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Symbols of Christianity

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Via CNN:

Baptist TV preacher, Eddie Long, finally addressed the sexual allegations by four young men today on his TV show. I have followed this through CNN by default since CNN is my default homepage. I’ve also followed it because I do stop by TBN and watch snippets of many of these shows and it just so happened that I caught Bishop Long a few weeks ago. I have watched his work for a while and was impressed with the social aspect of his ministry, but the flashiness always bothered me–tight shirts, the buffiness, ultra cool wardrobe and I’ve even seen him in a matrix-like trench coat. So I was very, very curious to hear his response.

Somehow I forgot to turn to his show at 8:30 but I caught an excerpt on CNN.

Lithonia, Georgia (CNN) — Baptist televangelist Eddie Long said Sunday he will fight allegations that he coerced young male church members into having sex with him.

“I am not the man that has been portrayed on television,” he told his congregation.

Speaking publicly about the accusations for the first time, Long did not address the specific allegations contained in four lawsuits filed against him earlier this week.

“I’ve been accused, I’m under attack,” he said, lowering his head and softening his voice behind the pulpit at the New Birth Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta.

“I want you to know, as I said earlier, that I am not a perfect man. But this thing, I’m going to fight,” he said. “I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”

With that, the 57-year-old pastor put down his microphone and walked off stage, receiving deafening applause from the thousands who had come to hear him.

To be honest, I did not hear what I needed to hear. I needed to hear a clear-cut denial. Something to the effect of “I categorically deny . . ..” or “I never engaged in any of the alleged acts . . .” or “I have been faithful to my wife and never  . . .” something along that line. In effect, what we got was that he is not the man portrayed in the media. That could be and in fact probably is very true, but not to the point at all. The media does paint televangelists in a certain light and he is saying he is not what he has been made out to be. But, he still has not addressed the specific allegations.

While Eddie Long is not T. D. Jakes, if this thing drags out and it does turn out that there is merit to the allegations, it could do some damage in the community.

Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer's patient in No...

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The costs associated with dementia will amount to more than 1% of the world’s gross domestic product this year at $604bn (£388bn), a report says. The World Alzheimer Report says this is more than the revenue of retail giant Wal-Mart or oil firm Exxon Mobil.The authors say dementia poses the most significant health and social crisis of the century as its global financial burden continues to escalate.  They want the World Health Organization to make dementia a world priority.

Campaigners say more investment in dementia care and research into new treatments is needed. Spending more money now would save nations more money in the future by decreasing the disease burden, they say.A large part of the problem is people living longer – as life expectancy goes up around the world there will be more people who will develop dementia.  

‘Substantial investments’ 

The number of people with dementia is expected to double by 2030, and more than triple by 2050.But experts say the costs of caring for people with dementia are likely to rise even faster than the prevalence, especially in the developing world, as more formal social care systems emerge and rising incomes lead to higher opportunity costs. Data from individual countries such as the UK suggests that dementia is already one of the costliest illnesses 

The article doesn’t say what costs. This probably includes the actual medical care for home care, medication, specialist treatments, hospitalizations, etc. But it could and/or should include lost productivity for caregivers, mistakes and errors caused by the illness, lost productivity for those with the onset of dementia but are unaware of it. Whatever is included in this calculation, it is too high. 

Vatican City

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Via BBC

The head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is under investigation as part of a money-laundering inquiry, police sources say. 

Prosecutors also seized 23m euros ($30m; £19m) from the bank’s accounts with another smaller institution. 

The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported to tax police in Rome. 

The Vatican said it was “perplexed and astonished”, and expressed full confidence in Mr Tedeschi. 

The Vatican Bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), was created during World War II to administer accounts held by religious orders, cardinals, bishops and priests. 

Evil Advert

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Via CNN:

London, England (CNN) — Britain’s advertising watchdog has censured an Italian ice cream manufacturer over an advertisement depicting a heavily pregnant nun that appeared ahead of a papal visit to the UK.

The ad featuring the strapline “immaculately conceived” over an image of the expectant sister spooning from a tub of Antonio Federici ice cream was “likely to cause widespread offense,” the Advertising Standards Authority ruled.

The ASA said the publishers of Lady magazine, which carried the ad, had received several complaints from readers.

The watchdog rejected the manufacturer’s claims that it was “using gentle humor” to convey the message that “ice cream is our religion.”

“We considered the use of a nun pregnant through immaculate conception was likely to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics,” the ASA ruling said.

Via WaPo:

BERLIN – The most talked about man in Germany is a 65-year-old economist whose hot new book and sudden groundswell of popular support have the media dubbing him a folk hero. But that is not the only thing they are calling Thilo Sarrazin these days.

Some are also calling him dangerous. Sarrazin, a board member of the German Central Bank until he resigned under pressure Thursday, has divided the nation by postulating the theory that Germany is being “dumbed down” by Muslim immigrants and their children. Wielding statistics and scientific arguments both in his book and in public comments, he delves into territory largely taboo here since the Holocaust, suggesting that “hereditary factors” are at least partly to blame. Turks and Kurdish immigrants, he asserts, are genetically predisposed to lower intelligence than Germans and other ethnic groups, including Jews.

His statements have shocked many in Germany not only because of a national sensitivity to anything remotely smacking of genetic superiority claims in the post-World War II era. What has also shocked many is that so many Germans have rallied to his side as the central bank and his political party have sought to oust him for his pronouncements.

The article says most of his backers are distancing themselves from the heredity statement, but they love the other part, as though there is a fine demarcation between the racist aspect of this and the non-racist part, if there is one.

The sickening part is that this guy is being embraced as a “folk hero” for saying things people want to say but are afraid to.

The story gets weirder:

German-Jewish groups, for instance, are among Sarrazin’s staunchest critics, calling him a dangerous racist. Though Sarrazin has spoken positively of Jews, saying they have “high IQs,” he courted controversy after declaring in an Aug. 29 interview that “all Jews share a certain gene.” In fact, observers here say that the official outcry against Sarrazin – including the move to expel him from the board of the central bank – would have been far more muted had he simply stuck to his generalizations about Muslims.

But by generalizing about Jewish genetics, albeit positively, Sarrazin also “crossed a red line,” said Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable with the history here that such a large amount of people follow what he says,” Kramer said. “The lesson of the Holocaust is not just about Jews, but that human dignity is indivisible. Yet now, they react if there is a genetic comment about Jews, but not if it’s about the Roma or the Turks. We obviously still have some homework to do.”

Part of the propaganda against the Jews in the early Nazi years was the fact that their “hairsplitting” distinction making in academic matters was problematic. While much of the propaganda was dehumanizing, the success of Jews as prominent thinkers was also held against them. So saying the Jews have a high IQ does not erase the problem of this sort of ethnic categorization. This whole thing is downright creepy.

Via BBC:

Dr Nick Neave looks at the difference between “good” and “bad” dancing

Scientists say they’ve carried out the first rigorous analysis of dance moves that make men attractive to women.

The researchers say that movements associated with good dancing may be indicative of good health and reproductive potential.

“When you go out to clubs people have an intuitive understanding of what makes a good and bad dancer,” said co-author Dr Nick Neave, an evolutionary psychologist at Northumbria University, UK.

“What we’ve done for the very first time is put those things together with a biometric analysis so we can actually calculate very precisely the kinds of movements people focus on and associate them with women’s ratings of male dancers.”

Dr Neave asked young men who were not professional dancers, to dance in a laboratory to a very basic drum rhythm and their movements with 12 cameras.

These movements were then converted into a computer-generated cartoon – an avatar – which women rated on a scale of one to seven. He was surprised by the results.

“We thought that people’s arms and legs would be really important. The kind of expressive gestures the hands [make], for example. But in fact this was not the case,” he said.

“We found that (women paid more attention to) the core body region: the torso, the neck, the head. It was not just the speed of the movements, it was also the variability of the movement. So someone who is twisting, bending, moving, nodding.”

Movements that went down terribly were twitchy and repetitive – so called “Dad dancing”.

Dr Neave’s aim was to establish whether young men exhibited the same courtship movement rituals in night clubs as animals do in the wild. In the case of animals, these movements give information about their health, age, their reproductive potential and their hormone status.

“People go to night clubs to show off and attract the opposite sex so I think it’s a valid way of doing this,” Dr Neave explained.

“In animals, the male has to be in good physical quality to carry out these movements. We think the same is happening in humans and certainly the guys that can put these movements together are going to be young and fit and healthy.”

Dr Neave also took blood samples from the volunteers. Early indications from biochemical tests suggest that the men who were better dancers were also more healthy.

Via BBC:

A 70cm (27-inch) tall Colombian has been named the world’s shortest living man by Guinness World Records.

Edward Nino Hernandez, 24, weighs only 10kg (22lbs). His mother said he had not grown since he was two years old.

Mr Hernandez, who works part-time as a dancer, told the Associated Press: “I feel happy because I’m unique.”

The previous record holder was He Pingping of China, who was 4cm (1.5 inches) taller and died in March – before Mr Hernandez was discovered.

Mr Hernandez is not expected to keep the title for long, however, as Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal is expected to take the title when he turns 18 in October.

Via BBC:

Israeli scientists believe they have identified why Arabic is particularly hard to learn to read. The University of Haifa team say people use both sides of their brain when they begin reading a language – but when learning Arabic this is wasting effort. The detail of Arabic characters means students should use only the left side of their brain because that side is better at distinguishing detail. The findings from the study of 40 people are reported in Neuropsychology. 

When someone learns to read Arabic they have to work out which letters are which, and which ones go with which sounds. It is the ability to tell letters apart that seems to work differently in Arabic – because telling the characters apart involves looking at very small details such as the placement of dots.Professor Zohar Eviatar, who led the research team, said: “The particular characteristics of Arabic make it hard for the right hemisphere to be involved. When you are starting something new, there is a lot of [right hemisphere] involvement.”

Via NBC:

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Sunday raised the possibility of using behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to spare the life of an Iranian widow sentenced to be stoned for adultery.

In its first public statement on the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, the Vatican also decried stoning as a particularly “brutal” form of capital punishment.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Catholic church opposes the death penalty in general.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of adultery. In July, Iranian authorities said they would not carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but the mother of two could still face execution by hanging for adultery and other offenses.

One of the most important lessons of Jesus’ teaching, 2,000 years ago was on the occasion of a possible stoning of a woman for adultery. “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

Adultery, among most of the major religions is a sin, and one can make a good case for it being detrimental to society. But whatever it’s demerits, it does warrant stoning to death.

Update: Via BBC–the woman is to be whipped

Via Wapo:

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. – A doctor involved in an “on-again, off-again” relationship apparently tried to force her way into her boyfriend’s home by sliding down the chimney, police said Tuesday. Her decomposing body was found there three days later.