Thirty Things That Caught My Eye: A 117-Year-Old Nun Who Kicked COVID & More


Europe’s oldest person, 117-year-old nun Lucile Randon, also known as Sister Andre, who survived the coronavirus, interviewed in Toulon, France, February 9, 2021. (BFMTV/Reuters TV via Reuters)

1.  Europe’s oldest person, 117-year-old French nun, survives Covid-19

Asked if she was scared to have Covid-19, Sister Andre told France’s BFM television, “No, I wasn’t scared because I wasn’t scared to die . . . I’m happy to be with you, but I would wish to be somewhere else — join my big brother and my grandfather and my grandmother.”

2.  Nina Shea: Biden’s Choice in China

Both President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken expressed agreement with the genocide determination. But whether they will keep pressure on an angered China remains to be seen. The Uighur genocide is an inconvenient fact for the administration’s foreign policy climate change priorities. Barely a week after Pompeo’s statement, U.N. Secretary General Guterres pleaded in the interest of “climate action” partnership for a U.S.-China “reset” to put aside “different views” on human rights — including, presumably, the U.S. genocide determination. By his sights, the U.S. will have to make hard choices about its China policies.

. . .

Beijing remains defiant about its repressive governance. Last September, President Xi declared that the Xinjiang strategy is “totally correct and must carry on for a long time.” As for the horror about Uighur women detainees, China’s Washington embassy tweeted a jaw-dropping boast on January 7 (deleted by Twitter on January 8) that seemed consciously patterned on the Nazis’ “work sets you free” messaging at Auschwitz:

The minds of Uygur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines. They are more confident and independent.

3. This is so important for Iraqi Christians:

4. Mary Eberstadt: Souls are on the Line in the Biden Presidency

5. Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Women’s rights under attack — here why Europe has changed so dramatically

I’ve spoken to numerous native-born European women who’ve experienced sexual assault or harassment at the hands of migrants. I’ve examined too many cases of women who’ve been stalked, molested, raped and even killed. Each is sickening and heart-wrenching, and several were avoidable.

6.  Abigail Shrier: Inside Planned Parenthood’s Gender Factory

According to the employee, based on her recollection, 1-2 new biologically female teen patients seeking testosterone would arrive per day.  A few reasonable assumptions and some arithmetic reveal that a shocking percentage of the town’s teen girls came through the clinic over just a few years.

There were no doctors at the clinic where she worked. Nurse practitioners were the professionals with the highest medical training, she said. The clinic employed a gender counselor who had “no actual professional credentials or formal training other than being MtF” (that is, a male-to-female transgender person). Adolescents would come and speak to this gender counselor and Planned Parenthood would then forward the counselor’s “notes to an actual licensed mental health professional somewhere off-site, and rubber stamp approve the patients to begin their transition. This is basically how they circumvented the requirement to speak to an actual counselor,” according to the employee’s Twitter post.

Whether patients received specific treatments — a course of testosterone, say — was decided by the “clinic manager,” with “no prior medical experience” whose prior job was “managing a Wendy’s,” the employee wrote.

7. Scott Newgent: We Need Balance When It Comes To Gender Dysphoric Kids. I would Know

There is no structured, tested, or widely accepted baseline for transgender health care. Not for 42-year-olds, and not for the many minors embarking on medical transition in record numbers. It is not transphobic or discriminatory to discuss this — we as a society need to fully understand what we are encouraging our children to do to their bodies.

. . .

Trans activists tout studies that say medically transitioning gender-questioning children improves mental health. But those studies have often been retracted (and those retractions underreported by the media).

. . .

So, endocrinologists and pediatricians, moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans, radical feminists and evangelicals, lawyers and psychologists, parents and teachers: My hand is out. I will grab yours and turn down no one. Together, we can build a circle around our most precious resource: our children. Help me fulfill the promise I made on the night I almost gave up, to be here for my children—and now yours. Who’s with me?

8. Gerry Bradley: Catholic Schools and Transgender Students

Wherever school officials adopt an affirming policy, every student’s understanding of himself or herself as an embodied rational being—as male or female in body and mind—is undermined. If even just one child is trapped in the wrong body, anyone could be. If one little girl is really a boy, then being “cisgender” or “transgender” is for everyone a contingent matter of fact about how one’s mind and body align—or don’t. If any little girl is really a boy, then everyone’s subjective perception of oneself as male or female becomes the decisive criterion of each one’s sex.

9. New York Democrats holding Cuomo accountable over nursing home deaths

10. Seattle Times: Hundreds of large senior care homes yet to receive coronavirus vaccine, despite Oregon Gov. Brown’s claims to the contrary

Of all the nursing homes, assisted living, adult foster homes, retirement communities, federally subsidized homes, homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and homes for people with mental illness or substance use disorders that have signed up for vaccinations, 51% have received first shots.

11. Crux: Vatican laments ‘massacre of elderly’ due to COVID

The priest said another consequence of not making the elderly  a priority is shown by the “breaking of the link” between generations caused by the epidemic, with little to no solutions proposed thus far by those in decision-making.

The fact that children and young people cannot meet their elderly, Duffè said, leads to “real psychological disorders” for both young and old, who without being allowed to see one another, could “die of another virus: Grief.”


12. Old Age: Our Future

A renewed attention towards the elderly and their relationship with grandchildren and new generations, to which Pope Francis calls everyone, must lead to a rethinking of the care of every man and woman who receives the gift of the blessing of a long life. It is not good to detach children and young people from constant contact with their parents and grandparents. As Pope Francis said on Sunday 31 January, announcing the institution of the World Grandparents and Elders Day, “grandparents are often forgotten and we forget this wealth of preserving the roots and transmitting them”. And he added: “it is important that grandparents meet their grandchildren and that grandchildren meet their grandparents, because — as the prophet Joel says — grandparents will dream in front of their grandchildren, they will have illusions [great wishes], and young people, gaining strength from their grandparents, will go on, they will prophesy”.

13.  Joseph E. Davis and Paul Scherz: Recovering Old Age

Our response to the pandemic does in fact reveal something critical about our society and how we understand aging — specifically how we refuse to acknowledge the unique circumstances of older adults and to grant them true moral agency. In a time of pandemic and a rapidly aging population, we find ourselves profoundly impoverished. If we want our society to be one that protects older adults and treats them as full social members, then we need not only ethical policies but ethical frameworks in the fullest sense — guides to social practices and family relations and ways of life — that will cease to exclude the old, and reestablish our ties with them.

14. In time of Covid, more people are choosing to die at home

15. Social Isolation and Loneliness: Imperatives for Health Care in a Post-COVID World

16.  Kay Hymowitz: What’s at Stake in the Coming Title IX War

First, by bringing sexual assault under the umbrella of sexual harassment and Title IX, schools could (and, as hundreds of suits brought by accused students did) deny protections ordinarily granted to someone accused of a crime. The letter warned schools against using anything other than preponderance of evidence standard, the lowest burden of proof, in determining the guilt of the accused. (Title IX itself says nothing on the subject.) It also “strongly discourage[d]” allowing the accused to question his accuser since this could be “traumatizing or intimidating” for the victim and could itself create a hostile environment. Also pernicious was muddying the distinction in the public mind between sexual violence, sexual harassment, and discrimination on the basis of sex. Since no university was willing to look less than vigilant about campus violence, administrators stayed closed-mouthed in the face of what looked a lot like a gratuitous bureaucratic power grab.

. . .

A guy who has sex with a shy but seemingly willing female partner who later regrets the episode can be investigated for sexual assault — if consent was not “enthusiastic,” “imaginative,” or “informed,” to cite some of the confusing words used in university educational materials. The University of California at San Diego explains that “consent is about understanding what a partner is feeling.” As Gersen and Suk note, a UC student brought a complaint against a partner because she later regretted their sexual encounter, though she had not objected at the time: she “physically wanted to have sex with Ryan but mentally wouldn’t,” as she told investigators. He was suspended for “nonconsensual sex,” which a prospective employer looking at his academic record might well assume was rape. The only bright side of this sad episode is that Ryan later sued the school in state court and won.

17. Could the fate of society depend on how we think about bodies?

Carter Snead: And so proponents [of euthenasia] say, “Let’s give them the freedom to kill themselves, to author the last chapter of their book in a way that coheres with their life story.”

But anybody who’s familiar with the clinical context in which these issues arise knows that’s not reality. A person who’s having suicidal ideation is almost always a person who’s suffering from depression or from intractable suffering. And that’s not a zone where autonomy is operating at its height — that’s a zone where a person needs help.

If you come to their aid and treat someone’s depression or pain the right way, studies show that a lot of suicidal ideation goes away.

Now, are there people, probably rich, maybe white or privileged, who can make the decision to end their lives in a full and free way? Maybe there are, but you don’t make law and public policy for the richest or most privileged people. You make law and public policy to protect the weakest and most vulnerable.

If you haven’t, watch my recent interview with Carter Snead for The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture and the National Review Institute:

18. Pope Francis tells diplomats ‘right to life’ is a foundational human right

“It is painful, however, to note that under the pretext of guaranteeing presumed subjective rights, a growing number of legal systems in our world seem to be moving away from their inalienable duty to protect human life at every one of its phases,” the pope said.

. . .

“For each human person is an end in himself or herself, and never simply a means to be valued only for his or her usefulness. Persons are created to live together in families, communities and societies, where all  are equal in dignity. Human rights derive from this dignity, as do human duties, like the responsibility to welcome and assist the poor, the sick, the excluded,” Francis said.

19. Walter Russell Mead: The Antidote to Trump Isn’t Obama Redux

It is very well for Mr. Biden to say he isn’t Mr. Trump, but what he needs to demonstrate to the world is that he isn’t Mr. Obama. The Obama administration’s mix of tough words and fumbled deeds in places like Egypt and Syria — along with its serial failures to curb Russian and Chinese power plays from Crimea to the South China Sea — badly diminished American prestige. The prospect that the new administration will similarly dissipate Washington’s energy and credibility in empty gestures and moralistic word salads quietly worries U.S. allies (and delights and encourages American adversaries).



22. Romney’s child allowance proposal

There is a very mild work disincentive for upper middle class people experiencing the phase-out of the benefit.  The income effect refers to the fact that poor people might no longer work because they feel they can live on the child allowance without working (perhaps combined with other programs like food stamps.)  It seems to me that this disincentive would be quite modest for the size of benefits proposed by Romney.  Still, in net terms there’s probably a mild work disincentive from the issues I’ve discussed thus far.

23. Serena Sigillito: A Conservative Case for Pro-Family Policy

Government funding for childcare is often touted as a way to help single parents and those living in poverty. But, as demographer Lyman Stone argues, “The families with the greatest financial needs often face numerous difficulties, not just one big cost,” and they’re better served by cash than subsidized childcare. As family policy analyst Patrick Brown writes at The Institute of Family Studies, this proposal from the Biden administration gives the GOP the chance “to make good on its newfound self-conception as a multi-ethnic, working-class party, one whose economic and political interests would be ill-suited by objecting to putting more money in the pockets of working-class parents.”

24. Reihan Salam: Is America’s Educational System Becoming More Pluralistic?

Since the advent of the school-choice movement, its most tenacious and effective blue-state opponents have been affluent suburban parents who have an interest in defending the exclusivity, perceived quality, and fiscal stability of their schools. That has meant ensuring that district borders are stringently enforced, local property-tax wealth flows into local district schools, and exits to nondistrict alternatives are kept to a minimum. School-choice policies threaten to undermine every one of these pillars: Interdistrict-choice programs would allow out-of-district students to enroll, thus undermining schools’ exclusivity and perceived quality, and they’d enable parents dissatisfied with district schools to find alternatives, diverting resources in the process.

25. P.J. O’Rourke On Populism And Optimism

“Reason is pretty much what got us civilization. Preservation of civilization is what makes me a conservative.”

26. San Francisco Giants outfielder Drew Robinson’s remarkable second act

Every day now offers him a chance to help repair what has been broken. Himself. His family. Anyone who hears his story. So Drew is back lifting weights in his garage, taking swings in the batting cage, getting used to his new normal, intent on making baseball history. He’s writing for the first time in his life. He’s standing in front of a mirror, staring at himself, at scars visible and invisible, at the new contours of his face, a face he wants the world to see no matter how it looks.

27. Edelweiss (Christopher Plummer’s real voice) The Sound of Music

28. National Catholic Register: Christopher Plummer, the Cross and the Swastika

I have no memory of seeing The Sound of Music for the first time; like The Wizard of Oz, it’s such a formative part of my childhood that I feel as if it were always there. For me, like many others, that swastika-ripping shot might be my earliest intimation that that twisted black cross represented something repugnant: something to be opposed and resisted by all possible means.

29. A fantastic opportunity for young Catholic women (20s):


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