ASSOCIATED PRESS: Seeking to play down the effects of global warming, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office pushed to delete from congressional testimony references about the consequences of climate change on public health, a former senior EPA official claimed Tuesday. The official, Jason K. Burnett, said the White House was concerned that the proposed testimony last October by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might make it tougher to avoid regulating greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Burnett’s assertion, which he made in a July 6 letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, conflicts with the White House explanation at the time that the deletions reflected concerns by the White House Office of Science and Technology over the accuracy of the science. Burnett, until last month a senior adviser on climate change at the Environmental Protection Agency, wrote that Cheney’s office was deeply involved in getting nearly half of the CDC’s original draft testimony removed.
“The Council on Environmental Quality and the office of the vice president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony (concerning) … any discussions of the human health consequences of climate change,” Burnett wrote. At a news conference, Boxer maintained that the heavy editing of the testimony given by CDC Director Julie Gerberding last fall was the first part of “a master plan” aimed at “covering up the real dangers of global warming and hiding the facts from the public.” MORE
BLOOMBERG: The Group of Eight’s climate-change strategy may fail to contain rising temperatures that threaten to cause more floods, droughts and storms. The world’s richest countries, which are responsible for almost half of the world’s emissions, yesterday pledged to reduce the production of heat-trapping pollution by at least 50 percent by 2050. They didn’t specify how those cuts should be reached or provide intermediate targets. A failure to reach an agreement on reducing CO2 levels would “condemn the world to a far riskier scenario” where countries would act on their own and carbon levels could reach 800 to 900 parts per million, about three times the current level, Steiner of the UN’s environment program said last week. MORE
TIMES ONLINE: World leaders sat down to an 18-course gastronomic extravaganza at a G8 summit in Japan, which is focusing on the food crisis. The dinner, and a six-course lunch, at the summit of leading industrialised nations on the island of Hokkaido, included delicacies such as caviar, milkfed lamb, sea urchin and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the U.S. But the extravagance of the menus drew disapproval from critics who thought it hypocritical to produce such a lavish meal when world food supplies are under threat. In 2005, at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, world leaders promised to increase global aid by £25billion a year by 2010 and raise aid to Africa, the world’s poorest continent, by £12.5billion. But the bloc of rich nations is only 14 per cent of the way towards hitting its target. MORE
SO YOU’RE GOING TO HELL: Dante For Dummies, The Idiot’s Guide To The Inferno
WIKIPEDIA: The last two circles of Hell punish sins that involve conscious fraud or treachery. The circles can be reached only by descending a vast cliff, which Dante and Virgil do on the back of Geryon, a winged monster represented by Dante as having the face of an honest man and a body that ends in a scorpion-like stinger. (Canto XVII) The fraudulent—those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil—are located in a circle named Malebolge (“Evil Pockets”), divided into ten bolgie, or ditches of stone, with bridges spanning the ditches:
- Bolgia 1: Panderers (pimps) and seducers march in separate lines in opposite directions, whipped by demons. Just as they misled others in life, they are driven to march by demons for all eternity. In the group of panderers the poets notice Venedico Caccianemico, who sold his own sister to the Marchese d’Este, and in the group of seducers Virgil points out Jason. (Canto XVIII)
- Bolgia 2: Flatterers are steeped in human excrement. This is because their flatteries on earth were nothing but “a load of excrement”. (Canto XVIII)
- Bolgia 3: Those who committed simony are placed head-first in holes in the rock, with flames burning on the soles of their feet (resembling an inverted baptism). One of them, Pope Nicholas III, denounces as simonists two of his successors, Pope Boniface VIII and Pope Clement V. (Canto XIX)
- Bolgia 4: Sorcerers and false prophets have their heads twisted around on their bodies backward. In addition, they cry so many tears that they cannot see. This is symbollic because these people tried to see into the future by forbidden means; thus in Hell they can only see what is behind them and cannot see forward. (Canto XX)
- Bolgia 5: Corrupt politicians (barrators) are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch, which represents the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their corrupt deals. They are guarded by devils called the Malebranche (“Evil Claws”). Their leader, Malacoda (“Evil Tail”), assigns a troop to escort Virgil and Dante to the next bridge. The troop hook and torment one of the sinners (identified by early commentators as Ciampolo), who names some Italian grafters and then tricks the Malebranche in order to escape back into the pitch. (Cantos XXI through XXIII)
- Bolgia 6: The bridge over this bolgia is broken: the poets climb down into it and find the Hypocrites listlessly walking along wearing gold-gilded lead cloaks. Dante speaks with Catalano and Loderingo, members of the Jovial Friars. It is also ironic in this canto that whilst in the company of hypocrites, the poets also discover that the guardians of the fraudulent (the malebranche) are hypocrites themselves, as they find that they have lied to them, giving false directions, when at the same time they are punishing liars for similar sins. (Canto XXIII)
- Bolgia 7: Thieves, guarded by the centaur (as Dante describes him) Cacus, are pursued and bitten by snakes. The snake bites make them undergo various transformations, with some resurrected after being turned to ashes, some mutating into new creatures, and still others exchanging natures with the snakes, becoming snakes themselves that chase the other thieves in turn. Just as the thieves stole other people’s substance in life, and because thievery is reptillian in its secrecy, the thieves’ substance is eaten away by snakes and their bodies are constantly stolen by other thieves. (Cantos XXIV and XXV)
- Bolgia 8: Fraudulent advisors are encased in individual flames. Dante includes Ulysses and Diomedes together here for their role in the Trojan War. Ulysses tells the tale of his fatal final voyage (an invention of Dante’s), where he left his home and family to sail to the end of the Earth. He equated life as a pursuit of knowledge that humanity can attain through effort, and in his search God sank his ship outside of Mount Purgatory. This symbolizes the inability of the individual to carve out one’s own salvation. Instead, one must be totally subservient to the will of God and realize the inability of one to be a God unto oneself. Guido da Montefeltro recounts how his advice to Pope Boniface VIII resulted in his damnation, despite Boniface’s promise of absolution. (Cantos XXVI and XXVII)
- Bolgia 9: A sword-wielding demon hacks at the sowers of discord. As they make their rounds the wounds heal, only to have the demon tear apart their bodies again. “How mutilated, see, is Mahomet; In front of me doth Ali weeping go, Cleft in the face from forelock unto chin; And all the others whom thou here beholdest, Disseminators of scandal and of schism. While living were, and therefore are cleft thus.” Muhammad tells Dante to warn the schismatic and heretic Fra Dolcino (Cantos XXVIII and XXIX). Interestingly enough, Dante views both Muhammad and Ali as schismatic Christians, blaming the former for conflict between Christian and Muslim, and the second for conflict between Sunni and Shiite.
- Bolgia 10: Here various sorts of falsifiers (alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers, and impersonators), who are a disease on society, are themselves afflicted with different types of diseases (Cantos XXIX and XXX). Potiphar‘s wife is briefly mentioned here for her false accusation of Joseph. In the notes on her translation, Dorothy L. Sayers remarks that Malebolge “began with the sale of the sexual relationship, and went on to the sale of Church and State; now, the very money is itself corrupted, every affirmation has become perjury, and every identity a lie; no medium of exchange remains.” MORE