Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Lancet rebukes Pope Benedict

Britain's best-known medical journal, The Lancet, has launched an unprecedented attack on Pope Benedict. The editorial in its current edition accuses the pope of 'distorting scientific evidence' to promote Catholic teaching on the use of condoms. The Lancet editorial is titled "Redemption for the Pope?" Here's the full text: 'The Vatican felt the heat from an unprecedented amount of international condemnation last week after Pope Benedict XVI made an outrageous and wildly inaccurate statement about HIV/AIDS. On his first visit to Africa, the Pope told journalists that the continent's fight against the disease is a problem that "cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms: on the contrary, they increase it".'
'The Catholic Church's ethical opposition to birth control and support of marital fidelity and abstinence in HIV prevention is well known. But, by saying that condoms exacerbate the problem of HIV/AIDS, the Pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue.'
'The international community was quick to condemn the comment. The governments of Germany, France, and Belgium released statements criticising the Pope's views. Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, called the comment "irresponsible and dangerous". UNAIDS, the UN Population Fund, and WHO released an updated position statement on HIV prevention and condoms, which said that "the male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV". Amidst the fury, even the Vatican tried to alter the pontiff's wording. On the Holy See's website, the Vatican's head of media, Father Federico Lombari, quoted the Pope as having said that there was a "risk that condoms...might increase the problem".'

'Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear. But the comment still stands and the Vatican's attempts to tweak the Pope's words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.'

Thursday, March 26, 2009

While reading Ciberpaís, I happened to come across a link to, a website designed by Madrid-based, American teacher of English Zac Tobias. He postulates that Spaniards needn't know more English but what they really need is to speak it better. Instead of the customary grammar and vocabulary presentations, this site aims at correcting the typical mistakes Spanish-speaking people make when speaking English. By analyzing the English spoken by Spanish celebrities, such as Rafael Nadal or Javier Bardem, or giving pronunciation tips and advice on how to master false friends, this blog offers clear, entertaining explanations presented in a very attractive design. Posts are printable and provide a wide range of exercises that can help you to avoid the most common errors of Spanish-speaking students.

Saturday, March 07, 2009



Greenpeace has launched a new film targeting gas guzzling 4x4s. Using the language, style and production values of traditional car adverts, the film subverts TV tactics and challenges the image portrayed by the advertising industry of 4x4 drivers escaping their urban environment for the freedom of the open road. Greenpeace took advice from advertising industry insiders before producing the film.

The advert satirises the aspirational images and glossy marketing used by motor manufacturers to encourage car drivers to purchase an urban 4x4. In the film a city employee encounters distain from his fellow employees, but only at the end of the film does the viewer learn why – he owns a city gas guzzler. The ad ends with the line, ‘What does your car say about you?’The film urges car buyers to think about the consequences of their choices and not be suckered by car industry advertising.

John Sauven, Greenpeace communications director, said: ‘Confronting the car advertising industry has never been more important. As climate change threatens our existence on this planet we cannot let the advertisers off the hook. Showing images of urban 4x4s driving across an arctic wilderness is insane given that the polar ice caps are melting due to the inefficient use of fossil fuels. We need to challenge head on the language and images that make 4x4s attractive, exposing the reality when you get behind the wheel. That’s what this film is about.’