"Am I therefore become your enemy,because I TELL YOU THE TRUTH...?"
(Galatians 4:16)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

BIG BROTHER WATCH:Billboards That Look Back

In advertising these days, the brass ring goes to those who can measure everything-how many people see a particular advertisement, when they see it, who they are. All of that is easy on the Internet, and getting easier in television and print.
Billboards are a different story. For the most part, they are still a relic of old-world media, and the best guesses about viewership numbers come from foot traffic counts or highway reports, neither of which guarantees that the people passing by were really looking at the billboard, or that they were the ones sought out.Now, some entrepreneurs have introduced technology to solve that problem.They are equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about passers-by-their gender, approximate age and how long they looked at the billboard. These details are transmitted to a central database.
Behind the technology are small start-ups that say they are not storing actual images of the passers-by, so privacy should not be a concern. The cameras, they say, use software to determine that a person is standing in front of a billboard, then analyze facial features (like cheekbone height and the distance between the nose and the chin) to judge the person’s gender and age. So far the companies are not using race as a parameter, but they say that they can and will soon.The goal, these companies say, is to tailor a digital display to the person standing in front of it — to show one advertisement to a middle-aged white woman, for example, and a different one to a teenage Asian boy.“Everything we do is completely anonymous,” said Paolo Prandoni, the founder and chief scientific officer of Quividi, a two-year-old company based in Paris that is gearing up billboards in the United States and abroad. Quividi and its competitors use small digital billboards, which tend to play short videos as advertisements, to reach certain audiences.Over
Memorial Day weekend, a Quividi camera was installed on a billboard on Eighth Avenue near Columbus Circle in Manhattan that was playing a trailer for “The Andromeda Strain,” a mini-series on the cable channel A&E.“I didn’t see that at all, to be honest,” said Sam Cocks, a 26-year-old lawyer, when the camera was pointed out to him by a reporter. “That’s disturbing. I would say it’s arguably an invasion of one’s privacy.”Organized privacy groups agree, though so far the practice of monitoring billboards is too new and minimal to have drawn much opposition. But the placement of surreptitious cameras in public places has been a flashpoint in London, where cameras are used to look for terrorists, as well as in Lower Manhattan, where there is a similar initiative.Although surveillance cameras have become commonplace in banks, stores and office buildings, their presence takes on a different meaning when they are meant to sell products rather than fight crime. So while the billboard technology may solve a problem for advertisers, it may also stumble over issues of public acceptance.“I guess one would expect that if you go into a closed store, it’s very likely you’d be under surveillance, but out here on the street?” Mr. Cocks asked. At the least, he said, there should be a sign alerting people to the camera and its purpose.Quividi’s technology has been used in Ikea stores in Europe and McDonald’s restaurants in Singapore, but it has just come to the United States. Another Quividi billboard is in a Philadelphia commuter station with an advertisement for the Philadelphia Soul, an indoor football team. Both Quividi-equipped boards were installed by Motomedia, a London-based company that converts retail and street space into advertisements.“I think a big part of why it’s accepted is that people don’t know about it,” said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group.“You could make them conspicuous,” he said of video cameras. “But nobody really wants to do that because the more people know about it, the more it may freak them out or they may attempt to avoid it.”And the issue gets thornier: the companies that make these systems, like Quividi and TruMedia Technologies, say that with a slight technological addition, they could easily store pictures of people who look at their cameras.The companies say they do not plan to do this, but Mr. Tien said he thought their intentions were beside the point. The companies are not currently storing video images, but they could if compelled by something like a court order, he said.For now, “there’s nothing you could go back to and look at,” said George E. Murphy, the chief executive of TruMedia who was previously a marketing executive at DaimlerChrysler. “All it needs to do is look at the audience, process what it sees and convert that to digital fields that we upload to our servers.”TruMedia’s technology is an offshoot of surveillance work for the Israeli government. The company, whose slogan is “Every Face Counts,” is testing the cameras in about 30 locations nationwide. One TruMedia client is Adspace Networks, which runs a network of digital screens in shopping malls and is testing the system at malls in Chesterfield, Mo., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Monroeville, Pa. Adspace’s screens show a mix of content, like the top retail deals at the mall that day, and advertisements for DVDs, movies or consumer products.Within advertising circles, these camera systems are seen as a welcome answer to the longstanding problem of how to measure the effectiveness of billboards, and how to figure out what audience is seeing them. On television, Nielsen ratings help marketers determine where and when commercials should run, for example. As for signs on highways, marketers tend to use traffic figures from the Transportation Department; for pedestrian billboards, they might hire someone to stand nearby and count people as they walk by.The Internet, though, where publishers and media agencies can track people’s clicks for advertising purposes, has raised the bar on measurement. Now, it is prodding billboards into the 21st century.“Digital has really changed the landscape in the sort of accuracy we can get in terms of who’s looking at our creative,” Guy Slattery, senior vice president for marketing for A&E, said of Internet advertising. With Quividi, Mr. Slattery said, he hoped to get similar information from what advertisers refer to as the out-of-home market.“We’re always interested in getting accurate data on the audience we’re reaching,” he said, “and for out-of-home, this promises to give a level of accuracy we’re not used to seeing in this medium.”Industry groups are scrambling to provide their own improved ways of measuring out-of-home advertising. An outdoor advertising association, the Traffic Audit Bureau, and a digital billboard and sign association, the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Association, are both devising more specific measurement standards that they plan to release by the fall.Even without cameras, digital billboards encounter criticism. In cities like Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, outdoor advertising companies face opposition from groups that call their signs unsightly, distracting to drivers and a waste of energy.There is a dispute over whether digital billboards play a role in highway accidents, and a national study on the subject is expected to be completed this fall by a unit of the Transportation Research Board. The board is part of a private nonprofit institution, the National Research Council.Meanwhile, privacy concerns about cameras are growing. In Britain, which has an estimated 4.2 million closed-circuit television cameras — one for every 14 people — the matter has become a hot political issue, with some legislators proposing tight restrictions on the use and distribution of the footage.Reactions to the A&E billboard in Manhattan were mixed. “I don’t want to be in the marketing,” said Antwann Thomas, 17, a high school junior, after being told about the camera. “I guess it’s kind of creepy. I wouldn’t feel safe looking at it.”But other passers-by shrugged. “Someone down the street can watch you looking at it — why not a camera?” asked Nathan Lichon, 25, a Navy officer.Walter Peters, 39, a truck driver for a dairy, said: “You could be recorded on the street, you could be recorded in a drugstore, whatever. It doesn’t matter to me. There’s cameras everywhere.”
As in the days of Noah....

Tropical Storm Alma hits Nicaragua


"And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.
Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.
So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?
And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.
So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.
And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night;
And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
And he wrote a letter after this manner:
Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.
This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.
And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.
Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris."

Acts 23:11-31

Junta evicts survivors from camps

Myanmar starts mass evictions from cyclone camps

KYAUKTAN, Myanmar-Myanmar's junta started evicting destitute families from government-run cyclone relief centers on Friday, apparently fearing the 'tented villages' might become permanent."It is better that they move to their homes where they are more stable," a government official said at one camp where people had been told to clear out at short notice."Here, they are relying on donations and it is not stable."Locals and aid workers said 39 camps in the immediate vicinity of Kyauktan, 30 km (20 miles) south of Yangon, were being cleared as part of a general eviction plan."We knew we had to go at some point but we had hoped for more support," 21-year-old trishaw driver Kyaw Moe Thu said as he trudged out of the camp with his five brothers and sisters.They had been given 20 bamboo poles and some tarpaulins to help rebuild their lives in the Irrawaddy delta, where 134,000 people were left dead or missing by Cyclone Nargis on May 2."Right now, we are disappointed," Kyaw Moe Thu said. "We were promised 30 poles by the government.They told us we will get rice each month, but right now we have nothing."Singapore said Myanmar's generals were wary of admitting foreign aid workers because it would show they were not capable of handling the disaster."The military leaders surely know that foreign aid will save lives and help to rebuild the devastated areas. But they also fear the political consequence of opening up the disaster zone to international aid teams," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a security conference in Singapore."This might show up their own incapability, and undermine their credibility and legitimacy," he said.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Georgia says stopped drone flights over Abkhazia

UNITED NATIONS-Georgia said on Friday it had stopped spy plane flights over breakaway Abkhazia as Western nations prepared a diplomatic drive to calm tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow that have raised fears of war.But Georgian U.N. Ambassador Irakli Alasania warned after addressing a Security Council meeting on the crisis that his country reserved its right to resume flights by pilotless drones if it saw a threat from Russian-backed Abkhazia.A Georgian drone was shot down over Abkhazia on April 20 by what a U.N. report said on Monday was a Russian fighter.Moscow has denied involvement.The report also said the Georgian reconnaissance flight violated a 1994 cease-fire agreement between Georgia and Abkhazia, a region on the Black Sea that is smaller than Cyprus and has fewer than 200,000 people.The conflict has sparked friction between Russia and the West, which supports Georgia's ambition to join NATO. The instability in the South Caucasus has also worried the West because the region is seen as a vital part of an energy corridor between Caspian Sea oil fields and world markets."I openly said that since the (U.N.) report was issued, (the) Georgian side stopped overflights," Alasania told reporters. "It doesn't mean that we will not use these military capabilities if the threat will occur in the region."Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he was "quite encouraged" by the Georgian halt to overflights, although he regretted the warning of a possible resumption-something he said Alasania had not mentioned at the council meeting.In the closed-door session, Churkin said he had called on Georgia "to stop its policy of provocation," pull back forces from the border with Abkhazia and sign an accord with the rebel region on abstention from force and return of refugees.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Egypt's emergency law leaves trail of tears

CAIRO-Fifteen years after police took away her husband, Zeinab Ahmed says she has lost hope he will return to help raise their daughter, born while he was in jail.Mohamed el-Leithi stood trial in a military court with dozens of Islamists charged with belonging to the radical group Vanguards of Conquest. He was acquitted but remains in jail under an emergency law that allows police to hold suspects for long periods without charge."Where is justice?" said Ahmed, wearing a black veil that only showed eyes welling with tears. "Drug dealers get out of jail. Murderers get out of jail. What has he done?"About 18,000 Egyptians are detained without charge under the emergency law, in force since Islamist militants assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981, Amnesty International says.The prospect for their early release diminished this week when parliament extended the law for two years. Local and international human rights groups accuse the ruling establishment of using it to crush dissent.Ahmed and others with family members in detention share tales of months spent trying to find out where their relatives are detained, fruitless court release orders, financial hardship and traumatized children visiting their fathers behind bars.During eight years when Leithi was in a prison about 450 km (300 miles) south of Cairo, Ahmed said she visited him only a handful of times a year because she could not afford to travel."I don't have money. My father was supporting me financially. He died. Now my brothers support me," she said. Both Leithi's parents died when he was in jail.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah....

Uribe tours Colombia's flooded areas

Nepal abolishes monarchy

Nepal raises national flag in palace

KATHMANDU-Nepali authorities raised the national flag at the palace of dethroned King Gyanendra on Thursday, hours after stone-throwing demonstrators clashed with police and tried to storm inside.More than 25 people were injured when police beat the crowd back with bamboo sticks but protesters continued to shout anti-king slogans."Gyanendra, thief, leave the palace!" they shouted.Earlier on Thursday, the royal flag was lowered from Nepal's palace as the Himalayan nation celebrated its first day as a republic following the abolition of its 239-year-old Hindu monarchy.A special assembly elected in April voted to abolish the monarch and gave Gyanendra a fortnight to vacate the sprawling pink palace in Kathmandu. His palace will be turned into a museum.That vote was a key condition of a 2006 peace deal with the Maoist former rebels who ended their decade-long civil war and joined mainstream politics."Vive la Republique," read a banner headline in the Kathmandu Post."A hope is born," said the Himalayan Times daily.
To read more go to:

As in the days of Noah...


"And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?
Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle."

Acts 23:1-10

US probes whether laptop copied on China trip

WASHINGTON-U.S. authorities are investigating whether Chinese officials secretly copied the contents of a government laptop computer during a visit to China by Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and used the information to try to hack into Commerce computers, officials and industry experts told The Associated Press.Surreptitious copying is believed to have occurred when a laptop was left unattended during Gutierrez's trip to Beijing for trade talks in December, people familiar with the incident told the AP. These people spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident was under investigation.Gutierrez told the AP on Thursday he could not discuss whether or how the laptop's contents might have been copied."Because there is an investigation going on, I would rather not comment on that," he said. "To the extent that there is an investigation going on, those are the things being looked at, those are the questions being asked.I don't think I should provide any speculative answers.A Commerce Department spokesman, Rich Mills, said he could not confirm or deny such an incident in China. Asked whether the department has issued new rules for carrying computers overseas, Mills said:"The department is continuing to improve our security posture, and that includes providing updates, guidances and best practices to staff to maintain security."It was not immediately clear what information on the laptop might have been compromised, but it would be highly unorthodox for any U.S. government official to carry classified data on a laptop overseas to China, especially one left unattended even briefly. Modern copying equipment can duplicate a laptop's storage drive in just minutes.The report of the incident is the latest in a series of worrisome cyber security problems blamed on China and comes at a sensitive time, with looming trade issues between the countries and special attention on China over the upcoming summer Olympics. Gutierrez returned just weeks ago from another trip to Beijing, where he noted he had "traveled here more than to any other foreign city during my tenure as commerce secretary."In the period after Gutierrez returned from China in December, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team - known as US-CERT, some of the government's leading computer forensic experts - rushed to the Commerce Department on at least three occasions to respond to serious attempts at data break-ins, officials told the AP.
"There's nothing to substantiate an actual compromise at this time," said Russ Knocke, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. Knocke said he was unable to find records of a DHS investigation. He said US-CERT workers have visited the Commerce Department eight times since December, but none of those visits related to laptops or the secretary's trip to China. He said the US-CERT organization works routinely with all U.S. agencies.The FBI declined to comment.It wasn't clear whether leaving the laptop unattended violated U.S. government rules. Some agencies, such as Homeland Security, routinely provide officials with sanitized laptops to carry on trips overseas and require them to leave in the U.S. their everyday laptops, which might contain sensitive information. Some former Commerce officials told the AP they were careful to keep electronic devices with them at all times during trips to China."We have rules in place," Gutierrez said. "We have procedures that people go through before they travel. So, there is a very significant process in place. Technology is obviously moving very quickly, and we have to move very quickly with it. But all of that is something that we are going through."A senior U.S. intelligence official, Joel F. Brenner, recounted a separate story of an American financial executive who traveled to Beijing on business and said he had detected attempts to remotely implant monitoring software on his handheld "personal digital assistant" device - software that could have infected the executive's corporate network when he returned home. The executive "counted five beacons popped into his PDA between the time he got off his plane in Beijing and the time he got to his hotel room," Brenner, chief of the office of the National Counterintelligence Executive under the CIA, said during a speech in December.Brenner recommended throwaway cellular phones for any business people traveling to China."The more serious danger is that your device will be corrupted with malicious software that takes only a second or two to download - and you will not know it - and that can be transferred to your home server when you collect your e-mail," he said.The Pentagon, State Department and Commerce Department all have been victimized by widespread computer intrusions blamed on China since July 2006. Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed in September that parts of the Pentagon's unclassified e-mail system - used by Gates and hundreds of others - were disrupted in June 2007 due to a break-in.The Commerce Department break-ins have been so serious that its Bureau of Industry and Security, which regulates exports of sensitive technology that might be used in weapons, effectively unplugged itself from the Internet.Workers were instructed to use a few laptops placed around the office that are isolated from the department's network, even to search for public information using Google's Web search engine."We have discovered a number of very serious threats to the integrity of our systems and data," wrote then-Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce Mark Foulon to employees in an e-mail obtained by AP under the Freedom of Information Act. He said the department was not the government's only hacking victim, "but we have an obligation, which we must take seriously, to take all necessary measures to protect our systems and our data."At the time, Foulon acknowledged that some of the protective measures "may create difficulties and even reduce productivity."Fully one year after being unplugged from the Internet, some Commerce Department employees complained about the inconvenience. One worker offered to provide his own laptop so he could work at his desk, rather than use one of the office terminals 30 feet away. "How that endanger the network?" the employee wrote last summer. His request was denied by a security supervisor who complained that he, too, was struggling with the same Internet restrictions.
As in the days of Noah....

Israel’s Defense Minister: Olmert Should Resign

Livni: Rising star of Israel's troubled political establishment

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who on Thursday challenged the Kadima party leadership of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, under investigation for alleged corruption, is seen as as rising political star and a contender to be its second woman leader.The 49-year-old lawyer, who defied her staunch nationalist background to become the number two in government and in the centrist Kadima, is today the most popular member of government.She is seen as the strongest candidate to succeed Olmert as Kadima's head and enjoys high public approval ratings, though she still trails right-wing Likud party chief Benjamin Netanyahu in polls as a potential premier.Today Livni heads the peace negotiations with the Palestinians, launched late last year in a US conference, but which have since made little visible progress.She has met frequently with her US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, on improving conditions for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where she is committed to the creation of a Palestinian state but also ensuring Israel's security and fight against terror."The creation of a Palestinian state, of a Palestinian economy, is clearly in Israel's interests, and we share the Palestinians' desire, just as cracking down on terror is a Palestinian interest," Livni said, while attending a donors conference for the Palestinians in Paris in December.In April she took the rarely available opportunity of visiting an Arab country, attending a democracy forum in Qatar, where she lobbied for support against Iran's nuclear drive and urged Arab states to forge ties with Israel.Ironically, Livni was virtually born to be a luminary in Likud.Her Polish-born father Eitan was director of operations for the Irgun, the hardline nationalist group that fought British rule through World War II and was one of the main factions that later formed the Likud.Yet she was among the first ministers to join former premier Ariel Sharon in breaking with Likud before the March 2006 elections, becoming one of the new party's founders.With her mother Sarah also an Irgun militant, Tzipi was brought up steeped in the vision of a Greater Israel that would include what are now the Palestinian territories.But under Sharon's tutelage she swung round to his conviction that the only way to preserve Israel as a Jewish state was to relinquish at least some of the land occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War.Livni was born in Tel Aviv on July 8, 1958. She received a law degree from Bar-Ilan University, and practiced law in a private firm for 10 years before entering public life. She specialised in commercial, constitutional and real estate law.An MP since 1999, she was appointed to the cabinet in March 2001, becoming minister of regional cooperation. She has since also held the agriculture, immigration and justice portfolios.Before following her father into politics, she worked in a commercial law partnership after four years in the legal section of the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service.She is married and has two children.
As in the days of Noah...

KNOWLEDGE SHALL INCREASE:Computer trained to "read" mind images of words

WASHINGTON-A computer has been trained to "read" people's minds by looking at scans of their brains as they thought about specific words, researchers said on Thursday.They hope their study, published in the journal Science, might lead to better understanding of how and where the brain stores information.This might lead to better treatments for language disorders and learning disabilities, said Tom Mitchell of the Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who helped lead the study."The question we are trying to get at is one people have been thinking about for centuries, which is: How does the brain organize knowledge?" Mitchell said in a telephone interview."It is only in the last 10 or 15 years that we have this way that we can study this question."Mitchell's team used functional magnetic resonance imaging, a type of brain scan that can see real-time brain activity.They calibrated the computer by having nine student volunteers think of 58 different words, while imaging their brain activity."We gave instructions to people where we would tell them, 'We are going to show you words and we would like you, when you see this word, to think about its properties,'" Mitchell said.They imaged each of the nine people thinking about the 58 different words, to create a kind of "average" image of a word."If I show you the brain images for two words, the main thing you notice is that they look pretty much alike. If you look at them for a while you might see subtle differences," Mitchell said."We have the program calculate the mean brain activity over all of the words that somebody has looked at. That gives us the average when somebody thinks about a word, and then we subtract that average out from all those images," Mitchell added.Then the test came."After we train on the other 58 words, we can say 'Here are two new words you have not seen, celery and airplane.'" The computer was asked to choose which brain image corresponded with which word.The computer passed the test, predicting when a brain image was taken when a person thought about the word "celery" and when the assigned word was "airplane."The next step is to study brain activity for phrases."If I say 'rabbit' or 'fast rabbit' or 'cuddly rabbit', those are very different ideas," Mitchell said."I want to basically use that as a kind of scaffolding for studying language processing in the brain."Mitchell was surprised at how similar brain activity was among the nine volunteers, although the work was painstaking. For an MRI to work well, the patient must sit or lie very still for several minutes."It can be hard to focus," Mitchell said. "Somewhere in the middle of that their stomach growls. And all of sudden they think, 'I'm hungry-oops.' It's not a controllable experiment."

As in the days of Noah...

PESTILENCE WATCH:U.N. sees major disease threat in Myanmar

GENEVA-The United Nations is stepping up efforts to combat malaria, cholera and other diseases in Myanmar that are now the main threat to millions left homeless by this month's cyclone, a senior official said on Thursday.Stagnant water in the wake of the cyclone and storm surge, which left up to 2.4 million people destitute, has created ideal breeding conditions for malaria and dengue, said World Health Organization assistant director-general Eric Laroche.Laroche heads the international health operation formed to deal with the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar's fertile Irrawaddy Delta region and the capital Yangon on May 2."The major threat in health now is communicable disease," he said the day after his return from Yangon. It was also the monsoon season in Myanmar, a time when malaria, dengue fever and cholera outbreaks tend to occur, he said.The government was treating any cases of acute diarrhea as potential cholera, he said. Non-governmental organizations have reported outbreaks of cholera, but none has been verified and the government has not confirmed any, he said.The WHO is leading a partnership with official, private and non-governmental organizations in Myanmar to tackle the crisis. It has approved a $28 million action plan over six months for the program, including $10 million directly for WHO operations.Another priority was to rebuild Myanmar's health infrastructure.The government had already called on private firms to help rebuild schools and hospitals and reconstruction was taking place surprisingly quickly.Hunger for those left homeless or without the ability to grow food is also a health risk.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

U.S. Withdraws Fulbright Grants to Gaza

GAZA- The American State Department has withdrawn all Fulbright grants to Palestinian students in Gaza hoping to pursue advanced degrees at American institutions this fall because Israel has not granted them permission to leave.Israel has isolated this coastal strip, which is run by the militant group Hamas. Given that policy, the United States Consulate in Jerusalem said the grant money had been “redirected” to students elsewhere out of concern that it would go to waste if the Palestinian students were forced to remain in Gaza.A letter was sent by e-mail to the students on Thursday telling them of the cancellation.Abdulrahman Abdullah, 30, who had been hoping to study for an M.B.A. at one of several American universities on his Fulbright, was in shock when he read the letter.“If we are talking about peace and mutual understanding, it means investing in people who will later contribute to Palestinian society,” he said.“I am against Hamas. Their acts and policies are wrong. Israel talks about a Palestinian state. But who will build that state if we can get no training?”(1)Some Israeli parliamentarians, who held a hearing on the issue of student movement out of Gaza on Wednesday, expressed anger that their government was failing to promote educational and civil development in a future Palestine given the hundreds of students who had been offered grants by the United States and other Western governments.“This could be interpreted as collective punishment,” complained Rabbi Michael Melchior, chairman of the Parliament’s education committee, during the hearing. “This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews, who have been subjected to the deprivation of higher education in the past. Even in war, there are rules.” Rabbi Melchior is from the Meimad Party, allied with Labor.The committee asked the government and military to reconsider the policy and get back to it within two weeks. But even if the policy is changed, the seven Fulbright grantees in Gaza are out of luck for this year. Their letters urged them to reapply next year.Israel’s policy appears to be in flux. At the parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, a Defense Ministry official recalled that the cabinet had declared Gaza “hostile territory” and decided that the safety of Israeli soldiers and civilians at or near the border should be risked only to facilitate the movement out of Gaza for humanitarian concerns, like medical treatment. Higher education, he said, was not a humanitarian concern.But when a query about the canceled Fulbrights was made to the prime minister’s office on Thursday, senior officials expressed surprise. They said they did, in fact, consider study abroad to be a humanitarian necessity and that when cases were appealed to them, they would facilitate them.
They suggested that American officials never brought the Fulbright cases to their attention. The State Department and American officials in Israel refused to discuss the matter. But the failure to persuade the Israelis may have stemmed from longstanding tensions between the consulate in Jerusalem, which handles Palestinian affairs, and the embassy in Tel Aviv, which manages relations with the Israeli government.The study grants notwithstanding, the Israeli officials argued that the policy of isolating Gaza was working, that Palestinians here were starting to lose faith in Hamas’s ability to rule because of the hardships of life.Since Hamas, a radical Islamist group that opposes Israel’s existence, carried out what amounted to a coup d’├ętat in Gaza against the more secular Fatah party a year ago, hundreds of rockets and mortar shells have been launched from here at Israeli civilians, truck and car bombs have gone off and numerous attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers have taken place.While Hamas says the attacks are in response to Israeli military incursions into Gaza, it also says it will never recognize Israel.“We are using the rockets to shake the conscience of the world about Israeli aggression,” argued Ahmed Yusef, political adviser to the Hamas foreign minister in an interview in his office here. “All our rockets are a reaction to Israeli aggression.”The Israeli closure of Gaza has added markedly to the difficulty of daily life here, with long lines for cooking gas and a sense across the population of being under siege. Israel does send in about 70 truckloads per day of wheat, dairy products and medical equipment as well as some fuel, and it permits some medical cases out.
To read more go to:
PS:May be my answer for(1)is simplistic but what about palestinian STANDING AGAINST HAMAS,ONCE AND FOR ALL...???What about countries like EGYPT with prestigious Colleges offering THEM SCHOLARSHIPS....?What about OIL RICH ARAB COUNTRIES HELPING PALESTINIAN STUDENTS WITH MONEY....???
As in the days of Noah...

JIHAD WATCH:Qur'an critic to be executed in Iran within days

This message comes from an Iranian ex-Muslim and lover of freedom in London:
Urgent Attention
Another free thinker is to be executed in Iran in the coming days
It is with great regret that I inform all freedom loving people of the world that the Mullahs' terrorist regime is about to execute one of Iran's finest thinkers, a true patriot, scholar and historian.Dr. Foroud Fouladvand is a dedicated monarchist, a Ferdousi expert as well as expert on the history of Iran and Islam.A confirmed report sent to the office of Dr. Fouladvand in London from inside Iran suggests that Dr. Fouladvand and two of his compatriots are going to be executed on Saturday, May 31, 2008 or possibly even sooner.The two men to be executed alongside Dr. Fouladvand are Mr. Nazem Schmidtt, an Iranian/American citizen, aka Simorgh, and Mr. Alexander Valizadeh, an Iranian/ German citizen, aka Koroush Lor.Dr. Fouladvand, a British citizen, was known throughout the Iranian community for his open criticism of Islam and the Mullah's tyranny.Dr. Fouladvand, who is an expert on Islam, openly challenged the Qur'an in his daily television broadcasts for listeners both inside and outside Iran. His Television discussions were offensive to the Mullahs. On March 10, 2006, in a preplanned action, about 65 of his supporters refused to leave a Lufthansa plane in protest of the European Union's policy of appeasement of the Mullahs' regime.Dr. Fouladvand was led to believe by an agent of the Mullahs' regime posing as a monarchist activist from within Iran that there were many Iranian patriots inside Iran who believed in him, and that a meeting with them would be fruitful in organizing and uniting people inside Iran to oppose the Mullahs. On October 13, 2006, Dr. Fouladvand and a number of his friends, including the above-named men, left London for the Turkish/Iranian border.The last news of Dr. Fouladvand's whereabouts was on January17, 2007, when he was expected to meet the supposedly Iranian activists in the Kurdish province of Hakkary in Iraq, which is close to the Iranian border.In January 2007, the agents of the Mullahs' secret police arrested and smuggled these three men into Iran, where they were imprisoned and were subjected to torture.
Please contact anyone you can. Alert government officials, the press, the Amnesty International and the human rights organizations in your country of residence.
Posted by Robert
As in the days of Noah...


"And as they bound him with thongs,Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman,and uncondemned?
When the centurion heard that,he went and told the chief captain,saying, Take heed what thou doest:for this man is a Roman.
Then the chief captain came,and said unto him,Tell me,art thou a Roman? He said,Yea.
And the chief captain answered,With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said,But I was free born.
Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them."

Acts 22:25-30

KNOWLEDGE SHALL INCREASE:Battery-Powered Robot Climbs Rope for 7 Hours in Grand Canyon, Sets Guinness World Record

TOKYO-Watch out Energizer Bunny.Robot Evolta kept climbing and climbing-up a rope dangling from a Grand Canyon cliff for nearly seven hours on a pair of AA batteries that Japan's Panasonic is billing as the world's longest lasting.To prove how durable its new alkaline batteries are, Panasonic had the 5-ounce, 6.7-inch blue imp clasp a rope with its arms and feet and climb as far and long as it could.That turned out to be some 1,740 feet over the course of six hours and 46 minutes, Panasonic, also known as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., said Tuesday.The company says the new battery cell-called Evolta, combining "evolution" and "voltage"-can keep gadgets running 20 percent longer than offerings from rivals Duracell and Energizer.Evolta-$5.40 for four in Japan, about 15 percent higher than other AA batteries-went on sale in April in Japan, with overseas sales planned later this year.The robot was designed by robotics scientist Tomotaka Takahashi.Guinness World Records certified Evolta as "the longest-lasting AA alkaline battery cell," based on testing under guidelines set by the industry's International Electrotechnical Commission this year.

As in the days of Noah...

At Obama’s Church, Chicago Minister Says Clinton Felt ‘White’ Entitlement

Another Chicago minister is causing headaches for Barack Obama after he gave a sermon Sunday at Obama’s church in which he said Hillary Clinton felt entitled to the presidency because she’s white.Catholic pastor Michael Pfleger, who is white, issued a formal apology for his sermon Thursday after Obama put out a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” by Pfleger’s remarks at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.“I regret the words I chose on Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama’s life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them,” Pfleger said.(((hahahahaha)))That was after a video of his sermon was posted on YouTube.In it, Pfleger mocked Clinton for getting choked up on camera before the New Hampshire primary in January.“When Hillary was crying...I really don’t believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white. And this is mine’,” he said, shouting at times. “Then out of nowhere came, ‘Hey I’m Barack Obama’. And she said, ‘Oh damn! Where did you come from? I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show’!”After that, he simulated Clinton crying and then said: “She wasn’t the only one crying. There was a whole lot of white people crying … I’m sorry. I don’t wanna get you in any more trouble. The live streaming just went out again.”He also said at one point, “America has been raping people of color and America has to pay the price for the rape. “The video was later posted on WorldNetDaily, which ran a story on the sermon.The video was a reminder of the many sermons from Obama’s former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. that have dogged his campaign since March. In the videos, Wright described his country as institutionally racist and made disparaging comments toward Clinton that referenced the issue of race. Obama has rejected Wright’s controversial statements and his campaign issued a statement Thursday rejecting Pfleger’s.“As I have traveled this country, I’ve been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that that unites us,” the statement said. “That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause.”Pfleger is not a member of Obama’s church, but Trinity United confirmed he was a guest at the church Sunday.Pfleger’s support of Obama is well known in Chicago, and an Obama aide confirmed Pfleger contributed to Obama’s state Senate campaign during his years in the Illinois legislature.The aide told FOX News that when Obama was a state Senator in 2000, he secured a $100,000 earmark for the ARK Community Center, a center attached to Pfleger’s St. Sabina church. The aide said the initiative was awarded to help keep at risk kids off the streets by giving them a place to play.Pfleger was also once a member of the Catholics for Obama Committee, which is a voluntary advisory committee to the Obama campaign, the aide said. But the aide said Pfleger decided to step down a few weeks ago from this committee, though the campaign did not request the resignation.
Click here to read the article on Pfleger in WorldNetDaily and see part of his sermon.
Click here to see more of Pfleger’s sermon at Obama’s church.
FOX News’ Jeff Goldblatt contributed to this report.
PS:OBAMA"S BELOVED CHURCH allows Roman Catholic Priests to preach at their pulpit.....That gives you an idea of how much LIGHT they have....NO wonder OBAMA loves that church!!!!!!!!!!!!
As in the days of Noah...

OBAMA WATCH:It's Still Non-Stop HATE Whitey At Obama's Church

"I don't believe that my church is particularly controversial"
Barack Obama

Obama is still a member in good standing with this church.
As in the days of Noah...

JIHAD WATCH:Former Saudi Info Minister explains dialogue with Jews and Christians

Former Saudi Info Minister explains dialogue with Jews and Christians:
"You know that the books you have are not the divine gospel and the divine Torah"
Since there is so much high hopes put on these calls for "dialogue," such as the letter from the 138 scholars to the Pope, it is useful to remember some of the core assumptions involved.Note also that the idea that the Jews and Christians altered their holy books is one of the foundations of the jihad imperative. The Jews and Christians are renegades who have rejected the truth about Muhammad. Consequently, they must be fought and subdued, per Qur'an 9:29. However, this claim has no basis in fact. This alteration had to have happened after Muhammad came, since Allah refers Muhammad to those who received the Scriptures before him in order to assuage his doubts (Qur’an 10:94-95). That assumes that the real Torah and real Gospel existed as of around 620 AD, and that the corruption happened after that or around that time — which is historically preposterous for both Torah and Gospel.Also, what the heck is this guy talking about-what "attack on the White House"?"Former Saudi Minister of Information Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: We Tell Christians and Jews in Interfaith Dialogue That Their Holy Books Are Distorted and That We Want to Bring Them Back to the Original Religion," from MEMRI, May 25 (thanks to B.):Following are excerpts from an interview with former Saudi information minister Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani, which aired on Iqra TV on May 25, 2008.
Interviewer: How come calls for dialogue with [the West] were only made following 9/11?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The main reason is that we have inadvertently given in to this accusation, and accepted the fact that 9/11 was pinned on us, as if Islam calls for such a thing, but when acts worse than 9/11 were perpetrated by Christians and Jews...
Interviewer: Such as?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Attacks within America itself... Why wasn’t the attack on the White House labeled a “Christian” or “Jewish” attack? We’ve been dragged into accepting that 9/11 was an Islamic attack. This group [Al-Qaeda] carried it out, and unlike this group, we do not sanction the killing of any human being, because according to the Koran and the guidance of the Prophet, we are not allowed to harm any dhimmi [non-Muslim living under Muslim rule], as long as there is a covenant between us. We have accepted the blame...
Interviewer: Who has?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The Islamic world has accepted the blame, and apologized by saying: “We are sorry for what Islam did.” Islam did not do this! Why don’t you say that it was carried out by a group that made a mistake, like the men and women among you who make mistakes every day? Why do you pin this on Islam, as if the religion of Islam calls for terrorism, which is absolutely untrue. We were dragged into this, and then they began attacking us, people with vested interests started maligning Islam, and we’ve begun to give in. So we had no choice but to declare a “Jihad” that includes dialogue with the other side, and to explain the facts accurately, so they would know what Islam is all about, what the Koran is, and who the Prophet is.
Now, I'm all for explaining the facts about the Qur'an and Muhammad accurately.
The [Judeo-Christian] religion is monotheistic. They did not create it. This religion was sent down to Jesus and Moses...
Interviewer: But Islam got rid of it, in order to remain all on its own.
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: It was not Islam that got rid of it. It was caused by the contamination that occurred in this religion. They changed, altered, and distorted their holy books, and Islam came to rectify this. Islam has not changed a thing in the teachings of Moses.
Interviewer: So one of the basic principles of this dialogue is to accept that the [Jews and Christians] have a religion.
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Yes, and we respect this religion, but we say to them: “You’ve changed it, and you know that the books you have are not the divine gospel and the divine Torah. You have changed them. You yourselves admit that your books were written by priests and others who altered them. We want to bring you back to the original religion.”
To watch the video go to:
Posted by Robert
As in the days of Noah...

Farmers under Qassam fire stop shipments of food to Gaza

Tough to argue with them:
"Dozens of farmers from Gaza-vicinity communities block trucks headed for Sufa border crossing. 'It's inconceivable that while we are being attacked with Qassam rockets, we're also sending food into Gaza,' says protestor
A large group of farmers from communities in southern Israel under constant bombardment from Gaza's terror groups arrived at the Sufa border crossing and prevented the transfer of provisions into the Strip.
The farmers said they were demonstrating against Israel's policy of continuing to ship aid into Gaza while rocket attacks continue to emanate from the territory.
The protest seemed to resound even louder when, with the demonstration in full gear, Israeli troops operating near Sufa came under attack from Palestinian mortar shell barrages. An IDF soldier was lightly wounded in the clashes...
..."'It's inconceivable that while we are being attacked with Qassam rockets, we're also sending food into Gaza," said Itamar Gilad, a resident of Dekel in the Eshkol Regional Council.
"We have no intention of sitting on our hands and just accepting daily rocket attacks on our homes. If there is no security in our lives, then the provisions will not pass through our regional council..."
Posted by Solomon
As in the days of Noah...

Iran on track for nuclear milestone

Iran’s nuclear programme has made big strides in recent months and the country is on course to pass an important threshold for nuclear weapons capability next year, scientists and analysts say.Ever since Iran started enriching uranium in defiance of United Nations resolutions, western diplomats have highlighted the technological obstacles facing the country, arguing that they provided time to deal with the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.But several leading experts say that Iran is now twice as effective in enriching uranium than before, based on a report this week by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.They add that during the course of next year Iran is likely to have built up a stockpile of enriched uranium that in theory could be turned into enough fissile material for a bomb in a matter of months.While the US and its allies charge Tehran with seeking nuclear weapons, Iran insists its purposes are purely peaceful.David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who now heads the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, concurs with other analysts that while Iran was previously only enriching uranium at 20 per cent of the rate it sought, it is now operating at about 50 per cent.“Their centrifuges work better [at enriching uranium] and they are working to develop more advanced centrifuges,” he says.In a sign of the Iranian programme’s increased effectiveness, this week’s IAEA report said that in the six months between December and May Iran put 2300kg of the feedstock uranium hexafluoride into the centrifuges at its facility at Natanz. This implies a markedly faster rate of enrichment – and hence greater effectiveness – than the preceding 10 months, during which Iran fed in only 1670kg of uranium hexafluoride into the centrifuges.A diplomat close to the IAEA added that between December and May Iran had produced 160kg of enriched uranium at the lower levels suitable to serve as fuel supply.“A year ago we were talking about the Iranians making enough low enriched uranium to be put in a little glass vial and shown to the press,” said Prof Peter Zimmerman, former chief scientist of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Now we have almost as much as two people weigh. That’s a lot of uranium for a plant that a year ago we were snickering at.”Prof Zimmerman added – and other scientists agreed – that he would expect Iran to accumulate 600kg-700kg of low enriched uranium during the course of next year.Iran’s possession of such a stockpile has been described as “breakout capacity” – the brink of nuclear weapons status – since if 600kg-700kg of low enriched uranium were run though Iran’s facilities again, it would provide enough fissile material for one bomb.Some analysts have suggested that Iran’s real goal may be such a “virtual” nuclear status, in which the country does not have the bomb but can develop it relatively speedily.

As in the days of Noah...

DICTATORSHIP WATCH:Hugo Chavez Revamps Intelligence With Four New Spy Agencies

CARACAS, Venezuela-President Hugo Chavez is revamping his intelligence agencies to counter what he calls U.S. attempts to undermine his government.Four new spy agencies will replace the current DISIP secret police and DIM military intelligence agency, Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin said Thursday.A new law has established the General Intelligence Office and the General Counterintelligence Office, both overseen by the Interior Ministry, plus similar military intelligence and counterintelligence components, Rodriguez Chacin told reporters.He did not say how they will differ from the current spy agencies or whether any top officials will be replaced.Rodriquez Chacin announced the change the previous night, saying the new agencies are meant to confront U.S. attempts to meddle in Venezuela's internal affairs.Chavez often accuses the United States of espionage against his leftist government.In 2006, he expelled a U.S. military attache he accused of spying.The same year, Washington named a career CIA agent as "mission manager" to oversee intelligence on Cuba and Venezuela.
As in the days of Noah...


"And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul,receive thy sight.And the same hour I looked up upon him.
And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee,that thou shouldest know his will,and see that Just One,and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him."

Acts 22:12-24

SEXUAL ABUSE WATCH:‘Explicit Descriptions’: Middle School Teacher Under Fire for Masturbation Tutorial





As in the days of Noah...

LEWDNESS WATCH:10 states act to stop teacher sex abuse

Ten states have taken action in recent months to crack down on sexually abusive teachers following a stream of arrests and reports that have documented the problem of educators victimizing students.Governors, state education officials and lawmakers have led the push for new measures, which include tougher penalties for teachers who abuse students, punishment for administrators who fail to properly oversee their faculty, and an effort to train an entire state's corps of teachers to recognize potential abusers in their midst.At least four more states are still considering legislation. They are focusing on an increasingly undeniable phenomenon: While the vast majority of America's roughly 3 million public school teachers are committed professionals, a disturbing number have engaged in sexual misconduct. When faced with evidence of abuse, administrators sometimes fail to let others know about it, and legal loopholes let some offenders stay in the classroom."Too often in the past, we as adults have failed our children," Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said when he signed a new law last month. "Today with this legislation, hopefully, we begin earning back their trust." The measure passed without a single no vote.Kentucky lawmakers originally drafted a measure aimed at abusive teachers, with the final legislation written broadly to encompass priests, teachers and anyone in authority over someone younger than 18. Besides increasing penalties for abusers and giving prosecutors more time to bring charges, the Kentucky law also takes aim at officials who don't report abuse to authorities.A nationwide Associated Press investigation, published in October, found 2,570 educators lost their teaching credentials or were otherwise sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct. Experts who track sexual abuse say the problem is even bigger than those numbers suggest. Underreporting is common, they say, because victims often are ostracized and accusations are difficult to prove.The AP series inspired some of the tougher measures, including Utah's legislation to permanently revoke the licenses of sexually abusive teachers and a new Maine law to share information about teachers disciplined for any reason, including sexual misconduct, with other states. A New York lawmaker cited the AP reports when he rallied support to overturn budget cuts that would have sharply reduced funds for investigators who examine abuse claims in school.Meanwhile, stories on teacher misconduct by the Sarasota Herald- Tribune and The Columbus Dispatch sparked action in Florida and Ohio.New laws also were passed in Kansas, Minnesota and Virginia, while measures are still being considered in California, Colorado, Delaware and Massachusetts. New York and South Carolina began or expanded programs targeting the problem.Proposals failed to win legislative approval in Indiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Washington state and West Virginia.
The various measures demonstrate the many loopholes that have allowed abusive teachers to remain in the classroom, including:
Backroom deals. Florida's new ethics law for teachers bars school districts from entering into confidential agreements with teachers who get in trouble. Such deals crop up around the country, allowing schools to remove a problem teacher but letting that educator quietly move on to another district or state.
Failing to report. Kentucky's law raised the stakes for officials who fail to report allegations of abuse, bringing 90 days in jail for a first offense and up to five years in prison for repeat violations.
Problem teachers returning to the classroom. Colorado would require any teacher who lost a license for sexual misconduct to promise never to teach again. The measure awaits Gov. Bill Ritter's signature. Virginia closed a gap that made it possible for teachers who abuse students to be hired by another school district in the time between when they are fired and when the state Education Department is notified.
In New York state, Senate Education Committee Chairman Stephen Saland blasted former Gov. Eliot Spitzer for seeking to cut the investigative unit's $1 million budget in half, accusing Spitzer of declaring "open season on children" for sex predators in schools. He read passages from AP stories that showed the number of "moral conduct" accusations against teachers, administrators and aides had doubled in five years.The legislature rejected the cuts and instead increased funding to $1.6 million. That will allow for hiring eight more investigators and attorneys to tackle more than 800 pending cases, most of them involving sex with students."This will move these people out of the classroom environment more quickly," Saland said. "It's money well spent. In fact, it's a bargain."South Carolina looked beyond punishment, instead creating a statewide training program that aims to instruct 10,000 teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, coaches and school nurses on how to prevent, identify and report cases of abuse.Beginning this fall, at least one educator from each of the state's 85 school districts will undergo 6 1/2 hours of training by Darkness to Light, a Charleston-based nonprofit organization. Those educators, in turn, will train at least 20 percent of educators in their district. The state has 50,000 educators.
The training will focus not only on stopping sexual predators but on preventing simply inappropriate relationships, said schools Superintendent Jim Rex. Sometimes young, naive teachers do improper things, with no ill will toward the student, and get into trouble, such as texting students' cell phones or giving them a ride home."So much of what schools do is based on trust. Not only must kids trust their teachers, but parents have to trust those teachers too," Rex said. "And schools have to earn that trust each and every day."
As in the days of Noah...

Bahrain names Jewish woman as ambassador to US

MANAMA, Bahrain-Bahrain's king has appointed a woman believed to be the Arab world's first Jewish ambassador as the country's envoy to Washington.Lawmaker Houda Nonoo said she was proud to serve her country "first of all as a Bahraini," adding she was not chosen for the post because of her religion."It is a great honor to have been appointed as the first female ambassador to the United States of America and I am looking forward to meeting this new challenge," Nonoo told The Associated Press by telephone.The Wednesday decree issued by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and reported by the official Bahrain News Agency had not specified where Nonoo, a 43-year-old mother of two boys, would be posted. But her appointment to the U.S. ambassadorship was rumored for months.Bahrain-a pro-Western island nation with Sunni rulers and a Shiite majority-is a close U.S. ally and hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. It has about 50 Jewish citizens among a population of roughly half a million people.Nonoo has served as legislator in Bahrain's all-appointed 40-member Shura Council for three years.Nonoo replaced her cousin, who held the Shura Council seat for four years. A businesswoman who lives both in Bahrain and London, Nonoo also is the first Jewish woman to head a local rights organization, the Bahrain Human Rights Watch.Jews migrated to Bahrain in the 19th century, mostly from Iran and Iraq.Their numbers increased early in the 20th century but decreased after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, when many left for Israel, the U.S. and Europe.Jews keep a low profile in Bahrain, working mostly in banks, commercial and trade companies and retail.There is also a synagogue and a private Jewish cemetery here. At the height of the Arab-Israeli war, the synagogue was attacked and torched by angry Muslims. The structure was later refurbished.
Bahrain has no diplomatic relations with Israel. In 1969, an official Israeli delegation visited Bahrain but protesters burned the Israeli flag in a large street demonstration at the time. In 2006, after Bahrain signed the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., Manama closed down a government office that endorsed a boycott of Israeli goods.
As in the days of Noah...

RCC WATCH:Vatican says will excommunicate women priests

VATICAN CITY-The Vatican issued its most explicit decree so far against the ordination of women priests on Thursday, punishing them and the bishops who try to ordain them with automatic excommunication.The decree was written by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, giving it immediate effect.A Vatican spokesman said the decree made the Church's existing ban on women priests more explicit by clarifying that excommunication would follow all such ordinations.Excommunication forbids those affected from receiving the sacraments or sharing in acts of public worship.Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he thought the decree was meant to send a warning to the growing number of Catholics who favor admitting women to the priesthood."I think the reason they're doing this is that they've realized there is more and more support among Catholics for ordaining women, and they want to make clear that this is a no-no," Reese said.The Church says it cannot change the rules banning women from the priesthood because Christ chose only men as his apostles. Church law states that only a baptized male can be made a priest.Proponents of women's ordination say Christ was only acting according to the social norms of his time.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Tropical Storm ALMA Track

As in the days of Noah....

Tropical storm reaches Central America

MANAGUA, Nicaragua - Tropical Storm Alma is hitting land along Nicaragua northwest corner, near the city of Leon. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm reached land at midday.It has knocked out power, forced evacuations, and flooded low-lying areas of Central America's Pacific coastline.Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 kph) but the storm is expected to weaken as it moves inland over Honduras.Forecasters had predicted the storm might strengthen to a hurricane before hitting land. Hurricane warnings issued for Honduras and Nicaragua were discontinued.
As in the days of Noah...

QUAKEWATCH:Volcano Still Spewing Toxic Mud After Two Years It Erupted

To read these news go to:
As in the days of Noah...

UFO CRAZE WATCH:Vietnam reports "UFO" explosion

HANOI-An unidentified flying object exploded in mid-air over a southern Vietnamese island, state media said Wednesday, a day after Cambodia's air force retracted a report of a mysterious plane crash.The Vietnam News Agency said residents of Phu Quoc island, 10 km (6 miles) off the coast of the Cambodian province of Kampot, found shards of grey metal, including one 1.5 meters (1.5 yards) long."The explosion happened at about 8 km (5 miles) above the ground, and perhaps it was a plane, but authorities could not identify whether it was a civil or military aircraft," VNA said in a report headlined "UFO explodes over Phu Quoc Island."Soldiers were sent out to look for wreckage and survivors, and local authorities contacted airlines in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, but received no reports of missing aircraft, the official state news agency added.Villagers in Kampot said Tuesday that they had heard a loud explosion. Wednesday they told Reuters they had found small chunks of metal near the coastline.Kung Mony, deputy commander of Cambodia's Air Force, said Tuesday he had been told of a foreign plane crashing in Kampot province, but later backed off his claims of an aircraft accident.
As in the days of Noah....


"And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?
Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?
But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.
And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
And I said, What shall I do, LORD? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus."

Acts 21:37-40;22:1-11

UFO CRAZE WATCH:Video Purportedly Showing Space Aliens to Be Released

DENVER-A man wants Denver city voters to set up a commission to prepare for visits from space aliens, and he plans to release a videotape Friday that convinced him there is life on other planets.Jeff Peckman proposes an 18-member Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission. He said his footage shows 4-foot-tall gray aliens."You could see them blink as they looked in a window and panned a room," Peckman said as he met Thursday with city officials for a required review of his ballot proposal. David Broadwell, an assistant city attorney, asked Peckman if he was really serious.Seven high school students from Littleton watched the hearing, wearing tin foil hats they had seen in "Signs," the M. Night Shyamalan movie about aliens.Peckman, who makes his living selling a new technology he says reduces "the chaos of electromagnetic fields," talked about UFOs landing in Los Angeles and hovering near the White House. He said he's never seen an alien himself.Peckman needs to gather 4,000 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot. Even if he fails, Peckman said, the effort will educate people about the existence of aliens."I just did a radio interview with a South Africa talk show, and the discussion is all the same," he said."People call in. They say, 'Yes, I've had this experience. We know the government has been hiding this information.' It's time to bring it out."
As in the days of Noah...

GAY AGENDA WATCH:NY Governor To Recognize Gay Marriages

GAY AGENDA WATCH:Landmark Decision:Can States Officially Recognize Gay Marriage Without Passing Law???

GAY AGENDA WATCH:Gay Rights Advocates Score Wins in N.Y., Calif.

NEW YORK-Gay rights advocates had reason to celebrate on both coasts Thursday, with New York set to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and California preparing to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on June 17.Hours after California issued a directive Wednesday authorizing that date, word came that New York Gov. David Paterson instructed state agencies-including those governing insurance and health care-to immediately change policies and regulations to recognize gay marriages.For years, gay rights advocates have sought recognition for same-sex marriages so couples could share family health care plans, receive tax breaks by filing jointly, enjoy stronger adoption rights and inherit property.Many or all of those rights would now appear to be available to New Yorkers who legally wed same-sex partners in other states and countries, according to the memo sent earlier this month from the governor's counsel. Agencies have until June 30 to report back to the counsel on how, specifically, the directive will change existing state benefits and services for gay couples."This is a milestone in the fight for fairness in New York," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. "Couples in New York who have never known true security for their families will be officially entitled to treatment by our state government that respects their rights."The Rev. Duane Motley, director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, which has lobbied against the legalization of gay marriage, declined to comment on Paterson's directive. State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Massachusetts is currently the only U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but its residency requirements would bar New Yorkers from marrying there.New York residents could instead flock to California, where gay couples will be able to wed beginning June 17-unless that state's Supreme Court decides to stay its own ruling same-sex gay marriage. Upon their return home, in the eyes of the state, their unions would be no different from those of their heterosexual neighbors.Gay couples could also travel outside the country to marry in Canada or one of the other nations where same-sex marriage is legal.The move by Paterson's administration does not legalize same-sex marriage in New York. The state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, has said it can only be legalized by the Legislature, which failed to pass a proposed measure last year.The memo, one of the strongest steps the state can take short of action by the Legislature, cited a Feb. 1 ruling by a New York Appellate Division court in a case involving a woman wed in Canada who was denied benefits by her partner's employer.The appellate judges determined that there is no legal impediment in New York to the recognition of a same-sex marriage. The state Legislature "may decide to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized abroad," the ruling said. "Until it does so, however, such marriages are entitled to recognition in New York."In a video shown Saturday at the Empire State Pride Agenda's spring dinner, the governor said he directed the move as "a strong step toward marriage equality right here in our state.""We're aware that our advocacy is incomplete and we will keep trying until people who love each other and want to get married, regardless of who they are, have that opportunity," Paterson said in the video, which was posted on the gay rights organization's Web site.Paterson spokeswoman Erin Duggan said the May 14 memo is intended to guide the actions of state agencies. It states that agencies must change policies and regulations to make sure "spouse," "husband" and "wife" are clearly understood to include gay couples.The memo says failure to include gay marriages in the dispensing of state services such as health care benefits could violate state human rights law. The agencies could face sanctions for any violations, it warns.The agency changes can be instituted through internal memos or changes in regulations and would not require legislative action, Paterson counsel David Nocenti said in the memo, first reported by The New York Times.Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Paterson, his running mate for lieutenant governor, campaigned in 2006 on a platform that included bringing equal rights to gays. Spitzer, however, said the state constitution didn't sanction gay marriage.
Last year, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York was approved by the Democrat-led Assembly, but the Republican-led Senate hasn't taken it up.In California, a group opposed to gay marriage has asked the state Supreme Court to grant a stay of its May 15 ruling until after the November election, when voters are likely to face a ballot initiative that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Passage of the initiative would overrule the Supreme Court.Justices have until June 16 to rule on the stay request, according to the memo sent Wednesday by e-mail to the state's 58 county clerks.The guidelines from Janet McKee, chief of California's office of vital records, contained copies of new marriage forms that include lines for "Party A" and "Party B" instead of bride and groom. The gender-neutral nomenclature was developed in consultation with county clerks, according to the letter."Effective June 17, 2008, only the enclosed new forms may be issued for the issuance of marriage licenses in California," the directive reads.
As in the days of Noah...