Saturday, February 28, 2009

Contemporary Good Samaritan

Police Rescind Good Samaritan's Ticket AP
posted: 1 DAY 2 HOURS AGOcomments: 928filed under: National NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

DENVER (Feb. 27) - The Colorado State Patrol has withdrawn the $22 jaywalking ticket issued to a good Samaritan who was seriously injured by a pickup after he pushed three people out of its path.
Bus driver Jim Moffett of Denver and another man were helping two elderly women cross a busy Denver street in a snowstorm when he was hit Feb. 20.
Moffett, 58, suffered bleeding in the brain, broken bones, a dislocated shoulder and a possible ruptured spleen. He remained hospitalized in serious condition Friday.
"He's doing better, but it's going to be a long, hard road for him," said his wife, Donna. "His knee is just completely destroyed, his shoulder was badly dislocated, he's got a lot of internal injuries."
The State Patrol said in a statement that it withdrew the citation "after examining the ... circumstances" and consulting with prosecutors. A patrol spokesman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
The patrol initially said that despite Moffett's intentions, jaywalking contributed to the accident.
The patrol also withdrew jaywalking citations against the other good Samaritan and one of the two women. The other woman wasn't cited because troopers said she wasn't directly involved.
A citation against the pickup driver for careless driving resulting in injury still stands.
The two women and the other good Samaritan were passengers on Moffett's Regional Transportation District bus.
"He told his son he'd do it again, which really upsets me because he almost lost his life," Donna Moffett said.

Associated Press writer P. Solomon Banda contributed to this report. Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-02-26 09:43:29

Science News

Fossil Skull of Giant Toothy Seabird Found
posted: 5 HOURS 55 MINUTES AGOcomments: 28filed under: Animal News, Science News, World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

LIMA, Peru (Feb. 28) - The unusually intact fossilized skull of a giant, bony-toothed seabird that lived up to 10 million years ago was found on Peru's arid southern coast, researchers said Friday.
The fossil is the best-preserved cranium ever found of a pelagornithid, a family of large seabirds believed to have gone extinct some 3 million years ago, said Rodolfo Salas, head of vertebrate paleontology at Peru's National History Museum.
The museum said in a statement that the birds had wingspans of up to 20 feet and may have used the toothlike projections on their beaks to prey on slippery fish and squid. But studying members of the Pelagornithidae family has been difficult because their extremely thin bones — while helpful for keeping the avian giants aloft — tended not to survive as fossils.
"Its fossils are very strange, very rare and very hard to find," Salas told The Associated Press.
The cranium discovered in Peru is 16 inches long and is believed to be 8 million to 10 million years old, based on the age of the rock bed in which it was found.
"Rarely are any bones of these gigantic, marine birds found fossilized uncrushed, and to find an uncrushed skull of this size is very significant," said Ken Campbell, curator of vertebrate zoology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.
Campbell, who examined photos of the find but was not involved in the dig, said he knows of "no specimen of comparable quality." Dan Kepska, a paleontology researcher at North Carolina State University who also was not part of the project, agreed that the skull is the most complete ever reported.
He called the birds "one of the great enigmas of avian paleontology."
With fossils discovered in North America, North Africa and even Antarctica, Kepska said, the birds were ubiquitous only a few million years before humans evolved and scientists puzzle over why they died out. Some believe they are related to gannets and pelicans, while other say they are related to ducks.
Campbell said the Peru find "will undoubtedly be of great importance to our understanding of these gigantic birds, and it will help clarify the relationships of the other fossil pelagornithids found in the Pisco Formation."
The formation, a coastal rock bed south of the capital, Lima, is known for yielding fossils of whales, dolphins, turtles and other marine life dating as far back as 14 million years.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-02-28 10:10:33

Small, Hot Earth-Like Planet Discovered
posted: 24 DAYS 9 HOURS AGOcomments: 700filed under: Science NewsPrintShareText SizeAAASkip over this content

(Feb. 3) - What may be the smallest extrasolar planet, measuring less than twice the size of Earth, has been discovered orbiting a sun-like star.
The world is far hotter than ours, however. And controversy over the size claim has heated up, too. Astronomers used the COROT space telescope (a mission led by the French Space Agency, and also involving the European Space Agency and others) to detect the new planet as it transited its parent star, dimming the light from the star as it passed in front of it. The host star is located 457 light-years from Earth, where one light-year is the distance light will travel in a year, or about 6 trillion miles.
"For the first time, we have unambiguously detected a planet that is 'rocky' in the same sense as our own Earth," said Malcolm Fridlund, ESA's COROT Project Scientist. "We now have to understand this object further to put it into context, and continue our search for smaller, more Earth-like objects with COROT."
He added, "This discovery is a very important step on the road to understanding the formation and evolution of our planet."
Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at MIT who was not involved in the discovery said, "My first thought is that it's extremely exciting because we've been waiting to find a planet that we can really call rocky. I would just caution that more information, more data, is needed."
For instance, the discovery has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and not much information about the planet has been released by COROT scientists. Seager says in order to confirm an exoplanet is rocky, scientists need to nail down its mass and radius (or the combination of size and density, or mass and density).
"It looks like the mass is not well-determined and so that's why they're saying they're not sure what the density is," Seager told "They think it is terrestrial-like. It might have water ice, or it might have rocks, but it's certainly not a gas giant." COROT scientists estimate the planet ranges from 5.7 to 11 Earth masses.
Hot discovery
One big difference in the newfound planet compared to Earth: COROT-Exo-7b is located very close to its star, orbiting once every 20 hours. Its temperature is so high, ranging from 1,832 to 2,732 degrees Fahrenheit that the researchers say the exoplanet could be covered in lava or water vapor. The density of the planet is still under investigation, though scientists say it may be rocky like Earth and covered in liquid lava. COROT-Exo-7b may also belong to a class of planets that are thought to be made up of water and rock in almost equal amounts. Given the high temperatures measured, the planet would likely be a very hot and humid place.
"Finding such a small planet was not a complete surprise," said Daniel Rouan, researcher at the Observatoire de Paris Lesia, who coordinates the project with Alain Leger, from Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale. "COROT-Exo-7b belongs to a class of objects whose existence had been predicted for some time." Small and odd
Very few of the more than 300 exoplanets found so far have a mass comparable to that of Earth and the other terrestrial planets — Venus, Mars and Mercury. That's because terrestrial planets are extremely difficult to detect.
Of the Earth-like planets detected, this is the first one spotted using the so-called transit method, which can yield both the planet's mass and radius. Other methods just reveal the planet's mass, Seager said.
The newfound planet's size status is also questioned. When astronomers study planets, they're interested in both mass and diameter.
"The claim that it is the 'smallest exoplanet' found to date is not correct," said planet-formation theorist Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "It is the smallest mass exoplanet found to date that transits, but other hot super-Earths have been found that do not transit but have lower masses." Boss was not involved in the current discovery.
For instance, he adds Gliese 876 d has "a minimum mass of 5.9 Earth masses and a best estimate for the true mass of 7.5 Earth masses."
Most of the methods used so far are indirect and sensitive to the mass of the planet, which is why bigger worlds are easier to detect. COROT can directly measure the size of a planet's surface, which is an advantage to astronomers. In addition, because the probe is in space, it has longer periods of uninterrupted observation than from the ground.
The internal structure of COROT-Exo-7b particularly puzzles scientists, as they are unsure whether it is an "ocean planet," a kind of planet whose existence has never been proved so far. In theory, such planets would initially be covered partially in ice, and they would later drift toward their star, with the ice melting to cover it in liquid. © Imaginova Corp. All rights reserved.
2009-02-03 15:49:34

Roman Catholic News

After Long Battle, Woman Allowed to Die
posted: 23 DAYS 22 HOURS AGOcomments: 657filed under: Health News, World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

ROME (Feb. 4) - A woman at the center of a right-to-die debate in Italy was transferred Tuesday to a hospital where she is to be allowed to die after 17 years in a vegetative state. Anti-euthanasia activists heckled the ambulance crew that moved her, with some shouting, "Don't Kill Her."
The Catholic church and pro-life activists have mounted a campaign to keep Eluana Englaro alive, denouncing what they say would be her execution. Others contend that Englaro's father is trying to give her the dignified death she had sought.
Her nighttime transfer on Tuesday reignited a bitter national debate.
The Englaro case has drawn comparisons in Italy with that of Terry Schiavo, the American woman who was at the center of a right-to-die debate until her death in 2005. Schiavo's husband, who wanted her feeding tube removed against her parents' wishes, prevailed in a polarizing battle in the United States that reached Congress, then-President George W. Bush and the Supreme Court.
In 2007, the Vatican also joined the debate, condemning Schiavo's death as "arbitrarily hastened" and calling the removal of her feeding tube a violation of the principles of Christianity and civilization.
This weekend, Pope Benedict XVI said euthanasia is a "false solution" to suffering. His health minister, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, told La Repubblica newspaper that removing Englaro's feeding tube "is tantamount to an abominable assassination, and the church will always say that out loud."
Englaro was transferred by ambulance to the northeastern city of Udine from Lecco, where she had been cared for, in the early hours of Tuesday, said family lawyer Vittorio Angiolini.
A small crowd of anti-euthanasia activists gathered and heckled the ambulance as it was leaving Lecco. Some of the activists shouted slogans such as "Eluana, Wake Up!" "Don't Kill Her!" and "Eluana Is Alive." Englaro has been in a vegetative state since a car accident in 1992, when she was 20. Her father has led a protracted court battle to disconnect her feeding tube, insisting it was her wish.
An Italian court in the summer granted his request, setting off a political storm in this Roman Catholic country.
Her father sought to have her removed from the Catholic clinic in Lecco to Udine, in the region where the family is from. But the government issued a decree last month telling state hospitals that they must guarantee care for people in vegetative states, leading at least one hospital in Udine to refuse to take Englaro.
Eventually, the private facility La Quiete in Udine agreed to take her.
Angiolini refused to discuss what steps would now be taken to end Englaro's life. News reports said that the procedure to disconnect her feeding tube would begin in a few days and would take weeks to conclude.
Amato De Monte, the anesthetist who escorted Englaro on the ambulance, said she was very different from the youthful woman who has been presented in the media.
He defended the clinic's choice in the face of mounting criticism, saying in an interview to RAI state TV: "Eluana will not suffer because Eluana died 17 years ago."
Some in the conservative government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi have criticized the move, and Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi said the government was investigating the transfer.
By law, Italy does not allow euthanasia.
Patients have a right to refuse treatment, but there is no law that allows them to give advance directions on what treatment they wish to receive if they become unconscious.
Many have urged parliament to adopt legislation to fill the hole. But the issue is charged with emotions and religious overtones, and positions differ even within the same political bloc.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-02-03 12:05:58

Here's another article of interest:

Priest Who Aided Lepers to Become Saint
posted: 6 DAYS 9 HOURS AGOcomments: 658filed under: World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

VATICAN CITY (Feb. 21) - A 19th-century Belgian priest who ministered to leprosy patients in Hawaii, and died of the disease, will be declared a saint this year at a Vatican ceremony presided over by Pope Benedict XVI.
The Rev. Damien de Veuster's canonization date of Oct. 11 was set Saturday. Born Joseph de Veuster in 1840, he took the name Damien and went to Hawaii in 1864 to join other missionaries of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Nine years later, he began ministering to leprosy patients on the remote Kalaupapa peninsula of Molokai island, where some 8,000 people had been banished amid an epidemic in Hawaii in the 1850s.
The priest eventually contracted the disease, also known as Hansen's disease, and died in 1889 at age 49.
"He went there (to Hawaii) knowing that he could never return," The Rev. Alfred Bell, who spearheaded Damien's canonization cause, told Vatican Radio. "He suffered a lot, but he stayed."
De Veuster was beatified — a step toward sainthood — in 1995 by Pope John Paul II. The Vatican's saint-making procedures require that a miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession be confirmed in order for him or her to be beatified. De Veuster was beatified after the Vatican declared that the 1987 recovery of a nun of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary was a miracle. The nun recovered after praying to Damien.
After beatification, a second miracle is needed for sainthood.
In July, Benedict declared that a Honolulu woman's recovery in 1999 from terminal lung cancer was the miracle needed for de Veuster to be made a saint.
The Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints said Audrey Toguchi's 1999 recovery from lung cancer defied medical explanation. Toguchi, too, had prayed to Damien.
The Vatican announced the date for Damien's canonization and that of nine others. Five will be declared saints at a ceremony April 26, with the rest, including Damien, on Oct. 11.
Bell said Damien's concern for others was a model for all the faithful today, particularly the young.
"Father Damien's example helps us to not forget those who are forgettable in the world," he said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-02-21 12:17:13

Friday, February 27, 2009

Black Voices Blog Heats Up

End Black History Month? I Beg to Differ
Posted Feb 4th 2009 3:00PM by Madison J. Gray
Filed under: BlackSpin, Black History 365, News

Almost everywhere you go, you hear people saying now that there's a black president, there couldn't possibly be any intolerance, bigotry or racism in this country because we've proved it by electing a black president, hence black people should shut up complaining about anything that has to do with race.

As much as I enjoy her writing, Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley in her most recent entry, entitled Now's the Time to End Black History Month somehow gives foundation to the extremists (read: nutjobs) who insist the above is true.

But her call to drop the yearly observances and instead embrace a Kum Ba Yah-flavored, sensibility toward our society is something I can't agree with -- not in the real world. ...
Actually I met Rochelle once very briefly some time ago, and felt she's a smart woman, so this isn't a personal shot at her at all. But as much as I get dissed for the things I write here, I'm sure she knows everybody takes their shots.

I propose that, for the first time in American history, this country has reached a point where we are can stop celebrating separately, stop learning separately, stop being American separately. We have reached a point where most Americans want to gain a larger understanding of the people they have not known, customs they have not known, traditions they have not known.

Who's celebrating separately? Last time I checked, there's about as much stopping other people from observing Black History Month as there is stopping me from celebrating Cinco De Mayo or anyone else from wearing green on St. Patrick's Day. In fact, every time there's a cultural or ethnic observance in this country people go out of their way to be a part of it no matter where their grandparents came from. Why is it that there are calls for us to forget about ours?

Carter G. Woodson, who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History is one of the first scholars to attach importance to the role of black people in America's history. Had it not been for him, there may well be people still walking around denying our contributions not only to this nation, but to world civilization in general.

In fact, before him, most archaeologists were still teaching that Egypt was not part of Africa.

Read the rest: here.

Read Rochelle Riley's full article: here. I must say I agree with Rochelle Riley:

Now's the time to end Black History Month

I propose that, from this day forward, we stop telling the tale of two Americas and instead document and celebrate the full and storied, multicultural and multidimensional story that is America in all of its colors, geographies and passions, in all of its ups, downs and exhortations. I propose that, for the first time in American history, this country has reached a point where we are can stop celebrating separately, stop learning separately, stop being American separately. We have reached a point where most Americans want to gain a larger understanding of the people they have not known, customs they have not known, traditions they have not known.

I propose that this month. 142 years after Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 that allowed for the Southern states to be re-admitted to the Union, we adopt our own personal reconstruction goals to admit into our lives people who are different, people whose origins differ from ours, people who can teach us so much if we listen.

I propose that this month we become not the America of Rush Limbaugh or the America of Al Franken, but to become an America where all opinions matter and hope trumps hate. I propose that this February, we become not an America of black or white or Hispanic or Asian but an America of black and white and Hispanic and Asian, an America where each of those heritages is a mandatory part of school curriculums.

We don’t need more amendments to the U.S. Constitution; we need more amendments to our own personal behaviors, beginning with changing how we treat each other.

We cannot complain about how those outside America treat us if we treat each other worse.

So this Black History Month, 139 years after Congress granted black men the right to vote, 89 years after Congress granted women the right to vote, we can vote to no longer be a fragmented nation.

Cypriot Bible Could Be From Jesus' Time

Cypriot Bible Could Be From Jesus' Time
By Sarah Ktisti and Simon Bahceli, Reuters
posted: 21 DAYS 4 HOURS AGOcomments: 1235filed under: World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAANICOSIA, CYPRUS (Feb. 6) - Authorities in northern Cyprus believe they have found an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus.
The manuscript was found in a police raid on suspected antiquity smugglers. Turkish Cypriot police testified in a court hearing they believe the manuscript could be about 2,000 years old.

The manuscript carries excerpts of the Bible written in gold lettering on vellum and loosely strung together, photos provided to Reuters showed. One page carries a drawing of a tree, and another eight lines of Syriac script.
Experts were however divided over the provenance of the manuscript, and whether it was an original, which would render it priceless, or a fake.
Experts said the use of gold lettering on the manuscript was likely to date it later than 2,000 years.
"I'd suspect that it is most likely to be less than 1,000 years old," leading expert Peter Williams, Warden of Tyndale House, University of Cambridge told Reuters.
Turkish Cypriot authorities seized the relic last week and nine individuals are in custody pending further investigations. More individuals are being sought in connection with the find, they said.
Further investigations turned up a prayer statue and a stone carving of Jesus believed to be from a church in the Turkish held north, as well as dynamite.
The police have charged the detainees with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations and the possession of explosives.

Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic - the native language of Jesus - once spoken across much of the Middle East and Central Asia. It is used wherever there are Syrian Christians and still survives in the Syrian Orthodox Church in India.
Aramaic is still used in religious rituals of Maronite Christians in Cyprus.
"One very likely source (of the manuscript) could be the Tur-Abdin area of Turkey, where there is still a Syriac speaking community," Charlotte Roueche, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King's College London told Reuters.
Stories regarding the antiquity of manuscripts is commonplace. One case would be the Yonan Codex, carbon dated to the 12th century which people tried to pass off as earlier.
After further scrutiny of photographs of the book, manuscripts specialist at the University of Cambridge library and Fellow of Wolfson College JF Coakley suggested that the book could have been written a good deal later.
"The Syriac writing seems to be in the East Syriac script with vowel points, and you do not find such manuscripts before about the 15th century.
"On the basis of the one photo ...if I'm not mistaken some words at least seem to be in modern Syriac, a language that was not written down until the mid-19th century," he told Reuters.
Editing by Michele Kambas and Paul Casciato
Copyright 2009, Reuters
2009-02-06 11:08:25

Posts I Forgot

World's Oldest Prehistoric Axes Unearthed By JULIA ZAPPEI, AP
posted: 28 DAYS 8 HOURS AGOcomments: 555filed under: World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAAKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Jan. 30) - Malaysian archeologists have unearthed prehistoric stone axes that they said Friday were the world's oldest at about 1.8 million years old.
Seven axes were found with other tools at an excavation site in Malaysia's northern Perak state in June, and tests by a Tokyo laboratory indicate they were about 1.83 million years old, said Mokhtar Saidin, director of the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Science Malaysia.
The group released their conclusions Thursday, and other archeologists have not yet examined the results.
"It's really the first time we have such evidence (dating back) 1.83 million years," Mokhtar said, adding that the oldest axes previously discovered were 1.6 million years old in Africa.
However, other chopping tools, as well as human remains, have been found in Africa that are much older, with some dating back 4 million years, he said.
Geochronology Japan Inc., a lab in Tokyo, calculated the age of the tools by analyzing the rock that covered them, Mokhtar said. The result has a margin of error of 610,000 years, he said.
Some previous discoveries have suggested there were humans in Southeast Asia up to 1.9 million years ago, but those have been disputed, said Harry Truman Simanjuntak, a researcher at the National Research Center of Archaeology in Jakarta.
Simanjuntak cautioned that others still need to investigate claims about the axes' age.
The oldest previous evidence of human existence in Malaysia was stone tools dating back about 200,000 years, found at the same excavation site in Perak.
The archeologists are trying to find human bone remains in Perak, Mokhtar said, but stressed that it might be unlikely because of decay due to warm, humid climate conditions. The oldest bones found in Perak so far have only been about 10,000 years old.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-01-30 07:47:52

Ancient Whales Gave Birth on Land By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer, LiveScience
posted: 22 DAYS 18 HOURS AGOcomments: 584filed under: Science NewsPrintShareText SizeAAASkip over this content

(Feb. 4) -- More than 47 million years ago, a whale was about to give birth to her young ... on land. That's according to skeletal remains of a pregnant cetacean whose fetus was positioned head-down as is the case for land mammals but not aquatic whales.
The teeth of the fetus were so well-developed that researchers who analyzed the fossils think the baby would have been born within days, had its mom not died.
The fossil discovery marks the first extinct whale and fetus combination known to date, shedding light on the lifestyle of ancient whales as they made the transition from land to sea during the Eocene Epoch (between 54.8 million and 33.7 million years ago).
Philip Gingerich, a paleontologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his team discovered the pregnant whale remains in Pakistan in 2000, and then in 2004, Gingerich's co-authors and others found the nearly complete skeleton of an adult male from the same species in those fossil beds. The adult whales are each about 8.5 feet long and weighed between 615 and 860 pounds, though the male was slightly longer and heavier than the female.
(Gingerich is also director of the University of Michigan's Museum of Paleontology.)
On the dig that ultimately yielded the pregnant whale, Gingerich and his team first spotted what looked like a line of chalk on the ground surface, which later turned out to be the teeth of the whale fetus.
"Very quickly I got into the baby's teeth," Gingerich told LiveScience. "Then I kept going around it, and the ribs seemed too big for the size of the animal and they were all going the wrong way. So I have to say I spent the whole day excavating this thing confused about what in the world was going on here."
Soon after, Gingeric discovered another, larger, skull, and he realized the fetus was still inside its mother.The new species, now called Maiacetus inuus, is a member of the Archaeoceti, a group of cetaceans (an animal group that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises) that predate modern toothed and baleen whales. Archaeocetes had mouths full of several types of teeth, as well as nostrils near the nose tip. Both features are seen in land mammals but not in today's whales.
Like other archaeocetes, the newly discovered whale was equipped with four legs modified for foot-powered swimming (sort of like climbing, or scrambling, up a steep hill but instead in water). While the whales likely could support their weight on their flipper-like limbs, they probably couldn't go far on land.
"They clearly were tied to the shore," Gingerich said. "They were living at the land-sea interface and going back and forth."
The team suggests that Maiacetus fed at sea and came ashore to rest, mate and give birth.
The head-first position of the fetus matches what is found in many land animals, particularly the artiodactyls (pigs, deer and cows), which are thought to have given rise to ancient whales. Human babies also emerge head first, ideally.
Scientists speculate that a head-first orientation allows land mammals to breathe even if they get stuck in the birth canal.
That's not the case underwater. "If you're born in the water you don't want the head out away from the mother until it's going to pop free, because you don't want it to drown,” Gingerich said.
In addition, tail-first delivery in modern whales and dolphins would ensure the baby is facing in the same direction as its mother who is likely swimming. To keep mom and baby from getting separated, tail-first delivery would be optimal, Gingerich said.
The research, published in the Feb. 4 issue of the online journal PloS ONE, was funded by the Geological Survey of Pakistan, National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. © Imaginova Corp. All rights reserved.
2009-02-04 12:52:41

Cold And Fireproof

Sorry for the lack of updates for a while, but I was getting over a cold the past few weeks. A few weeks ago we rented the movie Fireproof and I must concur with Christian Beyer's post on the movie in that I liked it as well even-though I'm single. I believe if Kirk Cameron uses his acting skills in projects such as this to share his faith instead of telling everyone that doesn't vote straight ticket Republican, believe in bible literalism and calvinazism that they are going to hell that he might actually plant a seed in someone to follow Christ.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Todd Friel Bashes Rick Warren's Ecumenical Inaugural Prayer


Answer: Because he is Conservative without being a fundamentalist racist/bigotry spouting Spurgeon/John MacArthur/John Piper worshipping Calvinazi nutjob.

Obama Creates Faith-Based Office

Obama Creates Faith-Based Office
posted: 6 HOURS 26 MINUTES AGOcomments: 122filed under: National News, Political News, The Obama PresidencyPrintShareText SizeAAA

WASHINGTON (Feb. 5) - Declaring that "there is a force for good greater than government," President Barack Obama on Thursday established a White House office of faith-based initiatives with a broader mission than the one overseen by his Republican predecessor.
Obama said the new office, which he created by executive order, would reach out to organizations that provide help "no matter their religious or political beliefs."

Obama said the office would work with nonprofit organizations "both secular and faith-based" and would help them determine how to make a bigger impact in their cities, learn their obligations under the law and cut through government red tape.
In a time of economic crisis, the president said, it was important for the government to help distressed Americans but added that "the change that Americans are looking for will not come from government alone."
Obama said the top priority of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will be "making community groups an integral part of our economy recovery and poverty a burden fewer have to bear when recovery is complete."
To lead the office, Obama appointed Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old Pentecostal minister who headed religious outreach for Obama's Senate office and his presidential campaign. He also named 25 religious and secular leaders to a new advisory board.
"The big picture is that President Obama believes faith-based and smaller secular neighborhood organizations can play a role in American renewal. They can work with the federal government to address big problems," DuBois said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We're also going to make sure we have a keener eye toward the separation of church and state."
Obama said the office would also work to reach out overseas "to foster interfaith dialogue with leaders and scholars around the world."

Obama's order expanded and redefined a similar office established by President George W. Bush. Focused primarily on faith-based initiatives, the Bush office sparked constitutional questions about whether the separation of church and state would be preserved, particularly if groups receiving tax dollars sought to hire on the basis of religion.
Before signing the order at the White House, Obama told the annual National Prayer Breakfast that the program would not show favoritism to any religious group and would adhere to a strict separation of church and state.
Addressing the gathering of lawmakers, dignitaries and world leaders, Obama spoke of how faith has often been a divisive tool, responsible for war and prejudice. But, he said, "there is no religion whose central tenet is hate."
"There is no god who condones taking the life of an innocent human being," he said, and all religions teach people to love and care for one another. That is the common ground underlying the faith-based office, he said.
In personal terms, Obama talked about the role of faith in his life, from his Muslim-born father and a mother skeptical of organized religion to his own embrace of Christianity as a young man.
"In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding," he said. "This is my hope. This is my prayer."
Dogged throughout the presidential campaign by rumors that he was a Muslim, Obama described his background in a household that wasn't religious.
"I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I've ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done," he said.
Obama's advisers want to be certain tax dollars sent to the faith-based social service groups are used for secular purposes, such as feeding the hungry or housing the homeless, and not for religious evangelism. The administration doesn't want to be perceived as managing the groups yet seeks transparency and accountability.
Obama pledged during the campaign to allow taxpayer-funded religious institutions to hire and fire based on religion — but only for the activities run on private funding.
Obama on Thursday asked White House lawyers and the Justice Department to write a policy that would allow that.
"There is a pretty clear lack of legal clarity and data in this area. This mechanism allows us to explore those areas on a case-by-case basis and find out exactly where things are," DuBois said.
One question is whether the faith-based office will issue grants under the Bush rules while the hiring policy is worked out.
Associated Press writers Eric Gorski in Denver and Tom Raum in Washington contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-02-05 15:01:40

Haggard Faces More Troubles

Haggard Faces More Gay Sex Allegations
posted: 12 DAYS 9 HOURS AGOcomments: 1663filed under: National NewsPrintShareText SizeAAADENVER (Jan. 23) -

Disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard's former church disclosed Friday that the gay sex scandal that caused his downfall extends to a young male church volunteer who reported having a sexual relationship with Haggard — a revelation that comes as Haggard tries to repair his public image.
Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard as senior pastor of the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, told The Associated Press that the man came forward to church officials in late 2006 shortly after a Denver male prostitute claimed to have had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard.
Boyd said an "overwhelming pool of evidence" pointed to an "inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship" that "went on for a long period of time ... it wasn't a one-time act." Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.
Reached Friday night, Haggard declined to comment and said all interviews would have to be arranged through a publicist for HBO, which is airing a documentary about him this month.
Boyd said the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly.
Boyd said a Colorado Springs TV station reached him Thursday to say the young man was planning to provide a detailed report of his relationship with Haggard to the station. Boyd said the church preferred to keep the matter private, but it was the man's decision to go public.

The disclosure comes as Haggard, 52, is about to give a series of high-profile interviews to promote the cable documentary about his time in exile. He is scheduled to appear on CNN's Larry King Live on Thursday, the date of the documentary's premiere, and already has taped "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
In early 2007, New Life Church disclosed that an investigation uncovered new evidence that Haggard engaged in "sordid conversation" and "improper relationships" — but didn't go into detail. Earlier, a church board member had said there was no evidence that Haggard had sexual relations with anyone but Mike Jones, the former male prostitute.

Haggard confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality" after Jones' allegations and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and from New Life Church, where he faced being fired.
Anticipating criticism of the settlement with the former church volunteer, Boyd said Friday that it was in the best interests of all involved. He would not name the volunteer or the settlement amount.
"It wasn't at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story," Boyd said. "Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance — certainly not hush money. I know what's what everyone will want to say because that's the most salacious thing to say, but that's not at all what it was."
He said that "secondarily, it's not great for our church either" that the story be told. Boyd said Haggard knew about the settlement two years ago.
In a letter e-mailed Friday to New Life Church members, Boyd said of the settlement and agreement not to talk: "This decision was made not as an attempt to conceal wrongdoings, but to protect him from those who would seek to exploit him. His actions now suggest that he has changed his mind."

The letter said the church "received reports of a number of incidents of inappropriate behavior" after Haggard's fall. "In each case, we have tried our very best to do the right thing each time, including disciplinary action when appropriate."
Boyd said the "inappropriate behavior" referred to the man who was the volunteer involved with Haggard. After Haggard's fall, another church staff member resigned after admitting to what was described as "sexual misconduct."
Boyd said the church will not take action against the man if he tells his story in the press.
"We have legal standing to do that, but not the desire to," he said.
Boyd said he had spoken to the man once and came away with the impression that he was speaking out because of the documentary. "I think what caused this young man to be a bit aggravated was Ted being seen as a victim, when he himself had experienced a great deal of hurt," Boyd said. "I seriously doubt this man would have come forward if the documentary had not been made."
A spokeswoman for the documentary, "The Trials of Ted Haggard," declined to comment Friday.
David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — which has largely focused on the Catholic sexual abuse scandal but also speaks out on cases involving Protestant clergy — said the new disclosures about Haggard are more disturbing because they involves a church volunteer.
"Technically, legally, they were both adults," Clohessy said. "Psychologically and emotionally, Haggard was dramatically more powerful. ... By definition, any sexual contact between a congregant and minister is inherently abusive and manipulative."
In an AP interview this month before an appearance in front of TV critics in California, Haggard described his sexuality as complex and something that can't be put into "stereotypical boxes."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-01-23 20:39:56

Tripp Interviews Bill Mallonee

Check out: Bill Mallonee of the Vigilantes of Love: Homebrewed Christianity 42.

I am indebted to Tripp for introducing me to both Bill Mallonee's music and Bill Mallonee the person 6 or 7 years ago or so, when we were still at Campbell and I've been a fan ever since. I met Bill both times and showed him some of my writings the second time. Good stuff---anyways, check out my friend's Tripp's Podcast.



The Big Kahuna And Evangelism

First things first---we started our Wed. nights back up 2 weeks ago and Vick is doing the Faith And Films study again after our church-wide Winter hiatus from Wed. nights. We are doing new movies this time and started with the film, The Big Kahuna. Last night we discussed the film---anyways, here is a basic description of the film:
The Big Kahuna is a 2000 movie adapted from a play entitled Hospitality Suite, written by Roger Rueff, who also wrote the screenplay. John Swanbeck, the director, makes few attempts to lessen this film's resemblance to a stage performance: the majority of the movie takes place in a single hotel room, and nearly every single line of dialogue is spoken by one of the three actors.

Kevin Spacey plays Larry Mann, a relentlessly foul-mouthed cynic; Danny DeVito plays Phil Cooper, a world-weary average Joe; and Peter Facinelli is Bob Walker, a devout and earnest young Baptist. The three are in the industrial lubricant industry; Larry and Phil are marketing representatives and Bob is part of research and development. The three are attending a trade show where they expect to land a very important account, a rich businessman Larry refers to as The Big Kahuna. As the night progresses, Larry unleashes a torrent of scathingly funny witticisms, most directed at Bob, but finds himself relying on the newest member of the trio when their quarry invites Bob (and only Bob) to an exclusive party.

While Phil and Larry wait for Bob to bring them the news that could end their careers, they muse over the meaning of life. Bob finally returns and offers a bombshell: rather than try to sell their product, he has instead chosen to talk to the man with deep pockets about … religion. In the face of Larry's towering outrage, Bob stands fast for all that is pure and true. But Bob is unable to muster any reply at all when Phil quietly explains how he sees no difference at all between Bob's preaching and Larry's fast-talking.

Secondly, regardless of the language, which all language is socially constructed anyway---the film offers an interesting look at the question of evangelism in postmodernity. The word Evangelism comes from the Greek word "εὐαγγέλιον (transliterated as "euangelion/evangelion") via Latin "Evangelium", as used in the canonical titles of the four Gospels, authored by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (also known as the Four Evangelists). The Greek word εὐαγγέλιον originally meant a reward for good news given to the messenger (εὔ = "good", ἀγγέλλω = "I bring a message"; the word angel is of the same root) and later "good news"." Here are Vick's discussion questions:

Going back to the question of evangelism, the question is framed as such: should evangelism be as: ---part 1

---part 2 as the fundamentalists/pharisees/traditionalists/so-called keepers of orthodoxy suggest or: as the emerging/emergent/moderate progressive/liberal Christians suggest.

This quote from the movie critiques the former view and accepts the later view of believers building relationships with non-believers as Jesus does in the Scriptures:
Phil Cooper: "It doesn't matter whether you're selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or 'How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down'. That doesn't make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are – just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it's not a conversation anymore; it's a pitch. And you're not a human being; you're a marketing rep."
For more ideas about the movie see: The Big Kahuna.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

SnagFilms Film Widget: The Life And Times Of Allen Ginsberg

See original source: Here.

Check out:: Faith and Theology: Leonard Cohen in Brisbane 2009

Faith and Theology: Leonard Cohen in Brisbane 2009 ---Faith And Theology has an excellent review of Leonard Cohen's concert from Brisbane---so check it out. And just so you know, here are some of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs:

--- leonard Cohen - the gypsy`s wife

---Leonard Cohen Hallelujah

---Leonard Cohen - Everybody Knows

---Leonard Cohen - Suzanne (video clip)

--- take this waltz leonard cohen

--- Leonard Cohen - lover lover lover (1975)

---Leonard Cohen - The Traitor

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Postmodernism And You Can't Do That On Television

It was silly and absurd, it was irreverent and slap-sticky, it was otherwise known as 'that slime show'---for me, You Can't Do That on Television (YCDTOTV) brings back memories of childhood summers spent at the beach. Before we got cable at home in Laurinburg, in the mid to late 80's---the beach house was the only place to watch Nickelodeon and boy did my sister, brother and I enjoy watching Nickelodeon at the beach, while eating our Kid's Cuisine meals.

Anyways, Justin Cammy, who was a cast member from 1983–1985 and who is now a professor of Middle Eastern and Jewish Studies at Smith College had this to say about the show:
[edit] Cast comments
Cast member Justin Cammy, now a professor at Smith College, described the show like this:

“ You Can't Do That on Television was the first post-modern children's program of my generation. It subverted all recognizable forms and deconstructed the pre-teen's understanding of such important institutions as the family, the school and the video arcade. When the schoolteacher did not know any better than to call Milton's masterpiece "Pair of Dice Lost", the program functioned as an ideological clarion call to future college students like you who would go on to demand the displacement of an ossified Western canon with more relevant investigations of low culture.

Continued from original source:
A.M. FitzGerald: How would you describe the show?
Cammy: "You Can't Do That on Television" was the first post-modern children's program of my generation. It subverted all recognizable forms and deconstructed the pre-teen's understanding of such important institutions as the family, the school and the video arcade. When the school teacher did not know any better than to call Milton's masterpiece "Pair of Dice Lost," the program functioned as an ideological clarion call to future college students like you who would go on to demand the displacement of an ossified Western canon with more relevant investigations of low culture. Several years ago a student who will remain nameless--her name was Jen--handed in a pictoral interpretation of the essay question in place of a ten-page paper. I instantly knew that she had gleaned her air of entitlement and complete disrespect for all forms of academic propriety from being a nightly fan of "You Can't Do That On Television." Although I failed her, it was the proudest moment of my life.

Here are some videos of the show for you to decide how postmodern the show is or not:

---YouCantDoThatOnTelevision - PovertyAndUnemployment1985Part1

---YouCantDoThatOnTelevision - PovertyAndUnemployment1985Part2

---YouCantDoThatOnTelevision - PovertyAndUnemployment1985Part3

And here's an episode with Justin Cammy in it for good measure:

---You Can't Do That On Television - Divorce 1 (of 3)

---You Can't Do That On Television - Divorce 2 (of 3)

---You Can't Do That On Television - Divorce 3 (of 3)

So what are your thoughts?

Monday, February 2, 2009


On the day after the Super Bowl, one of the most overrated hyped up events on TV---what better thing to post but a Bob Dylan/Woody Guthrie type song I wrote about sports idolatry---not that sports in and of itself is bad but anyways:


Oh I heard the other day, there's a new American religion rolling into town
You can catch the sacred show on your television sports network, every Monday night
Doesn't matter if you're on East Coast, West Coast or Mountain time
It never fails to be painted across t. v. screens, all around
You can tune in anytime you like; but make sure your screen is the largest size
For better viewing of that new time religion known as the show Sports-line
Wouldn't wanna miss a single second or you might miss a world record touchdown

Well, they're tearing all the crosses down and replacing them with sports equipment instead
And they are selling beer and millions of hot dogs for wine and bread
'Tis the last feast of the King of all Kings, you know
Take drink and eat for to remind yourself of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
That are otherwise known as Babe Ruth, Chipper Jones and Michael Jordan
Or maybe it was Hank Aaron, Sammy Sosa, and Dennis Rodman
Either way, you know that you'll find salvation, in your local sports show

Well, your churches are getting empty and your stadiums are getting filled
I'm sure on Judgment Day; the Lord of all Hosts will be thrilled
About the latest batting average or the latest record for most field goals
And I'm a-sure as lead that your touchdowns and punch-outs will save your soul
As long as you are a-going for the fastest racing record time
Everything for your sports stars in their sports cars will make you fine
For a home-run by your favorite team, surely 'tis God's will

Oh, and they're burning the church buildings down and replacing them with stadiums
For to build a place for your sports teams and to build up the new religion
The religion to end all religion, Sports-line really is
Because it's the only religion that to it's followers gives
Extra hard; and nobody cares about Jesus anymore
Because they are turning on the tube or running out to see some ole sport
For it's for these sports idols that Americans truly live

And a-everyone is chewing the fat off of the golden calf
Sacrificing to the one-eyed god on Monday night, every hour and a half
Because the Pope wore out his welcome, for his priests with children did mate
And your athletes are truly the real heroes of today
Well, I seen one golfer and he healed this one man who was blind
It was a true miracle of the sports god; and I seen one hockey player draw a sign
With the colorful words he spoke and it blessed the whole crowd as black eyes to them he did gave

Well, the thing about today is we need a good boxer to set the people free
And we need a political wrestler for the common man in the Law to believe
What a world we live in, where you can find sermons eating Wheaties, sitting on the couch
And well, you know Kelly Slater is the true messiah, he saved us with his wipeouts
And the sacred veil was torn when Tiger Woods made his first hole in one
You know, right then and right there, it spelled the completeness of everyone
And you know that O. J. Simpson was always innocent, sooner he did need to be released

Yes, and I heard the other day, there's a new American religion rolling into town
You can catch the sacred show on your television sports network, every Monday night
Doesn't matter if you're on East Coast, West Coast or Mountain time
It never fails to be painted across t. v. screens, all around
You can tune in anytime you like; but make sure your screen is the largest size
For better viewing of that new time religion known as the show Sports-line
Wouldn't wanna miss a single second or you might miss a world record touchdown

So everybody take it from me, if you want to be free, if you want to see the end
And if a-you want to see the gates of Heaven
Stay away from your church pews, turn on your t. v. and don’t miss your precious Sports-line
For 'tis every bit of heaven there, as long as you watch, because your stadiums are so divine
And a-your sports idols are the truth that will set the world free
The very word of the one-eyed god that will give you your place to be
You can even escape the gates of death by a soccer ball falling in the wind...

© 2002 T/H Songs, Inc.
© 2002 GB Lyrics, C.O.