Thursday, July 31, 2008

water on Mars

Nasa has announced that they have found water on mars. Water on Mars people.

church shooter angry at "liberals"

"It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred of the liberal movement," Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen told reporters of Sunday's incident at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

Suspect Jim Adkisson, 58, who was being held on $1 million bond, had previously worked as a mechanical engineer in several states. He described his violent plans in a four-page letter found at his home, which also explained that his age and "liberals and gays" taking jobs had worked against him.

Another recent setback was that Adkisson's allotment of government-issued food stamps had been reduced, Owen said.

The church outside Knoxville, Tennessee, where some 200 people were watching a children's play at the time, had been in the news recently for its "liberal stance," Owen said.;_ylt=Angbs79hgaTitRp45iqzOiE7Xs8F

NASA says liquid confirmed on Saturn's moon Titan

At least one of many large, lake-like features on Saturn's moon Titan studied by the international Cassini spacecraft contains liquid hydrocarbons, making it the only body in the solar system besides Earth known to have liquid on its surface, NASA said Wednesday.
Scientists positively identified the presence of ethane, according to a statement from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which manages the Cassini mission exploring Saturn, its rings and moons.

Liquid ethane is a component of crude oil.

Cassini has made more than 40 close flybys of Titan, a giant planet-sized satellite of the ringed world.

Scientists had theorized that Titan might have oceans of methane, ethane and other hydrocarbons, but Cassini found hundreds of dark, lake-like features instead, and it wasn't known at first whether they were liquid or dark, solid material, JPL's statement said.

"This is the first observation that really pins down that Titan has a surface lake filled with liquid," Bob Brown, team leader of Cassini's visual and mapping instrument, said in the statement.

The instrument was used during a December flyby to observe a feature dubbed Ontario Lacus, in the south polar region, that is about 7,800 square miles, slightly larger than North America's Lake Ontario.;_ylt=AsGGy.hWmuqifDS0nFJB1.sPLBIF

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hate Crime Charges Filed in Anti-Muslim Attack

King County prosecutors have filed felony hate crime charges against a Seattle man accused of beating a convenience store clerk while shouting anti-Muslim epithets.

Edward Hugh Campbell, who, according to investigators, claimed to be a member of a non-governmental, terrorist-fighting "volunteer army," faces a single count of malicious harassment for the July 3 assault at a Freemont convenience store.

Court documents say that Campbell, 46, entered the store and began yelling anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slurs at the store clerk. Campbell, who was noticeably intoxicated, then smashed a beer can against the clerk's face, causing severe cuts around the victim's left eye.

During the altercation, a customer called 911 as another customer restrained Campbell in the store, in the 400 block of North 36th Street. The clerk was rushed to the hospital by ambulance.

Responding officers took a statement from Campbell, who claimed the clerk "was a Bin Laden sympathizer" who "did not respect (Campbell's) military uniform." That uniform, according to police reports, included head-to-toe green camouflage, which Campbell was wearing at the time of his arrest. Campbell is not thought to be an active member of any armed service.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Muslims begin to copy the megachurch multi-site model

Mosques across the country are beginning to use a model similar to the one used by some suburban and downtown megachurches, operating multiple sites to serve a large and dispersed congregation.

Many of these "mosque chains" brand themselves as progressive, and sometimes feature gymnasiums and mixed-gender prayer areas for men and women. Some groups even host weekly services at churches or synagogues with the expressed goal of fostering interfaith goodwill.

"If they weren't Muslim, they'd look like one of the biggest Catholic churches you'd ever seen, from an organizational standpoint," said Marshall Medaf, president of the Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation in Ashburn, Va., which last month agreed to rent prayer space to the All-Dulles Area Muslim Society.

The Society's main mosque is in neighboring Sterling, Va., near Dulles International Airport, but the mosque runs activities in seven branch locations. Full- and part-time staff and a host of activities are supported by $30 annual dues or $1,000 lifetime memberships.

"They have adult education classes, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts," Medaf said. "I think they're even working on their first Eagle Scout."

The high level of organization reflects a shift among U.S. Muslims from the "immigrant uncles" who once held sway in American mosques to younger native-born Muslims, said Muqtedar Khan, associate professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware.

"A certain kind of sophisticated thinking is now beginning to emerge because people who were born in the U.S. are taking over," said Khan. "There are lawyers in the Muslim community -- they weren't there before. The management is learning how to work things out."

Friday, July 25, 2008

subway ads

"I have no problem with the ad itself, but I have a very, very real problem with those behind it," Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, said Tuesday. He is urging the Metropolitan Transit Authority to reject the ads.

The campaign is to feature ads on 1,000 of the subway system's roughly 6,200 cars. The main sponsor is a grass-roots organization, Islamic Circle of North America.

The ads, simple black-and-white panels, will feature key words or phrases about Islam on one side of the panel such as "Head Scarf?" or "Prophet Muhammad?" and the words "You deserve to know" along with the Web site address on the other side.

"The idea is to evoke certain thoughts in the mindset of the person who is looking at the ads and get them to a point where they can reflect upon certain words that one could define as hot words or keywords that get thrown around a lot but are not necessarily defined in the most proper context," said New York University's Imam Khalid Latif, a cleric who is promoting the project in a YouTube video created by the Islamic Circle.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Isreali Government program tells jewish girls to beware of romance with bedoiuns

VIDEO / Kiryat Gat tells its school girls: No romancing with Bedouin

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10

Tags: racism, Israel, Bedouin

A new program launched in Kiryat Gat schools has the expressed purpose of preventing Jewish girls from becoming romantically involved with Israeli Bedouin.

The program enjoys the support of the municipality and the police, and is headed by Kiryat Gat's welfare representative, who goes to schools to warn girls of the "exploitative Arabs."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

NASA eyes buying Japan's cargo spacecraft

TOKYO (Reuters) - NASA has began unofficial negotiations with Japan's space agency on purchasing units of an unmanned cargo transfer spacecraft as the successor to its space shuttles, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Sunday.

Such a deal would be the biggest in Japan's 50-year space development history, the paper added.

The H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV), which costs about 14 billion yen ($131 million) each, is being developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and domestic companies including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and Mitsubishi Electric Corp, the Yomiuri said.

Behind the move is NASA's concern that the retirement of its space shuttles in 2010 will make it difficult for the U.S. to fulfill its responsibilities to deliver water, food and materials for scientific experiments to the International Space Station, the paper said.;_ylt=AlC3tVijsxi3_MS_fcVRKc4PLBIF

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Republican and Democratic

The Republican and Democratic parties have created systems where you can express an opinion on what should appear on their national platforms. This is a terrific opportunity for the space community to remind both campaigns that destination-driven human space flight is not only vital to the interests of the United States, but that there are a LOT of constituents who support such programs.

Recent discoveries by the Phoenix Mars Lander, the ongoing success of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, and other positive space-related developments such as the recent string of successful construction missions for the International Space Station, have generated much positive publicity. This puts us in a particularly strong position to promote our cause.

The Republican Party allows you to submit ideas directly on the web. The Democratic Party is having platform "listening" events all around the country. You can go to these meetings and express your views. Enter your zipcode at the site and it will list all the meetings going on in your area. You will notice that some of them are geared toward specific issues.

FAX your member of Congress and the Candidates

You can also use The Mars Society's fax program to send a fax to Congress and the Presidential candidates. As we approach the political conventions, it is even more importation that we remind Senators McCain and Obama that there is a lot of support in this nation for sending humans to Mars.

Using the fax tool is as easy as entering your name, address, and the body of your letter (the header and footer will be added automatically by the program). The system will automatically send your message to the appropriate office(s), and allow you to download PDF copies of the letter you've sent for your records.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Singer Islam wins damages for "veiled women" slur

British folk singer Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, on Friday accepted libel damages and an apology from a news agency which reported he refused to talk to women at an awards ceremony who were not wearing a veil.

The artist, who changed his name after becoming a Muslim in the late 1970s, will donate the "substantial" payout to Small Kindness, a UN-linked charity which he chairs.

Adam Tudor, the singer's solicitor, told London's High Court that the story behind the legal action was published by World Entertainment News Network and was used on, a Web site said to have 2.2 million page views a month.

The article appeared in March last year and suggested that the singer was "so sexist and bigoted that he refused at an awards ceremony to speak to or even acknowledge any women who were not wearing a veil," Tudor said.

"It went on to suggest that Mr. Islam's manager had stated 'Mr. Islam doesn't speak with women except his wife. Least of all if they don't wear a headscarf. Things like that only happen via an intermediary.'"

Tudor said the article had embarrassed the singer, creating a false impression of his attitude to women and also casting serious aspersions on his religious faith.

World Entertainment News Network issued an apology, saying:

"We now accept that these allegations ... are entirely without foundation, and that Mr. Islam has never had any difficulties working with women, whether for religious or for any other reason."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is the Fourth Estate a Fifth Column?

Our media institutions, deeply embedded in the power structures of society, are not providing the information that we need to make our democracy work. To put it another way, corporate media consolidation is a corrosive social force. It robs people of their voice in public affairs and pollutes the political culture. And it turns the debates about profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.

Our dominant media are ultimately accountable only to corporate boards whose mission is not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the whole body of our republic, but the aggrandizement of corporate executives and shareholders.

These organizations’ self-styled mandate is not to hold public and private power accountable, but to aggregate their interlocking interests. Their reward is not to help fulfill the social compact embodied in the notion of “We, the people,” but to manufacture news and information as profitable consumer commodities.

Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent at the same time that it enhances the power of the state and the privileged interests that the state protects. And nothing characterizes corporate media today more than its disdain toward the fragile nature of modern life and its indifference toward the complex social debate required of a free and self-governing people.

Let’s look at what is happening with the Internet. This spring the cable giant Comcast tried to pack a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing on network neutrality by hiring strangers off the street to ensure that advocates of net neutrality would not be able to get a seat in the hearing room. — a bipartisan coalition — and its supporters helped expose the ruse. Soon after, there was a new hearing, this time without the gerrymandering seating by opponents of an open Internet.

Now Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has introduced a bill to advance network neutrality, and it has become an issue in the presidential campaign.

We must be vigilant. The fate of the cyber-commons — the future of the mobile Web and the benefits of the Internet as open architecture — is up for grabs. And the only antidote to the power of organized money in Washington is the power of organized people at the net roots.

When Verizon tried to censor NARAL’s (National Abortion Rights Action League) use of text messaging last year, it was quick action by Save the Internet that led the company to reverse its position. Those efforts also led to an FCC proceeding on this issue.

Wherever the Internet flows — on PCs, cell phones, mobile devices and, very soon, new digital television sets — we must ensure that it remains an open and nondiscriminatory medium of expression.

By 2011, the market analysts tell us, the Internet will surpass newspapers in advertising revenues. With MySpace and Dow Jones controlled by News Corporation’s Rupert Murdoch, Microsoft determined to acquire Yahoo!, and with advertisers already telling some bloggers, “Your content is unacceptable,” we could potentially lose what’s now considered an unstoppable long tail of content offering abundant, new, credible and sustainable sources of news and information.

So, what will happen to news in the future, as the already tattered boundaries between journalism and advertising is dispensed with entirely and as content programming, commerce and online communities are rolled into one profitably attractive package?

Last year, the investment firm of Piper Jaffray predicted that much of the business model for new media would be just that kind of hybrid. They called it “communitainment.” (Oh, George Orwell, where are you now that we need you?)

Across the media landscape, the health of our democracy is imperiled. Buffeted by gale force winds of technological, political and demographic forces, without a truly free and independent press, this 250-year-old experiment in self-government will not make it. As journalism goes, so goes democracy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mystery insect bugging experts at London museum

LONDON - The experts at London's Natural History Museum pride themselves on being able to identify species from around the globe, from birds and mammals to insects and snakes. Yet they can't figure out a tiny red-and-black bug that has appeared in the museum's own gardens.

we trek into the deepest jungles to find new species of plants and animals. i often wonder how many are hiding out right here in our own backyards.;_ylt=AlzCn9XCNLgkd1KYbb_zga0PLBIF

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Malaysia's Petronas posts record profits

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian state energy firm Petronas on Tuesday announced a record profit of 18.1 billion dollars for 2007-08 and said it is still keen to develop Iran's Pars liquefied natural gas project.

We have performed quite well. It is another historic set of numbers for Petronas Group," president and chief executive Mohamad Hassan Marican told reporters.

Petronas posted a net profit of 12.9 billion dollars last financial year, which was also an all-time record.

Hassan said Petronas was still pursuing the 2.0-billion-dollar LNG joint venture project in Iran but that it had not completed negotiations with the Iranian government due to rising costs.

"We can't come to a final decision because we need to make an assessment of the price, costs and the viability of the project," he said.

Hassan said Petronas had the resources to participate in the project on its own, after French energy giant Total dropped out of what was supposed to be a three-party development with the Iranian government.

"We are capable and able to undertake the project," he said.

Iran has the world's second-largest reserves of natural gas.

The South Pars field in the Gulf has around 500 trillion cubic feet (14 trillion cubic metres) of gas, which represents about eight percent of world reserves.

Petronas has a 20 percent stake in the Pars LNG production company, which was set up in 2004 to build a liquefaction facility in Iran.

France's Total SA had a 30 percent stake while the National Iranian Gas Export Company holds the remaining 50 percent.;_ylt=AuQziibZEko.ckbCNPZOjwcPLBIF

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ten Finalists Selected in the Mars Project Challenge

Ten Finalists Selected in the Mars Project Challenge

The Mars Society is proud to announce the selection of ten finalists in our Mars Project Challenge. The goal of the MPC was to collect ideas from our members for the next Mars Society project; a project that will provide a REAL contribution to future human missions to Mars.

"First of all, I want to thank all those who submitted proposals," said Mars Society Executive Director Chris Carberry. "All the submissions represented a lot of work and commitment to the Mars exploration cause. I am impressed by the range of concepts that these finalists represent and I am sure that all of these final ten entries could be wonderful projects for The Mars Society to undertake in the upcoming years."

All those participating were required to submit their concept on a quad chart and a one page summary and needed to address a key aspect of humans to Mars exploration and have the potential to stimulate public and media interest. All ten teams or individuals will be invited to make a 15 minute presentation at The Mars Society Convention in Boulder to make the argument of why their concept should be the next big project.

The finalists are as follows:

Autonomous Planetary Agriculture System (Submitted by Robert Van Dyk)
Mars Navigation Aid Demonstrator (Submitted by Guy de Carufel)
Mars Open Source Operations Commander (Submitted by Jason Held and Saber Astronautics)
Mars Sample Return Prototypes Competition (Submitted by Kent Nebergall)
Martian Flying Saucer - Wiki Design (Submitted by Sherry Draisey)
Martian Meteorite Simulation (Submitted by Steve McDaniel, Gary Fisher, Gus Frederick, Penny Boston)
Project Mars Power: ISPP on Mars (Submitted by Mark K. Moran, B.S.A.E., M.S.P.H.)
Tethered Experiment for Mars (TEMPO^3) (Submitted by Tom Hill)
The Mars Foundation: "The Mars Education Center" (Submitted by The Mars Foundation Design Team, with special thanks to: Bruce Mackenzie, Bart Leahy, Georgi Petrov, Shaun Moss, and Susan Martin
Tumbler (Submitted by Jason Held and Saber Astronautics)

From now until The Mars Society Convention, paid Mars Society members will be able to vote for the projects that they think would best advance the cause of Mars exploration. While this will not be a binding vote, the Mars Society Steering Committee will take this vote into account when they select the next project. The winning project will be announced at the Mars Society banquet on August 16, 2008 in Boulder.

When voting, members can select their first, second, and third choices, in order of preference; points will be apportioned based on that ranking (i.e. a project receiving a first-choice vote will earn more points than one receiving a third-choice vote). Anyone having difficulty voting should first check that their account is paid up-to-date, and if not, renew their membership before voting. If your account is current and you are still experiencing difficulty, please contact the Webmaster for help.


11th Annual International Convention Preliminary Schedule

The Mars Society is pleased to release a preliminary schedule for this year's convention to be held on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, August 14-17, 2008. This year's four-day event includes a diverse panel of speakers who will cover a range of subjects including up-to-the minute reports from the Phoenix and Cassini-Huygens science teams, as well as two special tracks that invite debate and discussion on the topics "Science and Religion" with noted scholars Brother Guy Consolmagno and Ted Peters, and "U.S. Space Policy" with representatives from the campaigns of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain.

The schedule is available online at the 2008 Convention site. We look forward to seeing you in August. Please register online!

Dr. Michael Simpson - President, International Space University

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Simpson, President of the International Space University (ISU), Strasbourg, France, will be one of several keynote speakers during the Plenary Sessions at the Mars Society Convention this August. The International Space University is a world leader in space education, and as such sets the standard for excellence with its international, interdisciplinary, and intercultural academic programs. ISU's alumni represent 95 countries, and rank among the world's most respected space science advocates and scientists. The ISU is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Dr. Simpson has likewise pursued a standard of excellence with his own academic preparation. He holds a Bachelors Degree magna cum laude from Fordham University, a Ph.D. from Tufts University-The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a MBA from Syracuse University; and two Master of Arts degrees from The Fletcher School. He has also completed the French Advanced Defense Institute (Institut des Hautes √Čtudes de D√©fense Nationale) and the General Course of the London School of Economics, both programs as prestigious as they are rigorous. He retired from U.S. Naval Reserve in 1993. Dr. Simpson has served as president of both Utica College and the American University of Paris, and has taught courses in political science, international relations, business management, leadership and economics in both the United States and France.

While serving as President of the ISU, Dr. Simpson works to establish an international network of institutional partners, including the University of Stuttgart in Germany and University Louis Pasteur in France, and has recently negotiated agreements with the countries of India and Canada. His work is instrumental not only toward the mission of the ISU, but to advance and promote the cause for international cooperation in the exploration of space, all with the hope that in doing so, we will find solutions to Earth's global challenges.

Please join us in August in Boulder to hear Dr. Simpson and our many other celebrated guests.

WHERE: Back to where it all began in 1998: University Memorial Center, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado.
WHEN: August 14-17, 2008
REGISTRATION: Available online
HOTEL INFORMATION: Available online
SPEAKERS: We have an impressive list of knowledgeable, inspiring speakers already scheduled:
J. Michael Straczynski (Creator of Babylon 5) - Tentative
Dr. S. Pete Worden (Brig. Gen., USAF, ret.; NASA Ames Research Center Director)
Elon Musk (Founder and CEO of SpaceX)
Dr. Jim Garvin (Chief Scientist, NASA Goddard)
Dr. Carolyn Porco (Cassini Imaging Team Leader)
Dr. Chris McKay (NASA Ames Research Center)
Dr. Carol Stoker (NASA Ames Research Center)
Dr. Bill Clancey (NASA Ames Research Center)
Dr. Matt Mountain (Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute)
Dr. Michael Simpson (International Space University)
Geoffrey Yoder (NASA - Director, Directorate Integration Office - Exploration Systems Mission Directorate)
Joe Cassady (Aerojet: Director for Business Development in Emerging Space markets)
George Whitesides (Executive Director, National Space Society)
Dr. Robert Zubrin (President and Founder, The Mars Society)
Dr. Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11) Tentative
Brother Guy Consolmagno (Vatican Observatory; Curator, Vatican Meteorite Collection)
Dr. Ted Peters (Co-Editor: Theology and Science; The CTNS Journal of Science and Religion)
Dr. David Spires (Senior Instructor, University of Washington)
Dr. Michael Simpson (President, International Space University)

Muslims Top New List of Public Intellectuals

Time has its Person of the Year. People has its Sexiest Man Alive. Not to be outdone, Foreign Policy magazine has just completed its online survey of the world's top public intellectuals.

No. 1 on the list is Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader from Turkey. In fact, the top 10 of the leading 20 are all Muslim thinkers from countries with dominant Muslim populations.

That's not a coincidence, says Kate Palmer, a Foreign Policy editor. In addition to being highly subjective, the survey generated a competition fueled by legions of supporters and, in some cases, by the intellectuals themselves.

Gulen is closely associated with the Turkish daily newspaper, Zaman, which mentioned the poll on its front page in May. Within hours, his supporters were voting and waging a vigorous campaign online and through word of mouth. Foreign Policy notes that Gulen, who is considered by many to be a moderate Islamist, is controversial in Turkey because he's still seen as a threat to Turkish secularism.

Gulen has a global network of followers. Foreign Policy editors think that once Gulen's supporters cast their votes for him, they stuck around on the site and then voted for other Muslim thinkers. Still, says Palmer, Gulen garnered many more votes than the second intellectual on the list, Muhammad Yunus, whose efforts to promote microfinancing won him the Nobel Prize two years ago.

Palmer thinks that many upwardly mobile, educated Muslims may have seen the poll as a real opportunity for recognition. "Maybe it's an enthusiasm for being included in this list, when many of these people are ignored by so many in other parts of the world," she says.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The U.S. Justice Department is considering a change in the grounds on which the FBI can investigate citizens and legal residents of the United States. Till now, DOJ guidelines have required the FBI to have some evidence of wrongdoing before it opens an investigation. The impending new rules, which would be implemented later this summer, allow bureau agents to establish a terrorist profile or pattern of behavior and attributes and, on the basis of that profile, start investigating an individual or group. Agents would be permitted to ask "open-ended questions" concerning the activities of Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans. A person's travel and occupation, as well as race or ethnicity, could be grounds for opening a national security investigation.

The rumored changes have provoked protests from Muslim American and Arab-American groups. The Council on American Islamic Relations, among the more effective lobbies for Muslim Americans' civil liberties, immediately denounced the plan, as did James Zogby, the president of the Arab-American Institute. Said Zogby, "There are millions of Americans who, under the reported new parameters, could become subject to arbitrary and subjective ethnic and religious profiling." Zogby, who noted that the Bush administration's history with profiling is not reassuring, warned that all Americans would suffer from a weakening of civil liberties.

In fact, Zogby's statement only begins to touch on the many problems with these proposed rules. The new guidelines would lead to many bogus prosecutions, but they would also prove counterproductive in the effort to disrupt real terror plots. And then there's Attorney General Michael Mukasey's rationale for revising the rules in the first place. "It's necessary," he explained in a June news conference, "to put in place regulations that will allow the FBI to transform itself as it is transforming itself into an intelligence-gathering organization." When did Congress, or we as a nation, have a debate about whether we want to authorize the establishment of a domestic intelligence agency? Indeed, late last month Congress signaled its discomfort with the concept by denying the FBI's $11 million funding request for its data-mining center. . .

Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans, along with members of some other ethnic groups, are therefore understandably alarmed that the Department of Justice may soon have the tools to bring them under investigation without any proof of wrongdoing. As CAIR national legislative director Corey Saylor noted in a statement, "Any new Justice Department guidelines must preserve the presumption of innocence that is the basis of our entire legal system ... Initiating criminal investigations based on racial or religious profiling is both unconstitutional and un-American."

Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans have already suffered from being profiled in a de facto sense. Unsurprisingly, to have that injustice become policy concerns them. The protests would be even louder if so many in the community were not afraid to speak up and draw attention to themselves, as one of my Muslim American Facebook correspondents pointed out to me. Another remarked sadly that not only had George W. Bush not brought democracy to the Muslim Middle East, but he had also damaged its prospects in America itself. (MORE)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


In a first for a Saudi Arabian leader, King Abdullah will convene a conference in Madrid as part of a Saudi outreach to defuse interfaith tensions, improve Islam's image, and restore respect for religious values.
King Abdullah's initiative – a three-day meeting starting July 16 that will include Muslim, Christian, and Jewish clerics, as well as representatives of Eastern religions – stands out among interfaith gatherings that have become commonplace in the post-9/11 world. . .
Nihad Awad, founding executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, says the venue demonstrates that the Saudis are willing to meet Western religious leaders on their home turf.
"It's good to bring people in [to Saudi Arabia]; however, we want more Muslim scholars and leaders to go and interact with Western intellectuals, and Spain is a good choice to start with as it represents a place of interfaith tolerance historically," says Mr. Awad, who recently met Abdullah. "The fact that the king is going is a powerful statement that he's investing in this personally and wants it to succeed."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Space race who is winning

China plans to conduct its first spacewalk in October. The European Space Agency is building a roving robot to land on Mars. India recently launched a record 10 satellites into space on a single rocket.

Space, like Earth below, is globalizing. And as it does, America's long-held superiority in exploring, exploiting and commercializing "the final frontier" is slipping away, many experts believe.
Although the United States remains dominant in most space-related fields -- and owns half the military satellites currently orbiting Earth -- experts say the nation's superiority is diminishing, and many other nations are expanding their civilian and commercial space capabilities at a far faster pace.
"We spent many tens of billions of dollars during the Apollo era to purchase a commanding lead in space over all nations on Earth," said NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin, who said his agency's budget is down by 20 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since 1992.
"We've been living off the fruit of that purchase for 40 years and have not . . . chosen to invest at a level that would preserve that commanding lead."
In a recent in-depth study of international space competitiveness, the technology consulting firm Futron of Bethesda found that the globalizing of space is unfolding more broadly and quickly than most Americans realize. "Systemic and competitive forces threaten U.S. space leadership," company president Joseph Fuller Jr. concluded.
Six separate nations and the European Space Agency are now capable of sending sophisticated satellites and spacecraft into orbit -- and more are on the way. New rockets, satellites and spacecraft are being planned to carry Chinese, Russian, European and Indian astronauts to the moon, to turn Israel into a center for launching minuscule "nanosatellites," and to allow Japan and the Europeans to explore the solar system and beyond with unmanned probes as sophisticated as NASA's.
While the United States has been making incremental progress in space, its global rivals have been taking the giant steps that once defined NASA:
· Following China's lead, India has announced ambitious plans for a manned space program, and in November the European Union will probably approve a proposal to collaborate on a manned space effort with Russia. Russia will soon launch rockets from a base in South America under an agreement with the European company Arianespace, whose main launch facility is in Kourou, French Guiana.
· Japan and China both have satellites circling the moon, and India and Russia are also working on lunar orbiters. NASA will launch a lunar reconnaissance mission this year, but many analysts believe the Chinese will be the first to return astronauts to the moon.

for more goto

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Anti-Islam Preacher Subject of IRS Inquiry

Bill Keller, founder of, is in the news - again.
The Internal Revenue Service is investigating the St. Petersburg-based evangelist for possible violations of his nonprofit tax exemption.
The comment that triggered the inquiry came in the heat of the Republican primary battle last year when Keller told listeners on his call-in Internet program that "a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for Satan."
This isn't the first time Keller's comments have evoked criticism. He's also angered the Muslim community with anti-Islamic statements made on his program, such as referring to Mohammed as a "murdering pedophile," and Barack Obama supporters for saying the presidential hopeful is not a Christian.
Keller said Thursday he got the letter from the IRS in early February and "complied fully" with the government's request for copies of his program, letters, e-mail, financial documents and other supporting materials.
"We got everything to them within two weeks and now we've been left hanging," Keller said. "We could have stonewalled, but we acted quickly. Now they're holding us hostage until they make a decision."
Keller said the IRS letter came as a "shock" because he has never endorsed or supported a political candidate.
"I have never told people who to vote for and I never will," he said. "But I have every right to talk about a candidate from a spiritual perspective. I fully expect to be exonerated."
He acknowledged that the investigation - which he mentioned to The New York Times this week while being interviewed on another matter - is putting a "cloud over my ministry." He claims LivePrayer, which is broadcast live from 10 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday from a Largo-based studio, is seen by an estimated 50,000 viewers worldwide. He needs to raise about $40,000 a month to keep the program on the air.
Keller said he stands by his comments on Romney. As far as he's concerned, the Mormon religion is a cult.
"His influence as president could lead people to that cult teaching and into hell," Keller said. "That's how I feel about him spiritually. Politically, I agree with a lot of the same things he believes in."
Local Mormon leader Victor Patrick, who serves as president of the Tampa stake, said in a written statement that he was not familiar with Keller or his views on Romney.
"There are about 10,000 members of our church in the Tampa Bay area. I hope that anyone who wants to know about the Latter-day Saints and our doctrine would feel comfortable turning to a Latter-day Saint friend or coworker," Patrick wrote. "We aspire to be followers of the Savior Jesus Christ and the lives of our local members reflect that aspiration."
Ahmed Bedier, president of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Human Rights Council, said he's not surprised by the IRS investigation into Keller's ministry.
Bedier, former director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has debated Keller on several occasions over the evangelist's public comments on Islam.
Bedier said Keller seems to enjoy any publicity, even if it's bad. But making outrageous comments against other faiths will catch up to him one day, Bedier predicted.
"He likes to be on the fringe," Bedier said. "He doesn't like to play by the rules. And that's going to bring him down at some point. I think there's some divine justice in this whole thing."

Sheriff's Apology for Bigoted E-Mails

HOUSTON, TX, 6/27/08) – The Houston chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Houston) today welcomed an apology from the Harris County Sheriff’s Department for e-mails circulated in the department that included derogatory statements and bigoted jokes about Muslims and Latinos.
Recent media reports indicated that the e-mails included cartoons and statements suggesting that law enforcement officers should be suspicious of all Muslims in the United States. An e-mail from a top commander in the sheriff’s department to another official said, "we continue to under estimate [sic] these ‘dumb’ foriegners [sic].” The official’s reply expressed concern over the "number of foreigners who own gas stations."
SEE: Community Outrage Over Sheriff’s Department Emails (ABC 13)“These crude and derogatory messages are particularly disturbing because they were distributed by law enforcement officers who are entrusted with upholding public safety and operate based on public trust,” said CAIR-Houston Communication Coordinator Asma Siddiqi. “We welcome the sheriff’s apology and hope policies and procedures are implemented to prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future.”
Siddiqi added that a town hall meeting with the sheriff’s department and local community leaders, including CAIR-Houston representatives, has been scheduled to open up dialogue about citizen concerns.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.