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26 September 2005

Lawyers debate God vs. science
By Jon Hurdle


HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The lawsuit over whether intelligent design should be taught in schools alongside evolution began in federal court on Monday with defendants' attorneys calling it a scientific theory and opponents saying it was an effort to put God in the classroom. In the first such legal battle, lawyers sparred during opening arguments at Federal District Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, over whether the teaching of intelligent design -- an alternative to evolution that involves a God-like creator -- violates the U.S. Constitution. The battle over teaching about man's origins in U.S. schools pits Christian conservatives against educators and scientists in a trial viewed as the biggest test of the issue since the late 1980s. "Intelligent design isn't science. It's old theology," said Eric Rothschild, lawyer for 11 parents who sued the Dover school district of central Pennsylvania over including intelligent design in its ninth-grade biology curriculum.

"It's a clever tactical repackaging of creationism," he said, telling a packed courtroom that the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed teaching creationism in public schools in 1987.

Creationism is the belief that God created the world as told in Genesis. The parents are joined in their cause by the American Civil Liberties Union, America's largest civil liberties group. Pat Gillen, a lawyer for the Dover school district, said intelligent design is anchored in science and is not creationism in disguise. He also rejected the accusation that it was unconstitutional to teach the theory to students.


(reuters.co.uk)


What's next, Teaching Norse, Greek and Roman Mythology in school as Science? If this wasn't a serious court case I would be rolling around, laughing myself to death...

Al-Qaeda suspect jailed over 9/11

Yarkas was convicted of being an al-Qaeda cell leader in Spain

A Syrian man accused of heading a Spanish al-Qaeda cell and helping to organise the 9/11 attacks has been jailed for 27 years in Madrid. Imad Yarkas was jailed along with 17 other men convicted on charges of aiding al-Qaeda. Two men accused over the 9/11 attacks were cleared of murder in Europe's biggest terror trial. A journalist for Arabic TV network al-Jazeera was also jailed for seven years for collaborating with al-Qaeda. The 17 men convicted were sentenced to between six and 11 years in jail for a range of terrorism offences. Among them was Driss Chebli, accused of helping Yarkas plot the 2001 attacks. He was cleared of murder charges but sentenced to six years for collaborating with a terror group.


(news.bbc.co.uk)

How many have gone to jail in the States because o 9/11, or are they all still locked up in Guantanemo?

15 September 2005

Verdade, Verdade, VERDADE

Sérgio Figueiredo
Tribunais e quartéis: close


Os senhores militares dominam o assunto, conhecem muito bem o tema dos "direitos adquiridos". Fizeram, aliás, uma revolução em Abril de 1974 por causa disso. Foram os militares que nos libertaram do regime antigo e acabaram com todos os direitos adquiridos que a sociedade de então mantinha. É mais do que legítimo, portanto, devolver-lhes a questão. E lançar o desafio: quem está disposto a liderar uma outra revolução para acabar com os direitos adquiridos deles? E com os dos senhores juizes, magistrados e funcionários judiciais? Não é Marques Mendes. Não é aquele senhor que substituiu Portas e não recordo o nome. E desengane-se quem espera resposta da esquerda. Os presidenciáveis Louçã e Jerónimo, sempre «anti» tratando-se de fardas, estão indignados, por não deixarem as Forças Armadas desfilar em paz. E, muito provavelmente, não será também José Sócrates. Que foi tão valente a enfiar as duas mãos em todas as colmeias habitadas por estas «comunidades», como incapaz de aproveitar a oportunidade para mobilizar a nação para algo que ela há muito perdeu: um rumo. Um simples rumo.

Assim, parece a Costa do Marfim. Podia também ser o Ruanda, quando a instituição militar desafia a autoridade de um Governo e convoca todas as armas, do activo e reservistas, para as ruas. Também afigura-se a uma qualquer República da América Central, onde os próprios órgãos de soberania se mobilizam para greves. Agora os tribunais, os juízes. Depois quem se segue? O Presidente da República pode fazer greve? O que irrita não é ver esta gente aos berros. Não é ver o Governo isolado. Nem é confirmar a falta de senso e responsabilidade dos Mendes e associados. Nem sequer assistir com estupefacção a esta decadência institucional, a absoluta falta de respeitinho pelas autoridades democráticas. As pessoas perderam o sentido da nação, mas isso não irrita. Preocupa, angustia, desilude. Mas não irrita. O que irrita são os motivos desta crise. Tudo o que está na origem deste ambiente, em que cheira a fim de regime. A Armada em passeata. Tribunais fechados. Sem lhes assistir a razão. Militares e agentes da justiça. Por mais que desfilem de braço-dado com Louçã, por mais comícios que Jerónimo dedique em defesa dos seus «direitos adquiridos», os senhores militares não têm causa alguma. E mentem descaradamente, quando dizem estar a defender a dignidade da instituição militar.

Treta! Estão a defender a vidinha que os contribuintes lhes garantem - uma vidinha, diga-se, que os contribuintes gostariam mas o país obviamente não permite. Há 31 anos lideraram um golpe para conquistar a liberdade. Agora ameaçam o regime para não pagar a conta da farmácia ou ir para casa, com salário completo, ainda antes dos 50. Também a anunciada greve geral na Justiça não é justa. Viu-se coisa igual em 1988. Ano em que Cavaco os sossegou, criando um impraticável regime especial. O mesmo que Sócrates está agora, quase vinte anos depois, a eliminar. E porque a maioria dos portugueses, os tais contribuintes, não percebe e não apoia o Governo? Porque em vez de lhe ter explicado que era justo, apresentaram-lhe isto no pacote das medidas contra o défice! O povo quer um rumo e deram-lhe um disco riscado.

(www.negocios.pt)

If only the politicians would read this one... (sigh)

04 September 2005

The Survival of New Orleans blog

Sig and I went down to the street to head over to Baronne to check out some tenant housing the company owns and make sure the building is still secure. The water down Poydras has receded about one and 1/2 block as you head toward the Dome. Baronne street the water has receded to about 2 blocks down from Poydras as you head to Canal. Still very significant flooding that way and the water is absolutely nasty. The surface is a rust-covered gunk that is difficult to describe; luckily, Sig took some pictures. We saw some signs of looting and there was a car there which had been completely crushed under a wall of bricks which fell down from the 3rd floor of a now-exposed condo. Law enforcement have absolutely lost their minds. Some guy wearing khaki fatigues and black vests which say Police on them have their faces covered in black ski masks and are touting M4-A1s with front hand grips -- like they're some kind of Delta Force operators waiting to hit the tire house. They're guarding the four corners around the Bell South building for crying out loud. And what, they need secret identities? Come on. You can just tell some of these guys have never gotten out before. Now's their big chance to play Army. The police presence is growing and it consists of non-stop driving around the CBD. Dozens and dozens of cars just driving up one street and down the other. We're safe from civil unrest now, that much is certain.


A blog from the City of New Orleans with first hand accounts of what is happening in that suffering city

the Survival of New Orleans blog

They're not giving us what we need to survive'

'They're not giving us what we need to survive'
The Observer


Only now, a week after Hurricane Katrina roared across the Deep South, leaving a trail of devastation across America's psyche, is the true story of the Battle of New Orleans emerging. As convoys of commandeered school buses and Greyhound coaches transported tens of thousands of refugees out of the submerged city yesterday, in a belated and much-criticised relief operation, each vehicle brought with it new tales of horror.

Those trapped inside the two main shelters, the Superdome and the Convention Centre, paint a picture of a city that was subsumed beneath waves of violence, rape and death and accuse the police and National Guard of standing by, ignoring their pleas for help. The claims are rejected by the federal and state authorities, who instead suggest the looting and lawlessness which followed the extensive flooding of the city was the result of a series of isolated incidents perpetrated by a few. But it is clear from talking to survivors that what happened in New Orleans last week was far more extensive, bloody and terrifying than the authorities have admitted so far.

'We had to wrap dead people in white sheets and throw them outside while the police stood by and did nothing,' said Correll Williams, a 19-year-old meat cutter from the Crowder Road district in the east of the city, who waded two miles through waist-high water to make it to the Convention Centre after hearing on the radio it was being turned into a refuge.

'The police were in boats watching us. They were just laughing at us. Five of them to a boat, not trying to help nobody. Helicopters were riding by just looking at us. They weren't helping. We were pulling people on bits of wood, and the National Guard would come driving by in their empty military trucks.'


(observer.guardian.co.uk)

If this is the way that the World's superpower deals with a disaster, then God help us all.

What country is really prepared for a disaster of this size?