>Banana<>Battery<'s Blurty Entries [entries|friends|calendar]

[ userinfo | blurty userinfo ]
[ calendar | blurty calendar ]

[12 Nov 2004|05:48pm]
State Bush Pop. Vote % Kerry Pop. Vote % Electoral Votes Winner
Alabama 63% 37% 9 Bush
Alaska 62% 35% 3 Bush
Arizona 55% 44% 10 Bush
Arkansas 54% 45% 6 Bush
California 45% 54% 55 Kerry
Colorado 52% 47% 9 Bush
Connecticut 44% 54% 7 Kerry
Delaware 46% 53% 3 Kerry
Florida 52% 47% 27 Bush
Georgia 58% 41% 15 Bush
Hawaii 45% 54% 4 Kerry
Idaho 68% 30% 4 Bush
Illinois 45% 55% 21 Kerry
Indiana 60% 39% 11 Bush
Iowa 50% 49% 7 Bush
Kansas 62% 36% 6 Bush
Kentucky 60% 40% 8 Bush
Louisiana 57% 42% 9 Bush
Maine 45% 53% 4 Kerry
Maryland 43% 56% 10 Kerry
Massachusetts 37% 62% 12 Kerry
Michigan 48% 51% 17 Kerry
Minnesota 48% 51% 10 Kerry
Mississippi 60% 40% 6 Bush
Missouri 53% 46% 11 Bush
Montana 59% 39% 3 Bush
Nebraska 66% 33% 5 Bush
Nevada 50% 48% 5 Bush
New Hampshire 49% 50% 4 Kerry
New Jersey 46% 53% 15 Kerry
New Mexico 50% 49% 5 Bush
New York 40% 58% 31 Kerry
North Carolina 56% 44% 15 Bush
North Dakota 63% 35% 3 Bush
Ohio 51% 49% 20 Bush
Oklahoma 66% 34% 7 Bush
Oregon 48% 51% 7 Kerry
Pennsylvania 49% 51% 21 Kerry
Rhode Island 39% 60% 4 Kerry
South Carolina 58% 41% 8 Bush
South Dakota 60% 38% 3 Bush
Tennessee 57% 42% 11 Bush
Texas 61% 38% 34 Bush
Utah 71% 26% 5 Bush
Vermont 39% 59% 3 Kerry
Virginia 54% 45% 13 Bush
Washington 46% 53% 11 Kerry
Washington, D.C. 9% 90% 3 Kerry
West Virginia 56% 43% 5 Bush
Wisconsin 49% 50% 10 Kerry
Wyoming 69% 29% 3 Bush
post comment

[07 Oct 2004|08:14pm]
post comment

Roll call vote on marriage amendment [01 Oct 2004|08:02am]
Posted: October 1, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com

In favor:

Barrett (SC)
Bartlett (MD)
Barton (TX)
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (UT)
Bradley (NH)
Brady (TX)
Brown (SC)
Brown-Waite, Ginny
Burton (IN)
Carson (OK)
Davis (AL)
Davis (TN)
Davis, Jo Ann
Davis, Tom
Deal (GA)
Franks (AZ)
Garrett (NJ)
Green (WI)
Hastings (WA)
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, Sam
Jones (NC)
Kennedy (MN)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Lewis (CA)
Lewis (KY)
Lucas (KY)
Lucas (OK)
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Miller, Gary
Moran (KS)
Peterson (MN)
Peterson (PA)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Ryan (WI)
Ryun (KS)
Scott (GA)
Smith (MI)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Taylor (MS)
Taylor (NC)
Thompson (MS)
Turner (OH)
Walden (OR)
Weldon (FL)
Weldon (PA)
Wilson (NM)
Wilson (SC)
Young (AK)
Young (FL)


Bishop (NY)
Brady (PA)
Brown (OH)
Carson (IN)
Davis (CA)
Davis (FL)
Dooley (CA)
Frank (MA)
Green (TX)
Hooley (OR)
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson (CT)
Johnson, E. B.
Jones (OH)
Kennedy (RI)
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lewis (GA)
McCarthy (MO)
McCarthy (NY)
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Moran (VA)
Neal (MA)
Price (NC)
Pryce (OH)
Ryan (OH)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Scott (VA)
Smith (WA)
Thompson (CA)
Turner (TX)
Udall (CO)
Udall (NM)
Van Hollen

Not voting:

Brown, Corrine
Davis (IL)
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Hastings (FL)
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
4 comments|post comment

They just dont get it. [14 Sep 2004|08:07pm]
This is a shock, well okay, I guess not really a shock coming from the governer of California.
Rifle ban signed by governor
The measure restricts the sale of powerful BMG weapons and bullets in the state.
By Margaret Talev -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday signed into law a gun control measure restricting the sale and ownership of a powerful rifle critics said might be used by terrorists.

His signature on AB 50, by Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, came hours after the Republican-led Congress allowed the nation's assault weapons ban to expire, and as Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry used the lapsed ban to attack President Bush on the campaign trail.

Bush had promised to sign an extension of the federal measure banning 19 military-style assault weapons if it came before him, but supporters of the ban said the president did nothing to encourage Congress to extend it.

The California measure adds .50-caliber BMG rifles to the state's list of so-called assault weapons and bans the sale of .50 BMG ammunition. Those who already own the rifles would be required to register with the state.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, is on record as a gun control advocate although he had not publicly taken an early position on Koretz's measure.

The governor did not elaborate on why he signed the bill or on the timing of his signature, and his press office declined to comment.

Law enforcement officials had pushed for strict regulation of the military-grade rifles, saying that, because they can hit targets more than a mile away with precision, they could pose a threat in the hands of terrorists aiming at airplanes or oil refineries.

Gun rights advocates said the rifles were used by enthusiasts for target practice and have never been used to commit crimes in the state.

I know that a .50 rifle can only hit things at up to a mile when in the hands of a very experienced shooter, and even then, there is no margin of error. Its interesting...They think they can create a law for terrorist to follow? "Oh great! Sons of Allah! We can't buy the weapons because its against the law! Poopie!" Yeah, like that is going to work. If you look at England and its crime rate back about 10 years, their crime rose like 180% when they banned all hand-guns and rifles inside the city limits of major cities like London. *sigh*, And even the London Chief of Police had his house robbed of everything...they even ripped up his carpet, and guess what?!?!?!?! They all had handguns. Criminals don't obey laws.
4 comments|post comment

[10 Sep 2004|12:17am]
Believers or Not, Divorce Rates Virtually the Same
Researcher Also Finds Majority of Christians Disagree with Related Bible Teaching

By Fred Jackson and Jody Brown
September 9, 2004

(AgapePress) - A new poll is confirming an apparent trend in Christianity to adopt the values of the world. Christian researcher George Barna has released the results of a new survey which show when it comes to divorce, there is little difference between born-again believers and the unsaved.

The Barna poll found that 35 percent of married, born-again Christians have been divorced at least once -- the same percentage as among married adults who are not born-again Christians. And nearly one-fourth of born-again Christians have been divorced at least twice.

Pollster George Barna suggests one reason the divorce rate is not higher among non-Christians is that today many do not bother to marry their partners in the first place, choosing instead to live together out of wedlock, side-stepping marriage -- and divorce -- altogether.

And one reason the rate of divorce is not lower among Christians may be that few people in the general population accept the notion that divorce is a sin. According to the Barna poll, only 15 percent strongly agreed (and 16 percent "moderately agreed") with the following statement: "When a couple gets divorced without one of them having committed adultery, they are committing a sin."

Two-thirds of the 3,600 adults polled disagreed with that statement. More than half (52 percent) of the born-again group did not agree that divorce without adultery is sin, whereas three-fourths of the non-Christians felt that way.

Among the groupings of those surveyed, 58 percent of Protestants and 69 percent of Catholics disagreed with Jesus' teaching that it is a sin to divorce for any reason other than adultery.

Barna offers these observations. "You can understand why atheists and agnostics might have a high rate of divorce, since they are less likely to believe in concepts such as sin, absolute moral truth, and judgment," he says. "Yet the survey found that the percentage of atheists and agnostics who have been married and divorced is very similar to the numbers for the born-again population."

The researcher says his findings do not paint a pretty picture for the future. "Given the current growth in the number of atheists and agnostics, and that the younger two generations [those born between 1946 and 1965, and between 1965 and 1983] are predisposed to divorce, we do not anticipate a reversal of the present pattern within the next decade."

Barna found that 46 percent of married individuals who were born in that earlier generation have already undergone a marital split. Slightly more than one-fourth of those among the younger group have already been divorced as well.
6 comments|post comment

[06 Sep 2004|12:00am]

Give me your thoughts on this.
post comment

Music Fans, Beware the Big Bass

Reuters Page 1 of 1

02:45 PM Sep. 02, 2004 PT

Blasting music can be hard on the ears and the neighbors, and now researchers say it can also pack enough punch to collapse a lung.

Reporting in the medical journal Thorax, they describe the cases of four young men who suffered a lung collapse -- technically called pneumothorax -- that appeared to be triggered by loud music. Three of the men were at a concert or club when the pneumothorax occurred, while the fourth was in his car, which was outfitted with a 1,000-watt bass box because he "liked to listen to loud music."

A pneumothorax occurs when a small rupture in one of the lungs allows air to leak into the space between the lungs and the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse. Symptoms include breathlessness and chest pain on the affected side.

A small, partial collapse may resolve on its own, but more severe cases may require the insertion of a chest tube to allow the air to escape the chest cavity.

Often, an underlying lung disease or chest injury is the culprit in pneumothorax. But so-called primary spontaneous pneumothorax happens in the absence of an underlying disease, typically striking tall, thin, male smokers.

The cases described in the Thorax report suggest that loud music may be one cause of this type of pneumothorax. Though the report cites only a small number of patients, lead author Dr. Marc Noppen said he suspects more cases of music-induced pneumothorax will now be caught.

Since the report's publication, he said, doctors in a few countries have told him they've seen similar cases. If more doctors routinely ask pneumothorax patients about their exposure to loud music, the number of injuries attributed to blasting tunes will likely go up, noted Noppen, who is with the Academic Hospital in Brussels, Belgium.

In two of the cases his team describes, the men were standing close to large loudspeakers when they suddenly felt chest pain.

A third case involved a 23-year-old smoker who had suffered several episodes of pneumothorax. During a follow-up medical visit, the doctors mentioned having seen two music-related pneumothorax cases, and the patient suddenly remembered that two of his attacks happened at heavy metal concerts.

Noppen said he and his colleagues suspect that loud music may damage the lungs due to its booming bass frequency, which can be felt as a vibration going through the body. The lungs may essentially start to vibrate in the same frequency as the bass, which could cause a lung to rupture.

It's probably a good idea, according to Noppen, to stand back from the speakers at concerts and clubs and to ease up on that car-stereo bass. It might also save your hearing, he added.
post comment

[04 Sep 2004|09:04am]
Bill Clinton bashed President Bush in a speech delivered from the pulpit of a prominent Manhattan church on the Sunday before the Republican National Convention began.

Yet, Americans United for Separation of Church and State does not view Clinton's pulpit-based diatribe a violation of tax laws.

Ever since then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D.-Tex.) slipped a provision into a bill back in 1954, federal law has prohibited tax-exempt churches from engaging in partisan political speech. Every election season, Americans United files complaints against churches that it alleges have violated this law. The group also opposes the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act (HR 235), sponsored by Rep. Walter Jones (R.-N.C.), that would repeal Johnson's amendment and allow full freedom of political speech in all American houses of worship.

"It didn't cross the line," said liberal Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, in an interview on September 1 about Clinton's August 29 speech at Riverside Church in upper Manhattan. "If you don't cross the line, if you don't advocate the defeat of a person, if you just criticize a candidate's policies . . . there is some legitimate free speech there."

'Offends My Values'

Clinton in his speech explicitly targeted the Republican Party in general and President Bush specifically. He also expressed his preference for Democratic candidate John Kerry.

"We couldn't fund the school programs, but I got my tax cuts," said Clinton. "This offends my values that I learned in my church."

"I don't know why the Republicans hate me so much," he said. "It is because I'm a white Southern Baptist, and they wonder why I'm not Republican, especially since I'm getting all these tax cuts."

On the about-to-be-convened Republican convention he said: "Once every four years the Republican Party puts on its compassionate face," then it returns to Washington and "goes right back to its powerful private lobbying groups and private interests."

Speaking from the pulpit, Clinton even tried to tie Bush to the TV ads run by the independent Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. "I believe President Bush is a good Christian," said Clinton. " . . . But that doesn't mean that he doesn't see through a glass darkly. It doesn't mean that you can have a bunch of people acting on your behalf and pretending like you don't know them, to say that the seven people who were on John Kerry's Swift Boat don't know what they're talking about when they say he deserves the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts."

At the end of his partisan sermon, Clinton said: "I like John Kerry."

Lynn said Clinton's speech, while not illegal, was not "appropriate in the broader sense." He noted that Americans United has filed a complaint with the IRS against a Miami church that hosted Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe the same day as Clinton's speech. "It was basically a Democratic pep rally in the church," he said. He said that historically, Americans United has filed 40% of its complaints against churches whose activities lean Democratic and 45% against those whose activities lean Republican.

Lynn also said he has taken action against spiritual leaders who restricted themselves to discussion of the issues. He filed an IRS complaint against Catholic Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs after Sheridan wrote a pastoral letter that said that Catholics who vote for anti-life candidates should not receive Communion. Lynn said what Sheridan did was really electioneering. "His life issues were only about abortion and similar topics," said Lynn. "He didn't include opposition to the Iraq war, the death penalty, and other life issues important to the Catholic Church. Only one presidential candidate fit his criteria."

Tinoa Rodgers, director of media for Riverside, told HUMAN EVENTS, "The church does not endorse any candidates or political parties but welcomes a vigorous debate on all of the issues of the day. All voices are welcome to address the congregation." He said that Republicans, including New York Gov. George Pataki, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former President George H.W. Bush, have spoken at the church recently.

In contrast to Lynn, Colby May, an attorney and director of the Washington office of the American Center for Law and Justice, said that Clinton's speech could be a violation of tax laws and could jeopardize the church's tax exempt status. "IRS rules state that speakers do not have to endorse or oppose a candidate in order to be in violation," he said. "The IRS rules say that churches 'may not intervene in' an election." He said that there is no way to tell how many churches have gotten into trouble with the IRS for politics because such proceedings are typically kept secret. But, he said, there are only two known cases of churches losing their tax-exempt status due to political activity.

The IRS itself admits its rules are vague. "In situations where there is no explicit endorsement or partisan activity, there is no bright-line test for determining if the [church] organization participated or intervened in a political campaign," says the IRS' Election Year Issues publication for tax-exempt groups. "Instead, all the facts and circumstances must be considered."

"I feel that the houses of worship in this country, whether I agree with what [Clinton] said or not, should have their 1st Amendment rights restored," Rep. Jones told HUMAN EVENTS. "Not all churches are treated the same. Catholic and Evangelical churches are targeted by Barry Lynn and other people. They are trying to stifle these churches." Jones also cited a group of liberals in Kansas that has revealed it has 100 volunteers monitoring sermons and speeches in conservative churches in order to detect violations of tax-exempt status rules. Jones said that the House leadership supports his bill and hopes for a vote on it later this year.

Joseph D'Agostino is Associate Editor of HUMAN EVENTS.
post comment

[04 Sep 2004|08:57am]
Sep 4 2004

By Mike Eckel

HIS pockets stuffed with grenades, the rebel held up a man shot dead in front of the captives and warned: “If a child utters even a sound, we’ll kill another one.”

His colleagues had already smashed any mobile phones found on the hostages and threatened to “shoot 20 people” around anyone harbouring other handsets.

When children fainted from lack of sleep, food and water, their masked captors simply sneered. In the intolerable heat of the gym, adults urged the youngsters to drink their own urine.

This is the terrifying account of survivor Alla Gadieyeva who managed to flee the school siege in Beslan after being seized with her seven-year-old son and mother.

The 24-year-old told of their three days of unspeakable horror – of children so scared they couldn’t sleep, of captors coolly threatening to kill off hostages one by one, of a gymnasium so cramped there was hardly room to move.

As she lay on a stretcher outside hospital, Alla said: “We were in fear. People were praying all the time and those that didn’t know how to pray, we taught them.”

She and her mum Irina were seeing off son Zaur for his first day of school when they heard sounds like “balloons popping”. She thought it was school festivities.

Five rebels burst into the courtyard, shooting in the air and ordering people to get inside the school. Children, parents, and teachers – Alla estimated there were about 1,000 in all – were corralled into a corner and pushed into the gym.

Children whimpered in terror, and all around there was screaming and crying. The hostages were forced to crouch, their hands folded over their heads.

On day one, said Alla, people got a tiny bit of water, but no food. From day two, nothing. When she asked the rebels for water for Irina, they laughed at her. She said: “When I saw my son, my mother…go unconscious, so tired, so thirsty, I wanted it all to come to an end.

“When children began to faint, they laughed. They were totally indifferent.”

Zaur became so traumatised he would flinch whenever someone touched him. Like other children, his only spells of sleep were when he fell unconscious from exhaustion.

Alla said the hostage-takers eventually took off their masks. They had beards, long hair, and Chechen accents.

The gym was transformed into an arsenal of explosives – bombs dangling from the ceiling, on the floor, strung up on walls.

She told how on day three the uncertainty was suddenly replaced by a storm of violence and confusion as soldiers stormed in. The rebels betrayed agitation for the first time.

One announced to the crowd: “We’ll shoot until our guns stop. And when our guns stop, we’ll blow up the building.”

They began pushing people out of the gym and into the basement. That created an opening for the captives. They started breaking windows and fleeing.

A group of hostages, including Alla made a rush for the doors. As they fled, she noticed the bodies of captives strewn on the floor – shot by the rebels.

As Alla spoke she had not been reunited with her mum or son but authorities confirmed to her they were alive.

Of the rebels she said: “They’re not human. What they did, I can’t understand.”

The day had started with officials renewing negotiations with the hostage-takers at 05:15 GMT in an effort to get food and water to the children.

But it all went tragically wrong when a woman rebel blew herself up by accident at 09:05 after ambulances had been allowed in the school to retrieve dead hostages. Two explosions were heard, followed by gunfire. Here are the horrific events that followed:

09:14 A group of about 30 hostages, women and children, seize the chance to escape. Militants open fire on them, security forces return fire with local people who are armed. Soldiers are seen running towards the building.

09:25 Four helicopters are seen hovering over the school. Heavy gunfire continues.

09:30 School roof collapses, apparently killing dozens of the hostages.

09:34 Children covered in blood brought out by soldiers. Scenes of chaos as people run, screaming and crying from building. One hurt boy says he smashed a window to get out and says the rebels were shooting from the roof.

09:35 In hospital set up near school, starving hostages are given bottles of water. British TV claims there were no doctors or ambulances when first 200 casualties came out.

09:46 Some of the hostage-takers seen running from building, firing indiscriminately. Security forces pursue them in the town and storm the school building.

09:55 More hostages flee building, many are in underwear.

09:58 More shooting as security forces search streets for fleeing militants, some apparently women disguised in hostages clothing.

10:05 Army commanders report troops are nearly in full control, witnesses dispute this.

10:13 Interfax news agency quotes Russian official as saying most hostages are alive.

10:28 Two emergency workers killed.

10:40 Explosions heard as army blows hole in building to allow hostages to flee.

10:50 Reports some rebels are trying to escape and are taking children with them.

11:08 At least three dead bodies removed from the school, agencies report.

11:20 Reports 13 gunmen have barricaded themselves in nearby house. Security forces surround and shell the house. Ten hostage-takers reported killed in various shootouts.

11:50 Six bodies covered in white sheets lying outside school. A 40-year-old man knelt by a body, crying into his hands.

11:51 Under trees, two dozen children lay on bloodied stretchers. Parents and relatives hug and kiss them, giving them water.

12:03 Crowds gathered at hospitals, mobbing ambulances in bid to trace missing relatives. Twenty seriously wounded children evacuated from town for treatment. Witness later sees 23 bodies outside morgue, 17 of them children, says there are more inside

12:20 People from town rush to gym to help bring out wounded. Some hostages are dead. Injuries include blast damage to lower legs.

12:34 Gunfire around school continues.

12:45 More children pulled unconscious from school suffering burns and heavy bleeding

13:00 Crowds surround one of the suspects in town. Terrorist seen on the ground being repeatedly kicked.

13:56 Up to 100 bodies seen lying on smouldering floor of school gym, says British ITN cameraman.

15:55 Scattered cracks of gunfire still being heard. Three militants apparently blockaded in school basement.

16:14 Russian Federal Security Service confirms some hostages, believed to be children, are still being held.

16:20 Interfax news agency says number of hostages held in school may have been 1,200.

17:00 Emergencies ministry says 646 people, including 227 children, are in hospital.

17:20 The bodies of 79 victims have been identified, according to official.

18:06 Three rebels in civilian clothes seized.

18:21 Regional security official now raises to 332 the number of children among wounded.
2 comments|post comment

MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH [19 Aug 2004|12:31am]
Aborted baby's head left inside woman
Couple horrified to find face of child after returning home
Posted: August 19, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com

A British hospital is now investigating the case of a woman who had an abortion, but then was shocked to find out the head of her unborn baby had been left inside her.

Davina Chambers, 29, became pregnant this year with her fourth child, but she had just been diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, a disease eating away at her liver.

"In January, I was a patient at King's College Hospital because I was jaundiced," Chambers told the Voice, which bills itself as Britain's best black newspaper. "The doctors wanted me to stay in the hospital, but after a week I told them that they had to let me out because I had to go home to take care of my three children. My children have always been my priorities. They're my angels."

Chambers became an outpatient at the facility, going in for checkups every two weeks as she needed continual monitoring.

It was during routine medical tests she discovered she was 12 weeks pregnant.

"At the time I was taking eight tablets a day and had all this radiation from the scans, so I couldn't believe that I could be pregnant," she told the paper.

Chambers made the difficult decision to have an abortion.

"I started thinking about it. Here I am very ill, already with three children, and I was very depressed because of the medication I was on."

She was booked into the hospital for the procedure, and even chose to have a coil contraceptive inserted to prevent any future pregnancies.

"When I woke up on the ward, they said that I had had three scans and everything was fine," she told the Voice.

But once she returned home, an unseemly problem began to make itself known.

"At midnight, my ex-partner knocked on the door to check if I was all right. ... I went to the bathroom and as I was sitting there, I just felt something slip out of me as if I had just given birth. I looked in the toilet and saw this lump that seemed to have a bone in it. So I showed it to my former partner."

The couple realized they were looking at the face of their unborn child, seeing the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. The tiny head measured no more than 4 centimeters.

"We just broke down and cried at what we were seeing. We couldn't believe it," Chambers sobbed to the paper.

"I phoned an ambulance and they took me to the hospital to make sure that no other parts were left inside of me. They said I could have died if it had stayed inside me."

She was able to discuss the situation with the doctor who had performed her abortion.

"He leaned over my bedside and said, 'I am so sorry. In all the procedures I've done, I've never come across this,'" she said. "He even tried to take the head away, but I said I wanted to keep it because we wanted to have a proper burial."

A distraught Chambers is now seeking legal advice on what to do next.

"I feel as if I'm going insane now; I can't just let this happen to me," she said.

A spokeswoman for King's College Hospital told the Voice: "We are aware of this patient and we did receive a complaint. We are now investigating but we cannot release any information until our investigation is complete."

7 comments|post comment

A litte Q and A about God's existance...from a science perspective. [15 Aug 2004|12:29am]
Scientist Carl Sagan said that he didn't want to believe, he wanted to know. How can I ever truly know that God exists?

WE CAN KNOW IT IN OUR HEARTS. I think the most intelligent thing any person can ever do is to surrender himself to God and to be filled with Him. Jesus said, "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority." If you will surrender your will to God's, then you will know. On the other hand, if you say, "God, I am not going to do Your will until You show me Yourself," He is under no obligation to show you anything. To know is to surrender. When we surrender, we begin to know. We enter into a relationship with the Creator in which we know that we know that we know.

The great mathematician Blaise Pascal said, "At three in morning as I was praying, [and] suddenly, fire!" He said, "Oh, God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the world has not known Thee, but I know Thee, Father." He was a scientist, one of the greatest philosopher-scientists in the history of mankind, who suddenly ran into the fire of God and said, "I now know You."

That was a revelation from God. God reveals Himself to us as He chooses. In the meantime, we have the Scripture, the Bible, which tells us about God. We can read and believe the Bible out of faith. The apostle Paul wrote, "So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. "45 If we expose ourselves to the Word, we will grow in faith.

God has not left Himself without a witness. The witness around us is the wonder of His creation and the inexplicable order ofit all. Certainly, we're surprised that someone like Carl Sagan would not have recognized that and said, "There must be something behind this:" But the wisdom of this world is insufficient to find God; it still takes faith.

The word in Greek for "wisdom" is sophia, from which we get our word philosophy; phil -o-sophia, the love of wisdom. Paul said, "When the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believed."46 When Paul got into Athens, he played head-garnes with some of the local philosophers. On Mars Hill, the local gathering spot for intellectuals, Paul said, "I see that you are a very religious people, and I noticed your statue to the Unknown God. Now, the Unknown God is the one I am going to declare to you." He approached them from an intellectual standpoint, and most debaters would say that he won his points. Yet interestingly, to the best of my knowledge, he didn't win one convert from that debate in Athens. He went up the road to Corinth, and later he said, "When I got to Corinth, I was determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified."48 And there he established a thriving church, because he talked about the cross and the necessity of knowing Jesus.

You can look at the world and see the wonder of a human being, the growth of a child, and all of the processes oflife. The structure and order to it all is absolutely staggering! Any honest observer must conclude, "There has to be an order in this." Yet amazingly, some people choose not to see it.

I read an article on creation in Encyclopedia Britannica that said the genetic structure in one human being was the equivalent of a library of 1000 books, 500 pages per book, with closely printed, single-spaced type--yet the person who wrote that article said chance evolution brought that genetic structure into being! How ludicrous! If he walked into any library and saw the thousand volumes of closely printed text placed nearly on the shelves, that same person would never say, "My, I guess this just happened by random chance." No, he or she would have to admit that someone put the order together and keeps it together. The order of the uni- verse is one of the strongest "proofs" for God's existence.
2 comments|post comment

Second passenger saw suspicious behavior [30 Jul 2004|07:56am]
By Audrey Hudson

Government officials are questioning a passenger's account of alarming and suspicious behavior by Syrian musicians aboard a recent flight to Los Angeles, although a second passenger has corroborated the events.
The second passenger, a frequent business traveler who asked not to be identified, provided a copy of her itinerary confirming she was on the June 29 Northwest Airlines Detroit-to-Los Angeles Flight 327, which was disrupted by 14 Syrian passengers later identified as musicians.

The passenger, who was riding in first class, said the constant foot traffic and strange behavior she witnessed in the front cabin frightened her as much as it did Annie Jacobsen, the first passenger who publicly reported the incident.
"I thought I was going to die," the second passenger told The Washington Times. "And that makes me furious because that's the whole point of terrorism, to make people afraid. It makes me mad that they achieved that. But I'm not letting it stop me from taking other trips."
The incident on Flight 327 highlighted concerns that terrorists have been making "dry runs" on commercial jets in preparation for attacks.
Homeland Security and FBI officials briefed Senate Judiciary Committee staffers Wednesday. The House Judiciary Committee also is conducting an oversight review of what happened on the flight.
Federal officials agreed the activity was suspicious but doubted the account by Mrs. Jacobsen and her husband, said one staffer who attended the briefing.
"They emphasized repeatedly there were material discrepancies between what the two [passengers] reported and what the flight attendants and federal air marshals observed," the staffer said.
Air marshals, pilots and flight attendants, however, back the passenger's account because they say such events are happening regularly.
"Flight attendants see these dry runs and are very concerned," one attendant who praised Mrs. Jacobsen for going public said yesterday. "We, as employees, do not have as much freedom as passengers when it comes to speaking out."
The Homeland Security Department did not return a call for comment, but has said it has no intelligence on such activities.
The 14 passengers on Flight 327 were detained by the FBI's Terrorism Task Force after the flight and were determined to be a Syrian band booked to play a gig near San Diego with singer Nour Mehana.
Homeland Security officials described the 14 as "just musicians," but freelance writer Heather Wilhelm discovered that Mr. Mehana had recorded a song, "Um El Shaheed," ("Mother of a Martyr") in which he sang the "glorious" praise of a suicide bomber.
The second passenger on Flight 327 said the men were "up and down the aisles of the plane the entire time," and that one of the men pushed other passengers as he rushed toward the front lavatory. She said the man did not appear to be ill, and remained in the lavatory during her entire meal.
Mrs. Jacobsen said the Syrians consecutively filed in and out of restrooms, and stood during most of the flight. Just before landing, seven of the men jumped up in unison and left their seats. Upon returning to his seat, one man mouthed the word "no" as he ran his finger across his throat.
"There was more activity up and down the aisle through first class than I have ever experienced on any flight, including international flights," the second passenger said. "The most unusual part was that the flight attendants seemed to ignore what was going on."
The second passenger said she did not share her concerns with the flight attendants because "I thought I was just crazy, and I didn't want to be the crazy person on the flight that stands up and says something is wrong, but I will now in the future. I praise Annie for what she did, because I didn't have the guts to."
post comment

Syrian music star sings praise of suicide bombers [29 Jul 2004|10:57pm]
By Audrey Hudson

The Syrian singer of a band that was detained by the FBI's Terrorism Task Force for suspicious activity during a recent flight to Los Angeles has written about the "glorification" of suicide bombers to liberate Palestine.
Singer Nour Mehana's latest album includes the song "Um El Shaheed," or "Mother of a Martyr," said Aluma Dankowitz of the Middle East Media Research Institute.

The song tells the story of a woman who mourned her son's death until she realized that "he died for a good cause and he should be glorified for what he did," said Miss Dankowitz, who translated the song for The Washington Times.
Mr. Mehana, widely known as the Syrian Wayne Newton, sings to the mother that her son's goals are heroic and she should be happy he is dead.
"The song opens with the depiction of a mother crying over her son. He has said goodbye to his friends and family and is not going to come back. He went with a weapon in one palm and his heart in another palm and he's not going to come back," Miss Dankowitz said. "He went to fight to free Palestine, Golan Heights and South Lebanon."
The song ends with chants of "Allahu akbar," or "God is great," a common Muslim expression. Those were the last words shouted by a September 11 hijacker before the plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field and have been the last words of many suicide bombers in Israel.
Mr. Mehana's 14 Syrian band members were detained by officials June 29 upon deplaning Northwest Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles, for acting in a suspicious manner that concerned the flight crew and air marshals on board.
Meanwhile, federal officials were summoned to Capitol Hill yesterday to brief Senate and House Judiciary Committee staff in response to reports of the incident, and the Federal Air Marshals Association requested a meeting with top officials in the Homeland Security Department.
Passenger Annie Jacobsen reported earlier this month in Women's Wall Street that the Syrians consecutively filed in and out of restrooms, stood nearly the entire flight in congregations of two and three, carried a McDonald's bag into the lavatory and passed it to another Syrian, and carried cameras and cellular phones to the restroom.
Just before landing, seven of the men jumped up in unison and went inside the restrooms. Upon returning to his seat, one man mouthed the word "no" as he ran his finger across his throat.
The men were flying on a one-way ticket via Northwest, and returning on a one-way ticket aboard JetBlue.
An Immigration Customs Enforcement official said Monday the men had overstayed their visit and should have returned on June 10, but a Homeland Security Department spokesman said they learned late Tuesday that an extension had been granted through July 15.
Officials called to Capitol Hill included Randy Beardsworth, director of Homeland Security's Operations, Border and Transportation Security Office; Thomas Quinn, director of the Federal Air Marshals Service; and Willie Hulon, deputy assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division.
One staffer who attended the briefing said officials were "very cagey" on details, which he described as "very frustrating."
However, the officials confirmed air marshals found the activities unusual and suspicious.
"They are trying to have it both ways and say yes, our people are smart enough to see something and that's why they called for authorities, but they deny it was as scary as it has been portrayed," the staffer said.
Homeland Security officials say they have no intelligence that terrorists are conducting dry runs on airplanes.
Federal air marshals and pilots also back Mrs. Jacobsen's account as similar to other incidents, and say terrorists constantly are probing security.
The Federal Air Marshals Association yesterday requested a meeting with top Homeland Security officials to discuss the issue of terrorist dry runs.
"A test run for terrorism is not to be ignored," said Bob Flamm, director of the association. "When a citizen stands up and speaks out in regard to air safety, it is the responsibility of law-enforcement officials involved to seek out the truth and not bury it."
post comment

Syrians flew with expired visas [27 Jul 2004|10:50am]
By Audrey Hudson

Almost all of the Syrian musicians who were questioned by law-enforcement officials after exhibiting suspicious behavior aboard a Northwest Airlines flight were traveling on expired visas.
The 14 men in the band were questioned by several agencies that make up the Joint Terrorism Task Force after the pilot aboard Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on June 29 radioed for law-enforcement assistance.

A spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed that 13 of the 14 musicians entered the country May 30 and the visas expired June 10, but the men were not detained. The 14th musician is a U.S. resident and citizen.
The backup band was hired to play with Nour Mehana, widely referred to as Syria's Wayne Newton, and were flying on one-way tickets with a return trip on JetBlue.
"The bottom line is there should have been an ICE agent called in to participate in the questioning, but there wasn't," spokesman Dean Boyd said. "We believe if an ICE agent were there, they could have detected the visas had expired."
The Washington Times reported last week that flight crews and air marshals say terrorists are testing airline security and conducting probes, and cited several incidents including the one involving the musicians that set off alarms with security officials.
Since the report, several other pilots and marshals have come forward and confirmed that groups of men are conducting what looks like dry runs for a terrorist attack.
"We are being constantly surveilled and probed" by terrorists, one air marshal said.
A spokesman for Homeland Security disputed reports from crews and marshals and said they had "no intelligence that terrorists are conducing test flights on airlines."
"We are aware of suspicious incidents around the country and all sectors of the economy, each of these incidents are being examined," spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said.
The musicians, whose in-flight antics caused alarm among the flight crew and drew the suspicion of air marshals, had P3 entertainment visas and performed at a number of different venues across the country. They departed the United States on dates between July 10 and July 15.
"Everything that we and other agencies have found indicates, and we are very confident in saying, these individuals were not terrorists by any means," Mr. Boyd said.
The legality of the band and travel dates has not eased the concerns of air marshals, pilots and some plane passengers, who saw their behavior.
Before September 11, the hijackers were "just flight students," said one U.S. air marshal. "Everything boils down to creativity and resources. And the more creative you are, the less resources you need."
None of the 19 hijackers who carried out September 11 attacks were on terrorism watch lists and all had legally entered the country on tourist or student visas. Three overstayed their one-year visas.
The September 11 commission report criticized the CIA for not placing hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on the watch list prior to the attack even after the men were linked to the August 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.
Similar activity was reported by flight attendants on American Airlines Flight 1732 from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Feb. 15 to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. The six men involved worked for a cruise ship and were carrying musician's cases with instruments.
"The best way to travel is in large groups, no one would give it a second look," the marshal said.
However passengers and the flight crew aboard Flight 327 were closely watching the Syrian musicians.
According to passengers Annie and Kevin Jacobsen, the men sat throughout the plane pretending to be strangers, then stood nearly the entire flight in congregations of two and three and consecutively fielded in and out of bathrooms at intervals.
One took a McDonald's bag into the lavatory, then passed it to another Syrian. The musicians also carried cameras and cellular phones to the bathroom.
When the pilot announced the landing and to fasten safety belts, seven of the men jumped up in unison and went to the bathroom. Upon returning to his seat, one man mouthed the word "no" as he ran his finger across his throat.
Syria is one of seven countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism by the State Department, but Damascus has cooperated with the United States in the fight against al Qaeda, according to the State Department report for 2003, issued April 29.
"They came from a country known to support terrorism and no one noticed their visas had expired?" one pilot asked.
Air marshals and pilots say terrorists are actively testing airline security and the behavior of the musicians mirrors a test run.
"Organized terrorists have been and are doing probes," a second air marshal said. The Jacobsens' account is credible "because it is eerily similar to previous incidents that have happened on planes."
The Jacobsens have become the subject of ridicule on some blogs and criticized in one media report by an unnamed government source, but the Federal Air Marshals Association (FAMA) issued a statement Sunday backing the family.
FAMA also called on the government to release the recording of the pilot's call to air traffic control for law-enforcement assistance.
The unnamed source suggested Mrs. Jacobsen was hysterical and was the reason that law-enforcement officials were called to the airport.
Pilots and marshals say the flight crew and onboard marshals were obviously concerned and the Joint Terrorism Task Force would not be deployed in routine cases of upset or unruly passengers.
"Dealing with upset plane passengers is not exactly new," the pilot said.
The second air marshal said the Jacobsens did exactly what President Bush and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge have asked U.S. citizens to do: Be vigilant and report suspicious behavior.
post comment

Was an al-Qaeda plot unfolding on Northwest Airlines flight 327? [26 Jul 2004|01:16pm]
By James Langton
(Filed: 25/07/2004)

As Annie Jacobsen boarded Northwest Airlines flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles, she was starting to feel sick with nerves. Her fear had been mounting since the realisation that she and the other passengers who had already passed through security were being served meals in the airport diner with metal knives and forks.

Her alarm grew further still when she noticed that there was minimal checking of the hundreds of travellers who had arrived on other connecting flights. In particular, she was worrying about six Middle Eastern men waiting to board their flight, two of whom were carrying musical instrument cases, while the third was wearing an orthopaedic shoe. None was checked as he boarded the aeroplane.

Mrs Jacobsen, her husband Kevin and their young son were already in their seats when a second large group of Arab men arrived, one of whom, clearly the leader, disappeared into the first-class cabin.

"I noticed some of the passengers paying attention to the the situation as well," she recalled later. "As boarding continued, we watched as, one by one, most of the Middle Eastern men made eye contact. They continued to look at each other and nod, as if they were all in agreement about something. I could tell that my husband was beginning to feel anxious."

What happened next on that June afternoon last month was to bring the Jacobsens face to face with a fear that has gripped America since the morning of September 11, 2001. Or, as Annie Jacobsen was to put it: "It was four and a half hours of terror. My legs turned to rubber."

It would also place Mrs Jacobsen, a freelance financial writer, at the centre of a controversy that has raged this week in America about how a country increasingly bound by political correctness can protect itself in a war where the enemy might be sitting in the next seat.

By the time the aircraft reached cruising altitude and the seatbelt lights had been switched off, one of the men, wearing a yellow T-shirt and carrying a bulging McDonald's bag, had already disappeared into the lavatory next to first class. When he reappeared, the bag was empty. As he walked down the length of the plane, he gave a thumbs-up sign to two other members of his party. Then he went back to his seat - but without the bag.

Another man stood up. From an overhead locker, he removed a foot-long object wrapped in cloth, then walked to the back of the plane. Five others from the Middle Eastern party then began using the forward lavatory consecutively. Several others made for the rear bathroom.

Trying to reassure herself and her husband Kevin, Mrs Jacobsen walked past one of the men, with whom she had exchanged a few friendly words in the terminal. Making eye contact, she smiled. "The man did not smile back. His face did not move," she said. "In fact, the cold defiant look he gave me sent shivers down my spine."

That was enough for her husband. Marching into first class, he approached a flight attendant and told her: "I might be overreacting, but I've been watching some really suspicious things."

Before he could finish, the flight attendant pulled him aside. "In a quiet voice, she explained that they were all concerned about what was going on," Mrs Jacobsen says. "The captain was aware. The flight attendants were passing notes to each other. She said there were people on board 'higher up than you and me watching the men' [in a reference to the presence of undercover air marshals]."

Four hours later, the mental torture of imagining one worst-case scenario after another was beginning to take its toll. Just when the Jacobsens felt that they could endure no more, the aircraft began its final approach. But any sense of relief at an imminent landing was short-lived. With the "fasten seatbelts" lights on and the cabin crew strapped in their seats for landing, seven of the men stood up and made for the front and back lavatories. As they waited, speaking in Arabic, one pulled out his mobile telephone. None of the flight crew, Mrs Jacobsen was alarmed to note, intervened to stop the telephone call or to make the men sit down.

Two rows behind her, Mrs Jacobsen heard the sound of crying and turned to find a woman being comforted by her husband. "You've got to calm down," he was trying to tell her in strained tones. Mrs Jacobsen grabbed her husband and son by the hand.

Mr Jacobsen began writing down what he increasingly feared might be his last thoughts. "I am just afraid that I am not going to see home again and that I am not going to see my son grow up," he wrote. "And I am also terrified of dying a painful death. I am terrified that I am not going to be able to protect my son and family."

Moments later, the last man came out of the bathroom. As he passed the man in the yellow T-shirt, Mrs Jacobsen saw him draw his finger across his throat and mouth the word "no".

Nothing more happened. There was no mass attack on the cockpit, no need for a heroic fightback like the passengers on American Airlines flight 93 before it crashed into a Pennsylvanian field as the tragic events of 9/11 unfolded.

The tyres of the Boeing 757 bounced once on the runway at Los Angeles International Airport, the engines roared into reverse and the tension that had choked the cabin began to lift.

As the passengers walked into the terminal, Mrs Jacobsen saw men in dark suits gathering. Los Angeles Police Department agents rushed past them. Several other men from the aircraft, believed to be air marshals, pulled the group of 14 Arab men to one side.

The Jacobsens decided to go straight to the authorities. The FBI took a series of sworn statements from the couple, showing special interest in the McDonald's bag. As she talked to them, Mrs Jacobsen noticed another FBI agent holding a pile of Syrian passports.

So what did happen on Northwest Airlines flight 327 on that June afternoon? The above events came to light after Mrs Jacobsen shared her story with a few colleagues, and finally wrote it down. She sent a copy to the Washington Post but did not receive a response.

However, she did get a swift telephone call from the Federal Air Marshal Services. Under questioning, a spokesman revealed, the 14 men had said they were musicians travelling to a concert at a Californian desert casino. None showed up on the FBI's most wanted list and since their story checked out they were allowed to go. The band, the spokesman said, "gave their little performance in the casino and two days later flew out on a JetBlue flight from Long Beach to New York".

Mrs Jacobsen's article was eventually published by a financial website, WomensWallStreet. Largely ignored by the mainstream American media for a week, copies of the piece Terror in the Skies, Again? were soon racing across the internet. Her experience was exhaustively discussed in hundreds of personal internet websites and on news forums.

By the time the official September 11 Commission report was published on Thursday, her onboard "ordeal" had become the underground story of the week, sparking wide-ranging debate between those who thought the Jacobsens and their fellow passengers were paranoid and those who believe the flight had been used as a "dry run" for a real hijacking.

Those in the first camp accused Mrs Jacobsen of at best exaggerating the story and at worst of being a fantasist and a racist. Some contended that it was a cultural misunderstanding - the Syrians were perhaps frequently using the toilet as they carried out their ablutions in preparation for Muslim prayer, with the foot-long object a mat for one of the men to kneel on.

Imad Habib, of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said that a high anxiety had been implanted in the hearts and minds of Americans since the attacks of 9/11. "Even those who are good people with good intentions cannot help but look at things in a very suspicious way," he said. "We've got to be vigilant as citizens, but we also have to be calm."

A mass circular email of the article was sent to some of America's leading columnists, including Michelle Malkin of the New York Post. Initially sceptical, she became increasingly convinced that the Jacobsens had witnessed a rehearsal for a sequel to 9/11. Writing on her website, Malkin praised Mrs Jacobsen's bravery and patriotism in telling her story. She urged sceptics to wake up and stop behaving as they did before 9/11. "Better a false alarm than a flaming plane," she said.

Security specialists in America have been warning for some time that terrorists have been boarding US internal flights with bombs split into seemingly innocent parts that allow members of their gangs to pass through checkpoints undetected. The device, they say, is then put together during the flight, probably in the aircraft lavatory, and hence involves multiple visits to the bathroom by all those involved.

Gary Boettcher, a member of the board of directors of the Allied Pilots Association, wrote to Mrs Jacobsen, saying that he and many fellow captains had witnessed similar practice runs. "I am a captain with a major airline," he said. "I was very involved with the Arming Pilots effort. Your reprint of this airborne event is not a singular nor isolated experience. The terrorists are probing us all the time."

Another pilot, Mark Bogosian, with American Airlines, said: "The incident you wrote about, and incidents like it, occur more than you like to think. It is a 'dirty little secret' that all of us, as crew members, have known about for quite some time."

Whatever happened during the flight from Detroit to Los Angeles last month, Clinton W. Taylor, a local reporter in Stanford, has at least confirmed that a Syrian band did perform at the Sycuan Casino and Resort, near San Diego, on July 1 to support an Arab singer called Nour Mehana.

Mehana is no Osama bin Laden, but a Syrian balladeer with an uncanny resemblance to the Vegas crooner Wayne Newton. Concert promoters confirmed that some of his band had flown in on Northwest 327 but that the members did not remember anything unusual about the flight. Beyond that, the promoter said, he had been told by Homeland Security not to talk to the press.

According to Mr Taylor, the fact that he had proven the existence of the band is not to suggest that Mrs Jacobsen, or any of the other passengers (though no one else on board has yet come forward), was wrong to worry. It does, however, he wrote, confirm some of the details of Mrs Jacobsen's story, and some of the worst fears Americans have about airline security. "The mindset of the passengers, of the crew, and even of the law-enforcement personnel and decision-makers higher up the ladder was reactive, not proactive," he said.

In particular, many of Mrs Jacobsen's supporters have poured scorn on the "racially sensitive" anti-discrimination rules that say that no more than two passengers of Arab origin can be searched at random before any flight. The inflight undercover air marshals, too, are not allowed to "deploy" against a passenger unless there is what they call an "event".

Rand K. Peck, a captain for a large US airline, said: "I've observed matronly-looking grandmothers being practically disrobed at security checkpoints and five-year-old blond boys turned inside out, while Middle Eastern males sail through undetained.

"Middle Eastern males are protected, not by our Constitution, but from our current popular policy of political correctness and a desire to offend no one at any cost, regardless of how many airplanes and bodies litter the landscape."

The issue of political correctness, according to Mrs Jacobsen, is at the heart of the matter. It is, she says, eroding airline safety. "From what I've now learned from the many emails and phone calls I have had with airline industry personnel, it is political correctness that will eventually cause us to stand there wondering, 'How did we let 9/11 happen again?' "

But what no one knew - not the frightened passengers or the apparently untroubled Syrian band - was that June 29 was far from an ordinary day. Only hours earlier, the Department of Homeland Security had issued an urgent alert at half a dozen airports for a group of six Pakistani men believed to be training for a terrorist attack in the US. Two of those airports were Detroit and Los Angeles.

So it is clear that the authorities were already worried about flight 327. Despite the impression often given, armed air marshals are not on every US flight. To have several on one aircraft is highly unusual and suggests that there was a real fear of a terrorist attack.

Two days after Mrs Jacobsen's trip, the US Transport and Security Administration ordered pilots to stop passengers from congregating around aircraft toilets and told flight crew to check bathrooms every two hours for suspicious packages. Six days after that, customs officers at Minneapolis arrested a Syrian who was carrying a suicide note and DVDs containing what has been described as "anti-American material".

Since her safe arrival in Los Angeles and the subsequent publishing of her article, Mrs Jacobsen has reconsidered many times the question of whether the Syrians on board flight 327 were in fact musicians. "I'll let you decide," she has said. "But I wonder, if 19 terrorists can learn to fly airplanes into buildings, couldn't 14 terrorists learn to play instruments?"
post comment

The sneeze [26 Jul 2004|03:30am]
Claim: A sneeze during a graduation ceremony prompts a response of 'God bless you,' thereby working a blessing into the proceedings.

Status: True.

Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

They walked in tandem, each of the ninety three students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With rich maroon gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt.

Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and moms freely brushed away tears. This class would not pray during the commencements, not by choice but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it.

The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families.

The speeches were nice, but they were routine until the final speech received a standing ovation. A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then, it happened. All 92 students, every single one of them, suddenly SNEEZED!

The student on stage simply looked at the audience and said, "GOD BLESS YOU, each and every one of you!" And he walked off stage.

The audience exploded into applause. The graduating class found a unique way to invoke God's blessing on their future with or without the court's approval.

Isn't this a wonderful story? Pass it on to all your friends and GOD BLESS YOU!!!!

Origins: The account
of a sneeze at a graduation ceremony prompting a "God bless you!" response that got around a prohibition against an official benediction being made part of the convocation ceremony is, at its heart, a true story. However, the e-mailed narratives chronicling the event have altered the details of what actually took place in a number of important ways and thus shouldn't be viewed as truthful accounts of what happened. Perhaps they are best described to others as "based on" a true story, an appellation that conveys a message of truth's having been stretched or recast into different forms to make a more tellable story than a pure narration of the facts would have provided.

The facts of the story are these: The incident the e-mail is based upon took place on 20 May 2001 during the commencement exercises at Washington Community High School in Washington, Illinois. With the help of the ACLU, the family of Natasha Appenheimer, that year's valedictorian, brought suit to prevent the inclusion of the invocation and benediction traditionally given at the school's commencement ceremony. The suit was decided in the favor of the Appenheimers when, three days before the ceremony, the court handed down a temporary injunction barring the inclusion of the prayers on the basis of their having been deemed "school sponsored" (and thereby an unconstitutional violation of the first amendment's "establishment clause").

People were angered by the decision, which overturned a tradition of 80 years' standing at Washington Community High. Many found unique ways of protesting the judge's ruling. Before the ceremony, students organized a prayer vigil around the school's flagpole. Some 50 seniors clasped hands in a circle while about 150 underclassmen and members of the community encircled them. Several students festooned their mortarboards with religious slogans: "I'm praying now," "Amen," "1 nation under God," "I will still pray 2 day," and "Let's Pray 01." One parent distributed 120 homemade wood-and-nail crosses among the students.

Yet it was the act of Ryan Brown, a member of the graduating class who was scheduled to give a speech during the event, that is now celebrated in the e-mail forward. As his form of protest, he had worked it out with a handful of friends that when he faked a sneeze at the podium, they were to cry out "God bless you." The plan was carried out as envisioned, with everyone who had been in on it playing their assigned parts. (Mr. Brown also made another protest on his way to the podium — he stopped to bow in silent prayer, an act that prompted the audience to stand and applaud. He replied to the crowd, "Don't applaud for me, applaud for God.")

What with all the personal protests and media attention, it was indeed a memorable commencement, both for its religious fervor and for its display of commitment to certain ideals (and for how some chose to express those ideals). In a defining moment that served to reveal the nature of the bone being fought over, the teen girl in whose name the suit had been brought was booed when she received her diploma, an act that demonstrated that for those doing the catcalling the longing for prayer to be officially incorporated into the proceedings had been far more about the desire for the trappings of religion than out of commitment to its teachings. Christian charity, kindness, and the turning of the cheek preached by Jesus took the backseat to ire over how the suit had been decided.

Though the school had said it would contend the ruling that barred it from sponsoring prayer at its graduation ceremonies, it dropped such plans in July 2001 once it came to some appreciation of how much such a legal battle might cost.

A month after the commencement, the online account that is the meat of this article began to circulate. In that embellished version, the speaker's sneeze was cast as being accidental, and the response it provoked spontaneously and unthinkingly issued from each of the graduating students almost as if they had spoken with one voice. This marked a tremendous departure from the truth, as the actual sneeze had been faked and the benediction (which was pronounced by only those few of the graduating seniors who were in on the plan) had been scripted. There was no spontaneity to the act, no unwilled inescapable "at-choo!" that prompted the unpremeditated yet socially-obligated reply of "Bless you!" — that repositioning of the event was authorial embroidery. (As to why we routinely salute in such fashion those who sneeze, our article about the origin of this tradition tells all.)

That June 2001 fictionalization presented the sneeze and response as fortuitous accidents and asserted that the whole graduating class imparted the blessing, which represented two major strayings from the truth. However, even with those meanderings off the path of veracity, this earlier account stayed far closer to the facts than did a 2004 version which switched the roles the students had played to make for better storytelling. In that version, 92 students all sneezed at once, and the one lone speaker blessed them.

Here are the key sections of both stories:


A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then he delivered his speech....an astounding SNEEZE!.

The rest of the students rose immediately to their feet, and in unison they said, "GOD BLESS YOU."


A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then, it happened. All 92 students, every single one of them, suddenly SNEEZED!

The student on stage simply looked at the audience and said, "GOD BLESS YOU, each and every one of you!" And he walked off stage.

Obviously, it makes for a more satisfying tale of tables having been turned if the graduating class receives the blessing rather than bestowing it. (They are, after all, the ones being launched into the world as newly-minted adults.) The switched-role version also hints more strongly of a divine hand's having guided the event in that one speaker's sneezing could be chalked up to a random inhalation of dust motes, but 92 graduating seniors all erupting in an explosive sneeze at the same instant would probably require some assistance from the Almighty to bring about.

The newer version of this tale is more of a departure from reality, but both it and the earlier incarnation should be treated as fictionalizations by those committed to not bearing false witness — the truth inherent to the story of a sneeze shouldn't prevent them from appreciating the error of presenting either e-mailed version as gospel. In both cases, a whole lot of truth got mixed in with some falsehood, which is the generally accepted recipe for the most effective form of a lie.
post comment

Licensed to Bill [26 Jul 2004|03:03am]
Claim: A man whose car bore personalized license plates reading 'NO PLATE' received notices for thousands of unpaid parking tickets.

Status: True.

Origins: Allowing motorists to obtain personalized plates provides them with an opportunity to obtain something distinctively unique, something that commands far more attention than the usual humdrum string of letters and digits. Sometimes, though, one's choice of license plate can command an unexpected and undesirable form of attention.

In 1979 a Los Angeles man named Robert Barbour found this out the hard way when he sent an application to the California Department of Motor No plate Vehicles requesting personalized license plates for his car. The DMV form asked applicants to list three choices in case one or two of their desired selections had already been assigned. Barbour, a sailing enthusiast, wrote down "SAILING" and "BOATING" as his first two choices; when he couldn't think of a third option, he wrote "NO PLATE," meaning that if neither of his two choices was available, he did not want personalized plates. Plates reading "BOATING" and "SAILING" had indeed already been assigned, so the DMV, following Barbour's instructions literally, sent him license plates reading "NO PLATE." Barbour was not thrilled that the DMV had misunderstood his intent, but he opted to keep the plates because of their uniqueness.

Four weeks later he received his first notice for an overdue parking fine, from faraway San Francisco, and within days he began receiving dozens of overdue notices from all over the state on a daily basis. Why? Because when law enforcement officers ticketed illegally parked cars that bore no license plates, they had been writing "NO PLATE" in the license plate field. Now that Barbour had plates bearing that phrase, the DMV computers were matching every unpaid citation issued to a car with missing plates to him.

Barbour received about 2,500 notices over the next several months. He alerted the DMV to the problem, and they responded in a typically bureaucratic way by instructing him to change his license plates. But Barbour had grown too fond of his plates by then to want to change them, so he instead began mailing out a form letter in response to each citation. That method usually worked, although occasionally he had to appear before a judge and demonstrate that the car described on the citation was not his.

A couple of years later, the DMV finally caught on and sent a notice to law enforcement agencies requesting that they use the word NONE rather than NO PLATE to indicate a cited vehicle was missing its plates. This change slowed the flow of overdue notices Barbour received to a trickle, about five or six a month, but it also had an unintended side effect: Officers sometimes wrote MISSING instead of NONE to indicate cars with missing license plates, and suddenly a man named Andrew Burg in Marina del Rey started receiving parking tickets from places he hadn't visited either. Burg, of course, was the owner of a car with personalized plates reading "MISSING."

Nonetheless, some motorists still choose personalized plates destined to land them in similar trouble. Jim Cara of Elsmere, Delaware, found that out the hard way when he selected the phrase "NOTAG" for the license of his Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle in 2004:

Jim Cara wanted a vanity license tag that would make people laugh.

But when he chose "NOTAG" for the plate on his Suzuki Hayabusa, a sleek blue and silver motorcycle with a speedometer that reaches 220 mph, the joke backfired.

The new tag arrived Saturday under an avalanche of Wilmington parking violations.

"All the traffic tickets say, 'Notice of violation. License number: no tag,'" Cara said.

City computers, talking to state Division of Motor Vehicles computers, had finally found an address for ticketed vehicles that lacked license tags: Cara's home in Elsmere.

"I messed up the system so bad," Cara said. "I wonder if they can put me in jail or something?"

He has received more than 200 violation notices. The mail carrier came twice on Saturday. Cara opened a few. They ranged from $55 to $125 for violations such as meter expirations.

Cara, 43, who works for the American Motorcycle Association, said he's been a lifelong prankster. This time, though, "the cleanup is going to be worse than the joke," he said.

post comment

An Automobile With Feelings [26 Jul 2004|12:29am]

Published: July 26, 2004

THE expression "road rage" usually refers to infuriated drivers who lose control of their temper and lash out at other motorists. But what if a car could also express anger, crouching low on its wheel base and glowering with red headlights like a lion about to pounce?

Four inventors working for Toyota in Japan have won a patent for a car that they say can help drivers communicate better by glaring angrily at another car cutting through traffic as well as appear to cry, laugh, wink, or just look around.

The inventors explain in the patent that they want drivers to have more than a one-note horn and on-off headlights to signal other drivers. The horn sounds the same, they write, whether a driver is "asking for permission to cut in front and in showing gratitude for having been allowed to cut in front," so other people often do not know what the honking is about.

That was not good enough for the inventors - Kenji Mori, Naoto Kitagawa, Akihiro Inukai and Simon Humprhies - who work for Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha of Japan, which owns the United States patent issued last month. In it they describe a car with an antenna that wags, an adjustable body height, headlights that vary in intensity, and hood slits and ornamentation designed to look like eyebrows, eyelids and tears, all of which could glow with colored lights to create moods and physical features.

The inventors believe these features on cars will make driving more entertaining. In the patent they write that "as traffic grows heavier and vehicle use increases, vehicles having expression functions, such as crying and laughing, like people and other animals do, could create a joyful, organic atmosphere rather than the simple comings and goings of inorganic vehicles."

"Such emotive, organic vehicles could also lead occupants to have great affinity for their vehicles, and make the driving experience more comfortable," the inventors add.

The car comes with a computer and software system that detects road and vehicle conditions like steering angle, braking or speed. Drivers or passengers can also enter information about their moods into the system. But it is the car that expresses an emotional reaction.

"The headlights, antenna and windshield and exterior panels can be regarded as the vehicle's eyes, tail and a body surface," the inventors write. As a baseline, they describe a "sleeping" car as one with "the shutters, or eyes, closed, the antenna limp and the glass and exterior panel are a dark color and the vehicle height is lowered."

An "awake" car would have "open shutters, headlights fringed with complementary 'eyebrows,' an erect antenna and brighter glass and exterior panels."

Eyebrows and eyelids would be created by lights appearing above the headlights, and a "tear" would be displayed by another light installed below the headlights. The patent says any of the lights can remain on for a period of time, blink on and off, or fade from bright to faint. The eyelids can close in any direction - top to bottom, bottom to top and diagonally. The eyebrow shape can change, and the brows, lids and tears can be featured in different colors, the patent says.

Data on the state of the car, the road and the driver is collected and stored in the car's computer, which attributes points to certain factors - like "the occupant reacts to reckless cutting in," or speed, handling angle or brake pressure - that might contribute to an angry response. When a sufficient number of points are accumulated to indicate anger, the computer's software will trigger a reaction in the car's appearance.

"The state of angry will be changed either over time or in response to soothing input supplied by the occupants," the patent says. "When the number of points is reduced below the threshold value, the vehicle no longer shows angry."

The patent includes a chart that shows how the car might display a number of emotions. It shows categories that correlate driver reaction, road or car condition to color and position of features like the "eyebrow," the antenna, the headlights and the vehicle height.

For anger, the hood lighting color glows red while the eyebrow lights up and the headlights, antenna and height are in standard position.

But if the driver is joyful, the car may "wink" to let another car go first by changing the hood lighting and the eyebrow to orange, shading the headlight so it appears half-closed and causing the antenna to vibrate from left to right as if it were wagging.

The chart also indicates that a car with mechanical trouble might "cry" by displaying dark blue hood lighting, a shaded headlight, a lit eyebrow and a blinking "tear" light.

And if the "sudden appearance of a vehicle or pedestrian causes sudden braking," the car will express surprise by having its hood lights turn orange, its eyebrows light up red, the headlights shaded and the vehicle height lowered in the rear.

The patent says the inventors chose the colors, shadings and positions "in consideration of human psychology." It explains that "some reactions may be expressed using warm colors," and cites orange as appropriate for winking, feeling fine or looking around, and red as the right choice for anger or surprise.

"Meanwhile, some other reactions such as sad, crying, fearful and so forth may be expressed using cold colors," like green or blue, the patent says.

The inventors also say their idea, which was awarded Patent No. 6,575,593, is not just for cars. They note it could also be used with motorcycles, ships or aircraft.

post comment

[24 Jul 2004|08:14pm]

This is one of the most amazing ads I've ever seen, truly a thing of beauty. Fully two minutes long, it's a Honda commercial called "Cog," the most elaborate Rube Goldberg device you've ever seen set to film, all made entirely of car parts. It required 606 film takes to get right. It's so perfectly filmed, you can't imagine it, you've just got to see it.

You need Flash to play it.
1 comment|post comment

[22 Jul 2004|01:04am]
[ music | Violin Romance - Beethoven ]

Days that we never forget.

We never forget days where we make a mistake and it cost us a friendship. We never forget mistakes that cost us a position in ministry. We never forget those times where you say the wrong words and didn't realize how much you caused the other person.

Its days like these that we will always remember for they create who we are. When you make a mistake you realize what you need to correct it. You realize how foolish it was and where you went wrong.

The word of God says that a righteous and wise man falls and gets back up and learns from his mistakes and never visits them again, but the foolish stay down and roll around in their folly.
When these mistakes are made we must let God examine ourselves. Most of all we need to be honest with ourselves as to why a mistake was made. I know for myself its very hard for me to be honest with myself. But in the process as God reveals what brought us to fall, our honestly will assist in the healing of our bleeding heart.

You may be asking, 'What did I do?' Well its actually what I didn't do that caused a mistake. Have you ever noticed that it takes two seconds to make a decision and months to tear that decision apart whether it was a wise decision or one of folly? Yeah I thought so. Everyone of us has been there. Everyone of us has at one point gotten mad at a friend and said something that hurt and then we live with that memory for life.

My mistake came along when I took some pictures that were deemed inappropriate by some. Heck I thought the subject I was taking a picture of what outrightly inappropriate. Thats was the whole motivation behind me taking the photograph. I was going to show his mother his folly. To which I did. [Some of you are wondering right now what could have been so bad, I will not discuss that here. You can use your imagination, and if you really want to know. Post and I will email you if I trust you with the information.] I showed the mother the 2 photos and she laughed about it and joked to her son about them. To which after that and that evening I hadn't even thought about the photos and right before bed I deleted them. BY THE WAY. This was all at a Summer Camp. I didn't think I needed to declare I had deleted them. But anyways, I should have made a wiser decision about the photos, because that small decision cost me my position as a teacher and servant to these kids.

I encourage everyone who is reading this to do one thing before making any decision. Even if that decision is purely eating. Just get in the habit of doing it, it may save you hardship in life. Do it to save yourself from getting into a bad relationship. Ask yourself, IS IT WISE? If the answer is NO then back down on whatever it is. I should have asked that. I should have, but it never entered my mind. Not once, I just thought everyone was gooffing off and I was totally offguard because Satan took something harmless and is trying to turn it into something to destroy me. Be careful friends.
post comment

[ viewing | most recent entries ]
[ go | earlier ]