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International News Banned in the USA

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Would anyone notice? Here’s a problem and a plan.

Rekha BasuDes Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu commented (after mentioning several stories that were shaking the world while US news outlets soaked us in Anna Nicole Smith post-mortem minutiae):

You have to be highly motivated to read the world news you do find on TV or in most daily papers; Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 17, 2007 at 3:45 pm

Posted in News

UN Investigator: Israel commits “massive violations of international law”

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Richard Falk, U. N. Special Investigator for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, spells it out (h/t PeoplesGeography):

clipped from www.russiatoday.com
The Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Convention, both in regard to the obligations of an occupying power and in the requirements of the laws of war.
'Israeli air strikes represent massive violations of international law'Those violations include:Collective punishment – the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants. […]

Targeting civilians – the air strikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world […]

Disproportionate military response – the air strikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians […]

Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims. […]

Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give Israel any right … to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes … in its response […] The one Israeli killed today … is the first in over a year. […]

The Israeli air strikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they have caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries which have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza, which itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe

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Since 2000, fewer than 20 Israelis have been killed by Hamas’ primitive rockets – and only one in the last 12 months. By contrast, 3,000 Palestinians have died, and 300 of them perished in the last few days.

Israel’s enabler is the USA, which provides American gunships, missiles, and bombs. Israel kills with impunity because the US vetoes near-unanimous UN rebukes.

Dispensationalism’s blind faith that Israel’s barbarous government is the Israel of prophecy demands re-evaluation. For the pogroms this outfit carries out make it more resemble the Third Reich than the children of Abraham.

And the USA—with the backing of the Christian conservative set—once again has blood on its hands.


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Gender identification: not as simple as it seems

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BERLIN - AUGUST 16:  (L-R) Tetiana Petlyuk of ...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Perhaps you’ve heard of the world-class South African runner Caster Semenva (on the right in photo).  Last week, she won the gold medal in the women’s 800 meters at the world championship games in Berlin.   And then, someone—no one’s saying who—challenged her victory on the basis of gender.  In other words, “She’s not a woman, he’s a man.”

Now to we non-scientists, this seems like a simple question.  Turns out it’s difficult (not to mention humiliating for an 18 year old girl).  From the New York Times:

It requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, an endocrinologist, a psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender. The effort, coordinated by Dr. Harold Adams, a South African on the I.A.A.F. medical panel, is being conducted at hospitals in Berlin and South Africa.

Why all the fuss?  Either she is or she isn’t, right? Read on:

clipped from www.nytimes.com
To be fair, the biology of sex is a lot more complicated than the average fan believes […] f the person has XY chromosomes, you declare him a man. If XX, she’s a woman. Right?
Wrong. A little biology: On the Y chromosome, a gene called SRY usually makes a fetus grow as a male. It turns out, though, that SRY can show up on an X, turning an XX fetus essentially male. And if the SRY gene does not work on the Y, the fetus develops essentially female.[…] Even an XY fetus with a functioning SRY can essentially develop female […]
In the case of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome […] the genitals and the rest of the external body look female-typical, except that these women lack body hair […]
Moreover, a person can look male-typical on the outside but be female-typical on the inside, or vice versa […]
Matthew, a 19-year-old who was born looking obviously male, was raised a boy, and had a girlfriend and a male-typical life. Then he found out […] that he had ovaries and a uterus […] he had XX chromosomes […] his body developed[…] male-typical […]
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In the end, it’s a judgment call.

Which brings to mind the subject of sexual orientation (though, far as I know, it’s not a question Semenva has raised). Many of my good friends are convinced that gay men and lesbian women should remain celibate, for (they say) homosexual sex is “un-natural.”

But if an individual has both male and female characteristics, with which gender, my friends,  is he or she to be prohibited from marriage? What is natural?

Even more, what dozens of unknown psychological aspects of sexual identity and behavior might this combined physical identity bring about?  What aspects of it might never appear physically but influence sexual preference?

So I wonder.  How can we, who understand all this so very little, legitimately insist upon legal or theological control over the sexual destiny of people who are personally—perhaps even unknowingly—involved in these mysteries?  If scientists can’t conclusively say whether an athlete should race as a male or a female, how could we amateur theologians possibly know enough to judge who should be attracted to whom?

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When atheists come to church (sermon of July 5)

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C Vonaesch - Femme Touchant Jesus

C Vonaesch - Femme Touchant Jesus

Last week, Jesus, pushing through a crowd, was secretly touched by a woman who’ d been bleeding for 12 years; her bleeding stopped.  She who’d been untouchable by the rules of the day touched him; she was then well, and he became untouchable.  She gets well. He takes on her “uncleanness.”

And then he touched a 12 year old girl who had recently died. He was now “unclean” twice-over (touching a dead body made him so a second time), but the girl was alive.   She gets life. He takes on her “uncleanness.”

Magnificent.

And the next thing that happens is that Jesus, the now-famous, compassionate, but scandalously irreligious traveling teacher, goes home to Nazareth. And while he’s been amazing everyone, at Nazareth, Jesus is amazed.

What could possibly amaze Jesus? Read the rest of this entry »

The anti-whaling ‘spaceship’ ship

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Just for fun:  Ever seen anything like it?
clipped from www.smh.com.au

Looking more like a giant spider ... the activists' new Earthrace, which last year circled the globe in 61 days, fuelled by biodiesel.
JAPAN has asked Australia to prevent the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin leaving port to harass its whalers in the Antarctic next summer, but the plea may have little effect.
The anti-whaling activists plan to upgrade their fleet from an ageing, former North Atlantic fisheries patrol boat to include another ship – something out of the future. The global speedboat Earthrace would head south under Sea Shepherd colours next summer, the group’s leader Paul Watson said.
“It looks like a spaceship. It can do 40 knots and dive under waves completely. We’ll be using it to intercept and block harpoons.”
In 61 days last year Earthrace circled the globe fuelled by biodiesel.
Earthrace’s role was unveiled as the International Whaling Commission heard that Sea Shepherd’s protests endangered the lives of whalers in the Southern Ocean last summer when the Steve Irwin was involved in two collisions.
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