Friday 2nd of December 2022

glimpses of dreamland .....

glimpses of dreamland .....

More than a quarter of adult Americans have left the faith of their childhood to join another religion or no religion, according to a survey of religious affiliation by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. 

The report, titled “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey,” depicts a highly fluid and diverse national religious life. If shifts among Protestant denominations are included, then it appears that 44 percent of Americans have switched religious affiliations. 

For at least a generation, scholars have noted that more Americans are moving among faiths, as denominational loyalty erodes.

But the survey, based on telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans, offers one of the clearest views yet of that trend, scholars said. The United States Census does not track religious affiliation.

Poll Finds A Fluid Religious Life In US

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US Democratic front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have traded accusations over a photo of Mr Obama circulating on the internet. 

The picture, sent to the Drudge Report website, shows Mr Obama wearing traditional African dress during a visit to Kenya in 2006. The Obama camp said it was circulated by Mrs Clinton's staff as a smear. Mrs Clinton's team denied the accusation. 

The row comes as the rivals campaign for two crucial primaries next week.

Robed Obama Picture Ignites Row 

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Five former insurance executives were found guilty Monday of fraud and conspiracy in a scheme to manipulate the financial statements of the insurance company American International Group. 

The defendants — one from A.I.G. and four from the General Re Corporation — were convicted in Federal District Court in Hartford after a five-week trial. 

One question is whether the verdicts will increase the legal pressure on Maurice R. Greenberg, the former chief executive of A.I.G. Mr. Greenberg, 82, ran the company at the time of the sham transaction at the center of the trial and was an unindicted co-conspirator. Fallout over the transaction led to his ouster in 2005. He has denied wrongdoing.

Guilty Verdict For 5 In A.I.G. Case 

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The Pentagon is projecting that when the United States troop buildup in Iraq ends in July there will be about 8,000 more troops on the ground than when it began in January 2007, a senior general said Monday.

Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, head of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that by July the troop total was likely to be 140,000. There were 132,000 troops there when President Bush approved orders to send five more Army brigades to Iraq to improve security and avert civil war.

Pentagon Releases Projections For Forces 

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After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a “kitchen sink” fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum.

Clinton Campaign Starts 5-Point Attack On Obama 

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Under a hard, gray sleet, students at Northern Illinois University trudged back to class on Monday for the first time since a gunman burst into a lecture hall on Feb. 14 and killed five students and himself. 

Some students said they felt relieved to return to their routine of classes, calculus homework and television soap operas at the student center. Others said they felt newly shaken, on edge as they sat in big lecture halls and newly watchful of everyone around them, especially anyone who arrived in class after it had begun.

Students Return To An Altered Campus After Shootings 

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The backlog of unsold homes continued to pile up in January, a sign that home prices will continue to drop as would-be buyers hold out for better deals. 

Sales of previously owned homes fell for the sixth consecutive month, dropping 0.4 percent, to an annual rate of 4.89 million, the National Association of Realtors said on Monday. While the decline was less than forecast, the sales pace is the slowest since the survey began nearly a decade ago. The median home price dipped to $201,100, down 4.6 percent from a year ago.

Home Resales And Prices Decline 

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Mr Nader will be best-remembered for the central role he played in the dramas of the 2000 contest between George W Bush and Al Gore which still rankles with many Democrats to this day. 

That contest hinged on a virtual dead-heat between the two main candidates in the state of Florida - which after a series of battles in the courts, eventually went the way of Mr Bush. 

Democrats point out though that where only a few hundred votes separated Mr Bush from Al Gore, nearly 100,000 people voted for Mr Nader. 

Those voters, say Democrats, would clearly have been likely to vote for Mr Gore had Mr Nader not been on the ballot - and so they blame Mr Nader for handing the presidency to George W Bush.  

Nader's Bid Will Change US Race 

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Mr Greenspan has been critical about the handling of current policy

The former chairman of the US central bank Alan Greenspan has warned that US economic growth has stalled and a quick recovery is not likely. 'As of right now US economic growth is at zero,' he said, adding the longer it stayed this way the greater the risk of a deep recession. 

Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch have both forecast that the US economy will contract in 2008. The US Federal Reserve has said 2008 growth will be between 1.3% and 2%. The forecast, made last week, was half a percent lower than the Fed's previous estimation.

The gloomy outlook was blamed on falling house prices, reduced bank lending, turmoil in the financial markets and higher oil prices.

Greenspan Negative On US Economy 

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Mr. McCain said he believed opinion was shifting to his point of view, referring to a recent USA Today poll that, he said, showed that “now the majority of Americans believe the surge is succeeding.” 

The USA Today/Gallup poll he was apparently referring to, however, found that not a majority, but 43 percent of Americans believed the troop increase was “making the situation there better,” an increase from 22 percent last July. 

The poll, conducted Feb. 8 to 10, also underscored just how unpopular the war continues to be, with 60 percent saying it was a mistake. Yet the new dynamic in Iraq — with American casualties plummeting and violence in Baghdad falling to 2005 levels — has altered the political landscape for Mr. McCain since last summer, when American troop deaths spiked and his candidacy ran aground. 

McCain Says Prospects May Hinge On Iraq

performance, hustle and TV dips...

Oscars ratings sink to all-time low

US television ratings for this year's Oscars have sunk to an all-time low, preliminary figures showed, as viewers turned their back on a ceremony dominated by dark, bleak films.

According to figures from Nielsen Media Research, the three-hour-long ceremony at the Kodak Theatre averaged an audience of only 32 million viewers, the worst since records began in 1974.

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This year's Oscars were won by Joel and Ethan Coen's bleak thriller No Country for Old Men, a grim adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name.

The film won four awards - best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actor.

The acting awards were swept by non-American actors for the first time since 1965.

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Gus: That last bit is a bit below the belt. All the top actors in the US are vying for the US presidency, creating an obvious vacuum in the ranks of Oscar deserving performance by US actors at the movies...

Obviously too, the Yankee public is now more interested in the illusion of bum-fight in politics than in the illusion of the flickering screen...

As well the eternal couch potatoes are now more inclined to be "interactive" with the box by playing DVD games that demand they exercise their fingers to kill sumpthin' without moving their butts... Thus the dip in the Oscar ratings... while the dip in the taco dip went sky high since one does not have to cook... May be the Oscars should sponsor a pizza chain to have their delivery people disguised as "Oscars" for that one night. That could remind the potatoes of what they were missing on their plasmas...

America's racial divide...

Britain's equality chief: Obama will only prolong America's racial divide
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By Andrew Grice, Political Editor
Thursday, 28 February 2008

Trevor Phillips, Britain's most influential black figure, has warned that the election of Barack Obama as US president would prolong rather than end America's racial divide.

The chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission accused Mr Obama of "ruthless cynicism" and said he would not be "the harbinger of a post-racial America" if he becomes the country's first black president.