Monday Miscellany 3/11/24

Monday Miscellany 3/11/24 March 11, 2024


Another bad idea from France, Colorado’s DNA scandal, and world hunger gives way to world obesity.

Another Bad Idea from France

France has enshrined the “right to an abortion” in its constitution.  No other country in the world has done so.

President Macron has been pushing for the amendment with the support of feminists who were reportedly worried about what happened in the United States with the overturning of the Roe v. Wade. decision.  In a story on the March 4 ratification, the Catholic News Agency reported, “Later that evening the Eiffel Tower was illuminated with the words ‘my body, my choice’ as jubilant onlookers celebrated, a scene that was repeated all over the country.”

The story quotes a statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life, which rightly says, “there cannot be a ‘right’ to take a human life.”

The amendment, which is now Article 4 of the French Constitution, reads as follows:  “The law determines the conditions by which is exercised the freedom of women to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy, which is guaranteed.”

But you know what?  The French law that the amendment protects in this abortion-friendly country still regulates abortion.  According to the CNA article, “in 2022 the gestational stage limit for abortion was extended to 14 weeks of pregnancy.”

Republicans in the United States who want to strike a compromise on the issue have been proposing allowing abortion up to 16 weeks–half a month longer than rabidly pro-abortion France does!–and Democrats are calling that a horrible assault on the rights of women!

So in this regard, the United States, whose constitution was expressly found to not contain a right to an abortion, is in many jurisdictions more pro-abortion than a country with a constitution that does specify abortion as a right.  Abortion supporters here will be satisfied with nothing less than abortion for any reason and at any developmental stage up to birth.

One more observation:  I’ve been reading conservative critiques of our contemporary culture that blame the Reformation for all our woes, claiming that Luther split the church, replaced its authority with the individual conscience, and made other innovations that would develop into contemporary secularism.

This is erroneous for many reasons, but the thought occurred to me that none of the major shifts in thinking that led to secularism originated in Protestant countries.  Instead, most of them originated in Catholic and culturally-Catholic France:  the anti-Christian wing of the Enlightenment,  absolutist governments, the Deist religion, utopian but bloody Revolution designed to refashion all of society, existentialism, modernism, postmodernism, critical theory. . . .

Colorado’s DNA Scandal

Scientists are only human, which means we must be careful when we trust “The Science.”  One of the many examples of this principle is unfolding in Colorado, where revelations about a top forensic scientist is shaping up to be a disaster for the state’s criminal justice system.

The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Frosch and Zusha Elinson tell the story that is well summarized by the headline and the deck: “The DNA Scandal That Threatens Thousands of Criminal Cases:  Colorado investigators say star analyst Yvonne ‘Missy’ Woods altered data. Now people she helped send to prison want their convictions re-examined.”

“For nearly three decades,” they write, “Yvonne ‘Missy’ Woods was Colorado’s star forensic scientist, relied on by police and prosecutors to test DNA evidence in the state’s most baffling crimes. Her work was considered the gold standard by colleagues and helped put away infamous murderers, including the ‘Colorado Hammer Killer.’”

But in November an internal review by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation discovered “anomalies” in her work and launched a criminal investigation.   The details haven’t been released, but reportedly Woods altered data.   Sometimes she “analyzed samples several times but reported only one result,” thus choosing which outcome she wanted to support.  Frosch and Elinson, whose article is behind the WSJ paywall, write,

As Colorado prosecutors pore over hundreds of cases that Woods worked on and await results of the investigation, they must consider two nightmare scenarios: Whether any of Woods’s cases ended in a wrongful conviction and whether some people correctly put behind bars must now be retried because of shoddy DNA testing.

This is already starting to happen, with prisoners convicted because of Woods’ evidence filing appeals.  Maybe some are innocent.  But the guilty too may go free.

Another question is how did these apparent errors escape notice for so long?  Forensic findings are supposed to be double-checked by another specialist.  The reporters quote defense attorney Mary Mulligan:  “The fact that this could go on for 20-some years, and not once did it get caught by peer review, this says there is something very wrong with forensic testing in Colorado.”

World Hunger Gives Way to World Obesity

According to a story in the London Telegraph, obesity is now a greater risk to global health than hunger.  It cites a study published in the medical journal Lancet that found that one in eight of the world’s population of 8 billion is clinically obese.

In 1990, 226 million people, or 1 in 20, were overweight, while 440 million were underweight.  Today, 879 million adults are overweight, while 347 million are underweight.

“Being obese or underweight are forms of malnutrition,” says the story, “because in both cases people are not getting the right nutrients, vitamins and types of calories that are needed to be healthy.”  Obesity, in turn, is connected to other health problems.

But it is surely better than starvation!  This strikes me as progress.


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