11 December 2009

Stories from the week -

Here are some things I noticed in the news this week -

  1. Yay, Team! Once again, human discipline, effort and commitment has led to a scientific breakthrough with the potential to ease human suffering and prevent death. Which disease? Sickle Cell Anemia. As reported in a story in the LA Times:
    "Researchers have for the first time performed a successful bone marrow transplant to cure sickle cell disease in adults, a feat that could expand the procedure to more of the 70,000 Americans with the disease -- and possibly some other diseases as well."
    How great is that? Go scientists!

  2. So let's see - Vietnam (per capita income: US$1024) has made a commitment to build high speed rail, and California (per capita income US$38,900) can't? As reported in the Japan Times, Vietnam has decided to go with Japanese technology in building their high speed rail system, beating out the German/French consortium. Political will is easier to muster in a one party state, no question, but the lack of will to seize the future here in California is troubling. The wealth of California has been built on innovation - the world's best university system from the 1960's to the 1990's, the University of California holds 11,000 patents and has acted as an incubator for scientific, pharmaceutical, and of course information technological advancements (together, fine, with Stanford, CalTech, and the Cal State system). We used to do things big here in Cali, and we are slowly killing the goose that laid the golden eggs of our culture, society and economy by strangling the funding for the higher education system here. It's a shame - we've we've lost our commitment to educational excellence and access for all Californians, and we've lost our will to seize the future. We've lost our nerve. And Vietnam, and other countries and cultures around the world, are not going to wait for us to get it back.

  3. Ah, religion (take 1). As reported in the SF Chronicle, it seems that the huge influx of cash coming into Somalia is throwing the economy out of whack, and many of the poor, young, male pirates who are now awash in cash and buying trucks and sex and drugs are no longer living a virtuous lifestyle. The thoughts of one religious leader?
    "That is what is worrying us, a lot more than the risk they pose to the foreign ships and crew." Nice. Nevermind that people are getting threatened and that kidnappers are using the threat of murder, or actual murder; according to one mosque leader, the real problem is the dissolute lifestyle that the newly wealthy are living. What is it with religious leaders worried about sex and dissolution more than human life? Seriously? Read the story here.

  4. Ah, religion (take 2). So in Uganda, homosexuality is illegal now. And if you know someone who is gay and you don't report them as gay so they can be put in jail, well, then you can go to jail too. You don't have to have sex to be labelled homosexual and put in jail, you just have to BE homosexual. So that's nice. And guess who is helping get this initiative passed? Religious leaders, of course, lying about gay people and our lives to spread hatred and misinformation. None other than Pastor Rick, whom Obama invited to preside over the inauguration, had ties to Ugandan Christian clergy pushing the bill. As reported in The Week and elsewhere, Warren and other American religious leaders, including Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams, who wrote "The Pink Swastika" which argues that homosexuality led to Nazi atrocities. They all had or currently have ties with Ugandan clergy who were pushing the bill (because whenever people spouting superstition, hatred and fear need ideological cover, to whom do they turn? Religious leaders. Inevitably.) Check this out:
    "Homosexuality is infectious," says Ugandan Anglican Bishop Joseph Abura in Spero News. "But gays and their sympathizers want to export it here, to spread their satanic 'gay agenda.' Uganda must pass the anti-gay law to stop them, and others who 'want to uproot or bend our cherished traditions and values. For some Anglicans, vices are now virtues.'
    Sing it with me: "And we'll know they are Christians by their lies, and their fear / Yes we'll know they are Christians by their hate." In final passage, the Ugandan law was diluted - it's no longer a capital offense to be gay, just an imprisonable offense. You no longer will get executed for being gay, just thrown in jail. Jesus must be so proud.

  5. Ah, religion (Take 3) - it's really like fish in a barrel this week. Mayor Russell Wiseman of Arlington, Tennessee (population 4000, up from just 1500 in 1990 according to the US Census), a fast growing ex-urban community 30 miles outside of Memphis, is mad at our President. It seems that he sat his family down to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and Mr. Obama was giving a speech at West Point about escalating the war, which preempted it. Naturally, Mr. Wiseman called Mr. Obama a Muslim, said it was all by design, and called it "total crap." The Facebook posting, sic's and all, is here:
    "Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch 'The Charlie Brown Christmas Special' and our muslim president is there, what a load.....try to convince me that wasn't done on purpose. Ask the man if he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he will give you a 10 minute disertation (sic) about it....w...hen the answer should simply be 'yes'...."

    Mr. Wiseman (and does anyone else wonder if maybe he has some ancestors who members of the Tribe, hmmm?) went on to say some more great stuff, here quoting further from the Memphis Commercial Appeal story on it:
    In Wiseman's extensive thread that attacked the president, his supporters and Muslims, he stated "...you obama people need to move to a muslim country...oh wait, that's America....pitiful."
    At another point he said, "you know, our forefathers had it written in the original Constitution that ONLY property owners could vote, if that has stayed in there, things would be different........"

    Setting aside the abuse of periods of ellipses and the grammar confusion, where does one start? I'm sure the church he goes to every weekend nurtures his good Christian belief that Obama is a Muslim and only property holders should be able to vote. Let's not ask him about whether all the queers should be rounded up and put in jail, shall we?

  6. And because Bren'sLeftCoast likes to end on a positive note, and because it was a tough week, news-wise, let's just end with a picture of the beautiful Southern California mountains with more snow than I've ever seen on them, from Tuesday. (Photo taken by Genaro Molina /Los Angeles Times)

And here's to a better week ahead.

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