Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Web Clips and Comments

July 14, 2003

HIGHLIGHT: This weekend, the Soufriere Hills Volcano, in my second home
territory, Monsterrat; had a massive dome collapse and associated ash eruption
that threw volcanic materials 40,000 feet into the air, and deposited a thick
layer of ash across much of the South and centre of the island.

Thankfully no-one was killed, and the main ash flow from the dome -- a mound
of hot materials that had been forced out of the volcano over the past several
months (piling up to 3600 feet above sea level) -- went down the Tar River valley
to the N E, and off into the sea on the East Coast.

Contacts in Montserrat are grateful that lives have been spared, and the few
buildings in the Salem area that have collapsed under the weight of deposited
ash were in the main lightly built structures, such as bars. Concern was expressed
for the welfare of some of the people evacuated over the past several months,
who are in need of welfare support, especially support for basic food and similar

(NB: In the 1995 - 97 period, as concluded by a Commission of Inquiry, inadequate
shelter conditions, poor management of exposure to hazards and desensitisation
to danger as well as personal reckless disregard for the danger contributed
to the deaths of over a dozen people in the June 25, 1997 collapse and pyroclastic
flows. Official figures hover at about 20 deaths for the June - August 1997

Web links:

Preliminary AFP report: http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,6749194%5E401,00.html

Monstserrat Volcano Observatory: http://www.mvo.ms/

Cascades Volcano Observatory: http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/

Nat. Geog. Article: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/98/volcanoes/

Montserrat Reporter newspaper: http://www.montserratreporter.org/

1. Mbeki Speaks on Africa


Next year Haiti commemorates a full two hundred years of the establishment
of the first modern black republic out of the defeat of the Napoleonic French
empire in 1804. South Africa will celebrate 10 years of the post-Apartheid era.
And the two countries, one the poorest in the Diaspora, the other the leader
of the Black Motherland, will do it together. Mbeki asked the hard questions
of what went wrong with the Haitian Revolution, when the sister American and
French Revolutions brought such different results for freedom and development.
What went wrong with the African decolonisation, freedom and development project?
. . .

2. Legislating Morality: a Must

Don Crawford has reflected on the US SC sodomy ruling, and has published a
powerful column on law and morality . . .


statute laws are the legal enforcement of moral principles such as "Thou shalt
not kill." Any criminal statute you choose - whether about fraud, extortion,
due process, assault, ad infinitum, are the legislating of morality into the
criminal code . . . Not only are all statute laws the legislation of morality,
but furthermore it is no historical accident that it is the Judeo-Christian
moral code that has been legislated into Western law . . . . it is not a coincidence
that the West has been predominantly the world of Christendom and the fertile
soil from which has sprung the world's ideals of the sanctity of all human life,
the fundamental equality of all persons, the sovereignty of the people, due
process, and our basic freedoms . . . . Sadly, our system of jurisprudence with
all its respect for individual human rights is not the norm in the world. Rather,
that system springs from a particular moral system and code . . . . "What moral
norms should be legislated?" That is a legitimate question. And the answer is
we legislate a category of ethics. We legislate those ethical norms that have
to do with: (1) all persons being treated with equality under the law, (2) protecting
the weak and the innocent, and (3) protecting the general welfare. In short,
we legislate the area of ethics known as justice. So, are ethical norms concerning
sodomy and marriage appropriate matters of justice? The medical and historical
evidence is overwhelming - though totally ignored in the current non-factual,
politically correct discussion - that sodomy and marriage are appropriate norms
for legislation . . .

3. Pedophilia (and more) on the "normalising" agenda


. . . this May, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was . . . publicly
debating a proposal for "Lifting [The] Pedophilia Taboo." Several APA presenters
"proposed removing … pedophilia, exhibitionism … voyeurism … from the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)." The DSM - the bible of the
mental-health field - tells psychiatrists, judges, juries and the rest of the
world what is or is not abnormal human behavior, and what to criminally "punish"
versus what to therapeutically "treat."

Sadly, in Literary Arts secvtion, The SunDay Magazine, Jamaica Observer, p.2;
a Ms Peta-Gaye Stuart has published a naive gush piece on the Pride Week events
in Toronto, where "same sex marriages", so called, have been ever
so unwisely recently given standing under the colour of law. That is, we see
evidence that the "normalising" of perversion is happening among the
Caribbean's upper and middle classes, who are most vulnerable to fashionable
trends in secularist, apostate and neopagan thinking.

We therefore need to read the signs of the times and respond in an informed,
principled way that respects people but insists that matters of justice and
public morality must be firmly handled in the interests of especially our children.
(For, the creation of a "public" domain is in the main justified by
the need to provide family-friendly space in the community so that our children
can be well brought up; with minimal exposure to inappropriate influences. Or,
have we forgotten?)

4. On the Slander Front . . .

First, I am saddened to have to observe that the jamaica Gleaner was found
by the Privy Council to have spent sixteen years sustaining a libellous accusation
against Mr Tony Abrams, a former Minister of Tourism. One prays that the ruling
will begin to motivate that media house to follow the NY Times down the path
of beginning to clean up its act. (Of course, on this matter, I speak as one
who over the past several months was unjustly attacked by a columnist and was
denied the effective right of reply: see http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/1st_Easter_Timeline.htm
and http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/debating_fundamentalism.htm
for my to date unpublished responses.)

On a similar note, the WMD debate has been heating up in the USA, with many
declaring or implying that the Bush Administration has been lying; a theme that
has been pounced upon by many of our pundits, who seem to have more of a deep
rooted hostility to what the US has traditionally stood for than a concern for
international justice -- judging by the telling silence on the ongoing Cuban

However, we would well do to heed the observations made over the weekend that
"smoking gun" evidence has been found on especially chemical weapons,
and will be forthcoming. So, let us refrain from rash pronouncements and hostility
rather than sound, well-considered judgement.

In that context, we should consider the points made by Clifford May in National


Mr. Bush never claimed that Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium from Niger.
It is not true - as USA Today reported on page one Friday morning - that "tainted
evidence made it into the President's State of the Union address." For the record,
here's what President Bush actually said in his SOTU: "The British government
has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium
from Africa." Precisely which part of that statement isn't true? The British
government did say that it believed Saddam had sought African uranium. Is it
possible that the British government was mistaken? Sure. Is it possible that
Her Majesty's government came by that belief based on an erroneous American
intelligence report about a transaction between Iraq and Niger? Yes - but British
Prime Minister Tony Blair and members of his Cabinet say that's not what happened.
They say, according to Britain's liberal Guardian newspaper, that their claim
was based on "extra material, separate and independent from that of the US."
. . . Saddam Hussein did have a nuclear-weapons-development program. That program
was set back twice: Once by Israeli bombers in 1981, and then a decade later,
at the end of the Gulf War when we learned that Saddam's nuclear program was
much further along than our intelligence analysts had believed. As President
Bush also said in the SOTU: The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed
in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development
program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different
methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. Since Saddam never demonstrated - to
the U.S., the U.N., or even to Jacques Chirac - that he had abandoned his nuclear
ambitions, one has to conclude that he was still in the market for nuclear materials.
And, indeed, many intelligence analysts long believed that he was trying to
acquire such material from wherever he could - not just from Niger but also
from Gabon, Namibia, Russia, Serbia, and other sources . . .

4. Shuttled by Foam . . .

This week, there was dramatic news footage that showed that the first suspect
almost certainly did it: Columbia was done in by a 2 kg lump of foam that hit
its wing and caused a hole in the leading edge that may have been nearly a foot
across. The breaking up of the wing as hot plasma penetrated its interior was
just a matter of time. Sad.

However, there is a not so happy environmental angle to the story: the shedding
problem was reportedly triggered by a shift to a more "environmentally
friendly" foam: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33545
. Thus, it seems there is a need for us to balance the set of factors at work
in a given environmentally-tinged situation, led by sound judgement, not hype
and hysteria.


IN CONCLUSION: I am preparing for an upcoming Conference, and so will
be out of circulation for a couple of weeks, please pray for this vital conference;
that God will help us wake up to the spiritual challenges the region faces on
the threshold of the new milllennium. Grace be to you all . . .

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