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January 23, 2005

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Religion in the News

Among lobbyists, a few focus on religious and moral issues
Like hundreds of other lobbyists homing in on the 2005 General Assembly, C. Douglas Smith has been scanning proposed legislation for bills that could benefit his narrow special interest. But few of his colleagues search as Smith does: through a lens of faith that hopes to achieve God's will through public policy. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Colorado evangelical group's power grows
In the second of two reports on the strong presence of evangelical Christianity in Colorado Springs, Colo.: How the organization Focus on the Family went from a small radio program dealing with family issues to an influential organization with its own political lobbying arm. (All Things Considered, NPR)

Baylor's Sloan: 'It's Time for Someone New'
Controversial president to become university chancellor in June. By Deann Alford

The 20 Most-Read Articles of 2004
The Passion and The Da Vinci Code top the list of subjects CT readers were most interested in last year. 

Is Rolling Stone Afraid of the Bible?
The magazine is suddenly squeamish of religion. At least in one case. By Mark Moring.

Catholics Join NCC Alternative
Launch of broad church association around the corner. By Douglas LeBlanc.

Millions throng Mecca for Haj
More than two million Muslim pilgrims began streaming out of Mecca towards Mena today, the first day of a Haj pilgrimage marked by grief over the Asian tsunami disaster and security fears. (The Hindu, India)

Muslim schools undermining society, alleges school chief
Muslim leaders are livid. On the heels of the report that a state-funded Islamic school in Bradford topped the league table of school with the best growth of their people, the head of Ofsted, David Bell accused Muslim faith schools of failing to prepare pupils for life and undermining British society. He claimed that the growth of schools offering an Islamic education posed a threat to stability. (Hindustan Times, UK edition)

New faith in the law
Falwell wants students to preach through their practice (Richmond Times Dispatch, Va.).

God power on campus
Naomi Schaefer Riley, an adjunct fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, has taken the measure of student attitudes, academic standards and campus life at more than a dozen religiously affiliated colleges and universities. God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America (New York Times).

LaHaye's Tribulation
Left Behind coauthor challenges Tyndale over the Last Disciple. The Last Disciple was coauthored by Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer, and teaches that most prophecies in Revelation have already been fulfilled. By Jim Jones.

Murder and suicide reviving claims of child abuse in cult
Growing up in the 1970's in a religious cult known around the world as the Children of God, Ricky Rodriguez was revered as "the prince." The group's leaders were his mother and stepfather, and they taught that their son would guide them all when the End Times came. (New York Times).

Role of God in tsunami disaster sparks emotions
How much, exactly, do you figure God cares? Indeed, how often does he actually dip in his finger - you know, take sides and really stir the pot? (Bill Johnson, Rocky Mountain News, Co.)

Science in the News


Part of Darius I throne found?
Archaeologists believe they have found a piece of the throne of Darius I, the Persian king who allowed the Jews to complete the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple in the late 6th century B.C. (Ezra 6).

In Rome, hints of buried treasure
City unveils art found in infamous Emperor Nero's entombed palace (Washington Post) ROME, Jan. 18 -- When the infamous emperor Nero fell from power in A.D. 68, weakened by military revolts, his successors decided no personal trace of his reign should remain. They covered with debris the giant and sumptuous Domus Aurea -- the Golden House -- that he built on a hill in central Rome. They replaced an adjacent artificial lake with the Colosseum. The entombment of the palace was meant to make everyone forget Nero. Instead, it conserved, as if in amber, his residential compound as few ancient sites in Rome have been preserved. This week, almost 2,000 years after Nero's rule, Rome city officials unveiled a new find from the palace that offers a tantalizing hint of the treasures buried beneath the hill.

Gladiators- more showbusiness than slaughter - JAMES REYNOLDS 

Anthropologists Find 4.5 Million-Year-Old Hominid Fossils In Ethiopia Bloomington IN (SPX) Jan 20, 2005
Scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and seven other institutions have unearthed skeletal fossils of a human ancestor believed to have lived about 4.5 million years ago.


Lakefront Landing In Creme Brule, Titan Darmstadt, Germany (SPX) Jan 17, 2005
For the first time, humans have gotten a close-up look at Titan, the planet-sized moon. Huygens, scientists say, has landed in soil with the consistency of wet sand or clay.

Mars Rover Finds Metal Meteorite By Irene Mona Klotz, Discovery News. Jan. 20, 2005
Fresh from an inspection of its discarded heat shield, the Mars rover Opportunity scrutinized an odd-looking nearby rock and discovered a meteorite, a finding that is reshaping its science agenda at Meridiani Planum, the lead scientist for the rover mission said Wednesday.

Astronomers Take Revealing Peek At Star Factory Baltimore MD (SPX) Jan 17, 2005
Using NASA's orbiting Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, a team of astronomers from The Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere has taken an unprecedented peek beneath the tunic-clad Orion the Hunter and come away with observations that may lead to enhanced knowledge of how interstellar dust absorbs and scatters ultraviolet starlight.

Organic Molecules Transport Strongest Spectral Signature Of Interplanetary Dust Livermore CA (SPX) Jan 17, 2005
Carbon and silicate grains in interplanetary dust particles are helping scientists solve a 40-year-old astronomical mystery.

Spying On Black-Hole Eating Habits With LISA University Park PA (SPX) Jan 17, 2005
As big fish eat little fish in the Earth's vast oceans, so too do supermassive black holes gorge on smaller black holes and neutron stars, making themselves more massive in the process.

Hungry For More Cambridge MA (SPX) Jan 19, 2005
When a star or another stellar object brilliantly explodes in space, it usually signals the destruction of something. In the case of a blast spotted by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have recorded the most powerful explosion ever seen and they are amazed by what it's created.

First Evidence That Young Low-Mass Objects Are Twice As Heavy As Predicted Tucson AZ (SPX) Jan 20, 2005
Although mass is the most important property of stars, it has proved very hard to measure for the lowest mass objects in the universe. Thanks to a powerful new camera, a very rare, low-mass companion has finally been photographed.

Lunar Colony To Run On Moon Dust London, UK (SPX) Jan 20, 2005
Simulated moon dust has been used to make a key component of a working solar cell, giving an unexpected boost to President George W. Bush's project of setting up a colony on the moon, reports New Scientist.


New Insights Into Fat's Effect on the Body TUESDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDayNews)
Scientists have identified a gene called lipin that regulates how your body produces and uses fat. The researchers say lipin may offer a new drug target for controlling obesity, diabetes and other weight-related health problems. Their research with mice appears in the January issue of Cell Metabolism.

Protective Protein May Hold Key To Halting Progression Of Neurological Diseases
Patients who suffer from neurological diseases such as Huntington's disease, Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) and Alzheimer's disease have dramatically different symptoms. To doctors and researchers, however, how brain cells die in these diseases actually is quite similar.

Professor's Anatomy Web Quiz Garners Quarter-million-plus Hits (January 19, 2005)
A simple, instructional Web site in the department of biology is reaching far beyond its intended use as a study aid.


NEW on DVD! Arguments Creationists Should NOT Use by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati.
In this candid presentation before an international conference of nearly 600 creationist speakers and writers, scientist Dr. Jonathan Sarfati reveals the out-of-date, faulty and downright “flaky evidences” that reputable creationists must avoid. In his trademark style, Sarfati challenges some of the most-loved arguments of modern creationists. Bottom line: hold “facts” loosely and focus intensely on God’s written Word as the absolute guide to evidence interpretations!

School board to appeal ruling to remove evolution stickers
On January 17, 2005, the Cobb County School Board voted 5-2 to appeal the ruling in Selman et al. v. Cobb County School District et al., which ordered the removal of evolution disclaimers from the school district's textbooks. Announcing the decision, Kathie Johnstone, chair of the board, described Judge Clarence Cooper's ruling as an "unnecessary judicial intrusion into local control of schools." For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's editorial condemning the board's decision (registration required), visit: COBB COUNTY APPEALS

"Wedging creationism into the academy," by Barbara Forrest and Glenn Branch.

Pennsylvania Students 'Taught' Intelligent Design
For the first time ever, public high school administrators addressed students specifically about Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution. The Dover, Pennsylvania, school district mandated that students be taught that evolution is a theory, "not a fact." The revised biology curriculum says, "Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, Intelligent Design."

Creationist sees science through 'Biblical glasses'
As a scientist, Lisle uses his expertise to make try to defend the idea of creation. One of the simplest defenses he offered Saturday was what he described as information science, the idea that information always goes back to an intelligent source. (The Green Bay News-Chronicle, Wis.) 

Are Humans Still Evolving?
A new study suggests that natural selection in people is alive and well.

Ants' 'Genetic Engineering' Leads To Species Interdependency (January 15, 2005)
Findings reported this week reveal how an evolutionary innovation involving the sharing of genes between two ant species has given rise to a deep-seated dependency between them for the survival of both species populations.

Earth Science

Fossil Fowls Question Bird Evolution Jan. 20, 2005
Modern birds may have evolved before the mass extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, the event conventionally believed to have shaped animal diversity today, a study says.

Study: Warming Caused Mass Extinction Jan. 21, 2005
Global warming, not an asteroid impact, was to blame for the mass extinction of species 250 million years ago, an international team of researchers reports in the latest issue of Science magazine.

B-15A Iceberg's Close Encounter Monitored By Envisat Paris, France (ESA) Jan 20, 2005
Some anticipated the 'collision of the century': the vast, drifting B15-A iceberg was apparently on collision course with the floating pier of ice known as the Drygalski ice tongue. Whatever actually happens from here, Envisat's radar vision will pierce through Antarctic clouds to give researchers a ringside seat.

New NASA Imagery Sheds Additional Perspectives On Tsunami Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 20, 2005
Newly released imagery from three NASA spaceborne instruments sheds valuable insights into the Indian Ocean tsunami that resulted from the magnitude 9 earthquake southwest of Sumatra on December 26.


Copper Vs Copper At The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider Upton NY (SPX) Jan 17, 2005
Scientists searching for evidence that a particle accelerator at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory has created a new form of matter not seen since the Big Bang and eager to study its properties have begun using a new experimental probe, collisions between two beams of copper ions.


Family First
Dr. Phil’s new book Family First has one feature that sets it apart from the crowded shelves of family self-help books: his chapter on divorced and blended families. He has seen first hand that the official line we’ve been given about divorce and remarriage is misleading at best and down-right false at worst. The happy talk we have been given that “children of divorce do just fine” is simply untrue. Dr. Phil might help these struggling couples see that divorce won’t necessarily solve every problem they now face. As parents, they will still have to interact with each other, even after divorce. Sometimes, brand new problems emerge while old problems are simply transferred to a different arena. "Marriage is hard, but divorce is harder." Comments by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.

First biological test for ADHD unveiled
The 10-minute test for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder claims a high accuracy and could one day predict which cases will respond to drugs.

Controversial Drug Shown To Act On Brain Protein To Cut Alcohol Use
A naturally occurring hallucinogen advocated by some clinicians as a potent anti-addiction drug has been rigorously studied for the first time, confirming its ability to block alcohol craving in rodents, and clarifying how it works in the brain. The new research findings about the drug Ibogaine open the way for development of other drugs to reverse addiction without Ibogaine's side effects, potentially adding to the small arsenal of drugs that effectively combat addiction.


Nanotechnologists' New Plastic Can See In The Dark Toronto QC (SPX) Jan 19, 2005
Imagine a home with "smart" walls responsive to the environment in the room, a digital camera sensitive enough to work in the dark, or clothing with the capacity to turn the sun's power into electrical energy. Researchers at University of Toronto have invented an infrared-sensitive material that could shortly turn these possibilities into realities.