Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Unsolvable Math Problem)

Urban Legends Reference Pages: College (The Unsolvable Math Problem): "This legend combines one of the ultimate academic wish-fulfillment fantasies — a student not only proves himself the smartest one in his class, but also bests his professor and every other scholar in his field of study — with a 'positive thinking' motif which turns up in other urban legends: when people are free to pursue goals unfettered by presumed limitations on what they can accomplish, they just may manage some extraordinary feats through the combined application of native talent and hard work. And this particular version is all the more interesting for being completely true!"

Aka John and Thomas...

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How almost everyone in Kerala learned to read

How almost everyone in Kerala learned to read | "PROVEN METHOD: Children in Kerala - India's most literate state despite its poverty - have long learned to write by drawing in the sand.

How almost everyone in Kerala learned to read
By Nachammai Raman | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor"

Puqee-oh means Always-absent Woman

Bid to save nearly-lost language: "He said linguists found the language fascinating because of its complexity.

'Entire sentences can be built up into a single word,' Dr Stonham said.

'But there are also some concepts that can be encapsulated in a single syllable. A single sound describes the state of remaining in seclusion when the husband goes out to hunt, for example.'

Dr Stonham hopes providing a dictionary of words will encourage teachers to use the language in the classroom and that older people too will be spurred into passing their language on to the next generation."

puqee-oh - Always-absent woman
hina?aluk- I look out for what I know is to happen
Simaacyin?ahinnaanuhsim?aki - their whaling spears were poised in the bow
haasulapi-ck'in?i - sing a little louder

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Amnesty slams Israel 'war crimes'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Amnesty slams Israel 'war crimes': "The rights group's report for 2004 says Israeli forces have killed some 700 Palestinians - including 150 children - mostly in unlawful circumstances"

Peculiarly British identity cards

BBC NEWS | Europe | Peculiarly British identity cards: "In Britain, an opinion poll suggested that 80% of people supported the introduction of ID cards. But opposition is being voiced on multiple grounds.

The traditional objection of the free-born Englishman, as he would see himself, is summed up in the sentence: 'Why should I have to prove who I am?'

That may seem a little incongruous in a country with an estimated 4m closed-circuit cameras monitoring the population."

Amnesty accuses US over 'torture'

BBC NEWS | Europe | Amnesty accuses US over 'torture': "In its wide-ranging review of 131 countries and five world regions, Amnesty International said the US government's selective disregard for international law and reported abuses of detainees was sending a 'permissive signal to abusive governments'.

'The US, as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power, sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide,' she said.

The UN Commission of Human Rights has become a forum for horse-trading on human rights
Irene Khan
Amnesty International

'When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity.'"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Torture, American style

North Jersey Media Group providing local news, sports & classifieds for Northern New Jersey!: "The latest torture accounts come from an internal Army investigation file obtained last week by The New York Times. It shows American military men and women engaging in hideous, immoral acts - often for the fun of it.

One victim was a 22-year-old shy, uneducated and slightly built Afghan taxi driver. Within four days of his detention at America's Bagram center in Afghanistan, most of the man's interrogators were convinced he was innocent of wrongdoing.

But he was interrogated one last time anyway, and died.

Like many prisoners at Bagram, the man's wrists had been shackled to the ceiling for most of his stay. In one 24-hour period, soldiers took turns striking him on the side of his legs just above his knees - a potentially disabling blow used regularly at Bagram.

Soldiers thought it was funny that after every strike the man called 'Allah.'

An autopsy later showed the man's legs ''had basically been pulpified.'

This is sadism."

Odd U.S. state laws ban owning skunks, swearing - Yahoo! News

Odd U.S. state laws ban owning skunks, swearing - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In Virginia, under the terms of a 1950 law, no animal may be hunted on Sundays except raccoons, which may be hunted until 2:00 a.m.

In Connecticut, a 1949 ordinance forbids the storing of town records in any place where liquor is sold.

A 1974 Tennessee law states: 'It is unlawful for any person to import, possess, or cause to be imported into this state any type of live skunk.'

The legal codes of U.S. states, counties and cities are replete with archaic, sometimes nonsensical and often humorous laws, many of which were passed decades or even centuries ago for a reason that seemed good at the time but has long since been forgotten or faded into irrelevance.

But these old laws occasionally come back to bite."

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Texas ponders life without parole - May 21, 2005 - Texas�ponders life without parole - May 21, 2005: "Tony Goolsby, a Republican sponsor of the House bill, said life in prison is a harsh enough penalty.

'If you want to punish a person who violated the law, you let them go to bed every night and wake up and see steel bars, a cold concrete floor and a stainless steel potty. That's their life until they die,' Goolsby said."

The Beam in Your Eye - If steroids are cheating, why isn't LASIK? By William Saletan

The Beam in Your Eye - If steroids are cheating, why isn't LASIK? By William Saletan: "A month ago, Mark McGwire was hauled before a congressional hearing and lambasted as a cheater for using a legal, performance-enhancing steroid precursor when he broke baseball's single-season home run record.

A week ago, Tiger Woods was celebrated for winning golf's biggest tournament, the Masters, with the help of superior vision he acquired through laser surgery.

What's the difference?"

Cheating, or an Early Mingling of the Blood? - New York Times

Cheating, or an Early Mingling of the Blood? - New York Times: "Last month, when the champion American cyclist Tyler Hamilton was accused of blood doping, or transfusing himself with another person's blood to increase his oxygen-carrying red cells, he offered a surprising defense: the small amount of different blood found mixed in with his own must have come from a 'vanishing twin.'
Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

Tyler Hamilton has been suspended from competitive cycling for two years.

In other words, his scientific expert argued, Mr. Hamilton had a twin that died in utero but, before dying, contributed some blood cells to him during fetal life. And those cells remained in his body, producing blood that matched the dead twin and not Mr. Hamilton. Or perhaps it was his mother's blood that got mixed in during fetal life"

Unintelligible Redesign - This is the way creationism ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. By William Saletan

Unintelligible Redesign
This is the way creationism ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
By William Saletan
Posted Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002, at 10:48 AM PT

According to scientists, teachers, and civil libertarians, the Taliban has invaded Ohio. Creationists have devised a theory called "Intelligent Design" (ID) and are trying to get Ohio's Board of Education to make sure it's taught alongside Darwinism. Unlike creationism, ID accepts that the Earth is billions of years old and that species evolve through natural selection. It posits that life has been designed but doesn't specify by whom. Liberals call ID a menace that will sneak religion into public schools. They're exactly wrong. ID is a big nothing. It's non-living, non-breathing proof that religion has surrendered its war against science.

Creationism used to be assertive and powerful. Darwinism wasn't allowed in schools. As Darwin gained the upper hand, conservatives fought to preserve creationism alongside evolution. They lost the war on both fronts. Courts struck down the teaching of creationism on the grounds that it mixed church and state. Meanwhile, scientific evidence discredited the belief that the Earth was created in six days and was only 6,000 years old. Like the Taliban, creationists were washed up. Their only hope was to flee to the mountains, shave their beards, change their clothes, and come back as something else.

What they've come back as is the Intelligent Design movement. Gone are the falsifiable claims of a six-day creation and a 6,000-year-old Earth. Gone is the God of the Bible. In their place, ID enthusiasts speak of questions, mysteries, and possibilities. As to whether God, the Force, or ET created us, ID is agnostic. "We simply ask the question as to whether something can form naturally or if there must have been something more, a designer," Robert Lattimer, an ID proponent in Ohio, told the Columbus Dispatch. "Our main contention is that [evolution-focused curriculum] standards are purely naturalistic and leave no room for the possibility that part of nature can be designed."

This soft-headed agnosticism matches the soft-headed arguments for including it in the curriculum. They're the same arguments leftists have made for ebonics. According to ID proponents, the committee in charge of Ohio's science curriculum is too "homogenous" and lacks "diversity." It marginalizes alternative "points of view" to which students should be "exposed." A conservative state senator says some people "think differently, and all those ideas should be explored." A conservative member of the state education board says Ohioans deserve a science curriculum "they can all be comfortable with."

Behind these pleas for diversity is the kind of educational relativism conservatives normally despise. "Biological evolution, like creationism and design, cannot be proved to be either true or false," writes one ID enthusiast in Ohio. Since evolution is an "unproven theory," says another, "belief in it is just as much an act of faith as is belief in creationism or in the theory of intelligent design."

The response of liberals, teachers, and scientists has been hysterical. They accuse the ID movement of peddling "intolerance," fronting for the Christian right, and trying "to force a narrow religious ideology into our schools." If Ohio lets ID into its curriculum, they prophesy, the state will become an "international laughingstock," triggering a corporate exodus, a decline in property values, and the collapse of Ohio's standard of living. They refuse to acknowledge a difference between ID and creationism. "This is just a new paint job on the same old Edsel," says an Ohio University physiologist.

The analogy is inside out. Creationists haven't repainted their Edsel. They've taken out the engine and the transmission. Without distinctive, measurable claims such as the six-day creation, the 6,000-year-old Earth, and other literal interpretations of the Bible, creationism no longer materially contradicts evolution. The reason not to teach intelligent design isn't that it's full of lies or dogma. The reason is that it's empty.

Advocates of ID do offer interesting criticisms of Darwin's theory of evolution. They argue that natural selection doesn't account for the rise and fall of species, that many biological mechanisms wouldn't make organisms more fit to survive unless those mechanisms appeared all at once, and that the combinations necessary to create life are so complex that it would be statistically impossible to generate them by chance. My colleague Bob Wright answered these criticisms in Slate last year. I don't know whether they stand up to his rebuttal or not. But I do know this: They don't add up to a theory.

A theory isn't just a bunch of criticisms, even if they're valid. A theory ties things together. It explains and predicts. Intelligent design does neither. It doesn't explain why part of our history seems intelligently designed and part of it doesn't. Why are our feet and our back muscles poorly designed for walking? Why are we afflicted by lethal viruses? Why have so many females died in childbirth? ID doesn't explain these things. It just shrugs at them. "Design theory seeks to show, based on scientific evidence, that some features of living things may be designed by a mind or some form of intelligence," says one ID proponent. Some? May? Some? What kind of theory is that?

As Wright explains, Darwinian theory makes predictions that can be tested. It predicts that the average difference in size between males and females will correspond to the degree of polygamy in a species, and that in species in which females can reproduce more often than males, females will be more sexually assertive and less discriminating about their sex partners than males will be. These predictions turn out to be true. Darwin claimed that humans had descended from apes. If fossils unearthed since his death had exhibited no such connection, his theory would have been discredited. What empirical predictions does ID make that, if proven untrue, would discredit the theory?

John Calvert, the country's principal exponent of ID, answered that question in a treatise he presented to the Ohio board. Calvert described the "methods" by which scientists can "detect" design in nature.

In summary, if a highly improbable pattern of events or object exhibits purpose, structure or function and can not be reasonably and rationally explained by the operation of the laws of physics and chemistry or some other regularity or law, then it is reasonable to infer that the pattern was designed. — the product of a mind.

That, in a nutshell, is ID. It offers no predictions, scope modifiers, or experimental methods of its own. It's a default answer, a shrug, consisting entirely of problems in Darwinism. Those problems should be taught in school, but there's no reason to call them intelligent design. Intelligent design, as defined by its advocates, means nothing. This is the way creationism ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
William Saletan is Slate's national correspondent and author of Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War.

Article URL:

Unintelligible Redesign - This is the way creationism ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. By William Saletan

Flushing Newsweek By David Wallace-Wells

Flushing Newsweek By David Wallace-Wells: "Newsweek finds a rare defender in the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum, who writes that the story was merely a pretext for the riots, not their cause. Conservative Andrew Sullivan, an outspoken critic of the Bush administration on torture issues, offers another perspective. 'I think it's telling that some bloggers have devoted much, much more energy to covering the Newsweek error than they ever have to covering any sliver of the widespread evidence of detainee abuse that made the Newsweek piece credible in the first place,' he writes. 'A simple question: after U.S. interrogators have tortured over two dozen detainees to death, after they have wrapped one in an Israeli flag, after they have smeared naked detainees with fake menstrual blood, after they have told one detainee to 'Fuck Allah,' after they have ordered detainees to pray to Allah in order to kick them from behind in the head, is it completely beyond credibility that they would also have desecrated the Koran?' Though he does fault Newsweek, Sullivan believes that, 'Three factors interacted here: media error/bias, Islamist paranoia, and a past and possibly current policy of religiously-intolerant torture. No one comes out looking good.'"

Freakonomics... 'It's not like I go looking for trouble' - 'It's not like I go looking for trouble' - May 11, 2005

Tribe, professor dispute ancestry claims

Plagiarism Again... - Tribe, professor dispute ancestry claims - May 19, 2005: "Churchill, a tenured professor of ethnic studies who could lose his job over allegations that he lied about his ancestry and plagiarized others' work, said Wednesday the tribe's statements are false."

Pregnant student defies graduation ban

But the father, also a senior, gets to participate in his graduation. - Pregnant student defies�graduation ban - May 19, 2005: "MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) -- A pregnant student who was banned from graduation at her Roman Catholic high school announced her own name and walked across the stage anyway at the close of the program.

Alysha Cosby's decision prompted cheers and applause Tuesday from many of her fellow seniors at St. Jude Educational Institute.

But her mother and aunt were escorted out of the church by police after Cosby headed back to her seat.

'I can't believe something like this is happening in 2005,' said her mother, Sheila Cosby. 'My daughter has been through a lot and I am proud of her. She deserved to walk, and she did.'

The school's guidance counselor delivered Cosby's degree to her house earlier Tuesday, but she still wanted to participate.

'I worked hard throughout high school and I wanted to walk with my class,' she said.

Cosby was told in March that she could no longer attend school because of safety concerns, and her name was not listed in the graduation program.

The father of Cosby's child, also a senior at the school, was allowed to participate in graduation."

Darth Vader's Family Values - New York Times

Darth Vader's Family Values - New York Times: "He says he could never betray the Jedi because they're his family, but then the chancellor puts the family question in perspective: 'Learn to know the dark side of the Force, Anakin, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death.' Anakin promptly recognizes the limits of altruism, just as Adam Smith did in the 18th century.

Smith knew that some people professed love for all humanity, but he realized that a man's love for 'the members of his own family' is 'more precise and determinate, than it can be with the greater part of other people.' Hence his famous warning not to rely on the kindness of strangers outside your family: if you want bread, it's better to count on the baker's self-interest rather than his generosity."

'Star Wars Flu' May Strike IT Productivity - Yahoo! News

'Star Wars Flu' May Strike IT Productivity - Yahoo! News: "According to movie industry watchers, more than 9 million people will be in theaters nationwide on Thursday and Friday to see the next—and supposedly last—installment of Star Wars. Some viewers will take vacation days to stand in line to get in, and some will call in sick."

Attack of the clones

New York Daily News - Home - Attack of the clones: "Tyrone Coleman, 37, of Harlem bought the newest 'Star Wars' film without any guilt.

'I can't even afford to go to the movies nowadays. It's $35 after a ticket, soda and food,' he said. 'I buy whenever the new movies come out,' he explained after six women and a young girl dumped hundreds of DVDs onto an American flag-printed sheet."

'Star Wars' Breaks Single-Day Sales Mark - Yahoo! News

'Star Wars' Breaks Single-Day Sales Mark - Yahoo! News: "'Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith' grossed $50,013,859 from
showings at 3,661 theaters and more than 9,000 screens around the
country on Thursday, including special midnight shows, according to
box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. That beat the one-day record
set in May 2004 by 'Shrek 2,' which sold $44.8 million on a single
Saturday — its fourth day in theaters."

U.S. considering food aid for North Korea - Yahoo! News

North Korea admits to having WMDs and nuclear weapons and the US sends them food aid.

Iraq denies having WMDs and gets invaded.

U.S. considering food aid for North Korea - Yahoo! News: "However, the State Department repeated its position that
such aid is not tied to political factors like whether North
Korea will resume six-party talks designed to persuade it to
give up its nuclear weapons ambitions."

Arab women face widespread lack of freedom-study - Yahoo! News

Arab women face widespread lack of freedom-study - Yahoo! News: "The study said, for example, that women in Saudi Arabia could not be treated in hospital without a male's permission. A United Arab Emirates law, meanwhile, required a woman to give up her citizenship if she married a non-UAE citizen."

No billboards in space - U.S.: No billboards in space - May 20, 2005: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. government does not want billboards in space.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposed Thursday to amend its regulations to ensure that it can enforce a law that prohibits 'obtrusive' advertising in zero gravity.

'Objects placed in orbit, if large enough, could be seen by people around the world for long periods of time,' the FAA said in a regulatory filing.

Currently, the FAA lacks the authority to enforce the existing law" - Airline food linked to illnesses - May 20, 2005 - Airline food linked to illnesses - May 20, 2005: "'pink slimy substance' dripping onto the conveyor of the pot washing machine, live cockroaches and flies, and mold growing on the windows of a refrigerator."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek, the Power of Journalism and the Qur'an

The Editor's Desk - Letters & Live Talk - "The Editor's Desk

May 23 issue - Did a report in NEWSWEEK set off a wave of deadly anti-American riots in Afghanistan? That's what numerous news accounts suggested last week as angry Afghans took to the streets to protest reports, linked to us, that U.S. interrogators had desecrated the Qur'an while interrogating Muslim terror suspects. We were as alarmed as anyone to hear of the violence, which left at least 15 Afghans dead and scores injured. But I think it's important for the public to know exactly what we reported, why, and how subsequent events unfolded.

Two weeks ago, in our issue dated May 9, Michael Isikoff and John Barry reported in a brief item in our Periscope section that U.S. military investigators had found evidence that American guards at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had committed infractions in trying to get terror suspects to talk, including in one case flushing a Qur'an down a toilet. Their information came from a knowledgeable U.S. government source, and before deciding whether to publish it we approached two separate Defense Department officials for comment. One declined to give us a response; the other challenged another aspect of the story but did not dispute the Qur'an charge.

Although other major news organizations had aired charges of Qur'an desecration based only on the testimony of detainees, we believed our story was newsworthy because a U.S. official said government investigators turned up this evidence. So we published the item. After several days, newspapers in Pakistan and Afghanistan began running accounts of our story. At that point, as Evan Thomas, Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai report this week, the riots started and spread across the country, fanned by extremists and unhappiness over the economy.

Last Friday, a top Pentagon spokesman told us that a review of the probe cited in our story showed that it was never meant to look into charges of Qur'an desecration. The spokesman also said the Pentagon had investigated other desecration charges by detainees and found them 'not credible.' Our original source later said he couldn't be certain about reading of the alleged Qur'an incident in the report we cited, and said it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts. Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we. But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.

—Mark Whitaker

Editor's Note: On Monday afternoon, May 16, Whitaker issued the following statement: Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Qur'an abuse at Guantanamo Bay."

Sunday, May 15, 2005

My school for simple wives-to-be |

My school for simple wives-to-be | "Already it has begun.Somehow, my students have absorbed tainted ideas of what marriage is about. Girls are learning that they 'need' the big diamond and the big gown to be married."

A classroom as big as the world |

A classroom as big as the world | "Many US students lag behind their counterparts when it comes to global knowledge. A 2002 National Geographic Roper poll of young adults in nine countries found that Americans ranked second to last in their knowledge of facts about the world. Only 1 in 7 could find Iraq on a map of the Middle East."

Can video replace the written word? |

Can video replace the written word? | "Lynda Bergsma's goal is to teach rural Arizonans about good health. But rather than begin with nutrition or exercise, Ms. Bergsma starts by teaching her audience how to watch television. Ms. Bergsma is the associate director of the Rural Health Office at the University of Arizona. But recently, in addition to the seminars she teaches on health issues, she has begun to offer on a regular basis a class aimed at teaching her listeners how to cull information from a video format.

Her rationale: So many people today get vital information in video format that an educator must also be a trainer in media savvy. Many of those she works with, she says, seem confident that they can rely on videos to teach them what they need to know. But simply watching, she worries, is not enough."

The Terms of Debate in Kansas - New York Times

The Terms of Debate in Kansas - New York Times: "Methodological Naturalism

The philosophy of mainstream science that nature has its own method, without the possibility of supernatural influence on, say, how DNA is sequenced. William S. Harris, a chemist who helped write Kansas' alternative science standards questioning evolution, said that methodological naturalism puts blinders on the search for truth.

Irreducibly Complex

Introduced in Michael Behe's 1996 book, 'Darwin's Black Box,' which describes the intelligent design concept, this phrase refers to a system in which the removal of one part prevents the system from performing its basic function. Such a system could not evolve over time, since it cannot exist without every part, and thus would undercut the concept of natural selection.

Common Descent

The idea that, beyond the biblical notion that humanity descends from Adam and Eve, all of life's species have the same origin. Pedro Irigonegaray, the lawyer at the Topeka hearings arguing for the teaching of evolution, pressed several witnesses on whether they believe in prehominids as the ancestral line to homo sapiens. One response from an opponent of teaching evolution: Extremely unlikely.

Wedge Strategy

Conceived by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, this reflects the change in strategy by critics of evolution to avoid mentioning hot-button terms like creationism and instead emphasizing intelligent design, with its logical-sounding notion that complexity unexplainable by natural laws should be attributed to some other, possibly divine, force. The aim is to create a wedge to change school curriculums to teach the controversy over Darwin's theories. (The other side said there is no scientific controversy.)


The idea that species evolve over time is almost universally accepted.


The notion that one species can evolve into another, a view that is rejected by creationists and some intelligent designers."

Connecticut Lawmakers Debate Strict Bill on School Nutrition - New York Times

Connecticut Lawmakers Debate Strict Bill on School Nutrition - New York Times: "NEW HAVEN, May 9 - Connecticut's public schools would be banned from selling soft drinks and certain snacks during the school day under a proposal that is expected to face a final vote in the legislature in the next few days."

A Dining Hall Where Students Sneak In - New York Times

A Dining Hall Where Students Sneak In - New York Times: "NEW HAVEN, May 9 - The pizza is made from organic flour. The burgers are made from grass-fed lamb and freshly picked mint. The seasonal offerings this spring include chicken brodo with pasta and greens and pork loin with fennel. And don't forget the roasted asparagus."

The Rise of the Six-Figure Teacher - New York Times

The Rise of the Six-Figure Teacher - New York Times: "By FORD FESSENDEN and JOSH BARBANEL
Published: May 15, 2005

TEACHING has always been known as a noble calling, but as affluent parents and administrators strive to give their children every possible advantage, it has also become a better-paid profession than in the past, with thousands of public school teachers in the New York suburbs now earning more than $100,000 a year."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

More minimal state...

BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Somalia's angels of mercy: "Wire thieves

Mr Abdoulkadir says they used to use an open well but some customers complained about their water quality, so they dug a bore hole and add chlorine to prevent infection.

It may not taste like mineral water but Hawo is not complaining.

Abdoulkadir Hassan Issa
Mr Abdoulkadir's generators serve 180 families
Generators provide electricity along very precarious-looking wires and Isaf has even hooked up fluorescent lights as makeshift street lamps.

Isaf provides running water to 800 families and electricity to another 180 across a large part of south Mogadishu, he says.

The biggest problem Mr Abdoulkadir faces is that thieves take advantage of the absence of law and order to steal the wires and pipes he used to provide his services.

'But at least the militia which controls this area doesn't ask us for protection money,' he says."

Nozick take note: Here is your minimal state perfected

BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Living in Somalia's anarchy: "'Somalia is a pure free market,' one diplomat told me.

And the central Bakara market certainly looks to be thriving. Some businesses, such as telecoms, are also doing well, with mobile phone masts and internet cafes among the few new structures in Mogadishu, a city where many buildings still bear the scars of the heavy fighting between rival militias of the early 1990s.

But is a pure free market a good thing?"

Billionaire hires Destiny's Child

Do what you like with your money, but when you have this much and spend it like this, I still think it is sick.

BBC NEWS | UK | Billionaire hires Destiny's Child: "Singer Justin Timberlake could also be performing, The Times reports.

A small matter of Crusade history

People often forget that whereas Christian leaders would force people to convert to Christianity or die, Muslim leaders like Saladin allowed 'people of the book' to retain their faith.
Who has greater claim to Jerusalem and its holy places, asks Orlando Bloom as he exhorts his Crusader followers to defend the walls of the city against the advancing Muslim army of Saladin.
A small matter of Crusade history

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

AIDS-hit Honduras disobeys Vatican

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (Reuters) -- With his mother long dead and his father off with a new family, nobody comes to visit Carlos, 27, as he sits blinded by AIDS and awaiting death in a charity hospice.

His father, who left him alone to care for his grandmother until she died, won't let him near his home, mistakenly believing he will infect his family by sharing their toilet, Carlos explains, the hurt spilling out of his sightless eyes.

Typical of the kind of Honduran now catching the virus, the boyish-faced former factory worker is neither sexually promiscuous nor an intravenous drug user. He caught HIV from a steady girlfriend who got it from a former lover.

Faced with one of the fastest-growing AIDS epidemics in the Western Hemisphere, church volunteers in this desperately poor Catholic nation are turning their backs on the Vatican's anti-condom stance, which is being upheld by new conservative Pope Benedict.

"It's a minor sin," says Wendy Guerra, head of "Program Open Door" in the sweaty city of San Pedro Sula. Hers is one of an army of Catholic-run AIDS prevention programs in tiny Honduras, home to some 60 percent of Central America's AIDS cases.

"As a Catholic charity we can't hand out condoms but we give advice about them and make sure people know where to get them," said Catherine O'Leary, a British nurse who runs the San Jose Hospice which took in Carlos when an AIDS-related disease blinded him.

A bustling industrial city that sprung up with the banana industry a century ago, San Pedro Sula crawls with prostitutes after dusk, thanks to a handful of nearby ports, and has so many HIV carriers it is dubbed Central America's AIDS capital.

With its chronic poverty, sprawling sex industry, violent crime gangs and macho culture, Honduras has been an easy breeding ground for the virus. Some 70,000 Hondurans are living with HIV/AIDS, nearly two percent of the adult population.

Among gay men and sex workers, the HIV rate is 10 percent.

Aid groups say that with the virus now spreading fast among the general public, which is less informed about the risks than sex workers, education on AIDS prevention is urgent.

"The thing is to try and save lives, which is just as important as focusing on unborn lives," said Guerra, explaining why she quietly advises HIV carriers to use condoms.

Housewives vulnerable

According to the United Nations, more than half of new HIV infections everywhere are in the 15-26 age range, with women most hit. In Honduras, where a married man without lovers is an oddity, 90 percent of newly infected women are housewives.

The widespread poverty in Honduras means few have access to healthcare and there is no social network for AIDS sufferers.

Rita, 45, sits on her bed at the San Jose hospice clutching a cancerous growth that covers most of her face and groaning with pain. She has nowhere else to go, with one son in jail, one dead of AIDS, another emigrated and no close family.

She could have caught HIV from her ex-husband's wanderings, or like countless women here she may have been forced through poverty to trade sex for food, shelter or services.

"We don't ask about their pasts; we're not here to judge," says O'Leary. "But often you're talking about young people who've just had a couple of sexual experiences, or women so poor they use sex as a means of bartering."

With women so vulnerable in poor nations, AIDS prevention groups in Central America say promoting condoms is not enough.

"Our global message is ABC: Abstinence, be faithful and condom use, but for many Honduran women abstinence is not an option. Their partners aren't faithful and they are powerless to demand they use a condom," said Thoraya Obaid, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, on a visit to Honduras.

"We need to build their characters and self-worth to be able to say no and invest in female prevention methods like female condoms."

Abstinence or protection

Even if they caught on, female condoms would go against the Catholic church, which has held sway in Honduras and Latin America since Europeans invaded five centuries ago.

Some 85 percent of Hondurans are Catholic, and many were rooting for their liberal, poverty-fighting Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga to become Pope last month.

In a tiny chapel at the San Jose hospice stands a wooden cross completely covered with the handwritten names of the roughly 500 people that have died there, almost all of AIDS.

While life is almost bearable in the sunny grass courtyard with O'Leary's cheery presence, the patients here now may have been spared their death sentences with the right precautions.

"Priests can make a big difference on issues like this. Nobody wants the church to change, but when you work in this field common sense prevails," O'Leary said.

"You can't tell people not to have sex, so you have to teach them to protect themselves. The condom issue is about what you use them for. Anything that might stop one person getting AIDS has to help."

Those Crazy Teenagers.

When will they learn that you cannot make it bigger by sticking things in it?

MCOT : TNA English News :: "Penis injections erect barriers to sexual function, doctors warn

BANGKOK, May 10 (TNA) - The fashion among teenagers for injecting their penises with olive oil to boost their size could cause misshaped members and even permanent erections, the Director-General of the Department of Medical Services, Dr. Chatri Banchuin, warned today.

Speaking in response to reports that youths in Thailand's central province of Ayutthaya were injecting their penises with olive oil and beta agonists used to redden meat, Dr. Chatri said that the injection of any kind of substance into the penis was extremely dangerous.

Rather than expanding penis size, the oil builds up in the penis.

As the body attempts to reject the invasion of foreign substances, the result is swelling, inflammation and abscesses.

If dirty needles are used, the dangers are even more severe, and could lead to the penis being completely amputated.

There is also a danger of the oil being injected into the bloodstream by mistake, from where it can infect vital organs and even lead to death.

Even if these severe effects are treated successfully, the penis often ends up crooked or in permanent erection."

Ford F-650 Super CrewZer

Bet you it isn't.

Hughes Supply | The Source Magazine: "Ford F-650 Super CrewZer

Quite simply, the Ford F-650 Super CrewZer is the largest truck you can drive with a standard Class E driver's license. That means any state- certified Tom, Dick or Harriet can climb the two-tiered running boards and slide behind the wheel of what is, essentially, a 3/4-scale Big Rig.

Commuters, be afraid. At nearly 8 feet wide, the Super CrewZer leaves little room for error in a standard 12-foot traffic lane. Spanning 35.5 feet in its longest configuration, three MINI Cooper hatchbacks could park in an F-650's shadow, with sun barely touching the lead car's front bumper."

New Navistar pickup towers over offerings from Hummer, Ford - Sep. 13, 2004

Hey, bet mine is bigger than yours.

New Navistar pickup towers over offerings from Hummer, Ford - Sep. 13, 2004: "Truck maker will sell giant pickup
Navistar starts marketing cement mixer-based truck that dwarfs the Hummer and the F-350.
September 13, 2004: 3:07 PM EDT
By Chris Isidore, CNN/Money senior writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - For the driver looking for more in a pickup -- one that dwarfs the Hummer and the Ford F-350 -- Navistar has just the ride for you."

Jesus Christ has trouble with graven image - Peculiar Postings -

Jesus Christ has trouble with graven image - Peculiar Postings - "Jesus Christ has trouble with graven image
W. Va. refuses driver’s license to man using controversial name
The Associated Press
Updated: 11:36 p.m. ET May 7, 2005

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Jesus Christ is hoping to move to West Virginia, but he’s having trouble getting a driver’s license.

The man is described as a white-haired businessman who’s been using that name for 15 years without a problem. He has a U.S. passport, Social Security card and Washington, D.C., driver’s license bearing the name Jesus Christ."

Excite News

Excite News: "Chicken Ticketed for Crossing the Road
Email this Story

May 9, 8:46 AM (ET)

RIDGECREST, Calif. (AP) - Linc and Helena Moore may have finally learned the answer to that age-old question: Why did the chicken cross the road? Because the chicken doesn't know jaywalking is illegal.

Kern County Sheriff's Deputy J. Nicholson does know, however. The deputy issued a ticket on March 26 to one of the couple's chickens for impeding traffic on a road in Johannesburg, a rural mining community southeast of Ridgecrest.

The Moores arrived in Superior Court on Friday to plead not guilty to their chicken's alleged transgression. A trial was scheduled for May 16."

Ever Want to Play the Drums?

Now you can! Just click here.

Mr. Floatie' protests sewage dumping

B.C. Votes | "' May 6, 2005
'Mr. Floatie' - a man dressed up as a giant turd - crashed a Victoria all-candidates meeting to draw attention to the city's practice of dumping raw sewage in the ocean.

VICTORIA -- The dumping of raw sewage into the Pacific Ocean was an issue one man wanted to take to an all-candidates meeting in the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding Friday morning, but the costumed crusader was not allowed in.

James Skwarok arrived dressed up as 'Mr. Floatie,' a two-metre tall turd representing POOP, People Opposed to Outfall Pollution.

He wanted to highlight Victoria's daily dumping of 120 million litres of raw sewage, but when he was barred from the meeting he said the refusal left him 'a little bummed out.'"

Sea life mistaken for severed genitals on Auckland beach

You got to check to make sure those balls are real.

STUFF : ODDSTUFF - STORY : New Zealand's leading news and information website: "09 May 2005

Only in Auckland . . . a beachside stroll turned into a morbid moment for one Northerner at the weekend when they thought they had found a severed human penis.

While most people search the sands for rare shells or stones, the unlucky walker was so distressed at the rare find that they phoned police.

The report: one set of severed male genitalia, including penis and testicles, lying on Eastern Beach near Manukau. However, it was a premature communication, as the savvy police officers determined when they arrived on the scene. The suspected male appendage was in fact a form of marine life."

BBC NEWS | Europe | Zapatista rebels woo Inter Milan

BBC NEWS | Europe | Zapatista rebels woo Inter Milan: "Zapatista rebels woo Inter Milan. Subcomandante Marcos promised Milan would not be thrashed

The captain of Inter Milan football club says he would be willing to take up an invitation for the club to play a team of Mexican Zapatista rebels.

The Italian club have received a letter from the indigenous movement, based in the southern state of Chiapas.

Rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos asked Inter to bring the match ball because the Zapatistas' ones were punctured."

Millions 'live in modern slavery'

Do not kid yourself. Slavery is alive and well all over the world.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Millions 'live in modern slavery': "Millions 'live in modern slavery'
There are some 350,000 forced labourers in the industrialised world
Some 12.3 million people are enslaved worldwide, according to a major report.

... The largest numbers are in poor Asian countries and Latin America, but there are more than 350,000 cases in the industrialised world."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

How Microsoft plans to beat its rivals

Ahhh! Run, hide and go Linux!

BBC NEWS | Business | How Microsoft plans to beat its rivals: "Soon, he implies, soon Microsoft could be everywhere."

America's Right goes green

Hey, I don't care how it happens, but it sure is hell about time.

BBC NEWS | Business | America's Right goes green: "'What are we doing giving all this money to the people who are trying to kill us?' ...If Christians and neo-cons start turning green, the reverberations could generate change in the White House. "

Star Wars - Episode III

Where will you be May 19?

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Review: Star Wars - Episode III: "The sixth and final film in the Star Wars saga outdoes its recent predecessors in style and brings the series to a conclusion that is largely satisfying."

Face of Tutankhamun reconstructed

No, he was not murdered and now we can see what he looked like too.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Face of Tutankhamun reconstructed: "Scientists have carried out the first ever facial reconstructions of Egypt's most famous ancient king, Tutankhamun."

1,300 fake law badges seized - May 10, 2005

Can I see your badge officer? Sure, I got it for 35$ just off the street. - 1,300 fake law badges seized - May 10, 2005: "NEW YORK (CNN) -- Federal agents arrested a man on Monday, charging him with possessing and selling more than 1,300 counterfeit badges representing 35 law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency said.

The counterfeits are 'very, very good,' said Special Agent in Charge Martin Ficke, who added that nine out of 10 would 'pass scrutiny.'

...Federal agents are searching computer files seized from Khorosh to try and determine who might have bought the badges, which sold for $35 to $50, the agency said."

Pastor resigns after political spat - May 10, 2005

My political party's god is stronger than your political party's god. And if you don't like it, get out of my church. - Pastor resigns after political spat - May 10, 2005: "'No one has ever been voted from the membership of this church due to an individual's support or lack of support for a political party or candidate,' he said in a statement."

Canadian police solve severed goat heads mystery - Yahoo! News

Changed his mind, sure. More like got paranoid after 'relaxing' in the green, grassy park realizing he is carrying around the head of a goat.

Canadian police solve severed goat heads mystery - Yahoo! News: "VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A lazy worker, not a satanic cult, was responsible for severed goat heads that caused a scare at a Vancouver-area school, Canadian police said on Monday.

Police were called in after goat heads were twice found on a bench outside a school in nearby Chilliwack, British Columbia, prompting fears in the suburban community that it had been targeted by a satanic animal killing.

A 19-year-old worker at a local slaughterhouse has admitted he took the two heads with the intention of having them mounted, but then changed his mind and left them at the school in hopes a janitor would dispose of them."

Pizza man sorry for bringing down Canada minister - Yahoo! News

Only in Canada, eh.

Pizza man sorry for bringing down Canada minister - Yahoo! News: "OTTAWA (Reuters) - A pizza shop owner who forced former Canadian immigration minister Judy Sgro to resign by claiming she had offered to help him avoid deportation has admitted he lied and has apologized, Sgro said on Tuesday.

Sgro quit her job in January after Harjit Singh filed an affidavit accusing her of offering to help him stay in Canada in return for pizza deliveries and assistance with her election campaign. Singh was deported to India in February."

The Line Between Life and Death - New York Times

The Line Between Life and Death - New York Times: "LATE last month, New York's major newspapers reported that a 13-year-old boy had 'died' after he was taken off 'life support.' That assertion reflected a fundamental misunderstanding of death as defined by the laws of all 50 states. In fact, the boy had died more than a week earlier - from a severe brain infection - after transfer to the hospital where we work. In the interim, advanced medical technology supported his organs, not his life.
David Suter

Death shouldn't be this hard to understand, yet it often is. According to the 1987 New York State Public Health Regulation, death occurs when either the heart or the brain irreversibly ceases to function. Before medical technology provided breathing machines, there was no meaningful distinction between brain and cardiac death. Once the brain stopped sending signals to the lungs to breathe - on account of a stroke or head injury, for example - the heart would stop within minutes. Now that machines can deliver oxygen to the lungs, however, the heart can continue to beat for days without any signal from the brain.

For centuries we understood death, whatever its cause, as the cessation of heart and lung function. A person was dead when the pulse faded, the heartbeat became inaudible and the chest ceased to rise. Brain death is harder to discern. A brain dead person whose heart and lungs are sustained by machines looks as if he's in a coma. For a family who has lost a loved one, often from an acute illness or terrible accident, it is unspeakably difficult to accept that this warm body with a heartbeat is lifeless. And yet, to imply that a brain-dead person is still alive only prolongs the loved ones' anguish. Such misunderstanding gives false hope and preys on the survivors' feelings of guilt."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Pizza delivers prison siege deal

I'll have mine with extra hack-saws, mate!

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Pizza delivers prison siege deal: "Pizza delivers prison siege deal
There was no word on what flavour pizzas were ordered
A two-day prison siege in Australia has ended after inmates agreed to exchange their hostage for a delivery of pizzas."

The Time Traveler Convention - May 7, 2005

Just how did that party go? Click here.

The Time Traveler Convention
May 7, 2005, 10:00pm EDT (08 May 2005 02:00:00 UTC)
(events start at 8:00pm)
East Campus Courtyard, MIT
3 Ames St. Cambridge, MA 02142
42:21:36.025°N, 71:05:16.332°W
(42.360007,-071.087870 in decimal degrees)

The Time Traveler Convention - May 7, 2005: "Update: The convention was a mixed success. Unfortunately, we had no confirmed time travelers visit us.
We did, however, have a great series of lectures, awesome bands, and even a DeLorean. We regret having had to turn away visitors, but there were capacity restrictions governing Morss Hall.

Check this space for photos, commentary, and more.
Please email us your thoughts about the convention if you attended."

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The F.B.I. Investigation of LOUIE LOUIE

We must keep our children safe from the harmful effects of such lyrics.

The F.B.I. Investigation of LOUIE LOUIE: "In the mid 1960s, many people considered this subject a very serious matter. Rock and roll was considered a subversive movement, and governor Matthew Welsh of Indiana actually used his powers to restrict airplay of this song. Of course, all of this controversy helped spur more record sales, as teenagers rushed to the record store to buy the record that shocked, or at least confused their parents. It was no accident that the extra notoriety contributed to the popularity of 'Louie Louie' as one of the greatest party songs of all time.

In 1984, I petitioned the F.B.I. for information on the Louie Louie investigation, using the Freedom of Information Act. When Dave Marsh wrote his book on the Louie Louie phenomena, he acknowledged me as the original source for bringing these papers to the public.

The F.B.I. investigation of the song, which took over two years, uncovered very little relevant information. Despite a lengthy investigative process that included repeating listenings of the song at different speeds, and interviews with author Richard Berry, and members of Kingsmen, the study could find no evidence of obscenity. In fact, the bureau came up with the conclusion that the song was 'unintelligible at any speed.'"

Apostrophe Battle Ends Over 'Scholar's Walk' Apostrophe Battle Ends Over 'Scholar's Walk': "The board worried that the apostrophe would make the four-block walkway appear exclusive at a time the university wants to be inclusive. It might even mean adding apostrophes to Regents Professors Square and a Professors Lane.

'Apostrophes would be out of control!' said board member Margaret Carlson."

No Pants Day is May 6th

No Pants Day is May 6th

Student Organizes Time Traveler Conference

Hey, I'm there. Or I will be. Or I was.

Student Organizes Time Traveler Conference: "Student Organizes Time Traveler Conference

The Associated Press
Friday, May 6, 2005; 8:57 PM

BOSTON -- Attention, time travelers: Amal Dorai hopes you enjoyed the party he's throwing this weekend. Dorai, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is hosting a Time Traveler Convention on campus this Saturday. Make plans now, because it's the last such party.

'You only need one,' he said. 'The chance that anybody shows up is small, but if it happens it will be one of the biggest events in human history.'"

US school battle over evolution

Kansas evidently want to return the the 1800's in its science curriculum. Since the Roman Catholic Church does not deny the Darwin's theories are wrong, I do not see what all the fuss is about. Teaching that the world was actually created in seven days -- now that would be madness. Check out other possible 'warning lables' that could be placed in textbooks.

BBC NEWS | Americas | US school battle over evolution: "US school battle over evolution
Charles Darwin
Darwinian theory would be challenged with 'alternative explanations'
The Kansas state school board has begun four days of hearings into how children in state schools are taught about the origins of life.

Religious conservatives are pressing for a change to state guidelines that would play down Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

They argue that the teaching of evolution shows a bias against religion."

Evolution, Creationism, Education and Textbooks

The James Randi website is one of my perrenial favourites. Excellent commentary on the continuing debate over teaching evolution in school.

Commentary, April 29, 2005

Here are two stickers that could be placed into school biology text books. The green one was already created to be used in Georgia, the blue one is my invention. I'd say that if the green one is used, it should be accompanied by the other....."

Next week's commentary contained even more gems such as these.


I wrote last week about an alternate textbook sticker I'd composed and suggested, at Reader Rodney Busch sends us to a site run by Colin Purrington, who teaches evolutionary biology at Swathmore College, and has other similar disclaimers to suggest. Some are disclaimers of disclaimers, says Rodney, a wonderful selection of reductio ad absurdum of the creationists' "scientific" mindset. Go to

Some great sticker examples you'll find there:

This textbook suggests that the Earth is spherical. The shape of the Earth is a controversial topic, and not all people accept the theory. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

This book discusses gods. The existence of entities with supernatural powers is controversial, and many believe that myths, especially other people's myths, are fictional. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

This book discusses evolution. President George W. Bush said, "On the issue of evolution, the verdict is still out on how God created the Earth." Therefore, until 2008 this material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Bicycle chosen as best invention

The bicycle? Perhaps in China, but those wacky Brits also seem to think that it is the most significant invention since the 1800's.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Bicycle chosen as best invention: "Despite their ubiquity, computers gained just 6% of the vote and the internet trailed behind with only 4% of all votes cast. There were more than 4,500 votes cast in total.

People chose the bicycle for its simplicity of design, universal use, and because it is an ecologically sound means of transport.

Bicycle - 59%
Transistor - 8%
Electro-magnetic induction ring - 8%
Computer - 6%
Germ theory of infection - 5%
Radio - 5%
Internet - 4%
Internal combustion engine - 3%
Nuclear power - 1%
Communications satellite - 1%
The survey also asked participants which innovation they would most like to disinvent.

GM foods came top of this poll with 26% of the vote, followed by nuclear power with 19%."

BBC NEWS | Programmes | From Our Own Correspondent | Killed for the family's honour

I have never been able to comprehend a culture that takes such offence and in many cases with sufficient proof kills their daughters, sisters and wives. I see no way to justify these horrid crimes.

BBC NEWS | Programmes | From Our Own Correspondent | Killed for the family's honour: "Less than two hours later, she was dead - her skull crushed - reportedly by blows from an iron bar.

Her name was Faten. She was 22-years-old, a Palestinian Christian from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

After her lifeless body was found, her father and an aunt were taken into custody.

Death sentence

Faten had fallen in love with a young man called Samer, a Muslim, from Jericho. Her family disapproved of her choice.

Faten decided to use an ancient formula for resolving disputes, known in Arabic as 'Tanebeh'
In the last desperate weeks of her life, Faten knew a death sentence was hanging over her head, and she tried hard to escape it.

She attempted to elope, but did not get far and was sent home, to face the wrath of her relatives."

Friday, May 06, 2005

Absent husband returns home ... as a eunuch - Yahoo! News

Absent husband returns home ... as a eunuch - Yahoo! News: "NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian man who left his wife and two young children two years ago shocked his family when he returned home as an eunuch, wearing garish red lipstick, the Asian Age newspaper said Thursday.

After a fight with his wife, the jobless Nabiullah left his family in Hathipur town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in the summer of 2003 to look for work, the paper reported.

During his absence, he got himself castrated and became a eunuch, earning money by singing and dancing, a common form of employment among India's ostracized community of eunuchs.

'I was always fond of singing and dancing, but felt suffocated in my body as a man,' Nabiullah was quoted as saying.

His wife, Shama Parveen, fainted when he returned home late last month and now wants a divorce.

'I cannot live with this eunuch and subject myself and my children to social ridicule,' she was quoted as saying"

Wednesday, May 04, 2005 ParaDimension News: Theft Victims Blame Hypnotizing Gypsies

You are getting very very sleepy... but keep reading. It could help your chess game and do not forget to give me all your money. ParaDimension News: Theft Victims Blame Hypnotizing Gypsies: "Hypnosis hype
Czarina Alexandra fell famously under the influence of the allegedly hypnotic powers of the 'mad monk,' Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, in the early 20th century. The late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev had a personal psychic healer. Former President Boris Yeltsin's staff included a security consultant hired to protect the former chief executive from 'external psychophysical influence' after a mysterious antenna was found in his private office.

In 2001, President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill making it illegal to employ 'electromagnetic, infrasound ... radiators' and other weapons of 'psychotronic influence' with intent to cause harm.

For years, famous Russian chess masters have suggested that their games were impaired by hypnotists planted in the audience. Garry Kasparov has long credited Azerbaijani psychic Tofik Dadashev with helping him win the world chess championship in 1985 against fellow Russian Anatoly Karpov (who had his own psychologist trained in hypnotic techniques on hand).

The attraction to mysticism has intensified in recent years, Russian sociologists say, because of the tough economic climate and pent-up interest released with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its long-standing prohibitions against dabbling in the occult practices."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | Who won World War II?

BBC NEWS | Europe | Who won World War II?: "The Nazi regime collapsed in May 1945, squeezed ever more tightly between two fronts - the Soviet Union on one side and the Western Allies on the other.

But which of these fronts was the most important?

Allied aid to the Soviet Union, from food to lorries, played a vital role
Throughout the Cold War, and ever since, each side has tended to see its own contribution as decisive.

'In the West, for some time... public opinion has taken the view that the Soviet Union played a secondary role,' says the Russian historian Valentin Falin.

On the other hand, opinion polls show that two-thirds of Russians think the Soviet Union could have defeated Hitler without the Allies' help, and half think the West underestimates the Soviet contribution."

BBC NEWS | Americas | Fireman's recovery stuns doctors

BBC NEWS | Americas | Fireman's recovery stuns doctors: "US doctors are trying to find out why a severely brain-damaged man has suddenly started to speak after nearly 10 years.

Donald Herbert, 43, a firefighter, was badly injured in a house fire in 1995 and was deprived of oxygen for several minutes before being rescued.

He was in a coma for more than two months, and since then he has been blind, barely able to speak and unable to recognise family and friends.

But at the weekend he spoke lucidly with his wife and family for 14 hours."

Comics: Calvin and Hobbes
Today's Calvin and Hobbes

Comics: Calvin and Hobbes: "Today"

Cost of War

What is the real cost of the war in Iraq? How could your dollars have been spent otherwise?

The War in Iraq Costs


Instead, we could have hired
additional public school teachers for one year.

See how else it could have been spent. Click below.

Cost of War

National Priorities Project: Income Tax Chart

Where does your money go? The largest chunk, almost 33 percent, goes to the military. See how your tax dollars are spent. Click below.

National Priorities Project: Income Tax Chart

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: From 'Gook' to 'Raghead'

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: From 'Gook' to 'Raghead': "He said: 'Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads.'

He said he had confronted guys who were his friends about this practice. 'I said to them: 'What the hell are you doing? Like, what does this accomplish?' And they responded just completely openly. They said: 'Look, I hate being in Iraq. I hate being stuck here. And I hate being surrounded by hajis.' '

'Haji' is the troops' term of choice for an Iraqi. It's used the way 'gook' or 'Charlie' was used in Vietnam."

Think You Know What Patriotism Is?

Cable news programs will exhibit our weaponry, they will explain the ingenious capability with which it can kill... but they will not show us the dead. They will not show us the blood-spattered marketplace, the chunks of flesh, the severed head, the liquefied remains. Those images are reserved for the rest of the world.

Think You Know What Patriotism Is?: " "