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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 9, Issue 11: March 12, 2007

  1. U.S. Should Fix Blemishes on Human Rights Record
  2. “The Great Global Warming Swindle”
  3. The Tragedy of Modern Education
  4. Independent Institute Seeks Development Director

1) U.S. Should Fix Blemishes on Human Rights Record

In the wake of post-9/11 measures, the U.S. record on human rights abuses leaves much to be desired. This is true even if the latest critic to say so is the repressive government of China, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace and Liberty. Unlike in China, such abuses are illegal in the United States. The Military Commissions Act, for example, “is clearly unconstitutional,” writes Eland in a new op-ed.

“The Constitution clearly states that the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, except in times of rebellion or invasion -- neither of which applies in this case. In addition, no exception is made for non-citizens or persons held by the U.S. government outside U.S. territory.... If habeas corpus can be so denied, the U.S. government can kidnap people off the streets anywhere in the world, declare them ‘enemy combatants,’ and hold them secretly and indefinitely without being charged, having access to legal counsel, being able to challenge their detention, and having a trial.”

Habeas corpus protections are needed not because terrorists should be accorded courtesy. Rather, they’re needed precisely because the government can make mistakes, interning people later proven to be innocent -- as has happened at Guantanamo Bay, Eland argues. “What is supposed to make America unique is a government divided into independent branches, which scrutinize and constrain each other’s power,” Eland concludes. “Unfortunately, that system of checks and balances has now been seriously eroded.”

“China Returns Fire on U.S. Human Rights Abuses,” by Ivan Eland (3/12/07)

The Emperor Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, Director)

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2) “The Great Global Warming Swindle”

Atmospheric scientist Dr. S. Fred Singer, author of Hot Talk, Cold Science (The Independent Institute), is one of many skeptics of the so-called “global warming consensus” featured in the new documentary, “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” which aired last week on British television. The documentary is yet to receive anywhere near the amount of press coverage in the United States garnered by Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” But that may change and the current imbalance is at least partly corrected by the British documentary’s having been posted on the former Veep’s glorious invention ("I took the initiative in creating the Internet."), the Internet (or Internets, plural, for those now living in the White House).

Science, it should go without saying, has little do with “consensus,” as the tragic case of Galileo should have made clear. Closer to our own day, belated acceptance of such challengers of orthodoxy as earth scientists Alfred Wegner, J. Harlan Bretz, and Sir Gilbert Walker demonstrates the scientific value of keeping one’s mind open to dissenting views.

The new documentary, “The Great Global Warming Swindle”

A related interview of Dr. Singer, undertaken in conjunction with a PBS Nova and Frontline documentary.

Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer (The Independent Institute)

“States of Fear: Science or Politics?” DVD featuring Michael Crichton, along with Bruce Ames, Sallie Baliunas, William Gray, and George Taylor

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3) The Tragedy of Modern Education

Students today are more likely to get their news from watching Jon Stewart on Comedy Central than from reading a newspaper. They are even less likely to attempt to develop their minds by reading books in their spare time -- which is tragic, because when it comes to advancing one’s knowledge, whether of facts or of values, books are the where the action is. The contemporary obsession with entertainment over enlightenment -- exemplified the educational system’s dilution of school curricula with references to the latest trends in pop culture -- is rat poison to the life of the mind.

So too is the adversarial ethos not just of students who are scornful (and blissfully ignorant) of the peaks of the West’s cultural heritage, but also of many of their would-be educators, especially the postmodernists among them. The posturing is mere pretense because, “shrill protestations aside, they constitute the dominant ethos, therefore the majority within the [educational] system,” writes Jose Yulo.

The cure for the institutionalized ignorance, argues Yulo, is for schools to return to the concept of a core curriculum based on the humanities (and instruction in logic). Utilizing cognitively appropriate texts, such a curriculum would enable students to better understand moral truths relevant not only for our own era but for any era. “Great words from past and present can be evaluated by each institution and tailored to fit each particular circumstance,” Yulo continues. “By showing students the substance behind a solid core curriculum, selecting these works with moral imagination in mind, and fostering the inborn sense of proportion and rectitude in each human soul, educators engage in legitimate teaching. This teaching allows students to see for themselves what separates the clarifying journey of elevation, from the meandering, ultimately waylaid descent into salon sophistry.”

“Tragedy and Comedy in Postmodern Education,” by Jose Yulo (3/9/07)

Jose Yulo is on the faculty of the 2007 Liberty, Economy & Society Summer Seminars for Students. Space for the seminar is limited but still available.

Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus, by Donald Downs

Faulty Towers: Tenure and the Structure of Higher Education, by Ryan Amacher and Roger Meiners

The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus, by David Sacks and Peter Thiel

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4) Independent Institute Seeks Development Director

The Independent Institute is currently seeking an experienced development professional with a strong commitment to individual liberty to head up its Development Department. The Development Director has responsibility for establishing, maintaining and developing relationships with donors. Strategies utilized include major gifts, planned giving, annual campaigns, educational events, direct mail, and Web-based efforts.

The qualified candidate will be a self-motivated, committed professional with successful fund-raising experience to assist us in our continued growth. Candidates must possess four years of development or fundraising experience at a nonprofit organization and personal commitment to free-market principles and individual liberty.

For more information, see the full job listing. Please DO NOT reply to the Lighthouse e-mail address.

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