Thursday, June 29, 2006

Philip Slater: Let's Get Real About Atrocities, And Which Kind We're Comfortable With - Yahoo! News: "Philip Slater: Let's Get Real About Atrocities, And Which Kind We're Comfortable With Philip Slater
Wed Jun 28, 7:06 PM ET

Military experts are said to be 'stunned' by recent reports of American soldiers committing 'atrocities' against Iraq civilians. In response to a recent marine rampage the Pentagon instituted a two hour 'training course' to teach soldiers that it isn't cricket to kill unarmed civilians, and congratulated itself publicly for cutting civilian murders to one a week, down from seven a week last year.

The hypocrisy in all this is the pretence that atrocities are an occasional occurrence perpetrated by a few bad apples--that it's possible to bomb and invade a country humanely. But the atrocities committed by a few marines, overcome with fear and rage, are nothing compared to those committed by cool and comfortable pilots on bombing raids. The latter are not counted as 'atrocities', despite the fact that (or because) they are far more common and far more devastating. Whether a child is slaughtered by a deliberate act or by 'collateral damage' doesn't matter much to the parent.
The last two decades have seen a flood of novels and memoirs by American and European authors depicting the horrible agony of losing a child. If a novel or memoir were written and published by every parent who has lost a child to 'collateral damage' there would be no room in the bookstores for anything else. It's the height of hypocrisy to be horrified by incidents of savagery committed by young boys under constant threat of death--boys inadequately prepared for the quagmire they've been thro"

New York Times defends its patriotism - Yahoo! News: "New York Times defends its patriotism by Catherine Hours
Thu Jun 29, 1:00 AM ET

NEW YORK (AFP) - The New York Times hit back at bitter government criticism of its decision to disclose details of a secret US anti-terror program to monitor global banking transactions.

In an editorial titled 'Patriotism and the Press,' the Times firmly rejected charges from President George W. Bush and senior Republicans that the report had undermined national security and offered succour to terrorist groups.
The story bore 'no resemblance to security breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific individuals,' the newspaper said.
As for tipping off terrorists, the newspaper argued that terror groups would have to be 'fairly credulous' not to have already suspected that such a fund monitoring program was in place.
It highlighted a public 2002 UN report that specifically cited the US policy of monitoring suspicious transactions.
The searches involved millions of records held by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a Belgium-based international cooperative that serves as a clearing house for transactions.
Bush labelled the Times decision to publish in the face of government opposition a disgrace, while Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, said the newspaper should be prosecuted under the Espionage Act.
The Times responded that its report had exposed 'an alarming pattern' that has emerged since the September 11 attacks, of the Bush administration citing security imperatives to bypass the normal checks and balances placed on the executive branch.
'It has created powerful ne"

Fewer wars, but what is a 'conflict'? - Yahoo! News: "Fewer wars, but what is a 'conflict'? By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent
Wed Jun 28, 2:50 PM ET

From the African bush to Indonesia's shores, the number of wars worldwide has dropped to a new low, peace researchers report. But the face of conflict is changing, they say, and free-for-all violence in such places as the Congo can defy their definitions.

'To say conflict as a whole is in decline, I could not draw that conclusion,' said Caroline Holmqvist of Sweden's Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
That institute's newly released Yearbook 2006, drawing from data maintained by Sweden's Uppsala University, reports the number of active major armed conflicts worldwide stood at 17 in 2005, the lowest point in a steep slide from a high of 31 in 1991.
The Uppsala experts added one conflict to their list in 2005: the resurgent war between the 4-year-old Afghan government, with its U.S.-led allies, and fighters of the ousted Taliban. But they also subtracted three: conflicts that ended in Rwanda, southern Sudan and Algeria. Those joined such other recent additions to the 'peace' column as Liberia and Indonesia's Aceh province.
The deadliest war of 2005 was the complex conflict in Iraq, where latest estimates say a minimum of 50,000 people have been killed since the U.S.-British invasion of 2003. The oldest conflict, dating to 1948, is the separatist struggle of the Karen people in Myanmar.
The 14 other major armed conflicts listed by Uppsala University for 2005 were in Burundi, Uganda and Sudan's Darfur province in Africa; in Colombia and Peru in Latin America; the global U.S. campaign against al-Qaida; in Turkey and in Israel and the Palestini"

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Berkeley, Calif. wants vote on Bush impeachment - Yahoo! News: "Berkeley, Calif. wants vote on Bush impeachment By Jim Christie
Wed Jun 28, 7:47 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Berkeley plans to give voters a say on a measure calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the mayor of this famously liberal California city said on Wednesday.

A number of local governments across the United States have passed resolutions urging impeachment. But the Berkeley city council wants to be the first to put the issue directly to voters, Mayor Tom Bates said in an interview.
'This is basically giving the people a chance to talk, to join the debate,' Bates said. 'The issues go way beyond impeaching the president. They go to safeguarding the Constitution.'
Cheered on by Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan, who has moved to Berkeley, the council voted unanimously on Tuesday to have the city attorney review the measure that would appear on the November ballot.
The Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, which advises the city on civil rights issues, recommended the measure to the council.
The panel accuses the Republican White House of intentionally misleading Congress to justify an unnecessary war in Iraq, pursuing unlawful surveillance programs and permitting torture of detainees suspected of links to terrorism.
Bush and Cheney 'have acted in a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President of the United States and subversive of Constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the People of the United States of America,' the commission said in a statement.
Berkeley has seen its politics march steadily leftward since the 1960s, when the Free Speech Movement"

"Loose lips" kill Americans, top Republican says - Yahoo! News: " 'Loose lips' kill Americans, top Republican says By Andy Sullivan
Wed Jun 28, 7:37 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Declaring that 'loose lips' kill Americans, a congressional Republican leader said on Wednesday the House of Representatives would debate a resolution condemning the U.S. media for exposing details of secret intelligence programs.

The move heaps more criticism on The New York Times and other newspapers that reported last week on a secret program by the U.S. Treasury Department that monitors private bank records in an effort to track terrorist organizations.
'What we're talking about is people who are leaking classified information. It's not news. It's classified information our government is using to fight terrorists,' said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, of Illinois.
'Loose lips kill American people,' he added.
The nonbinding resolution, released later in the day, said the House 'expects the cooperation of all news media organizations in protecting the lives of Americans and the capability of the government to identify, disrupt and capture terrorists by not disclosing classified intelligence programs such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.'
A floor vote is scheduled for Thursday, said a spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner.
News reports of the bank-monitoring program and a separate surveillance effort that monitors phone traffic without a court warrant have drawn criticism from President George W. Bush and other Republicans who say coverage of the programs undermines their effectiveness.
'There can be no excuse for anyone entrusted with vital intelligence to leak it, and no excuse for any newspaper to print it,' Bush said at "

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Robert Scheer: "Disgracefully" Attacking the Messenger - Yahoo! News: "Robert Scheer: 'Disgracefully' Attacking the Messenger Robert Scheer
1 hour, 12 minutes ago

Originally posted at

The Bush administration's jihad against newspapers that reported on a secret program to monitor the personal-banking records of unsuspecting citizens is more important than the original story. For what the president and his spokesmen are once again asserting is that the prosecution of this ill-defined, open-ended 'War on Terror' inevitably trumps basic democratic rights in general and the constitutionally enshrined freedom of the press in particular.
The stakes are very high here. We've already been told that we must put up with official lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the unprecedented torture of prisoners of war and a massive electronic-eavesdropping program and other invasions of privacy. Now the target is more basic -- the freedom of the press to report on such nefarious government activity. The argument in defense of this assault on freedom is the familiar refrain of dictators, wannabe and real, who grasp for power at the expense of democracy: We are in a war with an enemy so powerful and devious that we cannot afford the safeguard of transparent and accountable governance.
'We're at war with a bunch of people, who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it, does great harm to the United States of America,' President Bush said Monday.
The 'bunch of people' Bush says we are fighting was originally believed to be those behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, specifically Osama bin Laden and hi"

Tropical Stonehenge may have been found - Yahoo! News: "Tropical Stonehenge may have been found By STAN LEHMAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 27, 11:04 PM ET

SAO PAULO, Brazil - A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory � a find archaeologists say indicates early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed.

The 127 blocks, some as high as 9 feet tall, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet in diameter.
On the shortest day of the year � Dec. 21 � the shadow of one of the blocks, which is set at an angle, disappears.
'It is this block's alignment with the winter solstice that leads us to believe the site was once an astronomical observatory,' said Mariana Petry Cabral, an archaeologist at the Amapa State Scientific and Technical Research Institute. 'We may be also looking at the remnants of a sophisticated culture.'
Anthropologists have long known that local indigenous populations were acute observers of the stars and sun. But the discovery of a physical structure that appears to incorporate this knowledge suggests pre-Columbian Indians in the Amazon rainforest may have been more sophisticated than previously suspected.
'Transforming this kind of knowledge into a monument; the transformation of something ephemeral into something concrete, could indicate the existence of a larger population and of a more complex social organization,' Cabral said.
Cabral has been studying the site, near the village of Calcoene, just north of the equator in Amapa state in far northern Brazil, since last year. She believes it was once inhabited by the ancest"

Huge Asteroid to Fly Past Earth July 3 - Yahoo! News: "Huge Asteroid to Fly Past Earth July 3 Joe Rao Skywatching Columnist
Mon Jun 26, 1:00 PM ET

An asteroid possibly as large as a half-mile or more in diameter is rapidly approaching the Earth. There is no need for concern, for no collision is in the offing, but the space rock will make an exceptionally close approach to our planet early on Monday, July 3, passing just beyond the Moon's average distance from Earth.

Astronomers will attempt to get a more accurate assessment of the asteroid's size by �pinging� it with radar.
And skywatchers with good telescopes and some experience just might be able to get a glimpse of this cosmic rock as it streaks rapidly past our planet in the wee hours Monday. The closest approach occurs late Sunday for U.S. West Coast skywatchers.
The asteroid, designated 2004 XP14, was discovered on Dec. 10, 2004 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), a continuing camera survey to keep watch for asteroids that may pass uncomfortably close to Earth.
Although initially there were concerns that this asteroid might possibly impact Earth later this century and thus merit special monitoring, further analysis of its orbit has since ruled out any such collision, at least in the foreseeable future.
Size not known
Asteroid 2004 XP14 is a member of a class of asteroids known as Apollo, which have Earth-crossing orbits. The name comes from 1862 Apollo, the first asteroid of this group to be discovered. There are now 1,989 known Apollos.
The size of 2004 XP 14 is not precisely known. But based on its brightness, the diameter is believed to be somewhere in the range of 1,345 to 3,018-feet (410 to 920 meters). That's between a quarter mi" -- New Cosmic Defense Idea: Fight Asteroids with Asteroids: " New Cosmic Defense Idea: Fight Asteroids with Asteroids

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 20 June 2006
06:06 am ET

In a Space Age version of fighting fire with fire, French scientists have suggested using one asteroid to destroy another rather than letting Earth get pummeled.
The offbeat plan is intentionally incomplete and would allow the planet to be showered by fragments. But it might be better than a civilization-ending whack.
No asteroids are presently known to be on collision courses with Earth. But existing holes in the ground suggest that inevitably one will eventually be found. There is no firm plan for how to deflect or destroy an incoming asteroid, though scientists have pondered firing rockets at them, moving them gently with solar sails, or nudging them with nuclear explosions.
Lock and load
The new idea is to capture a relatively small asteroid�perhaps 100 feet (30 meters) wide�by sending a robot to it.

Lagrange points exist in any two-body system. Find out how they work.

The robot would heave material from the asteroid's surface into space, and the reaction force would gradually direct the asteroid to a Lagrange point, one of a handful of nodes along Earth's orbit where the gravity of Earth and the Sun balance out. Scientists know that objects can be kept stable at a Lagrange point with little or no energy.
The captured rocky weapon would be held there, traveling around the Sun ahead of or behind the Earth, held until needed.
Then, if a large asteroid threatens to hit us, the small one is moved into its path, using the same heaving technique. The rocks collide, and the big one is broken into somewhat less harmfull bits.
The collision disperses"

Bush slams leak of terror financing info - Yahoo! News: "Bush slams leak of terror financing info By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent
40 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Monday it was 'disgraceful' that the news media had disclosed a secret CIA-Treasury program to track millions of financial records in search of terrorist suspects. The White House accused The New York Times of breaking a long tradition of keeping wartime secrets.

'The fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror,' Bush said, leaning forward and jabbing his finger during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters in the Roosevelt Room.
The Times has defended its effort, saying publication has served America's public interest.
The newspaper, along with the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal, revealed last week that Treasury officials, beginning shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, had obtained access to an extensive international financial data base � the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift.
The New York Times late last year also disclosed that the National Security Agency had been conducting warrantless surveillance in the United States since 2002 of people with suspected al-Qaida ties.
'Some in the press, in particular The New York Times, have made the job of defending against further terrorist attacks more difficult by insisting on publishing detailed information about vital national security programs,' Vice President Dick Cheney said in a speech at a political fundraising luncheon in Grand Island, Neb.
'The New York Times has now twice � two separate occasions � disc"

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bush ignores laws he inks, vexing Congress - Yahoo! News: "Bush ignores laws he inks, vexing Congress By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer
32 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) thought he had a deal when President Bush, faced with a veto-proof margin in Congress, agreed to sign a bill banning the torture of detainees. Not quite. While Bush signed the new law, he also quietly approved another document: a signing statement reserving his right to ignore the law. McCain was furious, and so were other lawmakers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is opening hearings this week into what has become the White House's favorite tool for overriding Congress in the name of wartime national security.
'It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution,' the committee's chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa, said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'I'm interested to hear from the administration just what research they've done to lead them to the conclusion that they can cherry-pick.'
Apparently, enough to challenge more than 750 statutes passed by Congress, far more than any other president, Specter's committee says. The White House does not dispute that number, but points out that Bush is far from the nation's first chief executive to issue them.
'Signing statements have long been issued by presidents, dating back to Andrew Jackson all the way through President Clinton,' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Monday.
Specter's first hearing Tuesday is about more than the statements. He's been keeping a laundry list of White House practices he bluntly says could amount to abuses of executive power � from warrantless domestic wiretapping program to s"

Saturday, June 24, 2006 -- ET Visitors: Scientists See High Likelihood: "
ET Visitors: Scientists See High Likelihood
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 14 January 2005
06:47 am ET

Decades ago, it was physicist Enrico Fermi who pondered the issue of extraterrestrial civilizations with fellow theorists over lunch, generating the famous quip: 'Where are they?' That question later became central to debates about the cosmological census count of other star folk and possible extraterrestrial (ET) visitors from afar.
Fermi�s brooding on the topic was later labeled 'Fermi�s paradox'. It is a well-traveled tale from the 1950�s when the scientist broached the subject in discussions with colleagues in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Thoughts regarding the probability of earthlike planets, the rise of highly advanced civilizations 'out there', and interstellar travel -- these remain fodder for trying to respond to Fermi�s paradox even today.
Now a team of American scientists note that recent astrophysical discoveries suggest that we should find ourselves in the midst of one or more extraterrestrial civilizations. Moreover, they argue it is a mistake to reject all UFO reports since some evidence for the theoretically-predicted extraterrestrial visitors might just be found there.
The researchers make their proposal in the January/February 2005 issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS).
Curious situation
Pick up any good science magazine and you�re sure to see the latest in head-scratching ideas about superstring theory, wormholes, or the stretching of spacetime itself. Meanwhile, extrasolar planetary detection is on the verge of becoming mundane.
'We are in the curious situation today that our best modern physics and astrophysics theories predict that we should be "

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ridge: Terror war likely to last decades - Yahoo! News: "Ridge: Terror war likely to last decades 56 minutes ago

PITTSBURGH - Former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, speaking at the opening of a new RAND Corp. office, said the war on terror is likely to last for decades, much like the Cold War.

'For every (Osama) bin Laden, there's a bin Laden wannabe. And for every al-Qaida, there's a like organization,' Ridge said Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
'I don't know if anyone in the 1950s thought the Cold War would last close to half a century, but it did,' Ridge said. 'The challenge is global and it may take a generation or two or more to reduce.'
Federal, state and local authorities now share more intelligence that they did before the attacks, but they will have to continue to improve to if they are to prevent future terrorism, Ridge said.
RAND Corp., a research and analysis institution focused on policy and problem solving, emerged during the Cold War with a defense-related agenda and remains involved in a range of national security issues."

Skilled immigrants wait on Congress - Yahoo! News: "Skilled immigrants wait on Congress By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun 21, 10:52 PM ET

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The latest fights over immigration have focused on who should get a place in line for a legal life in the United States. But the real agony, says Tien Bui, comes when you finally get in line.

Bui, who came to the U.S. as a Vietnamese refugee and is now an engineer for Boeing Co., can't take the career-boosting position he's been offered because his citizenship application is lodged somewhere inside the Department of Homeland Security. With green card in hand, Bui has waited patiently since 2003 for his fingerprints to clear background checks, a process that's become more involved since Sept. 11.
But if Congress approves a new guest worker program, the overall waiting period for Bui and the millions of legal immigrants like him could grow even longer, says a report by the Government Accountability Office.
President Bush mandated that by September of this year, the immigration backlog should be eliminated and DHS should start processing all cases in six months or less, a deadline the agency is optimistic it can meet.
But a spider web of agencies � including the Department of Labor, the Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation � is also involved in evaluating and approving legal immigration applications.
If there are more petitions to process, the overall delays could increase, experts say. At DHS alone, some skilled foreign workers must wait five years to apply for a green card, something American engineering companies say is harming their competitive edge.
'I truly think if Albert Einstein were in my office in 2006, he would be saying 'I'm going to Canad"

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Scientist: China plans moon walk by 2024 - Yahoo! News: "The United States hopes to return astronauts to the moon by 2018, nearly a half-century after men last walked the lunar surface.
President Bush has called for the retirement of the space shuttles by 2010 and the creation of a crew exploration vehicle for ferrying astronauts to the international space station and ultimately to the moon and Mars.
The crew exploration vehicle's first manned trip will be to low-Earth orbit, probably no earlier than 2012, according to NASA plans."

Scientist: China plans moon walk by 2024 - Yahoo! News: "The United States hopes to return astronauts to the moon by 2018, nearly a half-century after men last walked the lunar surface.
President Bush has called for the retirement of the space shuttles by 2010 and the creation of a crew exploration vehicle for ferrying astronauts to the international space station and ultimately to the moon and Mars.
The crew exploration vehicle's first manned trip will be to low-Earth orbit, probably no earlier than 2012, according to NASA plans."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Norway to house seeds in doomsday vault - Yahoo! News: "Norway to house seeds in doomsday vault By DOUG MELLGREN, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jun 18, 9:42 PM ET

OSLO, Norway - It sounds like something from a science fiction film � a doomsday vault carved into a frozen mountainside on a secluded Arctic island ready to serve as a Noah's Ark for seeds in case of a global catastrophe.

But Norway's ambitious project is on its way to becoming reality Monday when construction begins on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, designed to house as many as 3 million of the world's crop seeds.
Prime ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland were to attend the cornerstone ceremony on Monday morning near the town of Longyearbyen in Norway's remote Svalbard Islands, roughly 620 miles from the North Pole.
Norway's Agriculture Minister Terje Riis-Johansen has called the vault a 'Noah's Ark on Svalbard.'
Its purpose is to ensure the survival of crop diversity in the event of plant epidemics, nuclear war, natural disasters or climate change, and to offer the world a chance to restart growth of food crops that may have been wiped out.
The seeds, packaged in foil, would be stored at such cold temperatures that they could last hundreds, even thousands, of years, according to the independent Global Crop Diversity Trust. The trust, founded in 2004, has also worked on the project and will help run the vault, which is scheduled to open and start accepting seeds from around the world in September 2007.
Oil-rich Norway first proposed the idea a year ago, drawing wide international interest, Riis-Johansen said.
The Svalbard Archipelago, 300 miles north of the mainland, was selected because it is located far from many threats and has a consistently cold cl"

Sunday, June 18, 2006

David Wallace: The CIA's History Problem is Our History Problem - Yahoo! News: "

David Wallace: The CIA's History Problem is Our History Problem David Wallace
Fri Jun 16, 9:22 PM ET

The author David Lowenthal once noted that the 'past is a foreign country.' The past might be better described as being more like a moving target - always in transition and susceptible (and vulnerable) to becoming unrecognizable to what we once believed. And more often than not new revelations are disorientating and troubling.

Means for deriving and recreating the past can be traced in large part to the types of source materials - such as archives and records - available for examination. And once you focus your attention to these source materials (as I do as an archivist) it becomes evident that archives and records are one of the primary fuels that shape and legitimate society's memory and belief systems. These belief systems not only provide us with the means for understanding and making sense out of the historical past, but also inform much of the rough and tumble world of contemporary politics and struggles to influence public opinion and individual perceptions of reality. The key is recognizing that far from being static documents that hold stories and 'truths' about the past, records and archives are highly dynamic objects of control and persuasion that can easily surface evidence of a manipulated past and present. And it is in this space where archives and records get interesting, problematic, and challenging.
Such is the case with recent news accounts in the Washington Post and the New York Times that in the late 1950s the CIA knew that Adolf Eichmann was living in Argentina and had a pretty close"

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hawking: John Paul weighed in on universe - Yahoo! News: "Hawking: John Paul weighed in on universe By MIN LEE, Associated Press Writer
58 minutes ago

HONG KONG - World-renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said Thursday that the late Pope John Paul II once told scientists they should not study the beginning of the universe because it was the work of God.

Hawking, author of the best-seller 'A Brief History of Time,' said John Paul made the comments at a cosmology conference at the Vatican. He did not say when the meeting was held.
Hawking quoted the pope as saying, 'It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not inquire into the beginning itself because that was the moment of creation and the work of God.'
The scientist then joked that he was glad John Paul did not realize that he had presented a paper at the conference suggesting how the universe began.
'I didn't fancy the thought of being handed over to the Inquisition like Galileo,' Hawking said during a sold-out audience at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
The church condemned Galileo in the 17th century for supporting Nicholas Copernicus' discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun. Church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.
But in 1992, Pope John Paul II issued a declaration saying the church's denunciation of Galileo was an error resulting from 'tragic mutual incomprehension.'
Hawking is one of the best-known theoretical physicists of his generation. He has done groundbreaking research on black holes and the origins of the universe, and he proposes that space and time have no beginning and no end.
During a question-and-answer session, Hawking "

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Blog | Jim Rigby: Christians Who Want Democracy Must Stop Bowing to a Dictator Christ | The Huffington Post: "Christians Who Want Democracy Must Stop Bowing to a Dictator Christ (131 comments )
Whereas American theology was born out of a hope for democracy, much of it is wedded to a picture of Christ as a benevolent dictator. Should we be surprised that a hierarchical cosmology would produce hierarchical churches and nations? Should we be surprised that religious nations that picture Christ as a loving dictator have produced conquistadors, inquisitors and crusaders?
What else could they produce? As the tree is, so shall be the fruit.
The word �Lord� was not in the original Bible. It is an English word from feudal times. Whereas the Greek word �kurios� had a range of meanings, from a title of respect, to a title of leadership, to a name for the sacred, the English translation �Lord� refers specifically to a male European land baron. Many people have softened that interpretation in their own minds, but in times of great stress, such nuance falls away and many Christians seek a white male king. He may be called �Pope�, he may be called �the decider President,� he may be called �televangelist,� but the title only masks what he is, a benevolent (or not so benevolent) dictator.
Neither Calvin nor Luther spoke English, but they helped the Popes lay the groundwork for the view of God as a cosmic dictator. From Popes, Luther and Calvin we have some of the ugliest slurs ever recorded against women, intellectuals, and those who refused the church�s message. How did Christians hold slaves, oppress women and slaughter nonbelievers? Perhaps they could not see Christ in non-male, non-European, and non-Christian people because they were limited by their theology. Their �Christ� was m"

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pentagon won't hide interrogation tactics - Yahoo! News: "Pentagon won't hide interrogation tactics By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
39 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Under pressure from Congress, the Pentagon has dropped plans to keep some interrogation techniques secret by putting them in a classified section of a military manual, defense officials said Tuesday.

Two senior officials said there will not be a classified section in the long-awaited revision of the Army Field Manual. One of the officials said descriptions of interrogation techniques initially planned for the classified section are either being made public or are being eliminated as tactics that can be used against prisoners. The officials requested anonymity because the manual has not been completed.
One human rights group hailed the decision.
'I think this is huge,' said Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First. 'It's a very significant step toward creating the kind of clarity in the rules that military personnel have said that they lack and that led to a lot of the abuses.'
Military leaders have argued that disclosing all the interrogation techniques public would make it easier for enemy prisoners to resist questioning.
The military's treatment of detainees has been under increased scrutiny since the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal in Iraq became known two years ago. Photographs that surfaced at the time showed U.S. troops beating, intimidating and sexually abusing prisoners.
Human rights groups have also called for the Bush administration to close the detention center at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where three detainees committed suicide late last week.
Defense "

Labs compete to make new nuclear bomb - Yahoo! News

Hawking says humans must go into space - Yahoo! News: " Hawking says humans must go into space By SYLVIA HUI, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 13, 7:50 AM ET

HONG KONG - The survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said Tuesday.

The British astrophysicist told a news conference in Hong Kong that humans could have a permanent base on the moon in 20 years and a colony on Mars in the next 40 years.
'We won't find anywhere as nice as Earth unless we go to another star system,' added Hawking, who arrived to a rock star's welcome Monday. Tickets for his lecture planned for Wednesday were sold out.
He added that if humans can avoid killing themselves in the next 100 years, they should have space settlements that can continue without support from Earth.
'It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species,' Hawking said. 'Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.'
The 64-year-old scientist � author of the global best seller 'A Brief History of Time' � is wheelchair-bound and communicates with the help of a computer because he suffers from a neurological disorder called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
Hawking said he's teaming up with his daughter to write a children's book about the universe, aimed at the same age range as the Harry Potter books.
'It is a story for children, which explains the wonders of the uni"

Hawking says humans must go into space - Yahoo! News