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31 March 2008

Zimbabwe: Will ballots or bullets decide?

Oh yes, clicking necessary.

Three faux movie posters depicting Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, filched from a blog in neighboring South Africa. The top poster refers to his often violent anti-white land-redistribution program. Artist unknown, but Agence-Vleeptron Presse is trying to find out.

Zimbabwe, which has been ruled by Mugabe since the fall of the white-ruled government in 1980, is the former British colony and white-controlled Commonwealth breakaway nation Rhodesia.

There is widespread and credible worry that Mugabe will use the police and military to stay in power regardless of the election results. Zimbabwe is currently the world inflation champion, exceeding 100,000 percent. (Other recent winners of this questionable award have been Argentina and Israel.)

The governments of South Africa and other sub-Saharan nations have demonstrated a great reluctance to oppose or challenge Mugabe's regularly violent and lawless one-man one-party strong-man rule. To take public positions against Mugabe would make African governments appear, in the eyes of their own voters, to still be taking their instructions from the former white European colonial powers. This stance is both straightforwardly political, and an authentic reflection of the importance to black Africans of winning independence and self-determination from European colonial powers and white rule, often after bitter, long, violent struggles.

Whatever else he is, Mugabe is a powerful symbol of black independence from white colonial rule, proof that London no longer calls the shots or plays the tune to which African governments still dance.

For the past year the BBC has been banned from reporting from inside Zimbabwe; its correspondents have been setting up and filing on the election from across the border in Mozambique and South Africa. This morning it's impossible to connect with the website of the government-owned Harare Herald. One of the major complaints about the election is that opposition parties have had almost no access to Zimbabwe's mass media. Finally about a week ago The Harare Herald bowed to pressure from within and outside Zimbabwe and began running full-page color advertisements for the opposition MDC party.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Reuters (newswire UK)
Monday 31 March 2008 02:03 EDT 07:03 GMT

run even in early
Zimbabwe results

by Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE (Reuters) -- Zimbabwe's opposition MDC and ruling ZANU-PF were running neck-and-neck, according to the first election results issued by the Electoral Commission on Monday.

The commission started announcing the results from Saturday's election shortly before 7 a.m. (1:00 a.m. EDT) after a long delay prompted the opposition to accuse President Robert Mugabe of trying to rig the vote to stay in power.

The first six parliamentary constituencies were evenly split between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the commission.

Riot police appeared on the streets of Zimbabwe's capital overnight and the state-run Herald newspaper accused the MDC of "preparing its supporters to engage in violence by pre-empting results, claiming they had won."

Mugabe, 84, faced the biggest test of his 28-year-rule in the election because of Zimbabwe's economic collapse and a two-pronged opposition attack that put him under unprecedented political pressure.

He is being challenged by veteran rival Tsvangirai and former finance minister and ruling ZANU-PF party official Simba Makoni. Both accuse the former guerrilla leader of wrecking a once prosperous economy and reducing the population to misery.

Although the odds seem stacked against Mugabe, analysts believe his iron grip on the country and backing from the armed forces could enable him to declare victory.

The commission began issuing the results nearly 36 hours after polls closed. Results in past votes have started emerging soon afterwards.

Mugabe's government warned the opposition it would regard victory claims as a coup attempt. The president, in power since independence from Britain, accuses the West of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy and rejects vote-rigging allegations.

Zimbabwe is suffering from the world's highest inflation rate of more than 100,000 percent, chronic shortages of food and fuel, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has contributed to a steep decline in life expectancy.


Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe said the delay was caused by the complexity of holding presidential, parliamentary and local polls together for the first time, and the need to verify results meticulously.

"Mugabe has lost the election. Everyone knows no one voted for Mugabe, but they are now trying to cook up a result in his favour," MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said on Sunday.

Two South African members of a regional observer mission said the delay in announcing the election results "underscores the fear that vote-rigging is taking place".

They refused to sign a positive preliminary report on the poll by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and said there was evidence of "widespread and convincing" MDC wins.

SADC mission chairman Jose Marcos Barrica of [former Portuguese colony] Angola told reporters through an interpreter the election had been a "peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people".

Barrica expressed concern about the voters roll, opposition access to the media and statements by the heads of security forces who had said they would not accept an opposition victory.

But he said: "We saw that the basic conditions for a free and fair election were there."

The dissenting SADC mission members, who belong to South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance, said in a statement: "It is impossible for this deeply flawed electoral process to be viewed as a credible expression of the will of the people."

The SADC, which critics say has been too soft on Mugabe, has unsuccessfully tried to mediate an end to Zimbabwe's crisis, which has turned a quarter of the population into refugees.

Zimbabwe's security forces, which have thrown their weight firmly behind Mugabe, said before the election they would not allow a victory declaration before counting was complete.

Government spokesman George Charamba warned the opposition against such claims. "It is called a coup d'etat and we all know how coups are handled," he told the state-owned Sunday Mail.

Residents in the eastern opposition stronghold of Manicaland said riot police stopped a victory demonstration by about 200 MDC supporters on Sunday. There was no violence, they said.

(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Cris Chinaka, Nelson Banya and Muchena Zigomo)

- 30 -

Copyright © Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

amidst a national Katrina of home foreclosures, HUD Secretary Alphonso R. Jackson to resign

[poverty] "is a state of mind, not a condition."

-- Alphonso R. Jackson, HUD Secretary

The New York Times
Monday 31 March 2008

Report Says
HUD Secretary
Will Resign

WASHINGTON — Housing Secretary Alphonso R. Jackson is expected to resign Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night.

Mr. Jackson has scheduled a news conference for 9:45 a.m., 15 minutes before Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. is supposed to outline plans for dealing with the financial crisis set off by the risky mortgage lending.

If Mr. Jackson steps down, it would remove a key player from the administration team dealing with the problem.

Mr. Jackson, 62, has been under investigation by the Justice Department and the housing department’s inspector general in inquiries focusing on whether he gave lucrative housing contracts to friends. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has interviewed several of his employees.

Mr. Jackson is the first housing secretary with experience running public housing authorities, having led them in Washington, St. Louis and Dallas.

But his tenure has also been marked by controversy.

In 2004, less than two months after his confirmation as housing secretary, Mr. Jackson told a House panel that he believed poverty "is a state of mind, not a condition." Two years later, he said in a speech that he had canceled a contract for a company after its president told him that he did not like Mr. Bush. Mr. Jackson later said he had made the story up.

- 30 -

30 March 2008

the spiritual thoughts of John McCain's shepherds on his Christian journey

Barack Obama belongs to a church, Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, whose minister, Jeremiah Wright, made some furious, angry sermons which someone videotaped, and now Fox News Channel broadcasts ceaselessy, in a campaign to sling poop at Obama. (Fox hates all Democrats, successful African-American Democratic presidential candidates a little worse.) In particular they have endless phone-in panel discussions to discuss the suitability of a presidential candidate whose Christian minister screams "God damn America!" on Sunday in the pulpit.

John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has shepherds in his Christian journey, too. Who's looping what these Holy Guys have to say? Where are the 24/7 phone-in panels about these Holy Guys?


Media Matters
Tuesday 25 March 2008

Media continue to ignore
McCain endorsers'
controversial comments

Summary: Media Matters has extensively documented the disparity in media coverage devoted to controversial comments made by supporters of Sen. Barack Obama and to those made by supporters of Sen. John McCain. Several major publications have reported only on the controversy over remarks by McCain supporter John Hagee targeting Catholics, but not his controversial statements about Hurricane Katrina, Islam, women, and homosexuality. Most of those same publications have yet to report on pastor Rod Parsley and his controversial remarks in the context of McCain's campaign.

On the March 18 edition of MSNBC's Race for the White House, Air America host Rachel Maddow commented on the disparity in media attention to the controversial comments made by supporters of Sen. Barack Obama and those made by supporters of Sen. John McCain, and asserted: "That double standard can't be sustained." According to Maddow:

MADDOW: [T]here is a double standard here in terms of the Republican Party's full-on embrace of the religious right in this country and all of the controversial things that come with it. We've almost accepted that as the politics as usual. Therefore, when we start seeing religious controversy, religious-oriented controversy in the Democratic side, it's a huge story.

But immediately we're confronted with these bad parallels. It can't be that Jeremiah Wright is a huge controversy, a potential career-ending stumble for the Obama campaign, where Rod Parsley, who says that, you know, that the purpose of the United States of America's existence is to destroy the faith of Islam, and John McCain describes him as a spiritual guide, that can go with just a peep in the liberal media and it never even makes it on to television. That double standard can't be sustained.

As Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, here, here, and here), the media have devoted extensive coverage to Obama's supporters, but have failed to report the controversial comments of supporters of McCain. While there have been media reports on controversial televangelist John Hagee's endorsement of McCain and McCain's repudiation of Hagee's anti-Catholic comments, many media outlets have ignored altogether remarks Hagee has made about Hurricane Katrina, Islam, women, and homosexuality. Further, most of those same publications have yet to report on the comments of another McCain supporter, World Harvest Church senior pastor Rod Parsley, who has written of Islam: "The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed."

According to a March 25 search* of the Nexis database, while they have included references to Hagee's anti-Catholic comments, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, NBC, and ABC have not reported on Hagee's comments about Hurricane Katrina, Islam, women, and homosexuality since Hagee endorsed McCain on February 27. According to Factiva, The Wall Street Journal also has only mentioned Hagee's "anti-Catholic remarks" and "divisive statements."

Additionally, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, NBC, ABC,** and The Wall Street Journal have not reported on Parsley*** or noted his comments in the context of McCain's campaign. A March 17 USA Today article reported only that Parsley was "accused of urging war on Muslims."

John Hagee

After Hagee, founder of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, endorsed McCain for president on February 27, McCain said, "All I can tell you is I'm very proud to have pastor Hagee's support." McCain asserted just days later that his acceptance of Hagee's endorsement did not signal that he "agree[s] with all of Pastor Hagee's views" and stated on March 7, "I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics." McCain further stated on March 11, "I repudiate any, any comments that are anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, racist, any other. And I condemn them and I condemn those words that Pastor Hagee apparently ... that Pastor Hagee wrote."

Below is a sampling of the controversial statements Hagee has made about Hurricane Katrina, Islam, women, and homosexuality.

* As Media Matters has noted, on the September 18, 2006, edition of National Public Radio's Fresh Air, host Terry Gross said to Hagee, "You said after Hurricane Katrina that it was an act of God, and you said 'when you violate God's will long enough, the judgment of God comes to you. Katrina is an act of God for a society that is becoming Sodom and Gomorrah reborn.' " She then asked, "Do you still think that Katrina is punishment from God for a society that's becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah?" Hagee responded:

HAGEE: All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are -- were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know that there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment. And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

* Earlier in the program, Gross had asked Hagee if he believed that "all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews." Hagee replied: "Well, the Quran teaches that. Yes, it teaches that very clearly."

* A March 7, 1996, article (accessed via the Nexis database) in the San Antonio Express-News reported that Hagee was going to "meet with black religious leaders privately at an unspecified future date to discuss comments he made in his newsletter about a 'slave sale,' an East Side minister said Wednesday." The Express-News further reported:

Hagee, pastor of the 16,000-member Cornerstone Church, last week had announced a "slave sale" to raise funds for high school seniors in his church bulletin, "The Cluster."

The item was introduced with the sentence "Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone" and ended with "Make plans to come and go home with a slave."

* The Wall Street Journal also noted the "slave sale" incident in a July 27, 2006, article:

To help students seeking odd jobs, his church newsletter, The Cluster, advertised a "slave" sale. "Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone," it said. "Make plans to come and go home with a slave." Mr. Hagee apologized but, in a radio interview, protested about pressure to be "politically correct" and joked that perhaps his pet dog should be called a "canine American."

* Journalist Sarah Posner noted in God's Profits: Faith, Fraud and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters (PoliPointPress, January 2008) that in his book, What Every Man Wants in a Woman (Charisma House, 2005), Hagee wrote, "Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist" (Page 14).

* Posner also noted that, in another Hagee text, "Bible Positions on Political Issues" (John Hagee Ministries, 1992), he wrote, "[T]he feminist movement today is throwing off authority in rebellion against God's pattern for the family."

* Posner further reported that Hagee "complains that the military is downsized -- not that it matters since he predicts there will be a nuclear war to bring about Armageddon -- and blames it on Bill Clinton for making 'the military the habitat of homosexuals by executive order. ... The military will have difficultly recruiting healthy and strong heterosexuals for combat purposes. Why? Fighting in combat with a man in your fox hole that has AIDS or is HIV positive is double jeopardy' " (Page 83).

* In What Every Man Wants in a Woman, Hagee wrote: "As I write this book, the issue of same-sex marriage rages on the front pages of America's newspapers and is seen on national telecasts each evening," and noted that "Massachusetts has just agreed to recognize same-sex marriages." Hagee added: "For a fact, Sodom and Gomorrah are being reborn in America." Several paragraphs later, he asserted that if the United States Congress failed to pass an amendment "recognizing only the marriage between a man and a woman," then "the gates of hell will be opened." He continued: "It will open the door to incest, to polygamy, and every conceivable marriage arrangement demented minds can possibly conceive. If God does not then punish America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." He also wrote: "It is impossible to call yourself a Christian and defend homosexuality. There is no justification or acceptance of homosexuality," and "Homosexuality means the death of society because homosexuals can recruit, but they cannot reproduce" (Pages 68-69).

Rod Parsley

In a March 12 article, Mother Jones Washington editor David Corn reported that Parsley endorsed McCain on February 26 at a campaign rally at which they both appeared. Parsley called McCain a "strong, true, consistent conservative," and McCain referred to Parsley as a "spiritual guide."

Below is a sampling of the controversial statements Parsley has made about Islam and homosexuality.

* Parsley wrote in Silent No More (Charisma House, 2005):

I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore (Pages 90-91).

* Citing the August 1984 edition of the conservative magazine American Spectator, Parsley wrote:

"Besides the fact that gay socializing revolves around the bar scene -- with its incumbent drinking, drugs, and late-night carousing -- gay sexuality inevitably involves brutal physical abusiveness and the unnatural imposition of alien substances into internal organs, orally and anally, that inevitably suppress the immune system and heighten susceptibility to disease" (Page 74).

* Parsley also wrote: "One Canadian study found that 95 percent of extant HIV-AIDS cases were distributed among gay and bisexual men" (Page 76). According to the abstract of the study, published in 1997, that Parsley cited, 95 percent was "the proportion of AIDS cases in gay and bisexual men in this" "large Canadian urban centre from 1987 to 1992." According to an August 2007, United States Department of Health and Human Services fact sheet: "In the United States, HIV infection and AIDS have had a tremendous effect on men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM accounted for 72 percent of all HIV infections among male adults and adolescents in 2005 (based on data from 33 States with long-term, confidential, name-based HIV reporting), even though only about 5-7 percent of male adults and adolescents in the United States identify themselves as MSM."

The following coverage on NBC and ABC and in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal included references to Hagee's anti-Catholic comments, but did not report any of his comments unrelated to Catholics.

From a March 25 Wall Street Journal article:

Presidential candidates have gotten touchy about their prominent friends. Sen. Hillary Clinton dropped former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro from her campaign, Sen. Barack Obama backed away from Rev. Jeremiah Wright and academic Samantha Power, and Sen. John McCain rebuked Texas televangelist James Hagee -- all because of divisive statements the friends made.

The shifts illustrate a reality in this closely fought contest: When a misstep, or the appearance of one, sparks negative press, campaigns are quick to throw a high-profile supporter overboard rather than mount damage control.

One unusual breakup is the Clinton campaign's split with Chicago businessman Mehmet Celebi, who was relieved of duty as a fund-raiser. Mr. Celebi was dismissed on the basis of assertions on the Internet, which he denies, that he produced and bankrolled a film that is anti-Semitic and anti-American.

From a March 23 Washington Post column by ombudsman Deborah Howell:

Wright has been both admired and controversial for many years. Before he retired, he was pastor of the largest congregation in the United Church of Christ; Obama's first book mentioned him prominently. It's natural to want to know about him, his church and his importance to Obama, who said Wright brought him to Christianity 20 years ago, performed his wedding and baptized his two daughters.

Had anyone suggested doing that story at The Post? Religion reporter Michelle Boorstein pitched it twice and was turned down by editors on the Metro and National desks.

Joe Davidson, assistant city editor and Boorstein's editor, wrote: "At the time Michelle suggested the story, before the latest revelations about Wright's comments, there was little that was new. I didn't see what it would add that was significantly different." Tim Curran, deputy national editor for politics, wrote: "I am pleased that we were able to present Eli's very thorough and thoughtful piece on Wright and his relationship with Obama, an article we had set in motion well before the situation came to a head, in such a timely fashion."

The Rev. Andrea Brown, associate pastor of Grandview United Methodist Church in Lancaster, Pa., asked: "Why are the words (and actions) of Hillary Clinton's pastors not being similarly scrutinized? McCain's spiritual leaders?" John McCain has been supported by conservative ministers who also have said some controversial things. And The Post hasn't reported in print that McCain has repudiated some views of supporter John Hagee, an evangelist, that were perceived as anti-Catholic. Clinton is a Methodist, and that church's governing body is considering divesting itself of investments in Israel; that's another story.

From a March 18 Wall Street Journal article:

Sen. Barack Obama today will attempt again to distance himself from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright by delivering a speech on "Race, politics and unifying our country in Philadelphia," according to the campaign.

Mr. Wright retired last month as head of Trinity United Church of Christ, where for nearly 20 years he counted Sen. Obama among his parishioners. Mr. Wright was involved in the senator's presidential campaign as an unpaid adviser. Mr. Wright recently suggested in a sermon that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were perhaps warranted. Sen. Obama's condemnation of Mr. Wright's statements have done little to take the edge off a shrill debate.

Republican Sen. John McCain had a similar test when he accepted the endorsement of televangelist James Hagee, who was criticized over anti-Catholic remarks. Sen. McCain repudiated the comments.

From a March 17 USA Today article:

According to CNN, Wright argued that Clinton's road to the White House is easier because of her skin color: "Hillary has never had her people defined as a non-person." He also said in an interview that, "Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run."

McCain has had a run-in with controversial preachers. John Hagee, the leader of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church accused of making disparaging remarks about Catholics, endorsed McCain. So did Rod Parsley, leader of the World Harvest Church of Columbus accused of urging war on Muslims.

McCain was not a member of either minister's church, and he denounced their remarks.

From Tim Rutten's March 15 Los Angeles Times column:

It's in the nature of campaigns to careen from the totally unexpected to the utterly unthinkable, but recent events in the presidential contest probably ought to be filed under the heading: "With friends like these."

By Friday, all three candidates had been forced to apologize for the offensive views of a prominent supporter. John McCain was first, when one of the evangelical ministers whose approval he has so assiduously courted turns out to have some inconvenient views. John Hagee, a prominent Texas televangelist, also happens to teach that the Catholic Church is "the whore of Babylon" and a "cult."

McCain, who appeared with Hagee on television to accept his endorsement, at first tried to brush off the matter. Better judgment -- and perhaps, consideration of the Catholic vote's importance -- ultimately prevailed, and the Arizona senator told the Associated Press: "I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics."

From E.J. Dionne's March 11 Washington Post column:

His [McCain's] efforts to pander to the religious right that he so bravely opposed in 2000 (he called Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance") aren't very attractive, either.

And it's mystifying that while Barack Obama has been willing -- in the phrase he made fashionable -- to "reject and denounce" Louis Farrakhan because of Farrakhan's anti-Semitism, McCain hasn't gone nearly as far in dealing with Pastor John Hagee. The evangelical leader, who called the Roman Catholic Church "the great whore," has endorsed McCain. McCain distanced himself from Hagee's anti-Catholicism -- there are, after all, a lot of Catholic swing voters -- but why is McCain so reluctant to use much stronger language about Hagee himself?

All this points to what is maddening about McCain. At times, he has acted with courage and honor. At other times, he behaves like a crafty politician. There is an independent side to McCain that has made him an authentic maverick. But on so many issues, he is nothing more (or less) than a thoroughly conventional conservative politician.

From the March 3 edition of NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams:

DAVID GREGORY (NBC News chief White House correspondent): But McCain is now in the firing line as well. Today he faced questions about the endorsement of Texas televangelist John Hagee. Social conservatives are a key GOP voting block, but some of the televangelist's public remarks have offended Catholics.

McCAIN: It's pretty obvious that you get a lot of endorsements in a political campaign. That does not mean I embrace the views of the people who endorse me.

GREGORY: Today Hagee denied being anti-Catholic.

No McCain endorsement from feminist author and Hillary Clinton supporter Gloria Steinem, who belittled McCain's ordeal as a prisoner of war during Vietnam during a Clinton campaign event in Texas. She was quoted by New York newspapers saying, "This is supposed to be a qualification to be president?" The Clinton team later disavowed Steinem's remarks.

From the March 2 edition of ABC's This Week:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (host): Doesn't Obama give him another opening? Because you actually raised an issue in this week's issue of the National Journal where you talk about the potential of Barack Obama, because he's getting young people, because he's getting more affluent and educated voters than Democrats often get to create a new coalition for the Democrats the way Reagan did for the Republicans. But let me pose this question to Donna. Doesn't he also create an opening for John McCain? Because Barack Obama has not done as well with working-class Democrats, blue-collar Democrats, he hasn't established a connection to them. And isn't that an opening for McCain?

DONNA BRAZILE (ABC News consultant): No, I don't think so. Look, George, we saw in Wisconsin, Obama finally connecting with those blue-collar voters. We saw it in the Virginia and Maryland primary. We'll see if it happens in Ohio. I think the more he talks about the economy, the more that Obama reaches out and bring them ideas that he can turn this economy around, Senator Obama has an opportunity to win this. Look, McCain had another problem this week. He was endorsed or -- by Mr. Hagee, someone who is considered an anti-Catholic bigot. Again, he had to separate himself. His problem is he has to unify a shrinking base, a shrinking base that will not give him the type of electoral numbers he needs without Hispanics, without suburbanites, without women. And that's where Obama will come in strong.


GEORGE WILL (contributing analyst): The median age of the electorate is 44. These people do not -- a large part of the electorate do not remember the 1970s that gave rise to Ronald Reagan. They have only the dimmest memory of Ronald Reagan. So when McCain says, truthfully, in trying to unite the base, I was a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution, that is so retrospective.

A February 29 post on's The Trail in its entirety:

The president of the Catholic League blasted John McCain on Thursday for accepting the endorsement of Texas evangelist John Hagee, calling the controversial pastor a bigot who has "waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church."

Hagee, who is known for his crusading support of Israel, backed McCain's presidential bid Wednesday, standing next to the senator at a hotel in San Antonio and calling McCain "a man of principle."

But Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement Thursday that Hagee has written extensively in negative ways about the Catholic Church, "calling it 'The Great Whore,' an 'apostate church,' the 'anti-Christ,' and a 'false cult system.' "

"Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee," Donohue said.

Catholics United, a national online group, also criticized McCain. "By receiving the endorsement of an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church, McCain once again demonstrates that he is willing to sell out his principles for a chance to win the Presidency," Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, said in a statement. "We hope Senator McCain will take the principled position of publicly and unequivocally distancing himself from Pastor Hagee's anti-Catholic comments. Intolerance and bigotry do not belong in American politics."

The McCain campaign declined to comment on the statements.

From a February 28 Washington Post item:

John McCain picked up the support of Texas pastor John Hagee, an evangelical Christian who has made support for the state of Israel a centerpiece of his ministry.

"John McCain has publicly stated his support of the state of Israel, pledging that his administration will not permit Iran to have nuclear weapons to fulfill the evil dreams of President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the map," Hagee, a televangelist and the pastor of Cornerstone Church, told reporters.

Hagee's endorsement could be of particular help to McCain in Texas, where the Arizona senator will face former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday. Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, has succeeded over the past two months in appealing to evangelical and conservative Christian voters, highlighting a schism in the Republican party. Huckabee was especially successful in the South and in Virginia, where he earned a 40 percent lead over McCain among conservative voters.

But with little doubt about McCain becoming the nominee, conservatives have begun to flock to his side. Asked what McCain could do to appeal to other religious conservatives, Hagee said he was confident that McCain's support for abortion restrictions and for Israel would help.

From the March 18 edition of MSNBC's Race for the White House:

GREGORY: All right, and let's also -- and Rachel, you brought this up last night, let's talk about double standards. When the Republicans got in trouble, whether it was the president or John McCain back when, I think it was Jerry Falwell, said that 9-11 was the answer for homosexuality, when Pat Robertson has said incendiary remarks, did they distance themselves completely from these guys?

MADDOW: No, they didn't. I mean, there's been -- well, John McCain has done both. He both denounced Jerry Falwell --

GREGORY: Yes, he did and didn't do it.

MADDOW: -- as an agent of intolerance, and then went and spoke at Liberty University, so he's got both sides of that going. I mean, there is a double standard here in terms of the Republican Party's full-on embrace of the religious right in this country and all of the controversial things that come with it. We've almost accepted that as the politics as usual. Therefore, when we start seeing religious controversy, religious-oriented controversy in the Democratic side, it's a huge story.

But immediately we're confronted with these bad parallels. It can't be that Jeremiah Wright is a huge controversy, a potential career-ending stumble for the Obama campaign, where Rod Parsley, who says that, you know, that the purpose of the United States of America's existence is to destroy the faith of Islam, and John McCain describes him as a spiritual guide, that can go with just a peep in the liberal media and it never even makes it on to television. That double standard can't be sustained.

* SEARCH TERMS = PUBLICATION(New York Times or Washington Post or USA Today or Los Angeles Times or ABC or NBC) and Hagee

** SEARCH TERMS = PUBLICATION(New York Times or Washington Post or USA Today or Los Angeles Times or ABC or NBC) and Parsley and McCain

*** SEARCH TERMS = PUBLICATION(New York Times or Washington Post or USA Today or Los Angeles Times or ABC or NBC) and (Rod Parsley or (Parsley and pastor) or (Parsley and World Harvest))



Wouldn't it be nice if the media DID ITS JOB??????

* - wzwriter / Tuesday March 25, 2008 6:28:19 PM EDT
* - Reply to this comment / Flag this comment


What job would that be? Spewing the Democratic line? You are can keep trying, but you cannot compare someone who steps forward to endorse someone and someone with whom a person has had a close relationship for 20 years. Try as you might, you cannot make an orange into an apple guys.
o - FinanceBuzz / Tuesday March 25, 2008 10:24:27 PM EDT
o - Reply to this comment / Flag this comment


I think you can question McCain's judgment in going after one preacher who thinks that hurricanes are sent to centers of sin and that New Orleans deserved that tragedy. You could also ask McCain why he sought the endorsement of an anti-Catholic.

How does anything in the Bible endorse Parsley's view of war by Christians against Islam? How is that defensible? When McCain goes after the endorsement and appears at a rally with someone who favors a war by Christians against Islam, shouldn't we question him?
+ - friedbergboy1422 / Tuesday March 25, 2008 11:10:37 PM EDT
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I think it is fair to ask what his Biblical support - if he has such - is for his position. I cannot find more than a brief excerpt of some strong statements which, without additional context, is not enough to form a strong opinion. Regardless, he still does not have same the same type of relationship with McCain that Wright does with Obama. But I do think you raise a fair question that should be explored further.
# - FinanceBuzz / Tuesday March 25, 2008 11:42:14 PM EDT
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I never said that McCain has the same type of relationship with those two pastors as Obama has with his pastor. However, I have never heard Reverend Wright, other than one time he quoted a former Reagan ambassador say that America got what was coming to it:

His context makes much more sense than the soundbites we have been hearing on the news.

What disturbs me about the lack of stories is that McCain went after the endorsement of a man who claimed that the people of New Orleans brought that tragedy to themselves by their sinful ways. FB, if Katrina was sent to punish sin, why was Bourbon Street left almost untouched?

(article is about McCain coming for Hagee's endorsement)

McCain has also called Parsley a spiritual advisor and appeared on stage with him at a rally. Parsley has called for a war by Christianity against Islam. McCain has also appeared on stage with Hagee at rallies this year. Has Obama appeared with Reverend Wright?

Has Reverend Wright suggested violence against anyone in his sermons? Has Reverend Wright called for the largest religion on earth to be eradicated? Regardless of the relationship, whose statements do you find more extreme?

Both Hagee and Parsley have condemned homosexuality, abortion, etc. Why do Hagee and Parsley hate Americans?

* - friedbergboy1422 / Wednesday March 26, 2008 10:14:13 AM EDT
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What disturbs me about the lack of stories is that McCain went after the endorsement of a man who claimed that the people of New Orleans brought that tragedy to themselves by their sinful ways. FB, if Katrina was sent to punish sin, why was Bourbon Street left almost untouched?

This is a question you nor I can answer. If Katrina as God's punishment to New Orleans (something else we cannot conclusively prove or deny with Biblical support for either position), then how can we are humans determine how God chooses to act?

Has Obama appeared with Reverend Wright?

Obama has a 20 year relationship with Wright. That says a lot more to me than some election year maneuvering by either candidate.

Has Reverend Wright suggested violence against anyone in his sermons? Has Reverend Wright called for the largest religion on earth to be eradicated? Regardless of the relationship, whose statements do you find more extreme?

As I said before, without Biblical support, I cannot reach a conclusion on Parsley's statement. All I have access to without reading his book are snippets that could well be taken out of context and used to present a more extreme position than was intended. Regardless, I do not find it extreme to speak against the threat of Islamic domination. There is too much evidence from some Muslims advocating domination of their religion. Wariness of this, is prudent IMO.

Both Hagee and Parsley have condemned homosexuality, abortion, etc. Why do Hagee and Parsley hate Americans?

PLease provide some evidence for this statement. This is merely a statement of your position and there is no evidence that either man "hates" Americans. To extrapolate their position to hatred of someone is a stretch. I am opposed to the lifestyle of homosexuality as well as the practice of abortion. I do not hate Americans.
o - FinanceBuzz / Wednesday March 26, 2008 11:00:08 PM EDT
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1) Hagee said that Katrina was sent as punishment for sins. Yet, God, if he did send Katrina there, missed the epicenter of sin in New Orleans. I was asking you how Hagee wraps his mind around that one (I know you aren't a mindreader, but the actual demolition blows Hagee's theory out of the water.

Obama has a 20 year relationship with Wright. That says a lot more to me than some election year maneuvering by either candidate.

In some ways, yes, it does, but Obama has addressed the controversial statements by his preacher. McCain actively sought the man with such invenctive and appeared on stage with Parsley.

If you read this link, you will see direct quotes from Parsley from his book about destroying Islam. McCain appeared with Parsley on stage, calls him "a spiritual guide" and appreciates his endorsement. There is speaking out against Muslim domination and there is speaking for destroying the largest religion on earth.

Ok, maybe I was too harsh on the gay thing, but he actively campaigned against hate-crime protection for gays saying that it would cripple Christians' ability to speak out against homosexuals. I apologize if my rhetoric was over the top, but the gay men and women I am friends with fear those who "don't agree" with the homosexual "lifestyle" and wonder what people mean by it. Most of the gay people I know are in loving relationships.

I would compare Hagee and Parsley's relationship to McCain to Farrakhan's with Obama. Obama denounced Farrakhan's endorsement IMMEDIATELY, yet, when McCain pursues the endorsement of hate-filled preachers, no media coverage. Why?

Both Hagee and Parsley have condemned homosexuality, abortion, etc. Why do Hagee and Parsley hate Americans?
PLease provide some evidence for this statement. This is merely a statement of your position and there is no evidence that either man "hates" Americans. To extrapolate their position to hatred of someone is a stretch. I am opposed to the lifestyle of homosexuality as well as the practice of abortion. I do not hate Americans.
+ - friedbergboy1422 / Thursday March 27, 2008 12:58:20 PM EDT
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No one said that they are exactly equivalent supporters and endorsers.

But they are similar, yet one gets lots of coverage and the others get almost ignored. It's that disparity that is what Media Matters is talking about.

Nice strawman argument you're battling there. I bet you're sorry I totally demolished it.
+ - BottleBlonde / Wednesday March 26, 2008 1:34:42 AM EDT
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Sorry, but how can you demolish something when you simply brush it aside? You do not address that this is an apples to oranges comparison in any substantive manner.
# - FinanceBuzz / Wednesday March 26, 2008 11:00:59 PM EDT
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What job would that be? Spewing the Democratic line?

No. That job would be providing factual, informative information that does not toe the GOP line - or any line for that matter.

And you really need to stop getting yourt "facts" from the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh. Your argument is worn out and immaterial.
+ - wzwriter / Wednesday March 26, 2008 8:06:40 AM EDT
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When I see the MSM toeing a Republican "line" I will be ducking the flying pigs.
# - FinanceBuzz / Wednesday March 26, 2008 11:02:38 PM EDT
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FUZZBOY, try as you might, you can't make Obama's preacher really matter in the grand scheme of things. All this morally superior hyperventilating and handwringing from the Troglodytes is pathetic and transparent as hell. PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY I SHOULD GIVE A SH*T WHAT OBAMA'S PREACHER SAID, SAYS OR WILL SAY.

It's a bogus controversy manufactured by the dishonest to confuse the weak minded.... and it's working.
+ - nerzog / Wednesday March 26, 2008 9:31:37 AM EDT
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FB, they are totally comparable, because McCain actively sought the endorsement of Hagee. Went as far out of his way to praise him, and appear with him at a campaign rally. Why does McCain hate Catholics, FB? Why does he hate New Orleans? ;)
+ - dbeden4153 / Wednesday March 26, 2008 10:35:29 AM EDT
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GUILT BY ASSOCIATION is a propaganda technique that is applied to FOES, and never to FRIENDS (other than dismissive excusing-away of any such connections, should it be too blatant to ignore).

It is clear the MEDIA as a whole considers Democrats to be FOES, while considering Republicans (specifically, now, McCain) to be FRIENDS.

So don't look for the propaganda to be distributed evenly, equally, or fairly. That's why it's PROPAGANDA, and that's why the BIAS is so clear.

Democrats will be held to all kinds of Media-importance determined "STANDARDS", and McCain will be held to none. He's such a cute "maverick", don't chu'know? And a war hero, too, which makes him an expert in our security! Whoo-peee!
o - tex / Wednesday March 26, 2008 11:26:40 AM EDT
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Rachel's good, she's on the radio right now. The democratic nomination is the subject.

* - eweston8542983 / Tuesday March 25, 2008 6:36:33 PM EDT
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Unfortunately, I can't hear her any more. The Air America affiliate in dallas was sold, and is now broadcasting Catholic radio 24/7.
o - wzwriter / Tuesday March 25, 2008 6:59:33 PM EDT
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You're obviously on the Internet, you can listen to AirAmerica live via the web.
+ - Easy to refute wingnuts / Wednesday March 26, 2008 4:09:28 PM EDT
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for the first time, i was able to hear her today. she has a very nice voice, and was quite good at pronouncing all the name of the iraqi cities which were in the story she was reading. i thought she was very good.
o - rumplestilskin396408 / Tuesday March 25, 2008 8:09:16 PM EDT
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unfortunately, she's not a babe. but nice to listen to her anyway.
+ - rumplestilskin396408 / Tuesday March 25, 2008 8:11:43 PM EDT
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Rachel is very good. She's intelligent and has the facts at hand. Too bad she wasn't on as the resident Democratic talking head at FOX News instead of wimps like Kirsten Powers or Susan Estrich.

The subject of this MM article is right on. McCain has been getting a free pass. In addition to the examples cited by MM, McCain also did an interview with in which he said he plans to continue his relationship with Hagee and others. Current and future association with Hagee (and Land who has said some controversial remarks too).

Beliefnet: "Many prominent pro-life activists have objected to your campaigns even though you have a more staunchly pro-life record than any of the Republican presidential frontrunners: Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, or Fred Thompson."

McCain: "I find it a bit ironic. Part of it may have had to do with campaign finance reform…. But I continue to establish relationships with people like [televangelist] John Hagee, Pastor Richard Land [president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm], my own Pastor Dan Yeary and others in the evangelical community."

o - stevensm / Tuesday March 25, 2008 9:36:28 PM EDT
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ground zero / suddenly later this summer / safe as milk

Click, gets bigger, more detail.

Have you heard?
It's in the stars
Next July we collide with Mars!
Well, did you evah?
What a swell party this is

-- "Well, Did You Evah?" Cole Porter

Doesn't matter where you are
when the shit hits the fan sometime this summer. The entire Planet Earth will be swallowed up by the Black Hole which CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will create when it starts up for the first time.

But it's going to start a few kliks west of Geneva, Switzerland. And then grow, annihilating everything it encounters.

Also this is where the CERN Open House on Sunday 6 April will have Nobel Prize physicists explaining to the public that there is just a very tiny chance that The World Will End when LHC cranks up. Probably no Black Hole. Nothing to worry about, probably. Safe as milk.

29 March 2008

World Will End this summer near Geneva, end of All Life on Earth, Alles ist kaput, kiss your ass goodbye, Prepare to Meet Thy God

Click here please
Cliquez ici SVP
Klicken Sie hier bitte
Scattare qui

Above, the constellation Draco begins devouring Planet Earth
somewhere in the vicinity of Geneva, Switzerland. Filched from a woman in the modern languages department at the University of Texas at Arlington. Artist and date unknown, but I think I have a book of these, I will research in the nearly extinct medium, a physical book.

What's spooky about all this is that it's beginning EXACTLY like 600 crappy Grade Z science fiction disaster movies I've seen. A total male Nobody, either wholly unemployed or working the night shift at a Piggly Wiggly, is trying to warn the People of Earth of an impending disaster of Biblical proportions, but nobody in any position of government authority and no scientist with any professional standing will listen to him. They laugh at him and call Security to escort him out of the building.

When you read this New York Times article about this first warning of an impending disaster of Biblical proportions -- well, let me be blunt, we are talking The End Of The World here, and we are talking Sometime This Coming Summer -- look carefully beneath the rug for the reporter's tone. He is not taking this seriously. In fact, he is laughing. He is ROFLing at this warning of TEOTW.

Which isn't fair. This is a Hard News Story. The hard news hook is a lawsuit filed a couple of weeks ago in U.S. federal District Court in Honolulu demanding that the U.S. government immediately cease and desist all activities supportive of and beneficial to CERN's new world's most powerful atom-smasher, the Large Hadron Collider or LHC.

[If you need to know what a Hadron is, Leave A Comment. And Sign Your Name so everyone in C-space will know who doesn't know what a Hadron is.]

CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) has announced this sucker is Ready to Rock & Roll and Good To Go and All Systems Are Go a few kilometers west of Geneva, and they will press the ON button and start colliding Large Hadrons into one another at unimaginable Relativistic velocities and energies in the neighborhood of 7,000,000,000,000 Elecron Volts sometime this Summer. During the annual Swiss Picnic in High Meadow Season, when the mountain wildflowers are in full bloom and the wild mushrooms are ready for picking in the woods.

(Happy throngs of picnickers and beach sunbathers are also mandatory elements of these movies. Buy Milk Duds now, soon begins a great deal of screaming and disorderly behavior, maybe take this opportunity to smash store window and get the Pioneer PDP-5010FD 50" Diagonal 1080p Plasma HDTV TV

Recent work by the enormously respected world-famous Harvard theoretical physicist Dr. Lisa Randall seems to be the irresponsibly discarded cigarette in the kerosene storage facility which has inspired Our Heroes -- there are two plaintiffs to this lawsuit, but I don't know which one is The Hero and which one is his funny sarcastic joke-telling Sidekick -- to take drastic action to stop this Biblical Mistake of Big EuroScience, before a small Black Hole is created and swallows the Earth this Summer.

I can't believe her name is really Dr. Lisa Randall -- I have seen eleven movies at least where the enormously respected world-famous Harvard theoretical physicist is named Dr. Lisa Randall. Also -- and this also you will not believe, but it's true, I have photos -- she is HOT! This is no Meiskeit Lady Scientist like wins the Nobel Prize in Real Life. The RealityLand Dr. Lisa Randall is currently The Supermodel of international Theoretical Physics. Every time she speaks about String Theory or Extra Dimensions in public, the editors make sure to send a photographer on the assignment. If you have a decent body and are not too superannuated, any woman could do a lot worse than slavishly copying the coiture and coiffure of RealityLand Dr. Lisa Randall. (She went to Hampshire College, down the road from me.)

Q. How many Hampshire College students does it take to change a lighbulb?

A. Nineteen. One to change the bulb, eighteen to make a multimedia YouTube videodocumentary out of it.

(I know some other HC jokes, Leave a Comment.)

I don't think her theoretical work actually SAID that turning on the LHC would certainly or necessarily Destroy The Earth. But apparently there are Hints hidden in her new ideas, along the lines that Nobody on Earth has Ever Done Anything Like This At These Speeds and Energies Before.

So it is unlikely the result will be attractive or pretty or resemble the 2nd act of "The Magic Flute." This is the kind of Science Pioneering Adventure it is always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher and the HazMat Team and the Bomb Squad and FEMA and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Medicins Sans Frontieres standing by for. Advance notification of Clergy is also not a bad idea. Also someone should contact the big life and casualty insurance companies.

Anyway, some people have sufficiently pretzled her String Theory Extra Dimensions ideas to reach a conclusion that the LHC Power Up will make the first A-Bomb test at Alamagordo seem like 12-year-olds playing with Fourth of July cherry bombs and M80s. (I think you can still buy them at South Of The Border, a wonderful Tourist Trap with adequate restaurants and clean bathrooms on I-95 in South Carolina, just south of the North Carolina border. You can't miss it.)

I have also heard that very comparison uttered as a threat in at least nine sci-fi movies.


General, look -- I'm trying
to tell you
that if you
turn that machine on ...

One thing we do have sufficient time to do is make T-shirts loudly predicting this Doomsday, and wearing them whenever we go grocery shopping. I think the above would make a dandy t-shirt. I will give it away free, a charitable gesture to show my support for efforts to avoid being swallowed by a small Black Hole this summer.

I can think of nothing more stereotypically American about this story: When an American clearly foresees the imminent Destruction of the Earth, he files a federal lawsuit. That's How The West Was Won, that's how we achieved our Independence from Great Britain, that's How We Walked On The Moon.

Before they filed the lawsuit, everyone just laughed at these guys and pressed the hidden Security button.

CERN is saying rude, insulting things. The U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Energy (which does all our nuclear weapons and nukes stuff) are cautiously optimistic that they can handle this, they can bring this lawsuit to a conclusion beneficial to the government side.

But they're not laughing, they have stopped laughing. This is a good time to run out and buy popcorn or a box of Milk Duds, things are going to really pick up and get Tense between now and Summer.

And this is not the Ashtabula Weekly Farm News or the National Inquirer. This is The New York Times. The phone is ringing, the media, from slick broadsheet to pulp sludge and tabloid, want to talk to these guys.

Hey! Man-on-the-Ground! How far are you from CERN? I think 6 April maybe they will be serving free wine and cheese, and everybody's welcome! Go! Then File A Story for Agence-Vleeptron Presse! And be reasonable with the expenses!


The New York Times
Saturday 29 March 2008

Asking a Judge
to Save the World,
and Maybe a Whole Lot More

by Dennis Overbye

More fighting in Iraq. Somalia in chaos. People in this country can’t afford their mortgages and in some places now they can’t even afford rice.

None of this nor the rest of the grimness on the front page today will matter a bit, though, if two men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii turn out to be right. They think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole or something else that will spell the end of the Earth — and maybe the universe.

Scientists say that is very unlikely — though they have done some checking just to make sure.

The world’s physicists have spent 14 years and $8,000,000,000 building the Large Hadron Collider, in which the colliding protons will recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Researchers will sift the debris from these primordial recreations for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.

But Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a “strangelet” that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called “strange matter.” Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Although it sounds bizarre, the case touches on a serious issue that has bothered scholars and scientists in recent years — namely how to estimate the risk of new groundbreaking experiments and who gets to decide whether or not to go ahead.

The lawsuit, filed March 21 in Federal District Court, in Honolulu, seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting CERN from proceeding with the accelerator until it has produced a safety report and an environmental assessment. It names the federal Department of Energy, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and CERN as defendants.

According to a spokesman for the Justice Department, which is representing the Department of Energy, a scheduling meeting has been set for June 16.

Why should CERN, an organization of European nations based in Switzerland, even show up in a Hawaiian courtroom?

In an interview, Mr. Wagner said, “I don’t know if they’re going to show up.” CERN would have to voluntarily submit to the court’s jurisdiction, he said, adding that he and Mr. Sancho could have sued in France or Switzerland, but to save expenses they had added CERN to the docket here. He claimed that a restraining order on Fermilab and the Energy Department, which helps to supply and maintain the accelerator’s massive superconducting magnets, would shut down the project anyway.

James Gillies, head of communications at CERN, said the laboratory as of yet had no comment on the suit. “It’s hard to see how a district court in Hawaii has jurisdiction over an intergovernmental organization in Europe,” Mr. Gillies said.

“There is nothing new to suggest that the L.H.C. is unsafe,” he said, adding that its safety had been confirmed by two reports, with a third on the way, and would be the subject of a discussion during an open house at the lab on April 6.

“Scientifically, we’re not hiding away,” he said.

But Mr. Wagner is not mollified. “They’ve got a lot of propaganda saying it’s safe,” he said in an interview, “but basically it’s propaganda.”

In an e-mail message, Mr. Wagner called the CERN safety review “fundamentally flawed” and said it had been initiated too late. The review process violates the European Commission’s standards for adhering to the “Precautionary Principle,” he wrote, “and has not been done by ‘arms length’ scientists.”

Physicists in and out of CERN say a variety of studies, including an official CERN report in 2003, have concluded there is no problem. But just to be sure, last year the anonymous Safety Assessment Group was set up to do the review again.

“The possibility that a black hole eats up the Earth is too serious a threat to leave it as a matter of argument among crackpots,” said Michelangelo Mangano, a CERN theorist who said he was part of the group. The others prefer to remain anonymous, Mr. Mangano said, for various reasons. Their report was due in January.

This is not the first time around for Mr. Wagner. He filed similar suits in 1999 and 2000 to prevent the Brookhaven National Laboratory from operating the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. That suit was dismissed in 2001. The collider, which smashes together gold ions in the hopes of creating what is called a “quark-gluon plasma,” has been operating without incident since 2000.

Mr. Wagner, who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, studied physics and did cosmic ray research at the University of California, Berkeley, and received a doctorate in law from what is now known as the University of Northern California in Sacramento. He subsequently worked as a radiation safety officer for the Veterans Administration.

Mr. Sancho, who describes himself as an author and researcher on time theory, lives in Spain, probably in Barcelona, Mr. Wagner said.

Doomsday fears have a long, if not distinguished, pedigree in the history of physics. At Los Alamos before the first nuclear bomb was tested, Emil Konopinski was given the job of calculating whether or not the explosion would set the atmosphere on fire.

The Large Hadron Collider is designed to fire up protons to energies of 7,000,000,000,000 electron volts before banging them together. Nothing, indeed, will happen in the CERN collider that does not happen 100,000 times a day from cosmic rays in the atmosphere, said Nima Arkani-Hamed, a particle theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

What is different, physicists admit, is that the fragments from cosmic rays will go shooting harmlessly through the Earth at nearly the speed of light, but anything created when the beams meet head-on in the collider will be born at rest relative to the laboratory and so will stick around and thus could create havoc.

The new worries are about black holes, which, according to some variants of string theory, could appear at the collider. That possibility, though a long shot, has been widely ballyhooed in many papers and popular articles in the last few years, but would they be dangerous?

According to a paper by the cosmologist Stephen Hawking in 1974, they would rapidly evaporate in a poof of radiation and elementary particles, and thus pose no threat. No one, though, has seen a black hole evaporate.

As a result, Mr. Wagner and Mr. Sancho contend in their complaint, black holes could really be stable, and a micro black hole created by the collider could grow, eventually swallowing the Earth.

But William Unruh, of the University of British Columbia, whose paper exploring the limits of Dr. Hawking’s radiation process was referenced on Mr. Wagner’s Web site, said they had missed his point. “Maybe physics really is so weird as to not have black holes evaporate,” he said. “But it would really, really have to be weird.”

Lisa Randall, a Harvard physicist whose work helped fuel the speculation about black holes at the collider, pointed out in a paper last year that black holes would probably not be produced at the collider after all, although other effects of so-called quantum gravity might appear.

As part of the safety assessment report, Dr. Mangano and Steve Giddings of the University of California, Santa Barbara, have been working intensely for the last few months on a paper exploring all the possibilities of these fearsome black holes. They think there are no problems but are reluctant to talk about their findings until they have been peer reviewed, Dr. Mangano said.

Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”

- 30 -


CERN opens its doors
to the world

On 6 April 2008, CERN will open its doors to the public, offering a unique chance to visit its newest and largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), before it goes into operation later this year. This scientific instrument, the largest and most complex in the world, is installed in a 27 km tunnel, 100 metres underground in the Swiss canton of Geneva and neighbouring France. CERN will open all access points around the ring for visits underground, to the tunnel and the experiment caverns. On the surface, a wide-ranging programme will be on offer, allowing people to learn about the physics for which this huge instrument is being installed, the technology underlying it, and applications in other fields.

In the LHC, particles such as protons or heavy ions will be accelerated to close to the speed of light in two tubes. At four intersection points the particles will collide at an energy never before reached in a particle accelerator to study new areas of physics that so far have not been accessible. Experiments at the LHC expect to be able to answer a number of fundamental questions, such as the origin of mass or the nature of the so-called “dark matter”. However, since the LHC will explore a new energy range, there will also be unexpected results, resulting in new questions and new physics.

On the Open Day, many visitors to CERN will be able to descend and see the LHC and its big experiments, ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb in place in their underground caverns. However, since access to the underground areas is limited due to the capacity of the elevators and safety concerns, a range of activities is also planned on the surface where visitors will be able to learn about particle physics and talk to CERN engineers and physicists.

A central theme apart from the LHC, its magnets and experiments, will be superconductivity, the principle on which the operation of the LHC is based. At the heart of the LHC magnets lie 7000 kilometres of superconducting cables, cooled to a temperature close to absolute zero, which are able to conduct electricity without resistance. Spectacular experiments, exhibitions and films will introduce the public to this exciting phenomenon, visitors will be able to meet physicists to “ask an expert” and there will be the chance for an encounter with two Nobel laureates who will give lectures about their prize-winning discoveries.

The fun and excitement of physics will be demonstrated in the Globe of Science and Innovation and physics shows taking place at various venues around the ring. Children will be able to meet up with the presenter of a popular French TV show on his tour through eight communes close to the LHC access points or take part in a “magical physics” show.

More details on the programme and additional information can be found on the CERN website at

Notes to the editor

A Press Welcome point will be set up in the Globe of Science and Innovation in front of the CERN Meyrin main site.

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.

Main sponsors for the LHC2008 Open Day are: Air Liquide, Alstom, ASG, Babcock Noell, CECOM, Force10 networks, Intel, Linde Kryotechnik, Luvata, Oracle, SAS Gerome Gerbier, Sun Microsystems, Transtec computer AG, UBS, Western Digital.

Le Temps, Radio Lac and World Radio Switzerland are media partners of the LHC2008 Open Day.

Copyright (c) CERN 2008 - Press Office, DSU-CO


Lisa Randall (born 18 June 1962) is an American theoretical physicist and a leading expert on particle physics and cosmology. She works on several of the competing models of string theory in the quest to explain the fabric of the universe, and was the first tenured woman in the Princeton University physics department and the first tenured female theoretical physicist at MIT and Harvard University. Her work has attracted enormous interest and is among the most cited in all of science. In common with other researchers in this field, however, none of her theoretical work has yet been confirmed by experiment.

Randall studies particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University, where she is a professor of theoretical physics. Her research concerns elementary particles and fundamental forces, and has involved the study of a wide variety of models, the most recent involving extra dimensions of space. She has also worked on supersymmetry, Standard Model observables, cosmic inflation, baryogenesis, grand unified theories, general relativity. Professor Randall recently completed a book entitled Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions, which was included in the New York Times' 100 notable books of 2005.

Randall earned her PhD from Harvard University and held professorships at MIT and Princeton University before returning to Harvard in 2001. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and is a past winner of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award, and the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. In 2003, she received the Premio Caterina Tomassoni e Felice Pietro Chisesi Award, from the University of Rome, La Sapienza. In autumn, 2004, she was the most cited theoretical physicist of the previous five years. In 2006, she received the Klopsted Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Prof Randall was featured in Seed Magazine's “2005 Year in Science Icons ” and in Newsweek 's “Who's Next in 2006”. She has helped organize numerous conferences and has been on the editorial board of several major theoretical physics journals.

Randall is an alumna of Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics and graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1980,[1] where she was a classmate of fellow physicist and science popularizer Brian Greene. Randall earned a BA from Harvard in 1983, and obtained her Ph.D. in particle physics in 1987 under the direction of Howard Georgi. Georgi considers her his all-time best student[citation needed]. She was made a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. Randall was featured in Newsweek magazine's "Who's Next" issue of January 2, 2006, as "one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation."

Randall's sister, Dana Randall, is a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech.

Randall was the subject of The Discover Interview (pgs. 50-53) in the July 2006 issue.

In 2007, Randall was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People (Time 100) under the section for "Scientists & Thinkers." Randall was given this honor for her work regarding the evidence of a high dimension.[2]


* Randall, Lisa (2005). Warped Passages: Unraveling the Universe's Hidden Dimensions. Ecco. ISBN 0-06-053108-8.

External links
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Lisa Randall

* Prof Randall's website at Harvard
* Reprinted Op-Ed from The New York Times of Sunday, September 18th 2005
* Lisa Randall's Edge Bio Page
* On Gravity, Oreos and a Theory of Everything
* Radio Interview from This Week in Science May 09, 2006 Broadcast
* Profile in Scientific American October 2005
* Lisa Randall discusses "Warped Passages" on Thoughtcast
* Lisa Randall is interviewed by Charlie Rose


1. ^ The Third Culture - Lisa Randall. Edge. Retrieved on 2007-10-31.
2. ^ Rawe, Julie. "Time 100." Time Magazine 14 May 2007: 108.

27 March 2008

CBC TV: Idea of North / Idee du Nord / Glenn Gould takes train from Winnipeg through wilderness to Hudson Bay

Cliquez ici SVP

Okay, d'accord, first of all, it's not a steam train. It's a diesel. Doesn't need any overhead electric lines. Which is good, because for 2.5 days after you leave Winnipeg, there aren't any overhead electric lines, or any electricity for that matter. In fact for those 2.5 days, you look out the train window and the only hint that human beings have ever been there is the train itself and the track. You are surrounded as far as you can see by the great Canadian virgin forest. The line takes a long loop west through northern Saskatchewan, then returns and ends the journey in Manitoba, on a grain shipping port town, Churchill, on the shore of Hudson Bay.

If you change trains in The Pas, Saskatchewan, to a spur line northwest to some First Peoples' communities, there's an engine -- all this equipment dates from the early 1950s -- and one mostly wooden passenger car: wooden benches, and in the corner a wood-burning stove to heat the passengers. Strictly 1890-style accomodations. This is the transportation locals can afford to get around the wilderness; flying in the Canadian north is prohibitively expensive.

But the Winnipeg-Churchill train is a bit less primitive and a bit more comfortable. Tiny sleeperettes are available, though most passengers do the trek sitting up in coach seats. There is no artificial barrier to separate the locals -- Swampy Cree and Inuit, mostly -- from the tourists, and in the crushingly crowded lunch car you and the locals meet each other and exchange life stories for hours on end. Interrupted by occasional glimpses of Arctic fox and moose. At night in the right season and conditions the Aurora Borealis appears in a variety of strengths and colors. My best one was shimmering vertical curtains of silver.

This is the train that the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (the engineer in the cab above) rode with a tape recorder and made into a spectacularly original, rich and interesting radio documentary for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, "The Idea of North." Gould then made two others, also about life in the isolated parts of northern Canada, collectively called "The Solitude Trilogy."

I keep bothering people on f_minor, the Glenn Gould weblist, urging them to take this train trip. I did, in both directions. I had an intense feeling that Glenn Gould's ghost rode the train with me, grinning from ear to ear late at night. It was also the most intimate experience I ever had with any aspect of Gould's existence on this planet.

I love trains and I'm going to keep riding them, to the crazy, wild and fantastic places they go, while both trains and I still exist; I don't care how horribly AMTRAK or VIA mistreat and abuse and humiliate and torment and delay me. (The Winnipeg-Churchill train isn't run by VIA, it's a semi-independent freight and passenger line.)

Who wants to go here? Who wants to live here? The winters are brutal, housing is primitive, poverty is the rule of thumb, and tuberculosis is common among the First Peoples, as is alcohol and substance abuse. People hunt their own food partially because they've been hunting their own food for 10,000 years, partially because they love the hunting society, and partially because they don't have enough cash to buy all their food at the HBC (Hudson Bay Company) store.

Why doesn't everyone move south to the big cities, Toronto, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, where every comfort of living is available?

Actually a lot of people flee in exactly the opposite direction, and escape from the big cities specifically to live far north and even beyond the tree line, in the tundra/permafrost. Some are born there and are most comfortable among the places and people and lifestyle they know. But many are Canadian southerners who choose to move 1500 kilometers north to live in the vast wilderness. Gould interviews a dozen or so fellow travellers and they explain why they live in the North, they explain the unique qualities and conditions of human community in this kind of place.

By the time you reach Hudson Bay, you're well into polar bear territory, and are no long Number 1 on the Food Chain. The experience of possibly being attacked, killed and eaten at any moment you're foolish enough to be wandering outdoors is a very humbling reminder that, no matter what you think you are to yourself, to something else you're just fat and protein, a meat animal (and not a very tasty or desirable one at that; bears are really only interested in seals).

The polar bear is the world's largest land predator, and an incredibly intelligent hunter. A lot of people with very sophisticated rifles go out into the Arctic wilderness to hunt polar bears. If they don't use the wholly unfair advantage of helicopters, they could be in for a very big surprise, because the polar bear thinks it is hunting you, and the polar bear is usually right.

This may be the last decade when it will be possible to visit polar bears in their natural Arctic habitat. The evidence is becoming miserably clear that soon, their hunting habitat, the ice, will have melted and receded so dramatically that the bears will no longer be able to swim to the nearest next ice floe. After the last of the drownings, only zoos will have polar bears.

The polar bears migrate through and around Churchill every year on the cusp of October-November. They're waiting for the ice to freeze on the bay so they can begin to hunt seals. Usually no bear dies and no person dies in a good migration season in Churchill; not all years are good.


"Glenn Gould, an idea of north"

a dramatic realization by Margeurite Gateau

The Idea of North (CBC)

From an idea of Benoit Giros

Sunday 30 March 2008 at 8 pm [Montreal/Toronto?]
on France-Culture


D’après la dramatique radio « The Idea of North » réalisée par Glenn Gould.

Une fiction réalisée par Marguerite Gateau
sur une proposition de Benoit Giros

Traduction: Blandine Pélissier et Benoit Giros

Qu’est-ce que « L’idée du Nord » ?

Le 10 avril 1964, après un dernier concert à Los Angeles, Glenn Gould renonce à la vie de concertiste.

En 1965, à bord du Muskeg Express, il franchit les milliers de kilomètres séparant Winnipeg de Churchill, la ville la plus proche du cercle polaire arctique que l’on puisse rallier en train.

En 1967, sur commande de la CBC canadienne, il réalise le documentaire radiophonique « The Idea of North » qui s'inspire de ce voyage.

C'est la confrontation des visions différentes de cinq personnes ayant vécu une expérience intime avec le grand Nord canadien, cinq personnes, interviewée séparément, dans un train fictif par l'intermédiaire d'un montage "contrapuntique."

Ce voyage vers le Nord symbolise le voyage intérieur que Gould accomplit depuis 1964.

Les opinions qui s’expriment dans « The Idea of North » reflètent ses idées sur la solitude.

« Il y a beaucoup de moi là-dedans. A cette étape-ci de ma vie, le contenu de cette émission est ce qui se rapproche le plus d’une autobiographie. »

« C’était une émission qui portait sur le Nord canadien mais ce dont il était question, comme un de mes amis l’a gentiment fait observer, c’était du côté obscur de l’âme humaine. C’était une austère réflexion sur les répercussions de l’isolement sur l’homme. » (Glenn Gould)

« …très rares sont les gens qui, étant rentrés en contact avec le grand Nord, en émergent tout à fait indemnes. Quelque chose de bizarre se produit en effet chez la plupart de ceux qui se sont rendus dans le Nord. Ils prennent au moins conscience des occasions créatrices que le phénomène du contact physique avec la région suscite, et finissent par mesurer leur travail et leur existence en fonction de ces stupéfiantes possibilités créatrices : ils deviennent, au fond, des philosophes. » (Glenn Gould)

Pour Gould, le Nord est une métaphore de l’isolement. Le Nord évoque une notion spirituelle plutôt qu’un voyage au pays des glaces. On peut faire « en imagination » le voyage du Nord. Lors du travail sur "The idea of North", Gould se trouve alors au coeur d’une période charnière, ayant renoncé à la vie publique pour cultiver l’isolement physique et intellectuel qu’il juge nécessaire à la création. Le Nord est cet endroit de Création, de composition vers lequel Gould a toujours déclaré vouloir se diriger.

Lorsque l'on remplace le mot Nord par le mot création, le texte décrit le paysage intérieur d'un créateur. Pour Gould, le Nord est l’intérieur de l’Homme « Glenn Gould, une Idée du Nord » est l'exploration territoire.


Anne Alvaro, Jean-François Perrier, Vincent Leterme, Michael Lonsdale, Benoit Di Marco, Benoit Giros, Hélène Mathon, Gloria Scappini, Mounira Ouggar, Yiju Su, Ambarra Ouattara

Avec la participation de Bruno Monsaingeon

Musique originale: Alexandros Markeas

Bruitage: Sophie Bissantz

Prise de son, montage et mixage : Lidwine Caron et Claude Niort
Assistantes réalisation : Marie Casanova et Julie Beressi


Benoit Giros. Acteur, formé à la Rue Blanche, il est aussi l’auteur de La fantasque histoire de Jacquot dans la cave, comédie musicale, créée avec l'aide de la DRAC au théâtre du jardin d’acclimatation en 2002 et Une reconstitution, inédite. Il a co-écrit et joué durant 5 ans les spectacles de la compagnie de rue Eclat Immédiat et Durable.

Il a co-réalisé des courts-métrages pour la Zozo Prod (Le grand combat, La rentrée, Le mamie’s tour). Lauréat de la Villa Médicis Hors-les murs 2007 pour le travail de recherche et de création autour de La trilogie de la solitude de Glenn Gould.