine di Malta in questi giorni. Una storia in cui assistiamo a episodi drammatici che emergono; con l’impressione però che ci sfuggano molti altri elementi, i più importanti, forse.

Quello che vediamo è lo scontro interno, ufficialmente per ragioni di preservativi e contraccettivi anche abortivi, fra l’ex Gran Maestro, britannico, e il Gran Cancelliere, tedesco.

Quest’ultimo sostenuto con una violenza impressionante dal Pontefice. Il che, in un Pontefice predicatore di misericordia, non può non stupire.

Dietro le quinte c’è chi parla di una antica battaglia, da anni e anni, fra le scuole tedesca e britannica per il controllo dell’Ordine, una miniera di soldi impressionante. Dopo che i germanici – così sussurrano i pochi che sostengono di saper qualche cosa dei movimenti interni dei Cavalieri – a suo tempo hanno esautorato completamente gli italiani.

A complicare il tutto c’è anche il timore, presente negli anni passati in ambienti vaticani, che fra le file dei Cavalieri si fossero infilati appartenenti a un gruppo ben diverso, la massoneria. Non per scopi propriamente spirituali ma perché richiamati dalla possibilità di fare affari. L’Ordine è uno Stato, emette passaporti, offre molta carità ma anche contatti eccellenti. Un richiamo appetitoso.

A questo elemento si farebbe riferimento in un passaggio recente, di cui racconta Edward Pentin. Il Patrono dell’Ordine, il cardinale Raymond Leo Burke, incontrò il Papa il 10 novembre scorso in relazione al problema dei contraccettivi. Il Papa si sarebbe mostrato “molto preoccupato” da quello che il cardinale riportava. E gli avrebbe anche detto chiaramente che voleva che la massoneria fosse “tenuta fuori” dall’Ordine, e avrebbe chiesto un’azione appropriata. Il 1 dicembre successivo Burke avrebbe ricevuto una lettera in cui il Papa sottolineava il dovere del porporato di promuovere gli interessi spirituali dell’Ordine e impedire qualsiasi affiliazione con gruppi, o pratiche, contrarie alla legge morale cattolica.

Poi c’è stato il processo interno al Gran Cancelliere, accusato di avr permesso, o non aver vigilato abbastanza, sul caso dei condom. il suo rifiuto di dimettersi, l’espulsione per disobbedienza, l’appello alla Santa Sede.

Appello che ha trovato orecchie propizie. Il cognome del Gran Cancelliere è nel Gotha degli esperti economici della Santa Sede, ci sono collegamenti fra quel mondo e la diplomazia vaticana, e la Segreteria di Stato. C’è stata la formazione di una Commissione d’inchiesta, in cui sedevano tre persone molto presenti nelle iniziative finanziarie cattoliche, in particolare dell’area svizzero-tedesca, e la presentazione a tempi rapidi di una un rapporto che si dice durissimo verso il Gran Maestro.

Che nel frattempo, e non senza ragioni giuridiche valide, negava il diritto della Santa Sede di interferire in una vicenda interna, e il diritto della Santa Sede di nominare una commissione per indagare su affari interni dell’Ordine. La Segreteria di Stato ha ammesso l’esistenza della lettera del Papa, ma aggiungendo che si era consigliato il dialogo, non l’espulsione di nessuno.

Poi la storia ha virato rapidamente sul drammatico. Il Gran Maestro è stato convocato dal Papa, e gli è stato imposto – chissà come – di dimettersi. Una lettera vaticana parlava della nomina di un Delegato Pontificio, il che ha fatto pensare subito a un Commissariamento, poi, sembra, smentito (il Delegato dovrebbe occuparsi del “rinnovamento spirituale dell’Ordine”).

Ci sarà un Capitolo, e l’elezione di un nuovo Gran Maestro, e nel frattempo il Gran Cancelliere è stato reintegrato, dal momento che il Papa ha dichiarato nulli tutti gli atti compiuti dal 5 dicembre in poi. Anche qui ci sono esperti di diritto che storcono il naso, ma se i diretti interessati – cioè i Cavalieri – ingoiano questo rospo, nessuno può protestare al posto loro.

Ecco, questi sono i pezzi del puzzle. Ciascuno è libero di spostarli come vuole, e di provare a trovarci un senso.

Anche se ne mancano molti, che equivalgono ad altrettante questioni aperte.

E’ possibile che tutto questo patatrac sia causato dalla distribuzione di preservativi in zone a rischio Aids? Da quando mi occupo di Vaticano mi è stato detto che in zona di missione, a coniugi uno dei quali affetto da Aids, è successo che l’assistenza cattolica ne abbia dati.

E’ tutta colpa della “rigidità” di Burke, come ambienti vaticani cercano di suggerire, tanto per aggiungere colpe a uno dei quattro cardinali dei “Dubia” sull’Amoris Laetitia, non esattamente amato dal Pontefice? Forse. Ma la lettera c’è. E forse dal colloquio con il Papa lui aveva capito di dover consigliare severità al Gran Maestro, salvo trovarsi sconfessato subito dopo. C’è almeno un precedente. Pell quando aveva ricevuto l’incarico di riformare l’economia e la gestione del Vaticano, aveva ricevuto un invito ad andare avanti senza guardare in faccia nessuno. Da buon giocatore di calcio australiano è andato avanti. E ha scoperto che pian piano il suo Segretariato per l’Economia era stato pelato strato a strato, come una cipolla. Con l’assenso del Papa.


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sábado, 28 de enero de 2017

The Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda

Jan. 12, 2017

Nearly 100 Conclusions on the Health Effects of Marijuana and Cannabis-Derived Products Presented in New Report

One of the Most Comprehensive Studies of Recent Research on Health Effects of Recreational and Therapeutic Use of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products

WASHINGTON – A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers a rigorous review of scientific research published since 1999 about what is known about the health impacts of cannabis and cannabis-derived products – such as marijuana and active chemical compounds known as cannabinoids – ranging from their therapeutic effects to their risks for causing certain cancers, diseases, mental health disorders, and injuries. The committee that carried out the study and wrote the report considered more than 10,000 scientific abstracts to reach its nearly 100 conclusions. The committee also proposed ways to expand and improve the quality of cannabis research efforts, enhance data collection efforts to support the advancement of research, and address the current barriers to cannabis research.

“For years the landscape of marijuana use has been rapidly shifting as more and more states are legalizing cannabis for the treatment of medical conditions and recreational use,” said Marie McCormick, chair of the committee; the Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health, department of social and behavioral sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass. “This growing acceptance, accessibility, and use of cannabis and its derivatives have raised important public health concerns. Moreover, the lack of any aggregated knowledge of cannabis-related health effects has led to uncertainty about what, if any, are the harms or benefits from its use. We conducted an in-depth and broad review of the most recent research to establish firmly what the science says and to highlight areas that still need further examination. As laws and policies continue to change, research must also.”

Currently, cannabis is the most popular illicit drug in the United States, in terms of past-month users. Based on a recent nationwide survey, 22.2 million Americans ages 12 and older reported using cannabis in the past 30 days. This survey also reports that 90 percent of adult cannabis users in the United States said their primary use was recreational, with about 10 percent reporting use solely for medical purposes. Around 36 percent reported mixed medical and recreational use. In addition, between 2002 and 2015, the percentage of past-month cannabis users in the U.S. population ages 12 and older has increased steadily from 6.2 percent to 8.3 percent.

Therapeutic Effects

One of the therapeutic uses of cannabis and cannabinoids is to treat chronic pain in adults. The committee found evidence to support that patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids were more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms. For adults with multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms, there was substantial evidence that short-term use of certain “oral cannabinoids” – man-made, cannabinoid-based medications that are orally ingested – improved their reported symptoms. Furthermore, in adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, there was conclusive evidence that certain oral cannabinoids were effective in preventing and treating those ailments.

Injury and Death

Evidence suggests that cannabis use prior to driving increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Furthermore, evidence suggests that in states where cannabis use is legal, there is increased risk of unintentional cannabis overdose injuries among children. In one study, ingestion was the most common route of unintentional pediatric exposure, accounting for 78 percent of all incidents. Another study reported that from 2000 to 2013, the annual rate of poison center calls related to cannabis exposures among children younger than 6 years of age was 2.82 times higher in states that had legalized medical cannabis prior to 2000 than in states where medical cannabis remained illegal as of 2013. The committee called for more research to determine whether and how cannabis use is associated with death or with occupational injury.


Regarding the link between marijuana and cancer, the committee found evidence that suggests smoking cannabis does not increase the risk for cancers often associated with tobacco use – such as lung and head and neck cancers. The committee also found limited evidence that cannabis use is associated with one sub-type of testicular cancer and insufficient evidence that cannabis use by a mother or father during pregnancy leads to a greater risk of cancers in the child.

Heart Attack, Stroke, and Diabetes

The committee said that more research is needed to determine whether and how cannabis use is associated with heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. However, some evidence suggests that cannabis smoking may trigger a heart attack.

Respiratory Disease

The evidence reviewed by the committee suggests that smoking cannabis on a regular basis is associated with more frequent chronic bronchitis episodes and worse respiratory symptoms, such as chronic cough and phlegm production, but quitting cannabis smoking is likely to reduce these conditions. The committee stated that it is unclear whether cannabis use is associated with certain respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or worsened lung function.


There is a lack of data on the effects of cannabis or cannabinoid-based therapeutics on the human immune system, as well as insufficient data to draw overarching conclusions concerning the effects of cannabis smoke or cannabinoids on immune competence, the committee stated. There is also insufficient evidence to support or refute a statistical association between cannabis or cannabinoid use and adverse effects on immune status in individuals with HIV. Nevertheless, limited evidence suggests that regular exposure to cannabis smoke may have anti-inflammatory activity.

Mental Health

The evidence reviewed by the committee suggests that cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, other psychoses, and social anxiety disorders, and to a lesser extent depression. Alternatively, in individuals with schizophrenia and other psychoses, a history of cannabis use may be linked to better performance on learning and memory tasks. Heavy cannabis users are more likely to report thoughts of suicide than non-users, and in individuals with bipolar disorder, near-daily cannabis users show increased symptoms of the disorder than non-users.

Problem Cannabis Use

The evidence reviewed by the committee suggests that with greater frequency of cannabis use, there is an increased likelihood of developing problem cannabis use. There is also evidence to suggest that initiating cannabis use at a younger age increases the likelihood of developing problem cannabis use.

Cannabis Use and the Abuse of Other Substances

The committee found limited evidence that cannabis use increases the rate of initiating other drug use, primarily the use of tobacco. However, the committee found moderate evidence to suggest that there is a link between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or a substance abuse disorder for substances including alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs.


The committee found that learning, memory, and attention are impaired after immediate cannabis use. Limited evidence suggests that there are impairments in cognitive domains of learning, memory, and attention in individuals who have stopped smoking cannabis. In addition, there is limited evidence to suggest that cannabis use is related to impairments in subsequent academic achievement and education as well as social relationships and social roles. Adolescence and young adulthood are when most youth begin to experiment with substances of abuse, including cannabis, and it is during these periods that the neural layers that underlie the development of cognition are most active. The committee also found limited evidence of an association between cannabis use and increased rates of unemployment and low income.

Prenatal, Perinatal, and Neonatal Exposure

Smoking cannabis during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight in the offspring, some evidence suggests. However, the relationship with other pregnancy and childhood outcomes is unclear.

Challenges and Barriers in Conducting Cannabis Research

In addition to recommending more research on the beneficial and harmful effects of cannabis and cannabinoid use, the committee emphasized several challenges and barriers in conducting such research. For instance, specific regulatory barriers, including the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance, impede the advancement of research. Researchers also often find it difficult to gain access to the quantity, quality, and type of cannabis product necessary to address specific research questions. The committee said a diverse network of funders is needed to support cannabis and cannabinoid research.

The study was sponsored by Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Arizona Department of Health Services, California Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC Foundation, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Mat-Su Health Foundation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse, Oregon Health Authority, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, Truth Initiative, and Washington State Department of Health. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

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Copies of The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research are available from the National Academies Press at or by calling 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).

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Cannabis: the question of legalization—or liberalization—is complex, and there is no decisive argument on either side.

The Science of Cannabis

by Theodore Dalrymple

Report by the National Academics of Science here...

It’s curious how people’s beliefs about matters of fact often follow their political opinions, rather than the other way around. Those who believe in an active regulatory state are much more likely to believe in man-made global warming than those who want to reduce the role of the state to a minimum—though whether such warming exists or not is, or ought to be, a matter of empirical fact. Strictly speaking, it would be possible to believe in man-made global warming without subscribing to the need for close regulation; but, in practice, political and empirical beliefs usually go together.

It is the same with cannabis. Those in favor of legalization—or liberalization—tend to emphasize its benefits and deny its harms; those against emphasize the harms and deny the benefits.

A report just published by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine tries dispassionately to assess the evidence for the health benefits and harms of cannabis and cannabinoids (the active chemicals in marijuana). It steers clear, quite rightly, of polemics: for, as Hume argued, no statement of value is to be derived from statements of fact. Where the evidence is not yet strong, or where there is none, the report says so.


Charlemagne: l'Université de Paris, qui le considère comme son fondateur, le choisit pour patron en 1661.

Le 28 janvier 814 : mort de l'empereur Charlemagne, à 71 ans.

Charles 1er, le Grand, Roi des Francs depuis l'an 768 et empereur d'Occident depuis 800.

Charlemagne, appelé par Ste Jeanne d'arc, Saint Charlemagne, a favorisé le développement de la foi catholique, suscité une renaissance culturelle et multiplié les ateliers d'art dans les monastères, où l'on s'est employé à recopier les textes anciens et sacrés. Son fils Louis d'Aquitaine, appelé Louis le Pieux ou le Débonnaire, hérite du trône. Il reçoit du vivant de son père, le titre d'empereur d'Occident, fin 813 à Aix la Chapelle.

Le corps de Charlemagne est solennellement enterré dans la cathédrale qu¹il a fait bâtir, et trois cent cinquante et un ans après, il est levé de terre par les soins de Frédéric 1er, surnommé Barberousse, et son chef est transféré à Osnabruck.

Un grand nombre d'Eglises, surtout en Allemagne, associent au culte rendu à sainte Agnès martyre la mémoire imposante du pieux Empereur Charlemagne. Frédéric Barberousse fait rendre un décret de canonisation de Charlemagne par l'antipape Pascal III en 1165. Rome, par la suite, l'a respecté

Dans les églises de France, les nombreuses églises qui honorent, depuis près de sept siècles, la mémoire du grand empereur Charlemagne, se contentent, par respect pour le Martyrologe romain, où son nom ne se lit pas, de le fêter sous le titre de Bienheureux.

Avant l'époque de la Réforme, le nom du bienheureux Charlemagne se trouvait ainsi sur le calendrier d'un grand nombre d'églises de France; les Bréviaires de Reims et de Rouen sont les seuls qui l'aient conservé aujourd'hui. Plus de trente églises en Allemagne célèbrent encore aujourd'hui la fête du grand empereur; sa chère église d'Aix-la-Chapelle garde son corps et l'expose à la vénération des peuples Il est conservé dans une châsse en vermeil. Un de ses bras est dans un reliquaire à part. Dans le trésor de cette église se trouve aussi son cor de chasse, et dans une galerie, le siège de pierre sur lequel il était assis dans son tombeau. C'est sur ce siège que les empereurs d'Allemagne étaient installés, le jour de leur couronnement.

L'Université de Paris, qui le considère comme son fondateur, le choisit pour patron en 1661.

Alphonse Vetault rapporte dans son Charlemagne un extrait du testament de l'Empereur rédigé en 806 :

"Par dessus tout, nous voulons et ordonnons que nos trois fils pourvoient convenablement à la défense de l'Eglise de Saint Pierre et, suivant en cela l'exemple qu'ils reçurent de notre aïeul Charles et de notre père le Roi Pépin, d'heureuse mémoire, et de nous-mêmes, qu'ils la protègent contre ses ennemis avec l'aide de Dieu et la maintiennent en possession de tous ses droits, autant qu'il dépendra d'eux. De même pour les églises qu'ils auront dans leurs propres royaumes, qu'ils respectent leurs honneurs et privilèges, et qu'ils laissent les pasteurs libres d'administrer leur patrimoine. "

Le sacre de Charlemagne

A la fin du XIIe siècle, l'oriflamme Montjoie rouge de Saint-Denis et l'épée du sacre (Joyeuse) sont liés au souvenir de Charlemagne et, progressivement, tous les insignes remis au Roi lors de cette cérémonie sont dits " de Charlemagne ".
Sainte Jeanne d'Arc évoque plus d'une fois saint Louis et saint Charles le Grand. Le Roi Louis XI décide en 1475, que l'empereur sera fêté le 28 janvier, anniversaire de sa mort à Aix en 814. Jusqu'à la révolution régime, le nouveau Roi envoie à la cathédrale Sainte-Marie d'Aix un drap d'or ayant servi aux obsèques de son prédécesseur à Saint-Denis; il était destiné à recouvrir le reliquaire des restes.

Enfin c'est sur la demande de Charlemagne que le Pape Léon III ajoute au Credo le " filioque " affirmant que le Saint-Esprit procède à la fois du Père et du Fils et que dans la cathédrale d'Aix-la-Chapelle où le grand Empereur est enterré, il est exposé à la date de sa fête à la vénération des fidèles.

Canada’s commitment to advance “reproductive rights.”

Canada may join Europe in $600M global abortion bailout after Trump funding ban

by Lianne Laurence

Canada’s Liberal government is considering joining the Dutch government’s proposed international abortion fund, as part of its commitment to advance “reproductive rights.”

After President Trump restored the Mexico City Policy on Monday, Dutch minister of foreign trade and development co-operation Lilianne Ploumen announced her government’s intention to launch the abortion fund.

The Mexico City Policy denies US federal funding to foreign non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning.

Ploumen told the Guardian that she is “in talks with 15 to 20 countries and also foundations.” That includes “a number of European countries that we work with on these issues, and “countries in South America and Africa.”

Belgium has already said they are on signing on, and Denmark is also considering.

Ploumen is looking to raise a $600 million to bail out programmes now being run by organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International.


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The Reawakening of Christian Civilization in Eastern Europe

Essays of the Week

by Stephen Turley
Recently, there have been some impressive examples of the reawakening of Christian civilization in Eastern Europe. First, let’s look at what happened recently in Poland. In a ceremony at the Church of Divine Mercy in Krakow last November 19th, the Catholic Bishops of Poland, in the presence of President Andreiz Duda and many Catholic pilgrims, officially recognized Jesus Christ as the King of Poland and called upon Him to rule over their nation, its people and their political leaders. At Mass, they prayed “Immortal King of Ages Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, bowing our heads before You, King of the Universe, we acknowledge Thy dominion over Poland, those living in our homeland and throughout the world. Wishing to worship the majesty of Thy power and glory, with great faith and love, we cry out: Rule us, Christ!”... [MORE]

by Eva Brann
In its second Golden Age it was right and timely for the college to ask the perennial question “what is the rela­tion of liberty to learning?” and to make the ground of the inquiry the hypothesis that the connection may be found in the soul of the learner. Its doing so was timely because thus the college acknowledged that the easy and immediate relation of those early days between liberal learning and republican statesmanship had long been ruptured. And it was wise because thus the college brought forward the oldest and the newest, the most per­sistent and the most urgent, of all political questions: What is the relation of thought to action?... [MORE]

by Dwight Longenecker
Earlier civilizations nurtured a sense of nobility which always included self-sacrifice, service, and self-discipline. This was the path to true happiness, it was taught; and the family, the school, the college and the workplace all encouraged that sense of self-respect, self-discipline, and self-reliance. It used to be that to act against these conservative values was to paint oneself as a subversive. The beatnik, the hippie, the flower-power revolutionary all sang their protest songs, smoked their pot, slept with whomever they wished, and brought about a revolution. But when revolutionaries win they eventually become the new establishment. Now they are the ones who are greying and grumbling and balding and boring. Now their society is ripe for revolution, and it would seem that it is the conservative who is the new subversive... [MORE]

by Anthony Esolen
I am musing upon a fine book written by a teacher and prolific author, Leroy Armstrong. I call this a Message from Another World. This book is the Eighth Year Literature Reader. It is eighth, that is, in the California State Series. Its frontispiece reads, in capital letters, “Approved by the State Board of Education.” That was then. We could come up with a list of reasons why that book could not now be published. We could note that there are no vampires in it, or vampire killers, or sentimental sodomites, or adolescent participants in murder games, or witches, or teenage rebels against a rule-bound dystopia, or the political platitudes of a Preferred Victim, or sound scientific advice on how to dabble in squalor without catching the clap. All of that might be true, but it is beside the point. The main reason why that book could not now be published is that there is no one who could write it and no one who would read it... [MORE]

by Bradley J. Birzer

Let me suggest two thoughts. First, Russell Kirk always noted that while Americans might have a mission in the world, they do not have a destiny. Our mission is to provide an example for the world and a refuge from that world. Indeed, his own little Mecosta served as a model for what America could be—a home for the lost and oppressed of the world. Kirk’s America was charitable, but not intrusive. Second, we must go back to Reagan’s idea of a Strategic Defense Initiative. Unfortunately, much of the research started during the Reagan administration was stupidly destroyed by the Obama Administration. As the world becomes more nuclear, we continue to lose the advantage afforded to us by the two oceans. An actual shield is not just a viable idea, it is an idea that allows us—at least in part—to live under a Washingtonian foreign policy... [MORE]

by Joseph Pearce
Those on the so-called “left” have no idea they are lost. In spite of the temporary setback of the last election, they are convinced that humanity is “progressing” towards a better future. Those who have taken this left-fork in the road are now wandering further and further from the true path in pursuit of a mythical future golden age, a utopian Nowhere. But what of those on the so-called “right”? There’s a certain brand of so-called “conservative” who believes that humanity is regressing towards a dark and deadly future because, well, there’s something black-magical at work, which means that humanity is inexorably descending from a bright and better past to a dark and dismal future. And then there are those on the road not taken... [MORE]
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