Oil and Water: President Obama Meets with Pope Francis

Hope all is well on this very chilly 55 degree Wednesday evening up here in Tallahassee, as 40 of us are participating in the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops “Catholic Days at the Capitol“. Our meetings began at 8:45 this morning with another important one at 1:15 pm this afternoon. And, there is a critical meeting at Governor Rick Scott’s office at 11:00 a.m. today March 27th.

But, another really big meeting is happening March 27th, at the Vatican. The meeting is the first between Pope Frances and President Obama, it is like oil meeting with water? Oxymoron is a word that comes to my mind. This meeting is almost like Al Capone meeting with Herbert Hoover…Bernie Madoff meeting with Mother Teresa…Pete Rose with MLB Commissioner, Bowie Kuhn.

You get the picture. We just pray that Obama gets the “real picture”, the “bigger picture”.

For starters, the pope does not speak English. President Obama does not speak Italian or Latin. No teleprompter. Not much communication between the two? I feel for the interpreter. I feel even more for Obama by the time the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio gets through with him. We pray that the President uses his two big ears.

Where does Lesson I begin? Where does the Holiest of all Catholics in the world begin with the most “Pro-Abortion” President the United States has ever seen in its 238 year history? Where does the 266th pope of the Holy Catholic Church, who has showed the entire world what it means to meet the people in the streets; to humbly work with the poor; and to embrace the entire world by inviting them to the banquet table by way of his “Global Open House” – begin with a former “community organizer” who spends more money on rounds of golf in one year than the pope will spend in his entire papacy?

Where in GOD’s name does Pope Francis begin with Barack Obama? Better question: Where does he end?

As a devout Catholic and as a supporter of Pope Francis, my prayer is that the pope covers four critical topics with President Obama in their first-ever meeting:

1.) Pro-Life vs. Abortion
2.) Same sex Marriage
3.) Obamacare contraception mandate
4.) Religious Freedom

If the pope is successful in planting a few seeds with this progressive President and he is able to convert a portion of Obama’s heart, then we may have a prayer. I pray that President Obama puts his politics aside and comes to the meeting with some type of humility. That he puts his ego away and honors our Holy Father with some type of reverence.

There is a lot at stake here and GOD only knows when these two will ever meet again. Obama met with the former Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus a few years back and their 15 minute meeting ran into 30 minutes but not much was accomplished. This time around, I believe that Pope Francis will have a profound effect on President Obama as I pray that he focuses on the sanctity of life with him and shows him that the Sixth Commandment clearly states “Thou Shalt Not Murder” and the Fourth Commandment, Honor thy Mother and thy Father.

Pope Francis to meet with President Obama on Thursday

U.S. President Barack Obama is set to travel to Vatican City to meet Pope Francis for the first time Thursday, hoping that perhaps some of the pontiff’s seemingly universal popularity will rub off on him before he leaves

The focus of the conversation when President Barack Obama meets Pope Francis on Thursday is expected to be the gap between the rich and the poor. Obama has called income inequality “the defining challenge of our time,” and Pope Francis has made the plight of the poor the centerpiece of his papacy. “One of the things that the Pope has done globally is put the issue of poverty back on the list,” says Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington.

For Obama, whose job-approval rating slipped to a lowly 41% earlier this month, the meeting is a rare chance to share a common platform — both physically and in terms of policy — with a Pontiff who enjoys the popularity of a media superstar. “It would be terrific for any politician on the planet to have his picture taken next to Pope Francis right now,” says Schneck, who served during the last election as national co-chair of Catholics for Obama. “Here in the United States, politicians like Paul Ryan are talking about poverty almost every day, and I think we have to credit the Pope with that.”

In the first year of his papacy, Francis has shifted the Catholic conversation toward Obama’s side of the court, lowering the heat on culture-war battles like gay marriage in favor of an emphasis on the least fortunate. But the two men may find that they also have plenty on which to disagree. The meeting comes two days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature accomplishment, on grounds that it violated religious freedom by requiring for-profit corporations to provide insurance coverage for contraception. It’s an issue repeatedly stressed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and which Francis is likely to raise.

The visit will be the second Obama has made to the Vatican, and his previous appearance, along with a meeting in January between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart Pietro Parolin, offer hints of what the President can expect. In 2009, Obama met with Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The two talked for a little less than half an hour, nearly double the 15 minutes that had been allotted. In a conversation that seemed to be a search for common ground, the two discussed immigration, the global economic crisis and the peace process in the Middle East. Benedict raised the issue of abortion, and Obama pledged to do everything in his power to reduce their numbers.

Read more.

EDITORS UPDATE: The Heritage Foundation reported:

During a meeting today, Pope Francis talked to President Obama about religious freedom, an issue that has come under heightened scrutiny in recent years as religious business owners have objected to Obamacare’s contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs coverage mandates.

According to the Vatican, Francis and Obama “discussed questions of particular relevance for the Church, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform.”

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments from two family-owned businesses objecting to Obamacare coverage mandates on the grounds that such mandates violated their freedom to run their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs.

The Pope and Obama had a “cordial meeting,” per the Vatican statement, and also discussed “their common commitment to the eradication of human trafficking throughout the world.”

Shocker: FBI dumps Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate crime” watchdog partner

This is indeed a shocker, as it goes against the consistent policy line of Obama’s FBI and Justice Department. But it is a most welcome development. The SPLC is one of the Left’s foremost propaganda organs, tarring any group that dissents from its extreme political agenda (such as our American Freedom Defense Initiative, and this website) as a “hate group.” Significantly, although it lists hundreds of groups as “hate groups,” it includes hardly any Islamic jihad groups on this list. And its “hate group” designation against the Family Research Council led one of its followers to storm the FRC offices with a gun, determined to murder the chief of the FRC. This shows that these kinds of charges shouldn’t be thrown around frivolously, as tools to demonize and marginalize those whose politics the SPLC dislikes. But that is exactly what they do. Its hard-Left leanings are well known and well documented. This Weekly Standard article sums up much of what is wrong with the SPLC.

“Shocker: FBI dumps Southern Poverty Law Center as ‘hate crime’ watchdog partner,” by Paul Bedard for the Washington Examiner, March 26:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has labeled several Washington, D.C.-based family organizations as “hate groups” for favoring traditional marriage, has been dumped as a “resource” on the FBI‘s Hate Crime Web page, a significant rejection of the influential legal group.

The Web page scrubbing, which also included eliminating the Anti-Defamation League, was not announced and came in the last month after 15 family groups pressed Attorney General Eric Holderand FBI Director James Comey to stop endorsing a group — SPLC — that inspired a recent case of domestic terrorism at the Family Research Council.

“We commend the FBI for removing website links to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that not only dispenses erroneous data but has been linked to domestic terrorism in federal court. We hope this means the FBI leadership will avoid any kind of partnership with the SPLC,” Tony Perkins, FRC President, told Secrets.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center’s mission to push anti-Christian propaganda is inconsistent with the mission of both the military and the FBI, which is to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States,” he added.

The FBI had no comment and offered no explanation for its decision to end their website’s relationshipwith the two groups, leaving just four federal links as hate crime “resources.” Neither eliminated group had an immediate comment.

SPLC has been a leading voice against hate crimes, and has singled out evangelical and traditional family groups as advocates of hate against gays. It has even gone after a local official, Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, who also heads a group that promotes traditional, opposite sex marriage.

In August 2012, a Washington area man guided by the SPLC’s “hate map” that cited FRC, entered the group’s headquarters and shot a security guard. The guard survived and the shooter, a volunteer with a gay group, pleaded guilty to domestic terrorism.

In their letter, the 15 conservative groups argued that the FBI website’s inclusion of SPLC as a resource “played a significant part in bringing about an act of domestic terrorism.” It added, “It is completely inappropriate for the Department of Justice to recommend public reliance on the SPLC hate group lists and data. The links to the SPLC as a FBI ‘Resource’ must be taken down immediately, leaving only official, trustworthy sources listed on the agency’s webpage.”

RELATED STORIES:

Russia warned U.S. about Tsarnaev, but spelling error let him escape

“My name is Layla Murad. I left Islam in April 2013.”

Watch as 1000 years of European borders change (time lapse map)

An incredible time lapse look at how drastically European borders have changed over the last 1000 years. Video from the “Centennia Historical Atlas” by Frank E.Reed.

CENTENNIA is a map-based guide to the history of Europe and the Middle East from the beginning of the 11th century to the present. It is a dynamic, animated historical atlas including over 9,000 border changes. The map controls evolve the map forward or backward in time bringing the static map to life. Our maps display every major war and territorial conflict displaying the status of each region at intervals of a tenth of a year. The maps reflect actual “power on the ground” rather than internationally-sanctioned or “recognized” borders.

The Centennia Historical Atlas was required reading for all beginning students at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis for over twelve years. Over 1150 copies have been purchased annually for all prospective naval officers at Annapolis. The software serves as a visual introduction to Western History from a cartographic perspective. Centennia is also licensed by hundreds of secondary schools, colleges, and universities worldwide. Editions of the Centennia Atlas are available in Greek and German, as well as English.

A Faulty Education = A Faulty Foreign Policy

The recent impotence of America’s leaders on the world stage has left many wondering where the strength, power, and resolve that used to characterize our nation’s foreign policy have gone.  Some have located this in the administration’s preoccupation with domestic policy, while others view it as a concerted effort to roll back American influence.  Politics aside, the origin of this inaction may be as easy to locate as your local high school’s world history textbook.

Russia provides the perfect example.  Those who wonder why the administration refuses to recognize Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine for what it is – naked territorial conquest – can find the answer in the history education our country has provided to those who fill the staffs of President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the halls of the State Department.

Verity Educate recently reviewed a world history textbook from a prominent publisher that is currently in use throughout school districts in Florida, with disturbingly misleading information about the history of Russian involvement in Crimea (a small peninsula on the Black Sea that Russia has recently annexed from Ukraine.)  There is a distortion of historical fact and misinformation conveyed in the most basic information American children learn in school, and this explains, in part, why our society and our political leaders fail to understand Russian intentions and the role of the Crimean region today.

The singular focus of this textbook, like many other world history books today, is on European imperialism – the military conquest of global territory by European and other Western nations.  Russian actions in the region are viewed in this light.  This particular textbook describes Russia’s historical intentions toward Crimea and the Black Sea region under the heading, “Europeans Claim Muslim Lands,” with the argument that “European nations expanded their empires by seizing territories from Muslim states.”  Overemphasis on the crimes of imperialism, however, obscures the important strategic concepts that ring true today.

The textbook explains, “Each generation of Russian czars launched a war on the Ottomans to try to gain land of the Black Sea” and that “In 1853, war broke out between the Russians and the Ottomans.”  The Crimean War is then described as a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire over control of the Black Sea region.  The only attempt the book makes at explaining Russia’s longstanding motivation in seeking to control this territory is the offhanded remark that “the purpose was to give Russia a warm-weather port.”  Two empires fought a war because Russian sailors wanted a comfortable place to relax on shore leave?

This explanation is a paltry attempt to explain a key geostrategic reason for continued Russian expansionism in the southern Slavic regions of Europe.  Russia did not simply desire a “warm-weather port” where sailors could discard their heavy parkas.  Rather, Russia was in desperate need of a warm-water port that would not freeze over in the winter months.  This was critical economically at that that time, primarily to ship grain, and also militarily.  Despite its size, Russia had no other options for a warm-water port.  Moreover, control of Crimea, which Russia acquired in 1783, was not enough, because the Ottoman Empire could easily block Russian ships from leaving the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

The textbook glosses over a key Russian national interest – control of a warm-water port on the Black Sea with access to the Mediterranean – that has remained just as important throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  The textbook fails to teach this vital lesson about history, world strategy, and international relations because it is focused only on teaching that “Europeans Claim Muslim Lands.”

When I taught the history of international relations to college students, I emphasized, repeatedly that Russia has always sought to secure for itself access to a warm-water port.  Iced over ports have always constituted a geographic weakness the country seeks to overcome.  This has always been at the heart of Russia’s southern expansionism on the Black Sea.  I also taught that Great Britain, France, and Sardinia joined the Ottomans in fighting Russia in the 1850s in order to maintain a balance of power and check Russian expansion.  But the fact that the two European countries most guilty of the crime of colonial imperialism fought on the side of a non-Western, non-Christian power contradicts the argument of Western crimes, and so it is omitted from many curricula.

These misunderstandings of history do more then just create confusion about international relations today.  They make it impossible to understand Russia’s strategic motivations.  It is no wonder, then, that American policy makers seem dumbfounded by Russia’s decisive movements into Ukraine.  If they, and, in particular, the staff members advising them, learned history from our textbooks, it should come as no surprise that they have no understanding of what is going on or how to react.

One thing we can be sure of is that Russia suffers from no such confusion.  They, and the students in their schools, understand their own country’s national interests – both historically and today.

RELATED STORY: AP History Changes Lean Toward a Negative American Perspective

EDITORS NOTE: The featured picture titled “Uncertain Future” was taken by Danielteolijr. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Wildlife is Thriving Because of Guns and Hunting

Since the late 1930s, hunters, target shooters and the firearms industry have been the nation’s largest contributors to conservation, paying for programs that benefit America’s wildlife and all who love the outdoors.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Interior just announced that firearms and ammunition manufacturers contributed a record $760.9 million in excise taxes in 2013 through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program.

National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has created the below infographic, “How Wildlife is Thriving Because of Guns and Hunting,” to illustrate how “we as an industry and as sportsmen are the greatest contributors to wildlife conservation in America, providing nearly $9 billion over the past 76 years.”

HowWildlifeisThrivingBecauseofGuns_533323d3aa357_w1500

What Common Core Looks Like In Desperation

It seems that the protests of the American citizen against the so-called Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has become proverbial grains of sand in the works of the mammoth corporate reform machine.

Die-hard supporters of CCSS are becoming desperate, and such is showing in their words and actions.

Consider Jeb Bush’s declaration, “In Asia today, they don’t care about children’s self esteem….”

This hard-nosed attitude is supposed to appeal to the American public and advance CCSS?

Jeb is definitely pushing CCSS whether America likes it or not– but he is becoming sloppy in his rhetoric.

He is not alone in his desperate, Save CCSS efforts.

Founder and director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools Caroline Roemer-Shirley (sister to our state board of education president) wrote this op/ed for the Baton Rouge Advocate on March 24, 2014.

Not surprisingly, she is pro-CCSS.

Notice the authoritarian desperation in her closing statement:

It’s critically important that all of us — parents, educators, community leaders and businessmen — oppose efforts to derail the Common Core State Standards.

Good public education is the key to success for our children and we must help them get there by all means available. A quality education is one of childhood’s most basic civil rights. Our goal must be to get our children into the top tiers nationally. That means pushing aside anything or anyone standing in the way of their success. [Emphasis added.]

Roemer-Shirley equates CCSS with “a quality education.”

The same day at Roemer-Shirley’s op/ed, education historian Diane Ravitch posted a marvelous piece that unequivocally demonstrates CCSS as not even qualifying as standards given its secretive, controlled, stakeholder-absent creation and declared rigidity:

In the United States, the principles of standard-setting have been clearly spelled out by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  …

[CCSS] were written in a manner that violates the nationally and internationally recognized process for writing standards. The process by which they were created was so fundamentally flawed that these “standards” should have no legitimacy.

Setting national academic standards is not something done in stealth by a small group of people, funded by one source, and imposed by the lure of a federal grant in a time of austerity.

There is a recognized protocol for writing standards, and the Common Core standards failed to comply with that protocol. [Emphasis added and some text order reversed.]

Monday, March 24, 2014, also gave us blogger Peter Greene’s fine post on the purpose of CCSS to tag student data down to the very classroom assignment. 

Roemer-Shirley does not care for protocol that honors the democratic process, and she does not care about the invasive, science-fiction nature of CCSS data tagging. Instead, she is willing to “push aside anyone standing in the way of their (let’s be real, folks– she doesn’t mean students’) success.”

Hmm.

The creepy-desperate CCSS push does not stop there. On March 18, 2014, both national union presidents met with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO– one of the two CCSS copyright holders), with in attendance all desiring to save CCSS.

It seems that AFT members can expect their national president to cling to CCSS no matter what her constituency thinks:

Weingarten added that she expects that many of her members would call for outright opposition to the standards during the AFT’s summer convention, even though both the AFT and NEA support the standards and Weingarten said she wouldn’t back away from the common core[Emphasis added.]

If the AFT membership opposes CCSS “outright,” how is it, then, that “AFT supports the standards”?

Does a declared, “official” position outrank the desires of AFT’s own membership?

Apparently so.

NEA (not the membership, mind you) is right there with AFT in its protection of CCSS:

During the same discussion, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel… said the union remained squarely behind the standards themselves….

What is one to do in order to ensure CCSS support? Why, one must promote a positive CCSS message in the media:

… (South Dakota) Education Secretary Melody Schopp expressed concern that enough wasn’t being done to push more positive common-core stories to the public: “The media’s not hearing that.” [Emphasis added.]

All of this “pushing” so-called reform “to the public.”

Genuine standards are not “pushed.” Genuine standards are elicited.

Nevertheless, in our current, for-profit reform era,  it’s all about the spin. No organization knows that better than Stand for Children (SFC). (I debated SFC Louisiana twice on CCSS– see this link and this link.)

The question is, how far will SFC go in its CCSS-desperation spin?

Well beyond the ethical, it seems.

In their efforts to “push” a positive CCSS message, SFC Oklahoma decided “positive” need not necessarily be honest:

Some names on a petition, from a group hoping to keep Common Core, were faked. The group, Stand for Children Oklahoma, presented a petition to legislators in early March with 7,000 signatures, but many people whose names are on the list said they didn’t sign it.

Sherri Crawford is one of those. She’s adamantly against Common Core. …

When asked if she signed it, she responded, “No, absolutely not.”

Sherri found out her name was on the petition after a group of moms, who oppose common core, got a hold of it and started checking the names. They said they found not only several obviously fake names, like Barack Obama, but more than a thousand they have personally verified didn’t sign it. [Emphasis added.]

Yes, my fellow lovers of the democratic process, we have indeed become grains of sand in the greasy wheels of the pro-CCSS engine.

The very idea makes me smile.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Rennett Stowe. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The Plan for Police Nullification

“I [sic] give my left n** to bang down your door and come for your gun,” said the cop. This statement, made by Branford, Ct., police officer Joseph Peterson in a Facebook conversation earlier this month, created quite a blogosphere firestorm. Internet commenters from Sacramento to Saratoga struck a note of defiance and e-shouted the ancient words of Spartan King Leonidas, “Molon labe!” On the other side there’s Ct. governor Dannel Malloy (D), who said to a gun owner at a March 13 town-hall meeting that the anti-Second Amendment set won and “you lost.” But it occurs to me that in-your-face actions can go both ways.

Pondering this brings to mind yet another type of response to the (anti) Constitution State door-banger: from law-enforcement officers (LEOs) vowing not to enforce unconstitutional gun laws. One of them, a retired career detective responding to Officer Peterson’s statement that his job is only to enforce the law — and that he must do so no matter what form it takes — called Peterson a “fool” and wrote, “Part of the filtering process in criminal justice IS the police choosing whether or not to enforce a law at a particular point in time on a particular person.” This gets at an important point: the “good soldier” cop argument is bunk. No LEO tickets everyone driving 31 in a 30 zone, many laws are on the books but not enforced at all, and no moral cop would obey a command to round up all members of a certain ethnic group for extermination. Police use discretion all the time.

And, if our constitutional rights are to be secure, we need fewer Officer Petersons in the world and more, let’s say, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. We don’t need good-soldier cops — we need good-citizen cops.

The solution to this problem lies in the LEO selection process. If your area is electing a sheriff, there must be an explicit litmus test:

  • Will you protect constitutional rights?
  • And will you disobey unconstitutional orders, no matter their origin?

Any waffling or hesitation should disqualify the candidate. We need LEOs who won’t just yes us to death, for electoral ambitions have a way of greasing the tongue. We need LEOs who are passionate about the issue, stout-hearted cultural and constitutional warriors. And while we can’t read minds, remember this: if you want to know what a person wants you to believe he believes, listen to what he says. If you want to know what he really believes, listen to how he says it. While some people are A-list actors, it’s hard to fake true passion.

But even this isn’t enough. The candidate must also agree to incorporate as part of regular deputy training a comprehensive course on the U.S. Constitution. This course must reflect what is called a strict “originalist” view of the document, but what is really just the only lawful, correct view. (It would be silly to call someone who follows the rules of poker an originalist and someone who doesn’t a “pragmatist.” The latter is called a cheater.) It must emphasize that an unconstitutional law is no law at all.

This brings us to something else Gov. Malloy said to the gun owner at the town hall: “[W]e have courts. Courts are where the constitutionality of things are [sic] decided.”

Actually, no, they’re not.

Courts are where the courts’ position on constitutionality is decided.

As for actual constitutionality, that’s an objective reality that cannot be changed by cheaters who rationalize that rules can be “living” (which is convenient when you‘ve assumed the power of life and death over them).

And “assumed” is the operative word. Nothing in the Constitution grants the courts the power to be the ultimate arbiter of the document’s meaning. So who did grant the courts this power?

The courts themselves!

Chief Justice John Marshall took it upon himself to assert this right in the 1803 Marbury v. Madison decision. This started the transition from the rule of law to the rule of lawyers.

This is why the LEO Constitution course must also incorporate Thomas Jefferson’s correct position on the courts’ role. Our third president wrote in 1819 that he denied “the right they [the courts] usurp of exclusively explaining the constitution…,” saying that if that right became status quo, “then indeed is our constitution a complete felo de se.” That’s Latin, of course.

It means “suicide pact.”

And no American has an obligation to be party to a suicide pact.

Jefferson went on to explain, “For intending to establish three departments, co-ordinate and independent, that they might check and balance one another, it has given, according to this [judicial review] opinion, to one of them alone, the right to prescribe rules for the government of the others, and to that one too, which is unelected by, and independent of the nation.” Quite right. And if the courts can unilaterally decide that they have ultimate-arbiter power, guess what?

We can unilaterally decide they don’t.

Yes, in-your-face actions can go both ways.

As for law enforcement, what if you can’t vote for your head LEO because you live in a city in which the mayor appoints a police chief? Then the litmus test a sheriff would have to pass must be applied to a mayoral candidate. If he’s a Bolshevik Bill unwilling to appoint a Constitution-loving-and-fearing chief who will institute the aforementioned Constitution course, tell him sorry, but only true Americans need apply.

As first responders, LEOs can also be first persecutors or first protectors. What they actually will be is up to us.

RELATED STORY: Rep. Keith Ellison: I Wish Democrats Would Come Out Against the Second Amendment

BREAKING: Florida “Cultural Indicators Report” Released

The Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC) released the Florida Cultural Indicators Report which was commissioned and published by the FFPC and evaluates the cultural, social and economic condition of our state.  The study will be delivered to every member of the Florida House, Senate, and Cabinet, all legislative committees, media and news agencies across Florida. The 55 page Florida Cultural Indicators Report is available in PDF format here.

Video footage of the announcement including FFPC President John Stemberger’s remarks:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/3-dBCNgRuh8[/youtube]

The 55 page full color document provides statistical data for 37 cultural indicators in 7 different categories including vital statistics, crime, education, family, health, poverty & welfare, and business & government.  Each indicator compares Florida’s status to the rest of the country by using charts, graphs and color images to accompany the raw data.

Among the more remarkable findings of the study include:

  • While Florida’s violent crime rate has fallen 55% since 1990, since 1960 Florida’s violent crime rate has always been 36% above the national average.
  • On average, 83,000 couples are divorced each year. Florida has the ninth highest divorce rate in the nation and the divorce rate has been above the national average for more than 50 years.
  • Florida taxpayers pay $1.95 billion dollars annually as the cost of family fragmentation from divorce and unwed childbearing.
  • The total number of births out of wedlock has jumped from 28% in 1960 to 62% in 2012.  Since 1960, the percentage of births to non-white unmarried women has increased by 126%.
  • Since 1960 the number of single parent families has risen by 260%.
  • Enrolment in Medicare by Florida’s seniors has risen by 61%.
  • Florida has the fifth highest HIV infection rate in the nation with 78% of HIV in men being the result of male on male sexual contact.
  • One in six Floridians now receive food stamps quadrupling this rate since 2008.

John Stemberger, President and General Counsel of the FFPC was on hand to comment and offer analysis regarding the results and implications of the study.  Stemberger stated, “Virtually every domestic policy issue in this report is connected to the level of thriving in marriages and families.  While government’s role is limited in shaping culture, there is still much that legislative leaders can do to strengthen these institutions.  Our plea to government officials and public opinion leaders all across Florida is to begin a dialogue and discussion about how Florida can strengthen the institutions of marriage and family.  Our hope would be that future legislative leaders would create a joint commission, a workshop, a summit, or an OPPAGA study on marriage and family to explore solutions to reduce family fragmentation and increase the thriving of marriages and families.”

Does Climate Change Play a Role in Putin’s Aggression in Ukraine?

1. Russian President Vladimir Putin has bested US President Obama in the Ukraine including the recent annexation of Crimea.

2. Putin is trying to rebuild the former Soviet Union, but may also want Ukraine’s wheat and all the warm water ports of the northern Black Sea because of a potentially dangerous new cold climate.

3. Global warming ended years ago and the next global cold climate epoch has begun because of the Sun going into a reduced state of energy output called a ‘solar hibernation’ – a once every 206 year event.

4. During past cold eras, Russians were heavily dependent on the Ukraine for wheat and the warmer water ports of Crimea. Russia is a cold, far north nation. Most of it lies at the latitude of Alaska.

5. Russian government scientists and their media are free to talk about the new cold climate where US scientists are punished for telling the truth about the climate. The US mainstream media is silent on the coming cold. Russian scientists have said a new “Little Ice Age” begins this year!

6. Russia is no stranger to the ravages of cold and starvation and they are therefore more concerned about the next cold climate. In the US, most have never experienced either. Russian scientists have said their country must prepare for what the new cold epoch will do to them. In the US, just the opposite is happening! President Obama has even said global warming is “accelerating!” – a shockingly false statement.

7. Putin will do what he can to prevent the European Union or the US or western agricultural conglomerates from getting Ukrainian wheat thus depriving Russia of food for its people. The US food conglomerates are well aware of the next cold climate.

8. Putin will try to stop the US or NATO from controlling northern Black Sea ports for its Navy. If the next “Little Ice Age” (LIA) begins as predicted, Russia’s northern ports along the Baltic Sea will be frozen in for most of the year – crippling its Navy.

9. Putin may be listening to what his scientists and his media are saying about the need to prepare for the coming difficult cold epoch. President Obama continues to place US citizens in harm’s way by making sure we are totally unprepared for the coming food shortages and extreme cold weather.

QUESTION: Does Climate Change Play a Role in Putin’s Aggression in the Ukraine? 

Certainly, it looks as though the primary reason for the Russian action in Ukraine is part of Putin’s long range plan to reconstitute the former Soviet Union. Is climate change on his mind as he executes his militaristic Ukrainian strategy while taking full advantage of the feckless foreign policy of President Obama? Maybe. Should it be? Absolutely!

Putin, two steps ahead of President Obama on international affairs, is actually years ahead of President Obama on climate change. Our hapless President continues to reinforce the myth of man made global warming and engaging in active deception of the American people on the subject.  Putin, however, appears to be doing exactly what he needs to do to prepare for the predicted extreme cold climate that my climate research company, the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC,) and Russia’s leading climate scientists have warned about. That’s right, for those who haven’t been informed yet; global warming ended years ago and a potentially dangerous new cold climate has begun!

The next climate change to a predicted long cold epoch which threatens Russia’s control over the vital national resources of wheat and its long standing need for a warm water port, may be among the more important and undiscussed drivers underlying the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Securing these resources may cause him to insure he has complete control over all of the Ukraine beyond the just annexed Crimea and as much of the northern Black Sea as he can take. This bold assertion rightfully demands some explanation.

The new cold climate, a once-every-206-year event, is brought on as a result of the Sun making historic reductions in its energy output, which is leading us inextricably down the path to a much colder Earth. This “solar hibernation” has already brought about a stunning reversal from the past global warming to a new colder climate leaving the ‘warmist’ and environmental communities scrambling for new reasons for existence, e.g. ocean acidification. The widely available real world temperature data shows that not only have we had no global warming for seventeen years, but that oceanic and atmospheric temperatures have been declining for much of the last eleven years. Sea ice extent globally has reached record levels. The brutal record cold winter of 2013-2014 is but one example of many, that a fundamental change in the climate has arrived. This new cold is like the solar hibernation that has caused it, unstoppable!

The absence of discussion by our media and government, much less action to prepare for the next cold climate epoch in the US, is completely opposite in Russia! It is ironic and deeply saddening that in what was the former communist Soviet Union, scientists are more free to tell the truth about what is really happening with the Earth’s climate, than are their US colleagues. As a result, Russian climate scientists are way ahead of their shackled US counterparts on the status of this next change to a long cold climate. Tragically, here in the US, it would be a career ending move if a government scientist or government funded university climate researcher told the truth about this new cold phenomenon. President Obama has made it clear that US scientists are to mislead the people about what is happening with the climate. He has done so via executive order and in public statements where he has made public policy. In June 2013 at Georgetown University, for example,  he made the statement that global warming was “accelerating” – a shockingly false statement.

Similarly, the Russian media has no problem printing articles from their climate experts about the coming cold climate and its potentially calamitous effects. With the exception of a relatively few like Newsmax and the Orlando Sentinel, major US media outlets are silent on what may become the most important news story of the century. In Russia, the media have reported that researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences are warning that a new “Little Ice Age” is coming, possibly in 2014! It is this new extreme cold epoch and its many ill-effects that could be an important secondary driver behind Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Unlike the US, Russia is no stranger to bitter cold and nationwide food deprivation. Their history is full of such episodes caused by natural forces and augmented by political turbulence and warfare. It is part of their country’s historical, social, and political makeup. There is a stark difference therefore, between the current US and Russian view of the next climate change. In the US, there is no future cold climate threat! Yet many ‘in the know’ in Russian view it as ‘a clear and present danger!’ As a result, while on the surface their rationale for a Ukraine invasion is political, underneath, the Russians well understand what other ‘jewels’ Ukraine has to offer.

I believe one of those jewels and reasons for a Russian takeover starting in the Crimea, is to secure complete access to Ukrainian wheat and other crops as they did in days of the former Soviet Union. In 2012, Russia proper produced 38 million metric tons of wheat, fifth largest in the world. Ukraine came in with 16 million tons about half of Russia’s output yet, making it number eleven in the global rankings. It is possible under current cold climate scenarios published in the Global Climate Status Report©, a product of the Space and Science Research Corporation, that Russia may see a substantial loss of its grain crops during the next cold climate. This could result in them becoming partially or totally dependent on the Ukraine for much of the bread on Russian tables. The quantities are not the only point – the geography matters too.

The Russian homeland is centered along latitude 60 degrees north. This is the same as northern Canada and Alaska! Russia in the winter is a vast cold land. Even the Ukraine, near the southern most extent of Russia, is about the same latitude as the wheat belt of southern Canada. What if the Russian Academy of Sciences is correct and we see another Little Ice Age start this year or in the next five or even ten years. What if Russia loses much or all its harvest of wheat for years in a row? They will turn as they have before – to Ukraine.

The March 10, 2014 Global Climate Status Report states that this new cold climate will likely “…result in substantial, global, social disruption and loss of life.”  The US government, US agricultural conglomerates and the US mainstream media are well aware of the new cold climate because of frequent updates provided to them over the years by the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC).

Putin cannot allow the western leaning Ukrainian government to permit European, or US agricultural conglomerates to have access to Ukraine’s wheat during the coming cold climate, leaving his people without the food they will be demanding.

History has shown that when the people begin to starve, they take down their government and wars begin. The French revolution of 1789, which eventually placed Napoleon Bonaparte on the throne, took place at the very beginning of the last 206 year solar cycle’s cold phase. Doubtless, President Putin has no interest in seeing any political upheaval on his watch. He will want Ukraine’s crops and will do what is needed to keep European and US agriculture conglomerates out of the way.

But what about the warm water port issue. The world has long known that Russia has historically sought out warm ports where its navy could hold up during winters and to be able to respond year-round to Russian military requirements as they also attempt to project their military force globally. But during this new cold climate, it will be different. The port issue will be paramount!

Again, if the Russian climate researchers are correct, then the far northern waters of the planet especially the Baltic Sea and waters around Russia’s northern ports could be frozen over, not just for a few months in winter, but for most if not all of the year! During the coldest time of the Little Ice Age from 1615 to 1745, the Baltic Sea was so cold for so long that roads, hotels, and shops were built on the frozen sea and people walked between counties over the thick ice. No, this would not be just another cold winter adversely affecting Russia’s fleet for a predictably short few months. This could be a period of time when Russia’s military, especially its navy, could be crippled, making it vulnerable to other foreign designs. Putin cannot permit that either. He will want to hold on to the recently annexed Crimea and its ports and as many other warm water ports along the Black Sea that he can capture, thus prohibiting NATO naval forces from moving in.

All the while, the wily Russian President Putin remains way ahead of President Obama. In the United States, the manmade climate change deception has become a joke. In Russia, as its history of incredible hardships shows, the changing climate may be viewed today as a matter of life and death. The incursion into the Ukraine though essentially political, may also be the first steps the Russians are taking to prepare for the coming cold!

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is of a Russian winter in Arzamas. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Should GOP Conservatives Adjust Their Message for Blacks?

Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote an article stating that the only way for conservatives to reach black voters is to drop their color blind idealism.

Dougherty wrote, “Conservatives in the GOP like to assail identity politics and tout their own ideology as one of color blindness. Sometimes this is stupidly marketed to black voters as a selling point for Republicans. “We don’t categorize you by race,” brags a Republican. The black audience hears: “We don’t take the most salient part of your American political identity seriously.”

I am a real-live black person. When I hear Republicans say “We don’t categorize you by race”, I think, “Thank you for respecting my intelligence enough not to pander to me.” Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, a Republican, dreamed of a day when Americans would focus on principles such as character rather than skin-color (race).

Civil rights leaders and Democrats have abandoned Dr King’s vision of a colorblind America. Especially since Obama, the exploitation of race is the Democrats’ super weapon to win every political battle. Anyone daring to oppose the black president’s socialist/progressive agenda is bombarded with accusations of racism. Checkmate!

Dougherty appears to suggest that we conservatives can not simply stand up for what is right and true. We must adjust our message to fit the Democrats’ false accusations and false assumptions.

For example. Dougherty thinks the GOP should back-off from their push for voter I-D laws because it looks like they are attempting to suppress the black vote. Mr. Dougherty, as a black conservative, I find the concept that blacks are too incompetent to find their way to acquire a photo I-D extremely insulting, demeaning and offensive. Democrats are fighting voter I-D because they seek to steal elections via voter fraud. Will Republicans waving the white flag on this issue win them black votes? I think not.

Dougherty thinks America’s history of racial injustice causes blacks to deal with the issue of race every day. I beg to differ. Neither myself nor my black family, friends and associates deal with racial issues every day.

Despicably, liberals and Democrats strive to make race an issue, polarizing Americans; keeping the fires of racial tensions burning bright for political gain.

I reject Mr Dougherty’s call for conservatives to abandon colorblind politicking. Why must we always allow Democrats and their media buddies to determine the rules of engagement?

We are all Americans and should be dealt with accordingly, rather than doing what the Democrats do; divide Americans into supposed victimized voting blocs and pandering to each group for political exploitation.

In the 1980s, as a young black kid clueless about politics, Ronald Reagan’s one-size-fits-all conservative message of American exceptional-ism spoke to me. Reagan inspired me to be all I could be. His speeches made me feel good about myself and my country.

Admittedly, Conservatism will not resonate with everyone. Some people are born leeches and lazy; always looking for a free ride. These types feel entitled to the fruits of other folk’s labors. Democrats love to pander to them.

But I believe in the character and goodness of a majority of the American people. When presented unfiltered by liberals, conservatism will find a lot of Americans eager to embrace it. Why? Because Conservatism is in-sync with the human spirit.

Please understand. Packaging the conservative message to appeal to various audiences is an excellent idea. However, watering down our principles or choosing not to challenge the Democrats’ false narratives is foolish and wrong.

Certain principles have a universal appeal. Such principles bridge racial divides.

In the 1970s, I was a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. My fellow black students at the mostly white college were extremely militant and anti-whitey. A group of them demanded that the Black Panthers be allowed to rally on campus.

I was stunned when these same black students approached me extremely excited about this awesome movie, “Rocky”, the Italian stallion. It was remarkable to witness these particular black students so passionately embracing a white boy. The magic ingredient was the “colorblind” principles espoused in that movie which spoke to the humanity in us all.

Mr Dougherty, I respectfully disagree with your article. As an American who happens to be black, I do not desire a “black version” of Conservatism which is rooted in true compassion and common sense.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo montage was created by Soldieranabi. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Fig Pastors: Revelations’ Last Message to the Seven Churches and the End Times

Barren_fig_tree

The BarrenThe fig tree in Matthew 21:19 represented the Jewish nation in the time of Christ, but could also represent America now. The message to the last church in Revelation is addressed to the preachers. America’s condition today may largely be the responsibility of a failed ministry.

Speaking of when the end-time would suddenly come into view, Christ said, now learn a parable of the fig tree. As His own end-time began, the last week of Christ’s life finds Him walking from Bethany, hospitable home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, to Jerusalem where He sees a fig tree in full leaf with promise of figs. But searching it, He finds only leaves, no fruit.

Christ cursed the fig tree as an acted parable. The barren tree with its pretentious foliage was a symbol of the Jewish nation. The Savior desired to make plain to His disciples the cause and the certainty of Israel’s doom. The Jews were ahead of other nations, professing allegiance to God. Though specially favored by God, they were corrupted by the love of the world and the greed of gain.

In saying, Learn a parable of a fig tree (Matthew 24:32), Christ was implying a lesson for us at the end of time. More than any other nation now, America has been blessed with a knowledge of truth that was responsible for its prosperity, but corrupted also by greed of gain the the love of the world, America is about to wither as the fig tree in Matthew 21:19.

From a gardening standpoint, fruit trees can become unmanageable and unproductive in a few years. Fruit appears on new growth, but if the tree is allowed to grow without pruning it, too many branches and blossoms mean not enough support for the fruit.

This is a commentary on religion in America. Lots of fig leaves, which was also what Adam and Eve used to cover their nakedness in Genesis 3:7. Preachers are offering smooth things to not offend any in their large congregations. It may be a gospel of prosperity, or false hope of salvation, but there is not much that people are getting from the Word of God that should prepare us for all issues in life.

God understood this about 2000 years ago when the apostle John was given a letter to the aggelos, the messenger or preacher for the last of seven churches–lukewarm with materialism, not unlike the Jewish nation at the time of Christ’s fig tree parable.

“To whom much is given, of him much is required,” Luke 12:48. This sounds like God will hold preachers accountable for what’s happening (or not happening) as a result of their smooth messages.

“The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple…but who may abide…He is like a refiner’s fire, and He shall purify the sons of Levi [religious leaders]” Malachi 3:1-3.

Readiness for what’s coming [end-times] results from an understanding of the Apocalypse—the book of Revelation. Tragically, most western Christians have little understanding of this book that pronounces a blessing on those who read and keep those things written in it, Revelation 1:3.

Too many Christians have been taught that they will be raptured! Why should they try to understand the book of Revelation? On the other hand, we could have a serious loss in destiny if there’s no rapture and we don’t understand the visions that John penned for us. Most pastors don’t even see America in prophecy.

RELATED STORY: Book “The Harbinger” asks: What will you do on the Day of Judgement?

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo titled “Old Fig Tree” is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Democrats can be racists, too

Two weeks ago, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) set off a firestorm of controversy by saying on the syndicated radio talk show of Bill Bennett: “…we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work; and so there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with…”

To read the unedited interview, go to: http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/article/2014/mar/14/context-paul-ryans-poverty-comments-racial-attack/

This made up controversy about Ryan is a bunch of garbage. People need to be much more judicious in labeling someone as a “racist.” It is a very damning term that should only be used under the most extreme of circumstances.

What Ryan said was stupid, but not racist. In the 80s, Jesse Jackson referred to New York City as “Hymietown.” Like Ryan, it was stupid but doesn’t make Jackson anti-Semitic. Professional athletes using the word fa**ot in the locker room doesn’t necessarily make them homophobic, but it may be stupid to use in today’s PC climate.

We, who are in public life or have a media platform, all say stupid things at some point in our lives. But our lives should not be destroyed by the mistakes we make. Rather, our lives should be affirmed by the totality of the contributions we make to society. By this standard, Ryan is definitely a good guy.

Not surprisingly, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) sharply criticized Ryan. Strangely, they never direct similar anger at President Obama, even after he for willfully disrespected them and ignored them for five years and counting. Republicans are constantly accused of ignoring the Black community because they are racists. So does that also make Obama a racist? Just asking.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), former head of the CBC, called Ryan’s comments a “thinly veiled racial attack.” House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) spokesman called his remarks “shameful and wrong.”

If you only go by the media coverage, a person can only be a racist if they are a White Republican. So, allow me to give you a little Democratic history.

During the Democratic primary of 2008, our “real” first Black president, Bill Clinton had this to say about Obama’s campaign, “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” The response from the CBC and white Democrats? Crickets! Nothing. Laryngitis.

The morning after Obama’s 28-point blowout of Hillary in South Carolina, Bill Clinton called Obama another Jesse Jackson (meant in a negative way). Of course, who could forget Bill Clinton’s Sista Soulja moment from the 1992 campaign? Again, Crickets! Nothing. Laryngitis.

I could go on forever with examples of Democrats doing the same thing that Ryan is accused of, but you get the point.

There is also the issue of what I call “White Republicanitis.” I have warned Ryan about this issue, but he didn’t get it. Bob Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, has been taking Ryan all across the country to meet with inner city Blacks to discuss possible policy solutions to deal with some of the issues they deem important.

Ryan refused to do any media surrounding this personal initiative with him and Woodson because he’s doing it because he cares, not because he wants media attention.” Paul, they are not mutually exclusive; it’s not either or, but both and.

This is what I call “White Republicanitis:” doing the right thing but in the wrong way. If Ryan had followed my counsel, then he would have some goodwill in the bank to draw down from during his moment of crises.

I have done several media interviews about this Ryan flap and in every instance the comment was made that maybe Ryan needs to go into the Black community and talk with a few Blacks before he opens his mouth. When I shared with the interviewer/host what Woodson was doing with Ryan, they all indicated that they had no knowledge of this. Most looked shocked, as though they couldn’t reconcile the idea of a White Republican going into the Black community because that is the antithesis of their view of a Republican.

Maybe now Ryan will start engaging with the Black media.

But, it’s not just Ryan. I have had similar conversations with the House and Senate leadership about this same issue to no avail.
As far as this feigned outrage from members of the CBC and Pelosi, weak people take strong positions on weak issues.

Confronting Youth Unemployment in Africa by Fiyinfoluwa Elegbebe

There are good ways and bad ways to confront youth unemployment in Africa.

My friend Adewale owns a viewing center in Nigeria where he showcases soccer matches involving European teams. While the business has on and off seasons, the on seasons provide a commendable financial yield—especially when they involve elite teams with large followings in Africa (such as Manchester United, Arsenal FC, and Real Madrid). During football season in Europe, Adewale smiles on his way to the bank every Monday after the weekend fixtures, especially when they involve those elite teams.

Adewale, who used to be one of the several million unemployed youths in Africa, is an innovator. He has managed to create a source of income to pay his way through college, take care of his siblings, and provide a means of employment for youths—all while providing entertainment for his community.

With an estimated 200 million young people in Africa, 60 percent of this youth population forms an army of unemployed on the continent. With discussion and data showing a steadily improving African economy, it can be argued it is not yet time to beat the celebratory drums. We must consider the number of vulnerable youths without any daily means of making ends meet. With only 37 percent actively involved in the labor force—and a projection of the unemployed class to expand more rapidly than that in any other region in the world, according to the OECD—jobless youth represent both promise and peril.

Hence the big question: How can the unemployed youths of Africa be empowered, made productive, and contribute to economic growth?

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of preparing African youth for the future. As the social, economic, and political leaders of the next generation, African youth must somehow be included in Africa’s economic development. But without a private sector that is independent, competitive, and integrated into global markets, unemployed African youth will likely stay at the margins. (Consider “The Economics of the Arab Spring” by Malik and Awadallah, which focuses on North Africa and the Arab World.)

The productivity of young Africans benefits society at large, as Adewale’s job-creating small business shows. The failure to identify the proper role of government, however, has always clogged African economies, holding back youth employment and frustrating efforts to catalyze a robust African economy.

Typical government attempts to provide jobs tend to center on make-work projects and similar means designed primarily to garner political points for authorities. That means a lot of public-sector jobs, for one thing. Of course, the sustainability of public-sector jobs is dubious in terms of actual growth, but even public-sector jobs carry tremendous uncertainty as new governments in Africa may sack people appointed by prior regimes. Such is the case in a newly inaugurated state government in Nigeria, which ended up laying off 2,000 employees (the bulk of whom were appointed by the outgoing state executive). Whatever their merits otherwise, these programs have a negligible effect on African mass unemployment. Programs like the Nigerian government’s YOUWIN! program, which builds in a systematic digression toward a welfare state by awarding prizes (purportedly to women “entrepreneurs”) will scarcely make a dent in youth unemployment. Indeed, if these few chosen young people truly are entrepreneurs, shouldn’t they be rewarded by their customers rather than the Nigerian government?

Government reform efforts to improve youth employment carry two very important responsibilities: (1) Enable private enterprise to thrive by limiting predation and restrictions, and (2) focus public-sector activities solely on the provision of public infrastructure, such as good roads.

Otherwise, for the African tigers truly to emerge, leaders will have to limit bad policies. Here are some examples:

  • Regulations create a forced marriage between the employer and employee. (These are highly counterproductive, according to Magatte Wade, a Senegalese serial entrepreneur.)
  • Bureaucratic bottlenecks encountered by entrepreneurs—such as the difficulty of registering a business in many African countries—impede development.
  • Sound technical and vocational education are scare, as more elitist, culturally dominant academic courses receive resources and privilege despite their questionable value in the market.
  • High customs fees on export and import activities retard the gains from trade between and among nations.
  • A lack of credit facilities limits access to business capital.
  • Multiple taxation systems sap resources without even public infrastructure to show for them.

In Adewale’s case it has been costly—but necessary—to supply energy independently. This lack of a stable, reliable power supply (public or private) limits the ability of creative destroyers to produce goods and services that will require hiring unemployed youth. In other words, growth should be the goal in Africa. The jobs will follow.

Numerous entrepreneurs like Adewale and Magatte Wade are scattered throughout Africa. They have a commendable, energetic spirit. But they are held back by government policies a lack of infrastructure. And they are, therefore, unable to bring their entrepreneurial energies to full fruition.

A recently published Forbes list, “30 Under 30: Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs,” showcases only a select few young African entrepreneurs who have been able to navigate their way around these obstacles. Still, hundreds of millions of potential entrants to such lists are operating within government-imposed restrictions.

Foreign-sponsored initiatives produce resources such as the African Economic Outlook on Youth Employment, which offer viable insights to understanding the challenges of mass youth employment for Africa.

But Alejandro Chafuen—president of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation—outlines a viable framework for the development of productive engagement. Chafuen references the activities of PovertyCure, an international coalition of organizations and individuals committed to entrepreneurial solutions to poverty.  PovertyCure challenges the status quo and champions the creative potential of the individual.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/5naRQakFNEM[/youtube]

The coalition’s activities around the world answer the question of how people in the developing world create prosperity for their families and communities. They also spearhead efforts in the movement from aid to enterprise and from paternalism to partnerships through affiliations around the world. Initiatives such as these provide the competent foreign intervention that will help empower African young people with employment opportunities.

While the issue of so-called “brain drain” is logically associated with emigration, my personal view is that brain drain can also be defined as the misapplication of the intelligent and enterprising energy of African young people who remain in Africa to activities that endanger the future of the continent. Consider the appeal of crime. In a society whose population consists largely of young persons, most of whom are unemployed, the temptation to embrace criminal and predatory activities is often irresistible.

However, capitalizing on the renewed awareness about governance issues—as seen in the Arab Spring and other protests such as those in Nigeria (January 2012) and the Ivory Coast (December 2011)—it is important to suggest healthy channels for these awakenings. That is: can African youths become more productive? Move toward self-empowerment? And become full contributors to a peaceful, prosperous society?

In view of such questions, unless there is a framework for proper institutional restructuring that propels the growth of free enterprise—allowing more African youth to engage in entrepreneurship, voluntary exchange, and mutual benefit—the effort to empower African youths might as well be condemned as a tall dream. Still, young people are vital to a peaceful and prosperous African continent. Africa’s future political and economic leaders should reprioritize in favor of policies that lead to productive engagement and properly orient Africans to the workings of the private sector. An idle hand, as it is said, is indeed the devil’s workshop.

ABOUT FIYINFOLUWA ELEGBEDE

Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede, a young Nigerian, is a contributor to the book Why Peace and contributes a regular column to AfricanLiberty.org. He serves as the Blog Manager for the International Youth Council  and as an Alumnus of the Institute for Humane Studies, in Arlington, Virginia.

Nigeria’s Moment: A visit to a West African nation reveals tragic failure, yet great potential by Doug Bandow

ABUJA, NIGERIA—Arriving in Abuja, Nigeria results in an almost simultaneous impression of poverty and potential. After decades of economic disappointment, even collapse, much of Africa is growing. Yet even its leading states—such as Nigeria—remain locked in an impoverished past and fail to live up to their extraordinary potential.

I’ve arrived with a journalist group organized by SLOK Holding Co., chaired by former governor Orji Uzor Kalu, a potential presidential contender. In Abuja the airport looked more appropriate for a small American town than for a capital city. While less chaotic than some other airports I have suffered through—Dhaka and Islamabad, for instance—it hardly befits what seems destined to be Africa’s leading nation. I changed money at an “exchange” with two men sitting at a small desk, cash in one drawer. The parking lot was cramped and disorganized.

Although cities such as Abuja, Lagos—Nigeria’s most populous urban area—and Port Harcourt—dominated by the nation’s oil industry—enjoy significant development, poverty is never far away. There are paved sidewalks, but usually in disrepair, and dirt roadsides remain common, even the norm, depending on city and district. Trash litters many streets. Most urban buildings are solidly constructed, some even stylish, but most are simple.

In Lagos wealth has created a genuine skyline on Victoria Island. Yet crowded streets filled with poor street vendors sit in the shadows of these fine structures. And the majority of residents live in vast expanses of simple homes crammed together. In Port Harcourt, shacks on overgrown lots dot the city, sometimes adjoining even the best buildings, such banks and hotels. Driving in we passed a pen filled with horses.

Electrical outages are constant, requiring any serious enterprise to maintain a generator. Riding an elevator is especially suspenseful; you find yourself plunged into darkness and brought to a jerky stop for what seems like an eternity, before the brightness returns and you continue on your way. Traffic gridlocks can be worse than Los Angeles, New York, or Washington—in Port Harcourt my group took a couple hours to go a few hundred yards at a particularly bad time.

Rural Nigeria is much poorer. Even the main highways lack even minimal maintenance, while burned and rusted wrecks, stripped of anything useful, litter the sides and medians. Trash is tossed alongside or piled in medians. Roads off the main drag are dirt, always rutted, often muddy, and barely adequate. Most shops are shacks built on dirt just feet from traffic. At times it appears that half of the population subsists by selling merchandise in traffic.

Still, hope remains. Everywhere in Nigeria I saw enterprise. People sit for hours under primitive lean-tos by the highway to sell drinks and food to travelers. Open-air markets, which seem to occur every couple miles, are bustling, with people dashing hither-and-yon selling most everything you can find in a department store or supermarket. At major intersections and along busy streets people sit in the median and walk into traffic hawking fruit, drinks, sim cards, picture frames, newspapers, magazines, cell phone chargers, cigarettes, sunglasses, watches, tools, socks, mops, cooking utensils, and even triangular hazard signs (quite appropriate given Nigeria’s traffic!).

Intellectual capital also is growing. Citizens of this former British colony typically speak English, the global commercial language. I visited a university filled with bright and engaging students hoping to make better lives for themselves and their country. What is desperately needed, said one business executive, a Nigerian who worked in America before returning to help manage his family’s business, is an “enabling environment” for enterprise.

In this the government fails miserably.

One problem is insecurity. Nigeria has suffered dictatorship, civil war, insurgency, militant violence, Islamic extremism, and crime. Kalu said “internal security is critical,” because without a police escort you cannot move throughout much of the country. One newspaper editor cited the risk of robbery in driving papers for distribution at night. Business executives, political figures, and expatriate workers routinely travel with armed escorts, especially in the Niger Delta in the south.

Corruption is rife. One expatriate worker observed: “Nigeria’s not a country. It is an opportunity.” Mundane economic mismanagement bears even greater blame. State enterprises, especially the National Nigerian Petroleum Corporation, are particular founts of abuse. The World Bank ranks Nigeria among the bottom third of nations in its Doing Business report.

Average Nigerians are commonly—indeed, uniformly—frustrated. The young especially crave the opportunities that the country’s dishevelment precludes. A third of adults under 25 are out of work. It’s one reason Nigeria sports a diaspora of millions. The driver of my cab to the airport to start this trip was a Nigerian. Even the more optimistic Nigerians with whom I spoke say much more has to be done, despite the progress they see. Public involvement is essential to create a freer and more honest business environment.

Some see hope in Kalu, a wealthy businessman who understands entrepreneurship and promotes political reform. As a teen he started trading palm oil. He now holds interests in energy, finance, journalism, real estate, and more. Among his recent enterprises is The New Telegraph newspaper. His success—without using government office to his own advantage—is unusual. Noted my Cato Institute colleague Marian Tupy: Nigerian politicians usually “become wealthy during their time in the governor’s mansion.” When talking about his nation’s future, Kalu denounced restrictive licensing and promoted markets; he advocated privatization, including in less traditional areas such as education, which he views as critical for Nigeria’s moral reformation. He told me that he “would like to see small government and big enterprise” and spoke with admiration of Ronald Reagan.

Kalu may run for president in 2015, though his chances are complicated by being an Igbo, a tribe whose members have not held the presidency in a half century.  Substantial problems of ethnic division persist.  Kalu viewed murderous attacks by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram is a continuation of many earlier violent episodes.

The bigger question is whether he could actually implement his message of market liberalization if elected. Noted Tupy, Nigeria “has never had a president committed to small government, privatization and liberalization.” But Kalu forcefully argued that committed leadership could make the difference.

Obviously industrialized states have their problems, including sometimes galloping regulation (think ObamaCare!) and fail to fully live up to their potential. Yet they remain far freer, especially in economic affairs, enabling bright, enthusiastic, and hard-working people to prosper. Nigeria needs to follow the same broad growth path that enriched America and Western Europe, and more recently East Asia, including China.

The greatest tragedy of Nigeria’s poverty is that it is so unnecessary. Its people know what to do. The spirit of enterprise is everywhere. It’s time for the Nigerian people to liberate themselves. It’s time for freedom to come to Nigeria.

dougbandow3540ABOUT DOUG BANDOW

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of a number of books on economics and politics. He writes regularly on military non-interventionism.

Atheist’s Nightmare Day: Time to Question Evolution!

We missed the fact that February 12th was “Question Evolution Day”….a day atheists dread because it might get people thinking for themselves.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/DlwLAay4XSU[/youtube]

Here is a video with 15 questions for Evolutionists courtesy of The Evolutionary Truth blog:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/YkArKmj9tvA[/youtube]

A dynamic version of the brochure from Creation.com, “15 Questions for Evolutionists”. (Actually, several of the questions have follow-up questions.) These come from the “Question Evolution” campaign http://creation.com/15-questions. Links are provided for supplemental information. Unless, of course, you blindly accept evolution by faith, and do not want to be confused by facts!

More information refuting evolution and affirming creation is at The Question Evolution Project home page,http://www.piltdownsuperman.com