Saturday, April 28, 2007

Une Semaine Plus Tard...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Holy Shit, Anticristo!

THREE Central American governments have banned a man claiming to be the Antichrist from entering their countries, outraged by his inflammatory preaching against the Catholic church and organised religion. El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have banned Jose de Jesus Miranda, who heads a cult-like movement with sermons televised from Miami to dozens of mostly Latin American nations and wants to join followers at a rally next week in Guatemala.

He has the number 666 identifying the Antichrist tattooed on his arm but says he is Jesus Christ reborn on earth, arguing Saint Paul's teachings show this is what Antichrist means. "The Pope should be ashamed," shouts Miranda in Spanish into a microphone. "He should wear pants like a man. He should tell the truth and stop teaching shit."

Carlos Cestero, Miranda's right-hand man, known as the 'Bishop as Bishops'... "These small nations are clearly puppets of the Catholic church," he said. Central America, especially Guatemala, has seen a surge in converts to a variety of Christian churches in recent decades...about 40 per cent of [Guatemala's] population now belongs to non-Catholic Christian churches.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Another Breakfast, Another Fallen Champion

I think death's a fine idea. I'm not suicidal but I wouldn't mind being dead.
It's a profound sense of loss, this announcement of the death of June Callwood. As a political activist, mother and journalist her contributions to Canada’s intellectual fabric, its sense of justice and its political discourse have been profound. Her energetic inspiration will be irreplaceable. My thoughts are with her family, and really all of us, today. They don't build 'em like that anymore.
She requested no funeral or fuss in her memory during that last interview on CBC last month. So instead how about a quick public thank you for her lifelong commitment to defending universal human rights. For her implacable energy, for her sense of equality and for her skeptical pragmatism in that last interview when, asked about what comes next, said as-a-matter-of-factly, "There's nothing next. That's alright... what you get is a life.... That's what you get and you don't need anything else."
In all that she did, her community was her inspiration and also the benefactor. June’s humour, love for humanity and courageous honesty will remain beacons of hope in this chaotic world.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

One Last Breakfast, One Less Champion

Do you know what a humanist is?

My parents and grandparents were humanists, what used to be called Free Thinkers. So as a humanist I am honoring my ancestors, which the Bible says is a good thing to do. We humanists try to behave as decently, as fairly, and as honorably as we can without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. My brother and sister didn't think there was one, my parents and grandparents didn't think there was one. It was enough that they were alive. We humanists serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any familiarity, which is our community.

I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favourite joke.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pie In The Sky

(Photo - AP)
From his office in Nevada, entrepreneur Dennis Hope has spawned a multi-million-dollar property business selling plots of lunar real estate at $20 (£10) an acre.

Mr Hope exploited a loophole in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and he has been claiming ownership of the Earth's Moon - and seven planets and their moons - for more than 20 years. These are "truly unowned lands", he says.

"We're doing exactly what our forefathers did when they came to the New World from the European continent."

Is it any wonder, therefore, that "stake holders include Hollywood stars, large corporations and even George W Bush"?


Women civil servants in India have expressed shock at new appraisal rules which require them to reveal details of their menstrual cycles. Women working in the civil service told the BBC the government had no need for this kind of personal information.

"I am completely shocked!" said Sharwari Gokhale, environment secretary in western Maharashtra state. "It's gob smacking."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Where's The Love?

Islamic clerics at a radical mosque in Pakistan's capital have demanded the tourism minister be fired for hugging a foreign man, saying she committed a "great sin." Minister of Tourism Nilofar Bakhtiar rejected the Taliban-style edict Monday and said her family and friends were concerned for her safety.

Photos in the Pakistani media have shown Bakhtiar being helped by a male instructor during a charity parachute jump in France last month to raise money for victims of the devastating October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Another picture shows a woman - apparently Bakhtiar - hugging the instructor. This was "an illegitimate and forbidden act," the clerics said in their edict, or fatwa. "Without any doubt, she has committed a great sin," the fatwa said. It declared that Muslim women must stay at home and must not venture out uncovered.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New And Improved: Testosterone Theology

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (AP) -- No hymnals. No pews. No steeple. No stained glass windows. And no women. This ain't your grandma's church. Organizers of the Church For Men say that guys are "bored stiff" in many churches today.

The Church For Men meets one Saturday evening a month, drawing about 70 guys dressed in everything but straight-laced shirts and neckties. The service features a rock band, a shot clock to time the preacher's message and a one-hour in-and-out guarantee.

The church is part of a national movement to reverse what many Christian pastors and ministers are calling a troubling trend. Studies show that men are less likely than women to show up on Sunday mornings, and the reaction has been an emerging testosterone theology of sorts. Churches nationwide are now reaching out to men.

An Estervus For The Rest Of Us

Both Christians and Pagans have celebrated death and resurrection themes following the Spring Equinox for millennia. Most religious historians believe that many elements of the Christian observance of Easter were derived from earlier Pagan celebrations.

God Bless those Pagans.

Friday, April 06, 2007

An Extra Life? ...I Don't Remember

People who believe they have lived past lives as, say, Indian princesses or battlefield commanders are more likely to make certain types of memory errors, according to a new study.

Subjects were asked to read aloud a list of 40 non-famous names, and then, after a two-hour wait, told that they were going to see a list consisting of three types of names: non-famous names they had already seen (from the earlier list), famous names, and names of non-famous people that they had not previously seen. Their task was to identify which names were famous.

The researchers found that, compared to control subjects who dismissed the idea of reincarnation, past-life believers were almost twice as likely to misidentify names. In particular, their tendency was to wrongly identify as famous the non-famous names they had seen in the first task. This kind of error, called a source-monitoring error, indicates that a person has difficulty recognizing where a memory came from.

So class, can we infer these people are more likely to have difficulty recognizing the origin of their facts too?

Good Friday Sermon

(Photo - AP)
The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible. We must win the right to criticize the religion without fear of retribution. Criticism, free speech, is the foundation of an open society. We need to criticise and use reason to solve our problems. No belief, rational or irrational, scientific or divinely inspired, should be exempt from critical examination. If a belief is sound it will stand on its own merits. If it is not it deserves to fail. No religion should seek immunity from the examination of its claims, or seek freedom from moral criticism of its practices.

In the West, the Enlightenment brought about defence of individual freedom and civil liberties. The battle against the Church and backward culture caused a deep change in society's horizon and values and advanced the society. Western society shook off backward and religious thoughts and beliefs. Most of our contemporary ideas about freedom of speech and civil liberties come from the Enlightenment.

We the atheist and freethinkers need to fight the battle for enlightenment in the East. We need to push Islam back to where it rightfully belongs. We should fight for unconditional freedom of speech including freedom to criticise Islam. We atheists have to challenge religious authority. For every vilified and oppressed atheist, two more, ten more, a thousand more will spring up. No matter how brutal inquisitions and slaughter, atheists and freethinkers will spring up because people's minds and needs cannot be imprisoned forever. Today our society under political Islam is being held prisoner by Islamic captors, who fight to dominate this world.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Something Fishy

Fisheries Minister Hearn questions use of slogan 'Canada's new government'

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. (CP) - More than a year after Prime Minister Stephen Harper was elected, his government continues to sell itself as "Canada's new government." But one federal cabinet minister admitted Wednesday he avoids the oft-used partisan slogan and wonders why it's in every government news release. "I very seldom use the term," Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn, Newfoundland's representative in cabinet, said after a military funding announcement.

Besides news releases and prepared speeches, communications staff for the federal Conservatives use the slogan in e-mails, suggested talking points and on banners. Harper and many cabinet ministers continue to say they're "Canada's new government" almost 15 months after they were elected. The government fired B.C. scientist Andrew Okulitch for mocking an order to use the phrase in official correspondence from the Geological Survey of Canada, but he was reinstated two weeks later.
Sounds like a new revolution.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Come 'Round Back

(Photo - Getty Images)

The home of a Chinese family who defied property developers in a high-profile campaign has finally been demolished. The dispute became a cause celebre for ordinary Chinese people who have tried to fight property developers. The family had insisted on staying in their home, because they were not satisfied with the compensation the authorities were offering.

According to state news agency Xinhua, the couple have now agreed to move into another apartment elsewhere in Chongqing.


Probably the wise choice. Pizza delivery must've been a bitch.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Slow-Burn Genocide

Currently, more than 50 percent of Iraqi cancer patients are children under the age of 5, up from 13 percent. Children are especially vulnerable because they tend to play in areas that are heavily polluted by depleted uranium....

This photo (taken by Dr. Jenan Hassan) was originally posted in January 2006. More photos* here.

*Warning :

Mmmm... Sacrilicious

(Photo - AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK (AP) - An anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ infuriated Catholics and even led to threats, but the artist says offers to buy or exhibit the piece have been pouring in.
A Manhattan gallery on Friday called off a planned exhibit of the 6-foot sculpture - called "My Sweet Lord" - amid a deluge of complaints from Catholics, including Cardinal Edward Egan.
They were offended by the confection, which does not include the loincloth typical in religious portrayals of Christ. Many also were outraged that the gallery planned to display the sculpture during Holy Week.
Damn heretics.