Monday, March 14, 2005

News for March 14th: Monkeys versus God Edition

For anyone who’s been following this evolution/creation battle that’s been heating up for the past few months (years), I’m sorry. This is one of the most infuriating stories to follow, which is why I’ve given it scarce notice here, since the mere mention of it can turn me into a frothing lunatic. In short, I can’t believe there is still a debate about this. I thought this was settled so many years ago with the Scopes trial, but no, we just have to keep reliving this shit over and over again.

Look, even I believe in a form of intelligent design. All things on balance, I suspect that there is something that created life and set it into motion, some higher order or power, but there’s the key word: BELIEVE. I have no proof for what I believe, and I understand that empirical evidence virtually rules out my own suspicions. That’s fine, that’s science. They should only be teaching what can be proven in a SCIENCE class. Intelligent design has no place in a science course. Comparative philosophy? Theology? Sure, no problem. But ID is not science, and it never will be science. Religion cannot be science; I think the people who are pushing their agenda onto science are doing a disservice to both. Let each be their own thing. GRAR! Hulk Smash!

Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 14, 2005; Page A01

WICHITA – Propelled by a polished strategy crafted by activists on America's political right, a battle is intensifying across the nation over how students are taught about the origins of life. Policymakers in 19 states are weighing proposals that question the science of evolution.

The proposals typically stop short of overturning evolution or introducing biblical accounts. Instead, they are calculated pleas to teach what advocates consider gaps in long-accepted Darwinian theory, with many relying on the idea of intelligent design, which posits the central role of a creator.

The growing trend has alarmed scientists and educators who consider it a masked effort to replace science with theology. But 80 years after the Scopes "monkey" trial -- in which a Tennessee man was prosecuted for violating state law by teaching evolution -- it is the anti-evolutionary scientists and Christian activists who say they are the ones being persecuted, by a liberal establishment.

They are acting now because they feel emboldened by the country's conservative currents and by President Bush, who angered many scientists and teachers by declaring that the jury is still out on evolution. Sharing strong convictions, deep pockets and impressive political credentials -- if not always the same goals -- the activists are building a sizable network.

More at the Washington Post.

Hmmm…seems like things aren’t moving very quickly in Iraq. Wonder why? Couldn’t be because it helps to keep things destabilized?

Irritated Iraqis Wait for Change
Nearly six weeks after a landmark election, no new government has formed and people who risked their lives to vote wonder why they did.
By Alissa J. Rubin, Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — With Iraqis increasingly concerned about a security vacuum, the man who is expected to become the next prime minister on Saturday defended the winning blocs, which have not formed a government nearly six weeks after millions of people risked their lives to vote.

In an interview, Ibrahim Jafari, the nominee of the slate that won the most votes in the Jan. 30 election, said it could take two more weeks to close a deal.

"It's not a simple experiment," Jafari said, trying to explain the delay in forming a government. "It's a complex one."

Behind the scenes, the two largest vote-getters, Jafari's Shiite Muslim-dominated United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurds, are engaged in frantic negotiations. The groups are meeting almost round the clock, and there has been constant maneuvering as the two try to compromise while satisfying their respective constituencies.

Last week, some politicians announced that a government would be set by the first meeting of the new National Assembly, scheduled for Wednesday. But now it appears likely that the meeting will be ceremonial while negotiations continue.

That leaves Iraqis, frightened by two large suicide bombings this month that killed nearly 200 people, wondering why they braved insurgents' threats to go to the ballot box.

More at the LA Times.

Meanwhile, Iran refuses to play ball:

Iran rebuffs US over nuclear plans
The US offer was the first major diplomatic shift toward the Islamic republic since Bush cast it as part of the 'axis of evil.'
By Scott Peterson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

TEHRAN, IRAN – Iran's rejection of new US incentives to urge the Islamic republic to halt its nuclear ambitions could not have been on more prominent display.
Painted across a banner 20 feet wide and nearly 10 feet tall, hanging directly under the pulpit during Friday prayers at Tehran University - and shown live on national television - were the words of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "We will definitely not stop our nuclear activities," the banner proclaimed. "It is our red line."

The US offer - to drop objections to Iran's entry into the World Trade Organization and permit it to purchase spare aircraft parts if it freezes its nuclear program - marks the first significant policy change toward Iran since President Bush labeled it part of an "axis of evil" in January 2002. But Iran dismisses the offer as "insignificant" and says the price will be much higher to get it to give up nuclear technology that it legally has a right to pursue under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"That offer ... is an assault on Iranian pride," says Amir Mohebian, political editor of the conservative newspaper, Resalat. "Some US politicians say: 'If we don't attack you, it's a favor.'"

Instead, Mr. Mohebian says there is room for real dialogue, but at a higher level: "The US should send the message: 'We are not your enemy.' "

Washington says Iran's civilian program is a cover to build nuclear weapons, and has ratcheted up its rhetoric in recent months. Tehran denies the charge and says it does not want nuclear weapons, but is creating its own nuclear fuel cycle for atomic energy. Two years of inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog have found a string of violations in a program kept secret for 18 years, but no evidence that Iran has sought to make atomic bombs. Britain, France, and Germany have been in negotiations to get Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions. The US offer aims to join the Europeans in a united front; in exchange, the EU has agree to support taking Iran before the UN Security Council if talks fail.

More at the Christian Science Monitor.

Hahaha…ouch. The President’s little smirk-and-joke style seems to be falling on deaf ears. Is he really falling back on humor to try to sell social security? Must be more desperate than we thought. Yes, I admit, I’m engaging in a little schadenfreude, but after last November, I’ve earned a bit:

Don't Stop Him Even If You've Heard This One
With a Wink and a Nudge, President Bush Is Turning Into a Stand-Up Kind of Guy

By Mark Leibovich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 14, 2005; Page C01

President Bush is telling another audience that the Social Security system is in great distress, and there will be ghastly consequences if our leaders don't act, and act now.

But first, a little joke:

About a guy trying to get to Livingston, Mont. "To get to Livingston, you've got to go down the highway," Bush says during a recent "town meeting" in Great Falls, Mont. "And you go through the cattle guard. And you turn left. And go through another cattle guard."

Bush chuckles, races through his setup, then hurtles into his punch line.

"And a fellow comes back and says, 'Hey, what color uniforms do those cattle guards have on?' "

Get it? Like, the doofus in the joke thought "cattle guards" were people (protecting the cows), as opposed to steel rails (placed at fence openings to stop cows from walking onto roads).

The crowd is silent. Bush's face freezes in a guess-you-had-to-be-there smile.

Laughter comes eventually, in deference to the president's game effort, if not his joke (showing that it's possible to hate the joke but love the jokester). There are smiling grimaces and shaking heads, looks of amused disbelief that ask:

Did the Leader of the Free World really just go off on such a goofball digression?

In fact he did, and has been doing so often during otherwise sober discussions on Social Security, energy policy and foreign affairs. Like many politicians, Bush has always used humor as an icebreaker or all-purpose tool of endearment. But he has recently been unleashing (or inflicting) his inner-laugh-riot to a point where he is resembling a Texas auctioneer pitching private accounts on the Borscht Belt.

More at the Washington Post.

All I have to say about Tom DeLay and his ethically-challenged personality: NOW it’s a problem? NOW?? So much for the party of personal responsibility!

DeLay Ethics Allegations Now Cause of GOP Concern
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 14, 2005; Page A01

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) has dismissed questions about his ethics as partisan attacks, but revelations last week about his overseas travel and ties to lobbyists under investigation have emboldened Democrats and provoked worry among Republicans.

With some members increasingly concerned that DeLay had left himself vulnerable to attack, several Republican aides and lobbyists said for the first time that they are worried about whether he will survive and what the consequences could be for the party's image.

"If death comes from a thousand cuts, Tom DeLay is into a couple hundred, and it's getting up there," said a Republican political consultant close to key lawmakers. "The situation is negatively fluid right now for the guy. You start hitting arteries, it only takes a couple." The consultant, who at times has been a DeLay ally, spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he could not be candid otherwise.

At least six Republicans expressed concern over the weekend about DeLay's situation. They said they do not think DeLay necessarily deserves the unwanted attention he is receiving. But they said that the volume of the revelations about his operation is becoming alarming and that they do not see how it will abate.

More at the Washington Post.

Here’s a new feature I want to start running: The Best of the Indie Weblogs. In case you haven’t noticed, this blog is part of a network of weblogs that came together to oppose the Alberto Gonzales nomination and have stayed together to provide support for each other and another news source to add to the left-wing cacophony that is growing on the Net. There’s a lot of great stuff coming out of the Indie Weblogs these days, so I thought, each day, I’d take a look at one or two items, give you a taste, and let you check out the site.
Today’s post comes from The Left Coaster :

Why the Bankruptcy Bill Was a Betrayal of Consumers and The Senate's Deliberative Process

Diane Feinstein voted the bill out of committee and had believed she would vote for it after it had the worst aspects modified by thoughtful amendments. When it was apparent that no changes would be allowed, she decided that she could not support this bill because it was terribly unfair and left in place some "gross injustices."

Senator Dayton moved an amendment which would limit interest rates on credit cards to 30 percent. The amendment was summarily defeated. The fact of the matter is that with penalties, with other charges, with high interest rates and many companies have interest rates well -- believe it or not -- in excess of 30 percent, a minimum payer cannot ever repay the full debt because the interest on the debt, if combined with certain penalties and/or fixed payments, becomes such that it overwhelms the principal. Now, many people don't know that.

The fact is that 40 percent of credit card holders pay off their debt every month, 40 percent make only the minimum payment, and 20 percent are kind of 50/50 in that category. But for those 60 percent who are generally people who are not as informed, not as able to pay back their bill, who may have one, two, three, four, five, six different credit cards, who live -- because this is a credit economy -- on their credit card, credit card companies have been able, with very little interest to the payer of the debt, to solicit huge fees, penalties, and interest rates. And I think this is just plain wrong. And I really believe that if we're unable to correct it, which I had hoped would be corrected by these amendments that have been presented, I just can't vote for this bill as long as these inequities -- and I think gross injustices -- remain.

More at The Left Coaster.

Posted by crimnos @ 9:11 AM