It’s common knowledge that the Catholic church has a rather poor view of gay marriage. But there is hope! Archbishop Oscar Cruz, judicial vicar of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal (try saying that three times fast) just announced that it’s totally acceptable for a gay man to marry a lesbian.
There is, apparently, some logic to this. After all, if the purpose of marriage is to create dozens of horrible little children, then a man and woman who are both capable of procreation should, for the progression of the human species, put their child-creating abilities to good use, within the boundaries of marriage set out by the church, of course.
It might be worth pointing out that the original purpose of marriage was mostly to forge tribal alliances, and to establish that any offspring were legitimate, but that would be nitpicking. Besides, it’s not like Christianity is meant to be about love or anything like that, right?
If you’re thinking that this is all well and good for the Philippines, but that over here we’re seemingly much more socially advanced, you might be disappointed to know that at a recent meeting between the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was agreed that marriage should remain something that exists solely between a man and a woman. It’s nice that the Church of England, an institution started because a King was sick of his wife and wanted a younger, hotter one, is taking such a strong stance on this.
So, in summary, according to the Catholic church, it doesn’t matter whether two people are in love, or genuinely want to spend their lives together, so long as one of them has a penis and the other has a vagina. Thanks Catholic Church! How could we possibly know anything about meaningful relationships without your input?
Symbolic of the defense of Sevastopol, Crimea, is this Russian girl sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who, by the end of the war, had killed a confrimed 309 Germans — the most successful female sniper in history. (AP Photo)
Members of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) pose at Camp Shanks, New York, before leaving from New York Port of Embarkation on Feb. 2, 1945. The women are with the first contingent of Black American WACs to go overseas for the war effort From left to right are, kneeling: Pvt. Rose Stone; Pvt. Virginia Blake; and Pfc. Marie B. Gillisspie. Second row: Pvt. Genevieve Marshall; T/5 Fanny L. Talbert; and Cpl. Callie K. Smith. Third row: Pvt. Gladys Schuster Carter; T/4 Evelyn C. Martin; and Pfc. Theodora Palmer. (AP Photo)
Three Soviet guerrillas in action in Russia during World War II. (LOC)
Ack-Ack Girls, members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), run to action at an anti-aircraft gun emplacement in the London area on May 20, 1941 when the alarm is sounded. (AP Photo)
The German Aviatrix, Captain Hanna Reitsch, shakes hands with German chancellor Adolf Hitler after being awarded the Iron Cross second class at the Reich Chancellory in Berlin, Germany, in April 1941, for her service in the development of airplane armament instruments during World War II. In back, center is Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering. At the extreme right is Lt. Gen. Karl Bodenschatz of the German air ministry. (AP Photo)
A group of young Jewish resistance fighters are being held under arrest by German SS soldiers in April/May 1943, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter. (AP Photo)
The first “Women Guerrilla” corps has just been formed in the Philippines and Filipino women, trained in their local women’s auxiliary service, are seen here hard at work practicing on November 8, 1941, at a rifle range in Manila. (AP Photo)
Little known to the outside world, although they have been fighting fascist regimes since 1927, the Italian “Maquis” carry on their battle for freedom under the most hazardous conditions. Germans and fascist Italians are targets for their guns; and the icy, eternally snow-clad peaks of the French-Italian border are their battlefield. This school teacher of the Valley of Aosta fights side-by-side with her husband in the “White Patrol” above the pass of Little Saint Bernard in Italy, on January 4, 1945. (AP Photo)
A nurse wraps a bandage around the hand of a Chinese soldier as another wounded soldier limps up for first aid treatment during fighting on the Salween River front in Yunnan Province, China, on June 22, 1943. (AP Photo)
Two women of the German anti-aircraft gun auxiliary operating field telephones during World War II. (LOC)
Mrs. Paul Titus, 77-year-old air raid spotter of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, carries a gun as she patrols her beat, on December 20, 1941. Mrs. Titus signed-up the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. “I can carry a gun any time they want me to,” she declared. (AP Photo)
Nurses are seen clearing debris from one of the wards in St. Peter’s Hospital, Stepney, East London, on April 19, 1941. Four hospitals were among the buildings hit by German bombs during a full scale attack on the British capital. (AP Photo)
Polish women are led through woods to their executions by German soldiers sometime in 1941. (LOC)
The first contingent of U.S. Army nurses to be sent to an Allied advanced base in New Guinea carry their equipment as they march single file to their quarter on November 12, 1942. The first four in line from right are: Edith Whittaker, Pawtucket, Rhode Island,; Ruth Baucher, Wooster, O.; Helen Lawson, Athens, Tennessee,; and Juanita Hamilton, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, (AP Photo)
A French man and woman fight with captured German weapons as both civilians and members of the French Forces of the Interior took the fight to the Germans, in Paris in August of 1944, prior to the surrender of German forces and the Liberation of Paris on August 25. (AP Photo)
Elisabeth “Lilo” Gloeden stands before judges, on trial for being involved in the attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life in July 1944. Elisabeth, along with her husband and mother, was convicted of hiding a fugitive from the July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler. The three were executed by beheading on November 30th, 1944, their executions much-publicized later as a warning to others who might plot against the German ruling party. (LOC)
Miss Jean Pitcaithy, a nurse with a New Zealand Hospital Unit stationed in Libya, wears goggles to protect her against whipping sands, on June 18, 1942. (AP Photo)
62nd Stalingrad Army on the streets of Odessa (The 8th Guard of the Army of General Chuikov on the streets of Odessa) in April of 1944. A large group of Soviet soldiers, including two women in front, march down a street. (LOC)
A girl of the resistance movement is a member of a patrol to rout out the Germans snipers still left in areas in Paris, France, on August 29, 1944. The girl had killed two Germans in the Paris Fighting two days previously. (AP Photo)
Women and children, some of over 40,000 concentration camp inmates liberated by the British, suffering from typhus, starvation and dysentery, huddle together in a barrack at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in April 1945. (AP Photo)
Some of the S.S. women whose brutality was equal to that of their male counterparts at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Bergen, Germany, on April 21, 1945. (AP Photo/British Official Photo)
In this June 19, 2009 photo Susie Bain poses in Austin, Texas, with a 1943 photo of herself when she was one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II. Bain is one of 300 living WASP members that hoped at the time to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill passed and on March 10, 2010, more than 200 WASP veterans attended a ceremony to be presented with the Congressional Gold Medal. (AP Photo/Austin American Statesman, Ralph Barrera)
Specially chosen airwomen are being trained for police duties in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). They have to be quick-witted, intelligent and observant woman of the world – They attend an intensive course at the highly sufficient RAF police school – where their training runs parallel with that of the men. Keeping a man “in his place” – A WAAF member demonstrates self-defense on January 15, 1942. (AP Photo)
Why are stories about GM “miracles” lapped up so uncritically by the media and why does non-GM research into solving exactly the same kind of problems seem to get minimal if any reporting, even though it is far more successful? We look at some classic examples of how GM’s often exaggerated crisis narratives and hyped silver bullet solutions successfully grab media attention. We also look at how even when these claims turn out to be completely bogus, it attracts little if any attention, and how some failed GM projects, or successful crop developments that have nothing to do with GM, even get passed off as big GM successes!
“Millions served” – the GM sweet potato
The virus-resistant sweet potato has been the ultimate GM showcase project for Africa, generating a vast amount of global media coverage. The Monsanto-trained scientist fronting the project has been proclaimed an African heroine and the saviour of millions, based on her claims about the GM sweet potato doubling output in Kenya. Forbes magazine even declared her one of a tiny handful of people around the globe who would “reinvent the future”. It eventually emerged, however, that the claims being made for the GM sweet potato were bogus, with field trial results showing the GM crop to be a dud.
“Saving lives and limbs with a (GM) weed”
There’s been a lot of publicity about how GM plants are going to solve the problem of landmine detection. News items around the globe – from the New York Times to the BBC, from TIME Magazine to Reuters – trumpeted their life-saving potential, after a biotech firm claimed to have genetically modified plants so that they would change from green to red when grown near to landmines. But the fact that the project failed attracted no coverage in the mainstream media.
“Only GM can save the banana”
“Only GM can save the banana” is a story that first surfaced in 2001, made a comeback in 2003, and has done the rounds ever since, gaining massive media coverage. Each time this story (re)emerges, it gets expertly debunked… untill the next time comes around.
GM cassava “our only hope”
The potential of genetic engineering to massively boost the production of cassava – one of Africa’s most important foods – by defeating a devastating virus has been heavily promoted since the mid-1990s. There has even been talk of GM solving hunger in Africa by increasing cassava yields as much as tenfold. To date almost nothing appears to have been achieved, and even after it became clear that the GM cassava had suffered a major technical failure, the hype about its curing hunger in Africa continued regardless. Meanwhile, conventional (non-GM) plant breeding has quietly been producing virus resistant cassavas that are already making a remarkable difference in farmers’ fields even under drought conditions.
Golden Rice “could save a million kids a year”
Golden Rice has been hyped for almost a decade as a life saver for millions suffering from vitamin A deficiency (VAD). Although it still appears to be several years away from being deployed, its inventor blames this on the unnecessary regulation of GM crops, which he calls a crime against humanity. However, the evidence does not support this claim. In addition, the World Health Organisation states that there are already tried-and-tested programmes for treating Vitamin A deficiency involving cheap, traditional, and readily available solutions. Although under-resourced, these programmes make Golden Rice completely unnecessary.
“Purple tomato can beat cancer”
A GM tomato has been portrayed in the world’s media as a major cancer fighter, as well as having other important health-enhancing properties. And some media commentators suggest that this is the “breakthrough” that will convince people of the benefits of GM foods. But the health claims are based on a small-scale study of mice, and experts say the results may have occurred by chance, or may simply not be applicable to humans. They also say that there could be problems with toxicity and that these have not been investigated. In any case, a range of existing fruit and vegetables offer the same potential benefits without any need to resort to genetic engineering.
Super-sized cassava “could help alleviate hunger”
GM cassava plants with unusually big roots were promoted as a super-sizing breakthrough that “could help alleviate hunger in developing countries”, but it turned out that plant breeders had already produced cassava roots that were many times larger than the GM ones, at very low cost and without genetic engineering.
Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year….when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked… Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India‘s poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record…
It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the “father of rice”, the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields.
But the Bihar state agricultural universities didn’t believe them at first, while India’s leading rice scientists muttered about freak results. The Nalanda farmers were accused of cheating. Only when the state’s head of agriculture, a rice farmer himself, came to the village with his own men and personally verified Sumant’s crop, was the record confirmed.
The rhythm of Nalanda village life was shattered. Here bullocks still pull ploughs as they have always done, their dung is still dried on the walls of houses and used to cook food. Electricity has still not reached most people. Sumant became a local hero, mentioned in the Indian parliament and asked to attend conferences. The state’s chief minister came to Darveshpura to congratulate him, and the village was rewarded with electric power, a bank and a new concrete bridge.
That might have been the end of the story had Sumant’s friend Nitish not smashed the world record for growing potatoes six months later. Shortly after Ravindra Kumar, a small farmer from a nearby Bihari village, broke the Indian record for growing wheat. Darveshpura became known as India’s “miracle village”, Nalanda became famous and teams of scientists, development groups, farmers, civil servants and politicians all descended to discover its secret…
I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched, and dishonored, from pirate raids in Kiaochow, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Philipines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and towel, but hide the looking glass.
– “A Salutation from the 19th to the 20th Century,” December 31, 1900…Mark Twain