donderdag 31 juli 2008

Vederstaarttoepaja is elke dag dronken




Verwant van primaten houdt van nectar met 3,8 procent alcohol
Gepubliceerd: 31 juli 2008 15:25 | Gewijzigd: 31 juli 2008 15:37
Door onze redacteur Hester van Santen
De vederstaarttoepaja, drinkt regelmatig nectar zo sterk als bier. Biologen hopen dat onderzoek aan het beestje kan helpen om de alcoholzucht van de mens te verklaren.
De toepaja is een chronisch alcoholgebruiker. Foto PNAS
De toepaja is een chronisch alcoholgebruiker.
Foto PNAS

Rotterdam, 31 juli. Een zoogdiertje in Maleisië laaft zich elke nacht aan een bloem waarvan de nectar zó alcoholisch is, dat de plant naar een brouwerij ruikt. Het is goed mogelijk dat het beestje, de vederstaarttoepaja, zo veel drinkt dat hij naar menselijke maatstaven niet meer achter het stuur zou mogen zitten.

Het wetenschappelijke tijdschrift Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences publiceerde deze week een studie naar het beest. Het is de eerste keer dat van een zoogdier nauwkeurig is vastgesteld dat het van nature leeft op een alcoholhoudend dieet. En dat is relevant, vindt de Duitse onderzoeker Frank Wiens. „Nu hebben we naast de mens nog een dier dat van nature regelmatig drinkt.”

Dat dieren dronken worden als ze maar genoeg bier of wijn wordt voorgezet, hebben biologen altijd met enthousiasme opgeschreven. Het was een van de observaties waarmee Charles Darwin zijn The Descent of Man (1871) begon. Een van zijn argumenten dat mensen nauw verwant zijn aan apen, was dat zij van dezelfde stoffen in een roes raken. „Veel apensoorten hebben een sterke voorkeur voor thee, koffie, en alcoholische dranken: en, zoals ik zelf gezien heb, roken ze ook graag tabak.”

Er is in de natuur niet veel alcohol aanwezig. Als rijp fruit gist, bevat het vaak minder dan 0,5 procent alcohol. Een leven met alcohol is voorbehouden aan enkele diersoorten die veel fruit eten. Fruitvliegen consumeren regelmatig alcohol, en ook fruit etende vleermuizen staan in de belangstelling. Dat olifanten dronken worden door fruit van de marula (een boom), is door biologen als een broodje aap afgedaan.

De vederstaarttoepaja (Ptilocercus lowii) schaart zich nu ook onder de schaarse alcoholconsumenten. Tijdens veldwerk in het Maleisische regenwoud naar de voedselvoorkeur van toepaja’s en lori’s (halfapen) ontdekten Duitse biologen van de Universiteit van Bayreuth dat deze en andere kleine zoogdieren vaak afkwamen op een palm waarvan de bloemen flink naar gist roken.

De toepaja’s werden verder onderzocht. De Duitsers filmden bloeiende palmen, voorzagen de dieren van een zender, en analyseerden de nectar en de haren van de beesten. De toepaja’s bleken dagelijks meer dan tien planten te bezoeken en vertoonden sporen van chronisch alcoholgebruik. De bloem herbergt gistcultures die alcohol produceren. Het alcoholpercentage van de nectar lag rond de 0,5 procent maar werd in uitzonderlijke gevallen opgedreven tot 3,8 procent. Dat is zo sterk als bier. De toepaja’s leken niet onder de alcohol te lijden. De palm heeft baat bij het bezoek, want rondscharrelende zoogdieren zorgen voor de bevruchting.

De Duitse onderzoekers benadrukken dat de toepaja zo interessant is omdat het dier verwant is aan de primaten. „Het laat zien dat er al 55 miljoen jaar geleden blootstelling aan alcohol was”, zegt Wiens aan de telefoon.

Maar over de precieze plek van de toepaja’s in de zoogdierstamboom is het laatste woord nog niet gesproken, en de relatie tussen toepaja en palm is niet uniek. Ook ratten en eekhoorns bezochten de bloemen.

Hoe gaat de toepaja om met de alcohol en wat heeft hij eraan? Dat vraagstuk interesseert biologen die willen verklaren waarom mensen tot alcoholisme geneigd zijn. Wiens: „Er zijn veel voordelen te bedenken. Suiker, vitaminen, sporenelementen, insecten op de bloemen.” Misschien is de alcohol zelf voordelig voor de dieren. Maar dat zal moeten blijken.

Proost!

'Zacht weefsel' dinobot blijkt vervuiling


door René Fransen Nederland Dagblad
In 2005 werd 'zacht weefsel' aangetroffen in dinobotten. Volgens creationisten een bewijs tegen de evolutie. Maar het 'zachte weefsel' blijkt een bacteriële vervuiling. SEATTLE - De vondst van zacht weefsel in fossiele botten van een Tyrannosaurus rex was in 2005 groot nieuws. De botten waren naar schatting 68 miljoen jaar oud en het was de vraag hoe het zachte weefsel al die tijd intact kon blijven. Creationisten stelden dat het zachte weefsel een bewijs was dat de fossielen nooit miljoenen jaren oud konden zijn.

Gisteren publiceerden Amerikaanse onderzoekers in het internettijdschrift PLoS ONE dat het niet gaat om echt dinosaurusweefsel, maar om vervuiling door bacteriën. Die hebben zich in de holle botten gevestigd en daar een 'biofilm' afgezet, een plakkerige laag die veel bacteriën voor hun eigen bescherming aanleggen. Bekende voorbeelden zijn tandplak en de glibberige laag die na een tijdje in een emmer water ontstaat.

De onderzoekers van Washington University in Seattle schrijven dat het zachte weefsel oorspronkelijk gevonden zijn door het bot eerst op te lossen in zuur. Het zachte weefsel bleef dan achter. In het nieuwe onderzoek zijn eerst met behulp van een elektronenmicroscoop opnamen gemaakt van fossiele botten uit van verschillende diersoorten en uit verschillende aardlagen. Daarbij vonden ze structuren in het bot aan, die hier en daar loslieten. Die kwamen overeen met wat de onderzoekers verwachten van een biofilm.

In 2007 meldden onderzoekers dat zij fragmenten van het eiwit collageen (bindweefsel) in het fossiele 'zachte weefsel' hadden gevonden. Maar volgens het team van Kaye kan collageen ook door bacteriën worden aangemaakt. Datering met behulp van de koolstof-14 methode liet ten slotte zien dat het zachte materiaal in de fossielen vermoedelijk zo'n vijftig jaar oud was.


Zo zie je maar dat creationisten zich vastklampen aan elke strohalm die ze kunnen vinden. Telkens blijken hun weerleggingen van de evolutietheorie geen hout te snijden.

woensdag 30 juli 2008

CAMPAIGN 2008 Beer buyout a hiccup for McCain?



John McCain finds himself in a potentially awkward situation, with his wife's ownership of an Arizona beer distributorship tying her to a company that does business in Cuba.
Posted on Wed, Jul. 30, 2008
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BY LESLEY CLARK
lclark@MiamiHerald.com




WASHINGTON --
The pending merger of American beer giant Anheuser-Busch and a Belgian company that brews and sells beer in Cuba is thrusting John McCain into the middle of thorny Cuba-U.S. relations.

McCain's wife, Cindy, owns the third-largest Anheuser-Busch distributor in the country -- which means she would stand to profit by partnering with a company that is in business with the Cuban government.

McCain is a staunch advocate of the embargo that bars most American companies from doing business in Cuba, and among the yet-to-be-resolved issues in the $52 billion deal is whether Belgian giant InBev -- expected to operate under the name Anheuser-Busch-InBev -- will continue to market its Cuban line of beer, and what that may mean for U.S. distributors.

Two of McCain's top Florida supporters, Miami Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, assailed the InBev-Anheuser Busch deal earlier this month, saying they are ''deeply concerned'' that Anheuser-Busch is about to be purchased by a company ``with ties to the Cuban dictatorship, a state sponsor of terrorism.''

A spokesman for the Diaz-Balarts said Tuesday night the two congressmen stand by their statement.

Complicating matters for McCain: A Cuban exile family with a long tradition of brewing beer in pre-Castro Cuba claims that InBev has illegally been using the trademark beer name Cristal, which the family created in Cuba before its company was seized by Fidel Castro's government in 1960.

''There are legal fig leafs that can be applied here, but the crux of the situation is that property rights are being trampled on,'' said Nicolás Gutiérrez, an attorney for Key Biscayne's Blanco Herrera family.

According to financial disclosure statements, Cindy McCain also owns stock in Anheuser-Busch and would stand to make as much as $2 million in profit if she sells the shares after the merger.

PRIVATE COMPANY

McCain's campaign did not respond to questions about whether Cindy McCain's distributorship in Arizona, Hensley and Co., would continue to market InBev products after the merger goes through. The private company, with annual sales estimated at between $150 million and $200 million, already distributes InBev products, including Stella Artois, Beck's and Lowenbrau.

A longtime McCain supporter said the Arizona senator has maintained a rigid firewall between himself and his wife's business operations, and new owners won't change matters.

''Making a connection between InBev, John McCain and Cuba policy is a ridiculous stretch of the imagination,'' said Ana Navarro of Miami, who has known McCain for years and serves as a co-chairwoman of his National Hispanic Advisory Council. ``First because John McCain has nothing to do with the operation of his wife's business and secondly, her business has nothing to do with Anheuser-Busch's sale. Does Publix control the decisions of Frito-Lay?''

InBev isn't saying whether or not it will keep what it calls its ''modest'' Cuban interests.

European countries have no hurdles to doing business in Cuba, and a spokeswoman for InBev said the company ''continuously reviews'' its commercial activities to ensure compliance with international laws.

Marianne Amssoms, InBev's vice president of global external communications, said the company's Cuban interests are all handled out of Europe. She did not address the Blanco Herrera claim but said the company's Cuban interests ''do not violate U.S., EU or international law.'' She said the company -- which holds the No. 2 position in the Cuban beer market -- currently brews, distributes and sells Beck's, Bucanero, Cristal and Mayabe in Cuba through a joint venture with the Cuban food ministry.

GLOBAL BUSINESS

She said the business in Cuba is less than 0.5 percent of InBev's global business. According to the company's website, its plant in Holguin, in eastern Cuba, employs 570 full-time workers.

A spokesman with the U.S. Treasury Department -- which along with the State Department oversees provisions of the embargo -- said the agency could not yet comment on whether the embargo would be applied or how the new company would be affected by the embargo law.

Gutiérrez said he hopes the renewed attention on InBev will result in a resolution for the Blanco Herrera family, which approached InBev in 2001 about the use of the Cristal brand to no avail.

'All of this could have a resolution if McCain were to come out and say, `I'm not getting involved in the corporate dealings, but I denounce InBev operations in Cuba and I denounce especially the use of confiscated property,' '' Gutiérrez said.

Ramon Blanco Herrera, whose relatives opened the brewery in Cuba in 1888, said the family members are seeking ''respect'' for their property claims.

''It's one thing for a communist Cuban government to traffic with stolen property,'' he said in a written statement. ``It's another issue altogether when a respected multinational corporation like InBev knowingly traffics with our property without our consent or authorization.''

LITTLE FALLOUT?

He said he doesn't believe the situation creates an issue for McCain.

''We expect that either candidate will uphold the rule of law as it relates to our Helms-Burton claims,'' he said. The Helms-Burton law seeks to punish foreign companies that use property in Cuba expropriated from Cuban nationals who have since become U.S. citizens.

''InBev needs to address this issue with us, as well as the corresponding U.S. authorities that have direct responsibility for approving the AB takeover,'' Blanco Herrera wrote. ``We intend to make sure that all U.S. authorities are aware of the issue and expect that they will persuade InBev to respond.''


Geen probleem voor McCain? Ik kan me nog herinneren dat er 2004 enorm werd gezeurd over de banden die mevrouw Kerry had met Heinz. Voor Republikeinen gelden kennelijk andere maatstaven dan voor Democraten.

TENNESSEE SHOOTINGS The liberals made him do it



Chris Schubert and her 4-year-old son Nick pause in front of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., as they place a bouquet of flowers Monday afternoon.
J. MILES CARY/AP
Posted on Wed, Jul. 30, 2008
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By LEONARD PITTS JR.
lpitts@miamiherald.com



Had it not been liberals, it would have been something else. Let's grant that from the beginning.

Broken people, after all, can always find some equally broken rationale for the carnage they cause. And the brokenness of 58-year-old Jim Adkisson can hardly be doubted after he walked into a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday and, according to police, shot eight people, killing two.

He might as well have said he did it because he didn't like the color of the building, a black cat crossed his path or the voices in his head thought it a good idea. Except, he didn't. Police say that, according to the four-page note he left, he went on the rampage because he couldn't find a job -- and because he hates gay people and liberals.

Even through the brokenness of the man, that reasoning resonates.

From the days the first President Bush branded it ''the L word'' -- i.e., the ideology that dare not speak its name -- conservative politicians and media figures have been relentlessly effective in selling the idea that ''liberal'' is the brand name for every wrong thing they see, every opinion they disagree with, every change they fear. They have not been hampered by excessive devotion to nuance.

As in the pundit who claims ''liberal'' is a mental disorder. And the politician who says liberals are in league with Satan. And the preacher who said Sept. 11 was caused by liberals. And the other preacher who says liberals cause natural disasters.

It has reached the point where I no longer have the faintest idea what liberal -- or, for that matter, conservative -- even means.

Oh, I know what they used to mean. To be conservative was to be suspicious of change and federal oversight, to embrace minimalist government, fiscal responsibility and a strong national defense. To be liberal was to be welcoming of change, suspicious of militarism and committed to activist government that worked to protect and uplift those who are shoved to the margins of American life.

That's what they meant then. What they mean now seems to depend on the needs of a given moment.

Your humble correspondent has never been much for ideology. I find it hard to believe liberals have a monopoly on truth. Same for conservatives. And frankly, as far as I'm concerned, any worldview that can be summed up in a word probably isn't much of a worldview.

But it is increasingly the case that what we are being presented isn't a debate between competing worldviews so much as it is a morality play: righteous good versus unholy evil. Conservatives have cast themselves in the former role, leaving liberals the latter. It's a libel to which liberals have responded as the bug does to the windshield: splat.

Unable to say what they believe or to frame it any compelling way, they have allowed themselves to be defined instead from without, standing ineffectual in a mudstorm of invective. They are, the propaganda goes, effete, unpatriotic, unstable, un-American, anti-God, evil, and the source of a voter's every problem, down to and including the death of his goldfish and the breakup of his marriage.

It is so over the top, so patently ridiculous, it's almost funny. Until you remember that dehumanizing people inevitably has consequences.

That's what Knoxville is, a consequence.

No, conservatives did not cause this bloodbath. Jim Adkisson allegedly did. But in telling him ''liberals'' were the source of his every disaffection and woe, conservatives certainly validated the hatred and madness that drove him.

It would be a fitting tribute to those who were lost in Knoxville if this tragedy gave the authors of the ongoing morality play cause for pause -- and reflection. Or is accountability yet another lost conservative value?

dinsdag 29 juli 2008

Chinese takeaway biodiesel man in garage explosion horror



Out of the frying pan into the fireball
By Lewis Page → More by this author
Published Monday 28th July 2008 09:00 GMT
Nail down your security priorities. Ask the experts and your peers at The Register Security Debate, September 24 2008.

A Northamptonshire man destroyed his garage and badly injured himself at the weekend while attempting to make biodiesel from used cooking oil. A devastating explosion levelled the makeshift reprocessing plant on Saturday afternoon, when sparks from an electric drill being used to mix ingredients ignited explosive vapours.

Firemen hastened to deal with the smoking wreckage, in Middleton Cheney, and the unnamed thrifty motorist was airlifted to hospital with 20 per cent burns.

"Firefighters would like to urge members of the public to take extreme caution if undertaking such chemical mixtures in their own homes," said a statement from the Oxfordshire fire brigade, quoted by the BBC.

The injured biodiesel fancier reportedly made motor fuel from used cooking oil obtained from his local Chinese takeaway. Such oil can often be used in diesel vehicles without preparation, but this will typically knacker the engine in short order. It is normal to treat the oil with alcohol and other ingredients before use, and this process was apparently underway when the mishap occurred.

The explosion would most probably have been caused initially by alcohol fumes building up in the garage, a process likely enhanced by the hot weather this weekend. Open-air - or at least better-ventilated - biodiesel manufacture might have been wiser.

Home biofuel making is legal and tax-free to the amount of 2,500 litres per annum. With so much of the pump price of fuel being duty, such an effort is becoming more and more worthwhile to motorists as fuel costs soar. Quite apart from the risk of a devastating garage or garden-shed explosion, however - and the chance of then being mistaken for a terrorist - care is needed to avoid engine damage. ®

Orangutans concoct plant-based soothing balm


Great apes show medicinal savvy
By Lester Haines → More by this author
Published Monday 28th July 2008 14:17 GMT
Nail down your security priorities. Ask the experts and your peers at The Register Security Debate, September 24 2008.

Indonesian wild orangutans have demonstrated a certain degree of medicinal savvy by deploying naturally-occuring anti-inflammatory drugs to "treat aches and pains", as the New Scientist puts it.

Four of the Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) were spotted by Cambridge University primatologist Helen Morrogh-Bernard in the Sabangau Peat Swamp Forest in Central Kalimantan preparing a "soothing balm".

Back in 2005, Morrogh-Bernard watched as an adult female picked a handful of leaves from a plant, chewed them, and used saliva to produce a green-white lather. She then "scooped up some of the lather with her right hand and applied it up and down the back of her left arm, from the base of the shoulder to the wrist, just as a person would apply sunscreen".

Morrogh-Bernard noted: "She was concentrating on her arm only and was methodical in the way she was applying the soapy foam. I knew this must be some form of self-medication."

The orangutan finally ditched the leaves, which allowed Morrogh-Bernard to identify them as belonging to the genus Commelina. Significantly, orangutans don't eat these plants as part of their normal diet, and local indigenous people are also aware of their anti-inflammatory properties.

Morrogh-Bernard has since clocked three other orangutans using their home-brew balm, saying it "links apes and humans directly". While she said the former "may not have learnt how to apply the anti-inflammatory ointment from local people", the opposite may be true.

Morrogh-Bernard's findings are published in the International Journal of Primatology. ®

maandag 28 juli 2008

From gods to God



Aardig filmpje waarin duidelijk wordt hoeveel het christendom van het heiden dom heeft overgenomen.

zondag 27 juli 2008

Grateful Dead; Ripple



Lekker relaxede muziek voor op een zomerse zondag

vrijdag 25 juli 2008

Kunstacademie voor autisten in Nijmegen

NIJMEGEN - In Nijmegen gaat op 1 september een speciale academie voor beeldende kunst en vormgeving van start voor jongeren met een autistische stoornis. De UNIT academie begint met zestien leerlingen in de leeftijd van 18 tot 22 jaar.

Initiatiefnemer is muziektherapeut en sociaal pedagoog Paul Kroon, die ook persoonlijk ervaring heeft met de betrokken groep jongeren. ''Onze leerlingen zijn normaal of zelfs bovennormaal intelligente kinderen met een kunstzinnig talent. Maar door hun stoornis is er op gewone opleidingen voor hen onvoldoende tijd en deskundigheid in huis'', zegt hij.

De UNIT academie is niet uitsluitend bedoeld voor jongeren met een autistische aandoening, al heeft Kroon tot nu toe alleen uit die hoek aanmeldingen ontvangen. ''Ook andere jongeren die er buiten hun schuld niet in zijn geslaagd een gewoon schooldiploma te halen en daardoor niet naar een reguliere kunstopleiding kunnen, zijn welkom'', aldus de initiatiefnemer. Iedereen moet toelatingsexamen doen om te bezien of er voldoende talent aanwezig is.

De nieuwe academie beschikt over een tiental docenten, die ook aan andere kunstopleidingen les geven en die veelal zelf ook beeldend kunstenaar zijn. Ze besteden lessen extra aandacht aan geordend werken met afgebakende taken, wat voor autistische mensen vaak een probleem is. Kroon: ''Maar uiteraard moeten onze leerlingen zelf ook wel sociale vaardigheden in huis hebben, anders is het onbegonnen werk.

De studenten komen uit het hele land volgens Kroon. Op kamers gaan wonen is voor de meesten nog niet haalbaar. Een aantal leerlingen heeft onderdak gevonden in een speciaal logeerhuis en anderen maken gebruik van begeleide kamerbewoning. Daarnaast zijn wat gastgezinnen gevonden, maar daarvan zou Kroon er graag meer hebben.

De particuliere kunstopleiding duurt twee jaar met een uitloop naar drie jaar en kost 3500 euro per jaar. Kroon wil niet meer dan hooguit achttien studenten per leerjaar aannemen om de groep overzichtelijk te houden. (ANP)

Dit is goed nieuws! Ik hoop dat dit een succes wordt! Ik hoop dat dit mensen leert inzien dat autisten gewone mensen zijn met een handicap die soms lastig is en soms voordelen met zich meebrengt. Ik hoop ook dat het mensen doet inzien dat autisten niet per se nerds zijn die alleen verstand hebben van bijvoorbeeld computers. Ik hoop dat er nog eens een beroemde kunstenaar van deze academie komt. Succes!

donderdag 24 juli 2008

Children hardwired for empathy, say brain researchers

Last Updated: Friday, July 11, 2008 | 12:13 AM ET Comments13Recommend20
CBC News

Children aged seven to 12 appear naturally inclined to feel empathy for others in pain, suggests a recent brain scan study.

University of Chicago researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine responses in children to animated photos of people experiencing pain, either inflicted accidentally or intentionally.

Previous MRI scans of adults show that the regions of the brain that process first-hand experience of pain light up when shown each type of photo. In addition, scans show activity in areas of the brain linked to social interaction and moral reasoning when adults see images of someone intentionally hurting another person.

But since there have been no MRI studies of children's developing brains, it was unknown whether the same two areas would light up.

The researchers reasoned that if those areas did in fact show activity —especially those areas linked to social interaction and moral reasoning — it would suggest children are born empathetic and that it is not entirely due to their upbringing.

Researchers showed 17 children animated photos of people in pain. The group included nine girls and eight boys.

The images of non-intentional pain showed a person accidentally dropping a heavy bowl on their hand. Images of deliberately caused pain showed a person purposely stepping on another's toe.

The study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia on Friday, showed that when the children saw animations of someone who was either accidentally or purposefully hurt, the parts of their brain that process first-hand experience of pain lit up, just as they did in adults.

More importantly, when shown photos of people intentionally hurt, the children's brains showed activity in those areas engaged in social interaction and moral reasoning.

"It is thus worth emphasizing that the regions selectively associated with the perception of an agent harming the other belong to the neural systems underlying moral thinking," wrote lead author Jean Decety.

"Although our study did not tap into explicit moral judgment, perceiving an individual intentionally harming another person is likely to elicit the awareness of moral wrongdoing in the observer."

Subsequent interviews with the children showed they were in fact aware of wrongdoing in the photos.

"Thirteen of the children thought that the situations were unfair, and they asked about the reason that could explain this behaviour," Decety said in a news release.

He concludes that programming for empathy is something that is "hardwired" into the brains of normal children, and not entirely the product of parental guidance or other nurturing.

Decety said he hopes other researchers can build on his study to help understand how brain impairments influence anti-social behavior, such as bullying.

woensdag 23 juli 2008

Savage Stands by Autism Remarks

by Jacques Steinberg

NEW YORK - Michael Savage, the incendiary radio host who last week characterized nearly every child with autism as “a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out,” said in a telephone interview on Monday that he stood by his remarks and had no intention of apologizing to those advocates and parents who have called for his firing over the matter.

“My main point remains true,” Mr. Savage, whose radio audience ranks in size behind only those of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, said in the interview. “It is an overdiagnosed medical condition. In my readings, there is no definitive medical diagnosis for autism.”

On the July 16 installment of his program, which is broadcast every weekday, Mr. Savage suggested that “99 percent of the cases” of autism were a result of lax parenting. He told his audience: “They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life.’ ” Among the other admonitions he felt children with autism should be hearing, he said, were: ” ‘Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’ ”

Asked Monday if he actually believed that 99 out of every 100 cases of autism were misdiagnosed, Mr. Savage conceded that figure was “a little high.” He added, “It was hyperbole.”

But he said he was proud to have prodded discussion on the subject, and planned to give over his entire show on Monday - broadcast live from Northern California from 3 to 6 p.m., Pacific time - to parents and other callers who wished to disagree with him and to educate him.

While Mr. Savage’s program is heard on more than 350 stations nationally, his comments on autism were widely disseminated via e-mail on Friday by Media Matters for America, an advocacy group that dedicates itself, at least in part, to “correcting conservative misinformation in the media.”

Some critics were not inclined to wait until Monday’s edition of Mr. Savage’s show, “The Savage Nation,” to register their disagreement with him.

Late Monday afternoon, Aflac, the insurance company, announced it was withdrawing all advertising from Mr. Savage’s show. “We understand that radio hosts pick on any number of targets,” Laura Kane, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement, before adding that Aflac considered “his recent comments about autistic children to be both inappropriate and insensitive.”

In New York City, Autism United, a coalition of organizations that advocate on behalf of children with autism and provide services to them, staged a protest Monday outside the studios of WOR (710 AM), which carries Mr. Savage’s program weeknights from 6 to 9 p.m., Eastern time.

“He characterizes children with autism who are very, very ill - disabled children - as essentially bad kids; the only thing wrong with them is they have parents who don’t discipline them,” said John Gilmore, executive director of Autism United and the father of an 8-year-old with a diagnosis of autism. “That completely misrepresents what is going on with children with autism.”

“Basically, what he’s doing is parroting what used to be said about autism 40 years ago, back in the heyday of Freudian analysis,” Mr. Gilmore added. “It was blamed on bad parenting. There wasn’t a shred of evidence to support that.”

Paul Siebold, a spokesman for WOR, said in an e-mail statement: “The views expressed by Michael Savage are his views and are not those of WOR Radio. We regret any consternation that his remarks may have caused to our listeners.”

Mark Masters, the chief executive of Talk Radio Network, which syndicates Mr. Savage’s program and which extended his contract in February, did not respond to several messages left at his office Monday morning.

Catherine Lord, an expert on autism who is a visiting professor in the child study center at New York University, said that beneath Mr. Savage’s overheated rhetoric was a kernel of truth: that some children are saddled with an autism diagnosis by default, when they seem to fit in no other category. But far more often, she said, children who have autism are given a misdiagnosis of having something else. And she said she feared that Mr. Savage’s ill-informed comments could wind up being harmful.

“Any tendency to blame the children or to think they’re just being bratty if they misbehave perpetuates the myth that autism isn’t a learning disability,” she said. “It’s a neurobiological condition, just like epilepsy or another medical condition like diabetes or a heart condition. It would be like blaming the child with a heart condition for not being able to exercise.”

© 2008 The New York Times

Deze meneer Savage is duidelijk een onverbeterlijke idioot. Ik vrees alleen dat hij genoeg luisteraars heeft die net zo min verstand hebben van autisme die zich door het geblaat van meneer in hun vooroordelen bevestigd zien. Ik weet nog maar al te goed dat mijn moeder de schuld in haar schoenen geschoven kreeg voor mijn handicap toen ik een kind was in de jaren zeventig. Sinds de jaren negentig is er een groeiend bewustzijn rond stoornissen als autisme. Ik kan me voorstellen dat dit niet doordringt tot neanderthalers als meneer Savage. Ik vraag me alleen af waarom zoiets zendtijd krijgt.

Kat speelt piano (2)



Wie dit ziet kan er niet aan twijfelen dat katten intelligente dieren zijn.

dinsdag 22 juli 2008

Scientists ponder future Moon mission activities


One of these days, Alice...
By Austin Modine in Mountain View, California, Earth → More by this author
Published Monday 21st July 2008 22:35 GMT
Nail down your security priorities. Ask the experts and your peers at The Register Security Debate, September 24 2008.

A clever fellow once observed that the Moon is a harsh mistress. Humanity's subsequent jaunts up to the place indicated it was a pretty solid hypothesis. The Ritz-Carlton it is not.

Now NASA has the vision of not only returning astronauts back to the orbital dustball in 2020, but establishing a long-term moon base there. Needless to say, there's plenty of arrangements to be made before the moonbuggy pulls into 555 South Pole-Aitken Basin Avenue.

That's why nearly 500 scientists and amateur lunar lovers from gave gathered for an Earth-side conference this week at NASA/Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. The first annual Lunar Science Conference aims to discuss what kind of science should be done for our species' return to the moon.

"This is going to open a new era of scientific understanding," said NASA/AMES Director Simon 'Pete' Worden at the conference opening. "We will learn how we can live on another world."

The conference is organized by the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), a fledgling NASA-funded organization made to supplement and extend existing lunar science programs.

NLSI is modeled on the successful NASA Astrobiology Institute, meaning it's a partnership between the US space department and other independent research organizations across the nation working together to help lead research activities.

The institute plans to initially fund about seven competitively selected team investigations in October that will focus on one or more aspects of lunar science. According to Dave Morrison, NLSI interim director, the teams will initially receive between $1m to $2m budgets per year.

"NASA doesn't guarantee funding," warned Morrison. "But we anticipate the same level for four years."

The organization will specialize in utilizing data rather than building the instruments to probe the moon. "We are going to focus on research and the training aspect," said Morrison. It also plans to be the rallying banner for public interest in future moon missions.

While scientists get excited over things like extraterrestrial botanics, applications of lunar dust, and protecting humanity from meteor impacts this week, it's also a celebration of the 39th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon.

"We're going back, and this time we're going to stay," said Worden. "This will begin the next step of settling the solar system." ®

Kat speelt piano (1)



Wat zijn katten toch leuk! Ze hebben allemaal hun leuke rare dingen. Dat is een van de redenen waarom ik mijn kat zo mis.

maandag 21 juli 2008

Simpsons; creationism vs evolution

MEP calls for EU ban on cigarettes by 2025




LEIGH PHILLIPS EU Observer

18.07.2008 @ 19:31 CET

An Irish MEP has called for a total ban on tobacco products across the European Union within 15 years.

Avril Doyle, head of the Irish faction within the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), on Tuesday told a Brussels conference on how to prevent the tobacco industry from lobbying EU politicians that she wants cigarettes and cigars illegal in Europe by 2025.




"I would be happy to see a long-term target date, say 2025, when it would be illegal to sell tobacco products in the EU," she said to an applauding crowd of parliamentarians and global health experts.

"That would give them 15 years' notice for all our citizens to realise just how serious we are about not allowing their continued sale in the EU, and hopefully elsewhere," she added.

Ms Doyle, who sits on the steering committee of the EPP, the largest political group in the EU assembly, organised the conference, which was tasked with developing ways for the EU to comply with what anti-smoking campaigners call the most important article of the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Article 5.3, which requires its signatories to prevent lobbying by tobacco companies on any public health policies.

The current EU health commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, also in attendance, declared to the audience of health professionals and anti-smoking campaigners: "I am ready to commit today to not accept any invitation coming from the tobacco industry or those working in its interests so long as I hold office."

She said she expects a European Commission and member state decision on how to implement the article to be achieved by September, adding: "It wouldn't make much sense if only the commission acted in this way," and called on other public bodies to not talk to tobacco lobbyists either.

Talk of banning tobacco and tobacco lobbyists came as the commission unveiled plans to make Europeans pay a lot more for cigarettes by hiking excise taxes.

The commission wants to harmonise tobacco taxes across Europe in order to discourage smoking and clamp down on smuggling.

zondag 20 juli 2008

Hoax theory pushes limits of believability

Posted on Thu, Jul. 17, 2008
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BY FRED GRIMM
fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com
Related Content



A hoax. A scam. ''Grossly exaggerated.'' A conspiracy cooked up by dishonest researchers. ''Public hysteria'' stirred up by a lying media.

And then there's Al Gore.

Bill Gray, the famous old-school hurricane forecaster, has recast himself as the Don Quixote of weather guys on a lonely crusade against big media, Al Gore and climate scientists with their half-baked notions about global warming.

SCIENTISTS DISMISSED

The quarrelsome polemic he delivered at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science bristled with unkind portrayals of global warming believers. He dismissed an overwhelming consensus among the world's climate scientists as the product of mendacious researchers who know what they have to say to get a grant.

You want to believe. After all, Bill Gray's the kind of non-conformist we love here in the big media. Here's this tall, grandfatherly rebel taking pokes at the establishment. A 78-year-old fighter who uses tough language and personal insults. He's a journalist's dream.

Gray said the climate change ruckus reminded him of the tactics employed by Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. And he told the UM crowd that modern day McCarthyites in lab coats had blacklisted him. He said that ''after Al Gore became vice president,'' he couldn't get a grant. You want to believe. Although, Al Gore hasn't been vice president for more than seven years and the current administration has been famously hostile to global warming alarmists.

And for someone the scientific community and the media has tried to silence, Gray has garnered a hell of a lot of attention. He has testified before Congress and given variations of his talk: ''We Are Not in a Climate Crisis,'' across the country. With lots of press coverage. A Nexis search using the search terms ''William Gray and global warming'' turns up more than 1,000 articles. Gray, the outcast, has heroic status with the conservative press and think tanks.

And there he was Tuesday at UM, at an open forum organized by NOAA, railing once again about the conspiracy against truth.

DAUNTING LIST

You want to believe. Except the list of the world's climate scientists who've joined this supposed conspiracy has become quite daunting. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in May offered the strongest statement yet: claiming a 90 percent certainty that . . . well . . . that Bill Gray is just wrong about global warming.

Gray blames this stuff on computer modeling (where the grant money goes), which fails to account for all the complexities in the atmosphere. Gray, old school, a pioneer in hurricane science, has always relied on empirical evidence for his long-range forecasts. You'd like to believe. It's a modern version of John Henry versus the steam drill -- old scientist triumphs over the soulless computers. Though it would help if his empirical hurricane forecasts hadn't been so far off the last two years.

It would also help if Gray had published his theories in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

And you'd like to believe Gray mostly because if he's right, sea levels won't rise and our kids won't cook.

You want to believe this cantankerous old man -- no matter what all those other scientists say. We could go on burning fossil fuels until hell freezes over.

Clay minerals point to vast Martian lakes Water, water, everywhere

NASA's image of the Jerezo Crater shows that "ancient rivers ferried clay-like minerals (shown in green) into the lake, forming the delta":


By Lester Haines → More by this author
Published Thursday 17th July 2008 09:10 GMT
Nail down your security priorities. Ask the experts and your peers at The Register Security Debate, September 24 2008.

A study published today in Nature indicates that large swathes of the ancient Martian highlands, comprising about half the planet, contain clay-like minerals which can only form in the presence of water, demonstrating that the Red Planet once hosted "vast lakes, flowing rivers and a variety of other wet environments that had the potential to support life", as NASA puts it.

Said minerals, called phyllosilicates, were spied by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) and other instruments aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. They "preserve a record of the interaction of water with rocks dating back to what is called the Noachian period of Mars' history, approximately 4.6bn to 3.8bn years ago", and while they were buried by subsequent volcanic activity during drier periods, impact craters have exposed them to view.

John Mustard, a member of the CRISM team from Brown University, and lead author of the Nature study, explained: "The minerals present in Mars' ancient crust show a variety of wet environments. In most locations the rocks are lightly altered by liquid water, but in a few locations they have been so altered that a great deal of water must have flushed though the rocks and soil. This is really exciting because we're finding dozens of sites where future missions can land to understand if Mars was ever habitable and if so, to look for signs of past life."

The latest results back an earlier CRISM study published in the 2 June issue of Nature Geosciences which demonstrated that Mars was not awash with water, but that the liquid was present on the surface during some considerable time.

A close look at a northern-Mars impact basin called the Jezero Crater using the CRISM and High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment identified "three principal classes of water-related minerals dating to the early Noachian period", viz: aluminum-phyllosilicates; hydrated silica or opal; and the more common and widespread iron/magnesium-phyllosilicates. Significantly, the variations in the minerals "suggest that different processes, or different types of watery environments, created them".

NASA elaborates: "Thousands to millions of years after the clays formed, a system of river channels eroded them out of the highlands and concentrated them in a delta where the river emptied into a crater lake slightly larger than California's Lake Tahoe, approximately 25 miles in diameter."




Bethany Ehlmann, another member of the CRISM team from Brown and lead author of the Jerezo study, concluded: "The distribution of clays inside the ancient lakebed shows that standing water must have persisted for thousands of years. Clays are wonderful at trapping and preserving organic matter, so if life ever existed in this region, there's a chance of its chemistry being preserved in the delta." ®

Simon's cat; TV Dinner



Erg grappig! Mijn kat vertoonde precies dit gedrag. Wat ik niet snap is dat Simon zijn kat niet aait. Het beest doet duidelijk alles om aandacht te krijgen.

zaterdag 19 juli 2008

Veel inschrijvingen voor autistenschool

van onze redactie binnenland Nederlands Dagblad
LELYSTAD - Kinderen met een autistische stoornis kunnen vanaf volgend schooljaar speciaal havo- of vwo-onderwijs volgen aan het Aurum College in Lelystad. Bijzonder is dat ze de vakken Nederlands, Engels en Wiskunde thuis volgen via internet. De belangstelling ervoor is groot: na de zomer start de nieuwe formule met 44 leerlingen, verdeeld over drie klassen.

Leren op afstand is voor autisten zinvol omdat het voor hen vaak lastig is klassikaal onderwijs te volgen. Op deze manier kan iedere deelnemer zijn eigen programma volgen dat hem klaarstoomt voor een staatsexamen. Vakken als handenarbeid en lichamelijke opvoeding worden wel op school gegeven.

Voor het leren op afstand is de expertise van de Wereldschool gebruikt, die al jaren onderwijs via internet aanbiedt aan Nederlandse kinderen in het buitenland. Met hulp van de onderwijsinstelling Eduvier, die veel ervaring heeft met lesgeven aan kinderen met gedragsstoornissen, is de aanpak van de Wereldschool aangepast voor kinderen met autisme. Volgens Emil Roelofs, directeur van de Wereldschool, was het aantal inschrijvingen zo groot dat niet iedereen kan worden bediend. ,,Dat laat onze capaciteit niet toe'', aldus Roelofs.

De Wereldschool doet steeds meer binnen Nederland. Chronisch zieke kinderen krijgen via internet toch onderwijs op maat, ook al zijn ze niet in staat om klassikale lessen bij te wonen. ,,De ervaring die wij de laatste zestig jaar hebben opgedaan, kunnen we voor deze doelgroep goed gebruiken'', zegt Roelofs.

Simon's cat 'Let me in"



Nog een keer Simon's cat. Ik kan, een dag na dat ik mijn kat heb laten inslapen, niet anders dan tot de conclusie komen dat een huis zonder kat een leeg huis is.

vrijdag 18 juli 2008

Simon's cat;Cat Man Do



Vandaag heb ik mijn kat moeten laten inslapen. Ze was achttien jaar oud en helemaal op. Ze had diabetes en haar nieren functioneerden niet goed meer. Daarnaast werd ze dement. Het lukte haar niet meer om fatsoenlijk haar behoefte te doen op de bak. Het was dus het beste om haar te laten gaan. Toch doet het veel pijn dat mijn lieve Klumsie er niet meer is. Deze humor die voor elke kattenliefhebber herkenbaar is helpt me om mijn verdriet een beetje te verwerken.

donderdag 17 juli 2008

Foppe overwoog boycot Spelen



[''Wat kan mij het schelen. Ik ga niet'', was Foppe's eerste reactie na het lezen van een artikel
over de mensenrechtensituatie in China.
NES - Foppe de Haan heeft in mei serieus overwogen de Olympische Spelen in Peking te boycotten. De bondscoach van de Nederlandse voetbalselectie liet dat woensdag weten in een interview in het Friesch Dagblad. ''Wat kan mij het schelen. Ik ga niet'', zei De Haan destijds na het lezen van een artikel in een landelijk dagblad over de mensenrechtensituatie in China.

In het betreffende artikel las De Haan dat China aan rassenvermenging doet om controle over de almaar groeiende bevolkingsgroepen te houden. Vruchtbare meisjes uit een deel dat grenst aan Rusland worden weggehaald en geruild met meisjes uit een centraal deel van het land. ''Dat is precies wat Hitler ook wilde'', aldus De Haan. ''Nederlanders vermengen met Polen en andersom. Hoe bestaat zoiets, vraag je jezelf af.'' (ANP)

woensdag 16 juli 2008

NEW YORKER'S COVER When hysteria and satire meet



Posted on Wed, Jul. 16, 2008
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By LEONARD PITTS JR.
lpitts@miamiherald.com

``I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled . . . ''

-- Jonathan Swift,

A Modest Proposal, 1729
Satire is tricky. It makes its point by exaggerating wildly with a straight face. In inflating a thing beyond all common sense or propriety, it seeks to render inconsistencies and hypocrisies glaringly apparent. Satire seeks truth in the ridiculous. For illustration, see any given episode of The Colbert Report.

What makes satire difficult is that sometimes, people don't realize they are being had. Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal, for instance, had some convinced he wanted to eat babies; they didn't realize he was actually attacking people's blithe unconcern with the plight of the poor. For that matter, when All In the Family came along 2 ½ centuries later, some folks saw Archie as the soul of reason.

I have experience in this. Some years back, I satirized a study that said many Americans feel news media routinely get the facts wrong. In a column ''defending'' media accuracy, I made misstatements so grandiose -- Bob Hope was host of the Tonight Show; Quincy Jones was his bandleader -- I thought no one could miss my point.

Silly me. I got hundreds of e-mails ''correcting'' my supposed errors.'

So I feel the New Yorker's pain. The magazine is under fire for a cover illustration depicting Barack Obama in the Oval Office wearing a turban, bumping fists with his wife, Michelle, who wears an Afro, fatigues and has an assault rifle slung over her shoulder. Osama bin Laden watches from a portrait on the wall. An American flag burns in the fireplace.

A touch of ridiculousness

The Obama and McCain campaigns have pronounced the cover offensive. There have been calls for a boycott.

Me, I like the cover. It strikes me as an incisive comment on the fear mongering that has attended Obama's run for the presidency. Still, I understand why it is incendiary: some of us will take it seriously.

To be effective, satire needs a situation it can inflate into ridiculousness. But the hysteria surrounding Obama has nowhere to go; it is already ridiculous. In just the last few days, we've had Jesse Jackson threatening to castrate him and John McLaughlin calling him an ``Oreo.''

Add to that the whispers about Obama's supposed Muslim heritage (not that there's anything wrong with that), the ''terrorist'' implications of bumping fists, and Michelle Obama's purported use of the term ''whitey'' (a word no black person has uttered since The Jeffersons went off the air in 1985), and it's clear that ''ridiculous'' has become our default status. What once were punchlines now are headlines.

So, as absurd, as over the top, as utterly outlandish as the New Yorker image strikes the more sophisticated among us, there is a large fringe out there for whom it will represent nothing more or less than the sum of their fears.

Indeed, as I sat down to write these words, there beeped into my mailbox an e-mail with this subject line: ''WOW, The New Yorker got it exactly right, for once.'' Said without a trace of irony.

But increasingly, that's who we are in this country: ignorant, irony-impaired and petrified. So maybe we should just cancel the campaign and ask that the last intelligent person turn off the lights when he or she leaves. And bring the last book with you. Nobody here will need it.

Somewhere between the stained blue dress and the vice president shooting a guy in the face, between swift boat lies and ''war on terra'' alibis, the absurd became the ordinary, facts became optional and satire became superfluous.

We are beyond satire, my friends. These days, there's nothing more ridiculous than the truth.

zondag 13 juli 2008

vrijdag 11 juli 2008

Why Religion Must End

By Laura Sheahen, Beliefnet
Posted on May 16, 2006, Printed on July 10, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/36195/
Sam Harris is not your grandfather's atheist. The award-winning writer practices Zen meditation and believes in the value of mystical experiences. But he's adamant in his belief that religion does more harm than good in the world, and has sparked controversy by suggesting that when it comes to faith-based violence, religious moderates are part of the problem, not the solution.

Laura Sheahen spoke with him about his provocative book "The End of Faith" and his comments at the World Congress of Secular Humanism, where this interview was conducted.

Laura Sheahen: You've said that nonbelievers must try to convince religious
people "of the illegitimacy of their core beliefs." Why are these beliefs
dangerous?

Sam Harris: On the subject of religious belief, we relax standards of
reasonableness and evidence that we rely on in every other area of our lives. We relax so totally that people believe the most ludicrous propositions, and are willing to organize their lives around them. Propositions like "Jesus is going to come back in the next fifty years and rectify every problem that human beings create"--or, in the Muslim world, "death in the right circumstances leads directly to Paradise." These beliefs are not very contaminated with good evidence.

LS: There are beliefs--like kids believing in the tooth fairy--that I wouldn't say are dangerous.

SH: Right. Those are not as consequential. But this whole style of believing and talking about beliefs leaves us powerless to overcome our differences from one another. We have Christians against Muslims against Jews, and no matter how
liberal your theology, merely identifying yourself as a Christian or a Jew lends
tacit validity to this status quo. People have morally identified with a subset
of humanity rather than with humanity as a whole.

LS: You're saying we should be part of the human race, not part of any
particular religious or national group?

SH: Yeah. It is still fashionable to believe that how you organize yourself
religiously in this life may matter for eternity. Unless we can erode the
prestige of that kind of thinking, we're not going to be able to undermine these
divisions in our world.

To speak specifically of our problem with the Muslim world, we are meandering
into a genuine clash of civilizations, and we're deluding ourselves with
euphemisms. We're talking about Islam being a religion of peace that's been
hijacked by extremists. If ever there were a religion that's not a religion of
peace, it is Islam.

LS: If 9/11 hadn't happened, what would be the example atheists would point
to--another egregious, contemporary misuse of religion?

SH:There are so many. Let's take the extreme case, honor killing in the Muslim
world. Imagine the psychology of a man who, upon hearing that his daughter was
raped, is inspired not to console her, not to seek immediate medical and
psychological treatment for her, but to kill her. This is an honor-based,
shame-based psychology. You cannot name a Muslim country to my knowledge where
it doesn't happen. It even happens in the suburbs of Paris. It falls right out
of the theology of Islam.

LS: What are some problems with Judaism and Christianity?

SH: There is no text more barbaric than the Old Testament of the Bible--books
like Deuteronomy and Leviticus and Exodus. The Qur'an pales in comparison.

LS: Richard Dawkins, a vocal atheist, has said the Old Testament God is a
"psychotic monster."

SH: Not only is the character of God diabolical in those books, but there are
explicit prescriptions for how to live that are not metaphors; they are not open
to theological judo. God just comes right out and says "stone people" for a list
of offenses so preposterous and all-encompassing that the killing never stops.
You have to kill people for working on the Sabbath. You kill people for
fornication.

LS: Doesn't the evidence show that people take their sacred texts with a grain
of salt?

SH: That's the point: in the West, we have delivered the salt. Obviously, people
are no longer burning heretics alive in our public squares and that's a good
thing. We in the West have suffered a sufficient confrontation with modernity,
secular politics, and scientific culture so that even fundamentalist Christians
and Orthodox Jews can't really live by the letter of their religious texts.

We now cherry-pick the good parts. That's easier to do with the Bible because
the Bible is such a big book and it's so self-contradictory; you can use parts
of it to repudiate other parts of it. Unfortunately, the Qur'an is a much
shorter and more unified message.

But you ask me what the scariest things are in Christianity: this infatuation
with biblical prophecy and this notion that Jesus is going to come back as an
avenging savior to kill all the bad people.

LS: Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that Christians believe that Jesus is
going to come back, period? They don't necessarily believe that he's going to
come back as an avenging person to kill people.

SH: One of the things that is overlooked by many Christians is that there is a
wrathful Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus comes out and condemns whole towns to
fates worse than Sodom and Gomorrah for not liking his preaching. You can find
Jesus in some very foul moods.

Look at the theology of the "Left Behind" series of novels and all the religious
extremists in our culture who describe a Jesus coming back with a sword and
punishing those who haven't lived in his name.

Cherry-picking is a good thing and it's to be hoped that Muslims will eventually
cherry-pick as well. But the Qur'an, virtually on every page, is a manifesto for
religious intolerance. I invite readers of your website who haven't read the
Qur'an to simply read the book. Take out a highlighter and highlight those lines
that counsel the believer to despise infidels, and you will find a book that is
just covered with highlighter.

LS: Let's return to your idea that people must be convinced of the "danger and
illegitimacy" of their core beliefs. How can they be convinced?

SH: It's a difficult problem because people are highly indisposed to having
their core beliefs challenged. But we need to lift the taboos that currently
prevent us from criticizing religious irrationality.

LS: How do you bring it up, and in what context? At a party?

SH: I'm not advocating that people challenge everyone's religious beliefs
wherever they appear. In a crowded elevator, if someone mentions Jesus and you
start barking at them, that's not really the front line of discourse.

Whenever you're standing at a podium or publishing a book or article or an
op-ed, that's when it's time to be really rigorous about the standards of
evidence.

Interpersonally, we don't challenge everyone's crazy beliefs about medical
therapies or alien abduction or astrology or anything else. Yet if the president
of the U.S. started talking about how Saturn was coming into the wrong quadrant
and is therefore not a good time to launch a war, one would hope that the whole
White House press corps would descend on him with a straitjacket. This would be
terrifying--to hear somebody with so much power basing any part of his
decision-making process on something as disreputable as astrology. Yet we don't
have the same response when he's clearly basing some part of his deliberation on
faith.

LS: Many people consider America to have been founded as a Christian nation.
They think many of the Founding Fathers were specifically Christian and very
religious, whereas many secularists argue they weren't. You've said the issue is
a dead end.

SH: I just think that it's the wrong battle to fight. Even if the [Founding
Fathers] were as religious or deranged by their religiosity as the Taliban,
their beliefs now are illegitimate. Secularists are on the right side of the
debate and fundamentalists in our culture are distorting history. The Founding
Fathers--many believed that slavery was a justifiable practice; we now agree
that it's an abomination. Anyone trying to resurrect slavery because Thomas
Jefferson, that brilliant man, didn't free the slaves--that's an argument that
would be so appalling to us now, in terms of 20th century morality.

LS: You've said the First Amendment is insufficient to protect against
encroachments of religion. What would you do to supplement what the First
Amendment does?

SH: I'm not eager to monkey with the Constitution. It has to happen at the level
of popular, grassroots expectations of what it means to be a rational,
well-educated human being.

LS: You've said that people perceive the word "atheist" as along the lines of
"child molester." How should atheists present themselves?

SH: I'm very distrustful of finding the right label because labels are
ultimately sloganeering. You had the label the "brights," which is stillborn. I
think atheism and secularism are also names that ultimately we don't need. We
don't need a name for disbelief in astrology. I don't think we need anything
other that rationality and reason and intellectual honesty.

In our society, people are rewarded for pretending to be certain about things
they're clearly not certain about. You cannot have presidential aspirations
without being willing to pretend to be certain that God exists. You have to
pander to the similar convictions of 90% of the American population. 70% of
Americans claim to feel that it is important that their president be strongly
religious. No aspiring politician can fly in the face of those numbers now, so
we are rewarding people for false certainty, false conviction.

Clearly, anyone who claims to be certain that Jesus was literally born of a
virgin is lying. He's either lying to himself or he's lying to others. There's
no experience you have praying in church that can deliver certainty on that
specific point.

LS: You're saying it's not verifiable.

SH: It's just not the kind of thing that spiritual experience validates. You can
pray in a room to Jesus and even have an experience of Jesus being bodily
present. Jesus shows up with a whole halo and the beard and the robes and it's
the best experience of your life. What does that prove? You wouldn't even be in
the position to know whether the historical Jesus actually had a beard on the
basis of that experience.

Yet one thing I argue in my book is that experiences like that are very
interesting and worth exploring. There's no doubt that people have visionary
experiences.

There's no doubt that praying to Jesus for 18 hours a day will transform your
psychology--and in many ways, transform it for the better. I just think that we
don't have to believe anything preposterous in order to understand that. [We
can] value the example of Jesus, at least in half his moods, and we should want
to discover if there's a way to love your neighbor as yourself and generate the
kind of moral psychology that Jesus was talking about.

LS: What is your response to people who like science, who agree with it, but who
say "It's not enough, it doesn't satisfy me, I need more?"

SH: With religious moderates, you have people talking about just wanting meaning
in their lives, which I argue is a total non-sequitur when it comes down to
justifying your belief in God.

If I told you that I thought there was a diamond the size of a refrigerator
buried in my backyard, and you asked me, why do you think that? I say, this
belief gives my life meaning, or my family draws a lot of joy from this belief,
and we dig for this diamond every Sunday and we have this gigantic pit in our
lawn. I would start to sound like a lunatic to you. You can't believe there
really is a diamond in your backyard because it gives your life meaning. If
that's possible, that's self-deception that nobody wants.

LS: What if people prefer self-deception to despair and chaos?

SH: I would argue that is really not the alternative.

LS: What is the alternative? If there's no God who orders things, some people
would say there's chaos, it's all random, their life is meaningless. There
really is despair out there--especially about evolution.

SH: You don't have to believe in God to have the most extraordinary, mystical
experience. Personally, I've spent two years on meditation retreats just
meditating in silence for 12-18 hours a day.

You can try to be a mystic, like Meister Eckhart in the Christian tradition,
without believing Jesus was born of a virgin. You can realize the value of
community and compassion and love of your neighbor without ever presupposing
anything on insufficient evidence.

There are many ironies here. The [sacred texts] themselves are very poor guides
to morality. The only way you find goodness in good books is because you
recognize it. They're based on your own ethical intuitions. In the New
Testament, Jesus is talking about the Golden Rule--a great, wise, compassionate
distillation of ethics. You're doing that based on your intuition.

Hopefully, also, you recognize that stoning someone to death for not being a
virgin on her wedding night, or beating your child with a rod, as it recommends
in Proverbs, and which millions of Christians do in our country, that's not a
good thing. You know that based on your own intuitions and the evolving human
conversation about what is ethical and most conducive to human happiness.

LS: You're saying that we can figure out moral, ethical behavior on our own,
without benefit of religious concepts.

SH: All we have is human conversation to do this with. Either you can be held
hostage by the human conversation that occurred 2,000 years ago and has been
enshrined in these books, or you can be open to the human conversation of the
21st century. And if there's something good in those books, then it is
admissible in the 21st century conversation on morality.

LS: Some people say the good that religion does outweighs the bad things they
get away with because they're religions.

SH: We can do all that good--and we are doing all that good--without any
affiliation with religion. It's true there are Christian missionaries doing very
fine work in Africa. There are secular groups like Doctors Without Borders doing
the same work. They don't need to believe in Jesus coming out of the clouds in
order to do that work.

It's not that people don't do good and heroic things on the basis of their
dogma, it's just those things aren't best done on the basis of religious dogma.
We can agree that famine in Africa is intolerable to us for perfectly
compassionate and rational and modern reasons that have nothing to do with
beliefs. We just have to believe that it is unethical that people are starving
to death while we are throwing out half of our meals.

This article appeared originally on www.beliefnet.com. Used with permission. All
rights reserved.

Laura Sheahen is Beliefnet's senior religion editor.

© 2008 Beliefnet All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/36195/
http://www.alternet.org/story/36195?page=entire&ses=ab7dc6e30b586a8d4a510b460aaa\
b161

donderdag 10 juli 2008

woensdag 9 juli 2008

COLOMBIAN RESCUE U.S. hostages take jabs at FARC



The three American hostages held for more than five years by Colombian rebels denounced their former captors.
Posted on Tue, Jul. 08, 2008
Miami Herald

BY SUSANA HAYWARD
Special to The Miami Herald
Former hostages Thomas Howes, left, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell make their first public comments about their ordeal in Colombia on Monday at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
GLORIA FERNIZ / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
Former hostages Thomas Howes, left, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell make their first public comments about their ordeal in Colombia on Monday at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.



FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas --
Clutching their children, siblings, spouses and parents amid tears and applause, three former American hostages held captive for more than five years denounced their rebel captors Monday as terrorists who kept them chained by their necks in the jungles of Colombia.

Their first public appearance since being released Wednesday was supposed to be brief, but South Florida resident Marc Gonsalves asked his Army hosts: ``May I please break with the program?''

Then he spoke emotionally about the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, that took him and two fellow U.S. government defense contractors captive in February 2003 after their plane went down while on an anti-narcotics mission.

''I want to tell you about the FARC,'' Gonsalves said, speaking first in English and then in Spanish. ``They say they want equality. They say they make Colombia a better place.

'It's a lie. They are terrorists with a capital `T.' ''

The three contractors -- Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell -- appeared at Brooke Army Medical Center, where they have been receiving medical and psychological attention since arriving in San Antonio after a daring rescue by the Colombian military.

The three addressed the media but took no questions at the afternoon gathering inside the auditorium of the medical center, festooned with yellow ribbons and American flags. They were flanked at all times by throngs of military personnel who kept the media away from them and their family members.

Dressed in civilian clothing and looking about 30 pounds thinner than when they were captured, they were supposed to make a brief statement thanking their families, the Colombian and U.S. governments and their employer, Northrop Grumman Corp., for their support.

But Gonsalves gave a lengthy an emotional address instead.

He characterized the rebels -- who have been battling the Colombian government for more than 40 years and continue to hold some 700 other captives -- as drug traffickers, extortionists and kidnappers who reject democracy and brainwash followers. He added that most of the FARC guerrillas are young, uneducated Colombians who can barely read or write.

''I've seen them hold a newborn baby hostage, a baby who needed medical care,'' the goateed Gonsalves said, speaking softly, his voice often cracking with emotion. ``There are people right now being held hostage. At this exact moment they are being punished. Right now, right now, they are wearing chains on their necks while guerrillas with automatic weapons are pointed at their necks.

''I myself, and my friend Tom and Keith, have also been victims of their hate, their abuse and their torture,'' he said. ``I have seen how even their own guerrillas commit suicide to avoid the slavery that FARC has committed them to.''

Howes, who turned 55 on Independence Day, was the first to speak and approached the microphone reluctantly, looking gaunt and overwhelmed in front of dozens of media representatives and military personnel.

''Almost 5 ½ years ago, I fell off the edge of the earth,'' he said. ``We are doing well but can't forget those left behind in captivity in the Colombian jungle.''

Stansell, 44, held up his 5-year-old sons, Nicolas and Keith Jr., both of whom he met for the first time over the weekend and kissed repeatedly. His Colombian fiancé, Patricia Medina, was pregnant when he was captured.

Smiling widely and giving a thumbs up, a visibly moved Stansell echoed his friends' sentiments, thanking his family, his employer and the Colombian and U.S. governments for his release.

''They are the reason I'm alive,'' he said.

The three are undergoing a voluntary reintegration process to return to normal life in a program administered by U.S. Army South that is based on the experiences of Vietnam POWs. Part of their reintegration process involves sharing and talking about their experience while in captivity.

''You never know how all this is going to play out,'' James Pitts, president of Northrop Grumman, said in a brief news conference after the three contractors left the auditorium. ``Our guys have shown a lot of valor and courage beyond any call of duty.''

It was not known how long the former hostages would remain at the medical center at Fort Sam Houston but military officials said it would be as long as they wanted and that it was completely voluntary. Pitts declined to discuss what the three had endured as hostages.

The head of their medical team, Col. Jackie Hayes, said all medical tests were concluded and that the three were in good health.

Col. Carl Dickens, the head psychologist, said the men's re-entry into normal life was akin to someone being in a dark room for long periods of time and then having a bright light suddenly shine on them.

Vrijheid Betancourt demasqué FARC

door onze redacteurJan van Benthem Nederlands Dagblad
Al snel na de spectaculaire bevrijding van Ingrid Betancourt kwamen geruchten op gang over een deal inclusief twintig miljoen dollar losgeld. Het lijkt een poging de val van de links-revolutionaire mythe wat te verzachten. Intussen kiezen Castro en Chávez eieren voor hun geld.

Het zijn lastige tijden voor aanhangers van de revolutionaire mythe, zoals ooit verpersoonlijkt door Ché Guevara, zijn strijdmakker Fidel Castro en de laatste jaren weer nieuw leven (en geld) ingeblazen door president Chávez van Venezuela. Want de grootste revolutionaire ‘bevrijdingsbeweging’ in Latijns-Amerika, de FARC, bleek na de vangst door het Colombiaanse leger van onder meer de financiële boekhouding van deze club niet alleen een ordinaire roversbende; nu blijkt uit de verhalen van Ingrid Betancourt ook wat voor onmenselijk wrede praktijken de ‘vrijheidsstrijders’ er op na houden.
Toch, oude sentimenten sterven langzaam en zo werd het bericht van de Zwitserse radiozender Radio Suisse Romande dat de hele operatie vooral een mooi en met twintig miljoen dollar ook behoorlijk duur betaald toneelstuk was, door diverse media met enige gretigheid overgenomen. Het zou op z’n minst wat glans wegnemen van de overwinning voor de rechtse president van Colombia, Uribe.

Wreed sujet
Er zijn allerlei redenen om aan te nemen dat wat dat losgeld en het bijbehorende toneelstuk betreft, het eerder gaat om ‘wishful thinking’ dan om harde feiten. Betancourt wees er in een reactie zelf al op dat commandant Cesar, die haar gevangen hield, een bijzonder onaangenaam en wreed sujet was dat zichzelf ‘nooit zou verkopen voor deze vernederende behandeling’ zoals hij kreeg nadat hij in de helikopter werd overmeesterd en in boeien geslagen voor het oog van de camera’s naar de cel werd afgevoerd.
In de complottheorieën die nu rondgaan zijn nog meer gaten. Waarom gingen de bewakers met gijzelaars en al in de helikopter terwijl er nooit helikopters werden gebruikt, is een van de verdachtmakingen, die voorbijgaat aan het feit dat bij eerdere bemiddelingspogingen van president Chávez wel degelijk helikopters en ook vliegtuigen zijn gebruikt. De hele operatie was juist erg nauwkeurig afgekeken van de manier waarop het eerder toeging, toen Chávez enkele gijzelaars mocht komen ophalen - overigens toen wel in ruil voor de nodige subsidie, zo vertellen in maart buitgemaakte computergegevens. Het moment van faam voor Chávez mocht wat kosten.
Het feit dat Betancourt al snel naar Frankrijk vertrok valt volgens critici ook in de categorie verdacht gedrag. Die gaan daarbij voorbij aan het feit dat Betancourt lange tijd in Frankrijk heeft gewoond en dat daar de basis ligt voor haar gezin, waar zij nu eerst voor kiest. Het is haar echte thuis, wat haar in de campagne voor de presidentsverkiezingen zes jaar geleden ook op kritiek kwam te staan. Het beeld dat zij, die Franse, de Colombianen wel even zou vertellen hoe het allemaal moest, werkte zo in haar nadeel dat ze vlak voor haar ontvoering in de peilingen nog maar op een procent of twee stond.
Dan, zo klinkt het, is het toch wel verbazingwekkend dat het Colombiaanse leger, dat bij eerdere bevrijdingspogingen vooral veel slachtoffers maakte, nu ineens zo’n knap doordachte operatie tot zo’n goed einde weet te brengen. Die kritiek houdt echter geen rekening met een andere, wel degelijk betaalde rekening van een indrukwekkende 5,4 miljard dollar aan steun van de VS, voor een betere opleiding en uitrusting van het Colombiaanse leger. Dat is vooral eigenbelang van de Amerikaanse regering, die het Colombiaanse leger ziet als de voorhoede in de strijd tegen de productie van cocaïne, het goedje waar de FARC z’n geld mee verdiende. Het geld is redelijk goed besteed, zo bleek het afgelopen jaar al uit eerdere operaties van de Colombiaanse strijdkrachten, waarbij ruim veertig kampen van de FARC werden opgerold, enkele duizenden strijders werden uitgeschakeld en diverse kopstukken werden gedood of zich in arren moede overgaven, waardoor de leiding van de FARC zwaar werd getroffen.

Topstukken van de collectie
Toch kon de FARC ondanks de tegenslagen nog blijven rekenen op de steun van de Cubaanse ‘vader van de revolutie’, Fidel Castro en diens revolutionaire nazaat in het presidentiële paleis in Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. Zelfs toen Chávez met enig succes met de FARC onderhandelde en enkele gijzelaars mee naar huis mocht nemen, bleef hij de beweging steunen, ook met de nodige oliedollars. Chávez liep ten slotte echter vast op de onbuigzame leiders, die de topstukken in hun collectie gijzelaars alleen tegen de hoofdprijs van een ‘eigen’ gebied in Colombia wilden ruilen. President Uribe had daar geen oren naar; bij een eerdere overeenkomst waarbij de FARC in feite de zeggenschap over een gebied had gekregen, had de beweging dat gebruikt om er trainingkampen op te bouwen en zich te versterken. Daarom stond Uribe een politiek voor van geen compromissen sluiten, wat hem overigens na de acties van Chávez op toenemende kritiek was komen te staan.
Van die kritiek is nu weinig meer te horen; Uribe kan bogen op de steun van een ruim 85 procent van de bevolking. Maar de aan figuren als Castro en Ché Guevara verbonden mythe van vrijheidsstrijders ligt aan diggelen. Castro heeft forse afstand genomen van zijn geesteskinderen en hen opgeroepen alle gijzelaars te laten gaan. Wel een wat late oproep, zeker als Castro verwijst naar de eigen praktijken in de vrijheidsstrijd van bijna vijftig jaar geleden. Dat had hij in 2002, toen Betancourt werd ontvoerd, ook wel kunnen zeggen. Castro kan overigens zelfs nu niet echt de mythe van de FARC als vrijheidstrijders bij het grof vuil zetten. Wat hem betreft houden de FARC-leden hun wapens bij de hand. Hij kan weinig anders, wat moet hij immers zeggen? ‘De revolutie die jullie en ik prediken is een schijnvertoning en staat alleen in dienst van degenen die de macht weten te grijpen’, bijvoorbeeld?

Morele nederlaag
Ook Chávez kan zijn morele nederlaag moeilijk verkroppen. Hij staat na de eerdere onthullingen in maart in Latijns Amerika toch wat te kijk over zijn weinig fraaie rol als de belangrijkste subsidiekraan voor de FARC. Van de weeromstuit heeft hij zijn wekelijkse televisieprogramma ‘Aló, Presidente’, waarin hij iedere zondag urenlang tekeer ging tegen de VS, president Bush en alles wat daarmee in verband kan worden gebracht, met ingang van komende zondag geschrapt. In plaats van zich op dit programma voor te bereiden, heeft hij komende vrijdag een ontmoeting met president Álvaro Uribe. Dat terwijl Chávez maandenlang de legitimiteit van de regering Uribe in twijfel heeft getrokken.

De bevrijding van Betancourt gaat met dit alles verder dan alleen een mooi verhaal over de hervonden vrijheid van een aantal gijzelaars. Het is het demasqué van de FARC en daarmee ook voor de ‘aanhangers van de revolutie’ als Castro en Chávez. Een terechte beschadiging. De FARC opereert in een land met een democratisch gekozen president, zoals nu in vrijwel alle Latijns-Amerikaanse landen het geval is. Wat dat betreft zijn de bevrijdingsbewegingen uit een andere tijd, die van de harde dictaturen. Die zijn weg, en daarmee hebben de bevrijdingsbewegingen zichzelf overleefd. En dat is weer een citaat uit een van de laatste uitzendingen van ‘Aló, Presidente’, waarin Chávez al eieren voor z’n geld koos toen hij op 8 juni de FARC omschreef als een ‘relikwie uit het verleden’. Je zou kunnen zeggen, als gevangen in een andere tijd. Laten de overgebleven FARC-leden snel voor de vrijheid kiezen, samen met hun gijzelaars.

zondag 6 juli 2008

Transcript of Stephen Miles' trip to Fairview Southdale emergency room

By Glenn Howatt



Stephen Miles used his laptop computer to record many of the conversations he had with others, including his Dec. 30, 2005 visit with a Fairview Southdale emergency department physician.

Many laptops have built-in microphones that can record audio to the computer's hard drive. Miles believed that many people, especially doctors, were conspiring against him, and the recordings were an attempt by Miles to protect himself, according to father Roland Miles.

A transcript of the emergency room visit was provided to the Minnesota Health Department, which investigated whether the Edina hospital had inappropriately released Miles just hours before Miles allegedly killed his stepmother.

Although regulators later determined that the hospital did not violate government hospital regulations, Miles' attorney, Marsh Halberg, said the recording raised issues that department investigators failed to address, including why the doctor attempted to end the exam of a paranoid, mentally ill patient when he refused to be touched.

A copy of the transcript was obtained by the Star Tribune from the Minnesota Health Department under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, and most of it is reprinted below.

The visit began with Miles asking questions about the bones in his head. Miles was convinced that a physical deformity in his head was causing him problems. He agreed to go to a hospital so that a physician would interpret an MRI taken two weeks earlier with hopes of identifying the malady.

"This was a ruse by [his parents] to get him to the hospital," Roland Miles said in a written statement to health department investigators. "He agreed to go the next day and we felt that was the best way to handle the situation."

In the transcript, which was prepared by Roland Miles and submitted by Halberg to investigators, the doctor is not identified by name.

Stephen Miles: Could I have an x-ray of my head today?

Doctor: No.

Stephen Miles: Why not?

Doctor: Because there's not an emergent reason that you need an x-ray of your head.

Stephen Miles: During the last four months I have had sensations of rotation in my head.

Doctor: You have an MRI of your head that has to be read. You need to talk to your doctor about that, but we ... this is an emergency department. So if there is something life threatening. .

Stephen Miles: Yeah

Doctor: ... that, that ...

Stephen Miles: My not having that bone to protect my brain is life threatening.

Doctor: OK, I don't think that you have anything.

Stephen Miles: I'd prefer if you didn't touch my head. Thanks.

Doctor: Okay. Alright, well, I think we're done.

Roland Miles: Take a deep breath. Just a second, just a second.

Doctor: No, no. We're all done.

Roland Miles: Could he describe something else that happened to him?

Doctor: No. I'm not going to ... I think we're done here.

Roland Miles: Like for example....

Doctor: He doesn't want me to examine him. OK, I'm not going to examine him. I'm not going to interpret his x-rays or his MRI.

Roland Miles: He's of the opinion that something has to be done immediately. And he is starting to do self-help ...

Doctor: Mm hmm.

Roland Miles: ... on himself

Doctor: That's a dangerous thing to do.

Roland Miles: Describe to him, Steve. Can you describe what you did today, Steve, or yesterday. What you did to yourself. What did you do?

Stephen Miles: I, uh, was examining my head in the mirror.

Roland Miles: And you were going to try to remove something from your head, weren't you?

Stephen Miles: I removed some hair from the top of my head.

Roland Miles: You were going to try to remove a filling from your mouth, weren't you? What were you going to do?

Doctor: Is he seeing a psychiatrist? Is he under care of a psychiatrist?

Roland Miles: He has had the same one.

Doctor: OK, it seems like there have been some obsessive thoughts here...

Roland Miles: Yes.

Doctor: ...that he is very concerned about, some fairly bizarre things.

Roland Miles: The last time a psychiatrist saw him he said he was psychotic.

Doctor: Mm-hmm

Roland Miles: Steve, what were you doing with the ... bent fork tine?

Stephen Miles: I was trying to eat. What was I trying to eat? Oh, beef roast.

Roland Miles: Steve you had a hammer. You were going to try to pop out your filling.

Stephen Miles: Dad, dad, dad, these thoughts you're having, these are psychotic. I think you are having hallucinations of sight. I think you're having sight hallucinations.

Roland Miles: Do you think this is a hallucination? [Roland holds up the fork.] You made this, did you not? Did you make this?

Stephen Miles: What is this?

Roland Miles: And you were going to try to pound out your filling with it.

Stephen Miles: No, I didn't make that.

Roland Miles: Yes, you did. I pulled it out of the thing and you grabbed me by the neck, did you not?

Stephen Miles: No, I didn't. You are having more hallucinations.

Roland Miles: Steve, you were talking about having to do something immediately with your problem. And people are afraid for your health.

Doctor: I'm going to have to answer this page here. Have you had him evaluated?

Roland Miles: Yes. The ... last doctor said he was psychotic. He was a psychiatrist, [name redacted].

Doctor: I've got to answer this page, so I'll let you talk and I'll be back.

After the doctor left the exam room, Stephen Miles left the hospital and sat in the car. Roland Miles continued to talk to the doctor, asking him to hospitalize his son because of concerns that he might become violent.

The doctor told Health Department investigators that he ended the interaction believing that a plan was in place for the parents to drive Miles to Fairview's Minneapolis hospital for evaluation.

Miles' parents changed the plan, they told investigators, taking him home instead, because the Minneapolis hospital didn't have beds and that previous attempts to have him evaluated there had been futile

GLENN HOWATT

vrijdag 4 juli 2008

Wife-slaying Linux guru may have 'developmental disability'

Lawyers brand Hans Reiser 'mentally incompetent'
By Chris Williams → More by this author
Published Thursday 3rd July 2008 15:27 GMT
Nail down your security priorities. Ask the experts and your peers at The Register Security Debate, September 24 2008.

Lawyers for prominent Linux developer Hans Reiser, who was convicted of his wife's murder in April, have written to the trial judge this week to argue that their client may be mentally ill.

In the brief filing to California Superior Court, Reiser's defense attorney William DuBois wrote: "I declare under penalty of perjury that in my carefully considered opinion, defendant Hans Reiser, may be mentally incompetent as a result of mental disorder or developmental disability, defendant is unable to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings or to assist counsel in the conduct of the defense in a rational manner."

According to Wired, prosecutor Paul Hora slammed the move, saying: "This is complete and total nonsense. All of a sudden he's incompetent a week before he gets sentenced." The insanity claim is expected to delay sentencing, which had been scheduled for 9 July.

Hans Reiser, the inventor of ReiserFS, was found guilty of first degree murder on 29 April this year. There were hints following his conviction that he would lead police to his Russian wife Nina's body, which has never been found. That now seems unlikely.

During the almost six-month trial Reiser's defense had argued that 31-year-old Nina simply returned to Russia, leaving Hans Reiser to care for their two children. The jury did not believe the story, however. Police found her car in the Oakland hills six days after she disappeared in September 2006. Hans Reiser's Honda was found waterlogged with the passenger seat missing and two books about police murder investigations inside.

There was also a sleeping bag in the Honda, stained with Nina Reiser's blood.

Defense lawyers said during the trial that the fact Reiser had removed the passenger seat and hosed down the interior of his car was a sign of Asperger's syndrome, not guilt.

The overtures to leading police to the body had been interpreted as a ploy by the defense to win a lighter sentence, but would have required negotiation cooperation from a mentally competent Hans Reiser. If psychological assessments find him to be mentally incompetent, it's likely the judge will send him to an institution rather than jail, at least until he is judged sane again. ®