Tuesday, March 31, 2015

10 years ago: The execution of Terri Schiavo

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Amendment V, Constitution of the United States (bold added by blogger)

Note: Although I quote from, and post links to Wikipedia entries in this post, I don't regard Wikipedia as authoritative, as its entries may be biased and inaccurate. The reader should exercise prudence in using it.

On March 31, 2005, Terri Schiavo, who had been severely brain-damaged since collapsing in her apartment building 15 years earlier, died in hospital in Pinellas Park, Florida, 13 days after Pinellas-Pasco County Circuit Court Judge George Greer ordered her feeding tube withdrawn, guaranteeing her death by gradual starvation.

The case was very much misreported in the media as a "right to die" case, when it would more accurately be termed a "right to kill" case. Mrs. Schiavo was not dead, and not dying; had not been charged with or convicted of any crime; and yet was ordered by a judge to be deliberately and gradually starved to death--a sentence that would likely have been ruled to be "cruel and unusual punishment" had it been imposed on a convicted murderer.

While Mrs. Schiavo was slowly starving to death, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his brother, U.S. President George W. Bush, played legal games, pretending to act on Mrs. Schiavo's behalf while actually not exercising all their prerogatives, finally caving in and refusing to challenge Judge Greer's final order. According to the Wikipedia entry on the case, "If [Governor] Bush (or the Florida Legislature) had ignored Greer's order by attempting to remove her from the hospice, a confrontation between the Pinellas Park Police Department and the FDLE agents could have ensued." A confrontation is exactly what should have taken place. If Jeb or George W. Bush had shown up at the hospital with the intention of seeing Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted--or had either Bush shown up with a glass of water for her--it's hard to imagine the police or National Guard refusing admittance to Governor or President Bush. As it is, we're asked to believe that a two-bit circuit court judge--who, in a corrupt practice unique to the United States, was elected to his position--could overrule the highest official in the state of Florida and the chief executive of the United States.

There were pro-life protesters outside the hospital in Florida (one prominent individual who was notable by his absence and silence was "America's Pastor," Rick Warren), and occasionally someone would attempt to go inside and take a glass of water to Mrs. Schiavo, only to be forcibly turned back by the authorities. For readers who have forgotten or are too young to remember, it might come as a shock to realize that attempting to ease the suffering of Terri Schiavo as she was being starved to death was actually against the law (Romans 13 extremists, please take note). As an aside, it's worth remembering that when Jesus' disciples picked grain on the Sabbath, the Pharisees accused them of breaking the law, and when the Pharisees were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus and wondered if He would heal on the Sabbath, He asked them if it were lawful to do good or to do evil, to save life or destroy it--and then He healed a man with a withered hand (Matthew 12:1-14; Luke 6:1-11). Jesus faced similar accusations from the Pharisees when He healed the invalid man at Bethesda (John 5:2-16).

One of the things that disturbed me about the Schiavo case is that some who claimed to be conservatives opposed government--especially federal government--intervention to save Terri Schiavo, arguing that such action was an invasion of the state's jurisdiction--or similar legalistic mumbo-jumbo. Such arguments struck this blogger as the sort of reasoning that Pharisees would have used. Such "conservative" opponents of Mrs. Schiavo's rescue really seemed to want her dead.

Those interested in the details of the Terri Schiavo case may conduct their own searches for information. The best commentary that I've seen on the case has come from veteran columnist Nat Hentoff. Mr. Hentoff is an ethnic Jew who's a professing atheist, but he's a strong advocate against abortion and euthanasia, and has a great reverence for and knowledge of the United States Constitution. He points out that Mrs. Schiavo's Fifth Amendment right not to be deprived of life and liberty without due process of law was denied, and that her death was in fact an execution ordered by a judge against someone who had not been charged with or convicted of any crime, but who was to be put to death because her life was inconvenient to certain people. I recommend the following columns by Mr. Hentoff:

November 5, 2003: Should Terri Schiavo stay alive? A legal answer

Novermber 11, 2003: New hope for Terri Schiavo

April 14, 2005: Polls distort Terri's life and death

July 7, 2005: The continuing case of Terri Schiavo

August 31, 2006: Michael Schiavo versus Joe Lieberman

March 26, 2008: Barack Obama vs. Terri Schiavo

April 3, 2008: Terri Schiavo's lifesaving legacy

Not Dead Yet is an organization advocating on behalf of people with disabilities and against euthanasia. A search of their site using the term "Terri Schiavo" will turn up useful information and commentary.

Mrs. Schiavo, like those of her family who wanted to save her life, was a Roman Catholic. I find it interesting that she died two days before Pope John Paul II died, and six days after the 10th anniversary of the publication of Pope John Paul's encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which condemned abortion and euthanasia as crimes that no human laws could legitimize.

We don't know if Terri Schiavo would be alive in 2015 had she not been executed, but Judge George Greer is still alive, and turns 73 in 2015. Judge Greer, a Republican--another possible shock, to those who think of Republicans as being the pro-life party--retired in 2010 when his term expired. According to his Wikipedia entry, he received at least five honours in 2005 from various legal associations, which speaks volumes about the "ethics" of the legal profession in the United States in the 21st century. As the son of an appeal court judge, I'm appalled and ashamed to see some of those who wear the robes of the judiciary now. When Judge Greer received the 2005 Special Justice Award from the Pasco Bar, the association's president, Joan Hook, was quoted as saying, "He is very meticulous in his decisions and he is a supporter of the law, doesn't let his emotions or personal feelings get in the way of his analysis of the law." Those "personal feelings" would presumably include anything resembling human decency or compassion. I imagine similar comments could have (and probably were) made about judges in Germany from 1933-1945 who didn't let their emotions or personal feelings get in the way of applying the laws of the Nazi regime. At the time of the Schiavo case, Judge Greer was reportedly affiliated with Calvary Baptist Church--associated with the Southern Baptist Convention--in Clearwater, Florida, but withdrew his membership after others in the church expressed opposition to his rulings--and to his presence in the church--and pastor William Rice asked him to clarify his position in the church.

Jeb Bush, who took office as Governor of Florida in 1999, finished his second term in 2007. He's being touted as a possible Republican Party nominee for President of the United States in 2016. Given the Republicans' recent history of pretending to oppose the Democrats while deliberately nominating bad presidential candidates, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Bush won the nomination.

George W. Bush finished his second term as President of the United States in 2009; the unprosecuted war criminal remains at large.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

70 years ago: Palestinian Arabs reject proposal for governing Jerusalem

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
Zechariah 12:2-3

File this under "some things never change":

On March 29, 1945, Palestinian Arab leaders rejected a proposal which would rotate the office of Mayor of Jersusalem among Muslim, Jewish, and Christian officials. The proposal, advocated by British High Commissioner Viscount John Gort, was accepted with reservations by Jewish leaders.

Viscount Gort subsequently appointed Sir William Fitzgerald, Chief Justice of Palestine, to investigate the issue and offer a solution. Chief Justice Fitzgerald issued his report on August 28, 1945; it called for dividing Jerusalem into Jewish and Arab boroughs, each with a mayor and council.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

25 years ago: The University of Alberta holds its first Blue Jeans Day in support of sodomy

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:24-32

On March 21, 1990, the University of Alberta held its first annual Blue Jeans Day, when people were supposed to wear blue jeans to express solidarity with sodomite rights activists. A recent similar event at the University of Saskatchewan had resulted in the burning of blue jeans by engineering students.

The day at the U of A probably set a record for the smallest percentage of people wearing blue jeans on campus in many years. I saw one girl, who today would be considered a hate criminal, wearing a t-shirt that read, "Homos don’t tell me what to wear." Many women were wearing skirts, which helped to make the occasion one of the most memorable and enjoyable days in the U of A’s history.

As an aside, this blogger was a participant in a pro-life rally on the University of Alberta campus eight days later as a counter to an appearance on campus by "Dr." Henry Morgentaler, Canada's most infamous abortionist. I noticed that people I'd seen wearing blue jeans in support of sodomite and lesbian rights on March 21 were publicly supporting abortion rights on March 29--and that connection is not a coincidence. Three days before "Dr." Morgentaler's appearance, American pro-life speaker Joseph Scheidler gave a talk at the University of Alberta. This blogger put up a number of posters on campus--in places where permission to put up posters wasn’t required--advertising Mr. Scheidler’s appearance, and within a day all but one of the posters had been torn down; such is the "tolerance" of pro-abortion activists.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Here they go again: Yet another "oldest known human" discovered

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:22

As I said in a previous post, I can't think of any area of so-called "science" that's more characterized by fraud, cover-up, and wild extrapolation based on insufficient evidence than that of man's alleged ancestors (e.g., Nebraska Man; Java Man; Peking Man; Piltdown Man).

Submitted for your approval is the latest discovery, as reported by Malcolm Ritter of Associated Press, March 4, 2015:

NEW YORK — A fragment of jawbone found in Ethiopia is the oldest known fossil from an evolutionary tree branch that eventually led to modern humans, scientist reported Wednesday.

The fossil comes from very close to the time that our branch split away from more ape-like ancestors best known for the fossil skeleton Lucy. So it gives a rare glimpse of what very early members of our branch looked like.

At about 2.8 million years old, the partial jawbone pushes back the fossil record by at least 400,000 years for our branch, which scientists call Homo.

It was found two years ago at a site not far from where Lucy was unearthed. Africa is a hotbed for human ancestor fossils, and scientists from Arizona State University have worked for years at the site in northeast Ethiopia, trying to find fossils from the dimly understood period when the Homo genus, or group, arose.

Our species, called Homo sapiens, is the only surviving member of this group.

The jaw fragment, which includes five teeth, was discovered in pieces one morning by Chalachew Seyoum, an Ethiopian graduate student at Arizona State. He said he spotted a tooth poking out of the ground while looking for fossils.

The discovery is described in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Science.

Arizona State’s William Kimbel, an author of the paper, said it’s not clear whether the fossil came from a known early species of Homo or whether it reveals a new one. Field work is continuing to look for more fossils at the site, said another author, Brian Villmoare of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Analysis indicates the jaw fossil came from one of the earliest populations of Homo, and its age helps narrow the range of possibilities for when the first Homo species appeared, Kimbel said. The fossil dates to as little as 200,000 years after the last known fossil from Lucy’s species.

The fossil is from the left lower jaw of an adult. It combines ancestral features, like a primitive chin shape, with some traits found in later Homo fossils, like teeth that are slimmer than the bulbous molars of Lucy’s ilk.

Despite that mix, experts not involved in the paper said the researchers make a convincing case that the fossil belongs in the Homo category.

And they present good evidence that it came from a creature that was either at the origin of Homo or “within shouting distance,” said Bernard Wood of George Washington University.

The find also bolsters the argument that Homo arose from Lucy’s species rather than a related one, said Susan Anton of New York University.

The new paper’s analysis is first-rate, but the fossil could reveal only a limited amount of information about the creature, said Eric Delson of Lehman College in New York.

“There’s no head, there’s no tools, and no limb bones. So we don’t know if it was walking any differently from Australopithecus afarensis,” which was Lucy’s species, he said.

It’s the first time that anything other than isolated teeth have turned up as a possible trace of Homo from before 2.3 million years ago, he said.

“This fills a gap, but it hasn’t yet given us a complete skeleton. It’s not Lucy,” Delson said. “This is always the problem. We always want more.”

Also on Wednesday, another research team reported in a paper released by the journal Nature that the lower part of the face of Homo habilis, the earliest known member of the Homo branch, was surprisingly primitive. That came from reconstruction of a broken jaw that was found 50 years ago.

The finding means the evolutionary step from the Ethiopian jaw to the jaw of Homo habilis is “not so large,” said an author of the Nature study, Fred Spoor of University College London and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
Click on the links for the full text of the Science article Deep roots for the genus Homo, and a preview of the Nature article Reconstructed Homo habilis type OH 7 suggests deep-rooted species diversity in early Homo.

Whenever I hear about yet another discovery of a fossil of man's alleged ancestors, I make a point of going beyond the headline, and reading the article to see just how meager the evidence is. The fossil evidence seldom consists of more than part of a jawbone, a few teeth, and maybe a few other bone fragments. I wasn't disappointed when I read the article by Mr. Ritter--the latest findings are just more of the same. When the discoveries turn out to be nothing special, don't expect much coverage of that.

Incomplete human skull found in Israel offers clues to ancient human migration

Evolutionists believe that human life began in Africa, but how about the possibility that life began in the Middle East and branched out from there? In any event, the upper part of an ancient human skull has been found in Israel. As reported by Malcolm Ritterof Associated Press, January 28, 2015:

NEW YORK – Long ago, humans left their evolutionary cradle in Africa and passed through the Middle East on their way to Europe. Now scientists have found the first fossil remains that appear to document that journey, a partial skull from an Israeli cave.

The skull dates from around 55,000 years ago, fitting into the period when scientists had thought the migrants inhabited the area. And details of its anatomy resemble ancient skulls from Europe, Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University in Israel wrote in an email.

He and others present the finding in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature. The skull, which lacks facial features and its base, was found in Manot Cave in the Galilee region of northern Israel.

The migrants are called modern humans because of their anatomy. The earliest remains of modern humans in Europe date to about 45,000 years ago.

Experts not connected with the work were impressed. “This is the first evidence we have of the humans who made this journey,” apart from some ancient tools, said Eric Delson of Lehman College and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Although finding a fossil that fits so well with what was believed about the ancient migration might be expected, “we didn’t have it before,” he said.

“We could predict theoretically what we would find. They’ve found it. … Up until now, that was a ghost.”

Katerina Harvati of the University of Tuebingin in Germany said the skull gives clues about the anatomy of the migrants. Since Neanderthals were already known to inhabit the area, the skull also documents that they and modern humans co-existed there, as suspected, Harvati said.

That supports the idea that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred there, experts said. Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London wrote in an email that the skull is the first fossil of a modern human from western Asia that is well-dated to the estimated time of the interbreeding, some 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.
Click on the link to see a preview of the Nature article Levantine cranium from Manot Cave (Israel) foreshadows the first European modern humans.