Friday, September 29, 2006

Cult or Religion?

The following characteristics of cults bear a striking resemblance to the make up of Islam.
So which is it...religion or cult?

The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry?or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar?or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

The group is preoccupied with making money.

Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

The most loyal members (the ?true believers?) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

Some of the characteristics are identical to the makeup of Islam....particularly the us versus them philosophy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Giant Cave Network Discovered

Vast cave discovered in national park
Ancient animal skeletons found inside, new invertebrate species possible

A cave network with large passages and rooms — many more than 50-feet wide and some containing ancient animal skeletons — has been discovered within the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in central California, the National Park System announced.

It's still unknown how far the network goes, but the find is "so significant," the agency said in a statement Monday, that park staff believe that if the cave were not already within the National Park System it would certainly qualify.

Read story here:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Muslims Offered Italian Values
Analysis by Federico Bordonaro

ROME, Sep 25 (IPS) - Interior Minister Giuliano Amato proposed in August that Muslim organisations in Italy will need to subscribe to a Charter of Values to signal their readiness to be fully integrated into Italian society and its political culture.

Rome is facing a huge challenge: it cannot fail to integrate its increasingly numerous Muslim immigrant population, but since integration policies in Europe are regarded as less than successful, it is forced to seek new solutions.

Less than successful? I would call that an understatement.

Pope Benedict's controversial speech in Regensburg in Germany (Sep. 12) added to Italy's concerns about its integration policy towards Muslim minorities.. Muslim leaders in Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Kuwait, but even in France and Germany sharply criticised the pontiff's choice to quote a harsh critique of Islam and Jihad issued by Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel II Paleologos back in 1391.

Efforts have been made to placate Muslim concerns in the aftermath of the diplomatic incident. On Sep. 22, sources from the Islamic Council in Italy confirmed that the Pope is going to meet diplomats from Muslim countries, members of Italian Muslim organisations and Muslim religious leaders in Castelgandolfo near Rome on Sep. 25. The goal of the meeting, sources say, is to give the Catholic-Muslim dialogue a fresh start.

After the Madrid and London terror attacks in 2004 and 2005, the Danish cartoon controversy, and last summer's so-called honour killing in northern Italy where a Pakistani immigrant killed his daughter, worries about Muslim integration in Italy have increased.

In particular, public debate among Italian intellectuals and specialists highlights the worry that in Muslim countries only a minority of intellectuals have criticised the call for retaliation issued by religious and extremist political leaders, while conciliatory words pronounced by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the Pope explained that his speech was "not intended to hurt Muslim feelings" have been cautiously received.

One thing is sure, though, and it is the heart of the matter: Rome cannot afford to fail to integrate Italian Muslims and to enhance their attachment to national democratic and constitutional values if it is to avoid a bitter political and social conflict..

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chinese Penis Transplant

Chinese Doctors Claim Penis Transplant

Chinese doctors say they successfully transplanted a penis on a man who lost his own in an accident, but had to remove it two weeks later because of psychological problems experienced by the man and his wife.

The case appears to be the first such transplant reported in a medical journal — European Urology, published by the European Association of Urology.

The Chinese doctors could not be reached for comment, and their report does not explain how the 44-year-old man lost his penis. It says only that "an unfortunate traumatic accident" left him with a small stump, unable to urinate or have sex normally.

Surgeons led by Dr. Hu Weilie at Guangzhou General Hospital performed the transplant in September 2005, a hospital spokesperson said Tuesday. The penis came from a 22-year-old brain-dead man whose parents agreed to donate his organ.

Apparently the wife recognized the penis from a former lover.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Red Sux Faltering Again

American League East
Team W L Pct. GB Home Road East Cent. West L10 Strk
N.Y. Yankees 87 56 .608 - 44-25 43-31 36-19 23-12 18-17 7-3 W 4
Boston (9) 77 67 .535 10½ 44-29 33-38 32-28 14-17 15-20 5-5 W 2
Toronto (6) 75 70 .517 13 43-28 32-42 34-27 16-16 16-18 6-4 L 1
Baltimore 62 82 .431 25½ 37-38 25-44 26-38 14-13 13-22 2-8 L 4
Tampa Bay 57 87 .396 30½ 38-36 19-51 22-38 13-17 11-25 4-6 L 2
American League Central

Friday, September 08, 2006

Democrats Threaten ABC Over "Path to 911"

Mr. Robert A. Iger
President and CEO
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank CA 91521

Dear Mr. Iger,

We write with serious concerns about the planned upcoming broadcast of The Path to 9/11 mini-series on September 10 and 11. Countless reports from experts on 9/11 who have viewed the program indicate numerous and serious inaccuracies that will undoubtedly serve to misinform the American people about the tragic events surrounding the terrible attacks of that day. Furthermore, the manner in which this program has been developed, funded, and advertised suggests a partisan bent unbecoming of a major company like Disney and a major and well respected news organization like ABC. We therefore urge you to cancel this broadcast to cease Disney’s plans to use it as a teaching tool in schools across America through Scholastic. Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.

Disney and ABC claim this program to be based on the 9/11 Commission Report and are using that assertion as part of the promotional campaign for it. The 9/11 Commission is the most respected American authority on the 9/11 attacks, and association with it carries a special responsibility. Indeed, the very events themselves on 9/11, so tragic as they were, demand extreme care by any who attempt to use those events as part of an entertainment or educational program. To quote Steve McPhereson, president of ABC Entertainment, “When you take on the responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it is absolutely critical that you get it right.”

Unfortunately, it appears Disney and ABC got it totally wrong.

Despite claims by your network’s representatives that The Path to 9/11 is based on the report of the 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Commissioners themselves, as well as other experts on the issues, disagree.

Richard Ben-Veniste, speaking for himself and fellow 9/11 Commissioners who recently viewed the program, said, “As we were watching, we were trying to think how they could have misinterpreted the 9/11 Commission’s findings the way that they had.” [“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]

Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism czar, and a national security advisor to ABC has described the program as “deeply flawed” and said of the program’s depiction of a Clinton official hanging up on an intelligence agent, “It’s 180 degrees from what happened.” [“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]

Reports suggest that an FBI agent who worked on 9/11 and served as a consultant to ABC on this program quit halfway through because, “he thought they were making things up.” [MSNBC, September 7, 2006]

Even Thomas Kean, who serves as a paid consultant to the miniseries, has admitted that scenes in the film are fictionalized. [“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]

That Disney would seek to broadcast an admittedly and proven false recounting of the events of 9/11 raises serious questions about the motivations of its creators and those who approved the deeply flawed program. Finally, that Disney plans to air commercial-free a program that reportedly cost it $40 million to produce serves to add fuel to these concerns.

These concerns are made all the more pressing by the political leaning of and the public statements made by the writer/producer of this miniseries, Mr. Cyrus Nowrasteh, in promoting this miniseries across conservative blogs and talk shows.

Frankly, that ABC and Disney would consider airing a program that could be construed as right-wing political propaganda on such a grave and important event involving the security of our nation is a discredit both to the Disney brand and to the legacy of honesty built at ABC by honorable individuals from David Brinkley to Peter Jennings. Furthermore, that Disney would seek to use Scholastic to promote this misguided programming to American children as a substitute for factual information is a disgrace.

As 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick said, “It is critically important to the safety of our nation that our citizens, and particularly our school children, understand what actually happened and why – so that we can proceed from a common understanding of what went wrong and act with unity to make our country safer.”

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Byron Dorgan

The Senate Democratic leadership just threatened Disney's broadcast license. Not the use of the word "trustee" at the beginning of the letter and "trust" at the end. This is nothing less than an implicit threat that if Disney tries to meddle in the US elections on behalf of the Republicans, they will pay a very serious price when the Democrats get back in power, or even before.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Just a little joke....

Did you hear what happened to the optometrist?

He fell into his lens grinder and made a spectacle of himself.

Saturday, September 02, 2006