May 1, 2005

News for May 1, 2005

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Coupling Perception with Actions via Mirror Neurons - A recent discovery in the brains of primates, mirror neurons are special neurons that show activity both when a subject performs an action and when it observes the same action performed by itself or another (possibly conspecific) subject. Mirror neurons present a versatile self-learning mechanism for the coordination of perceptional and motor actions. They also seem to present a potential bridge between minds. An understanding of the coupling of perception with actions via the mirror neurons, and the management of the respective internal representations, has opened the road to elucidating the computational principles underlying human cognition. NOVA website on this information.


Scientists Confirm Earth’s Energy Is Out of Balance (April 28, 2005) - Scientists have concluded more energy is being absorbed from the sun than is emitted back to space, throwing the Earth's energy “out of balance” and warming the globe. Scientists from NASA, Columbia University, New York, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif. used satellites, data from buoys and computer models to study the Earth's oceans. They confirmed the energy imbalance by using precise measurements of increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years.

Image: Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) measurements show the reflected solar radiation (left) and emitted heat radiation (right) for January 1, 2002. In both images, the lightest areas represent thick clouds, which both reflect radiation from the Sun and block heat rising from the Earth's surface. Notice the clouds above the western Pacific Ocean, where there is strong uprising of air, and the relative lack of clouds north and south of the equator. The animation, created from daily data, shows how rapidly these measurements change. Click on image to view animation. Credit: NASA

Image: Methane is one greenhouse gas that impacts the Earth's energy balance and this animation shows the circulation of methane around the globe. Click on image to view animation. Credit: NASA

Warmer world-wide water temperatures also affect other things. “Warmer waters increase the likelihood of accelerated ice sheet disintegration and sea level rise during this century,” Hansen said. Since 1993, sea levels have been measured by satellite altimeters. Data has shown they have risen by approximately 3.1 centimeters or 1.26 inches per decade.


Genetic Mingling Mixes Human, Animal Cells - Doctors have transplanted pig valves into human hearts for years, and scientists have injected human cells into lab animals for even longer. But the biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into even more exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous chimera, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent. In the past two years, scientists have created pigs with human blood, fused rabbit eggs with human DNA and injected human stem cells to make paralyzed mice walk. Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep's head? The “idea that human neuronal cells might participate in 'higher order' brain functions in a nonhuman animal, however unlikely that may be, raises concerns that need to be considered,” the academies report warned.

I remember seeing pictures of weird animals that are several different types and thinking that was just someone's imagination going wild. Then I saw the Platypus and thought, “Well, maybe it's possible to a degree, but not several completely different species mixed.” Well, now I get to question again that it might just be completely possible that “in the days of Noah” there was probably a lot of genetic experimentation going on by the Nephilim and these strange creatures of Greek mythology and Egyptian mythology might just have some validity. I guess we’ll find out soon, huh?

Mild Quake Felt in Northeast Arkansas (May 2, 2005) - A mild earthquake centered in northeastern Arkansas was felt across a wide area of the Mississippi Valley on Sunday, but no major damage was reported. The quake was measured at magnitude 4.1, the U.S. Geological Survey said.


Giant Waves in India Causes Panic – Slow Artificial Tectonic Plate Shift? (April 29, 2005) - According to sources, some giant waves of 6 to 8 feet in height is causing serious panic in Indian coastal areas. According to some experts these are caused by slow artificial tectonic plate shifts. Officials are saying these are not Tsunamis. But some argue these are controlled Tsunamis resulting from controlled tectonic plate shifts and resulting landslides somewhere in Indian Ocean. According to media sources, Giant waves have been lashing some parts of Andhra Pradesh coast leading to panic, but experts have assured people that there is no threat of another tsunami. Six to seven ft tall waves struck Uppada beach, about 20 km from the port town of Kakinada in East Godavari district, on Thursday. People living in other coastal villages in Prakasam district also experienced the unusually high tidal waves. No loss of life or property was reported.


Better Never Than Late (April 29, 2005) - While Japan still searches for answers as to how a packed commuter train on Monday jumped the tracks on the outskirts of the western city of Osaka and smashed into an apartment complex, labor activists said West Japan Railway Co, or JR West - the operator of the fatal train line - had to bear a large part of the blame for causing the country's worst rail accident in 40 years. “We are almost certain that the fatal accident occurred because the young driver of the train was under tremendous pressure to keep to the schedule. Fear of being punished by the management affected his judgment and led to reckless driving,” said Osamu Yomono, vice president of the international affairs committee of the Japan Confederation of Railway Workers Union.


Doomsayers Say Benedict Fits World End Prophecy (April 29, 2005) - Pope Benedict's ascent to the papacy took a conclave of 115 cardinals, four rounds of voting and followed a lifetime of service to the Vatican. But ask Internet doomsayers eyeing a 12th century Catholic prophecy and they'll tell you it was all stitched up more than eight centuries ago and that judgment day is nigh. The prophecy -- widely dismissed by scholars as a hoax -- is attributed to St. Malachy, an Irish archbishop recognized by members of the Church for his ability to read the future. Benedict, believers say, fits the description of the second-to-last pope listed under the prophecy before the Last Judgment, when the bible says God separates the wicked from the righteous at the end of time. “The Old Testament states: 'believe his prophets and you will prosper' -- so believe it. We are close to the return of the Judge of the nations. Christ is coming,” wrote one Internet post by the Rev. Pat Reynolds. “Thank God for the witness of St. Malachy.” St. Malachy was said to have had a vision during a trip to Rome around 1139 of the remaining 112 Popes. The new pope would be number 111 on that list, and is described in a text attributed to St. Malachy as the “Glory of the Olive.” To connect Benedict, a pale, bookish German, to anything olive takes some imagination. But Malachy-watchers point to the choice of the name Benedict -- an allusion to the Order of Saint Benedict, a branch of which is known as the Olivetans. “When (he) chose the name Benedict XVI, this was seen as fulfilling the prophecy for this pope,” wrote one entry on www.wikipedia.org. Benedict said that he chose the name partly in honor of Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922), calling him a “courageous prophet of peace.” On Wednesday, Benedict dedicated his papacy to “the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples.” “Perhaps Benedict XVI will be a peacemaker in the Church or in the world, and thus carry the olive branch,” speculated www.catholic-pages.com. Another site, www.bibleprobe.com, went even further, showing a picture of Benedict holding olive branches in March during Palm Sunday celebrations. “Is this the Pope of Peace (olive)?” it asked in the caption. Critics widely dismiss the Malachy prophecy as a forgery and possible propaganda meant to influence a 16th century conclave. Doses of skepticism even appear on the most energetic Malachy web pages. But believers point out similarities between the prophecy's descriptions and past pontificates. Pope John Paul II, number 110, was described in the prophecy as “de labore solis” -- or “of the labor of the sun.” He was born on May 18, 1920, the same day as a solar eclipse. The pontiff was buried on April 8, 2005 -- the same day as a partial eclipse, visible in the Americas. More pressing for doomsayers are the prophecy's references to the last Pope on the list, Peter the Roman, who will lead the Church before “the formidable judge will judge his people.” Since Benedict is already 78 years old, they say Peter the Roman must be coming soon, and with him, the end of the world. “His reign will only last a few years at most. This signals that we are living in what may be the end of days as we know it,” said one Web Site entry by someone calling himself SmartBob.


De-homosexualization of the Catholic Church (May 2, 2005) - The reason Catholic Church leadership includes homosexuals is because John Paul II refused to believe reports that potential clergy held that orientation – a mistake that will not be repeated by Pope Benedict XVI, says geopolitical expert Jack Wheeler. In a column on his intelligence website, To the Point, Wheeler explains that a Vatican source disclosed to him why John Paul discounted the charge of homosexuality. “Whenever Vatican investigators brought the results of their vetting process regarding an individual's candidacy for bishop, cardinal or other office, and they revealed he was a homosexual, John Paul II would refuse to believe it,” he writes. “He did so because accusing someone of homosexuality was a standard practice of the Communist government in his native Poland regarding anyone it regarded as an enemy of the state. From his ordination as a Catholic priest in 1946 to elevation to Archbishop of Krakow in 1963 and Cardinal in 1967, the then Karol Wojtyla witnessed this personal destruction repeatedly. So traumatized, he summarily dismissed such accusations as pope, and would approve the elevation of anyone so accused.”


Religion under a secular assault - (Special Report: First of three parts.) Oral arguments were to begin before the U.S. Supreme Court on one of the most litigated questions in American law: Should the Ten Commandments be displayed on government property? Outside, protesters sang hymns and held up signs proclaiming “The 10 Commandments: The way to live your life.” A few feet away, a larger group clustered around Ellen Birch, a member of American Atheists, who describes herself as a descendant of Thomas Jefferson. “A favorite claim of fundamentalists,” she told anyone listening, is that America is “indebted to the Bible and Christianity for our laws.” Not so, Miss Birch says. “State support of a religion leads to corruption within both government and religion,” she says, adding that Jefferson himself said, “The wall of separation between church and state was absolutely essential in a free society.” The clash of cultures, between spiritual and secular America, was on full public display.


Bird flu mutates and now more infectious (May 1, 2005) - Deadly bird flu is mutating to spread from person to person, bringing a disastrous global pandemic closer, experts fear. Evidence from South-east Asia suggests that the virus, which could kill tens of millions of people worldwide, is becoming less virulent, but at the same time more infectious to people. Death rates from the virus have plunged in northern Vietnam, says the World Health Organization (WHO), though it is still killing more of its victims than any previous outbreak. The instances where it appears to have spread from person to person are rising. Six weeks ago, The Independent on Sunday revealed that the Government had told mortuaries and emergency services to prepare for up to 750,000 deaths from the disease in Britain. Flu pandemics occur when three developments take place: a virus emerges to which humans have little or no immunity; it is able to infect people; and it mutates to spread efficiently among them.


Professor: Biblical Event Explains Weather As We Know It (April 30, 2005) - DeYoung, a physics professor at Grace College in northern Indiana's Winona Lake, is the author of “Weather and the Bible,” a book that examines scientific questions and provides Bible-based answers. “I (wrote) that book kind of as an encouragement to look around and realize that this whole earth and all the components didn't come by chance, some accidental process -- there's a creator behind it,” DeYoung told RTV6 Chief Meteorologist Kevin Gregory. DeYoung believes the whole world was once tropical, lacking seasons and having an ideal climate. He points to Alaska and the Middle East -- places with very different climates today. Both places, he says, contain fossil fuels formed from tropical vegetation. “The early earth, from the time of Adam to Noah, had a layer of moisture in the sky -- it can be called a vapor canopy,” DeYoung said. “This was not liquid drops of water, but it was humidity, just like we have in a classroom or in the air.” The vapor canopy, he said, allowed for a worldwide tropical climate. He said the canopy held the equivalent of many feet of water, suspended in the upper atmosphere during the Earth's early centuries. This moisture would become the source of the flood, and its release would signal the start of new kinds of weather conditions across the globe, according to DeYoung. “It was this canopy which collapsed and became the source of this unique flood, this rainstorm that lasted 40 days and 40 nights on the Earth,” he said. DeYoung says limestone found in Indiana and elsewhere around the globe was formed underwater. He believes this can be traced back to the flood. Critics say DeYoung's beliefs fly in the face of mainstream science. DeYoung says scripture and science go together. “I like to bring balance to it and say there is someone behind this whole system that we live in,” he said.
(video link also provided on source link page)


Earth absorbing more heat than it radiates (April 30, 2005) - The Earth is absorbing more energy from the Sun than it is emitting to space, according to a new modeling study. The difference amounts to 0.85 watts for every square metre of the planet’s surface. That is equivalent of 7 trillion 60-watt light bulbs - or the energy output of almost half a million thousand-megawatt power stations. Most of the extra heat is warming the oceans - the ultimate repository of most of the solar radiation reaching the Earth, says Jim Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, US, and a leading climate change scientist for the past two decades.


Vietnamese Christians flee for their lives (April 30, 2005) - The government of Vietnam is stepping up persecution of minority Christians, according to a Washington human rights monitor. Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom says it recently received detailed accounts of attacks against Hmong Christians, including death threats prompting more than 100 to leave the country in the last two months. In the past, Hmong Christians, who have suffered persecution for more than two decades, have reported beatings, torture, arrests and other forms of brutality, including attacks against women and children. Freedom House says the evidence consists of tape-recorded interviews, handwritten testimony of Hmong leaders and documentation identifying the names and positions of many of the Vietnamese officials implicated in the persecution.


North Korea gassing citizens (April 29, 2005) - North Korea's hard-line communist regime is using deadly nerve gas on its own citizens and possibly is operating experimental gas chambers, according to a Jewish human rights group. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told WorldNetDaily he went to Asia to talk with North Korean defectors who said they witnessed gruesome experimentations. Cooper began the investigation after learning of a BBC documentary in February 2004 based on interviews with a former North Korean official who had defected. The rabbi interviewed that man and two others, who confirmed the claims.

According to the report, estimates of the number of prisoners held in the North Korean gulag could be as many as 200,000 in 12 or more centers. Camp 22 is thought to hold 50,000 people, including critics of the regime and Christians.

Dad arrested after protesting 'gay' book (April 29, 2005) - David Parker, 42, confronted officials at Joseph Estabrook School in Lexington, Mass., Wednesday after his son brought home a copy of "Who's in a Family,'' a storybook that includes characters who are homosexual parents, the Boston Herald reported.


Left aims to smite 'theocracy' movement (Jon Ward / THE WASHINGTON TIMES) (April 30, 2005) - Secular humanists and leftist activists convened here over the weekend to strategize how to counter what they contend is a growing political threat from Christian conservatives. more...


School District Reinstates Corporal Punishment, Claims Positive Results Jim Brown / Teresa Neumann reporting (Apr 29, 2005) - In 1993, Ohio's Pike County Schools banned paddling as punishment for unruly students. But after receiving strong backing from members of the community, corporal punishment is now allowed again and Pete Dunn, the principal of Western Elementary School in Latham, claims that misbehavior among students has declined substantially and has resulted in fewer problems in the classroom. “If you don't have corporal punishment -- and [if] your other means of taking away recess and detentions in school aren't working -- then the only other thing you're left with is suspending a kid,” the principal observes. “So what sense does it make if you had a kid that, say, skipped school; and then you're going to suspend him and give him three more days out for skipping school? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.”


Palestinians Warn U.S. Over Jerusalem Bill Bridges For Peace (April 26, 2005) - The Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has threatened to increase violence against Israelis if the United States Congress dares to ratify a bill calling for global recognition of Jerusalem as the Jewish capital. The proposed legislation was submitted by Senator Sam Brownback (Republican-Kansas). It links recognition of a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state. The bill also notes that while Jerusalem is central to the Jewish faith, it is not mentioned even once by name in the Koran. “Jerusalem is essential in Judaism; it is mentioned in the Bible 766 times,” the proposal states. Hamas responded on April 25 by threatening to end the temporary pause in its campaign of violence against Israel should Congress pass the bill. “We will not accept less than” Jerusalem as the capital of a Muslim Palestinian state, Hamas spokesman Mushir Al-Masri told reporters in Gaza. The Clinton and Bush administrations have refused for more than a decade to implement legislation calling for the transfer of America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They see such a move as a threat to national security.


HELLO SHALOM, HELLO SALAAM...HELLO PEACE! Bridges For Peace - There is a new conversation breaking out between Israelis and Palestinians thanks to a new, toll-free telephone service. Large numbers of Arabs and Jews are picking up the phone and talking to people “on the other side” about reconciliation, tolerance, and peace. Over 48,000 calls were placed in less than three months. Sammy Waed, a Palestinian, never thought he would become friends with an Israeli soldier, especially one who had occupied his hometown of Ramallah. But using the new hotline, the 20-year-old ended up speaking to Arik, a 23-year-old from Tel Aviv. “Arik told me how much he hated his army service, because he was in the middle of a civilian population, policing children and causing harm to innocent people,” Waed told New York Daily News special correspondent, Deborah Blachor. “Before, I thought Israelis didn’t care at all when innocent Palestinians suffer and are killed,” he said. “But now I know they do care and I have hope that there can be peace.” Hello, Peace! (Hello Shalom-Hello Salaam!) was launched in October 2002 by the Parents Circle-Families Forum, a joint group of over 400 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents who believe peace is still possible despite having lost a child or loved one in the conflict.


GARLIC AND ONION CHEMICAL HELPS KILL CANCER CELLS Excerpted from an article by Judy Siegel, Jerusalem Post, Bridges For Peace (April 27, 2005) - The active ingredient in garlic and onions has been used together with advanced biotechnology—by a Weizmann Institute of Science research team, led by professor David Mirelman—to improve the targeting of malignant cells. The cancer-killing effectiveness of the technique lies in arming a cancer-targeting antibody with the destructive potential of a dietary molecule called allicin. Allicin is the product of an interaction between an enzyme, allinase, and the small chemical alliin. The latter compound occurs naturally in plants, such as garlic and onion, as a defense mechanism against soil fungi, bacteria, and parasites. “The medicinal value of garlic is no longer an ancient Chinese secret,” said Mirelman. “Years of scientific research led to the identification and understanding of allicin’s mode of activity, and we are currently studying ways to target and deliver its toxic punch.” Although other approaches use a method that directly binds anticancer drug molecules to an antibody, this study applied a method Mirelman refers to as “weaponizing” the antibody, so called because it affords the continuous production and delivery of cancer-killing bullets. The allinase that is bonded to the Rituximaba, a specific antibody, sits on the target cell and continuously reacts with alliin molecules that are injected at intervals, producing a steady supply of allicin to penetrate and kill the cancer. The study was published recently in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. (Excerpted from an article by Judy Siegel, Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2005)


JAM Group is Putting Faith into Action to Improve Their Community (Apr 29, 2005) - A new organization made up of 16 different religious groups and their members in Springfield, Ohio, has already made a positive impact on their community. JAM, or Justice, Action and Mercy, recently held a meeting at the Calvin Presbyterian Church which was attended by over 400 Springfield residents who have taken on a commitment to make a difference in their town in the areas of jobs, education and local business facelifts. The group has already helped in fighting crime in the area. They erected a mailbox for the specific purpose of anonymous tips to help solve crimes. According to WHIO-TV, the Hot Spot Card Program provided information that led to the arrest of two suspects in a murder case. more...