The Weekend Web


The Weekend Web

Is Lisbon finished and who is to blame for the humanitarian disaster in Gaza? Plus, fatherless on Father’s Day.

On this Father’s Day weekend, Juan Williams laments the fact that many sons do not know their dads. “The extent of the problem is clear,” he writes. “The nation’s out-of-wedlock birth rate is 38 percent. Among children, 28 percent are now born to a single mother; among Hispanic children it is 50 percent and reaches a chilling, disorienting peak of 71 percent for black children. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly a quarter of America’s white children (22 percent) do not have any male in their homes; nearly a third (31 percent) of Hispanic children and over half of black children (56 percent) are fatherless.”

This, as he goes on to point out, represents a monumental shift in the way Americans live. In the 1960s, for example, just 2.3 percent of white and 24 percent of black children were born into fatherless homes. “Having a dad, in short, is now a privilege, a ticket to middle-class status on par with getting into a good college,” Williams says. He then rattles off what should be familiar statistics regarding families that haven’t been abandoned by fathers:

The odds increase for a child’s success with the psychological and financial stability rooted in having two parents. Having two parents means there is a greater likelihood that someone will read to a child as a preschooler, support him through school, and prevent him from dropping out, as well as teaching him how to compete, win and lose and get up to try again, in academics, athletics and the arts. Maybe most important of all is that having a dad at home is almost a certain ticket out of poverty; because about 40 percent of single-mother families are in poverty.

To read what has written on this subject, go here, here and here.

Is Lisbon Finished?

The European Union is in another crisis. On Thursday, June 12, Irish voters went to the polls and rejected the Lisbon Treaty by a margin of 7 percent. Since the Lisbon Treaty has to be ratified by all 27 member nations of the EU, Ireland’s rejection threatens to derail the project. As the Washington Post reports, “The victory for the ‘No’ camp means a country with fewer than 1 percent of the EU’s 490 million population could wreck a treaty painstakingly negotiated over years by leaders of all 27 member states.”

Today, according to London’s Times, British Prime Minister Brown is prepared to give up on the Lisbon Treaty (emphasis mine throughout).

The demise of the treaty would take the heat off Brown as he faces down renewed calls for Britain to hold its own referendum. If Europe presses ahead without Ireland, it would set a precedent for a two-speed club, with Britain also likely to be stuck in the second tier.

To read more about the Irish referendum, go here. To read about what we have long been saying regarding Britain’s eventual departure from the European Union, go here and here.

Terrorists’ Memo to Supreme Court: Thanks!

Expect the Supreme Court’s supremely awful decision last week in Boumediene v. Bush to come boomeranging back on the U.S. in a dangerous way. Matthew Continetti explains in the Weekly Standard,

The Court, in an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, ruled that non-citizens captured abroad and held in a military installation overseas—the remaining 270 or so inmates at the terrorist prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba—have the same constitutional right as U.S. citizens to challenge their detention in court. Furthermore, the current procedures by which a detainee’s status is reviewed—procedures fashioned in good faith and at the Court’s behest by a bipartisan congressional majority in consultation with the commander in chief during a time of war—are unconstitutional.The upshot is the prisoners at Camp Delta can now file habeas corpus petitions in U.S. district courts seeking reprieve. Hence lawyers, judges, and left-wing interest groups will have real influence over the conduct of the war on terror. Call it the Gitmo nightmare.

You can be sure that Islamists are rejoicing over the decision. Thanks to an own-goal from five lawyers on the Supreme Court, they have secured for captured foreign terrorists constitutional rights that until now were only afforded American citizens.

This is the judicial corollary of the strategy that produced 9/11: Just as terrorists transformed American commercial jets into missiles aimed at American lives and buildings, they are—with increasing effectiveness—using America’s own justice system to protect themselves and put more Americans at risk. Choked with lawsuits from Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners, U.S. federal courts have allowed themselves to become tools to intimidate the American military into softening its battle tactics, to shut down terrorist surveillance programs, and to access secret information on counterterrorist measures.

Judges with a thimbleful of common sense could put a stop to it. But as the Prophet Isaiah foretold, the judge has been taken away (Isaiah 3:1-2)—and now “None calleth for justice” (Isaiah 59:4).

Read our May 2007 article “American Lawyers: Terrorists’ Weapons” for more analysis on this subject.

Who’s Laying “Siege” Upon Whom?

Now that Hamas has been in power for a full year, cnn reports, Gaza is “safer” (thanks to Hamas), but out of food and gas (thanks to Israel). After last June’s takeover, reporter Ben Wedeman writes, “Hamas quickly imposed law and order, tried to reacquaint Gaza’s drivers with long-forgotten traffic regulations, launched a municipal cleanup campaign, and forced the release of kidnapped bbc journalist Alan Johnston, who had been held in captivity for almost six months.” Wedeman continues,

Chaos-weary Gazans applauded all of these initiatives. But the honeymoon ended quickly as reality sank in. Since Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006, and even more so since last year’s takeover, Israel has tightened its siege of Gaza. Israel has restricted supplies of gasoline, diesel and electricity to Gaza, limited the amount of food and other goods entering the strip, and made it virtually impossible for manufacturers and farmers in Gaza to export anything to the outside world.

At the New York Times, at least Ethan Bronner lays blame for the siege on Israel and Hamas, which must constitute “balanced” coverage in the minds of Times’ editors. “Hamas has spread its authority across all aspects of life, including the judiciary,” Bronner writes.

Compared with a year ago here in Gaza, more women are covered, more men are bearded, Internet sites are filtered and non-Hamas public gatherings are largely banned. With the Israeli closure greatly reducing the supply of fuel, spare parts and other vital goods, less sewage is treated and more fish are contaminated. Gazans feel trapped and helpless.

At Israel’s largest mass-circulation daily, Yedioth Ahronoth (Hebrew only), Roni Shaked compellingly assigns blame on nearly a dozen nations or groups. “Hamas achieved hegemony by implementing a dictatorial system of government that precluded any form of mutiny or even protest,” Shaked wrote on Friday. “There is no opposition.” He continued,

Gaza in 2008 is a reality which borders on the impossible. More than two thirds of the population, or roughly 1.3 million individuals, are welfare recipients dependent on charity from a host of organizations for their sustenance. … Israel is sending humanitarian aid through the crossings. Whatever doesn’t make it through the Karni or Sufa crossings flows into Gaza as smuggled goods through the tunnel system which connects Egyptian Rafah with Rafah in the Strip. This includes guns, but also cheese and cigarettes. European Union states pay for Gaza’s fuel, which goes to operating the power stations. Hamas’s government nonetheless collects fees for the use of electricity. The refugees receive assistance from the United Nations, and the Palestinian Authority’s finance minister, Salam Fayyad, pays to keep the health system and education system ticking over. Fayyad also pitches in to pay for fuel intended for the Gaza Strip. Mahmoud ‘Abbas, the authority’s president, also pays the salaries of roughly 78,000 former state employees, who are of course out of a job under Hamas.Iran signs all the checks for Hamas’s Gaza entity, and especially the military costs. Charity from Gulf States serves Hamas’s vast support and charity projects. And those who fall through the cracks and receive nothing from Hamas or the United Nations turn to other international non-governmental organizations.And while the people of the Strip are busy panhandling to charity organizations, Hamas is preoccupied with the one subject that’s really on its leadership’s mind: The amassing of military force. Hamas is assembling a military defense establishment. A regular army which is divided into brigades, battalions and companies, arranged according to a distinct military and professional framework.Hamas’s army, which is styled after Hezbollah’s model, is now 16,000 strong. Many of them exit through the Rafah tunnel system, to undergo military training in Iran and Syria.This is Hamastan, which is now celebrating its first birthday. This is its profile: A violent and dictatorial terrorist nation, which survives on the mercy of others.

Ignoring Warnings of Catastrophe—Again

Why is man’s evil nature a mystery to the most educated minds? Our editor in chief asked that question in his column two months ago. Last weekend, in the Wall Street Journal, Michael Ledeen asked a number of similar questions:

Why did the West fail to see the coming of the catastrophe? Why were there so few efforts to thwart the fascist tide, and why did virtually all Western leaders, and so many Western intellectuals, treat the fascists as if they were normal political leaders, instead of the virulent revolutionaries they really were? Why did the main designated victims—the Jews—similarly fail to recognize the magnitude of their impending doom? Why was resistance so rare?

Before the World War ii era, world leaders might be forgiven for failing to see an emerging catastrophe that was unprecedented in human history, Ledeen explained. Yet these evils are now with us again, he continued, “and we are acting as we did in the last century.” He wrote,

The world is simmering in the familiar rhetoric and actions of movements and regimes—from Hezbollah and al Qaeda to the Iranian Khomeinists and the Saudi Wahhabis—who swear to destroy us and others like us. Like their 20th-century predecessors, they openly proclaim their intentions, and carry them out whenever and wherever they can. Like our own 20th-century predecessors, we rarely take them seriously or act accordingly. More often than not, we downplay the consequences of their words, as if they were some Islamic or Arab version of “politics,” intended for internal consumption, and designed to accomplish domestic objectives.Clearly, the explanations we gave for our failure to act in the last century were wrong. The rise of messianic mass movements is not new, and there is very little we do not know about them. Nor is there any excuse for us to be surprised at the success of evil leaders, even in countries with long histories and great cultural and political accomplishments. We know all about that. So we need to ask the old questions again. Why are we failing to see the mounting power of evil enemies? Why do we treat them as if they were normal political phenomena, as Western leaders do when they embrace negotiations as the best course of action? No doubt there are many reasons. One is the deep-seated belief that all people are basically the same, and all are basically good. Most human history, above all the history of the last century, points in the opposite direction. But it is unpleasant to accept the fact that many people are evil, and entire cultures, even the finest, can fall prey to evil leaders and march in lockstep to their commands. Much of contemporary Western culture is deeply committed to a belief in the goodness of all mankind; we are reluctant to abandon that reassuring article of faith. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, we prefer to pursue the path of reasonableness, even with enemies whose thoroughly unreasonable fanaticism is manifest.

To understand what God’s Word—in both the Old and New Testaments—reveals about man’s nature, be sure to read Gerald Flurry’s April 7 column.

Nuclear Network Bigger, More Sophisticated

International investigators have discovered electronic blueprints to a nuclear weapon that closely resembles one tested by Pakistan 10 years ago, the New York Times reports. Believed to be connected to the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network, officials say the plans are far more sophisticated than the ones turned over by Libya in 2003. It’s not clear yet whether the blueprints were sold to Iran or other customers.

“But the latest design found on Khan network computers in Switzerland, Bangkok and several other cities around the world,” David Sanger writes, “is half the size and twice the power of the Chinese weapon [in the Libya drawings], with far more modern electronics, the investigators say. The design is in electronic form, they said, making it easy to copy—and they have no idea how many copies of it are now in circulation.”

Here is what we wrote about Khan’s nuclear ring when it was first discovered in 2004.

The Midwest’s “Katrina”

When the full scope of the developing global food crisis first became evident last winter, grumbling broke out in America and riots broke out in two dozen other countries. Now, at a time when the world vitally needs bumper crops to ease the threat of pervasive food shortages, America’s breadbasket has been hit with torrential flooding.

Many farms in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska have received as much as 12 inches of rain this month so far, according to the National Weather Service. That is over four times the normal amount. Bridges have been wiped out by swollen rivers, homes have been evacuated due to rising water levels, and fields have been inundated. This could be the worst flooding the Midwest has experienced in 15 years.

Time has an update on the disaster here.

Slavery Still Thriving

The U.S. State Department just issued its annual report on the global slave trade. The Economist reports the unhappy news: “[I]t makes for gloomy reading. … Approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders each year and millions more are traded domestically. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are at least 12.3m people in forced labour at any one time, including sexual exploitation, as a result of trafficking.” It’s a sobering reality made even more so by the prophecy in Revelation 18:13 of the practice thriving all the more in the near future.

Elsewhere on the Web

Ever since Barack Obama locked up the Democratic nomination a week and a half ago, a number of articles have surfaced about how popular he is internationally. You can read a few of them here, here and here.

Rising fuel and food prices emerged as the greatest threat to the global economy at the latest G-8 summit. Financial ministers from the Group of Eight nations are concerned about the inflationary effect of surging commodity prices, which poses a “serious challenge” to economic growth. Bloomberg reports, “Inflation is accelerating after the price of oil reached an unprecedented $139.12 a barrel on June 6 and food costs from rice to soybeans set records this year.” To read more about the dangers of out-of-control inflation, click here.

In advance of same-sex weddings beginning tomorrow in California, today’s Telegraph reports on two male Anglican priests who “married” each other. Religion should be leading the opposition to such anti-biblical depravity; instead, it is leading the charge toward immorality.

And Finally …

Last year, the U.S. Post Office spent $6.5 billion on transportation. Every time the price of gas rises just one cent, the U.S. Post Office loses another $8 million per year. Simply raising rates won’t work since rate increases are legally limited to the rate of inflation. Extrapolate that penny increase out to a dollar or more, and the Post Office could easily see a $1 billion headache over the course of the year. The Post Office represents a large fleet: 215,000 vehicles. Think that sounds like a lot of money? There are over 200 million vehicles in the U.S., excluding motorcycles, and every single one of them faces the same rising costs—but the impact on the Post Office is actually somewhat less than the impact on consumers since the government is able to buy gas in bulk.