Wednesday 1st of February 2023

dangerous relics .....

dangerous relics .....

Pope Benedict XVI has cancelled a planned visit to a prestigious Italian university after a protest by academics and students attacked his views on Galileo, the Vatican confirmed Tuesday. 

The pope had been due to give a speech at La Sapienza university in Rome Thursday to open its academic year. 

However, the visit drew criticism from academics at the university who signed a letter demanding that the trip be called off. Separately, students protested outside the university, carrying banners insisting the university is a lay institution and the pope is not welcome. 

"Given the events of the past days regarding the visit of the Holy Father to La Sapienza university upon the rector's invitation, which was scheduled to take place Thursday, January 17, it was decided to postpone the event," the Vatican said in a short written statement. 

Father Ciro Benedettini, a spokesman for the Vatican, confirmed to CNN the academic protests had prompted the cancellation. 

In the letter, academics - pointing to a speech the pope gave at the same university as a cardinal in 1990 - claimed he condones the 1633 trial and conviction of the scientist Galileo for heresy. 

The astronomer had argued that the Earth revolved around the Sun, in contradiction to church teachings at the time, and he was forced to renounce his findings publicly. 

In comments made 15 years ago when he was still a cardinal, Pope Benedict is reported to have called the trial "reasonable and just." 

Galileo Protest Halts Pope's Visit

During his speech, the pope - then Cardinal Ratzinger - quoted an Austrian philosopher Paul Feyerabend, saying: "At the time of Galileo, the church remained more loyal (or faithful) to reason than Galileo himself.”

of tom and miranda...

Mugged in print by bigots in righteous masks

Miranda Devine
January 31, 2008

It is a good idea to be suspicious any time the media pack decides to gang up on someone - as they have done with Tom Cruise. Sure, he belongs to a religion, Scientology, that seems pretty kooky on face value, but that is his right, as in any country that is supposed to respect freedom of religion.


It has been said that religion is the best way cultures have to regulate selfishness, so even the most irreligious should see the benefit even of a religion as eccentric as Scientology.

You might not agree with Cruise's religious views or even like his movies, but it's hard not to realise he has been treated disgustingly.


Gus: Miranda, you're a gem...

I could not agree with you more and I personally "hate" any movie with Tom Cruise in it. To me he always appears "woody" as Tom Cruise — not the character he portrays... But I digress.

Most people who viciously attack "cults' or "religion", often come from another religion themselves... They know of the technique of brainwashing or indoctrination and see it in others as a dangerous manipulative fiddle while they accept their own. They make a distinction between cults and religion when there is not, beyond the size of the association or in the strength of the indoctrination. Same value of hubris in my book.

I will disagree with Tom's Scientology and Ron Hubbarb's hoax but I similarly reject the hoaxes Christianity and Islam, etc, inflict on people — ending up in religious war and mad terrorism — and other grandiose pompous rituals.

But people can believe in the Blue Moon if they wish, as long as they do not harm anyone else. This here, of course, is a very grey area... We know of cults where people kill themselves in great numbers and of other cults where rituals are unsavoury, don't we?. We know of Muslim extremists, don't we? Thus are all cults and religions harming people? Some do, some don't but it's hard to pick... even in the definition of "harm". Sure a bomb-vested terrorist is dangerous...

Some "cults" are not even cults, but they are depicted as such by their detractors. These supposedly "cults" are just strong powerful association — some accepting of all religions — in which some practice and community activities, are used to "cleanse" the mess left by other cults and religions (sometimes without dismissing these religions), are viewed in horror by those who want to "de-cult" people and "re-religion" them under their own brand. The term brain-washing is used. De-briefed. De-culted... Before being re-mainstreamed religioned... "Freedomed", it's called...

Actually, some of these associations work hard to restore a sense of "freedom" and social responsibility in individuals and families who "have lost their ways", especially individuals who are lonely or are down on their luck... I know of some "cults" who won't even consider a participant until the participant is free of drug and alcohol use. These supposedly "cults" even work hard to even promote ultimate freedom from the association. Helping people get back in the wider world without the crutch of the association... But even these "cults" are pursued by the cult-busters, because they see such "individual" full-blown out freedom as perverse.

The sore point here of course is often money. Some of the participants see themselves spend a lot of money on the "cult" while they forget to see the "cult" is helping them rediscover the activity of making money and rediscover a stability of "existence" they'd lost or never had. But some resent the money spent on the "cult", while they could have spent it "on themselves" as often taught by the "cult"... A few people become bitter, while the great majority are very thankful for a "temporal" salvation brought out from the association — and the money.

In America, some cult-busters have pursued any avenues available through the courts to sink "cults" (including the Church of Scientology) but have become bankrupt... Sure, the "cults" and religious organisations do fight back. In Australia, there are still a few "cult-busters" who may use any trick in the book. They might pursue the few bitter former participants in these association. They might coach them to go to any length to lie under oath in court cases — the majority of these involving "child abuse". This is a major line of attack. A friendly kiss on the cheeks, or a hug, by someone, usually the "leader" in the association is often translated, many years later, as sexual penetration and other devious sexual act... Since there are rarely any "witnesses", anything goes in order to "bust" the legitimate association — that is claimed to be a manipulative cult by those who have vested interest in other religions... or have vested interest in receiving compensation. More money... recoup the money spent on the "cult" if you see what I mean.

There is a lot of money in religion or "cults" and it's tax free... We've seen Hillsongs of this world being pilloried and yet they thrive... The Mormons have doubled the numbers of their churches in the last few years... Mike and Mitt are vying for the presidency in the US... It's not my cup of tea, but as long as these organisms or people do not rule my life, by ending controlling say a government's agenda, they can believe in Santa Claus and pray to the Tooth Fairy...

Tom can believe in the little green men of Alpha Centorus if he wishes... One thing is sure. Religious freedom should not include not paying taxes... Paying taxes would sort out the relative truth of the believers... Death and taxes? "Not if you believe"...

And I believe every one has the potential to be a good Samaritan, even without the religious mantle. Good'ay.

See toon at top...

Are we really surporting these guys???...

Afghan MPs back blasphemy death

The upper house of the Afghan parliament has supported a death sentence issued against a journalist for blasphemy in northern Afghanistan.

Pervez Kambaksh, 23, was convicted last week of downloading and distributing an article insulting Islam. He has denied the charge.

The UN has criticised the sentence and said the journalist did not have legal representation during the case.

The Afghan government has said that the sentence was not final.

A government spokesman said recently that the case would be handled "very carefully".

Now the Afghan Senate has issued a statement on the case - it was not voted on but was signed by its leader, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, an ally of President Hamid Karzai.

It said the upper house approved the death sentence conferred on Mr Kambaksh by a city court in Mazar-e-Sharif.


Gus: until these guys accept religious freedom and criticism of religion, in whatever form as long as no one gets physically hurt, that country cannot be a "democracy"... If we are in Afghanistan to promote democracy, we cannot support these fanatics who at the drop of a hat could turn coat as well.

Ah I see... We are in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban we used to support against the Russians but the extremist Taliban spirit is alive and well in the Afghan government... Makes sense and my name is Popovitch...

Are we really really supporting these guys???????

Sentenced to death: Afghan who dared to read about women's rights

By Kim Sengupta
Thursday, 31 January 2008

A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country's rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after "liberation" and under the democratic rule of the West's ally Hamid Karzai.

The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.

Mr Kambaksh, 23, distributed the tract to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University with the aim, he said, of provoking a debate on the matter. But a complaint was made against him and he was arrested, tried by religious judges without – say his friends and family – being allowed legal representation and sentenced to death.


Gus: I say I don't care what one says about terrorism or whatever, our troops in Afghanistan should be withdrawn forthwith. Let that country sort its problems...

OR stop pussifooting and force these ugly religious fanatics into a corner, remove them from office, write a clear new constitution that gives rights to women and make sure it is enforced 100 %...

No buts, otherwise lets pull back and play with ourselves. 

free pervez...

Lifeline for Pervez: Afghan Senate withdraws demand for death sentence

By Kim Sengupta, Jerome Starkey in Kabul and Nigel Morris
Saturday, 2 February 2008

In a dramatic volte-face, the Afghan Senate has withdrawn its confirmation of a death sentence on Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student convicted of blasphemy for downloading a report on women's rights from the internet.

The move follows widespread international protests and appeals to the President, Hamid Karzai, after the case was highlighted by The Independent and more than 38,000 readers signed our petition to secure justice for Mr Kambaksh. In Britain, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and the shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, backed the campaign, and there have been demonstrations in the Afghan capital, Kabul.


Gus: what are they going to do now? send him to their gulags or secrert guantanamos until he dies of being beaten? Or will he be free to be?

save Pervez....

UN human rights supremo joins campaign to save Pervez
By Jerome Starkey in Kabul and Anne Penketh
Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The UN's most senior human rights official has added her clout to the international campaign being waged to save the life of the jailed Afghan student journalist Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, it emerged yesterday.

It is understood that Louise Arbour, the UN high commissioner for human rights, wrote to senior Afghan officials last weekend, including President Hamid Karzai, concerning the fate of Mr Kambaksh, who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy after distributing a document from the internet that commented on Koranic verses about women's rights. Her Geneva-based staff did not provide details on her letter, apparently seeking to avoid publicity for fear that the mounting public pressure on the Afghan president to pardon Mr Kambaksh might prove counter-productive.

Mr Karzai has been inundated by appeals from the UN, human rights groups and journalists to spare Mr Kambaksh. The Independent's online petition to save him, launched last week, had registered more than 56,000 signatures by last night.

But diplomatic sources cautioned that following the Senate's sudden U-turn last week in which it retracted its endorsement of the death sentence and affirmed Mr Kambaksh's right to due process through the courts, the president may not wish to be seen to bow to outside pressure at a critical time in his relations with the West.

Relations are strained after Mr Karzai expelled two senior diplomats, criticised "mistakes" by Britain in Helmand province and blocked Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Harmdon's role as a UN "super envoy". The Independent revealed yesterday that the discovery of secret UK plans to provide military training for 2,000 former Taliban fighters, foiled by Afghan secret police in December, lay behind the expulsion of the two diplomats.

Rice to the rescue...

Set Pervez free: Rice joins calls to save student

By Jerome Taylor
Thursday, 7 February 2008

The world's most powerful woman has added her voice to the campaign to save the life of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the Afghan student journalist sentenced to death for downloading material on women's rights from the internet.

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, promised yesterday to raise his case personally with the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, which would significantly raise the international pressure for his release.

Ms Rice, who was in London for talks with Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, on the West's Afghanistan strategy said: "I do think that the Afghans understand that there are some international norms that need to be respected. Of course, one has national laws and they're national laws that are in accordance with traditions and religious practice. But there are international norms, and I'll certainly talk to President Karzai about this case."


Sharia law 'unavoidable' in UK: Archbishop

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia (Islamic) law in the UK seems unavoidable.

Dr Williams says Britain has to face up to the fact that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

He argues Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

Dr Williams says Muslims should not have to choose between cultural loyalty or state loyalty.

"An approach to law which simply said there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger," he said.


Gus: here goes your neighbourhood democracy where laws fits all... Now these loony-religious freaks want to tailor the law to individual beliefs? Would you like some chips with that? I have a suspicion it's designed to enforce something like Intelligent Design via the back passage... Are we going to wait for this crap to land on our lap? Science and good governance are loosing the ground for unbelievable loonitube... Brother... Fragmentation and idiotic beliefs. Go ahead, I don't have much to go on this planet anyway. Another glorious century of enlightenment going down the tube...

Free Pervez...

Pervez verdict is wrong, says jail chief

By Kim Sengupta in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan
Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The head of the prison where Sayed Pervez Kambaksh is being held believes it was "very wrong" to sentence the young student to death and that he should be freed as soon as possible.

General Taj Mohammed, chief of the prison service for northern Afghanistan, told The Independent: "He is a young man and he does not deserve to die, he does not deserve what has been done to him. I do not think it is right that someone should be killed for an offence like this. I believe we should be much more tolerant. We are, after all, meant to be a democratic country."

The Kambaksh case

* Pervez Kambaksh has been accused of downloading material from an Iranian website, in Farsi, concerning what the Koran says about women's rights and whether this has been misinterpreted by fundamentalists and how in the Prophet's time women had more equality than the mullahs admit. It also asks why, if men are allowed multiple wives, can women not have multiple husbands.

* The blog entry in question was on a wide-ranging discussion site looking at various aspects of modern life in relation to Islam.

* Mr Kambaksh says he did not post anything on that site or any other; he also says the site he was questioned about was not the one he had downloaded from.

* The prosecution has refused to identify any websites and a judge in Mazar has admitted to not having read the allegedly blasphemous material.

* Four unidentified students are alleged to have complained that Mr Kambaksh was the author of material on an "anti-Islamic site". He has emphatically denied these claims and no students are willing to discuss the case.

stone age religion...

Moses was stoned when he set Ten Commandments, researcher claims

We all know that Moses was high on Mount Sinai when God spoke to him, but were the Ten Commandments a result of divine inspiration alone?

An Israeli researcher is claiming in a study published this week the prophet may have been stoned when he set the Ten Commandments in stone.

According to Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, psychedelic drugs formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times.

Writing in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy, he says concoctions based on the bark of the acacia tree, frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, contain the same molecules as those found in plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca is prepared.

"The thunder, lightning and blaring of a trumpet which the Book of Exodus says emanated from Mount Sinai could just have been the imaginings of a people in an altered state of awareness," writes Shanon. "In advanced forms of ayahuasca inebriation, the seeing of light is accompanied by profound religious and spiritual feelings."

References in the Bible where people "see" sounds, is another "classic phenomenon", he said, citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to "see" music.

Speaking about his article on Israeli public radio, he added: "As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either. Or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics."

hanged stiff...

A life or death decision

Mehdi Kazemi is a gay teenager from Iran. He sought sanctuary in Britain after his boyfriend was hanged for homosexuality. So why is Britain so determined to send him back to Tehran – to almost certain execution?
Related Articles

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor
Thursday, 6 March 2008

A gay teenager who sought sanctuary in Britain when his boyfriend was executed by the Iranian authorities now faces the same fate after losing his legal battle for asylum.

Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2004 but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

In a telephone conversation with his father in Tehran, Mr Kazemi was told that before the execution in April 2006, his boyfriend had been questioned about sexual relations he had with other men and under interrogation had named Mr Kazemi as his partner.

Fearing for his own life if he returned to Iran, Mr Kazemi claimed asylum in Britain. But late in 2007 his case was refused. Terror-stricken at the prospect of deportation the young Iranian made a desperate attempt to evade deportation and fled Britain for Holland where he is now being detained amid a growing outcry from campaigners.

Loony court and heretics

Woman jailed for teapot worship

BANGKOK: A sharia court in Malaysia has jailed a woman for two years for joining a "teapot worshipping" cult.

Kamariah Ali, a 57-year-old former teacher, was arrested when the Government demolished the "sacred" teapot, which was two storeys high, and other buildings at the headquarters of the "heretical" Sky Kingdom cult in Kuala Terengganu.

For the sect, which emphasised ecumenical dialogue between religions, the teapot symbolised the purity of water and "love pouring from heaven". But in Malaysia, despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship, born Muslims such as Mrs Ali are forbidden from converting to other religions.


Gus: The government loonies are everywhere and democracy is becoming s*&%$t... Believe in what you want and don't harm anyone in the process... The Malaysian court showed a stupid disrespect of freedom and human rights.

Teapot, god, idols, TVset, Blake7 or crossed stick of wood... whatever you fancy, as long as you do not invade another country or harm your peaceful neighbour...

fund raising...

Farmers caught in the poppy trade

By Kate Clark
BBC News, Afghanistan

Much of Afghanistan's Helmand Province is dependent on the poppy harvest - which locks ordinary people into a criminal economy and ends up funding Taleban insurgents, corrupt officials and drug traffickers.

"The Holy Koran hated our fields this year," was how one farmer from Helmand described just how bad the opium poppy harvest had been.

In May, farmers scraping the bulbous seed heads of their poppy plants, found low quantities of the milky white liquid that is opium dribbling out.

Bad weather, frosts and poor rains, meant the yield was way down.

The price of opium has also fallen, after years of bumper harvests flooding the market.

Galileo Galilei benedictus

Pope Benedict XVI has paid tribute to 17th-Century astronomer Galileo Galilei, whose scientific theories once drew the wrath of the Catholic Church.

The Pope was speaking at events marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo's earliest observations with a telescope.


see toon and comments above...

arthur and martha...

A new exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo's work is set to open in the Vatican.

The Catholic Church once labelled Galileo, now regarded as modern astronomy's founding father, a heretic.

He was tried for challenging the widely held belief that the sun travelled around the Earth.

Although Copernicus did much ground-breaking work on the link between the sun and the Earth, it was Galileo's instruments that proved the theory.

It was not until 1992 that Pope John Paul II declared that the Church's ruling was an error and that Catholics were not hostile to science.

Now a selection of Galileo's instruments - along with those of other key figures in astronomy - are being put on display in the Vatican.

There will also be some of Galileo's original documents in which he excitedly recorded his first discoveries.


Why are these papers in the possession of the Catholicum dogmaticus ignoramii? see toon at top and Gus's view

thank god for the aliens...

The Pope's chief astronomer has conceded other intelligent beings could exist in outer space.

The conclusion has been drawn by scientific experts called in by the Vatican to study the possibility of extraterrestrial life and its implications for the Church.

It has been four centuries since the Catholic Church locked up Galileo for challenging the belief that the Earth was at the centre of the universe.

The Vatican's five-day conference attracted 30 astronomers, physicists and biologists, including non-Catholics.

It was led by Jesuit priest Father Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory.


see toon at top

Father Funes says the possibility of alien life raises "many philosophical and theological implications" but that the gathering was mainly focused on the scientific perspective.


Your beliefs may not be perfect but you make people think.

Good for you Gus.

With your intelligence, education and conviction to known facts - remind me not to debate with you.

Sholom. God Bless Australia. NE OUBLIE.

pointing a finger...

Two fingers and a tooth belonging to famed astronomer Galileo Galilei have been found more than 100 years after going missing, a museum in Italy says.

A collector bought the items, lost since 1905, at auction and gave them to Florence's History of Science Museum.

The museum said it had no doubt about the authenticity of the items.

Scientists cut the parts - plus another finger and a vertebrae - from Galileo's body in 1737, almost 100 years after he died.

Galileo, who lived from 1564 to 1642, was a hugely influential physicist and astronomer who helped develop the telescope.

He was branded a heretic by Italian authorities for supporting Copernicus's discovery that the Earth rotated around the Sun.

The body parts were removed from him 95 years after his death, when Church authorities decreed he could be reburied in consecrated ground.

One finger and the vertebrae have been conserved in museums since then, but the other parts were passed between collectors until they went missing in 1905.


In my collection of stuff and stuff-ups, I have the jaws of a large puffer fish... This "monster" fish was more than two foot long, but its parrot-like jaws are big enough to severe a hand off... I collected it while spear fishing (snorkel allowed only) with friends off Africa, one of whom had speared this "ugly" thing in our contest for the biggest catch... I had refrained from spearing anything as the only viable catch was a two-tonne moonfish that had passed by... But as the "dead" puffer was being weighed in, it had a last gasp of life and jumped, biting one finger of its catcher nearly off. The fellow was lucky the fish was moribund and had no energy, otherwise the finger would have been lost forever... The bones though had been snapped like twigs, the finger barely holding to the hand by a thread of skin. Lucky, the fellow to which this happened was a doctor and he promply did everything he could to save his finger as we sped off to the coast.

Of course he lost all feelings and action thereafter in the finger but the finger was still alive after having been 're-attached" at the hospital. Three professional divers in that "contest" had speared a manta ray together... and of course they had lost all their gear, when the giant fish took off...

The things we do... and did... And collecting galileo's bits...?

and now, il duce's brains...

The granddaughter of Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has said that blood and parts of his brain have been stolen to sell on the internet.

Alessandra Mussolini, a former showgirl turned MP, said she immediately informed the police when she found out.

The listing, on auction site Ebay, reportedly showed images of a wooden container and ampoules of blood.

Ebay, which does not allow the sale of human matter on its site, said that the listing was removed within hours.

The initial price requested for the material was 15,000 euros ($22,000; £13,000).

"This is very serious, these are the kinds of things we have to guard against," said Ms Mussolini, who was attending a seminar on internet crime when the listing was discovered.


Read comment above this one and see toon at top... The stupid world is spinning at warp speed...