Archive for June 18th, 2008

Obama, Christian or Appeaser?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I found this article by By Cal Thomas, about Obama’s claim to Christianity, to be quite insightful.

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign plans to strike at the heart of the Republican base by attempting to woo Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics to his side.

The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody first broke the story on his blog “The Brody File.” Obama’s campaign for the conservative Christian vote, which has largely gone to the Republican presidential candidate in recent elections, has been dubbed the “Joshua Generation Project.” Joshua, Moses’ successor, led the Israelites into the Promised Land. It wasn’t the group that fled Egypt in the Exodus, though. They died in the wilderness, lacking faith in God’s promise. It was the next generation that Joshua led into Canaan. Apparently, if we have enough faith in Obama, he will lead us all into a new America, but if we vote for John McCain, we will demonstrate a lack of faith (in Obama) and die in the political badlands.

Obama is better at biblical language and imagery than any Democrat in modern times. He certainly beats Howard Dean, now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who once offered Job as his favorite New Testament book. This is cynical manipulation of the devout and it is no better when Democrats do it than when Republicans use religious language for partisan advantage.

Obama has declared himself a committed Christian. He can call himself anything he likes, but there are certain markers among the evangelicals he is courting that one must meet in order to qualify for that label.

“I’m rooted in the Christian tradition,” said Obama. He then adds something most Christians will see as universalism: “I believe there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”

Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn’t meet that requirement. One cannot deny central tenets of the Christian faith, including the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator between God and Man and be a Christian. Such people do have a label applied to them in Scripture. They are called “false prophets.”

Read the complete article here.

So-Called ‘Hitler Memorial’ Case Advances

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

The death of common sense is complete in the U.S. Justice System.

Could some wealthy private party force the U.S. to allow a “Statue of Tyranny” in New York harbor alongside the famed Statue of Liberty? Yes, unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses a confused free speech decision from a split 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, according to a law firm advocating for constitutional rights.

Adolf Hitler could be honored alongside World War II heroes, should an appeals court decision ont be reverses, a law firm says

“The court of appeals’ approach would make the government’s display of the Statue of Liberty the speech of France, not the United States, entitling others to erect counter-monuments,” said a brief filed with the high court by the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents the city of Pleasant Grove, Utah, in the dispute.

“Likewise, the Vietnam, Korean, World War II, and upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr., monuments in the nation’s capital would likely be deemed private speech, not government speech, entitling Summum and everyone else with a monument to occupy their own corner of the National Mall,” the brief said.

The case arose from a demand by the group Summum to have its “Seven Aphorisms” monument erected near a Ten Commandments monument on display, among other monuments and memorials, in Pioneer Park in Pleasant Grove, Utah. When the city declined, Summum sued. The ACLJ came to the defense of the city, and a federal district court in Utah refused to order the city to erect Summum’s monument. Then a three-judge panel at 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver said Summum could insist upon erecting its own “Seven Aphorisms” monument because the city already displayed a monument of the Ten Commandments which was donated decades ago by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The ACLJ yesterday filed its opening brief on behalf of the city’s rights in the case that could impact local, state and federal government decisions across the continent. The case essentially will decide, the ACLJ said, if cities will be faced with the choice of dismantling all monuments, memorials and other displays, “including long-standing patriotic and historical displays,” or let “all comers install privately owned monuments or displays, regardless of content.”

“The Supreme Court is faced with what we believe is an easy choice: preserve sound precedent involving the well-established distinction between government speech and private speech – or permit a twisted interpretation of the Constitution to create havoc in cities and localities across America,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, who will present oral arguments to the high court on behalf of Pleasant Grove.

“We’re hopeful the high court will correct a troubling decision that ultimately would force local governments to remove long-standing and well established patriotic, religious and historical displays,” he said.

The ACLJ’s brief says the First Amendment does not require that a government park be turned into a “cluttered junkyard of monuments contributed by all comers,” but the 10th Circuit ruling made several crucial errors and failed to recognize that.

“First, the court below fundamentally misapprehended the distinction between government speech and private speech in this case,” the brief said. “Second, the court below misidentified the relevant ‘forum.’ Third, the court erroneously held that city parks are traditional public fora for private, unattended, permanent monuments. Fourth, the lower court erred by holding that a city’s acceptance of donated monuments creates a designated public forum for private speech through such monuments,” the brief said.

The concept of allowing anything as a monument is “scary,” Frank Manion, of the ACLJ, told WND earlier. “The Minutemen in Massachusetts? We need a Redcoat. A George Washington statue? Why not George the 3rd. A Holocaust memorial? How about a Hitler memorial?”

Original Link.

Possible National Security Adviser for Obama: “Winnie the Pooh Seems to Me to be a Fundamental Text on National Security”

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

OK, so let me get this straight. Richard Danzig, who served as Navy Secretary under President Clinton and is tipped to become National Security Adviser in an Obama White House, believes that national security can be summed up by quoting Winnie the Pooh?
Is he nuts??
These sure aren’t the type of people we need to run this country.

Richard Danzig, who served as Navy Secretary under President Clinton and is tipped to become National Security Adviser in an Obama White House, told a major foreign policy conference in Washington that the future of US strategy in the war on terrorism should follow a lesson from the pages of Winnie the Pooh, which can be shortened to: if it is causing you too much pain, try something else.

Mr Danzig told the Centre for New American Security: “Winnie the Pooh seems to me to be a fundamental text on national security.”

He spelt out how American troops, spies and anti-terrorist officials could learn key lessons by understanding the desire of terrorists to emulate superheroes like Luke Skywalker, and the lust for violence of violent football fans.

I think that most terrorist don’t even know who Luke Skywalker is. This guy is unbelievable.

Original Link.

Bush to Urge Congress to Lift Offshore Drilling Ban

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

About time. Too little, too late, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.

WASHINGTON — For a quarter-century, drilling for oil and gas off nearly all the American coastline has been banned in part to protect tourism and to lessen the chances of beach-blackening spills.

Then gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon this summer. Drivers and others began clamoring for federal lawmakers to do something about the record price of oil, much of it produced in foreign countries.

Watch FOX News Channel and at 10:35 a.m. ET for President Bush’s announcement on offshore drilling, live from the White House Rose Garden.

In response, President Bush is renewing his call to open U.S. coastal waters to oil and gas development, arguing that it’s high time to battle high prices with increased domestic production. He is planning to ask Congress on Wednesday to lift the drilling moratoria that have been in effect since 1981 in more than 80 percent of the country’s Outer Continental Shelf and to let states help to decide where to allow drilling.

“The president believes Congress shouldn’t waste any more time,” White House press secretary Dana Perino told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “He will explicitly call on Congress to … pass legislation lifting the congressional ban on safe, environmentally friendly offshore oil drilling.”

For their part, some lawmakers have their own plan: Legislation that would continue the ban into late 2009 was scheduled to be considered Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee.

Congressional Democrats, joined by some GOP lawmakers from coastal states, have opposed lifting the prohibition that has barred energy companies from waters along both the East and West coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for 27 years.

Original Link.

Scientists Make Bacteria That Eat Waste and Excrete Petroleum

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

This is too cool!! I knew we had bacteria that would eat petroleum when seeded into oil slicks (that have been contained by your favorite New Pig product) on water. If I remember right, this bacteria would then die and degrade without harming the environment.
How clever to develop one that excretes petroleum!! I hope it can be made practical someday.

“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls “renewable petroleum”. After that, he grins, “it’s a brave new world”.

Mr Pal is a senior director of LS9, one of several companies in or near Silicon Valley that have spurned traditional high-tech activities such as software and networking and embarked instead on an extraordinary race to make $140-a-barrel oil (£70) from Saudi Arabia obsolete. “All of us here – everyone in this company and in this industry, are aware of the urgency,” Mr Pal says.

What is most remarkable about what they are doing is that instead of trying to reengineer the global economy – as is required, for example, for the use of hydrogen fuel – they are trying to make a product that is interchangeable with oil. The company claims that this “Oil 2.0” will not only be renewable but also carbon negative – meaning that the carbon it emits will be less than that sucked from the atmosphere by the raw materials from which it is made.

LS9 has already convinced one oil industry veteran of its plan: Bob Walsh, 50, who now serves as the firm’s president after a 26-year career at Shell, most recently running European supply operations in London. “How many times in your life do you get the opportunity to grow a multi-billion-dollar company?” he asks. It is a bold statement from a man who works in a glorified cubicle in a San Francisco industrial estate for a company that describes itself as being “prerevenue”.

Inside LS9’s cluttered laboratory – funded by $20 million of start-up capital from investors including Vinod Khosla, the Indian-American entrepreneur who co-founded Sun Micro-systems – Mr Pal explains that LS9’s bugs are single-cell organisms, each a fraction of a billionth the size of an ant. They start out as industrial yeast or nonpathogenic strains of E. coli, but LS9 modifies them by custom-de-signing their DNA. “Five to seven years ago, that process would have taken months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he says. “Now it can take weeks and cost maybe $20,000.”

Because crude oil (which can be refined into other products, such as petroleum or jet fuel) is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, it does not take much fiddling to get the desired result.

For fermentation to take place you need raw material, or feedstock, as it is known in the biofuels industry. Anything will do as long as it can be broken down into sugars, with the byproduct ideally burnt to produce electricity to run the plant.

The company is not interested in using corn as feedstock, given the much-publicised problems created by using food crops for fuel, such as the tortilla inflation that recently caused food riots in Mexico City. Instead, different types of agricultural waste will be used according to whatever makes sense for the local climate and economy: wheat straw in California, for example, or woodchips in the South.

Using genetically modified bugs for fermentation is essentially the same as using natural bacteria to produce ethanol, although the energy-intensive final process of distillation is virtually eliminated because the bugs excrete a substance that is almost pump-ready.

The closest that LS9 has come to mass production is a 1,000-litre fermenting machine, which looks like a large stainless-steel jar, next to a wardrobe-sized computer connected by a tangle of cables and tubes. It has not yet been plugged in. The machine produces the equivalent of one barrel a week and takes up 40 sq ft of floor space.

However, to substitute America’s weekly oil consumption of 143 million barrels, you would need a facility that covered about 205 square miles, an area roughly the size of Chicago.

That is the main problem: although LS9 can produce its bug fuel in laboratory beakers, it has no idea whether it will be able produce the same results on a nationwide or even global scale.

“Our plan is to have a demonstration-scale plant operational by 2010 and, in parallel, we’ll be working on the design and construction of a commercial-scale facility to open in 2011,” says Mr Pal, adding that if LS9 used Brazilian sugar cane as its feedstock, its fuel would probably cost about $50 a barrel.

Are Americans ready to be putting genetically modified bug excretion in their cars? “It’s not the same as with food,” Mr Pal says. “We’re putting these bacteria in a very isolated container: their entire universe is in that tank. When we’re done with them, they’re destroyed.”

Besides, he says, there is greater good being served. “I have two children, and climate change is something that they are going to face. The energy crisis is something that they are going to face. We have a collective responsibility to do this.”

Original Link.