#0041 RRS Newsletter for August 9, 2007

hellfiend666's picture

Todays post is very science heavy. I really didn't plan it that way, I just found way too much cool stuf not to pass it on.

Also, a reminder that I am accepting content contributions for the "Rational Response Column". Anything you have written that you would like to share, but I am particularly looking for your de-conversion stories for now.

Thanks for reading, if you have any comments or suggestions you can reach me directly HERE. Or on Myspace HERE.
Stay rational,
and the RRS MI team

Table of Contents

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Rational Response Squad News

Rational Response Update (video by Brian Sapient)

RRS Michigan News

Detroit Science Center outing

Science News

China's White Dolphin Likely Extinct Four-Galaxy Pileup Caught on Cosmic Camera First Europeans Came From Asia, Not Africa, Tooth Study Suggests Kenyan Fossils May Add New Branch to Human Family Tree "Missing Link" Human Skull Found in Africa, Scientists Say Largest Known Planet Found, Has Density of Cork History of the Universe Made Easy (video)


Fuck bullshit "christians" Bart Ehrman "Misquoting Jesus" (Interview) Church and State (video) The Holyland Experience: the theme park where Jesus dies six times a week


A Security Vacuum


Atheist Blood Drive Atheists for Autism Research Charity! Citizens for (pushing their) Community Values (on you) Nazi Pop Twins (Video)


Bush's NEW war - on ZOMBIES! Soulfly - Frontlines

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Rational Response Update

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Detroit Science Center outing

I saw this advertised on a billboard on Telegraph, and I instantly wanted to go see it! It's an exhibition on anatomy using actual human bodies at the Detroit Science Center. I'm not sure if this should be an official RRS MI event, but I still wanna see how many would be interested in making a group outing of it. Here are the details. Get back to me if you'd like to go!

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China's White Dolphin Likely Extinct


Aug. 8, 2007 — China's rapid industrialization has likely made extinct a species of freshwater dolphin that had been on Earth for over 20 million years, Chinese and British biologists said Wednesday.

Scientists from China, Japan, Britain and the United States failed to find the white dolphin, known as the baiji, during a six-week search of its natural habitat in the Yangtze river last year.

"This result means the baiji is likely extinct," said Wang Ding, co-author of the survey and one of the world's leading experts on the species.

The dolphin was a victim of devastating pollution, illegal fishing and heavy cargo traffic on the Yangtze, Wang said.

The findings mean the baiji is likely the first mammal to become extinct in more than 50 years. It is the cousin of the bottlenose dolphin, which is also on the critically endangered list.

Wang, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, emphasized that not all hope was lost for the dolphin, which had made its home along the lower reaches of China's now heavily polluted Yangtze River for more than 20 million years.

"We are not saying the baiji is already gone," he said.

But he lamented that further searches this year had failed to find any sign of the dolphin.

Wang said that a letter written by the survey team had been published in the latest issue of the Royal Society Biology Letters journal in Britain to confirm the dolphin was believed to be extinct.

The baiji, identifiable by its long, teeth-filled snout and low dorsal fin, was last officially sighted more than two years ago.

The last confirmed count by a research team was conducted in 1997, when just 13 were recorded.

Up to 5,000 baiji were believed to have lived in the Yangtze less than a century ago, according to the baiji.org website, which was established by a range of international conservation groups.

"The decline in the baiji population has been caused by extreme human pressure on its freshwater habitat," the website said, blaming illegal fishing and massive discharges of industrial and agricultural waste into the river.

Other rare species that live in the Yangtze, such as the Chinese sturgeon and the finless porpoise, are also in danger of extinction.

The British-based zoologist who also worked on the six-week search meanwhile said the loss of the Yangste dolphin was a huge blow.

"The loss of such a unique and charismatic species is a shocking tragedy," said co-author Sam Turvey of the Zoological Society of London.

"The Yangtze River dolphin was a remarkable mammal that separated from all other species over 20 million years ago."

International environmental group WWF has warned that river dolphins are key indicators of a river's health and of the availability of clean water for people living on its banks.

"River dolphins are the watchdogs of the water," said Jamie Pittock, head of WWF's Global Freshwater Program in a recent alert over their fate.

"The high levels of toxic pollutants accumulating in their bodies are a stark warning of poor water quality. This is a problem for both dolphins and the people dependent on these rivers," he added.

Turvey added: "This extinction represents the disappearance of a complete branch of the evolutionary tree of life and emphasizes that we have yet to take full responsibility in our role as guardians of the planet."

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Gone For Good?
Specialists prepare to examine Qi Qi, a Yangtze River dolphin in captivity, in an aquarium in Wuhan, capital city of China's Hubei province, in this 2002 photo. An international expedition to search for the dolphin ended without a single sighting, and researchers say the aquatic mammal is likely extinct in the wild.

Read the original story HERE!

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Four-Galaxy Pileup Caught on Cosmic Camera

Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News

Aug. 8, 2007 — It may sound like a fantastic ice cream flavor, but a quadruple galactic crunch is really a rare cosmic event recently spotted by astronomers: Four galaxies made of old stars in the process of merging into one mega-galaxy.

Unlike many galactic collisions, however, this merger seems to be triggering no new stars to form — which is a little weird.

"When we look in detail...the colors are exactly what you'd expect from old stars," said Kenneth Rines of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

That observation suggests the galaxies are not dust-rich spiral galaxies like our own, but sphere-like "elliptical" galaxies with little dust but lots of aged stars. Rines and his colleagues will be publishing their discoveries about the CL0958+4702 cluster in a coming issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"Conventional wisdom is that whenever we have galaxies merging, you have new stars," said Rines. That's because galactic mergers usually cause the dust of galaxies to collide and condense into new stars. At the same time, stars in merging galaxies generally just fly harmlessly past each other.

The four-way collision was detected in infrared light by the Spitzer Space Telescope.

The galaxies appear as four bright orbs surrounded by a warm halo of old stars, five billion light-years away. The halo was probably created when the stars were flung into intergalactic space by the wild gyrations of the galaxies as they spiral into each other.

Eventually, they will create a single galaxy ten times the mass of the Milky Way.

"We know how far apart they are and how fast they are moving," said Rines.

From that, the researchers calculate the merger will probably take 100 million years. The final galaxy will look like a fuzzy ball of old stars: sort of a great big cosmic dust bunny.

Another sign that no dust is involved in the collision is that there are no signs of super-massive black holes in the centers of any of the four galaxies in the process of eating dust.

When a black hole is devouring matter, the matter gives off lots of ultraviolet light and X-rays — none of which is seen in this case. The only X-rays coming from the CL0958+4702 collision are from the sparse dust and gas there being sped up to a degree that translates into very high temperatures — one to ten million degrees.

"It's a similar temperature to the center of the sun," said Rines. At those temperatures, gases glow in X-rays.

The lack of bright new stars or feeding black holes is exactly what makes these collisions hard to find, explained astronomer Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University.

"It's hard to recognize these mergers and hard to find them," said van Dokkum. "The special thing about this one is that it's big and it's four galaxies."

Read the original story HERE!

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First Europeans Came From Asia, Not Africa, Tooth Study Suggests

Kate Ravilious
for National Geographic News

August 6, 2007

Europe's first early human colonizers were from Asia, not Africa, a new analysis of more than 5,000 ancient teeth suggests.

Researchers had traditionally assumed that Europe was settled in waves starting around two million years ago, as our ancient ancestors—collectively known as hominids—came over from Africa.

But the shapes of teeth from a number of hominid species suggest that arrivals from Asia played a greater role in colonizing Europe than hominids direct from Africa.

These Asian hominids may have originally come from Africa, the scientists note, but had evolved independently for some time.

(Related: "Did Early Humans First Arise in Asia, Not Africa?" [December 27, 2005].)

"Asia was also an important center for hominid speciation," said Maria Martinón-Torres, a scientist at the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain, who led the study.

The finding suggests that the hominid family tree could be much more complex than previously thought (explore an interactive atlas of human migration).

Genetic Safe

Species from the genus Australopithecus and the genus Homo arrived in Europe between two million and 300,000 years ago.

Until recently, a lack of fossils from this time period had made it difficult to piece together hominid evolution and migration patterns.

But using the latest fossil findings, Martinón-Torres and colleagues were able to examine more than 5,000 teeth from two-million-year-old Australopithecus and Homo skeletons from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

The shape of the teeth offered clues about each species' genetic lineages.

"Teeth are like the safe-box of the genetic code," Martinón-Torres said.

That's because—compared to bones—teeth change shape very little once they are formed, and their shape is strongly influenced by genetics.

The researchers classified each of the teeth using more than 50 indicators, such as fissure patterns, overall size, and length-to-width ratio.

"We looked at the entire landscape of the teeth—the mountains, valleys, ridges—everything," Martinón-Torres said.

What they found is that European teeth were more similar to Asian teeth than they were to African teeth.

However, the results don't rule out African influence on European genes.

"This finding does not necessarily imply that there was not genetic flow between continents," Martinón-Torres and colleagues write in their paper, "but emphasizes that this interchange could have been both ways."

The work will be published in tomorrow's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fluid Migrations

Rather than a one-way stream of people coming from Africa, Martinón-Torres and colleagues think there must have been a more fluid pattern of migrations.

"Just because people had come out of Africa didn't mean that they couldn't turn around and go back again," she said.

The researcher also believes that climate, food, and geography were major influences on hominid migration patterns.

The Sahara, for example, presented a big barrier for movement out of Africa and directly into Europe (see photos and read a related feature about athletes who ran across the Sahara earlier this year).

Rather than struggling across the Sahara, it appears that human ancestors spread in many directions before arriving in Europe.

Erika Hagelberg, a geneticist from the University of Oslo in Norway, is impressed with the study, but cautious about how it should be interpreted.

"The study shows that the genetic impact of Asia on Europe is stronger than that of Africa. But the teeth can't tell us the direction or the time when people migrated," she said.

Nonetheless, the new study does complement direct gene studies and supports the idea that hominids evolved independently in many different parts of the world.

"The fossil teeth are a way to study the traits of past peoples," Hagelberg said, "and help balance the work being done on the genes of people alive today."

Read the original story HERE!

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Kenyan Fossils May Add New Branch to Human Family Tree

John Roach
for National Geographic News

August 8, 2007

A pair of fossils recently discovered in Kenya is challenging the straight-line story of human evolution.

Traditional evolutionary theories of the genus Homo suggest a successive progression: Homo habilis gave rise to Homo erectus, which then begat modern humans, Homo sapiens.

H. erectus is commonly seen as the most similar ancestor to modern humans, differing mostly by having a brain about three-quarters the size.

But the newly found upper jawbone and skull, which come from two separate skeletons, suggest that H. habilis was not a direct ancestor of modern humans and that H. erectus was less modern than previously thought.

The fossils, described today in the science journal Nature, were discovered by the Koobi Fora Research Project—an international group of scientists led by the mother-daughter team of Meave and Louise Leakey and affiliated with the National Museums of Kenya.

(Meave and Louise Leakey are National Geographic Society Explorers-in-Residence. National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society, which also funded this research.)

Fossil Contemporaries

The jawbone is attributed to H. habilis and was dated to 1.44 million years ago—meaning its far younger than previously known H. habilis fossils and dates to well after the emergence of H. erectus.

The finding indicates the two species lived side-by-side for half a million years in eastern Africa, according to study lead author Fred Spoor, a professor of evolutionary anatomy at University College London.

"I'm very cautious saying this, [but] it has the potential to remove Homo habilis from the direct ancestral line to us modern humans," he said.

Instead, H. habilis and H. erectus may have had a sister relationship that originated sometime between two and three million years ago, which is a well-known gap in the fossil record.

The two species likely occupied different ecological niches, allowing them to co-exist without competing against each other for limited resources, Spoor noted.

"A good analogy is the chimps and gorillas," he said. "There are a bunch of places in West Africa where both of them live in the same area. But they don't interbreed, they keep to themselves."

The common ancestor of H. habilis and H. erectus remains a mystery, Spoor added.

However, he and other scientists still believe that modern humans evolved from H. erectus, perhaps via an intermediate form. (Related: "'Missing Link' Human Skull Found in Africa, Scientists Say" [March 27, 2006].)

Chris Stringer studies human origins at the Natural History Museum in London. He was not involved in the study.

The new research accurately dates and identifies the two fossils, "throwing light on the early evolution of humans," he said by email.

He also noted that H. erectus may still have evolved from H. habilis, but different adaptations and lifestyles could have allowed some populations to live alongside each other for hundreds of thousands of years.

"One possibility is that the larger and perhaps more mobile erectus species was an active hunter, while habilis scavenged or caught small prey," he said.

Size Variation

The other fossil is an exquisitely preserved skull said to belong to H. erectus. Dated to 1.55 million years ago, it is the smallest H. erectus skull found so far.

The find suggests that H. erectus could vary tremendously in size, said study co-author Susan Antón, an anthropologist at New York University.

"One way of reading that is that there is a lot of size difference between males and females, which would be a lot more sexual dimorphism than we previously thought," she said.

In primates, she noted, large size differences between males and females can be related to sexual selection, mate competition, and reproductive strategy.

For example, a large male silverback gorilla has several smaller female mates, whereas in gibbons males and females are similar in size and shape and mate in pairs.

Previously, scientists believed H. erectus was more like modern humans in terms of size difference between males and females.

"If this is sexual dimorphism and a lot of sexual dimorphism, then it's probably telling us something about behavior that was somewhat less like what we are today," Antón said.

Experimental Species

Ian Tattersall is an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York who studies human origins. He was not involved in the study.

He questioned whether the fossils are correctly assigned to H. habilis and H. erectus.

Nevertheless, he said, they indicate at least two lineages of the genus Homo overlapped in eastern Africa.

"All of this is really contributing to a picture of diversity in early hominid evolution in this time period," he said. "And it's another problem for the notion of linearity."

Rather, he added, "the history of hominids in this time period was one of experimentation—of different ways to be hominids."

Read the original story HERE!

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"Missing Link" Human Skull Found in Africa, Scientists Say

div class="inlinedate">Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News

March 27, 2006

Scientists working in Africa have discovered a Stone Age skull that could be a link between the extinct Homo erectus species and modern humans.

The face and cranium of the fossil have features found in both early and modern human species. The skull is believed to be between 250,000 and 500,000 years old.

"[This skull] shows the continuity of the evolutionary record, so in that sense it is a link [between Homo erectus and modern humans]," said Scott Simpson, a paleontologist from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rare Find

Researchers discovered the skull five weeks ago at Gawis in Ethiopia's northeastern Afar region (map of Ethiopia). The area is rich in fossil and archaeological deposits ranging from 10,000 years to 5.6 million years in age.

An international group known as the Gona Paleoanthropological Research Project began field research in the area in 1999.

Asahmed Humet, a local Afar tribesman working with project, found the early-human cranium in a small gully at the base of a steep slope of sediments.

The skull was missing a lower jaw but had a nearly intact cranium. Most early human fossils are found in many small pieces.

The scientists believe the skull comes from the middle Pleistocene era, about 600,000 to 200,000 years ago.

Homo erectus is thought to be an ancestor of modern Homo sapiens. H. erectus first appeared in Africa and lived from about 1.9 to 0.8 million years ago. (See photos and more from a recent H. erectus discovery in the republic of Georgia.)

The face and cranium of the fossil have characteristics similar to those of an early-human species, such as Homo erectus. But there is anatomical evidence that the fossil is part of modern humans' ancestry. Simpson says, for example, that the shape of the skull's dome, or vault, is similar to that of modern humans.

"If you look at Homo erectus, their vaults tend to be low, long, and angular," Simpson said. "This vault is very spherical, like modern humans'."

Lightly Built

The African fossil record from the Gawis skull's time period is sparse, and most of the specimens are poorly dated, scientists said.

"The evolutionary period between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens is confused," said Andrew Hill, curator of anthropology at Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut.

"The Gawis cranium is almost certain to provide very useful information."

Between 0.8 million years ago, when Homo erectus went extinct, and about 200,000 years ago, one or more species existed in Africa that gave rise to the earliest members of Homo sapiens, our own species.

"There are at least one to three species of Homo recognized within that time period. But we don't know exactly what the relationship is of any of those to modern humans," said Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at Lehman College of the City University of New York. Delson was not involved in the discovery.

"This specimen doesn't seem to show any specific features like modern humans', but it's much more lightly built than Homo erectus," Delson added.

Simpson, the project paleontologist, says the anatomical change seen in the Gawis skull represents humanity's transition to anatomical modernity in Africa.

"We're on the cusp of this middle Stone Age archaeological transition … where people are beginning to have a better handle on how to create more delicate tools … and human anatomy is reflecting this with the brain being reorganized like modern humans'," he said.

"We are not modern humans yet—we really don't see that coming on until 200,000 years ago—but we're certainly on the way to making it," Simpson added.

Read the original story HERE!

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Largest Known Planet Found, Has Density of Cork

div class="inlinedate">Anne Minard
for National Geographic News

August 8, 2007

The biggest alien planet found so far is baffling scientists with properties that defy current scientific explanation.

By all rights, TrES-4, a gas giant recently discovered about 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Hercules, shouldn't exist.

The planet's size is much larger than predicted for its mass, said Georgi Mandushev of Lowell Observatory, lead author of a new study on the exoplanet.

Though 70 percent bigger than Jupiter, TrES-4 contains only three-quarters of the red giant's mass. (Related: "First Proof of Wet 'Hot Jupiter' Outside Solar System" [July 11, 2007].)

That means the alien planet is about as dense as balsa wood or cork, said Mandushev, who is part of a planet-hunting team known as the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey.

"At this point the most valuable thing about this study is it presents a challenge to our theoretical models," Mandushev said. "Most advances in science come from confrontations just like this one."

The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Hot Find

Peter McCullough leads another exoplanet discovery team, called the XO Project, from his position at the Baltimore, Maryland-based Space Telescope Science Institute.

Both he and Mandushev suspect that the unusually large size of TrES-4 has something to do with extreme heat.

The planet is only 4.5 million miles from its parent star, and it orbits in about three days, compared to Jupiter's 12-year revolution.

That means TrES-4 is superheated to about 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit (1,260 degrees Celsius).

"There must be more heating than we have anticipated for the planet's size to be larger than we anticipated," McCullough said.

Hydrogen and other elements could be trapping heat in a similar way to the gases that contribute to atmospheric warming on Earth, study author Mandushev speculated.

Teasing out the exact mechanism that would allow a planet to get so large is now work for theoreticians, the astronomers say.

Seeing is Believing

TrES-4 may be the largest planet known, but it's not the most massive.

That honor is reserved for HAT-P-2, a planet eight times Jupiter's mass located about 440 light-years away, also in the constellation Hercules.

The discovery of that exoplanet, which is only slightly larger than Jupiter, was announced in early May by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. (Read the story: "'Weird' New Planet Weighs as Much as 2,500 Earths" [May 3, 2007].)

Both HAT-P-2 and TrES-4 are among the 20 or so planets found using the "transit method," where scientists spot a world when it crosses between Earth and the parent star.

Planetary scientists first began using the method about five years ago, and success has crept along at a snail's pace.

Meanwhile, more than 200 exoplanets have been discovered by the alternative wobble method, which relies on detecting a planet's gravitational pull on its host star. (Related: "New Planet 'Bonanza' Discovered at Center of Milky Way" [October 4, 2006].)

But "at this point, I think that the [transit] discovery process is accelerating," Mandushev said.

The Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey—which uses telescopes in California, Arizona, and the Canary Islands—found its first transiting world in 2003, and another was unveiled last fall.

The next two finds, TrES-3 and TrES-4, were discovered in May, but TrES-3—which is about twice the mass of Jupiter—was confirmed more quickly and announced earlier this year.

Mandushev prefers the transit method because it yields more information about a planet, including its mass, size, orbit, and even its chemical composition. The wobble method only reveals a planet's mass.

The fledgling method is soon likely to reveal even more scientific puzzlers.

The Space Telescope Science Institute's McCullough said his team is working to confirm an exoplanet they're calling XO-3b.

They believe that planet will dwarf all others, at 13 times Jupiter's mass and twice its size.

It's like "the troll in the fairy tale of Billy Goat Gruff," McCullough said.

"TrES-4 is a very big planet," he said. "But if you wait, there will be even bigger planets in the future."

Read the original story HERE!

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History of the Universe Made Easy (video)

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Fuck bullshit "christians"

Fuck the Westboro Baptist Church. It's one thing to dislike gays. You're entitled to your opinion. But it's an entirely different thing if you say basically "Thank God for Bridge Collapses... because there were gays that died". That is just fucked up. This "church" pickets with signs promoting such garbage as:

"Thank God for 9/11"
"Thank God for AIDS"
"Thank God for Katrina"
"Thank God for IEDs" (explosive devices that have killed MANY US Soldiers in Iraq)
"Thank God for Dead Soldiers"

They said (and this is a direct quote): "Thank God for Bridge Collapse. WBC to picket the funeral of Sherry Lou Engebretsen in religious protest and warning: "God is not mocked." Gal.6:7. God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers! Ergo, God hates Minneapolis and Minnesota - Land of the Sodomite Damned. WBC will also picket the other funerals of those whom God drop-kicked from the Bridge into Hell."

They hail soldiers' deaths a victory, just because they're gay, stating 'God Himself Has Now Become America's Terrorist, Killing
and Maiming American Troops in Strange Lands for Fag Sins"

They cheered at the deathtoll caused by hurricane Katrina, saying "New Orleans, symbol of America, seen for what it is: a putrid, toxic, stinking cesspool of fag fecal matter."

You think this is NOT a big deal? Listen up. The scary fact is that the Westboro Baptist Church has a HUGE following, both locally and through various branches throughout the US. Don't believe it? Just take a look at the Photo Pages. There are photos from HUNDREDS of Protests in literally every state in the US. There are photos of children as young as 7 holding signs such as "GOD HATES FAGS". That should be a terrifying thought for anyone with half a brain. Here is the latest OFFICIAL press release of the Westboro Baptist Church, organizing a picket outside of the funeral of Sherry Lou Engebretsen, one of the victims of the recent bridge collapse in Minnesota: Read here

This is a terrifying organization that promotes "the gospel" through hatred and fear and not only incites violence towards these people, actually hails such deaths as "the work of god for being fags". This is sickening. These are just a few sites dedicated to promoting their twisted propaganda:


If you find this to be disturbing to you, please repost this and do what you can!

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Bart Ehrman "Misquoting Jesus" (Interview)

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Church and State (video)

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The Holyland Experience: the theme park where Jesus dies six times a week

By NIALL FIRTH - More by this author » Last updated at 14:39pm on 8th August 2007

As he is beaten and whipped by cruel Roman soldiers, Jesus Christ dies on the cross as onlookers watch in horror.

It's a moving sight, and one that is replayed six times a week at 'The Holy Land Experience' a Christian theme park in Orlando, Florida.

Like a bizarre cross between 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Disney World' the 15-acre plays host to regular 'biblical recreations', complete with show-stopping musical numbers, and a scale model of Jerusalem.

Being Orlando, the park is also packed with gift shops where faithful visitors can buy T-Shirts and replica Dead Sea Scrolls.

The £8 million theme park, which had been struggling until recently, is now thriving after a recent buyout by a wealthy TV production company.

The 15-acre set contains an exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls and a model of the garden tomb where Christ was supposedly buried.

Its collection of biblical artefacts is said to be biggest outside the Vatican.

As actors in full historical costume scurry about the set on their way to the next big musical number, visitors look forward to the daily Easter parade.

Recent performances range from The Ministry of Jesus, a 15-minute act where Christ heals a blind man and inspires a tax collector, to a 30-minute Southern gospel concert.

But of course it is the resurrection that pulls in the big crowds.

The climax of every visit to the 'The Holy Land Experience' is to get up close and see actors playing the major characters, including a very convincing Jesus, play out the final hours of Christ's life.

Audience members are encouraged to participate as Jesus walks among them with a wireless microphone.

However, its owners prefer not to call it a theme park but a 'living Biblical museum'.

Read the original story HERE!

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A Security Vacuum

The new leader of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite party says an immediate U.S. withdrawal would be harmful. Amar Hakim’s views on America, Iran and the more radical Moqtada al-Sadr.

By Babak DehghanpishehNewsweekUpdated: 4:06 p.m. ET July 15, 2007
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July 15, 2007 - For the past four years, Amar Hakim has mostly stayed on the sidelines as his well-known father, cleric Abdul Aziz Hakim carved out a niche for his party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), as a dominant political force among Iraqi Shiites. When Abdul Aziz was diagnosed with lung cancer in May, it was time for Amar to step up and lead the SIIC. Like his father, Amar, 36, is one of the few Shiite clerics who can navigate the cut-throat politics in both Baghdad and Washington. Critics say the younger Hakim is a sectarian player who has made himself rich through shady business deals, a claim that he denies. NEWSWEEK's Babak Dehghanpisheh met with Hakim at the SIIC headquarters in central Baghdad last week. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: There is a lot of debate in the United States about withdrawing troops from Iraq. What are your thoughts on this subject?
Amar Hakim: We have always wished that the multinational forces would go back to their home. Of course it is connected to the timetable for building capable security forces. The withdrawal of the multinational forces has always been tied to the building of the Iraqi security forces.

If U.S. troops were to pull out now, would it lead to a more chaotic situation?
The immediate withdrawal would create a security vacuum in Iraq. I don't think the police or Iraqi Army would be capable of filling this vacuum. That will give a chance to the armed groups to take control of some parts of Iraq, which will be harmful for the political process. It might also be tempting to the regional countries to try and fill the vacuum that will take place here.

Do you have contacts with officials from the U.S. Embassy?
Of course, we have met them regularly. I have met the U.S. ambassador in Iraq. I have met the special envoy for President Bush. And we have always discussed the need for uplifting the political situation.

Who is the special envoy that you mentioned? Meghan O'Sullivan?

Read the original story HERE!

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Atheist Blood Drive

In an attempt to show the world that atheists are every bit as charitable as the religious of society, and that we need no "divine warrent" to be so, the RRS has set up a daughter organization called Atheist Volunteers. We hope you will all chip in. The most prominent of it's projects is the Atheist Blood drive.

Click HERE to get more info on this important project!

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Atheists for Autism Research Charity!

Check these guys out, and donate if you can!

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Citizens for (pushing their) Community Values (on you)

Check these guys out...

They call themselves the Citizens for Community Values. But who's values?

Their mission states:

Citizens for Community Values (CCV) exists to promote Judeo-Christian moral values, and to reduce destructive behaviors contrary to those values, through education, active community partnership, and individual empowerment at the local, state and national levels.

So here we have a happy little group trying to push their "morals" onto the general Ohio population. Mind you, these are the same people that have been working against homosexual rights, potentially working for a 'clean hotels' law, and currently putting high regulations on strip clubs (check out my latest blog entry for further information on that).

I would like to encourage everyone to sign up for their newsletter and e-news so we can try and keep tabs on this group and what they're doing. This way we can help stop any other infringement on human rights they may try to proceed with.

Take care everyone, and stay rational.

healthyaddict ashley

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Nazi Pop Twins (Video)

The story of Prussian Blue and the disturbing aspects of their no good racist lifestyle.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Bush's NEW war - on ZOMBIES!

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Soulfly - Frontlines

I don't give a fuck
You don't give a fuck
They don't give a fuck
Get back in the front

I don't give a fuck
You don't give a fuck
We don't give a fuck
Get back to the front

No one to trust
Just blood in the dust
Things just getting worse
Worse, worse, and worse

You kill - no remorse
You die - for what cause
They kill - no remorse
They die - for what cause

Back to the...
Back to the...
Back to the frontlines
Back to the...
Back to the...
Back to the frontlines

I don't give a fuck
You don't give a fuck
They don't give a fuck
Get back in the front

I don't give a fuck
You don't give a fuck
We don't give a fuck
Get back to the front

At war, once more
Peace is another sign that falls
I didn't want to be in war
But it follows me once more

For what, I don't know
I don't understand
Can you tell me who has won?
When nothing remains...

Back to the...
Back to the...
Back to the frontlines
Back to the...
Back to the...
Back to the frontlines

Back da fuck up now
Shut da fuck up now
Back to da front now
Back to the frontlines

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