Friday, December 14, 2007

British nativity Scene Modified to Make Political Point

A British charity is giving the traditional nativity scene a political twist this year by dividing it with a wall symbolizing Israel's controversial security barrier. The Amos Trust, a Christian group that works with needy communities around the world, is selling what it calls a nativity set with a difference -- one where "the wise men won't get to the stable." Organizers say the purpose of the sets -- made by Palestinian carpenters with olive wood from Bethlehem -- is to draw attention to the security measures put in place by the Israeli government.

The network of walls and fences being built between Israeli and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of the West Bank runs along the perimeter of Bethlehem, dividing it from nearby Jerusalem. Travel in and out of the town is heavily restricted.

The nativity scenes are available in a small version, for around $30, and a larger set -- "perfect for a church" -- goes for around $115. The wall in the larger version is detachable, the Amos Trust says, to allow for the possibility the situation may change in the future. Garth Hewitt, director of the Amos Trust, said Wednesday his group wants to use the wooden sets to make people aware of what is happening, including how the Christian population of Bethlehem is rapidly shrinking. "We're worried about the entire community there," he said. "They're trapped behind the wall there. It's like a medieval siege."

Hewitt, an Anglican "honorary canon" and singer-songwriter, said proceeds from the sets will go directly to the Bethlehem tradesmen who have been economically hurt by the loss of outside visitors and tourists. "In the old days, there would have been loads of pilgrims and they would have been able to raise money that way," he said. So far, the group has sold around 100 of the smaller sets and about 50 of the larger ones.

Critics of Israel frequently blame the Israeli government for the exodus of Christian Arabs from the PA areas. Some scholars attribute the shrinking Christian population to harassment and intimidation by Islamists, however.

Two pro-Israel Christian groups criticized the nativity sets. "We are saddened by attempts to make one-sided political capital out of the Bethlehem story," Geoffrey Smith, director of the U.K. branch of Christian Friends of Israel, said Wednesday. "Nobody wants a security barrier but so long as terrorists continue to threaten the lives of Jews and of Arabs in Israel, the people there have to defend themselves in ways that will stop the bombers." He said more than 2,000 lives have been saved by the security barrier in the last five years.

Pamela Thomas, national director of the British branch of Bridges for Peace, agreed. "The wall is there to protect people from the suicide bombers that were coming in," she said. Although far from common in Britain, nativity scenes occasionally have proved controversial in recent years. Last year, the Israeli government protested after a Catholic Church in England replaced its usual nativity pageant with a 24-foot-high polystyrene replica of the security barrier. Visitors reportedly were shown protest signs and what the parish priest called "stark photographs" of the situation in Bethlehem.

This year, the BBC has come under fire from some religious groups for a modernized version of the nativity story, which the public broadcaster will screen in a live show in Liverpool on December 16. Mary and Joseph will be depicted as asylum seekers swept up during a crackdown on immigration, with the cast singing hits from the Beatles and other famous local pop bands. Despite the complaints, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool James Jones supports the program, saying that it will cause the Christmas story to "echo through the streets of Liverpool."



An email below from Henry N. Geraedts, PhD [] in Canada

It certainly stretches credulity when the Guardian's George "Moonbat" Monbiot writes that environmentalists should "remember that while we have been proved right about most things, we have been consistently wrong about the dates for mineral exhaustion." Never bothered to read Julian Simon, it would seem.

The environmental movement proved right about most things? Right. Let's see now: DDT, nuclear energy, Erlich's global population explosion and famine, Borlaugh's green revolution, GMOs, the ozone layer and in the ongoing saga, AGW/ACC. Even the most cursory review tells us the environmentalists were fundamentally wrong on all accounts.

By their very nature, messianic movements like environmentalism are blind to their mistakes, and thus can not learn from them. Even when demonstrably wrong, environmentalists remain prisoner to the fallacies of static thinking and linear extrapolations. They are nevertheless as a matter of course always right. Left unchecked, they are also quite willing to resort to totalitarian measures to ensure that their view of thing prevails, as evidenced by the interview with Mayer Hillman in which he dismisses democracy and its principles as so much bunk to be cast aside so environmentalism can save the world.

The environmental movement in fact stands out as the true Flat Earth Society, constantly looking to build fences to save us others, the mindless masses, from falling off the edge.


Yes. It tells you what the authors' assumptions were. It is just a modelling exercise -- not research. You can be sure that there was no mention of this

Chronic disease prevention: health effects and financial costs of strategies to reduce salt intake and control tobacco use

By Perviz Asaria et al.


In 2005, WHO set a global goal to reduce rates of death from chronic (non-communicable) disease by an additional 2% every year. To this end, we investigated how many deaths could potentially be averted over 10 years by implementation of selected population-based interventions, and calculated the financial costs of their implementation. We selected two interventions: to reduce salt intake in the population by 15% and to implement four key elements of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). We used methods from the WHO Comparative Risk Assessment project to estimate shifts in the distribution of risk factors associated with salt intake and tobacco use, and to model the effects on chronic disease mortality for 23 countries that account for 80% of chronic disease burden in the developing world. We showed that, over 10 years (2006-2015), 13.8 million deaths could be averted by implementation of these interventions, at a cost of less than US$0.40 per person per year in low-income and lower middle-income countries, and US$0.50-1.00 per person per year in upper middle-income countries (as of 2005). These two population-based intervention strategies could therefore substantially reduce mortality from chronic diseases, and make a major (and affordable) contribution towards achievement of the global goal to prevent and control chronic diseases.


More British bureaucratic brilliance: ""More than 8,200 homes rented by the Ministry of Defence for use by military families in England and Wales are unoccupied, the BBC has learned. Figures show 20% of married quarters are empty, but cost taxpayers 28.78 million pounds a year in rent paid to a housing company."

No comments: