Archive | April 23, 2013

Catholic bishops: Background check vote shows a ‘failure in moral leadership’

via The Raw Story pot-kettle

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Friday reiterated that the “culture of life” often cited by Republican politicians included gun control.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Bishop Stephen E. Blaire expressed his disappointment that legislation to expand criminal background checks on gun purchases was killed by a filibuster.

“The USCCB has been working with other faith leaders and organizations urging Congress to support legislation that builds a culture of life by promoting policies that reduce gun violence and save people’s lives in homes and communities throughout our nation,” he said. “In the wake of tragic events such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the failure to support even modest regulations on firearms is a failure in moral leadership to promote policies which protect and defend the common good.”

Last week, the Senate voted 54-46 in favor of a bipartisan amendment to a larger gun bill that would require background checks on firearm sales at gun shows and on the Internet.

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Richard Dawkins Has Lost: Meet the New New Atheists

praisedawkinsSo much for our favorite theist and atheist stereotypes.  Theo Hobson writes in the Spectator:

The atheist spring that began just over a decade ago is over, thank God. Richard Dawkins is now seen by many, even many non-believers, as a joke figure, shaking his fist at sky fairies. He’s the Mary Whitehouse of our day.

So what was all that about, then? We can see it a bit more clearly now. It was an outpouring of frustration at the fact that religion is maddeningly complicated and stubbornly irritating, even in largely secular Britain. This frustration had been building for decades: the secular intellectual is likely to feel somewhat bothered by religion, even if it is culturally weak. Oh, she finds it charming and interesting to a large extent, and loves a cosy carol service, but religion really ought to know its place. Instead it dares to accuse the secular world of being somehow -deficient.

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Juggling Jesus Miraculously Appears On British Man’s Shirt

juggling jesusIf you were looking for a hip, new image for the Christian savior for the Coachella generation, I think it has arrived. Introducing Juggling Jesus via the Christian Post:

Jesus has appeared as a fabric softener stain, according to one British man in reports out this week.

Martin Andrews reportedly had an accident in which he spilled some fabric softener on his T-shirt, and the resulting stain is an image of Jesus Christ, the man resolutely claims. According to Andrews, Jesus appears in the stain with his arms stretched outwards.

Others, however, have mocked Andrews claims, with some saying that the image looks more like a juggler tossing some objects rather than the Messiah. Andrews is undeterred in his claims though: “When the T-shirt’s the right way up it doesn’t really look like anything … but when you look at it the other way up it’s really Him.”

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The Paradox of Fairness

Jenny Diski writes for the New Statesman:

justiceDesert, the noun deriving from the verb “to deserve”, appears to be an essential human dynamic. It is at least a central anxiety that provides the plot for so many novels and films that depend on our sense that there is or should be such a thing. Like Kafka and Poe, Hitchcock repeatedly returns to the individual who is singled out, wrongly accused, an innocent suffering an injustice. Yet consider Montgomery Clift’s priest in I Confess, Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man, Blaney, the real killer’s friend played by Jon Finch in Frenzy, James Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much and Cary Grant in North by Northwest; none of them is – or could be according to Hitchcock’s Catholic upbringing – truly innocent of everything, and often their moral failings give some cause for the suspicion that falls on them.

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Breaking: Ricin Letters Suspect Paul Kevin Curtis Released from Custody

curtisAfter a sweep of Paul Kevin Curtis’ property and computer turned up absolutely zero evidence connecting him to a string of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and others, the feds have been forced to release him from jail.

UPDATE: Curtis has been released on bond. Police are now searching the home of Everett Dutschke. Curtis’ attorney had suggested that Dutschke, an enemy of Curtis’, may have framed his client. 

Via AP:

A federal official says the man charged with sending poison letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge has been released from jail.

Jeff Woodfin, chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Oxford, Miss., says Paul Kevin Curtis has been released from custody.

Woodfin says he doesn’t know if there were any conditions on the release.

The development comes hours after officials canceled a detention and preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

Christi McCoy, defense attorney for Curtis says that federal authorities and defense attorneys will speak to reporters at 5 p.m.

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Ricin Mailer Believed He Was Exposing Illegal Organ Harvesting Conspiracy

ricin mailerMississippi man Kevin Curtis was arrested last week after mailing letters containing the deadly poison ricin to Barack Obama and Mississippi senator Roger Wicker. Buzzfeed reveals what may be the bizarre inspiration for the plot — it would seem that for years, the hospital janitor and Elvis impersonator has been attempting to wage war against a global organ-snatching conspiracy involving the highest levels of government:

[Curtis's] writings document “the actions of…a secret shadow government in which I feel have been put into place by higher powers to be in order to hide the truth behind the illegal organ harvesting market which I began investigating in 2000.”

Curtis  wrote on Facebook:

I’m on the hidden front lines of a secret war. A war that is making Billions of dollars for corrupt mafia related organizations and people. (bone, tissue, organ, body parts harvesting black market) when we lay our loved ones to rest….we hope and pray their bodies are not violated but I am here to tell you, as long as the bone, tissue & organ harvesting indu$try is NOT REGULATED….on any level(s) whether it be local, state, federal or national………..your loved ones body parts are NOT $AFE.

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This Is Punk?

Punk Girl with Lollipop Strawberry Fields ForeverWith punk as the theme of this year’s Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute benefit, Nitsuh Abebe asks “If a movement known for rage, rebellion, and adolescent id becomes the focus of a high-fashion celebration, is it the final studded nail in the coffin or proof of everlasting life?” for New York Magazine:

Punk rock has always had an easy time living up to E. M. Forster’s view of music as a kingdom that “will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture have alike rejected.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit—the “Oscars of fashion,” currently co-hosted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and perhaps the city’s most glamorous large social event—feels like the opposite: a celebration of rare finery and a discerning elite. The gala’s theme is generally the same as that of the Costume Institute’s spring exhibit; say, Jacqueline Kennedy or Chanel. But this year’s exhibit is “Punk: Chaos to ­Couture,” a look at punk clothing and high fashion’s varied responses to it.

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Researchers Successfully Use Subjects’ Brain Waves As Personal Identifiers

brain wavesIn coming years, allowing a machine to momentarily observe your mental activity may be the key to open your email account or front door. Via Dark Reading:

It sounds like something straight out of science fiction: brainwaves taking the place of passwords in the name of authentication. A new study by researchers from the U.C. Berkeley School of Information examined the brainwave signals of individuals performing specific actions to see whether they can be consistently matched to the right individual.

Participants were asked to imagine performing a repetitive motion from a sport of their choice, singing a song, watching a series of on-screen images and silently counting the objects, or choose their own thought and focus on it for 10 seconds.

To measure the subjects’ brainwaves, the team used the NeuroSky Mindset, a Bluetooth headset that records Electroencephalographic (EEG) activity. In the end, the team was able to match the brainwave signals with 99 percent accuracy.

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