NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS WE CAN ALL KEEP
Put on at least 30 pounds.
Watch more TV. I’ve been missing some good stuff.
Drink. Drink some more.
Start being superstitious.
Spend more time at work.
Take up a new habit: maybe smoking!
Start buying lottery tickets at a luckier store.
Learn what the hell “resolution” means.
Park Service inanity: they won’t tell us how old the Grand Canyon is
Posted by Don Hazen at 6:34 PM on December 28, 2006.
Don Hazen: A new book claiming that Noah’s Flood is responsible for the big hole is for sale at the Grand Canyon book store.
According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) in a report released this week [PDF], Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees.
Furthermore, a book approved by the Service claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood ,rather than by geologic forces, is on sale in the park for more than three years, even though a review was promised to Congress and the press. A Freedom of Information request [PDF] reveals that no review has ever been requested, nor taken place.
“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’” PEER urged [PDF] the new Director of the National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon.
Hard to believe… where is Richard Dawkins when we need him?
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.
#8 of 10 myths — and 10 truths — about atheism
By Sam Harris, SAM HARRIS is the author of “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.”
December 24, 2006
SEVERAL POLLS indicate that the term “atheism” has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president.
Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.
Even John Locke, one of the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment, believed that atheism was “not at all to be tolerated” because, he said, “promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist.”
That was more than 300 years ago. But in the United States today, little seems to have changed. A remarkable 87% of the population claims “never to doubt” the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists — and their reputation appears to be deteriorating.
Given that we know that atheists are often among the most intelligent and scientifically literate people in any society, it seems important to deflate the myths that prevent them from playing a larger role in our national discourse.
Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.
Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of nature’s laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.
From the atheist point of view, the world’s religions utterly trivialize the real beauty and immensity of the universe. One doesn’t have to accept anything on insufficient evidence to make such an observation.
Complete article at:
#4 of Top Ten stories you missed in 2006. (foreignpolicy.com)
You saw the stories that dominated the headlines in 2006:
the war in Iraq, North Korea’s nuclear tests, and the U.S. midterm elections. But what about the news that remained under the radar? From the Bush administration’s post-Katrina power grab to a growing arms race in Latin America to the new hackable passports, FP delivers the Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2006.
4 – Russia Fuels Latin American Arms Race
When Costa Rican President Oscar Arias spoke at a September conference sponsored by the Miami Herald, one sentence stood out: “Latin America has begun a new arms race.” He was referring to the sudden uptick in major arms deals in the region, largely between Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, and their newest patron, Russia. The deals have left the region flush with shiny new tanks, fighter jets, and custom-built presidential helicopters.
The Latin arms trade is as much about politics as it is weapons. Not long after Brazil announced a deal to purchase roughly $300 million in Russian military equipment, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would back Brazil’s bid for a seat in the U.N. Security Council. It’s not just Brazil’s military that has a hard time saying nyet to Russian firms. Venezuela inked a more than $1 billion deal in July for Russian jets and helicopters. There’s even talk of Moscow relocating Kalashnikov gun and ammo factories to Venezuela, next door to Colombia’s ammunition-strapped FARC rebels. With Venezuela’s populist anti-American president Hugo Chávez seeking to dominate Latin American politics, U.S. officials are concerned, especially given the United States’ sliding popularity in the region. More dangerous, though, is Latin America’s militarization. More guns and less butter is the last thing the troubled region needs.
Complete article at:
WILL BUSH TAKE THE HINT?
“Public opinion experts say Americans are sending President George W. Bush a clear message as he considers his options in Iraq: Bring the troops home,” reports Ron Hutcheson. “Polling experts say the overall sentiment is clear. A majority of Americans think the war was a mistake, don’t think it will make America safer and don’t think the United States will win. Large majorities want to see the troops come home by early 2008.” Bush, however, seems bent on sending up to 30,000 more troops into Iraq.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, December 26, 2006
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Contractor’s war role debated:
Using billions of taxpayer dollars, DynCorp is quietly doing the U.S. government’s work, but there’s little public accounting of what DynCorp does or whether tax dollars are being well spent.
SAUDI ROYALS SNUB BUSH, FUND OPPOSITION TO U.S. TROOPS
By Jeffrey Klein, Paolo Pontoniere, New America Media
Saudi Arabia, fearful of a nuclear Iran and a Shiite Iraq, is taking steps to influence U.S. policy in Iraq. The kingdom may also be building its own nuclear program.
MATRIX Report: DHS Privacy Office Report to the Public Concerning the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX) Pilot Project
This report is an assessment of the successes and failures of the MATRIX pilot project.
2006 Financial Report of the United States Government
“The objective of this report is to provide to the Congress and the American people timely, useful data on the operating costs and financial condition of the government and a discussion of the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook.”
THE JUDICIAL TYRANNY SHAM
By Sarah Posner
Sarah Posner: The real scary judicial nominees, silly senators and the art of mobilizing the base.
three to see
Larry Wright: Skip A New Year
Pat Oliphant: your traveling companions… good luck
Tom Toles: another new way forward