Articles of Interest, January 2nd 2008

Malaysian row over word for ‘God’

A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the government after it decreed that the word “Allah” can only be used by Muslims.

In the Malay language “Allah” is used to mean any god, and Christians say they have used the term for centuries.

Opponents of the ban say it is unconstitutional and unreasonable.

Update: Malaysia reverses Allah paper ban

  • Hmmmm, I distinctly remember bringing this point up in another post.  Truth stands clear from falsehood…..  Notice to those Christians out there that spread falsehood about the name “Allah” there is facts out there against you and you will be exposed for who you truly are.

‘It looks like it might work’…

Obama buoyed in Iowa; urges supporters to vote

By Deborah Charles

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was buoyed on Tuesday by some good news in an Iowa opinion poll but warned his backers they need to show up and vote this week if they want him to win.

“It looks like it might work,” Obama told a cheering rally in this western Iowa city, two days before Iowans launch the state-by-state nominating contests that will pick Republican and Democratic nominees for the White House race.

“It looks like we just might do this thing — to the surprise of many.”

The first-term senator from Illinois, who would become the first black president if he wins the November 2008 general election, cautioned against complacency.

“The polls look good. But understand this. The polls are not enough. The only thing that counts is whether or not you show up for caucus,” he told about 750 sign-waving supporters at a gathering earlier in the day in Des Moines.

“Make the phone calls and knock on the doors and grab your friends and grab your neighbors and say it is time for us to deliver on change,” Obama said.

Obama, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards have been locked in a tight race in Iowa for the Democratic nomination in the past few months.

  • Let me make a prediction.  You heard it here first.  After Iowa these are the results:  Democrats – Obama, Edwards, Clinton.  Republicans – Huckabee, Romney, Gulliani  I just have a “feeling” 🙂

Huckabee’s Web site continues to host comments posted by supporters blasting the Mormon faith
DES MOINES, Iowa – Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee personally apologized to rival Mitt Romney previously about a disparaging remark Huckabee made about Romney’s Mormon religion.
    But Huckabee’s Web site continues to host comments posted by supporters blasting the Mormon faith.
    Some blog posts were littered with rhetoric about Mormonism.
    “As evangelicals, we cannot stand for this Mormon garbage to get into office,” wrote Chase Colasurdo. “They even believe Jesus and Satan were brothers. My vote is God’s vote, Huckabee 08.”
    Huckabee himself raised the question of whether Mormons believed that Jesus and Satan were brothers in an interview with the New York Times magazine, but later apologized for using those words.
    “I said, I would never try, ever to try to somehow pick out some point of your faith and make it an issue, and I wouldn’t,” Huckabee said at the time.
    But some supporters wrote on his Web site that they didn’t think he should have said sorry.
    “Finally,” Suzanne Hultquist wrote in a blog post with four exclamation points. “Mike Huckabee has the courage to tell the world [who does not already know] what Mormons truly believe about Jesus. Thank you.”
    Another said someone should be bold enough to “completely expose the strange beliefs of the Mormon cult on television so that the public would know that it doesn’t want a Mormon for president.
  • I don’t see why this is a surprise.  I said it from the beginning, I’m not sure how Christian conservatives reconcile their support of Romney when religion is a factor.

Scotland Yard to help probe Bhutto assassination

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Wednesday that British investigators are heading to Pakistan to help clear up the confusion surrounding Thursday’s assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

“I am very thankful to [British] Prime Minister Gordon Brown that when I made this request he accepted that,” Musharraf said in a nationally televised address.

The Scotland Yard team, he said, “will solve all the confusion” surrounding how Bhutto died last week.

Musharraf expressed his condolences about the killing of Bhutto, who he said “has been martyred by terrorists.”

“I understand the tragedy and the sadness and anger it has brought to the People’s Party activists and among the Sindhi population,” Musharraf said. “I would like to say I personally am very sad and angry about this assassination, and I value the emotions of the nation.”

  • You heard it here first, it was Col. Mustard in the library with the rope! 🙂  Seriously, all jokes aside as this is not a joking matter.  It makes absolutely no sense what has occurred in the Bhutto matyr.  It really saddened me when I heard news of her killing as she represented hope in a region that could really use it.  The tragedy outside her death is that a game of “Clue” is being played about her death.  Fortunately, an outside investigation is going to occur and hopefully, the matter can be resolved.  My prayers are with the Bhutto family.

Biden highlights Clinton Pakistan gaffe

(CNN) — Democrat Joe Biden suggested Tuesday that presidential rival Hillary Clinton doesn’t adequately understand recent events in Pakistan.

The Delaware senator was responding to news that Clinton suggested in two recent interviews that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is up for reelection this month.

Musharraf was actually reelected in October, and the upcoming Pakistani elections are parliamentary, not presidential.

“We have a number of candidates who are well-intentioned but don’t understand Pakistan,” Biden said at a campaign event Tuesday. “One of the leading candidates — God love her.”

“There are good people running,” continued the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has made his foreign policy credentials a centerpiece of his long shot presidential bid. “But to say Musharraf is up for election! Musharraf was elected — fairly or unfairly — president six months ago. It’s about a parliamentary election!”

Clinton’s comments came in an interview with ABC Sunday, in which she said, “[Musharraf] could be the only person on the ballot. I don’t think that’s a real election.”

The New York senator also made similar comments during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last week, saying then, “”If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow.”

Both gaffes were first noted by conservative Thomas Houlahan, writing for the Middle East Times.

The Clinton campaign has not yet returned a request for comment on Biden’s comments, but said yesterday the New York Democrat was referring to Musharraf’s party, not himself in particular.

  • “Experience”………uh ok……..

Researchers work on cocaine vaccine

HOUSTON – Two Baylor College of Medicine researchers in Houston are working on a cocaine vaccine they hope will become the first-ever medication to treat people hooked on the drug. “For people who have a desire to stop using, the vaccine should be very useful,” said Dr. Tom Kosten, a psychiatry professor who is being assisted in the research by his wife, Therese, a psychologist and neuroscientist. “At some point, most users will give in to temptation and relapse, but those for whom the vaccine is effective won’t get high and will lose interest.”

The vaccine, currently in clinical trials, stimulates the immune system to attack the real thing when it’s taken.

The immune system — unable to recognize cocaine and other drug molecules because they are so small — can’t make antibodies to attack them.

To help the immune system distinguish the drug, Kosten attached inactivated cocaine to the outside of inactivated cholera proteins.

In response, the immune system not only makes antibodies to the combination, which is harmless, but also recognizes the potent naked drug when it’s ingested. The antibodies bind to the cocaine and prevent it from reaching the brain, where it normally would generate the highs that are so addictive.

“It’s a very clever idea,” says David Eagleman, a Baylor neuroscientist. “Scientists have spent the last few decades figuring out reward pathways in the brain and how drugs like cocaine hijack the system. It turns out those pathways are difficult to rewire once they’ve seen the drug. But the vaccine just circumvents all that.”

  • This is an amazing discovery and I pray for it’s continued sucess.  This one drug in particular has destroyed so many communities that there are few that have not been touched by it’s effects.  Science such as this should be heavily funded and supported as it helps reform and give hope to those truly in need.  It represents the best of what is possible.

2008: The year a new superpower is born

Here comes the world’s newest superpower. The rest of the world is gloomily contemplating economic slowdown and even recession. Not in Beijing. China is set to make 2008 the year it asserts its status as a global colossus by flexing frightening economic muscle on international markets, enjoying unprecedented levels of domestic consumption and showcasing itself to a watching world with a glittering £20bn Olympic Games.

The world’s most populous nation will mark the next 12 months with a coming-of-age party that will confirm its transformation in three decades from one of the poorest countries of the 20th century into the globe’s third-largest economy, its hungriest (and most polluting) consumer and the engine room of economic growth.

Once regarded at best as a sporting also-ran, China is widely tipped to top the medals table in the Beijing Olympics in August, an event in which the country’s leadership is investing huge importance and prestige.

It will be a celebration viewed with consternation by many, as China’s authoritarian regime shows little sign of relaxing its grip on power and continues to expand its influence overseas from the oil fields and metal mines of Africa to the City of London. Appropriately, 2008 marks the Year of the Rat, an animal considered in Chinese folklore to be a harbinger and protector of material prosperity.

Britain will feel the full power of the new superpower’s confidence. This month, for the first time, China’s state-controlled banks will begin spending some of its $1.33trn (£670bn) in foreign currency reserves on London’s financial markets. Beijing has ruled that Britain should become only the second destination after Hong Kong to be allowed to receive investors’ money via so-called “sovereign funds” – the huge state-controlled surpluses built up by cash-rich economies from Qatar to South Korea. Throw in the biggest round of Chinese art exhibitions ever to tour these islands and the oriental bias to 2008 becomes even more pronounced.

The UK has made it clear that Beijing’s investment, which could reach as much as £45bn, is welcome and it follows the recent acquisition by Chinese banks of stakes in such blue chip stocks as Barclays and the US private equity firm Blackstone, at a cost of $3bn. The talk in the finance houses is that the label “Made in China” will soon be replaced by one reading “Owned by China”. Takeover speculation has provoked concern in some quarters at the wisdom of selling large assets to organs of a democratically unaccountable state where the financial sector remains underdeveloped.

  • Anyone else notice that the Chinese aren’t worried about “Islamic Extremism”?  Nevermind………

Programmed for love

If you’re younger than 35, you’ll probably live long enough to put David Levy’s prediction to the test. Levy says that by 2050 we’ll be creating robots so lifelike, so imbued with human-seeming intelligence and emotions, as to be nearly indistinguishable from real people. And we’ll have sex with these robots. Some of us will even marry them. And it will all be good.

Levy lays out his vision of a Brave New Carnal World in Love and Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, which, despite its extended riffs on sex toys through the ages, is a snigger-free book. Levy’s no Al Goldstein. Rather he’s a 62-year-old British chess master turned artificial-intelligence expert persuaded that robot sex can brighten the lives of many, many unhappy people. “Great sex on tap for everyone, 24/7,” he writes on the final page of the book. What’s not to like?

  • Why did I post this article, some are probably wondering.  Primarily because it is a good read.  The topics brought up are very intriguing especially the philosophical and religious ones.  It kind of reminds of the movie “AI” and the themes it brought up.  How would we treat life-like robots?  In the case of a sex-bot, automatically my brain began to ponder the religiousity of the matter.  Would we consider sex with a robot in the same light as fornication or adultry?  What if people owned several?  Could a relationship with a robot while your in a relationship be considered cheating?  Sounds like a good show topic if you ask me.

Olmert hints Jerusalem division is inevitable

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signaled on Tuesday Israel might have no choice but to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians in a peace deal, citing international pressure for compromise over the holy city.

“The world that is friendly to Israel … that really supports Israel, when it speaks of the future, it speaks of Israel in terms of the ’67 borders. It speaks of the division of Jerusalem,” Olmert said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move that failed to win international recognition. It regards all of Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible” capital.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the state they aspire to establish in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

The future of Jerusalem is one of the core issues Israel and the Palestinians agreed to tackle in peace talks they renewed after a U.S.-hosted summit in Annapolis, Maryland in November.

Olmert’s comments appeared to be another move by the prime minister to prepare Israeli public opinion for the possibility of a deal that would loosen Israel’s control of all of Jerusalem.

His deputy and close confidant, Haim Ramon, has said Israel should in future negotiate creation of a “special regime” that would govern some of the sacred sites in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

  • Well, it at least “sounds” like progress and that is not a bad thing at all.

Minorities less likely to get pain relief: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Black and Hispanic patients in pain are less likely than whites to get powerful painkillers from U.S. hospital emergency departments, but the reasons may go beyond sheer racial bias, researchers said on Tuesday.

In a look at 375,000 emergency room visits over 13 years, a study found 31 percent of whites in pain received opioid drugs — a broad class of narcotic painkillers dispensed only by prescription — compared to 23 percent of blacks and 24 percent of Hispanics.

In contrast, 36 percent of minority patients received less-potent, non-opioid pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen during emergency room visits, compared to 26 percent of white patients.

There may several reasons behind the racial disparity, Dr. Mark Pletcher, the study’s author, wrote in this week’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pain relief received more attention in the late 1990s, and formal U.S. guidelines issued in 2001 called for improved monitoring and control of patient pain. Overall, use of opioids in hospital emergency departments increased from 23 percent of patients in 1993 to 37 percent in 2005, the researchers said.

“Studies in the 1990s showed a disturbing racial or ethnic disparity in the use of these potent pain relievers, but we had hoped that the recent national efforts at improving pain management in emergency departments would shrink this disparity,” Pletcher, of the University of California at San Francisco, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, this is not the case,” he said.

While health care providers would be loathe to admit it, they may show racial bias in assessing whether a patient is exaggerating symptoms to obtain powerful painkillers to either sell or abuse, the report said.

But the study found the largest racial disparity in providing stronger medications was found among patients in the most pain and those aged 12 or younger who are unlikely to be drug abusers.

  • Surprise, surprise.  Many would have you believe that there are no racial biases in America and that minorities are making it all up.  Yet, study after study in almost every field and case back up the fact that race issues in America are alive and well.  Old Jim Crow is now James Crow Jr. Esquire……

 Obama – Reconciling the U.S. with itself

By: Dominique Moisi
Japan Times* –

For eight years, U.S. President George W. Bush has managed to incarnate and reinforce all the prejudices and negative stereotypes the world has of the United States. He has antagonized the world more than any other American president before him, seriously damaging America’s “soft” power by inefficient and excessive use of its “hard” power.

Reconciling the U.S. with itself and the world should thus be the twin priorities for America’s next president. If there is one candidate who can accomplish this, who can contribute, in a split second, to restoring America’s international reputation, it is Barack Obama.

Exceptional periods sometimes create exceptional leaders. Without the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte would have remained a gifted and frustrated junior military officer. Likewise, the current period in America and its relations with the world have been truly exceptional, requiring a leader who can fundamentally challenge a global majority’s view that America has become arrogant, impotent and selfish.

Of course, die-hard anti-Americans will never be persuaded, but they remain a minority, with the possible exception of the Muslim world. The silent majority is ready to hope for life after Bush.

Why is Obama so different from the other presidential candidates, and why could he make such a large difference internationally? After all, in foreign policy matters, the next president’s room for maneuver will be very small. He (or she) will have to stay in Iraq, engage in the Israel-Palestine conflict on the side of Israel, confront a tougher Russia, deal with an ever more ambitious China, and face the challenge of global warming.

If Obama can make a difference, it is not because of his policy choices, but because of what he is. The very moment he appears on the world’s television screens, victorious and smiling, America’s image and soft power would experience something like a Copernican revolution.

Think of the impression his election would make not only in Africa, but in Asia, the Middle East, and even Europe. With its rise to global supremacy, America had become the incarnation of the West, and the West was seen as “white.” Power in America shifted first from the East Coast to the West Coast, and then to the South. But if a shift across America’s racial divide is not truly revolutionary, then what is?

Of course, to reduce Obama to the color of his skin is a grave oversimplification, even if he has been keen to emphasize his “black roots.” In fact, African-Americans do not fully support him. With his white mother and his African father, he does not fit any African-American precedent.

But that is another reason why Obama is exceptional: the complexity of his identity makes him truly universal, a global candidate for a global age. By virtue of his unique personal history, he can bridge Africa, America and even Asia – where he studied as a young boy in a Muslim school – thereby reviving the universal image and message of America.

But, above all, what makes Obama unique, given what the U.S. has been through during the Bush years, is the nature of the message he embodies, which is best summed up in the title of his book “The Audacity of Hope.” If America can move from a culture of fear to one of hope – and again incarnate hope for the world – it will require a leader who embodies the American dream: modern and armed with a humanistic religious message, in contrast to the anxious irrationalism of the Christian conservative movement that fueled Bush’s political base.

Regardless of whether Obama can deliver on his promises, America will not regain the stature it had between 1941 and 2000. With or without Obama, the “American century” will not be repeated. But Obama can learn from the early mistakes made by former President Jimmy Carter in the mid-1970s. Neo-isolationism is not an option, but restraint – based on confidence and wisdom – is.

The world needs a more modest and confident America. For a European who has been deeply troubled and saddened by America’s evolution in the last decade, Obama, of all the declared presidential candidates, seems to come closest to incarnating such an America.

Dominique Moisi, a founder and senior adviser at the French Institute for International Relations, is a professor at the College of Europe in Natolin, Warsaw. Copyright 2007 Project Syndicate (www.project-syndicate.org)
 

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One Comment

  1. […] Malaysian row over word for God A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the government after it decreed that the word Allah can only be used by Muslims. In the Malay language Allah is used to mean any god, and Christians say they have used the term for centuries. Opponents of the ban say it is unconstitutional and unreasonable. Update: Malaysia reverses Allah paper ban Hmmmm, I distinctly remember bringing this point up in another post. Truth stands clear from fals source: Articles of Interest, January 2nd 2008 […]

    Reply

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