#0055 RRS Newsletter for September 9, 2007

hellfiend666's picture

This is a shorter than usual post today because I desparately need to get some sleep, but I still wanted to get this info out there.

Hello, my fellow heathens. For the rest of the month I will be posting on a regular three a week schedule, I may continue this trend next month, we'll see how it goes. So on every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday the newest editions will be up. Some of you may have noticed the counters at the bottom recently, with that I've been keeping track of how many and what days readers have been loging in to read the newsletter, and the aforementioned days seem to be the most popular, counts on Friday and Sunday being especially high. However, the reason for the newly placed regularity is two-fold. The other reason is to better manage my time, since I will be going on vacation from the 19th to the 28th, and there is much to do in the interum in preparation. In the time I will be gone, there will be no newsletter posts (I'm sure you can all manage, lol) so I encourage you all to browse through the previous editions, as I'm sure there are many of you who haven't seen them all. While I'm gone, any questions, contributions, or comments you have will be fielded by my good friend and helper Adrian (a.k.a. Skeptictank, a.k.a. Freudian slip n' slide). Regulars to the chat room are probably familiar with him already.

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

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Click HERE to find your local affiliate!

Rational Response Squad News


RRS Affiliate News

Healthy Addict leading the charge Discrimintory Policy at major college challenged by RRS MSCD RRS MI, No meeting this month...

Science News

Large Asteroid Breakup May Have Caused Mass Extinction On Earth 65 Million Years Ago Higher Social Skills Are Distinctly Human, Toddler And Ape Study Reveals Marine Team Finds Surprising Evidence Supporting A Great Biblical Flood New Type Of Active Galaxy Discovered


Mel Gibson builds a $37m church in the Malibu hills


Two editors step away from Senate coverage Reid urges Bush to focus on al-Qaida THE FBI AND YOUR CELL PHONE


Atheist Blood Drive Atheists for Autism Research Charity! Religious Victim of the day Force For Democracy -- Or Information Chaos? Expert Forum Spotlights Blogging


Daily Show: Three Gen. of “America to the Rescue” Bill Maher Sept 9, 2007 Real Time HBO

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Do you folks know what a defense mechanism is? Those versed in psychology will know well, however just for kicks we thought we'd do as we were told.


We shit you not.... this is what we deal with on a daily basis....


This moron passed it on... you should too!

Oh... also tonight on that disgusting and infuriating show the Radical Response Squad, they'll host a guy named Sexo Grammaticus who actually has sex!!!! ARGH!! Here is some of his material.

You can see this disgusting and vile show that you need to let everyone know about here...

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Healthy Addict leading the charge

Ashley (a.k.a. Healthy Addict) of RRS Ohio is leading a project to debunk the claims put forth by the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Several other local affiliate heads have signed on to help her in scientificaly refuting each and every claim put forth by the "Museum". The cooperative affiliate heads are, Zombie of RRS Ontario, Bumbklaatt of RRS Colorado, Lunar Shadow of RRS Northern California, Voiderest of RRS Texas, Will Power of RRS Alabama, and myself, Jack of RRS Michigan. This project is still in it's infancy, so more news as it developes. If you would like to assist us in our efforts, contact one of us, Voiderest and myself are regulars here on this site, and the others can be found in the affiliate section HERE , or by clicking their names above. The ultimate goal is to have the resulting material presentable and coherent in a format for tours of the "Museum" for children, to point out to them why all the claims put forth by AIG are horribly inaccurate in any kind of scientific context.

Discrimintory Policy at major college challenged by RRS MSCD

August 31, 2007 - Friday


We had a meeting today with one of the student Trustees at MSCD (Metropolitan State College of Denver).  He is a Trustee to the Board of Directors, which includes the President of MSCD.  He was a very educated and extremely knowledgeable man who saw that our argument was not only legitimate, but also, that it was reasonable and logical. The nature of issue stems from the first paragraph of the MSCD "Class on religious holidays policy", which states "Students at Metropolitan State College of Denver (MSCD) who, because of their sincerely held religious beliefs, are unable to attend classes, take examinations, participate in graded activities or submit graded assignments on particular days shall without penalty be excused from such classes and be given a meaningful opportunity to make up such examinations and graded activities or assignments provided that advance written notice that the student will be absent for religious reasons is given to the faculty members during the first two weeks of the semester."  The issue we have is that people who have religious beliefs are given extra time to complete tests, assignments, etc… While others cannot, (e.g. , including but not limited to atheists/agnostics/skeptics/humanists).  The groups described above, can't do this because they aren't a religion.  Now, we don't want atheism defined as something that it's not, of course, our main issues are that of subjective application of the policy, academic dishonesty, and outright discrimination. Mr. Harris, the student Trustee we talked to, not only agreed with us but also gave us ideas that we hadn't thought about that supported our concerns/issues.  He even gave us a third way in which the policy could be dealt with that we had not thought ourselves. He has said that in his next meeting with the President of MSCD, which is soon; we should have a email from him to share by next Thursday at the latest, he will bring it up and is giving it very serious thought, consideration and effort.  He said "a policy that is intended to encourage diversity, actually discourages diversity", going on later to a say, referring to the subjectivity of the policy, "if you're German teacher sent you the policy back and gave you a definite no and your philosophy teacher, saying yes because he/she would probably see your point, would be a definite yes.  You would then have P&~P which is a contradiction."  The problem of course is that both teachers would be justified under the policy.  Also, as Mr. Harris agreed, that the policy could be used, unfairly, to get more time on papers, tests or other assignments which would be unfair to the rest of the students in the respective class.  Finally, as Chalmer rightly pointed out to Mr. Harris, that no religion or philosophical viewpoint is more deserving of respect than any other, as in the case that a Christian teacher might and could deny a Wiccan or a Muslim "religious holidays" off because of personal bias. And even though there is a process to deal with this, it is quite unnecessary for both student and faculty.  To sum up, Mr. Harris, student trustee to the board of directors, agrees with us and can explain and articulate our concerns very well.  He is essentially on our side and will be making things happen soon and we will keep you updated.

Rational Response Squad @ MSCD
Update 1

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RRS MI, No meeting this month...

Due to the fact that two of the leading members of the Michigan chapter will be on vacation on the day that we usually hold our monthly meeting, we will not be conducting it this month. Next month we will resume the schedule as normal, and hopefully by then we can have more to report on the Creation Museum project. In the meantime, I encourage you all to go to the Meetup.com website and register for the Atheist meetup group in your area. The group listed for my area, Detroit area Atheists, meets on a day that I usually work, so I am hoping to make our presence know through my friend and helper (minion) Adrian, at least once in a while.

Go to the Meetup site HERE!

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Large Asteroid Breakup May Have Caused Mass Extinction On Earth 65 Million Years Ago

Science Daily The impactor believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs and other life forms on Earth some 65 million years ago has been traced back to a breakup event in the main asteroid belt. A joint U.S.-Czech team from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Charles University in Prague suggests that the parent object of asteroid (298) Baptistina disrupted when it was hit by another large asteroid, creating numerous large fragments that would later create the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula as well as the prominent Tycho crater found on the Moon.

The team of researchers, including Dr. William Bottke (SwRI), Dr. David Vokrouhlicky (Charles University, Prague) and Dr. David Nesvorny (SwRI), combined observations with several different numerical simulations to investigate the Baptistina disruption event and its aftermath. A particular focus of their work was how Baptistina fragments affected the Earth and Moon.

At approximately 170 kilometers in diameter and having characteristics similar to carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, the Baptistina parent body resided in the innermost region of the asteroid belt when it was hit by another asteroid estimated to be 60 kilometers in diameter. This catastrophic impact produced what is now known as the Baptistina asteroid family, a cluster of asteroid fragments with similar orbits. According to the team's modeling work, this family originally included approximately 300 bodies larger than 10 kilometers and 140,000 bodies larger than 1 kilometer.

Once created, the newly formed fragments’ orbits began to slowly evolve due to thermal forces produced when they absorbed sunlight and re-radiated the energy away as heat. According to Bottke, "By carefully modeling these effects and the distance traveled by different-sized fragments from the location of the original collision, we determined that the Baptistina breakup took place 160 million years ago, give or take 20 million years."

The gradual spreading of the family caused many fragments to drift into a nearby "dynamical superhighway" where they could escape the main asteroid belt and be delivered to orbits that cross Earth’s path. The team's computations suggest that about 20 percent of the surviving multi-kilometer-sized fragments in the Baptistina family were lost in this fashion, with about 2 percent of those objects going on to strike the Earth, a pronounced increase in the number of large asteroids striking Earth.

Support for these conclusions comes from the impact history of the Earth and Moon, both of which show evidence of a two-fold increase in the formation rate of large craters over the last 100 to 150 million years. As described by Nesvorny, "The Baptistina bombardment produced a prolonged surge in the impact flux that peaked roughly 100 million years ago. This matches up pretty well with what is known about the impact record."

Bottke adds, "We are in the tail end of this shower now. Our simulations suggest that about 20 percent of the present-day, near-Earth asteroid population can be traced back to the Baptistina family."

The team then investigated the origins of the 180 kilometer diameter Chicxulub crater, which has been strongly linked to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Studies of sediment samples and a meteorite from this time period indicate that the Chicxulub impactor had a carbonaceous chondrite composition much like the well-known primitive meteorite Murchison. This composition is enough to rule out many potential impactors but not those from the Baptistina family. Using this information in their simulations, the team found a 90 percent probability that the object that formed the Chicxulub crater was a refugee from the Baptistina family.

These simulations also showed there was a 70 percent probability that the lunar crater Tycho, an 85 kilometer crater that formed 108 million years ago, was also produced by a large Baptistina fragment. Tycho is notable for its large size, young age and its prominent rays that extend as far as 1,500 kilometers across the Moon. Vokrouhlicky says, "The probability is smaller than in the case of the Chicxulub crater because nothing is yet known about the nature of the Tycho impactor."

This study demonstrates that the collisional and dynamical evolution of the main asteroid belt may have significant implications for understanding the geological and biological history of Earth.

As Bottke says, "It is likely that more breakup events in the asteroid belt are connected in some fashion to events on the Earth, Moon and other planets. The hunt is on!"

The article, "An asteroid breakup 160 Myr ago as the probable source of the K/T impactor," was published in the Sept. 6 issue of Nature.

The NASA Origins of Solar Systems, Planetary Geology and Geophysics, and Near-Earth Objects Observations programs funded Bottke's and Nesvorny's research; Vokrouhlicky was funded by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Southwest Research Institute.

Read the original story HERE!

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Higher Social Skills Are Distinctly Human, Toddler And Ape Study Reveals

Science Daily Apes bite and try to break a tube to retrieve the food inside while children follow the experimenter's example to get inside the tube to retrieve the prize, showing that even before preschool, toddlers are more sophisticated in their social learning skills than their closest primate relatives, according to a report published in the 7 September issue of the journal Science.

This innate proficiency allows them to excel in both physical and social skills as they begin school and progress through life.

"We compared three species to determine which abilities and skills are distinctly human," explained Esther Herrmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and lead author of the research paper. Humans differ from their great ape relatives because human brains are about three times the size of the closest primate relatives and humans have language, symbolic math and scientific reasoning.

"Social cognition skills are critical for learning," Herrmann said. The children were much better than the apes in understanding nonverbal communications, imitating another's solution to a problem and understanding the intentions of others," she said.

This is the first comprehensive test comparing social and physical skills of children, chimpanzees and orangutans, Herrmann explained, adding that the findings provide important insight into the evolution of human cognition.

The findings support the cultural intelligence hypothesis that suggests that humans have distinctive social cognitive skills to interact in cultural groups, Herrmann said. An alternate hypothesis suggests that humans differ from apes uniformly across physical and social cognitive tasks because they have more general intelligence.

About 230 subjects -- chimps, orangutans and 2.5 year-old children -- were compared using a battery of tests and found all to be about equal in the physical cognitive skills of space, quantities and causality. In the social skills of communication, social learning and theory-of-mind skills, the children were correct in about 74 percent of the trials, while the two ape species were correct only about 33 percent of the time.

The researchers chose to study children at an age when they have about the same physical skill level of chimpanzees. Children at 2.5 years are old enough to handle these tasks and people have not taught them too much so they provide a good comparison, Herrmann said. The apes ranged in age from 3 to 21.

All of the subjects -- about 100 chimps (Pan troglodytes), 100 children (Homo sapiens) and 30 of the more evolutionarily distant orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) -- were given the same cognitive tests that the Max Planck group developed and named the Primate Cognition Test Battery. The battery analyzes primate cognition dealing with the physical and social world (involved in foraging, for example) and was developed based on the primate cognition research of coauthors Josep Call of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Michael Tomasello of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

In one example of the social learning tasks, a researcher demonstrated how to pop open a plastic tube to retrieve food or a toy inside. The children watched and copied. The chimps and orangutans did not imitate the researcher and instead tried to break the tube or pull the contents out with their teeth.

The tests took between three and five hours and were spread between five and eight days over two weeks. The apes were tested in the sanctuaries where they live in Africa and Indonesia.

The researchers plan to test other closely related species with the Primate Cognition Test Battery to map out the evolution of cognitive ability through systematically testing a variety of primate species and eventually comparing their genomes as they become available.

Reference: "Humans Have Evolved Specialized Skills of Social Cognition: The Cultural Intelligence Hypothesis," by Esther Herrmann, Josep Call, Brian Hare and Michael Tomasello of Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany; María Victoria Hernández-Lloreda at Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Madrid, Spain; and Brian Hare at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Read the original story HERE!

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Marine Team Finds Surprising Evidence Supporting A Great Biblical Flood

Science Daily Did the great flood of Noah's generation really occur thousands of years ago? Was the Roman city of Caesarea destroyed by an ancient tsunami? Will pollution levels in our deep seas remain forever a mystery?

These are just a few of the questions that are being addressed by a new environmental marine research team from Tel Aviv University and the non-profit research and education organization, EcoOcean.

The team, headed by EcoOcean's Andreas Weil and Prof. Sven Beer of Tel Aviv University, are working to uncover new secrets about civilization and climate change from the depths of the sea floor. They are also a conducting a large-scale study on the health of the Mediterranean Sea with Ph.D. students they sponsor. The work is being done aboard "Mediterranean Explorer", a floating marine vessel.

"When I was looking for a partner, I needed to find a team of marine scientists who were leaders in their fields," says Weil, a Swedish environmental philanthropist who helped conceive and fund the idea of giving a free, floating marine research lab to any scientist who needed it. "I didn't want us to be just another Greenpeace group of environmental activists. My dream was to build the foremost research vessel for high-level scientific marine research. I wanted to be able to help provide hard scientific data and education about the real state of affairs of our oceans."

The first and only institution that came to mind was Tel Aviv University (TAU), internationally famous for its work in marine biology. "Besides being the only university in Israel that has a dedicated marine unit, its researchers are leaders not only in Israel, but the world," says Weil, who brought a crew of TAU scientists on board as EcoOcean advisors. They include Professors Yossi Loya, Micha Ilan, Yehuda Benayahu, and Sven Beer, with Beer appointed as the chief partner and chief scientific advisor for EcoOcean.

Climate, the marine environment, and the health of humanity are inexorably intertwined, says Beer. "Marine research is more important for the future of humanity than some people realize. Marine plants provide most of the oxygen that we breathe and regulate the climate more than any other ecosystem on the planet. In the face of global warming, it is critical that we understand our seas in order to sustain life as we know it."

Prof. Beer was part of the team on board "Mediterranean Explorer" that recently headed to the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey, the site where historians believe the great biblical flood occurred. EcoOcean and an international team believe they have found evidence to substantiate what is written in the Bible.

Says Weil, "We found that indeed a flood happened around that time. From core samples, we see that a flood broke through the natural barrier separating the Mediterranean Sea and the freshwater Black Sea, bringing with it seashells that only grow in a marine environment. There was no doubt that it was a fast flood -- one that covered an expanse four times the size of Israel. It might not have been Noah, as it is written in the Bible, but we believe people in that region had to build boats in order to save their animals from drowning. We think that the ones who survived were fishermen -- they already had the boats."

The action and adventure never seem to stop aboard "Mediterranean Explorer", which often plays host to visiting scientists from institutions abroad, including New York's Columbia University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution near Boston, McMaster University in Canada, and Istanbul Technical University.

Next week the team will sail out to take underwater footage for evidence of an ancient tsunami thought to have destroyed the port city Caesarea generations ago. They will also be looking for deep-sea sea grasses, algae and sponges that had been observed earlier by researchers but were never properly investigated. "This is very interesting," says Weil, "because sea grasses are normally not found at these depths. Maybe one day one of these organisms can provide us with a new drug."

Dan Schaffer, the operations manager for EcoOcean and captain of the ship, has been working with EcoOcean for nearly four years. "I am doing a lot more than driving the boat," jokes Schaffer, who sums up the point of EcoOcean quite well. "The way I see it, we are working on three different venues. One is in education -- we are teaching children who will be our future environmental stewards. The second thing is that we have brought this research vessel to Israel and have created a platform that academics in Israel and abroad can use for maritime research. The third is that we have created a floating classroom for students in higher education. Not only can these students do science, but they learn how it is done properly in the field of oceanography."

Schaffer adds that EcoOcean is proving to be an important matchmaker to help scientists cross more than the great big seas. "Prof. Yehuda Benayahu from Tel Aviv University wanted to go to Eritrea to work on a joint project with Eritrea University," he relates. "We made that happen by bringing the know-how and encouraging USAID to supply the funding. It is a perfect story for how research between people and across continents should be done. We are looking forward to more international collaborations."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Tel Aviv University.

Read the original story HERE!

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New Type Of Active Galaxy Discovered

Science Daily An international team of astronomers using NASA’s Swift satellite and the Japanese/U.S. Suzaku X-ray observatory has discovered a new class of active galactic nuclei (AGN).

By now, you’d think that astronomers would have found all the different classes of AGN — extraordinarily energetic cores of galaxies powered by accreting supermassive black holes. AGN such as quasars, blazars, and Seyfert galaxies are among the most luminous objects in our Universe, often pouring out the energy of billions of stars from a region no larger than our solar system.

But by using Swift and Suzaku, the team has discovered that a relatively common class of AGN has escaped detection…until now. These objects are so heavily shrouded in gas and dust that virtually no light gets out.

"This is an important discovery because it will help us better understand why some supermassive black holes shine and others don’t," says astronomer and team member Jack Tueller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Evidence for this new type of AGN began surfacing over the past two years. Using Swift’s Burst Alert Telescope (BAT), a team led by Tueller has found several hundred relatively nearby AGNs that were previously missed because their visible and ultraviolet light was smothered by gas and dust. The BAT was able to detect high-energy X-rays from these heavily blanketed AGNs because, unlike visible light, high-energy X-rays can punch through thick gas and dust.

To follow up on this discovery, Yoshihiro Ueda of Kyoto University, Japan, Tueller, and a team of Japanese and American astronomers targeted two of these AGNs with Suzaku. They were hoping to determine whether these heavily obscured AGNs are basically the same type of objects as other AGN, or whether they are fundamentally different. The AGNs reside in the galaxies ESO 005-G004 and ESO 297-G018, which are about 80 million and 350 million light-years from Earth, respectively.

Suzaku covers a broader range of X-ray energies than BAT, so astronomers expected Suzaku to see X-rays across a wide swath of the X-ray spectum. But despite Suzaku’s high sensitivity, it detected very few low- or medium-energy X-rays from these two AGN, which explains why previous X-ray AGN surveys missed them.

According to popular models, AGNs are surrounded by a donut-shaped ring of material, which partially obscures our view of the black hole. Our viewing angle with respect to the donut determines what type of object we see. But team member Richard Mushotzky, also at NASA Goddard, thinks these newly discovered AGN are completely surrounded by a shell of obscuring material. "We can see visible light from other types of AGN because there is scattered light," says Mushotzky. "But in these two galaxies, all the light coming from the nucleus is totally blocked."

Another possibility is that these AGN have little gas in their vicinity. In other AGN, the gas scatters light at other wavelengths, which makes the AGN visible even if they are shrouded in obscuring material.

"Our results imply that there must be a large number of yet unrecognized obscured AGNs in the local universe," says Ueda.

In fact, these objects might comprise about 20 percent of point sources comprising the X-ray background, a glow of X-ray radiation that pervades our Universe. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has found that this background is actually produced by huge numbers of AGNs, but Chandra was unable to identify the nature of all the sources.

By missing this new class, previous AGN surveys were heavily biased, and thus gave an incomplete picture of how supermassive black holes and their host galaxies have evolved over cosmic history. "We think these black holes have played a crucial role in controlling the formation of galaxies, and they control the flow of matter into clusters," says Tueller. "You can’t understand the universe without understanding giant black holes and what they’re doing. To complete our understanding we must have an unbiased sample."

The discovery paper will appear in the August 1st issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Read the original story HERE!

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Mel Gibson builds a $37m church in the Malibu hills

By Peta Hellard in Los Angeles

September 05, 2007 08:33am

MEL Gibson has poured a further $10 million into his controversial sect in the Malibu hills as he oversees the construction of a 400-seat church to expand his flock of followers.

A federal tax filing reveals that the troubled actor-director made the large lump sum donation earlier this year to his Holy Family Catholic Church, which is situated in the secluded Agoura Hills.

The private church now has $37 million in its coffers - up from $27 million last year, according to the tax document.

Gibson's secretive sect is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church because it does not acknowledge the authority of the Pope or the Vatican and rejects the universally accepted teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

The church - which offers a daily morning mass in Latin - follows an antiquated ideology of Catholicism dating back to the 16th century.

Female followers of Gibson's church must abide by a strict dress code, requiring them to wear veils over their hair and long skirts, with a ban on pants for women.

The exclusive parish currently caters for about 70 families, with the existing chapel having seating for only 100 people.

However, the new church, located 400m up the hill from the current building, will seat about 400 when it is completed in the next 12 months.

Visible throughout much of the valley it overlooks, the high-ceilinged church is being constructed in the architectural style of an old-fashioned Spanish mission.

It is understood that Gibson, 51, also owns the construction company that is building his new place of worship.

Planning documents, seen by The Daily Telegraph, reveal that the current church building will become a meeting hall for the parish.

Gibson and his wife Robyn are listed in federal tax records as directors of the church.

It is run out of Gibson's Icon Production company offices in the beachside suburb of Santa Monica, with an Icon employee responsible for book-keeping.

The Gibsons' tax-free donations to Holy Family are made possible by a charity they established called the AP Reilly Foundation, which operates the church and was named after his late mother, Anne Reilly-Gibson.

The foundation was created in October 1999 for the sole purpose of creating the church.

The church has an unlisted phone number, keeps its address a secret and has asked members of the congregation not to release the information.

The 4.5ha property - located on the scenic and quiet Mulholland Highway - is listed in public documents as being owned by Gibson's foundation and being worth about $3.7 million.

The fenced property is guarded by security and access to the church decided by a staff member at the gate.

Inside, the church is spare and simple, with a very basic altar, exposed wooden beams in the ceiling, dark carpeting, a large iron light fixture and chairs upholstered in maroon fabric.

Discreet video cameras cover the building, surrounded by al Tuscan-style garden of poplars and olive trees.

The church was the venue for the wedding of Gibson's only daughter Hannah, who was walked down the aisle by her father in a private ceremony - reportedly conducted entirely in Latin - last September.

Yesterday, several middle-aged women wearing long skirts, prim blouses, flat shoes and lace veils were wandering the church grounds.

Icon Productions is at present languishing, with nothing in production and one B-movie to distribute.

Read the original story HERE!

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Two editors step away from Senate coverage

BANGOR, Maine, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Two editors with The Bangor (Maine) Daily News have recused themselves from the newspaper's coverage of the state's 2008 U.S. Senate election.

Executive editor Mark Woodward and assignment editor Tim Allen will not participate in the newspaper's coverage of the campaign because of their close ties to candidates, the newspaper said Saturday. The decision followed conferences with fellow editors about apparent conflicts of interest.

Woodward, 60, worked for 10 months as communications director for Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, before he was named executive editor at the newspaper in 1997. His wife, Bridget Woodward, has worked in Collins' Bangor office for more than 10 years, and recently announced she plans to retire effective Sept. 30.

Tim Allen, 55, is a first cousin of U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat who represents Maine's 1st District and is running for the Senate. Tim Allen oversees the newspaper's political, business, health, education and environmental coverage.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Read the original story HERE!

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Reid urges Bush to focus on al-Qaida

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Saturday urged President George W. Bush to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, sixth anniversary by rethinking the Iraq war.

"Mr. President ... we ask you to honor the lives we lost on that tragic day by keeping your promise to bring (Osama) bin Laden to justice and destroy his terror network once and for all," said in the Democratic Party's weekly national radio address. "The families of those we lost on Sept. 11, our troops serving overseas and all Americans deserve no less."

Reid said the United States should have focused all of its efforts on capturing bin Laden and destroying al-Qaida. Instead, he said resources were diverted toward attacking Iraq.

Reid said the war in Iraq has become 'bin Laden's best recruiting tool."

"It is bin Laden who has used the breathing room created by the war in Iraq to regroup, re-tool, and recruit," said Reid. "The unfortunate truth is that Iraq's leaders have not taken meaningful steps toward building a country that can stand on its own in spite of President Bush spending almost $3 billion each week on this war."

Copyright 2007 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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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Religious Victim of the day

Murderous messiah

Sex cult's messiah turns killer. Ricky Rodriguez grew up being hailed as a messiah. Born into the notorious sex cult The Children of God, Rodriguez was raised amid a bizarre blend of free love and apocalyptic Christianity. Its founder, David Berg, prophesied that one day Rodriguez would lead it.

Please note: Ricky Rodriguez was a victim of this cult.

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Force For Democracy -- Or Information Chaos? Expert Forum Spotlights Blogging

Science Daily Controversial Internet entrepreneur turned cultural critic Andrew Keen, who says the revolution of interactivity and user-generated content on the internet is leading to 'less culture, less reliable news and a chaos of useless information' is one contributor certain to ignite debate at the two-day conference at the University of York. The conference is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through its e-Society programme.

Innovations such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube -- known as the 'Web 2.0' phenomenon -- are the focus of a major gathering of Internet researchers, surfers and social commentators, aimed at encouraging social scientific interest in recent dramatic developments in cyberspace culture.

London born and educated, Andrew Keen, who has been based in California since the 1990s, is one of six keynote speakers at the event, at the National Science Learning Centre, University of York on September 5 and 6. The conference is organised and hosted by the University's Social Informatics Resarch Unit (SIRU).

The conference will examine the whole range of 'Web 2.0' activity -- from wikis and 'mash-ups' to social networking sites, offering insights into digital technologies and the growth of online communities. Delegates will discuss the issues of privacy and trust, identity and democracy.

While recent Internet developments have received widespread media coverage, the organisers say there has so far been little in the way of sustained investigation by social scientists into 'Web 2.0' . Its practices include 'generating' and 'browsing', 'tagging' and 'feeds', 'commenting' and 'noting', 'reviewing' and 'rating', 'blogging' and making 'friends'.

The conference will include more than 40 presentations by academics from across the world - many already involved in social scientific or cultural research into websites such as MySpace, Bebo, YouTube, Flickr, Second Life and del.icio.us.

Andrew Keen, in his recent book 'The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting our Economy', argues that whilst blogs, podcasts, amateur videos and music may be harmless or sometimes even enriching forms of media, they are destroying mainstream newspapers, record companies and film-makers. Wikipedia, the popular free online encyclopedia, he describes as 'dumb'.

He will go head-to-head with leading authority on innovation and creativity, Charles Leadbeater, author of the forthcoming book 'We-think: the power of mass creativity'. This aims to understand the new culture in which people do not just want services and goods delivered to them, but also 'tools so that they can take part, and places in which to play, share, debate with others'.

Charles Leadbetter disagrees that people are being duped. The more sources of information available, the more critical they can be, he has argued.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Economic & Social Research Council.

Read the original story HERE!

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Daily Show: Three Gen. of “America to the Rescue”

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Bill Maher Sept 9, 2007 Real Time HBO









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Huge thanks go to everyone that has helped me out on this endeavor. Specifically, Zombie, head of RRS Ontario for multple article submissions, Voiderest of RRS Texas, my coding guru without whom many of the features of this newsletter (like the Table of Contents) would not be in place, Brian Sapient for his guiding hand and for the space in which this is published, and all of you who have contributed articles. Cheers go out to you all!!!