NTS LogoSkeptical News for 8 August 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Case for Creation

http://www.tdn.com/articles/2004/08/07/this_day/news01.txt

By Tom Paulu
Aug 06, 2004 - 11:49:18 pm PDT

TOUTLE -- With his booming voice and waving hands, Lloyd Anderson sounds and looks every bit the preacher.

Though he used to lead a church, these days, Anderson's pulpit is a meeting room in the Seven Wonders Museum and Bookstore, a tidy establishment he runs with his wife, Doris, in this town in the shadow of Mount St. Helens.

The message rings loud and clear: the rapid changes at the volcano during and after the 1980 eruption add to the body of evidence that God created the world about 6,000 years ago.

"If you believe in evolution, there's no place for God," Anderson told museum visitors last week before taking them on a guided tour of volcano sights along Spirit Lake Memorial Highway. "We believe that evolution is the greatest scientific fraud that's ever been created on the face of the Earth."

Though Anderson, 68, is a relative newcomer to the Toutle area, he's been a minister for many years. With a master's degree in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he pastored churches in Port Angeles, Poulsbo and Lynnwood, Wash., and worked as a bookkeeper for an engineering firm.

Doris worked as a registered nurse and studied journalism.

"Lloyd's entire ministry is based on the fact we take the six days of creation literally and we believe Noah's flood was global," said Doris, 66.

The Bible "is without error in the original writing," Lloyd said.

The Andersons first came to Toutle eight years ago to visit Mount St. Helens. They had already seen a creationist video about the volcano.

"We were thinking about some kind of retirement ministry," Lloyd said. The Andersons sold their house in Seattle and moved to a home on Spirit Lake Memorial Highway. The Seven Wonders Museum and Bookstore started in a small building behind the house, which earlier this year was enlarged with a 960-square-foot room that seats 55.

They stocked shelves with some 170 books on creationism. "To our knowledge, we have more creationism titles than any other location in the Northwest," Lloyd said.

One book is about teen sexual abstinence, and a leaflet explains that dinosaurs first existed 6,000 years ago and survived on Noah's Ark along with other animals.

The Andersons support their museum through book sales and donations.

After moving to volcano country, the two of them have become avid students of Mount St. Helens eruption history and tourist sites.

They blend those with Scripture.

"I went to the Bible and I started looking up all the verses that had to do with the mountain," Lloyd said. In the King James version Isaiah 64:1 says "Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountain might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil...."

Such verses, Doris said, "described the mechanism of how the mountain erupted."

They also became adherents of Dr. Steven Austin, a geology PhD. from the University of Pennsylvania, who has researched Mount St. Helens. His 2003 book with John Morris, "Footprints in the Ash," is a bible of creationist views of the volcano.

The volcano is also the bedrock of the Andersons' theology.

"Dr. Austin said the eruption of Mount St. Helens was God's gift to creationists in our generation," Doris said.

"We believe God sent us the eruption of Mount St. Helens," as evidence of creationism, Lloyd explained. To soften the catastrophe, God had the mountain erupt on a Sunday, when far fewer people perished than would have on a weekday.

The Andersons' museum takes its name from seven Mount St. Helens land features that changed in a matter of hours or at most a few years. This, creationists say, disproves the theories of archaeologists, geologists, anthropologists, paleontologists and other scientists that the Earth has evolved over millions of years.

For instance, Wonder No. 2 is the two canyons in front of the Mount St. Helens crater, which were formed by mud and pyroclastic flows in a few months in 1980,

"Textbooks say the most spectacular canyon in the world, the Grand Canyon, was formed by stream erosion over a hundred million years," the Andersons write in a handout.

"Now, scientists who specialize in geological erosion believe it was formed rapidly, just like canyons at Mount St. Helens."

"We're saying Noah's flood formed the Grand Canyon and then the Colorado River flowed through it," Doris explained, not the generally held theory that the river carved out the canyon.

Of course, you won't read about creationist theories described at Forest Service visitor centers. "We'd love to see it," Lloyd said.

But volcano visitors can stop by and watch Lloyd's slide show and take a guided tour of volcano sights with him. "I'm willing to do this for 100 or one," he said. "I've spent five hours with one individual." They keep their museum open 70 hours per week.

Many visitors are home-schooled children and church groups who agree with the theology to begin with, Lloyd said, though people who believe in evolution have stopped to debate.

One recent visitor was Rachel Janzen of Happy Valley, a Portland suburb, who came with eight members of her extended family.

A stickler for detail, Lloyd said it was the 397th time he's given his presentation.

Janzen, a registered nurse, first met Lloyd when he spoke at a meeting of the Design Science Association at a Portland church.

"We're so inundated with the evolution mind set, it's good to see the other perspective," Janzen said.

If you go

The Seven Wonders Museum and Bookstore is at 4749 Spirit Lake Memorial Highway, just west of central Toutle.

It's open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days. Admission is free.

The bookstore has 170 titles, mostly about creationism, along with videos and DVDs. Some may be checked out.

For information, call 274-5737.

Web site: www.creationism.org/sthelens.

Review of science standards under way despite State Board of Education's looming ideology shift

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/9342070.htm

Posted on Sat, Aug. 07, 2004

JOHN MILBURN

Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - In December, one month before conservatives are expected to regain control of the State Board of Education, a committee will present the board its first draft of proposed changes to the state's science standards.

That draft is expected to go back for revisions. That's typical. But the board that gets the second draft is likely to be much friendlier to the idea that creationism deserves a place alongside evolution in Kansas science classes.

That's a near certainty following the victory Tuesday by Kathy Martin of Clay Center over incumbent Bruce Wyatt of Salina, giving conservatives a 6-4 majority when the board convenes in January.

Martin, a retired science teacher, campaigned on her desire to see creationism taught alongside evolution.

"It will be coming right out of the chute," said board member Sue Gamble, a Shawnee Republican and part of the board's moderate bloc. "They have the votes.

"I'll have my objections, but the standards are going to change," she said.

Kansas revises science standards every three years. A 24-member committee has been working on new ones for several months, with the first draft due in December. Final approval is expected by summer 2005.

Alexa Pochowski, deputy education commissioner for learning services, said the science committee has members from all philosophical viewpoints spanning all content areas. Members were nominated by the board.

The struggle over science standards dates to 1999, when the board voted to de-emphasize evolution, leaving it up to individual school districts to decide how much students would learn about the origins of life.

Instead of standards with specific references requiring to students to understand evolution in detail, the board favored standards with few references to the theory. Standards are used to develop statewide tests to measure how well students are learning.

The changes drew international attention. The board was ridiculed and accused of undermining science education. The standards soon became the biggest campaign issue in board races in 2000, which saw moderates, including Gamble and Wyatt, take control.

The newly elected board quickly revised the standards in 2001, restoring references to evolution, and the issue faded.

However, the 2002 elections created a 5-5 split on the board and renewed the ideological tensions.

Pochowski said students are supposed to be tested under revised science standards in the 2007-08 school year, when the state is supposed to start testing on science annually, rather than every two years.

The committee is trying to clarify how teachers present science to students, Pochowski said. The standards must be based on evidence - whether they're dealing with creationism, intelligent design or evolution - while respecting the separation of church and state, she said.

"It doesn't mean those theories aren't important. It's a matter of whether it should be the parents or the schools making those decision," Pochowski said.

Intelligent design advocates say all theories, including evolution, should be examined critically.

John Calvert, Kansas manager of the Intelligent Design Network, said students should be taught that new discoveries bolster intelligent design and debunk theories that life began only through physical and chemical laws and by chance.

Martin advocates teaching all theories, giving students enough information to draw their own conclusions. She said such a compromise would make science standards "a non-issue."

Gamble said changing the science standards risks hurting not only education but also the state's business climate.

"How seriously do people take us when you're the butt of jokes on late-night TV?" Gamble said.

If the standards adopted in 2005 include creationism or intelligent design - as Gamble expects - the issue could influence the 2006 elections.

And, as in 2001, the new board taking office in 2007 could reverse course again, which Gamble said only creates uncertainty in education.

"It makes people question if there is any value in standards at all," she said.

Calvert said all-inclusive standards will strengthen Kansas' reputation.

"The goal of public education is to inform," he said. "So at least exposing students to the ideas and scientific arguments on both sides of the issue will actually promote better science education."

On the Net:

Kansas State Board of Education: http://www.ksbe.state.ks.us

Md. Courthouse Employees Hunt Ghost

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=817&ncid=757&e=10&u=/ap/20040807/ap_on_fe_st/ghost_kent_county

CHESTERTOWN, Md. - The word "ghost" is hot on the lips of Kent County Court House employees. A new $75,000 security system installed July 1 hasn't caught any criminals, but it did capture some haunting images of what appears to be a strange light "walking" in one stairwell.

"It didn't show up to the eye, but it showed up on tape," said security officer Phillip Price.

Security personnel first saw the light while looking at a surveillance tape recorded July 29, and it appeared live for more than an hour the next day.

After noticing the light, Price walked up the stairs and didn't see a thing. But downstairs, where by then a crowd of employees had gathered to watch, the video monitor revealed the strange light proceeding ahead of Price, stopping when he stopped and starting when he started.

At one point, those watching the video feed saw Price walk through the anomaly, they said. That was about the time that Price said he felt something.

"I felt a real chill, I will tell you that," Price said.

This time of year, the courthouse stairway is warm and muggy, and Price said he doesn't have much time for ghosts.

Officials are still trying to find a scientific explanation for the anomaly, such as dust spots on the camera lens or a malfunctioning battery. A digital copy of the data has been sent to Atlantic Security, the firm that installed the cameras.

Kent County Sheriff John F. Price said he doesn't believe in ghosts.

"There has to be a logical explanation," he said, adding "I'm keeping an open mind."

Employees said they have seen odd shadows and heard unexplained noises including the sound of closing doors when no one else was around.

For those who believe in the paranormal, the image on the courthouse security camera is described by the Maryland Ghost and Spirit Association as an "orb," which some believe represent the soul of a person who has died.

If that's true, there could be dozens of explanations as the courthouse has been the site of executions dating back to 1746. A 1969 expansion was also built over a forgotten 19th century cemetery.

"If it is a ghost, it's a friendly ghost," said Mark Mumford, clerk of the circuit court. "If it's a friendly ghost, it's not hurting me."


Saturday, August 07, 2004

Shock Therapy

http://context.themoscowtimes.com/story/135242/

Pointing to Soviet psychiatric abuses of the '60s and '70s, a group with links to the Church of Scientology lambastes mental health practices today.

By Anna Malpas
Published: August 6, 2004

In the late Soviet period, psychiatric diagnoses were notoriously used as smokescreens for locking up people with independent political ideas. But a traveling exhibition about the shocking side of psychiatric treatment is funded by an organization with its own hidden agenda.

"Stock up on courage and healthy cynicism, and come along," reads the press release for an exhibition called "Psychiatry Unmasked" that opened at the Georgian Cultural Center last Tuesday. At the exhibition, large display boards show photographs and information about treatments for mental illness, from electric shock to Ritalin. Psychiatry is linked to human rights abuses in the Third Reich, apartheid-era South African and the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. "The fact remains a fact: Psychiatry created the ideology that gave birth to the Holocaust and turned Hitler into a maniac and the Nazis into bloody murderers," one section states.

The exhibition is backed by the Citizens' Commission on Human Rights, or CCHR, an organization founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology. Based on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology rejects psychiatric medicine, its web site citing the "array of primitive methods dreamed up by 'modern' psychiatrists." It is the Scientologist's duty "to expose and help abolish any and all physically damaging practices in the field of mental health," the site declares.

The exhibition, which tours worldwide, was displayed at the Leningrad regional government building in St. Petersburg last month and will travel to Samara, Kazan and Vladivostok. A sign near the entrance stated that CCHR was founded by the Church of Scientology as an "independent organization."

Young people in blue T-shirts stamped with the CCHR logo urged visitors to record their impressions and write their names and addresses on a petition calling for ethical guidelines on psychiatry. "Psychiatry is just awful. It should be abolished," one visitor wrote. "The exhibition shocked me."

Scientology came to Russia in the early 1990s with the Russian translation of Hubbard's primary text, "Dianetics." The movement encountered numerous difficulties in registering with the Justice Ministry, but fought off a 2002 bid to shut down Moscow's Humanitarian Hubbard Center for improper registration.

The Russian wing of CCHR opened in 1999, long after the Soviet Union's practice of incarcerating dissidents in mental hospitals caught worldwide attention in the 1960s and '70s. According to Alexander Ivanov, press secretary of the Moscow branch, the international organization did not campaign against those abuses. "Then it wasn't possible to break through walls," he said.

While CCHR does not advocate simply closing mental hospitals and releasing the patients, psychiatrists "do a lot more evil than good," Ivanov said. "If a murderer evades responsibility because he paid $3,000 for a psychiatrist's conclusion that he is irresponsible for his actions, that ... makes a mockery of justice."

Ivanov stipulated that the organization does not offer counseling on medical treatment. "We don't give advice," he said. The chairman of the St. Petersburg branch Roman Chorny concurred. "We're not a medical organization. Although I'm a doctor, I haven't practiced since 1999. I am involved with human rights and questions of medical ethics." The organization concentrates on lobbying and court action to stop abuse in psychiatric hospitals and orphanages, he said.

Chorny emphasized that CCHR does not advise patients to stop taking medicines -- an accusation that dogged the exhibition in New Zealand last month. "You can open any of our CCHR booklets, and read there ... 'Never stop taking psychotropic medicines because that can lead to ... suicide,' for example. For that reason a person should gradually lower the dose under the observance of a doctor."

Historian Anatoly Prokopenko, who wrote a 1997 book about the psychiatric treatment of Soviet dissidents called "Mad Psychiatry" (Bezumnaya Psikhiatriya) and also attended the opening, was emphatic in his praise of CCHR. "I think it's the only organization in the world that really fights for the rights of people who have suffered from psychiatry," he said.

"No one has ever been cured in the whole 300 years [of practicing psychiatry]. There are just mountains of dead bodies."

Prokopenko invited Russian psychiatrists to come up with a similar display of information to support their case.

"Let the health ministry put on its own exhibition and say that psychiatry is great. Then you can compare opinions, and people will see that those are lies. But they don't do that, and never will."

"Psychiatry Unmasked" (Psikhiatriya: Razoblacheniye) runs to Aug. 17 at the Georgian Cultural Center, located at 42 Arbat. Metro Smolenskaya. Tel. 518-1100.

Copyright © 2004 The Moscow Times.

Atlantic ridge survey discovers new species

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1277282,00.html

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Friday August 6, 2004
The Guardian

Scientists exploring the ocean depths between Iceland and the Azores believe they have discovered new species of fish and squid, and have observed giant spinning rings of plankton for the first time.

Experts are confident that an anglerfish-like creature that was hauled aboard the team's research vessel is new to science.

Unlike anglerfish, which are yellow, flat-looking and typically live on the seabed, the new discovery, brown and bloated, was caught in the mid-depths of the ocean.

Checks are also being made to confirm whether a striking red squid, which was caught at a depth of around one mile, is a new species.

"We don't think this has ever been seen by human beings before," said Olav Godoe of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway, the expedition's principal scientist.

In all, around 300 species of fish and nearly 50 species of squid and octopus were found.

Tens of thousands of crustaceans and plankton were captured for further study.

The international team of scientists set out on June 5 to make the first extensive study of marine life living along the mid-Atlantic ridge, the Earth's largest mountain range, which rises more than a mile above sea level in Iceland and the Azores but is submerged in between.

The expedition covered 4,000 miles, passing twice along the entire length of the underwater ridge.

The team spotted some biological rarities, includ ing a 4.5-metre Greenland shark and a 2-metre gelatinous jellyfish-like creature

The expedition, which involved 60 scientists from many countries, is part of a 10 year, $1bn (about £540m) attempt, called the Census of Marine Life, to make detailed maps of the world's underwater ecosystems.

Quake swarm makes mountain grow half-inch

Numerous temblors deep in crust were too small to be felt
- David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
Friday, August 6, 2004

LAKE TAHOE

Semi-molten volcanic rock, rising from deep in the Earth's crust miles beneath Lake Tahoe, has moved an entire mountain and triggered a swarm of tiny earthquakes that shook the north shore of the lake between last August and early this year, Nevada geologists report.

The scientists measured more than 1,600 unusually deep quakes during the seven-month swarm, all with magnitudes of 2.2 or less -- too small to be noticed at ground level.

The rising magma distorted the region enough to thrust nearby Slide Mountain in Nevada northeastward and upward by nearly a half-inch, the scientists say. The mountain, part of the Mount Rose ski area, is about 9,650 feet high.

The seismic events are being reported today in the on-line edition of the journal Science by Kenneth D. Smith, Geoffrey Blewitt and their colleagues at the University of Nevada's Seismological Laboratory in Reno.

California experts were quick to reassure the public Thursday that all the activity, while scientifically fascinating, posed no new dangers to the Tahoe region's increasingly dense population.

"There have been no more of those little quakes since early this year, the magma appears to have stopped moving, and Slide Mountain has stopped growing, so there is no imminent threat of any severe earthquakes in the Tahoe region," said Michael Reichle, California's acting state geologist and head of the California Geological Survey.

Earthquake dangers need to be taken seriously throughout California, the experts noted, including in the Sierra Nevada. But Darryl Young, director of the state Department of Conservation, said there was little need to fret about more exotic threats from below ground.

"The chances of seeing a volcanic eruption in the Tahoe region in our lifetime are practically nil," he said.

The earthquakes in the north Tahoe swarm began with a temblor almost too small to be measured on Aug. 12 of last year and ended with another tiny one on Feb. 19 of this year. They all originated 18 to 20 miles deep. Most quakes in the Tahoe region start 5 miles or so down, Smith and Blewitt said.

The movement of Slide Mountain, which was measured at the summit using the satellites of the Global Positioning System, was about four times greater and faster than it had been during the previous four years, they said.

The yard-thick sheet of rising magma, known as a dike, began at unknown depths, cooling and solidifying before it stopped, and triggered the earthquake swarm, Smith said.

"We haven't seen anything like this series of events in the past 40 to 50 years," he said, "but it gives us a fascinating new picture of what's been going on deep in the Earth's crust in that area."

The rising magma and the subsequent seismic events, he said, provide unique insights into the behavior of the Earth's crust in a region that stretches for more than 400 miles from Utah's Wasatch range to the Sierra Nevada's eastern summits.

That area of the Earth's crust is known to geologists as the Basin and Range Province. Years of measurements have shown that the entire province is moving steadily west and crunching up against the Sierra at an average rate of 11 millimeters -- less than half an inch -- a year, Smith noted.

At the same time, all of California east of the San Andreas Fault -- including the Tahoe region where the recent earthquake swarm was recorded -- is moving steadily northwest. The conflicting crustal motions appear to be creating deep stresses, Smith said.

Shallower earthquakes are by no means uncommon around Tahoe, records show. Only last June a small quake struck just north of Truckee with a magnitude of 3.4, and a week earlier a larger one with a magnitude of 4.5 shook up the north shore town of Kings Beach and was felt as far off as Reno. Both temblors had occurred on faults barely a mile beneath the surface, according to scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.

In 1998 another shallow quake with a magnitude of 4.9 hit near Incline Village on the Nevada north shore, and records show that the region has been struck by nearly 90 quakes with magnitude greater than 3.5 in the past 60 years.

The only major quake in recent times, records show, was a 1996 temblor that hit the Donner Pass area with a magnitude of 6.5. It cracked dams on the Truckee River, caused rockslides that buried sections of Interstate 80, cracked plaster in the dome of the Nevada State Capitol in Carson City and was felt as far away as Sacramento and the Bay Area.

E-mail David Perlman at dperlman@sfchronicle.com.

Page B - 1
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/08/06/BAGJR834GN28.DTL

©2004 San Francisco Chronicle

Soaring UFO sightings near record high

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1091743812048&call_pageid=968332188774&col=968350116467

Mysterious lights, dazzling mid-air manoeuvres reported More than 400 encounters of the curious kind filed so far this year

JIM BRONSKILL
CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA—From a translucent, saucer-shaped object in British Columbia to mysterious lights buzzing motorists in New Brunswick, Canadians are on their way to reporting a record number of UFO sightings this year.

More than 400 stories of curious encounters were filed through the end of July, compared with just over 300 by this time last year, says Ufology Research of Manitoba, a group that tracks reports of unidentified flying objects.

At this rate, the total for 2004 will surpass the current record of 673 sightings reported last year, said Chris Rutkowski, research co-ordinator for the Winnipeg-based organization.

The group receives reports directly by telephone and e-mail from sister agencies that follow the phenomenon, and via federal departments such as transport and national defence.

Rutkowski isn't sure why the numbers are rising, but suspects it might be linked to public awareness of recent exploratory missions to planets such as Mars and Saturn.

"I think there is a resurgence of interest in space," he said yesterday.

Dazzling mid-air manoeuvres were a feature of some of the more dramatic otherworldly episodes.

At a military base in Beaverbank, N.S., on April 23, three people spotted several lights in the east, including a slow-moving red one bobbing up and down. Suddenly, a second red light swooped in, prompting the first one to climb upwards and fly over it.

In a July 5 incident, a Rosemont, Que., couple saw a very bright red light moving slowly westward. Travelling much too low to be an airplane or helicopter, the object plunged to the ground and disappeared after about a minute.

Two people sitting on a hill in an Edmonton park on June 23 watched four distinct lights hover above them.

"At first they thought it was some sort of satellite," Rutkowski said. "But then the lights gathered together, close in the sky, and spread out again. They would travel in one direction for a while and then curve back in a very sharp turn in another direction. And they watched it for 90 minutes."

The Prairies seem to be a hotbed of unexplained activity.

In Alberta, 61 sightings occurred up to the end of July, compared with 76 in all of last year. There were 50 in Manitoba, already double the total for 2003, while 19 reports emerged from Saskatchewan, topping last year's 13.

In a widely reported incident, the pilot of Prime Minister Paul Martin's plane reported seeing a "very bright light" falling through the air, with smoke trailing, while the aircraft passed over Suffield, Alta., on March 21.

Rutkowski believes that while most UFO reports have simple explanations — many being meteors — a small percentage are puzzling and deserve the attention of scientists. THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Actor creates magic in Cape's 'Inherit the Wind'

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/2004/08/06/06inheri

By Sandy MacDonald, Globe Correspondent | August 6, 2004

DENNIS -- "How quaint!," we enlightened citizens of the 21st century muse at the notion that in 1925 -- the time frame for the 1955 courtroom drama "Inherit the Wind" -- Darwin's theory of evolution was considered anathema, the very work of the devil. A quick Internet search for "creationism," though, yields hundreds of thousands of citations, some of them fervid to the point of fiery, as well as disconcerting evidence that believers in a "flat earth," one firmly anchored at the center of the universe, still walk and blog among us.

The controversy could seem very stale were it not for an enduringly witty and incisive script (sharpened by McCarthyite concerns prevalent at the time of its conception), the unabating foibles inherent in human nature (we do, after all, have a born-again president who presumes a personal pipeline to God), and, in this particular reenactment of Tennessee's famous "monkey trial" at the Cape Playhouse, a production that positively crackles with tension, despite the foregone conclusion.

The preponderance of credit belongs to André De Shields, who is riveting in the role of Henry Drummond (based on Clarence Darrow, the real-life defense attorney for high school biology teacher John Scopes). De Shields's timing is uncanny: He knows exactly when to stretch a moment, when to leap in and drive home a point. Every gesture is impassioned, yet controlled and purposeful; he builds brilliantly to the scene in which Drummond essentially eviscerates Matthew Harrison Brady (i.e., William Jennings Bryan, a force for fundamentalism) on the witness stand.

In the latter role, Alan Rachins -- familiar from TV's "L.A. Law" and "Dharma & Greg" -- proves a less-than-worthy opponent. It's not just the built-in strictures of the role (in this fictionalization, Brady is conceived as a fall guy for small-mindedness). With weak, ineffectual gestures -- often his left hand seems unaware of what the right is up to -- Rachins fails to convey the spellbinding oratory that was the three-time presidential candidate's stock in trade, and the impetus for this last-gasp attempt at grandstanding.

Russell Treyz's direction (he was responsible for a touching revival of "Da" last summer) is astute and lively, starting with a nonlinear courtroom that allows the players to move about freely -- in De Shields's case, comforting, encouraging, ensnaring. Richard Chambers's set, with its Victorian facades strung like dollhouse marionettes against a background of furrowed fields receding into the distance, is both functional and evocative.

I'd quibble with some of the casting choices (several of the age differentiations seem way off), but any misgivings are easily eclipsed by the smart decision to give De Shields the lead. Never before, to the best of anyone's knowledge, has the role been filled by an African-American, and it's true, there's a jolt of visual/logical disjunction when De Shields takes the stage. But oh, does he take it. Within seconds, the issue of whether he's "race-appropriate" becomes moot. Soon it's hard to imagine any other actor capable of bringing such stunning gifts to bear. A fine old play has been made compellingly new again.

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

What's New

http://www.aps.org/WN/WN04/wn080604.cfm

COLD FUSION: JUST WHEN YOU THINK LIFE CAN'T GET ANY SILLIER.

The cover of Popular Mechanics for August warns that "Cold Fusion Technology Enables Anyone To Build A Nuke From Commonly Available Materials." A nuke? The cold fusion guys can't brew a cup of tea. The article: "Dangerous Science" is by Jim Wilson, whose cover story in April proclaimed the dawn of the age of atomic aircraft powered by hafnium-178 isomer reactors, which don't exist and never will http://www.aps.org/WN/WN04/wn041604.cfm. OK, so grownups aren't supposed to read Popular Mechanics, but if the cold fusion faithful think they're going to get a cover story in Time, get over it. DOE recently announced that cold fusion research will be reviewed, and believers imagined they'd been vindicated http://www.aps.org/WN/WN04/wn040204.cfm. Wilson says Eugene Mallove of Infinite Energy Magazine assured him that the experimental evidence for cold fusion is too compelling for DOE to ignore. Mallove couldn't be reached for comment.

Editor's note: We recorded the death by homicide of cold fusion proponent Eugene Mallove previously in the Skeptical News.
http://www.ntskeptics.org/news/news2004-05-21.htm#mallove

COINCIDENCE: IS YOUR RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR SPEAKING ARABIC?

If it is, you may want to take cover, or seek professional help. In the August issue of Psychology Today, parapsychologist Dean Radin is quoted as claiming random number generators (RNGs) were uncharacteristically coherent in the hours just before the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and again before Madrid. Coincidences like that don't just happen; "events with worldwide impact focus consciousness and that influences the functioning of machines." Radin heads the Global Consciousness Project, with 75 totally deluded researchers around the world monitoring RNGs to see if they predict terrorist attacks. Are RNGs the only machines that act up? What about elevators and missile launchers? This is scary. No, not the machines, the fact that there are that many researchers that haven't got a clue about how things are, and people with money willing to fund them.

Spirits enlisted to find missing men

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/25/1090693830088.html?from=storylhs

Malaysian authorities have enlisted the help of witch doctors in a bid to find seven people who went missing after their helicopter was feared to have crashed in the Borneo jungles nearly two weeks ago.

The Sunday Star said several mediums and local witch doctors have been granted access to Bario, a remote village in eastern Sarawak state, to give their "interpretations and readings" to locate the aircraft and the men.

Local people believe spirits of the dead inhabit the interior jungles and can be tapped through rituals to help locate the seven men, the newspaper said.

"Some of them who said they have supernatural powers have pointed out certain locations where the missing people could be found," Sarawak deputy chief minister George Chan was quoted as saying.

"We do not dismiss their claims. We will use all available resources and explore all possibilities."

Two Australian infra-red experts were enlisted a week earlier in the search and rescue mission and Chan said some 1,000 ground troops as well as aerial teams would continue to comb the areas surrounding Bario and other possible sites.

<>The helicopter lost contact with air traffic control shortly after noon on July 12 in the Sarawak highlands.

It was carrying five government officials, including an assistant minister of eastern Sarawak state, and Sarawak Electricity Supply Corp chief executive Roger Wong Hwa Puang and a pilot.


Friday, August 06, 2004

Chupacabra? Strange Animal Found in Elmendorf

LAST UPDATE: 7/30/2004 10:47:32 PM
Posted By: Walker Robinson

http://www.woai.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=FAE91F84-A264-4AC3-8EA4-9097690CDEFC

A rancher in Elmendorf, southeast of San Antonio, found a strange creature attacking his livestock, and local animal experts say identifying it is a tough call.

Devin Macanally says he has lived on his ranch for 15 years and has never seen anything like it.

"It was eating mulberrys under a tree," he said.

It is a strange dog-looking creature with a blue color that he says began a killing spree. Devin first knew something was up when his chickens started disappearing. At one point, 35 were gone in just one day.

Macanally finally shot and killed the creature, and he was blown away at what he saw.

"First thing that came to my mind, is surely everybody's gonna think this is a chupacabra," he laughed. "But it's so odd because it has no hair."

At the nearby Deleon's Grocery and Market, customers come in to check out pictures of it. One woman says it is exactly how her grandmother described the dreaded chupacabra.

People at the San Antonio Zoo say they have not seen anything like it. Terry DeRosa with the zoo says at a feather-light 20 pounds, he thinks it might be a wild mexican dog.

"It may be one of the hairless dogs that perhaps you see in Mexico," he said.

Devin says he would like to know for sure. He says he is hoping someone can help identify it, possibly by DNA.

Elmendorf Chupacabra Really A Deer?

http://woai.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=A8436E17-3306-4B96-99E2-5F9B5543A794

LAST UPDATE: 7/31/2004 6:33:29 AM
Posted By: Angela Becerra

The great debate continues over a strange animal shot and killed by a farmer in Elmendorf. A San Antonio hunting guide says he has the answer.

The animal found in Elmendorf has fangs and is somewhat blue in color. It's hairless except for a strip going down its back, so some say it possibly suffered from some kind of mange. Rancher Devin Macanally says the animal had attacked dozens of his chickens.

Some experts believe it's a sort of wild Mexican dog.

But hunting guide E.T. Hughey says he's sure it's a Muntjac (MOONT-jac) deer -- a small antelope-type animal.

He says some South Texas ranchers import them, and turn them loose on their property.

But others have speculated that the "Elmendorf beast" is some kind of canine. Still others believe it's the chupacabra -- an animal of Mexican folklore, said to kill farm animals.

We here at News 4 WOAI have done a little digging around on the world wide web, and have uncovered some interesting facts.

According to the Rolling Hills Zoo in Kansas, "as Muntjacs mature, the upper canine teeth are elongated into 'tusks' that curve outward from the lips." Also, "Muntjac deer are sometimes known as the 'barking deer' because they will emit a barking sound to warn others of predators and to identify individuals." Some interesting canine comparisons.

Concerning the dead chickens at the Elmendorf farm, Muntjac deer are actually herbivores. But remember, Mcanally says he found the creature eating mulberries. And a British web site says the deer are very territorial, using their canine "tusk" teeth on intruders, to inflict "serious injuries... to their flanks, neck and ears." Perceived chicken intruders, perhaps?

But there are some questions to ask about the deer theory. On the web sites we searched, the pictures of Muntjac deer don't indicate a long tail. The pictures from Elmendorf show that creature's tail is quite long, almost rat-like. Also, Muntjacs, just like other deer, have split hoofs. It's hard to tell from the pictures if our strange animal had hooves, or some kind of paw. We haven't gotten a chance to ask Mcanally yet.

Of course all of these are just theories at this point. No one has done any testing on the "Elmendorf beast."

Herbal medicine significantly inhibited the growth of gastric tumor, pharmacological study

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=11560

02 Aug 2004

More than one-third of US adults use some form of alternative medicine such as herbal supplements and other therapies, showed in a nationwide survey by NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine published in May 2004. While it might be relatively new in Western countries, herbal medicine, also know as Chinese medicine in China, has long been used for many centuries as a major form of medicine for disease treatment in China and other Asian countries. However, the mechanisms of how exactly herbal medicine fighting against diseases and its pharmacological/immunologic effect are not fully and well understood.

A team of researchers in University of Hong Kong has been studying a kind of herbal medicine in gastric cancer with very low systemic toxicity. This herbal medicine, called CKBM, is a combination of herbs and yeasts including Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra chinensis), Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Hawthorn (Fructus Crataegi), Jujube (Ziziphus jujube), Soybean (Glycine Max) and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast).

The herbal medicine has demonstrated being capable of improving immune responsiveness through the induction of cytokine mediators, such as TNF-a and IL-6. In this study, the researchers investigated the effect of CKBM on gastric cancer growth in nude mice using a human xenograft model. Gastric cancer tissues (1.5 mm3) were implanted subcutaneously into the right dorsal area of mice. Ten days after implantation, animals were randomized into treatment groups fed with various doses of CKBM intragastrically daily for 14 and 28 days and untreated group.

Results showed that CKBM significantly inhibited the growth of gastric tumor in nude mice.

The efficacy of CKBM exhibited a dose-dependent manner in this ex-vivo model during the 28-day experimental period and exerted the inhibitory action as early as 21 days after drug treatment.

The effective doses of CKBM were found to be 0.4 and 0.8 ml/mouse, which significantly reduced the number of PCNA-positive cells and increased the apoptotic cells in the tumor tissues. In contrast, CKBM did not affect angiogenesis at the time when it inhibited tumor growth, although it increased with time along with tumor development in the control group.

These findings implicated that CKBM suppressed gastric cancer growth specifically through the reduction of cell proliferation and promotion of apoptosis in this model, and provides future potential targets of this drug candidate on cancer therapy. Further clinical trials in humans are needed to examine the pharmacokinetics and the therapeutic action of CKBM on cancer patients.

The paper was published in International Journal of Medical Sciences, 2004 1(3): 137-145.

Full paper is available for download in: http://www.medsci.org/v1/i3/cho.pdf

On other fronts, a group of researchers headed by Dr Luis Vitetta, Director of Research at Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, and Professor Avni Sali in Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia is currently conducting a clinical trial to evaluate the effect of CKBM in participants with HIV/AIDS. CKBM is safe in the sense that all constituents of the herbal supplement are currently available as over the counter herbal preparations in Australia.

Author contact: Prof. C.H. Cho, Chair Professor of Pharmacology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. Tel: (852) 2819 9252, Fax: (852) 2817 0859, Email: chcho@hkusua.hku.hk

~ Int. J. Med. Sci. press release
~ http://www.medsci.org

International Journal of Medical Sciences, 2004 1(3): 137-145

New book identifies Ireland as Atlantis

http://212.2.162.45/news/story.asp?j=113014362&p=yy3xy5x68&n=113015122

04/08/2004 - 10:21:27

A new book investigating the myth of Atlantis says that the mythical land was actually the island of Ireland.

The claim is made by geologist Ulf Erlingsson in his book 'Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land', who is to visit Ireland on August 11 to 13.

In his book Erlingsson bases his evidence on Plato's desription of Atlantis which, according to Erlinsson, matches Ireland perfectly. Statistically, the scientist claims, the probability is over 99.98% that Plato was describing Ireland.

Erlingsson says: "Just like Atlantis, Ireland is 300 miles long, 200 miles wide, and widest over the middle. They both feature a central plain that is open to the sea, but fringed by mountains. No other island on earth even comes close to this description."

"What has led most students astray is that Atlantis sank in the sea", says Dr Erlingsson.

"It is an 'Atlantic myth' all right – but a myth from, not about, Atlantis".

"The island that sank was Dogger Bank. It was struck by a disastrous flood-wave around 6,100 BC, and now rests deep under the waves of the North Sea."

In the book, Dr Erlingsson shows how the Atlantic Empire probably can be associated with the megalithic monuments of Europe and Northern Africa. Their geographic distribution matches the extent of the Atlantic Empire as Plato described it.

The Atlantean capital can be connected with Tara, the legendary seat of the high king of Ireland.

The temples of Poseidon and the ancestors match up well with the so-called passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth, in the Boyne valley.

They are the oldest roofed buildings anywhere in the world.

Ulf Erlingsson has a Ph.D. in Physical Geography from Uppsala University.

His specialty is geological processes, under-water research, and natural disasters—.

© Thomas Crosbie Media, 2004.

'Baby Whisperer' put to the test

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/womenfamily.html?in_article_id=312777&in_page_id=1799&in_a_source=

by LISA SEWARDS, Daily Mail 11:53am 4th August 2004

Can the 'Baby Whisperer' really read minds?

Though it may sound like the basis for a bizarre science fiction story, so-called Baby Whisperer Derek Ogilvie claims he can tell you your infant's innermost secrets.

If his claims are true, they could open the way to an understanding of what very young children think and feel long before they are able to speak.

The stories of three women who put him to the test can be found below.

Derek, 39, from Paisley in Scotland, says he knew as a child that he was psychic, but chose never to discuss it.

"I used to feel messages, in the form of feelings and pictures, coming through from our next-door neighbour who had died. But I never told my parents or anyone else about it because it just wasn't the thing for a ten-year-old boy to talk about in the 1970s."

'Pivotal moment'

In the years that followed, Derek says he closed his mind to the spirit world. After leaving university, he opened a music shop and went on to develop a leisure company which, in 1996, owned a nightclub, a restaurant and three bars in Glasgow.

Four years later, however, the company went bankrupt, Derek's house was repossessed, his partner left him and his grandmother died - all in the space of two weeks.

"Before that happened, I was always moneyobsessed," he recalls. "I loved Italian designer clothes and expensive cars. But having my house repossessed was a pivotal moment. I'm convinced that the stress and shock of that period re-awakened my psychic abilities.

"Single again, and with no children, I felt stripped of the facade I had built around me. With my ego at an all-time low, instead of being obsessed about myself, I found I could get in touch with the spirit world.

"Visiting my friends in the summer of 2000, I suddenly found myself able to tell them what their grandparents and parents, who'd passed away, were saying."

It was at this point, Derek says, that he realised he had a natural gift which was not to be ignored. "Before then, I'd engulfed myself in materialism and was too consumed with myself and in my business to listen to the voices from the spirit world," he says.

'Special gift'

"Soon after that, I heard my grandma's spirit telling me that I should make people understand about my psychic abilities, and I began working as a medium."

Derek claims that it was during visits to clients' homes that he realised his special gift for communicating with young children. "I found that their children would start speaking to me psychically, giving me messages about what they were thinking and feeling.

"The babies send me messages in the form of pictures or feelings which I can then interpret for their parents. It means I can help with things like sleeping or feeding problems, or what may be upsetting them, or simply reveal what they like to do best.

"I often draw out the images on the piece of paper and make sense of them. Some of the things children show me in pictures, others in the feeling of a pain in a certain part of my body, or simply a feeling of joy coming from the baby.

"Of course, being babies, they often don't understand the concept of certain images or situations they are showing me. But they, too, have their own psychic abilities and are able to pick up on much from their parents - from their thoughts and emotions - and show me in terms of a picture or a feeling.

"On the other hand, I've also come across many babies who are not so talkative. In these cases, they can be extremely loyal to their parents, and block pictures and emotions from me where there is a matter which they, or their parents, wouldn't wish to be known outside the family."

Read the verdict on Derek from three sceptical judges:

Laura: After 20 minutes, my cynicism began to melt

Victoria: Derek picked up on past and present

Shelley: I learnt an awful lot about my baby

Derek Ogilvie can be contacted on 07949 449363 or by e-mail at derekogilvie@aol.com

Laura: 'After 20 minutes, my cynicism began to melt'

by LISA SEWARDS, Daily Mail

12:26pm 4th August 2004

Laura, 37, a PR executive, and her husband Stephen, 44, a computer engineer, live in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, with their children Ben, eight, Luke, six, and twins Joseph and Georgia, 20 months.

"When I was asked to meet Derek Ogilvie, the so- called Baby Whisperer, I was both curious and somewhat sceptical. Would he really be able to communicate with my twins?

"I thought Joe might be receptive, but Georgia doesn't suffer fools gladly, so I wasn't surprised when Derek announced, on his arrival at my friend's house in London, that she wasn't going to talk to him.

"With Georgia playing upstairs, we began our session with Joe. Derek has this unnerving stare and an accusatory pointing finger when he's picked up on something and I found it hard to relax. He sat close to Joe and watched him intently while he was playing and chatting, though there was no eye contact.

"There was a bit of pacing, a furrowed brow, and then suddenly words began pouring out, totally at random, it seemed - though he did appear to be tuning in to Joe."

'Specific details'

"I hear sirens, police or fire engines and a flashing light. He needs it; is it here?," he started saying.

"This turned out to be a reference to Joe's toy phone, which plays endless loud noises and has a flashing light. It wasn't in the room when Derek said this, so that did make me sit up a bit.

"During the next 20 minutes or so, my cynicism began to melt. There were a few general observations which could have applied to anyone, but most of what Derek said Joe was thinking related to events and things in my life.

"Derek maintains that Joe was doing all of the communicating, and that Georgia's way was to relay her messages through Joe. She certainly made her views known about a toenail that I'd cut too close to her skin and made bleed.

"Four comments and a scribbled drawing finally convinced me that something amazing was going on. The first observation was that Georgia liked to twist and turn something silver on my hand or wrist. In fact, she does this with my engagement ring.

Dispelling scepticism

"The second was an image of cracked glass. My car windscreen has a rather large and growing crack in it. The third was a rather accurate description of my middle son and his foibles, including being constantly reminded to use his knife and fork properly.

"The fourth was that I had slipped on paving slabs and hurt my foot - which I had the previous week.

"The way Derek relayed these ordinary yet incredibly specific details - fluently and in no particular order - did convince me he was communicating with Joe and Georgia in some way.

"I tried to rationalise it and find a flaw, but the drawing went a long way to dispel my scepticism.

"Derek mentioned a silver vessel that Joe wanted to get hold of but which was out of reach. The day before, I had put some tulips in a silver vase and put them high on a window ledge. Derek drew a picture of the vase - an exact copy even down to the detail on the front of it.

"I think I expected Derek to tell me more about the twins themselves and their experiences, but in reality I got a picture of fragments of our family life and what they tune into.

"I think I've now got a better understanding of how the twins are feeling - though I'm not sure I'd want to go too much further.

Victoria: Derek picked up on past and present

12:40pm 4th August 2004

Victoria Switzman, 37, lives in North London with her husband Steve, 39, a marketing director, and their children Natasha, 11, Alec, seven, and Sebastian, 11 months. She says:

"When he met Sebastian, Derek seemed to pick up on some very poignant things in my life - both past and present - as well as the everyday detail.

"He said I was still devastated by an emotional trauma, which is true, and that Sebastian felt his birth had brought the trauma more to the surface.

"He then said Sebastian had a name which had been used before. This confused me at first, but I later realised exactly what he meant.

Traumatic past

"He established that I had another son and asked if he could walk and if he could see. I said yes, but Derek was adamant there was a boy who couldn't walk or see, and added that there was something wrong with his brain.

"He then drew two stick men with a line between them and said: 'I'm seeing two boys and then this emotional block, which is horrendous.'

"Then he asked me if Alec had another brother.

"I told him that I'd had a 14-month- old son, Lucas, and he asked to see him. When I said that he couldn't, Derek realised he'd died. In fact, Lucas died of a rare brain disorder and hadn't been able to walk or see. And we named Sebastian as Sebastian Lucas after his brother.

"Derek was then able to gather from Sebastian that we hadn't buried Lucas, and he drew a cylinder and bars behind it. It was an exact picture of the wooden pot I keep Lucas's ashes in.

"I suddenly realised that the bars must be the bars of his cot in a photograph which stands directly behind the pot in our bedroom, and the image Derek had drawn must be the one which Sebastian sees every day.

"Derek said Sebastian told him that he got very distressed when I thought or talked about Lucas. He said that Sebastian was here to heal - which I guess he is. He's right that his birth has brought lots of deeply-held grief to the surface for me.

'I was moved'

"On A lighter note, he said Sebastian told him he had a favourite T-shirt, with a picture on the back and writing on the front, and that he always wears this with the same little blue shoes. I knew immediately which T- shirt he was referring to. It was so funny to know that he loves this outfit.

"He then went through a catalogue of all the problems I've had with my car recently - all of them spot on. He also said Sebastian was aware I've recently changed my journey on the school run, and drew a diagram of how it had changed, which was exactly right.

"Interestingly, Derek picked up from Sebastian the importance of his maternal grandfather in his life. It was uncanny when he described a man who collects envelopes with no stamps. My father is an avid collector of "covers" - envelopes without stamps as they are sent through different ports. It's an extremely unusual thing to collect.

"Derek also told me about how my daughter Natasha's ear-piercing went wrong, which was absolutely true as the ear gun became stuck.

"This was about seven years ago, but it was mortifying and she was left quite traumatised by it. That comment suggested Derek was also able to get some messages from my memory.

"Overall, I was moved by many of the things Derek picked up on, and amazed by the detail.

"The greatest lesson I've taken from it is that I must try to move my life on and not dwell on the traumas of the past - for Sebastian's sake as well as my own.

Shelley: I learnt an awful lot about my baby

12:35pm 4th August 2004

Shelley Usher, 24, a children's nanny, is married to Vince Murray, 31, a store manager. They live in Bedfordshire with their son Leo, 11 months. Shelley says:

"Though I was sceptical before I met Derek, I have to admit to being amazed. I learnt an awful lot about myself and my baby.

"We met in a local hotel, but it soon became obvious that Derek had a clear picture of Leo's world at home.

"As Leo sat in his buggy looking at Derek, who was cooing back at him, the first thing Derek did was to draw a picture of the magazine rack in our living room, absolutely precisely. It's an unusual design and is one of Leo's favourite things to play with - so much so that it often gets him into trouble.

"It then came as quite a shock when Derek said Leo doesn't like sitting in his seat in the back of the car on his own. I've never thought this really bothered him, but it made sense the more I thought about it because I've noticed him grumbling when he has to sit there alone. It fits in with how his personality is developing, because he does seem to be a very sociable character.

'Uncanny'

"Derek also revealed that Leo doesn't like Vince or me talking about money in front of him, especially when we're driving. He said Leo was showing him a picture of a credit card and a wallet, and signalling that it distresses him.

"Recently, Vince and I have been concerned about money and these are often tense conversations, so I can see why.

"Derek picked up on the fact that Leo has two different bathtimes - which he says he doesn't like. When I'm working as a nanny and looking after two other boys, then it's 6.30pm; but on my days off it's around 8.30pm. I now bath Leo at the earlier time each day, and he does seem to settle better.

"He also said I'd changed Leo's bottles, which again was true. I'd changed his teats to fast flow as feeding was taking so long. Derek said that Leo was happy with this.

"There was one point when I started to get tearful. Derek revealed that Leo told him I'd been worrying that I was not a good enough mum and that I couldn't provide him with all the things I believe he should have in his life. He'd picked up on my changing emotions.

"Normally I'm good at hiding things, but he said Leo was very much aware that I was feeling vulnerable and was concerned that I should know that he loves me no matter what. I found this amazing, and it upset me because no one knows how I've been feeling - not even Vince.

"Derek also wrote down a date - the 26th - and said he felt I'd forgotten something important on this day and that Leo wasn't very impressed.

"This was uncanny. The 26th is my grandmother's birthday, and I did not have time to get her a present because Leo had had tonsilitis that week. I felt really guilty about it - especially as Leo is so close to his great-grandmother.

"He also picked up on the fact that Leo had been given £10 in a card, and that this was a particularly significant gift. It was completely true. Vince's mum did exactly this recently, and it was unusual because she never usually does things like that.

"Derek said Leo told him I'd been getting really bad pains in my arm, and stroked the place where the pain was. He said Leo felt the pain when I picked him up.

"Leo also wanted to know why Daddy sometimes has sweetener in his tea. It's because Vince is diabetic, and Derek was able to explain this to him.

"Since meeting Derek, I do see Leo in a different light. I find it incredible to think that this little soul knows my innermost feelings - and Derek convinced me he does.

Study shows dinosaur could fly

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/08/05/MNGC682OFU1.DTL

Winged creature had birdlike senses, fossil X-rays reveal

David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

Thursday, August 5, 2004

New evidence gathered from a major advance in X-ray imaging of fossils has established that the winged dinosaur called archaeopteryx could actually fly and had much the same sense of balance and sharp vision found in today's birds.

And while its senses were a bit more primitive than its modern evolutionary descendants, the pigeon-sized archaeopteryx was certainly well equipped to navigate over land and forests looking for distant prey, scientists say.

The evidence comes from a remarkable technology that allowed University of Texas researchers to scan in three dimensions deep inside the brain case of the priceless 247-million-year-old fossil dinosaur and reveal the workings of its most critical sense organs.

The technique -- somewhat similar to computerized CAT scans that doctors use to examine the brains and bodies of their patients -- has resulted in the first complete 3-D models of the interior of the ancestral bird's brain, and an equally detailed cast of its inner ear.

Although both casts together are no larger than the end of a human's little finger, they have been enlarged sevenfold to reveal minute details of the animal's crucial sensory system, according to Timothy B. Rowe, a Texas paleontologist who studies the evolution of vertebrate animals.

Rowe, along with Angela Millner, the fossil's curator at the British Museum, and their colleagues are publishing the results of their work in today's issue of the journal Nature.

The 1861 discovery of seven weird birdlike fossils -- later named archaeopteryx -- in a Bavarian limestone quarry touched off a huge scientific and popular uproar in Europe because Darwin's "Origin of Species" had just been published, and the mysterious origins of flight swiftly rivaled apes in the outcry over evolution.

Ever since then, some scientists have doubted that archaeopteryx could even fly at all.

But Kevin Padian, a noted dinosaur expert at UC Berkeley, said the report by Rowe's group clearly confirms for the first time that the feathered member of the dinosaur tribe could really fly. "It may not have been a strong flier, but clearly it was a flier," Padian said in an interview.

"Small as it was, its brain was substantially bigger than a dinosaur brain, and the structure of the brain, its optic lobes and its sensory-motor lobes also show that it clearly was not stupid -- so the term bird-brain should be a compliment for anybody," Padian said.

To apply the new 3-D scanning technology to the study of archaeopteryx, Rowe and his colleagues received a National Science Foundation grant to bring Millner and the British Museum's tiny fossilized archaeopteryx brain to Rowe's laboratory in Austin. Millner carried the priceless bit of stone aboard a plane wrapped in tissue and encased in a box hidden in her shirt pocket, Rowe recalled in an interview.

The entire body of the fossil, feathers and all, is known as the London Specimen. It is by far the best-preserved of all the archaeopteryx specimens ever found, and its tiny brain and inner ear are so precious, Rowe said, "that I hardly dared hold it because it was so much like handling some sacred object. "

Like standard medical computer tomography scanning, Rowe's X-ray device took images of 1,300 "slices" of the fossil bones and assembled them into one 3-D image. It then enlarged and printed the image with a device much like a standard ink-jet printer but which sprayed out 1,300 jets of wax instead of ink until, layer by layer, it built up a full wax model of the fossil with every detail intact.

The images clearly show the bone structures that in life contained the bird's eye sockets, its blood vessels and the canals of its inner ear where its sense of balance kept its flight stabilized as it navigated from side to side and soared, Rowe said.

By reconstructing the interior of the fossil's brain case in such detail for the first time, Rowe and his colleagues said, they were able to determine the volume, weight and form of the long-vanished soft tissue inside the animal's skull. Details of its inner ear also reveal how well archaeopteryx could hear, they said.

"Both an aerodynamic wing and a powerful central nervous system are integral to powered flight," the scientists concluded in their report -- and from their fresh evidence archaeopteryx certainly had both, Rowe said.

Rowe's laboratory now maintains an entire computer library called Digimorph containing hundreds of 3-D images of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and even dinosaurs, both common and obscure. It is accessible on the library's public Web site at www.digimorph.org.

E-mail David Perlman at dperlman@sfchronicle.com.

KENNEWICK MAN BATTLE

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hskin033916414aug03,0,4634537.story

Digging up new lawsuit
As anthropologists gain confidence the 8-year fight to study skeleton is over, a new hurdle emerges

LOS ANGELES TIMES

August 3, 2004

SEATTLE - For a few days last week, the United States' top forensic anthropologists thought they were finally going to get their chance to study Kennewick Man.

The eight-year legal battle regarding the 9,300-year-old bones, one of the oldest skeletons found in North America, appeared finished after five Northwest Indian tribes decided not to pursue their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The tribes claimed Kennewick Man was an ancestor and should not be desecrated by study.

Two courts ruled in favor of the eight plaintiff scientists who believe the bones - discovered in 1996 along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash. - could yield insights on the earliest inhabitants of the Americas. The skeleton was found to have some Caucasian features, suggesting groups other than Asians may have migrated to the continents thousands of years ago.

But soon after the scientists' apparent victory, a new legal obstacle emerged late last week, this time from the federal government.

New litigation possible

The Army Corps of Engineers, which has custody of the skeleton and which sided early on with the tribes, has objected to so many aspects of the scientists' study plan that new litigation is probable, according to the scientists' attorney.

The earlier battles focused on whether Kennewick should be subjected to scientific study. The new battle will be about how his bones will be studied.

"This case is long from over," said Alan Schneider, a Portland, Ore., lawyer representing the anthropologists. Schneider said the government is using the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, which empowers the owners of archaeological finds, to hinder the scientists' plan of study.

Schneider predicts that he will have to go to court "to compel the government" to hand over the skeleton. "That seems to be the direction we're heading." Jennifer Richman, an attorney for the Army Corps of Engineers in Portland, would say only that the scientists' plan was "subject to reasonable terms and conditions."

The tribes also want to have a say in how the bones are studied, hoping to minimize "destruction of tissue" and the "desecration of the remains," said Debra Croswell, a spokeswoman for the 2,500-member Umatilla Tribe in Oregon.

Along with the Umatilla, the Nez Perce, Yakama, Colville and Wanapum tribes also claim Kennewick Man as an ancestor. The tribes refer to the skeleton as "the Ancient One."

But a U.S. District Court in Portland and later a federal appellate court said the tribes failed to prove an ancestral link to the skeleton. The deadline to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court was July 19.

What's at stake

Kennewick, made up of more than 350 bones, is being kept at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.

Scientists believe the bones belonged to a man who stood about 5-foot-9, suffered a severe spear wound to his hip, and was 40 to 50 years old when he died. The man, according to one reconstruction, had more angular facial features than those typically associated with American Indians.

The skull resembled those of Polynesians or the Ainu, the original inhabitants of Japan, whose features were more Caucasoid, scientists say.

The discovery caused a stir, not just among tribes, whose identity as the continents' "original" inhabitants seemed jeopardized, but also among scientists whose long-standing theory on how the Americas were populated was turned on its head.

As recently as the mid-1990s, the prevailing theory was that North and South America were first populated by people from the Asian interior who crossed the Bering land bridge about 11,000 years ago.

Kennewick Man and the recent discoveries of ancient skeletons in South America seem to suggest that the continents were populated by several waves of early migrants who used different routes.

George Gill, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Wyoming and one of the plaintiffs in the Kennewick Man case, said evidence indicates that seafaring people from Southeast Asia or Polynesia could have reached the Americas by traveling along the Pacific Rim, landing somewhere in what is now South America. He said an ancient European people could also have reached the northeast corner of North America.

To believe that the early inhabitants of the Americas all came from the same place "has always seemed a little too simple for me," Gill said. American Indians, he said, show a remarkable variety of physical features. And differences in tools, artifacts and cultural practices between tribes also suggest different origins.

Most of the "new thinking" on how the Americas were populated has not reached the public yet, remaining in the domain of a small group of scientists. Gill said this is partly because the discoveries are coming so quickly, and the theories changing so rapidly, that scientists can barely keep up.

A decade or two from now, he said, the scientific community will likely have a radically different view on the "original" inhabitants of the Americas.

"Most of us in this line of plaintiffs already have gray hair," Gill said. "The way it's going, we may not be around long enough."

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

Scales of state school board tipped again

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=12620638&BRD=1459&PAG=461&dept_id=155725&rfi=6

By: Elaine Bessier, Sun Staff Writer August 05, 2004

The conservative-moderate scales of the state board of education have tipped back in favor of the conservatives as a result of Tuesday's primary elections. Half of the 10 board members are up for re-election every two years.

In District 6, Kathy Martin, a conservative Republican and retired science teacher from Clay Center, defeated moderate incumbent Bruce Wyatt of Salina by a vote of 22,432 (61 percent) to 14,393 (39 percent), according to unofficial returns on Wednesday. Martin will have no opponent in the November election and will return the board to a 6-4 majority for the conservatives.

In District 10, incumbent Steve Abrams, a conservative Republican from Arkansas City, defeated challenger Tim Aiken, a moderate from Derby, by a vote of 11,969 (53 percent) to 10,721 (47 percent).

Incumbent Bill Wagnon, a moderate Democrat from Topeka, was unopposed in his primary bid for the District 4 seat but will face Republican Robert Meissner of Topeka in November. Meissner has not yet shared his political philosophy.

Moderate Republicans Sue Gamble of Shawnee and Carol Rupe of Wichita were unchallenged.

The board has had a 5-to-5 split between moderates and conservatives for the last two years. Prior to that, the moderates enjoyed a 6-to-4 majority, during which time they overturned science standards that de-emphasized evolution. Those standards were adopted in 1999 by a conservative majority.

Martin said Wednesday that the voters saw her as a good candidate because of her 30 years of experience as a public school teacher. In her campaign materials, she said she "supported the board's decision in 1999 and still does. I support academic freedom in the science classroom and will work to prevent academic censorship."

She also advocates no tax increase for education and opting out of the No Child Left Behind law if the costs outweigh the benefits.

On Wednesday, Martin said she would "stand behind the science standards which are currently being reworded by a standards writing committee. There are other theories on the origins of life being included," she said. "We should be taking a critical look at the evidence for all theories of origin, including both evolution and intelligent design."

Martin said she thinks the new board is going to "be able to work together better."

Gamble said she was disappointed by Wyatt's defeat and would miss him on the board. "Now, the board has too many teachers," she said, counting five educators on the board. "I believe the board of education should come from a broad background."

"There will be some inclusion of intelligent design at the very least in the new science standards," Gamble predicted. "But we're going to go forward and make it work."

©The Johnson County Sun 2004

Greenhouse Gases, Not Solar Activity, Cause of Global Warming

KATLENBURG-LINDAU, Germany, August 3, 2004 (ENS) - Solar activity affects the climate but plays only a minor role in the current global warming, a German-Finnish team of scientists has found.

Since the middle of the last century, the Sun has been in a phase of unusually high activity, shown by frequent occurrences of sunspots, gas eruptions, and radiation storms.

The influence of the Sun on the Earth was believed to be one cause of the global warming observed since 1900, along with the emission of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the combustion of coal, gas, and oil.

But Professor Sami Solanki, solar physicist and director at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, is not convinced that the increased activity of the Sun is responsible for global warming.

He says that based on his team's research, the Sun can be responsible for, at most, only a small part of the warming over the last 20 to 30 years.

"Just how large this role is, must still be investigated," he says, "since, according to our latest knowledge on the variations of the solar magnetic field, the significant increase in the Earth's temperature since 1980 is indeed to be ascribed to the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide."

Solanki and other researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and at the University of Oulu in Finland reconstructed solar activity based on sunspot frequency since 850 AD.

They found that since 1940 the mean sunspot number is higher than it has ever been in the last thousand years and 2.5 times higher than the long term average, as they report in the scientific journal, "Physical Review Letters."

Then they combined historical sunspot records with measurements of the frequency of radioactive isotopes in ice cores from Greenland and the Antarctic.

In addition, the MPS scientists took the measured and calculated variations in the solar brightness over the last 150 years and compared them to the temperature of the Earth.

"Although the changes in the two values tend to follow each other for roughly the first 120 years, the Earth's temperature has risen dramatically in the last 30 years while the solar brightness has not appreciably increased in this time," they said.

The Sun affects Earth's climate through several physical processes. For one thing, the Sun's total radiation, particularly that in the ultraviolet range, varies with solar activity.

When many sunspots are visible, the Sun is somewhat brighter than in "quiet" times and radiates considerably more in the ultraviolet, the MPS scientists say.

On the other hand, the cosmic ray intensity entering the Earth's atmosphere varies opposite to the solar activity, since the cosmic ray particles are deflected by the Sun's magnetic field to a greater or lesser degree.

A model proposed by Danish researchers that has attracted much attention from solar and climate scientists says that the ions produced by cosmic rays act as condensation nuclei for larger suspension particles and so contribute to cloud formation.

With increased solar activity, and stronger magnetic fields, the Danish model shows, the cosmic ray intensity decreases, and with it the amount of cloud coverage, resulting in a rise of temperatures on the Earth. Conversely, a reduction in solar activity produces lower temperatures.

To check this idea, Dr. Solanki and fellow MPS scientist Natalie Krivova calculated the Sun's main parameters affecting climate for the last 150 years using current measurements and the newest models.

The calculated the total radiation, the ultraviolet output, and the Sun's magnetic field, which modulates the cosmic ray intensity.

They came to the conclusion that the variations on the Sun run parallel to climate changes for most of that time, indicating that the Sun has indeed influenced the climate in the past. Just how large this influence is, is subject to further investigation.

However, they said, "since about 1980, while the total solar radiation, its ultraviolet component, and the cosmic ray intensity all exhibit the 11-year solar periodicity, there has otherwise been no significant increase in their values. In contrast, the Earth has warmed up considerably within this time period. This means that the Sun is not the cause of the present global warming."

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2004/2004-08-03-03.asp

DISCOURAGING NEWS FROM KANSAS

With the results of the August 3, 2004, primary election, the balance of power on the Kansas Board of Education is likely to tilt in favor of anti-evolutionists for the first time since 1999, when the board voted to de-emphasize evolution in the state's science standards. The board is presently split 5-5 between supporters and opponents of evolution education.

In District 6, Kathy Martin defeated incumbent Bruce Wyatt to become the Republican candidate. On July 11, during a candidates' forum, Martin said that evolution should be taught as a theory and alongside alternative theories such as "intelligent design," which she described as "accepted by professors around the US." Noting that evolution was the consensus view among scientists, Wyatt warned that changes to the standards such as those proposed by Martin would compromise the academic standards of Kansas's schools: the state's schools should "keep the science in science."

In District 10, incumbent Steve Abrams, who submitted a creationist-written version of the standards to his colleagues in 1999, defeated Tim Aiken, who reportedly supported keeping the present standards as they are, to become the Republican candidate. In Districts 2 and 8, moderate Republican incumbents Sue Gamble and Carol Rupe, supporters of evolution education, ran unopposed, apparently because their would-be conservative Republican rivals missed a filing deadline by seconds.

Martin, Abrams, Gamble, and Rupe are running unopposed in the general election. The only contested seat will be in District 4, where incumbent Democrat Bill Wagnon, a supporter of evolution education, is running against Republican Robert Meissner, whose views on evolution education have not been reported.

It is thus likely that anti-evolutionists will have at least a 6-4 majority on the board, which will be reviewing a revision of the state science standards -- presently under development -- in 2005.

For further details, see the story in The Wichita Eagle: http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/local/9315092.htm

CORRECTION

In last week's obituary notice for Francis Crick, uracil was mistakenly substituted for guanine in the list of DNA bases. Thanks to Paul Kirby, Phil Parker, and Tom Morris for noticing.

As always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.

Sincerely,

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204
800-290-6006
branch@ncseweb.org
http://www.ncseweb.org

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available.


Thursday, August 05, 2004

George Bush's Religious Crusade Against Democracy: Fundamentalism as Cultural Politics

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Aug04/Giroux0804.htm

by Henry A. Giroux
www.dissidentvoice.org
August 4, 2004

Religion has always played a powerful role in the daily lives of Americans. But it has never wielded such influence in the highest levels of American government as it does under the Bush presidency. Moreover, the religious conservative movement that has come into political prominence with the election of George W. Bush views him as its earthly leader. As Washington Post staff writer Dana Milbank, puts it:

For the first time since religious conservatism became a modern political movement, the president of the United States has become the movement's de facto leader–a status even Ronald Reagan, though admired by religious conservatives, never earned. Christian publications, radio and television shower Bush with praise, while preachers from the pulpit treat his leadership as an act of providence. A procession of religious leaders who have met with him testify to his faith, while Web sites encourage people to fast and pray for the president. [1]

Considered the leader of the Christian right, Bush is viewed by many of his aides and followers as a leader with a higher purpose. Bush aide, Tim Goeglein, echoes this view: "I think President Bush is God's man at this hour, and I say this with a great sense of humility." [2] Ralph Reed, a long time crusader against divorce, single-parent family and abortion and current head of Georgia's Republican Party, assesses Bush's relationship with the Christian right in more sobering political terms. He argues that the role of the religious conservative movement has changed in that it is no longer on the outskirts of power since it has helped to elect leaders who believe in its cause. Referring to the new-found role of the religious right, he claims "You're no longer throwing rocks at the building; you're in the building." [3] Bush has not disappointed his radical evangelical Christian following.

Believing he is on a direct mission from God, President Bush openly celebrates the virtues of evangelical Christian morality, prays daily, and expresses his fervent belief in Christianity in both his rhetoric and policy choices. For example, while running as a presidential candidate in 2000, Bush proclaimed that his favorite philosopher was Jesus Christ. Further, in a speech in which he outlined the dangers posed by Iraq, he stated "We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history. May He guide us now." [4] Stephen Mansfield in his book, The Faith of George W. Bush, claims that Bush told James Robinson, a Texas preacher: "I feel like God wants me to run for president. I can't explain it, but I sense my country is gong to need me....I know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it." [5] Surrounded by born-again missionaries and with God, rather than the most basic tenets of American democracy providing a source of leadership, Bush has relentlessly developed policies based less on social needs than on a highly personal and narrowly moral sense of divine purpose. Using the privilege of executive action, he has aggressively attempted to evangelize the realm of social services. For example, he has made available to a greater extent than any other president more federal funds to Christian religious groups that provide a range of social services. He has also eased the rules "for overtly religious institutions to access $20-billion in federal social service grants and another $8-billion in Housing and Urban Development money. Tax dollars can now be used to construct and renovate houses of worship as long as the funds are not used to build the principal room used for prayer, such as the sanctuary or chapel." [6] He also provided more than $60 billion in federal funds for faith-based initiatives organized by religious charitable groups. [7] Not all religious groups, however, receive equal founding. The lion's share of federal monies goes to Christian organizations, thus undermining, via state sanction of some religions over others, the very idea of religious freedom. In addition, he has promised that such agencies can get government funds "without being forced to change their character or compromise their mission." [8] This means that such organizations and groups can now get federal money even though they discriminate on religious grounds in their hiring practices. The two programs that Bush showcased during his January 2003 State of the Union speech both "use religious conversion as treatment." [9] Bush has also created an office in the White House entirely dedicated to providing assistance to faith-based organizations applying for federal funding. Moreover, Bush is using school voucher programs to enable private schools to receive public money, and refusing to fund schools that "interfere with or fail to accommodate prayer for bible study by teachers or students." [10] The Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, made it clear how he feels about the separation of church and state when he told a Baptist publication that he believed that schools should teach Christian values. When asked to resign by a number of critics, Paige refused and his office declined to clarify, if not repudiate, his suggestion that either public schools should teach Christian values or parents should take their kids out of such schools and send them to parochial schools. His office replied curtly: "The quotes are the quotes." [11] The Bush administration has also refused to sign a United Nations declaration on children's rights, unless it eliminates sexual health services such as providing teenage sex education in which contraception or reproductive rights are discussed. On the domestic front, Bush has passed legislation halting "late-term" abortion, tried to pass legislation stopping the distribution of the morning-after pill, and eliminated financial support for international charities that provide advice on abortion. Such measures not only call into question the traditional separation between church and state, they also undercut public services and provide a veneer of government legitimacy to religious-based organizations that prioritize religious conversion over modern scientific techniques. As Winnifred Sullivan, a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Divinity School puts it, the conservative evangelical proponents of the faith-based initiative "want government funds to go to the kinds of churches that regard conversion as part of your rehabilitation. It's a critique of secular professional social service standards." [12]

Unfortunately, Bush's religious fervor appears more indebted to the God of the Old Testament, the God who believes in an eye-for-an-eye, the God of vengeance and retribution. Hence Bush appears indifferent to the seeming contradiction between his claim to religious piety and his willingness as the governor of Texas to execute "more prisoners (152) than any governor in modern U.S. history." [13] Nor does he see the contradiction between upholding the word of God and imposing democracy on the largely Muslim population of Iraq through the rule of force and the barrel of a gun. Indeed, while Bush and his religious cohorts claim they are working to exercise great acts of charity, it appears that the poor are being punished and the only charity available is the handout being given to the rich. For instance, as funds were being distributed for faith-based initiatives, congress not only passed legislation that eliminated a child tax credit that would have benefited about 2 million children, it also agreed to a $350 billion tax cut for the rich while slashing domestic spending for programs that benefit the poor, elderly, and children

Bush is not the only one in his administration who combines evangelical morality with dubious ethical actions and undemocratic practices. Attorney General John Ashcroft, a Christian fundamentalist who holds morning-prayer sessions in his Washington office, added another layer to this type of religious fervor in February of 2002 when he told a crowd at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee that the freedoms Americans enjoy appear to have little to do with the men who wrote the US Constitution since such freedoms are made in Heaven. Ashcroft argues that, "We are a nation called to defend freedom–a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document but is our endowment from God." [14] Without any irony intended, Ashcroft further exhibited his rigid Christian morality by having the "Spirit of Justice" statue draped so as to cover up her marble breasts while at the same time he has violated the constitutional rights of thousands of Muslims and Arabs who since September 11, 2001 he has arrested, held in secret, and offered no legal recourse or access to their families. Such harsh treatment rooted in a Manichean notion of absolute good and evil represents more than an act of capricious justice, it also undermines "the presumption of innocence, as well as the constitutional rights to due process, to counsel, and to a speedy and public trial" and in legitimating such treatment, "the Bush administration has weakened these protections for all, citizens and aliens alike. In the process, it has tarnished American democracy." [15]

Behind the rhetoric of religious commitment is the reality of permanent war, the further immiseration of the poor, and the ongoing attacks on the notion of the secular state. There is also the force of intolerance and bigotry, the refusal to recognize the multiplicity of religious, political, linguistic, and cultural differences–those vast and diverse elements that constitute the democratic global sphere at its best. Hints of this bigotry are visible not only in the culture of fear and religious fundamentalism that shapes the world of Bush and Ashcroft, but also in those who serve them with unquestioning loyalty. This became clear when the national press revealed that a high-ranking Defense department official called the war on terrorism a Christian battle against Satan. Lt. General William Boykin, in his capacity as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, while standing in front of pictures of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Kim Jung II, asked the parishioners of the First Baptist church of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma the following question: "Why do they hate us?...The answer to that is because we are a Christian nation. We are hated because we are a nation of believers." He continued, "Our spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus." [16] For Boykin, the war being fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, maybe eventually at home against other non-believers, is a holy war. Boykin appears dead serious when claiming that other countries "have lost their morals, lost their values. But America is still a Christian nation." [17] This language is not merely the ranting of a religious fanatic; it is symptomatic of a deeper strain of intolerance and authoritarianism that is emerging in this country. It can be heard in the words of Reverend Jerry Falwell who claimed on the airwaves that the terrorist attack of 9/11 was the result of God's judgment on the secularizing of America. He stated: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians, the ACLU, People for the American Way–all of them who have tried to secularize America–I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'" [18] It can be heard in the diatribes of the founder of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, who argues that Islam is not a peaceful religion, and in the claims of many other Christian fundamentalists in America. The emergence of a government sanctioned religious fundamentalism has its counterpart in a political authoritarianism that not only undermines the most basic tenets of religious faith but also the democratic tenets of social justice and equality. Of course, this type of religious fundamentalism supported largely by politicians and evangelical missionaries who run to the prayer groups and Bible study cells sprouting up all over the Bush White House has little to do with genuine religion or spirituality. Those who believe that biblical creationism rather than evolution should be taught in the schools, or that the United States "must extend God's will of liberty for other countries, by force if necessary" [19] do not represent the prophetic traditions in Islam, Christianity, or Judaism. These traditions foster belief in a God who is giving and compassionate, who rejects secular policies that bankrupt the government in order to benefit the rich, or that produce laws that disadvantage the poor and impose more suffering on those already in need. It is a tradition espoused by the Reverend James Forbes Jr., head of the Riverside Church in New York City and captured in his assertion that "poverty is a weapon of mass destruction." [20] Joseph Hough, the head of Union Theological Seminary, speaks for many religious leaders when he argues that what passes as Christianity in the Bush administration is simply a form of political machination masquerading as religion, making a grab for power.

Apocalyptic Biblical prophesies fuel more than the likes of John Ashcroft, who opposes dancing on moral grounds, or David Hager, appointed by Bush to the FDA's Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, "who refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women (and believes the Bible is an antidote for premenstrual syndrome)," [21] they also fuel a world view in which immigrants, African-Americans, and others marked by differences in class, race, gender, and nationality are demonized, scapegoated, and subjected to acts of state violence. Such rhetoric and the policies it supports need to be recognized as a crisis of democracy itself. What progressives and others need to acknowledge is that the Bush administration's attempt to undo the separation between church and state is driven by a form of fundamentalism that both discredits democratic values, public goods, and critical citizenship and spawns an irrationality evident in the innumerable contradictions between its rhetoric of "compassionate conservative" religious commitment and its relentless grab for economic and political power-- an irrationality which has more in common with fascism than with any viable tradition of democratic rule.

Henry A. Giroux is the Global Television Network Chair Professor at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include: Take Back Higher Education: Race, Youth, and the Crisis of Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Palgrave, 2004); Public Spaces, Private Lives: Democracy Beyond 9-11 (Rowman and Littlefield 2003); The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear (Palgrave, 2003). He can be reached at: hag5@psu.edu.

* Special Thanks to Michael Alexander Pozo of The St. John's University Humanities Review for providing DV with this essay. Check out the SJU Humanities Review website to read more excellent articles and interviews.

Other Articles by Henry A. Giroux

* Higher Education is More Than a Corporate Logo * Authoritarianism's Footprint and the War Against Youth * Why Aren't Children Included in the Debates About the Impending U.S. War with Iraq?

REFERENCES

1. Dana Milibank, "Religious Right Finds Its Center in Oval Office," Washington Post (December 24, 2001), p. A02.

2. Cited in Milbank, op.cit. P. A02.

3. Cited in Milbank, op.cit. P. A02

4. Cited in Jill Lawrence, "Bush's Agenda Walks the Church-State Line," USA Today (January 29, 2003). Available on-line: www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-01-29-bush-religion_x.htm

5. See Stephen Mansfield, The Faith of George W. Bush (New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2003). Cited in Sydney H. Schanberg, "The Widening Crusade," The Village Voice (October 15-21, 2003). Available on-line: www.villagevoice.com.issues/0342/schanberg.phb

6. Robyn E. Blumner, "Religiosity as Social Policy," St. Petersburg Times (September 28, 2003). Available on-line: www.sptimes.com/2003/09/28/news_pf/Columns/religiosity_as_social.shtml

7. Cited in Paul Harris, "Bush Says God Chose Him to Lead His Nation," The Guardian (November 1, 2003). Available on-line: www.observer.co.uk. On the child tax credit see, Bob Herbert, "The Reverse Robin Hood," The New York Times (June 2, 2003), p. A17.

8. Joseph, L. Conn, "Faith-Based Fiat," Americans United for Separation of Church and State (January 2002). Available on-line: www.au.org/churchstate/cs01031.htm

9. Robyn E. Blumner, "Religiosity as Social Policy," St. Petersburg Times (September 28, 2003). Available on-line: www.sptimes.com/2003/09/28/news_pf/Columns/religiosity_as_social.shtml

10. Jonathan Turley, "Raze the Church/State Wall? Heaven Help Us!," Los Angeles Times (February 24, 2003). Available on-line: www.enrongate.com/news/index.asp?id=169632

11. Alan Cooperman, "Paige's Remarks on Religion in Schools Decried," Washington Post (April 9, 2003). Available on-line: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59692-2003Apr8.html

12. Robyn E. Blumner, "Religiosity as Social Policy," Ibid.

13. Graydon Carter, "The President? Go Figure," Vanity Fair (December 2003), p. 70.

14. John Ashcroft, "Remarks to National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville Tennessee on February 19, 2002. Text is distributed by the Department of State and is available on-line: http://usembassy-australia.state.gov/hyper/2002/0219/epf204.htm

15. Elizabeth Amon, "Name Withheld," Harper's Magazine (August 2003), p. 59.

16. Cited in William M. Arkin, "The Pentagon Unleashes a Holy Warrior," The Los Angeles Times (October 16, 2003).

17. Arkin, op.cit.

18. Cited from transcript from NOW with Bill Moyers (December 26, 2003). Available on-line: http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript248_full.html

19. Gary Wills, "With God On His Side," The New York Times Sunday Magazine (March 30, 2003), p. 26.

20. Cited from an interview with Reverend James Forbes, Jr. on NOW with Bill Moyers (December 26, 2003). Available on-line: http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript248_full.html

21. Heather Wokusch, "Make War Not Love: Abstinence, Aggression and the Bush White House," Common Dreams News Center (October 23, 2003). Available on-line: www.commondreams.org/views03/1026-01,htm.

Fortune-Tellers Safe from Police Crackdown

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=573&ncid=757&e=4&u=/nm/20040804/od_nm/life_fortunetellers_dc

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fortune-tellers of Los Angeles, relax. Your future is safe from unwanted government regulation. But you probably knew that anyway.

Los Angeles police commissioners on Tuesday rejected a proposal to regulate the fortune-telling industry by requiring soothsayers, Tarot card readers, psychics and the like to obtain government licenses.

The commission rejected the idea because issuing licenses would have the unintended effect of misleading consumers into believing that "these people are somehow qualified to practice their trade," Commissioner Rick Caruso said.

The proposed law, modeled after a similar ordinance adopted in San Francisco, was suggested by vice squad police who say they get about 50 complaints a year about tricks practiced by those who claim to consort with spirits.

The average loss per victim was $5,000 but the true number of shakedowns was not known because victims are sometimes too embarrassed to admit being taken, police said.

Unlike the San Francisco law, which bans fortune-tellers from performing certain tricks that require customers to hand over "cursed" money, the Los Angeles ordinance would have required those who traffic in the mystical for profit to get a license, and post their rates and complaint procedures.

The plan could also have had serious repercussions for those who rely on the powers of darkness -- soothsaying would have been banned from midnight to 7 a.m.

Conservatives lead school board races

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/9313701.htm

Posted on Wed, Aug. 04, 2004

By DIANE CARROLL The Kansas City Star

Conservatives appeared to be on their way to seizing control of the Kansas Board of Education on Tuesday as a retired teacher from Clay Center held a strong lead over a moderate incumbent from Salina.

With 379 of 440 precincts reporting, conservative Republican Kathy Martin of Clay Center was leading incumbent moderate Republican Bruce Wyatt of Salina. Martin had 60 percent of the vote to 40 percent for Wyatt. The winner faces no Democratic opponent in November so unless a write-in candidate joins the fray, the Tuesday's winner will hold the 6th District seat.

Martin, who could not be reached Tuesday night, said during the campaign that she supports teaching evolution and other theories of origin in science classes and opposes any plan that calls for a tax increase. Kansas does not have an underfunding problem in education, she said, but a funding-distribution problem.

In the only other contested race Tuesday, Republican Steve Abrams, an incumbent conservative from Arkansas City, beat Tim Aiken of Derby, a moderate Republican. With all of the 229 precincts counted, Abrams had 53 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Aiken. The winner in that race has no opponent in November either.

Board members serve four-year terms. Half of the 10 seats are up for re-election every two years. Five seats are up this year but no one challenged incumbent moderate Republicans Sue Gamble of Shawnee or Carol Rupe of Wichita.

The fifth race, to be decided in November, pits incumbent Democrat Bill Wagnon of Topeka against Republican challenger Robert Meissner of Topeka. Wagnon is part of the moderate block; Meissner has yet to share his views on the issues.

The balance of power on the board has been an issue since 1999, when conservatives succeeded in downplaying the teaching of evolution in science classes. Moderates reversed that stance after gaining control in the 2000 elections. The board came out of the 2002 elections with five conservative Republicans and a bloc of three moderate Republicans and two Democrats.

If Martin's lead holds, conservatives will have the sixth vote they need to influence the science standards, the history and government standards and other issues.

Wyatt and Aiken said during the campaign that the only theory of origin that should be taught in science classes is evolution. But Martin, a newcomer to politics, said she believes other theories of origin such as intelligent design should be taught as well. Intelligent design states natural laws and chance alone are not adequate to explain all natural phenomena but it does not identify a designer.

Abrams was a leader in the 1999 vote to downplay evolution. He said during the campaign that he would like to see some changes in the science standards but he declined to be specific.

The board next week is expected to talk again about the history and government standards. Abrams has proposed that the standards be changed to emphasize the study of Kansas and the United States.

To reach Diane Carroll, call

(816) 234-7704 or send e-mail to dcarroll@kcstar.com


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