...on psychic reading, read this and find out how you just wasted that money. Goldberg writes a clear article on Cold Readings -- the tool in the psychic trade. After all, even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
CNN.com - Judge rules against 'intelligent design' in science class - Dec 20, 2005: "HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- A Pennsylvania school district cannot teach in science classes a concept that says some aspects of science were created by a supernatural being, a federal judge has ruled.
In an opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Jones ruled that teaching 'intelligent design' would violate the Constitutional separation of church and state.
'We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents,' Jones writes in his 139-page opinion posted on the court's Web site. (Opinion, pdf)
'To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions,' Jones writes."
Friday, December 16, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
newsobserver.com | Local & State: "Most pupils who fail tests move up
Despite a state policy, many N.C. students who fail end-of-grade tests are promoted anyway
Todd Silberman, Staff Writer
The theory sounds simple enough: Students who fail end-of-grade tests in reading, math or both shouldn't automatically be promoted to the next grade.
In practice, more and more North Carolina students are being promoted anyway -- despite a strict rule intended to keep schools from passing students from grade to grade because of age instead of achievement.
Of nearly 4,000 North Carolina fifth-graders who failed one or both tests last year, about 3,500 were promoted to the next grade."
Saturday, December 03, 2005
See www.randi.org/jr/200509/092305northern.html#1 to refresh your memory about former Canadian Deputy Minister of Defense and later, Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister, Paul Hellyer, who is now asking the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics – by which he means, relations with “ETs,” which he defines as, “ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that may now be visiting Earth.” Despite the fact that there is zero evidence to indicate that an extraterrestrial life exists – though that’s not at all impossible! – and any life form would have to travel incredible distances under incredible conditions, to get here, Mr. Hellyer believes that we should treat this possibility with priority – even while we’re trying to find out how to leave Iraq with dignity and style. In a speech at the University of Toronto, Hellyer has publicly stated:
UFOs are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head… I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something… The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalleled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied Minister of Defense, were never in-the-loop… The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the Moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide.
Doesn’t Hellyer do anything to inform himself of the facts about Roswell, UFOs, and the proposed Moon base? But, aside from the incredible content of his speech, what has to get our attention is that Hellyer’s speech was greeted with a standing ovation! Now, in my view, this misplaced enthusiasm may be based on the very wise 1967 United Nations decision that weapons of mass destruction – remember them? – must not be based in space.
We’ll just have to stay tuned. So far, the Canadian Parliament is not rushing to clamber onto the UFO platform."
Monday, November 28, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Students take these offbeat courses for a variety of reasons--hoping for an easy A, to try something fun, or to explore a new interest. Underwater Basket Weaving 101 may be an urban legend, but these ten unusual courses are for real:
1) You can boldly go where no other philosophy student has gone before in Georgetown University's 'Philosophy and Star Trek' course, where students discuss the nature of time travel, the ability of computers to think and feel, and other philosophical dilemmas facing the crew of the Starship Enterprise.
2) Discover how Brick really felt when Opal left him for his neighbor's best friend's sister in the University of Wisconsin's course entitled 'Daytime Serials: Family and Social Roles.' Students analyze the plots, themes, and characters of daytime soaps and discuss their impact on modern life.
3) If you've been longing to research how hot dogs, theme parks, and the five-day workweek have impacted American leisure culture, check out the University of Iowa course 'The American Vacation.' This course pays particular attention to how American families' varying backgrounds shape their vacation experiences.
4) Bowdoin College students can delve into 'The Horror Film in Context' in the school's English Department. Students read Freud and Poe and watch Hitchcock and Craven, all while discussing the horror genre's treatment of gender, class, and family.
5) At Williams College, students can learn more about those in the cement shoe industry by enrolling in 'Comparative History of Organized Crime,' which compares the work of goodfellas from the United States, Italy, Japan, and Russia.
6) If you've got a romantic urge for adventure, check out Barnard College's course on 'The Road Movie,' which studies Easy Rider and Thelma and Louise, while also discussing the genre's literary precursors, like On the Road and The Odyssey.
7) If hitting the road doesn't satisfy your rebellious streak, sign up for Brown University's course on 'American Degenerates,' in which students discuss how early British-American writers embraced the grotesque, monstrous, 'not our kind' status bestowed on them by the mother country and reflected their zeal for cultural and physical degeneracy in their literature.
8) Those artsy types at the Rhode Island School of Design can put down their paintbrushes and take 'The Art of Sin and the Sin of Art,' which contemplates the relationship between sin and the art world. The course catalog invites you to 'lust with the saints and burn with the sinners.'
9) If talking about death several times a week in class sounds like a good time to you, try Purdue University's 'Death and the Nineteenth Century' course. Every poem and novel in the course deals with the 19th-century conception of mortality and the world beyond.
10) At Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, students can take 'Art of Walking,' in which students not only read literature by noted perambulators like Kant and Nietzsche, but go for neighborhood strolls with their professor and his dog.
Most college programs offer interesting courses to introduce you to new and fascinating subject matters. Take advantage of the many possibilities offered to you by sitting down with your advisor to talk about course options and then really thinking about the courses you choose to take."
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Juxu and her classmates have no league tables or Sats, they enjoy short school days, free hot lunches, lots of music, art and sport, and 10-week summer holidays. In a country where 60 per cent of the people are university-educated, the children have the world's best education."
Landmark College, the school with the priciest tuition since at least 1998, is charging $37,738 for tuition this year, according to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education. That's up $11,238, or 42 percent, from 1998.
Of course, not everyone is aiming to go to Landmark, a school in Putney, Vt. that provides a liberal arts education to kids with learning disabilities and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
But the price tag isn't that much lower at the other nine schools that charge the highest tuition.
George Washington University in Washington, D.C. ranks No. 2 with a tuition of $36,400, up 7 percent from last year.
The No. 3 school, the University of Richmond in Virginia, is charging $34,850, up a whopping 31.4 percent from last year."
Top 20 geek novels -- the results! from Guardian Unlimited: Technology: "Top 20 geek novels -- the results!
By Jack Schofield / Media 06:14am
So far, 132 people have voted for the best geek novels written in English since 1932, in spite of Survey Monkey's rubric saying free polls were limited to 100 responses. The top 20 is therefore as follows, with the numbers in brackets showing the number of votes.
1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams 85% (102)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four -- George Orwell 79% (92)
3. Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley 69% (77)
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- Philip Dick 64% (67)
5. Neuromancer -- William Gibson 59% (66)
6. Dune -- Frank Herbert 53% (54)
7. I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov 52% (54)
8. Foundation -- Isaac Asimov 47% (47)
9. The Colour of Magic -- Terry Pratchett 46% (46)
10. Microserfs -- Douglas Coupland 43% (44)
11. Snow Crash -- Neal Stephenson 37% (37)
12. Watchmen -- Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons 38% (37)
13. Cryptonomicon -- Neal Stephenson 36% (36)
14. Consider Phlebas -- Iain M Banks 34% (35)
15. Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlein 33% (33)
16. The Man in the High Castle -- Philip K Dick 34% (32)
17. American Gods -- Neil Gaiman 31% (29)
18. The Diamond Age -- Neal Stephenson 27% (27)
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy -- Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson 23% (21)
20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham 21% (19)"
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Slashdot | Vatican Rejects Intelligent Design?: "A Vatican representative has expressed a defense of the theory of evolution, stating that it is 'perfectly compatible' with the Genesis story of creation. 'The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim,' he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that 'the universe didn't make itself and had a creator'.' Of course, it'd probably be best if fundmentalists actually talked to, say, the rabbis who wrote the whole thing down. The Orthodox rabbis I've spoken find it amazingly amusing that people take the creation story as literal truth, rather then a story about YHWH's power."
Slashdot | World's Most Powerful Subwoofer: "'This $13,000 subwoofer, the TRW 17 from Eminent Technology is billed as the world's most powerful due to its ability to reproduce sounds with frequencies as low as 1Hz. Typical subwoofers bottom out at 20Hz, and while the human ear can barely hear below that point, it is still possible to feel the sound. This particular woofer does not have an enclosure, instead relying on a fan-like design, wafting a cone of modulated air into the room, and effectively turning it into a resonating box, in its entirety!'"
New Scientist Breaking News - Invention: Coffee beer: "Coffee-beer
A drink somewhere between coffee and beer could soon be on the menu. Nestec, part of the Nestl�empire in Switzerland, has filed patents in every major market round the world on a 'fermented coffee beverage' that pours and foams like beer, but smells of strong coffee and packs a concentrated caffeine kick.
The beverage is made in a similar way to beer, but fine-tuned temperature control stops the formation of ethyl alcohol. So the new drink could go down well with people who want a long tall pick-me-up while driving."
CNN.com - Suspect in DEA agent killing escapes - Nov 19, 2005: "TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- A teen accused of killing a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent and implicated in 16 other slayings has escaped from a youth correction facility -- just as he promised he would -- officials said Saturday.
Herlan Colindres, a 16-year-old street gang member, slipped out of a rehabilitation center housing 156 youths outside the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa on Friday night, authorities said.
Colindres and his 13-year-old bodyguard Manuel Romero were arrested in July in connection with the murder of DEA agent Michael Timothy Markey outside Tegucigalpa at a temple dedicated to Honduras' patron saint."
This was an astute remark. Many of Darwin's readers, then and now, have tried to find ways to reconcile a divine creator with the clearly secular implications of Darwin's theory of evolution. As often as not, the effort is less a search for a first cause than a plea for assurances of immortality. Tennyson recognized that Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species,' which was published in 1859, offered no such promises.
What bothered Tennyson wasn't merely the possible loss of eternity. It was also the central observation that underlies Darwin's theory: the fact, first noticed by Malthus, that every species on the planet, including humans, produces far more offspring in each generation than nature can support. Coming as late as we do - nearly a century and a half after Darwin's 'Origin' - we have the luxury of seeing at a glance what Darwin saw: that the pressure of so much excess population is a harsh but efficient test of the value of accidental variations in any species.
We can say, with Thomas Huxley, 'How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!' But, of course, Darwin did not simply think of it. He prepared for years to be ready to think of it when he did. It is one thing to see the logic in evolution, as stated on the page. It is something entirely different to have pieced together such an astonishingly powerful theory - a word that, as scientists use it, means an explanation of the facts as we know them - from the details of nature itself."
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Televangelist Robertson warns town of God's wrath - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting 'intelligent design' and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.
Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate and founder of the influential conservative Christian Broadcasting Network and Christian Coalition, has a long record of similar apocalyptic warnings and provocative statements"
Sarah McDonald, who produced and directed the documentary, 'Undercover in the Secret State,' said her crew interviewed a man who had been in a camp shown in the movie.
'What he described, we didn't put it in the film,' she said Friday from London, England. 'It is so appalling, you just can't imagine. He said that 95 percent of people who go into that prison die in the prison. Their whole motivation is to kill these people, but they won't let them die easily.
'They -- they torture them to death over a very long period of time.'"
Saturday, November 05, 2005
From Leo Lewis in Tokyo
A HIGH-SCHOOL girl has been arrested for gradually poisoning her mother to the brink of death and keeping a blog of her progress — all done as a grim homage to a British serial killer whom she idolised.
Over the summer the 16-year-old student is alleged to have laced her mother’s food with increasing doses of thallium, a potent rat poison. Her mother is now critically ill and in a coma."
Fast food and strong currencies
Jun 9th 2005
From The Economist print edition
How much burger do you get for your euro, yuan or Swiss franc?
ITALIANS like their coffee strong and their currencies weak. That, at least, is the conclusion one can draw from their latest round of grumbles about Europe's single currency. But are the Italians right to moan? Is the euro overvalued?
Our annual Big Mac index (see table) suggests they have a case: the euro is overvalued by 17% against the dollar. How come? The euro is worth about $1.22 on the foreign-exchange markets. A Big Mac costs €2.92, on average, in the euro zone and $3.06 in the United States. The rate needed to equalise the burger's price in the two regions is just $1.05. To patrons of McDonald's, at least, the single currency is overpriced.
The Big Mac index, which we have compiled since 1986, is based on the notion that a currency's price should reflect its purchasing power. According to the late, great economist Rudiger Dornbusch, this idea can be traced back to the Salamanca school in 16th-century Spain. Since then, he wrote, the doctrine of purchasing-power parity (PPP) has been variously seen as a “truism, an empirical regularity or a grossly misleading simplification.”
Economists lost some faith in PPP as a guide to exchange rates in the 1970s, after the world's currencies abandoned their anchors to the dollar. By the end of the decade, exchange rates seemed to be drifting without chart or compass. Later studies showed that a currency's purchasing power does assert itself over the long run. But it might take three to five years for a misaligned exchange rate to move even halfway back into line.
Our index shows that burger prices can certainly fall out of line with each other. If he could keep the burgers fresh, an ingenious arbitrageur could buy Big Macs for the equivalent of $1.27 in China, whose yuan is the most undervalued currency in our table, and sell them for $5.05 in Switzerland, whose franc is the most overvalued currency. The impracticality of such a trade highlights some of the flaws in the PPP idea. Trade barriers, transport costs and differences in taxes drive a wedge between prices in different countries.
More important, the $5.05 charged for a Swiss Big Mac helps to pay for the retail space in which it is served, and for the labour that serves it. Neither of these two crucial ingredients can be easily traded across borders. David Parsley, of Vanderbilt University, and Shang-Jin Wei, of the International Monetary Fund, estimate that non-traded inputs, such as labour, rent and electricity, account for between 55% and 64% of the price of a Big Mac*."
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Justices Weighing Narcotics Policy Against Needs of a Church - New York Times: "Justices Weighing Narcotics Policy Against Needs of a Church
By LINDA GREENHOUSE
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 - The Bush administration tried to persuade the Supreme Court on Tuesday that federal narcotics policy should trump the religious needs of members of a small South American church who want to import a hallucinogenic tea that is central to their religious rituals.
Two lower federal courts have barred the government from seizing the sacred drink, known as hoasca tea, which is brewed from indigenous Brazilian plants that do not grow in the United States. The tea's hallucinogenic effect comes from a chemical, dimethyltryptamine, usually known as DMT, which occurs naturally in the plants and is listed as a Schedule I banned substance in the federal Controlled Substances Act."
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Which Test to Take?
Article provided by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
(Image credit: Getty Images/PhotoDisc, Inc.)
Many colleges and universities now accept both SAT and ACT scores, giving you the option to choose which test to take for the best score possible. The recommended way to truly determine which test best suits your test-taking strengths is to take practice exams for both tests, and then choose the test that makes you feel the most comfortable and confident. Before practicing, though, you should familiarize yourself with the differences between the exams through our list of frequently asked questions.
What's the difference between the ACT and the SAT?
The SAT is traditionally thought of as a test that measures your critical-thinking skills, testing your ability to analyze and solve problems in math, reading, and writing. The ACT, on the other hand, is considered a more curriculum-based test, since it tests your academic preparedness for college in the areas of English, math, reading, and science by calling on information you have learned in your high school coursework."
Discovery Health :: Colds & Flu :: Ten Ways to Avoid the Flu: "Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. A quick rinse won't do the trick. To kill germs, communicative disease experts recommend washing with soap for 15 to 30 seconds-about as long as it takes to hum a rollicking verse of 'Yankee Doodle Dandy.'"
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Print Story: Alien abductees prone to false memories? on Yahoo! News: "Alien abductees prone to false memories?
Wed Oct 26,12:36 PM ET
Do you have memories of being abducted by aliens and whisked away in a spaceship?
You wouldn't be alone.
Several thousand people worldwide claim to have had such close encounters, researchers say. But in a new study, a psychology expert at London's Goldsmiths College says these experiences are proof of the frailty of the human memory, rather than evidence of life in other galaxies.
'Maybe what we're dealing with here is false memories, and not that people are actually being abducted and taken aboard spaceships,' says Professor Chris French, who surveyed 19 self-proclaimed alien abductees.
Several of the abductees reported being snatched from their beds or cars by alien creatures around four feet high, with spindly arms and legs and oversized heads, French said.
Some men said they were subjected to painful medical examinations by the aliens, during which their sperm was extracted.
Many of the alien experiences could be explained by sleep paralysis, a condition in which a person is awake and aware of the surroundings but is unable to move.
Sleep paralysis often leads to hallucinations and 40 percent of people experience the state at least once in their lives, French said.
A rich imagination was also at play. Several of the alien abductees were already prone to fanaticizing and also claimed to have seen ghosts and have psychic or healing abilities.
'People have very rich fantasy lives,' said French, who is due to present his findings at a public seminar at London's Science Museum Wednesday.
'So much so that they often mix up what's happening in their heads with what is going on in the real world.'"
Monday, October 24, 2005
Azcona, who was president of the Central American nation from 1986 to 1990, died at home of heart problems at age 78, family members said.
His term was marked by controversy over the presence of armed Nicaraguan Contra rebels on Honduran soil. The rebels received U.S. training and aid for their fight against the Sandinista government reviled by Washington.
The United States sent its own troops to Honduras, at Azcona's request, when the Sandinista army crossed the border to pursue the Contras.
Azcona's government agreed to oust the Contras if Nicaragua would hold free elections. In 1990 the Sandinistas lost power to U.S.-supported candidate Violeta Chamorro at the polls.
Azcona is remembered by some Hondurans as one of few clean politicians in a country where public life is often characterized by corruption, and credited with helping to negotiate peace accords in a region torn by civil war."
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Sleuths Crack Tracking Code Discovered in Color Printers: "By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 19, 2005; D01
It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn't. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government.
Last year, an article in PC World magazine pointed out that printouts from many color laser printers contained yellow dots scattered across the page, viewable only with a special kind of flashlight. The article quoted a senior researcher at Xerox Corp. as saying the dots contain information useful to law-enforcement authorities, a secret digital 'license tag' for tracking down criminals.
The content of the coded information was supposed to be a secret, available only to agencies looking for counterfeiters who use color printers.
Now, the secret is out."
Astrologer wrong on the big prediction - Yahoo! News: "BHOPAL, India (Reuters) - Hundreds of people flocked to a village in central India Thursday to see if an astrologer who forecast his own death would indeed die as predicted.
But the 75-year-old man survived the day."
Sunday, October 16, 2005
God Is in the Rules - New York Times: "October 16, 2005
God Is in the Rules
By GEOFF D. PORTER
Fatwas, the legal opinions proclaimed by Islamic scholars, have proliferated in the Muslim world since the 1980's, driven by rising literacy rates and the Internet. The growth in fatwas - some of them contradictory - has led to a debate over who can legitimately issue them and has alarmed governments in the Middle East, since the decrees sometimes challenge state-sanctioned interpretations of Islam.
Yet criticizing fatwas about divisive issues like the propriety of killing civilians and Shiites can be dangerous for officials. So the Saudi government is trying a different tactic, zeroing in on what it considers frivolous fatwas in order to rally support for tougher measures on who can and who cannot issue opinions. Recently, Al Watan, a semiofficial Saudi daily newspaper, reported that a young athlete had joined the jihad in Iraq under the influence of a fatwa forbidding playing soccer by regular rules. The newspaper also republished the fatwa, said to have originally appeared on an Islamic Web site. Portions of the fatwa, which I translated from the Arabic, follow.
- GEOFF D. PORTER
IN the name of God the merciful and benevolent:
1. Play soccer without four lines because this is a fabrication of the heretics' international rules that stipulate using them and delineating them before playing.
2. International terminology that heretics and polytheists use, like 'foul,' 'penalty,' 'corner,' 'goal,' 'out' and others, should be abandoned and not said. Whoever says them should be punished, reprimanded and ejected from the game. He should be publicly told, 'You have imitated the heretics and polytheists and this is forbidden.'
3. Do not call 'foul' and stop the game if someone falls and sprains a hand or foot or the ball touches his hand, and do not give a yellow or red card to whoever was responsible for the injury or tackle. Instead, it should be adjudicated according to Sharia rulings concerning broken bones and injuries. The injured player should exercise his Sharia rights according to the Koran and you must bear witness with him that so-and-so hurt him on purpose.
4. Do not follow the heretics, the Jews, the Christians and especially evil America regarding the number of players. Do not play with 11 people. Instead, add to this number or decrease it.
5. Play in your regular clothes or your pajamas or something like that, but not colored shorts and numbered T-shirts, because shorts and T-shirts are not Muslim clothing. Rather they are heretical and Western clothing, so beware of imitating their fashion.
6. If you have fulfilled these conditions and intend to play soccer, play to strengthen the body in order to better struggle in the way of God on high and to prepare the body for when it is called to jihad. Soccer is not for passing time or the thrill of so-called victory.
7. Do not set the time of play at 45 minutes, which is the official time of the Jews, Christians and all the heretical and atheist countries. This is the time used by teams that have strayed from the righteous path. You are obliged to distinguish yourself from the heretics and the corrupted and must not resemble them in anything.
6. Do not play in two halves. Rather play in one half or three halves in order to completely differentiate yourselves from the heretics, the polytheists, the corrupted and the disobedient.
9. If neither of you beats the other, or 'wins' as it is called, and neither puts the leather between the posts, do not add extra time or penalties until someone wins. No, instead leave the field, because winning with overtime and penalty kicks is the pinnacle of imitating heretics and international rules.
10. If you play soccer, do not appoint someone to follow you called a 'referee,' since there is no need for him after doing away with international rules like 'foul,' 'penalty,' 'corner' and others. His presence would be in imitation of the heretics, Jews and Christians and would follow international rules."
Saturday, October 15, 2005
HAIPHONG, Vietnam (Reuters) - The next human pandemic is 'inevitable' and the world must prepare now against bird flu and other potentially deadly viruses, a top U.S. government scientist said on Saturday.
'It's been over 30 years since we've had a pandemic, so inevitably we are going to have a pandemic within a reasonable period of time,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
'It's not a matter of when or if,' he told reporters in Vietnam, where 41 people have died from the H5N1 virus that has now spread to Europe."
By MARLISE SIMONS
Published: October 14, 2005
PARIS, Oct. 14 -The new International Criminal Court in The Hague took a big step on Friday toward becoming a global human rights tribunal when it confirmed it had issued its first arrest warrants.
The court, which has been working in The Hague since 2002 despite resistance and a continuing boycott by the United States, said it was seeking the arrest of the leader and four commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army, a two-decade-old rebel movement in Uganda.
The charges include brutalizing civilians, including killing, raping and robbing them, and systematically kidnapping children, forcing them to fight and using them as slaves."
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
U.N. Is Gradually Becoming More Hospitable to Israel
By WARREN HOGE
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 10 - Israel recently proposed a United Nations resolution, it submitted its candidacy for a two-year seat on the Security Council, and its prime minister has been warmly received speaking to the General Assembly.
For any of the 190 other nations in the world organization, those would be routine events.
But in Israel's case, the resolution is the first the country has ever proposed, and the request for a Security Council seat presumes an end to the disdain with which the country has historically been treated at the United Nations.
The address by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on Sept. 15, was his first at the United Nations. It was delivered to a hall that has rung with denunciations of his country, where a tide of condemnatory resolutions has passed by lopsided votes and which Arab delegates regularly vacated whenever an Israeli rose to speak.
'These are steps that could not have happened even two years ago,' said Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador, referring to the new efforts to gain acceptance. 'It would have been unthinkable, suicidal, for us even to try them.'"
On one side are those like Dr. Grompe who say human life is a continuum that begins with a fertilized egg. A human embryo, however early, is human life, he says, and he finds it unacceptable to destroy human embryos to extract their stem cells. The end cannot justify the means.
In the middle are those like Dr. Daley. He says human embryos have 'a unique moral status' that should be respected. 'There's a significant weight to the decision to use human embryos,' he says. But, he adds, using human embryo stem cells to find ways to relieve human suffering 'pays respect to their unique moral status.' And, he says, 'I fully accept the ethical tradeoff.'
Yet another group, which includes Dr. Jaenisch, says that for them there is no means-end calculus. Early embryos, they say, are simply microscopic balls of cells with no particular moral status. They have no body parts, they look nothing like a fetus, and most die anyway when they are implanted in women. For them, embryonic stem cell research poses no ethical issue.
And that impasse has led to a search for other ways of getting these precious cells."
The White House has dismissed as 'absurd' allegations made in a BBC TV series that President Bush claimed God told him to invade Iraq.
'He's never made such comments,' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
The comments were attributed to Mr Bush by the Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath in the upcoming TV series Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs.
Mr Shaath said that in a 2003 meeting with Mr Bush, the US president said he was 'driven with a mission from God'.
'President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did, and then God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq... And I did.
''And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East. And by God I'm gonna do it.''"
Sunday, October 09, 2005
By Barnaby Phillips
BBC News, Johannesburg
Botswana has strongly denied reports that some of the last bushmen living in the Kalahari desert have been forcibly removed from their ancestral land.
The British-based group, Survival International, has accused Botswana's government of ethnic cleansing.
The Botswanan government says bushmen have been leaving the Kalahari, but at their own request.
The bushmen, or San, were hunter gatherers who lived in the desert of southern Africa for thousands of years.
Their traditional way of life has all but disappeared in recent years, and the Botswanan government wants the few hundred still living in the vast central Kalahari game reserve to move to nearby towns."
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Monday, 3 October 2005
Dolphins are the only mammals other than humans to recognise rhythms and reproduce them vocally (Image: iStockphoto)
Scientists have taught dolphins to combine both rhythm and vocalisations to produce music, resulting in an extremely high-pitched, short version of the Batman theme song.
The findings, outlined in two studies, are the first time that nonhuman mammals have demonstrated they can recognise rhythms and reproduce them vocally.
THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.
The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.
“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.
The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.
Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.
But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.
The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.
In the document, the bishops acknowledge their debt to biblical scholars. They say the Bible must be approached in the knowledge that it is “God’s word expressed in human language” and that proper acknowledgement should be given both to the word of God and its human dimensions.
They say the Church must offer the gospel in ways “appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries”.
The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”
They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its “intransigent intolerance” and to warn of “significant dangers” involved in a fundamentalist approach.
“Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”
Of the notorious anti-Jewish curse in Matthew 27:25, “His blood be on us and on our children”, a passage used to justify centuries of anti-Semitism, the bishops say these and other words must never be used again as a pretext to treat Jewish people with contempt. Describing this passage as an example of dramatic exaggeration, the bishops say they have had “tragic consequences” in encouraging hatred and persecution. “The attitudes and language of first-century quarrels between Jews and Jewish Christians should never again be emulated in relations between Jews and Christians.”
As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.
Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.
The bishops say: “Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come.”
In their foreword to the teaching document, the two most senior Catholics of the land, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, explain its context.
They say people today are searching for what is worthwhile, what has real value, what can be trusted and what is really true.
The new teaching has been issued as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council document explaining the place of Scripture in revelation. In the past 40 years, Catholics have learnt more than ever before to cherish the Bible. “We have rediscovered the Bible as a precious treasure, both ancient and ever new.”
A Christian charity is sending a film about the Christmas story to every primary school in Britain after hearing of a young boy who asked his teacher why Mary and Joseph had named their baby after a swear word. The Breakout Trust raised £200,000 to make the 30-minute animated film, It’s a Boy. Steve Legg, head of the charity, said: “There are over 12 million children in the UK and only 756,000 of them go to church regularly.
That leaves a staggering number who are probably not receiving basic Christian teaching.”
BELIEVE IT OR NOT
Genesis ii, 21-22
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man
Genesis iii, 16
God said to the woman [after she was beguiled by the serpent]: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
Matthew xxvii, 25
The words of the crowd: “His blood be on us and on our children.”
And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.”
Exodus iii, 14
God reveals himself to Moses as: “I am who I am.”
“I will be your God, and you shall be my people.”
The Ten Commandments
The Sermon on the Mount
Peter declares Jesus to be the Christ
The Virgin Birth
Proof of bodily resurrection
JOIN THE DEBATE
The EIU ranked 127 cities in terms of personal risk, infrastructure and the availability of goods and services.
All the cities that fell into the top "liveability" bracket were based in Canada, Australia and Western Europe.
The worst places were Algiers in Algeria, and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea because "many aspects of daily life present challenges", the EIU said.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Lawsuit challenges teaching alternative to evolution
Robert T. Pennock, a professor of science and philosophy at Michigan State University, testified on behalf of families who sued the Dover Area School District. He said supporters of intelligent design don't offer evidence to support their idea.
"As scientists go about their business, they follow a method," Pennock said. "Intelligent design wants to reject that and so it doesn't really fall within the purview of science."
Pennock said intelligent design does not belong in a science class, but added that it could possibly be addressed in other types of courses.
But what about those who say that it is just a theory? Well, so is the theory of gravity, but you do not see anyone disputing that in the classroom or anywhere else.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Eleven parents in the US have gone to court to protect the teaching of evolution at their local schools.
The Dover Area School Board in the state of Pennsylvania requires science teachers to tell pupils that evolution is merely one, unproven theory.
Teachers have to state that Intelligent Design - whose adherents believe life on earth was created by an intelligent being - is a possible alternative.
The parents say it is a religious belief that should not be taught.
They argue that its inclusion violaties the constitutional separation of church and state."
Police in Pakistan have launched an inquiry into complaints that two dead women were elected in last month's local elections.
The women were elected in two separate constituencies of Upper Dir district of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), reports say.
A quota system for women at the elections was intended to boost their representation at a provincial level.
But the elections were marred by violence and claims of vote-rigging.
Reports suggest that one of the women has been dead for 13 years and the other for three years."
Friday, September 23, 2005
A handbook that offers advice to bloggers who want to protect themselves from recrimination and censors has been released by Reporters Without Borders.
The media watchdog said it gives people who want to set up a blog tips on how to do so, how to publicise it, as well as how to establish credibility.
It also offers advice about writing blogs from countries with tough media restrictions, such as Iran and China."
'Just telling them they are wrong is not going to be effective,' he said.
Instead, he told the volunteers that when they encounter religious fundamentalists they should emphasize that science museums live by the rules of science. They seek answers in nature to questions about nature, they look for explanations that can be tested by experiment and observation in the material world, and they understand that all scientific knowledge is provisional - capable of being overturned when better answers are discovered.
'Is it against all religion?' he asked. 'No. But it is against some religions.'
There is more than one type of creationist, he said: 'thinking creationists who want to know answers, and they are willing to listen, even if they go away unconvinced' and 'people who for whatever reason are here to bother you, to trap you, to bludgeon you.'
Those were the type of people who confronted Dr. Durkee, a former biology professor at Grinnell College in Iowa. The encounter left her discouraged.
'It is no wonder that many biologists will simply refuse to debate creationists or I.D.ers,' she said, using the abbreviation for intelligent design, a cousin of creationism. 'It is as if they aren't listening.'"
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Beaten if she refused to swallow the rich diet of sweetened milk and millet porridge, Zeinabou was one of many Mauritanian girls fattened up because of an ancient belief that corpulent women make more desirable wives."
By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi
The Indian government says it will reward girls from single child families with free education and other benefits.
The move is intended to bolster India's dwindling female population and help promote population control.
Under the plan, education for such girls will be made free at secondary level. They will also be given scholarships for postgraduate study."
Demand for crisps, bread, lipstick and soap could drive orang-utans to extinction, research suggests.
The UK alone imports nearly a million tonnes of palm oil a year for use in such products, but campaigners say plantations for it destroy rainforests.
Friends of the Earth and international ape conservation groups warn in a report that 90% of the animals' habitat in South East Asia has been wiped out.
Their research claims the apes could become extinct within 12 years.
The groups claim British supermarkets do not know where their palm oil is produced.
It is we who will have to explain to our children that the orang-utan became extinct because of corporate greed
They are calling on the government to give company directors a legal duty to minimise their environmental impacts.
Friends of the Earth palm oil campaigner Ed Matthew accused the government of 'failing to clean up its own backyard'.
He said: 'Over 100 UK companies and every single British supermarket is helping fuel the obliteration of orang-utan habitat.'
The report, the Oil for Ape Scandal, said palm oil plantations have now become the primary cause of the orang-utans' decline in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Some experts estimated 5,000 orang-utans perished as a result every year.
The research claimed at least 84% of UK companies failed to take effective action to ensure they do not buy palm oil from destructive sources.
Ian Redmond, chairman of the Ape Alliance, said if the government failed to act, 'it is we who will have to explain to our children that the orang-utan became extinct because of corporate greed and a lack of political will'.
Story from BBC NEWS:"
Sunday, September 18, 2005
CNN.com - Gov. Bush's son arrested - Sep 16, 2005: "Gov. Bush's son arrested
Friday, September 16, 2005; Posted: 8:08 p.m. EDT (00:08 GMT)
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, law enforcement officials said.
John Ellis Bush, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 2:30 a.m. on a corner of Austin's Sixth Street bar district, said commission spokesman Roger Wade.
The nephew of President Bush was released on $2,500 bond for the resisting arrest charge, and on a personal recognizance bond for the public intoxication charge, officials said."
Musharraf's remarks on rapes in Pakistan decried - Yahoo! News: "ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Outrage mounted in Pakistan and abroad on Friday over President Pervez Musharraf's comment that many Pakistanis felt that crying rape was an easy way to make money and move to Canada.
Prime Minister Paul Martin has already condemned the remarks made by Musharraf, who is in the United States having addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.
London-based rights group Amnesty International said Musharraf should apologize, and newspapers back home decried their leader's attitude.
Musharraf told the Washington Post in an interview published on Tuesday that Pakistan should not be singled out on rape issues as other countries had the same problems.
'You must understand the environment in Pakistan ... This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped,' the Post quoted Musharraf as saying."
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
By Danny Wood
BBC News, Madrid
A Roman Catholic bishop on the Spanish island of Tenerife has ordained a man as a Catholic priest despite the fact that he is married with two children.
The 64-year-old former Anglican pastor, David Gliwitzki, was ordained in La Laguna on the Canary Island.
The Bishop of Tenerife said the move was a unique exception within the Spanish Church.
According to Church rules, priests are supposed to be celibate. But the ordination was approved by the Pope."
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Article provided by The Princeton Review
Image credit: Jacobs Stock Photography/Getty Images
Don't go advertising this fact to your parents, but the college years aren't only about keeping your nose to the grindstone. The Princeton Review's annual survey of college students shows that the students at these ten schools perennially have more on their mind than just studying.
This year's rankings are in! The Princeton Review lists student favorites in The Best 361 Colleges.
See how they stack up!
1. University of Mississippi (Oxford, Mississippi)
For many, University of Mississippi--'Ole Miss' to friends--is as much a lifestyle choice as an academic one. 'The best aspect of Ole Miss is the southern pride and the beauty that you experience,' explains one undergrad. While a demanding education can certainly be had at Ole Miss, it's also possible to glide through. 'A lot of students don't come here to get an education. That's a major problem, but probably not the university's fault,' writes one undergrad.
Students who considered Ole Miss also looked at Florida State, Mississippi State, Southern Methodist University, and Tulane University."
Whether or not chess is permissable under Islam has gone around many times, including in the mainstream press. The Taliban said no, but then they said no to everything. Iran used to say no, but lately have said yes, even hosting the FIDE world championship final in 2000. Now that the Bush administration looks set to succeed where Bin Laden failed in turning Iraq into a Sharia state, this is again a hot topic, or at least a hot symbol of repression.
But I hadn't seen the Q&A section of Grand Ayatollah Sistani of Iraq's website myself until now. The items on chess are quite categorical. It is 'absolutely forbidden,' coming in worse than anal sex on the sin chart and at the same level as abortion. Chess even gets this charming exposition:
It is not permissible, because it is a means for Lahv (debauchery) and gambling. Many traditions have been reported from the Holy Prophet and the Imams (a.s.) that prohibit playing chess. Moreover, when we do not know the reason behind the forbiddenness of an act, we are bound to obey in absolute obedience. There is a reason for it, but we do not know it and when we do not know it, it does not mean that we should not abide by it.
Well that settles that. Obviously this is all debatable, at least if you are far enough away not to be stoned to death for debating it. The Shiites in Iran and most other Muslims don't seem to agree. Some old-tyme Christian and Puritan sects also banne"
In 2004, Timothy Gies, a senior at Bay City Central High School in Michigan, was suspended several times for wearing shirts and sweat shirts with anarchy symbols, peace signs, upside-down American flags and an anti-war quote from Albert Einstein.
He took his case to the the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and his school discipline was overturned after the ACLU intervened.
'My view and the ACLU view on suppression of political speech in school is that the public schools have a pointed responsibility to prepare students to think critically and participate in our democracy,' says Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan ACLU.
'ACLU opposes dress codes -- we believe students have a right of free expression, a part of which is expressing their individuality through the clothes that they wear,' Steinberg says. 'And parents can control the clothes their children wear, but it should not be a matter that the state dictates.'
But Essex says there has to be a balance.
'We understand school officials are very concerned with school safety, but that has to be balanced with reasonableness, and that's what the courts expect from us -- to be reasonable in terms of what we expect in students,' he says."