Friday, April 18, 2008

And even more irony during the Pope's visit

While the Pope was calling for treating people with human dignity and for proper treatment of Latino immigrants,

(The United States must do “everything possible to fight…all forms of violence so that immigrants may lead dignified lives,” the pope said when asked if he would address the issue of Latin American immigrants with the US leader.)
the bushistas chose to carry out immigration raids at Pilgrim's Pride plants (ironically) in 5 states arresting 280 undocumented workers.

Tom Tancredo was outraged at the Pope's stance on immigration. (He was raised Catholic but left the church, probably because it was too liberal for him, heh.)
I would like to know what part of our lax immigration policy is considered violent. I fail to see how accepting more refugees than any other nation — and providing free health care, education, housing and social service benefits to millions of illegal aliens is in any way “violent” or “degrading.”
Well let's see:
From March 8th,
Chertoff faced questions from Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., about the treatment of children at immigrant detention facilities at the T. Don Hutto residential facility in Taylor and a smaller facility in Berka, Pa.

Sanchez said that children at the facilities had been put in cells alone for hours, awakened in the middle of the night with flashlights in their faces and threatened with being permanently separated from their parents.

Attorneys for several of the children confined at the Hutto facility contended in lawsuits that conditions there were inhumane and violated minimum standards for minors in custody. The case ended in a settlement that included new standards for the centers.

Chertoff said that he couldn't judge the conditions because he wasn't there, but that "eventually, this was resolved to the satisfaction of the plaintiffs."

Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., asked Chertoff to explain what it meant that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had power to "briefly detain" people and whether that included denying them food or access to their families. Watt said this occurred last year at raids of Swift & Co. meat plants.

Chertoff said that "no specific amount of time" has been determined by the courts as far as detention periods.

Watt also suggested that Chertoff needed more minority staff members. He pointed out that the 10 staff people with Chertoff at the hearing were white men.
Typical Chertoff. Homeland Insecurity. feh.

No one asked me but why not hold corporations who hire undocumented workers accountable for breaking the law, and throw the CEO's of said companies and their children in "detention centers" so that they can shine flashlights in the rich kids faces in the middle of the night and tell them that they will never see their parents again.... but that wouldn't be nice.

Meanwhile while the president was hosting the Pope who is calling for treating people with dignity NYT’s Lichtblau: Bush Torture Program And CIA Tape Destruction ‘Could Lead To Criminal Action’

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The God Particle is Being Studied

The Economist has an interesting article on the Science of Religion.

The first task of CERN's [the European particle-physics laboratory (CERN) at Geneva] new machine, the Large Hadron Collider, which is due to open later this year, will be to search for the Higgs boson—an object that has been dubbed, with a certain amount of hyperbole, the God particle. The €2m, by contrast, will be spent on the search for God Himself—or, rather, for the biological reasons why so many people believe in God, gods and religion in general. continued
The author says, "Religion cries out for a biological explanation." First evolutionary biologists have to find out which parts of the brain generate religious experiences and determine if they are epileptic seizures. Then there is a study of how religion effects behavior and if it was "invented" because of the long term cooperative benefits of holding a group or a society together (supposedly it does.)

But there's more. And this is an interesting thought:
Dr Wilson himself has studied the relationship between social insecurity and religious fervour, and discovered that, regardless of the religion in question, it is the least secure societies that tend to be most fundamentalist. That would make sense if adherence to the rules is a condition for the security which comes from membership of a group. He is also interested in what some religions hold out as the ultimate reward for good behaviour—life after death. That can promote any amount of self-sacrifice in a believer, up to and including suicidal behaviour—as recent events in the Islamic world have emphasised. However, belief in an afterlife is not equally well developed in all religions, and he suspects the differences may be illuminating.

That does not mean there are no explanations for religion that are based on individual selection. For example, Jason Slone, a professor of religious studies at Webster University in St Louis, argues that people who are religious will be seen as more likely to be faithful and to help in parenting than those who are not. That makes them desirable as mates. He plans to conduct experiments designed to find out whether this is so. And, slightly tongue in cheek, Dr Wilson quips that “secularism is very maladaptive biologically. We're the ones who at best are having only two kids. Religious people are the ones who aren't smoking and drinking, and are living longer and having the health benefits.”

That quip, though, makes an intriguing point. Evolutionary biologists tend to be atheists, and most would be surprised if the scientific investigation of religion did not end up supporting their point of view. But if a propensity to religious behaviour really is an evolved trait, then they have talked themselves into a position where they cannot benefit from it, much as a sceptic cannot benefit from the placebo effect of homeopathy. Maybe, therefore, it is God who will have the last laugh after all—whether He actually exists or not.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

oh god.

John Hagee, teh christian zionist who endorsed John McCain (but didn't get half the bad press that Obama's pastor, Rev. Wright received from the media for being a total wacko) just announced donations of $6 million to Israeli causes "and said that Israel must remain in control of all of Jerusalem."

Hagee and his group, Christians United for Israel, joined keynote speaker Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel's hard-line opposition Likud Party, at a rally in support of Jerusalem remaining united and under Jewish control.

"Turning part or all of Jerusalem over to the Palestinians would be tantamount to turning it over to the Taliban," Hagee told an audience filled with Americans who waved Israeli flags and cheered.
Lovely. Way to promote peace on earth, goodwill to all men.