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Thursday, November 27, 2008

'Disgusting' Bias for Obama, Time Writer Admits

The mainstream media's support for Barack Obama's presidential campaign was so biased that even major insiders are now admitting they were shocked by its depth and depravity.

Last week, Time magazine's Mark Halperin called the media's performance during the campaign simply "disgusting."

Halperin told a panel of media analysts at the Politico/USC conference on the 2008 election, "It's the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war."

He added, "It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage."

According to the Web site Politico, Halperin, who edits Time's political site "The Page," zeroed in on two New York Times articles near the end of the campaign that profiled both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama.

"The story about Cindy McCain was vicious," Halperin said. "It looked for every negative thing they could find about her and it cast her in an extraordinarily negative light. It didn't talk about her work, for instance, as a mother for her children, and they cherry-picked every negative thing that's ever been written about her."

But the Times gave Michelle Obama red carpet treatment, "like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is."

Halperin, a former ABC News political director, allowed that some of the press coverage simply reflected the extreme efficiency of Obama's presidential campaign.

"You do have to take into account the fact that this was a remarkable candidacy," Halperin said. "There were a lot of good stories. He was new."

Obama also had a lot of money and outspent Republican John McCain by more than 2 to 1.

The press never bothered to hold Obama accountable for reneging on his promise to use public financing. McCain kept his promise to do so.

During the campaign, conservatives criticized the pro-Obama coverage, but it had little effect.

Columnist David Limbaugh noted: "Never has that been clearer than in the 2008 presidential election, during which they are covering up rather than covering Barack Obama's shady past and alliances, his knee-deep involvement in corrupt practices threatening the very core of our democratic system, and his many policy misrepresentations."

Limbaugh noted that the press went into a tizzy over Sarah Palin's wardrobe, but ignored extravagances like Obama's "obscenely idolatrous million-dollar Greek coliseum mirage."

Now that the election is over, Halperin is not alone in admitting the bias. The Washington Post's ombudsman recently conceded that the paper’s coverage was skewed strongly in favor of Obama and against the McCain-Palin ticket.

* "Washington Post Admits Bias for Obama, Against McCain, Palin."]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To some psychiatric patients, life seems like TV
By Jennifer Peltz,
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - One man showed up at a federal building, asking for release from the reality show he was sure was being made of his life. Another was convinced his every move was secretly being filmed for a TV contest. A third believed everything _ the news, his psychiatrists, the drugs they prescribed _ was part of a phony, stage-set world with him as the involuntary star, like the 1998 movie "The Truman Show."

Researchers have begun documenting what they dub the "Truman syndrome," a delusion afflicting people who are convinced that their lives are secretly playing out on a reality TV show. Scientists say the disorder underscores the influence pop culture can have on mental conditions.

"The question is really: Is this just a new twist on an old paranoid or grandiose delusion ... or is there sort of a perfect storm of the culture we're in, in which fame holds such high value?" said Dr. Joel Gold, a psychiatrist affiliated with New York's Bellevue Hospital.

Within a two-year period, Gold said he encountered five patients with delusions related to reality TV. Several of them specifically mentioned "The Truman Show."

Gold and his brother, a psychologist, started presenting their observations at medical schools in 2006. After word spread beyond medical circles this summer, they learned of about 50 more people with similar symptoms. The brothers are now working on a scholarly paper.

Meanwhile, researchers in London described a "Truman syndrome" patient in the British Journal of Psychiatry in August. The 26-year-old postman "had a sense the world was slightly unreal, as if he was the eponymous hero in the film," the researchers wrote.

The Oscar-nominated movie stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank. He leads a merrily uneventful life until he realizes his friends and family are actors, his seaside town is a TV soundstage and every moment of his life has been broadcast.

His struggle to sort out reality and illusion is heartwarming, but researchers say it's often horrifying for "Truman syndrome" patients.

A few take pride in their imagined celebrity, but many are deeply upset at what feels like an Orwellian invasion of privacy. The man profiled in the British journal was diagnosed with schizophrenia and is unable to work. One of Gold's patients planned to commit suicide if he couldn't leave his supposed reality show.

Delusions can be a symptom of various psychiatric illnesses, as well as neurological conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Some drugs also can make people delusional.

It's not unusual for psychiatrists to see delusional patients who believe their relatives have been replaced by impostors or who think figures in their lives are taking on multiple disguises.

But "Truman" delusions are more sweeping, involving not just some associates but society at large, Gold said.

Delusions tend to be classified by broad categories, such as the belief that one is being persecuted, but research has shown culture and technology can also affect them. Several recent studies have chronicled delusions entwined with the Internet such as a patient in Austria who believed she had become a walking webcam.

Reality television may help such patients convince themselves their experiences are plausible, according to the Austrian woman's psychiatrists, writing in the journal Psychopathology in 2004.

Ian Gold, a philosophy and psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal who has researched the matter with his brother, suggests reality TV and the Web, with their ability to make strangers into intimates, may compound psychological pressure on people who have underlying problems dealing with others.

That's not to say reality shows make healthy people delusional, "but, at the very least, it seems possible to me that people who would become ill are becoming ill quicker or in a different way," Ian Gold said.

Other researchers aren't convinced, but still find the "Truman syndrome" an interesting example of the connection between culture and mental health.

Vaughan Bell, a psychologist who has researched Internet-related delusions, said one of his own former patients believed he was in the virtual-reality universe portrayed in the 1999 blockbuster "The Matrix."

"I don't think that popular culture causes delusions," said Bell, who is affiliated with King's College London and the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia. "But I do think that it is only possible to fully understand delusions and psychosis in light of our wider culture."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Japanese man moves into Mexico airport
Tourist is a local celebrity after arriving, staying at Mexico City facility
The Associated Press

Marco Ugarte / AP
An airline pilot, left, sits down to eat near Hiroshi Nohara at the food court in Benito Juarez International airport in Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY - Hiroshi Nohara is on a layover at the Mexico City airport. It has lasted almost three months, and he has no plans to leave.

For reasons he can't explain, the Japanese man has been in Terminal 1 of the Benito Juarez International Airport since Sept. 2, surviving off donations from fast-food restaurants and passengers and sleeping in a chair.

At first, he frightened passengers, and airport authorities asked the Japanese Embassy to investigate why the foul-smelling man refused to leave. Now, he's somewhat of a celebrity, capturing Mexico's collective imagination with nearly daily television news reports on his life at the food court.

Tourists stop to pose with him for photographs or get an autograph.

The Tokyo native flew into Mexico with a tourist visa and a return ticket home, but he never left the airport. In an interview Thursday alongside the airport McDonald's, he said he had no motive for his extended stay and doesn't know how much longer he'll remain.

"I don't understand why I'm here," he said through a visiting interpreter originally hired by a television station. "I don't have a reason."

The embassy can't force him to leave, and since Nohara's visa is valid all Mexican officials can do it wait for it to expire in early March.

Marco Ugarte / AP
Hiroshi Nohara is seen in Benito Juarez International airport in Mexico City. Nohara is in Mexico legally, and can't be removed from the airport until his visa expires in March.

During his stay, Nohara's wiry goatee has grown into a scraggly mass. His red-tinted hair is speckled with dust and dandruff, and his cream-colored jacket and fleece blanket are dingy with overuse. He smells like he hasn't had a shower in months.

"He's a calm person, a nice man," said Silvia Navarrete del Toro, an airport janitor. "He just sits here and eats all day."

Various stalls in the food court give Nohara free snacks and drinks, sometimes even throwing in hats or coffee mugs with store logos to get free publicity during his frequent television appearances.

Strangers often buy him pastries or hamburgers; he prefers the latter.

He sits with the interpreter, talking and laughing for hours, at a small table covered with cups of cold coffee, packets of ketchup and sandwiches wrapped in foil.

Stroking his facial hair, Nohara said the 2004 film "The Terminal," starring Tom Hanks as an Eastern European man stuck in a New York City airport, was not his inspiration. But he acknowledged the similarities.

"My life," he joked, "is 'The Terminal 2.'"

Panda bites student who just wanted a hug
Student shocked when fuzzy creature rejects his advances at Chinese zoo
The Associated Press

BEIJING - A college student in southern China just needed a hug, but he probably shouldn't have picked a panda for his warm and fuzzy moment.

Instead of a hug, the panda bit the student after he broke into the animal's zoo enclosure.

A park employee said the student was visiting the zoo with classmates when he jumped the 6.5-foot-high fence around the panda's habitat.

The park was virtually deserted at the time.

The employee said the student was bitten in the arms and legs by the panda, named Yang Yang. Two foreign visitors who saw the attack ran to get help.

The official Xinhua News Agency reports the hospitalized student later said the panda was so cute and cuddly he never expected to be bitten.

Messiah Coming
Esther Jungreis
by Malkah Fleisher
[Forwarded by Word From Yerushalaim Simantov Allalouf ( /

This interview with this (unbelieving) woman is interesting. She doesn’t have all truth but a look at some of the Jewish thought for this hour.]

"Internationally renowned Jewish inspirational speaker Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis warns that we are feeling the "birth pangs of the Mashiach," with limited time to save ourselves from dark prophecies surrounding his arrival.

In an exclusive interview on Israel National Radio's popular new show Mah Nishma with host Gavriel Sanders, Rebbetzin Jungreis, who is the founder of the successful 'Hineni' Jewish outreach organization and author of many books including the recently published 'Life is a Test: How to Handle Life's Challenges Successfully', addressed the fear that people feel as turbulent global events begin to make their mark on Jews and their allies around the world.

The birth pangs of the Messiah

"Anyone who has been just looking around and has his or her eyes open must be frightened. Things are happening that just don't make sense. Overnight, our cherished institutions, our icons, have collapsed. We don't understand it. People blame this one and that one. It's not just in the United States, it's all over the world, and we have so many natural disasters, and so much illness. What is happening?"

Rebbetzin Jungreis says G-d is bringing the world closer to redemption in a process called "chevlei Mashiach" – the labor pains of the arrival of the Messiah.

"Now labor pains, you know, could be very, very painful…as the birth becomes more imminent, the pain becomes more intense, to the point where the mother can not bear it anymore, and just when she thinks she can not bear it, it's 'Mazal Tov!', and the baby is born."

'The generation of the dog'

Based on the writings of ancient Jewish sages, Jungreis concludes that this generation is replete with the signs that are prophesied to hail the coming of the Messiah, including endemic impudence, followership, idol worship, disasters, and war.

It's going to be a generation that will abound in chutzpah.

"All our [sages] agree…they do not want to be present for the chevlei Mashiach, the birth pangs, because the birth pangs are going to be very painful… It's going to be a generation that will abound in chutzpah [audacity]. Chutzpah will be colossal. Families will be fragmented. Children will turn against parents, parents against children. The elderly will not be respected. Youth will be worshipped.

"… The generation will be like the generation of the dog. What does that mean? The dog runs ahead but always looks back to see if the master is behind him. Similarly, people don't have their own opinions today. What is the media saying? The media is controlling the world…"

According to Rebbetzin Jungreis, the greatest idol worship of this generation is money, an obsession which causes the Western world to ignore the lurking danger posed by Islamist terror against Israel and the United States.

"We have been very blessed, perhaps there was never in history such a wealthy Jewish generation as ours was. But there was no Hakaras HaTov, no credit to Hashem. "My strength did all this". We became arrogant, we became chutzpahdik, we forgot Hashem… Imach shemam [their names be obliterated], the sons of Ishmael, every minute it's "Allah". The sons of Esav, "the Lord," every minute. Their leadership is always speaking the name of G-d. Am Yisrael … they heard the word of Hashem panim el panim, face to face - has forgotten its G-d."

The propensity of the world to worship money is so great, says Rebbetzin Jungreis, that the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust, Iran's effort to attain a nuclear weapon, and the rise of fascist and anti-Western powers can be attributed to it.

"[Following the US stock market crash in 1929] America was so absorbed, Hitler had the playground of the world at his disposal, and no one stopped him," she says. "Too late did America and the world wake up. Early thirties – no one intervened with Hitler. They were all absorbed in a financial crisis.

"Fast forward. We have a financial crisis now. Ahmadinejad has the entire world at his disposal, came to New York, made the most toxic, poisonous accusations… if you had made those accusations against Muslims they would have burned down New York City, everyone would have been apologizing. Jews? No problem. He says it, and nobody even looks up, no one looks up. And in addition to him, all the rogue nations, all the demagogues, all the new Hitlers got into the act. Russia woke up again, back to its old tricks, making treaties with Chavez of Venezuela, right here in our own hemisphere. And of course, there is always North Korea. And America is worried about the stock market."

Ahmadinejad, Islamist terror - all part of prophecy

Islamist terror, says Rebbetzin Jungreis, is also predicted in the 9th century (Gregorian calendar) Jewish work, ' Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer,' which prophesied that before the coming of Messiah in the end of days, Ishmael – who is described as a brutal, wild man – will rule the world. Rebbetzin Jungreis attributes Arab terror in Israel, the Islamization of Europe, and the welcoming of Iranian President and vocal anti-Zionist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York to the ancient prophetic writing.

"Ahmadinejad comes to New York, and he has the audacity, the chutzpah to proclaim … in public, at the UN, that it's Zionist Jews who are responsible for the financial crisis in the world, that they are manipulating the world, they're controlling the world… And guess what: The entire world is silent, no outcry, no outrage, no one says anything, and he – just for good measure – he adds that Israel is this cesspool that has to be destroyed, annihilated. No outcry, not a word."

The king of Persia is going to have a weapon that is going to terrorize the world.

Ahmadinejad himself has a role in the unfolding arrival of the Messiah, says Jungreis, and was also predicted to wield lethal power during the end of days.

"You know it says in Yalkut Shimoni that right before Mashiach will come, during Chevlei Mashiach, the king of Persia, now what is Persia? Persia is today's Iran. The king of Persia is going to have a weapon that is going to terrorize the entire world."

'Hashem is hiding'

The current low spiritual state of the Jewish People has caused G-d to hide His face from them, says Rebbetzin Jungreis, who says this concealment is meant to provoke the Jewish People to search for Him.

"In parshas Vayelech… Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu that in the future, there will come a generation who will forget Hashem, and terrible sufferings will come upon them. And finally they will say 'you know why this is happening? Ein Eloka, G-d is not with us. G-d is not in our midst.' And then it says … " I will continue to hide My face." Dichotomous. If we admit that G-d is not with us, then why is G-d hiding? … That puts the onus of responsibility upon G-d – it's Your fault. You are not with us. We have to say 'We are not with Hashem! We are not with our Torah! We are not with our Mitzvot! We are responsible."'

Rebbetzin Jungreis says G-d's concealment is a crucial element in developing the proper relationship with Him, with the key to understanding it being found in the biblical story of Adam and Chava [Eve].

"What was the first sin of Adam and Chava?. We say that we ate from a fruit that was forbidden? No! Hashem was ready to negotiate that. The first sin was scapegoating!. 'The woman who You gave to be with me, it's her fault, she made me do it.' Not only was Adam scapegoating, he was an ingrate. And Chava, what did she say? 'It was the serpent.' And that's when Hashem said 'That's it. That's it. Out! Gan Eden is over.' And that is what we are doing.

Hashem is hiding, but He wants us to find Him.

But listen to the chesed [kindness] Hashem said. 'I will hide My face.'

"When a mother goes with her toddler to the supermarket, let's say, and the toddler has a temper tantrum, and he doesn't want to go out unless he gets candy, what does the mother do? She says 'Okay, I'm leaving, you will have to stay here by yourself," and she goes away. Is she really going away? Of course not. She is keeping an eye on her baby, but she pretends to go away so the child should seek her out and run after her. So Hashem says 'I'm hiding' but if you're hiding, you want somebody to find you. There's a beautiful mashal [parable] from a Rebbe who was walking on the street and he sees a little boy crying, and he says 'why are you crying my little child?' 'I'm crying because I'm playing hide-and-seek and nobody's looking for me.'… Hashem is hiding, but He wants us to find Him. And we are not looking for Him, so what are we doing? Whose fault was it?"

[end of part 1]

Listen to the full Israel National radio interview of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis with Mah Nishma's Gavriel Sanders.

Rebbetzin Jungreis: By the Year 6,000, Mashiach Has to be Here
by Malkah Fleisher

( In an exclusive Israel National Radio interview with Mah Nishma's Gavriel Sanders, famed Jewish orator and founder of the Hineni Jewish outreach organization Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis reveals Jewish prophecy pertaining to the coming of the Messiah, giving important advice on hastening and sweetening his arrival.

[part 2]

'It's Erev Shabbos of the world'

In order to reverse negative prophecies which warn of pain, suffering, famine, and death during the end of days, Rebbetzin Jungreis says one must first understand the imminence of the arrival of the Messiah.

This world, as we know it today, cannot last beyond 6,000 years.

"Listen carefully, friends, to what I'm telling you. Hashem, Elokei Yisrael, created this world that we are living in today in six days. Every day was a thousand years. This world, as we know it today, cannot last beyond 6,000 years. Right now, we are in the year 5769, which means it's Erev Shabbos of the world. By the year 6,000, Mashiach has to be here. He could come much earlier. But by the year 6,000, he has to be here. … the Vilna Gaon said that the last war, Milchemet Gog uMagog, is going to last only 12 minutes because they are going to have such weapons…. We know that the final redemption, the final Geula, it's going to be like when you left Egypt – only one-fifth of our people left Egypt. Four-fifths perished… during the plague of darkness.

"So I'm appealing to every Jew. Every negative prophecy can be changed. We can bring Mashiach today. Right now, we are living in a period called Erev Shabbat. It's Erev Shabbat, because when Mashiach will come, it will be the day that will be all Shabbat, the seventh day….Let's bring Shabbos early, and let us to bring Shabbos with menucha [ease], with shalom [peace], with simchah [happiness] – Is it possible? Absolutely?! Every negative prophecy can be changed."

'There is no one but G-d'

What does Rebbetzin Jungreis say is the key to bringing the Messiah and reversing negative prophecies surrounding his arrival? Understanding that there is no one but G-d.

"Our trials will continue until we are going to declare "Ein Od Milvado" – there is no one but G-d. Not Wall Street, not finances, not real estate, not this and not that, and not science – everything has collapsed. Ein Old Milvado. That's a state of mind – we have to know that there is nothing except G-d. G-d is our strength, G-d is our might, G-d is our salvation. And we all have to come back to our Torah way of life – all of us. Each person has to make an effort."

Rebbetzin Jungreis underscores that each Jew must become more knowledgeable in the Torah, so that the Jewish People can reclaim their rightful title as "People of the Book." She also says Jews must also learn how to pray, giving tips to know if one's prayer is truly from the heart.

"We have forgotten the language of prayer. How would you like it, if you're a father, and the only time that your kid calls you is when they are running low on their credit card, and they need money… That's who we have become…. Then we have the chutzpah, the audacity, if G-d doesn't deliver what we ask "Oh, I prayed already, and it didn't help." Chutzpah! Chutzpah! Learn how to pray from your soul, from your heart.

What perspiration is for your body at the gym, on the treadmill, tears are for your neshama.

"When you get on a treadmill, how do you know if you're doing good? If you perspire. What perspiration is for your body at the gym, on the treadmill, tears are for your neshama [soul]. And if you don't know how to cry, then for Heaven's sakes, cry because you don't know how to cry. If you don't know how to pray, tell G-d "I don't know how to pray, take my hand in the darkness, and forgive me. Give me the words!"

Saving yourself from the birth pangs

Specific actions recommended by the Sages can also help protect people from the birth pangs of the Messiah, says Rebbetzin Jungreis.

"First we have to know that it is written in the Talmud… Suffering is not inflicted upon the world but to wake up the Jewish People. And how can we save ourselves? Our Sages take on the discussion….three recommendations… ya'asok b'Torah… ya'asok comes from the word 'esek', business. It's beyond study. It's 'make Torah your business', 24/7, cause your business occupies you. Not just Torah study, but also … to extend kindness to your fellow man. And the third recommendation is to be careful about [three meals] on Shabbat… that third meal is critical, because that third meal is not to satisfy you, but you're sitting at your table in honor of G-d. Those are the three specific recommendations.

"Forgive each other, be kind to each other, don't harbor grudges, be considerate of another human being, go out of your way, watch your language… do favors… simply because you're a Jew."

Rebbetzin Jungreis appeals to listeners to do everything possible to avert the disasters which are associated with the end of days, assuring them that G-d will be with them, but that they must do their part to seek Him out.

"So whether we are going to have an easy birth or a painful, savage, bloody birth, where G-d forbid, the mother's life is at risk, it's in our hands. I appeal to you, my brothers and my sisters, wherever you are… I know that G-d will help us, of course He will, G-d never abandons us, He's in hiding, He's watching us, but why should any one of us, G-d forbid, be hurt in the process. We are one People. Let's come back to our Heavenly Father, let's search for Him, and He will say to us 'Hineni, my children. Here I am.' "

To purchase Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis's new book, 'Life is a Test: How to Handle Life's Challenges Successfully,' for Torah classes, or to watch Rebbetzin Jungreis's weekly Torah lessons, visit http://www.Hineni.or

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You Drive Me Crazy
Ten of the most annoying driving habits.
By Tom Wilson
of MSN autos

(© Corbis)

Remember, patience is a virtue. Not every driver is as good as they think they are — including you!

It's been said that the only two ways of really insulting someone is to call the person a lousy lover or a poor driver. I don't know about the first, but motoring among the unwashed for just a few minutes uncovers a catalog of offenses, ranging from simple discourtesies to outright felonies.

Most bad driving habits can be traced back to selfish behavior. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve some form of driver inattention in the three seconds prior to collision. Reaching for a moving object increases the accident risk by a staggering 9 times; reading, applying makeup or dialing a cell phone by 3 times. Clearly pandering to such odds is rude to anyone owning sheet metal within striking distance, not to mention the irritation a near miss from such boneheaded action engenders.

And while we often see who sits behind the wheel, the blame goes deeper than just the offending party. For as complex as driving a car can be, we receive precious little training in the science (almost always from overworked teachers), and there's no follow-up instruction unless we get a ticket and attend traffic school. With that in mind, poking fun at the collective driving skill of American motorists might prove instructive; thus, MSN Autos has called upon me, the staff curmudgeon, to growl publically. So put it in park while I cover my short list of peeves from the pavement.

1. Learn to Merge
Sauntering to the end of a really long freeway onramp at 52 mph, confirming that all those cars and trucks swerving in avoidance are going 75 mph as you pull into a traffic lane, then accelerating to 80 mph two minutes later torques everyone off for three miles behind you.

Traffic already on the freeway has the right of way and it's your duty to merge seamlessly with it. If you're not going freeway speed by the bottom of the onramp then step on the gas. Most importantly of all, train yourself to look over your left shoulder while accelerating on the ramp so you can pick your target merge point. And don't blame me if I don't move over for you; I'm busy and fitting in is your job. I have the right of way, jackass!

2. The Gaping Fool
If you have a hankering to see a wrecked car, then take a beer and a lawn chair to a junkyard and pass a lazy afternoon contemplating the near-infinite combinations of wrinkled sheet metal. Revel in the mathematic complexities of shattered glass; compute the force vectors written irrevocably in all that carnage. But brother, don't balk me with your rube's need to stare during the morning commute.

Look, if you're going to pull over and assist, great. If you're picking your way through broken glass, we understand. But jamming traffic for five miles because of some dark need to gawk at a fender-bender is a hanging offense. Instead of rubbernecking at the wreck site, look for the escape route around and away from it. If you have passengers, they can stare for you and give a detailed report.

3. Get High on the Beams
Thanks to the near-total urbanization of most American's driving experience, we've come to a collective inability to use high beams properly. As a result, any rural native can spot the dark-night newbies; they're the ones groveling along blessedly uncongested county highways with their low beams on. Sniffing their way home from bingo night at 32 mph in a 55 zone, these incompetents are another unnecessary hazard to navigation.

It's actually more efficient to power up to speed relatively quickly and then back off the throttle to cruise at a steady speed, rather than slowly moving away from a stoplight. So don't be afraid to use the accelerator.

If you can't be bothered to either remember that every vehicle has been equipped with high beam headlights since before Humphrey Bogart was getting whistling lessons from Lauren Bacall in the 1944 film To Have and Have Not, or are too lazy to use those high beams, then you simply aren't participating in society. This is the sort of lazy ignorance that begets risky passes and menacing tailgating.

Most telling, slovenly low-beam-only operation proves that the occupant behind the wheel isn't looking even 80 feet ahead, the cardinal sin of all. It doesn't take more than a flip of the fingers to swap the headlights up or down. The instant traffic passes those high beams should be on, illuminating well down the road and giving the eyes an easier time adapting to the lack of glare. An instant before oncoming traffic rounds the bend or crests the hill, another finger flick puts the low beams back on. It's really easy folks.

4. Jackrabbit Smarts
I'm frustrated to no end by people who have internalized all that hogwash to avoid jackrabbit starts. They crawl away from signals and stop signs as if each foot traveled has a ten dollar toll attached to it, ignorant of the fact that creeping to speed wastes not only fuel, but also bottles up traffic behind them.

Learn this truth: Engines are most efficient when operating at or nearly at full throttle. Otherwise, a moderate, steady pace is best. So it's more efficient to power up to speed relatively quickly, then back off the throttle and cruise at a steady speed.

5. Mystery Brakers
Just asking, but what's up with these inexplicable brake applications in the middle of straightaways? Did you just remember the cat is still in the dryer? See your high school flame pass in the opposite direction? Wake up and realize you were driving? The mystery is baffling. All I know is that it seems people aren't paying attention and then get startled back into focus, so they apply the brakes. Focus on driving when you're behind the wheel, not the other things that are happening in your life. You might live longer and worry less.

6. Lights On, No One Home
Every morning I wake up hoping tonight I'll be blinded for 10 minutes by the headlights of a parked car. Really, is it such an intellectual connection to understand that parking lights are for, uh, parking? That headlights blaring uselessly and dangerously into oncoming traffic are needless hazards? Turn them off when you are parked.

7. Rolling Your Own
You don't know him, but curmudgeon extraordinaire Steve Statham, the editor of Musclecar Enthusiast magazine, once growled about "making up your own driving rules as you go along." This after another excruciating round of, "Oh no, you go first, oh no, you go first" at the local four-way stop with an indecisive motorist.

Really, which is more courteous, recalling and applying such driving law basics as the car on the right has the right of way, or displaying a pigheaded devotion to ensuring everyone else goes first? There's already a whole body of law dedicated to the orderly flow of traffic and we'll all get there sooner if we didn't hold these crossroad coffee klatches.

8. Pull In Front of Me, Will You?
Why is it so many tin pots play that infantile, "I don't see you" bit when two lanes of traffic merge in crawling rush hour traffic? They keep their nose glued to the guy in front, avoid all eye contact and like three year olds wish you'd simply go away.

Oh, please. Is your life so devoid of success that you need to impose your will on another driver stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic? A lane has ended, the people next door are going to merge into your lane, hopefully every other car at a time. Deal with it.

9. Herd Instinct
Here's an idea: Let's all get in our cars, jump onto the freeway and bunch together in packs in the left lanes. It'll be fun and we'll barely have to maintain consciousness because we can just follow the guy in front of us.

If this sounds stupid, it is. But that seems to be the norm on interstates all across this country. Cars pile up like logs at the mill because the guy in front is texting his dog groomer and the strokes behind him put their brains out to pasture 10 miles ago.

If your path is blocked, do something about it. Given today's clogged freeways often you can't, and then we're told patience is a virtue (code phrase for hopeless). But just as often, looking ahead and plotting a careful lane change will smoothly avoid such mindless wandering.

10. All the Rest
I've left out a veritable hall of fame of daily irritants and driving clichés. Juvenile thumping stereos, unused turn signals, shaving, reading, make-up application, eating while underway, cell phone idylls, weaving, drunks, 64 mph in residential areas, not pulling over for faster traffic — the list is endless. You know, you don't have to smile, and I sure don't want to exchange addresses with you, but if we'd all just keep our minds on what we're doing — that's driving — it would help.

Rare 5-petalled flower unveiled in Cagayan
By Charlie Lagasca

TUGUEGARAO CITY - A five-petal flower, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world and endemic to this province's rainforest, was unveiled here earlier this week.

Without roots, stems or leaves, the flower, named Rafflesia leonardi, was discovered last May by a multi-sectoral group with the aid of Agta tribesmen at the remote Sitio Kinapawan in coastal Lallo town, three hours from this bustling northernmost capital.

But the flower's formal unveiling, according to Perla Visorro, president of the Cagayan Valley Partners in People Development (Cavapped), was only made Monday after almost six months of laboratory studies and research by local and international botanists to further determine and prove its rarity.

The flower, which takes nine to 10 months to fully bloom but starts to wilt after around seven days, was named after Filipino botanist Leonardo Co of Conservation International, who confirmed it as a new species of Rafflesia five months after the flower's discovery.

The flower, which is around 1.5 meters in diameter and only thrives in the rainforest here, was discovered some 300-700 meters above sea level within the Kinapawan forest of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Visorro said the new species, whose features are similar to R. lobata and R. manillana, was the fourth Rafflesia species found in Luzon and eighth all over the country.

However, among the world's Rafflesia species, the Rafflesia leonardi is the only one with a diaphragm.

Obama Advisers To Public: Temper Expectations
Mike Flannery

CHICAGO (CBS) ― President-elect Barack Obama and his inner circle fear that some voters expect him to turn around the economy, wind down the war in Iraq and, perhaps, cure cancer -- all by the Fourth of July.

They know they must manage and lower those expectations, CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports.

A top economic advisor to Obama had a glum warning for the rest of us Thursday morning: Neither the job market nor the stock market will be turning around any time soon.

"This might be a long haul," said Robert Reich, who was President Bill Clinton's secretary of labor. "2009 is going to be a very hard year. Some economists say we won't be out of this for two years, others are saying it may be three, or four, maybe five years."

Now on Obama's transition team, Reich worries about what happens after the new president is sworn in Jan. 20.

"We all have to be very careful about the expectations that we are putting on this man, our president-elect," Reich said. "If we all assume it's going to be the first 100 days, we're going to be disappointed."

The man who was Obama's chief campaign strategist is moving to lower expectations, too.

"We are inheriting an array problems unlike any president has faced, maybe since Franklin Roosevelt in 1932," David Axelrod said. "It's not going to be easy, not going to be quick."

Rick Jasculca worked for President Jimmy Carter, President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton. He said Obama will need every bit of his skill as a communicator.

"If people see you reaching across the aisle and they see you making progress -- going forward rather than going backward -- I think people will give you the benefit of the doubt," Jasculca said.

Added Axelrod: "One of his great strengths is he is never too high, he's never too low -- he's very focused."

That's why some called him "No-Drama Obama." That has changed a bit, since the president-elect and his Chicago-based team of political operatives have begun to bring on board veteran Washington politicos.

Now there are stories quoting unnamed sources who claim, for example, that Obama's team is frustrated with Hillary Clinton's delay in taking the job of secretary of state. They're not happy with those stories.

"This is a great example of when there's a vacuum, the vacuum gets filled with a lot of speculation and hyperbole," Axelrod said. "No one is frustrated. No one is anguished. She's obviously a talented public servant and someone who'd enhance any team."

Transition aides said late Thursday that Obama plans to nominate Clinton for secretary of state formally after Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Copy of famed Lincoln letter turns up in Dallas
By Jeff Carlton,
Associated Press Writer

Lincoln Memorial : The statue of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the US, is seen at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. (AFP/Karen Bleier)

DALLAS – A Texas museum hopes a document found in its archives turns out to be an authentic government copy of Abraham Lincoln's eloquent letter consoling a mother thought to have lost five sons in the Civil War.

The famed Bixby Letter, which the Dallas Historical Society is getting appraised as it prays for a potential windfall, has a fascinating history.

The original has never been found. Historians debate whether Lincoln wrote it. Its recipient, Lydia Bixby, was no fan of the president. And not all her sons died in the war.

The letter, written with "the best of intentions" 144 years ago next week, is "considered one of the finest pieces of American presidential prose," said Alan Olson, curator for the Dallas group. "It's still a great piece of writing, regardless of the truth in the back story."

Historians say Lincoln wrote the letter at the request of a Massachusetts official, who passed along news of a Boston woman grieving the loss of her five sons. The letter is addressed to "Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass." and begins with an acknowledgment that nothing written could possibly make a grief-stricken mother feel better about such a horrific loss.

"I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming," Lincoln wrote.

After thanking Bixby on behalf of a grateful nation, Lincoln wrote that he would pray that God relieve her anguish and leave her with only the "cherished memory of the loved" along with "the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."

The letter, as was the president's custom in his personal correspondence, is signed "A Lincoln."

"It is so beautifully written," said James Cornelius, curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. "It is an extraordinarily sensitive expression of condolence."

There was renewed interest in the letter after it was read in the 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan." It also sparked a new round of debate centering on Lincoln's authorship and the fate of Bixby's sons.

Evidence indicates two of Bixby's sons died, a third was a deserter and a fourth ended up in a prisoner-of-war camp, Cornelius said. A fifth is believed to have received a discharge, but his fate is unknown.

Historians have also argued that John Hay, one of Lincoln's secretaries, wrote the letter. Hay was an accomplished writer who wrote a biography of Lincoln and later became ambassador to the United Kingdom.

"Lincoln probably wrote it," Cornelius said. "Hay did on some occasions write letters in Lincoln's name and sign them — or have Lincoln sign them — but probably not something like this that purports to be so personal and individual and heartfelt."

The letter received widespread attention days after it was written. Bixby either sent it to the Boston Evening Transcript or a postal worker intercepted it and tipped off the newspaper, which reprinted the letter, Cornelius said.

The touching note came about two months after Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman had broken through Atlanta on his march to the coast and about two weeks after Lincoln won re-election. Union spirits were high, Cornelius said.

"The letter was so popular that it was published in newspapers and people copied and sent it to relatives," Olson said. "That letter and the words in it affected the nation. It tugged at people's hearts at the time of a really bloody period in America."

Olson hopes he has an official government copy of the Bixby Letter and not something one relative sent to another. In an era before photocopiers or carbon paper, secretaries hand-copied documents to be retained for their files, he said.

The paper and ink appear authentic to the Civil War era, he said. The historical society has asked an expert at Christie's auction house in New York for an opinion.

Stacy McDermott, an assistant editor at The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, estimated that an official government copy of the Bixby Letter would fetch millions of dollars.

But Cornelius doubts the letter is authentic. He said the Lincoln White House would have been unlikely to make a copy of such a personal letter and points out that a pair of rival New York companies sold copies of the letter as keepsakes beginning in the 1890s.

Olson said he stumbled across the letter over the summer in the historical society archives, which contain about 3 million items. He said he does not know how or why the letter ended up in the archives.

The discovery, Olson said, will provide a teachable moment even if it doesn't prove to be a bankable one.

"If it's not worth a lot of money — too bad," Olson said. "It's still a fascinating story and it's still a great display piece."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Liberals clinically mad, concludes top psychiatrist
Eminent doctor makes case leftist ideology is a mental disorder
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

WASHINGTON – Just when liberals thought it was safe to start identifying themselves as such, an acclaimed, veteran psychiatrist is making the case that the ideology motivating them is actually a mental disorder.

"Based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions, modern liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded," says Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of the new book, "The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness." "Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave."

While political activists on the other side of the spectrum have made similar observations, Rossiter boasts professional credentials and a life virtually free of activism and links to "the vast right-wing conspiracy."

For more than 35 years he has diagnosed and treated more than 1,500 patients as a board-certified clinical psychiatrist and examined more than 2,700 civil and criminal cases as a board-certified forensic psychiatrist. He received his medical and psychiatric training at the University of Chicago.

Rossiter says the kind of liberalism being displayed by both Barack Obama and his Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton can only be understood as a psychological disorder.

"A social scientist who understands human nature will not dismiss the vital roles of free choice, voluntary cooperation and moral integrity – as liberals do," he says. "A political leader who understands human nature will not ignore individual differences in talent, drive, personal appeal and work ethic, and then try to impose economic and social equality on the population – as liberals do. And a legislator who understands human nature will not create an environment of rules which over-regulates and over-taxes the nation's citizens, corrupts their character and reduces them to wards of the state – as liberals do."

Dr. Rossiter says the liberal agenda preys on weakness and feelings of inferiority in the population by:
  • creating and reinforcing perceptions of victimization;
  • satisfying infantile claims to entitlement, indulgence and compensation;
  • augmenting primitive feelings of envy;
  • rejecting the sovereignty of the individual, subordinating him to the will of the government.

"The roots of liberalism – and its associated madness – can be clearly identified by understanding how children develop from infancy to adulthood and how distorted development produces the irrational beliefs of the liberal mind," he says. "When the modern liberal mind whines about imaginary victims, rages against imaginary villains and seeks above all else to run the lives of persons competent to run their own lives, the neurosis of the liberal mind becomes painfully obvious."

Is Obama the Antichrist?
The winning lottery number in Illinois was 666, which, as everyone knows, is the sign of the Beast.
By Lisa Miller
Published Nov 15, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Nov 24, 2008

On Nov. 5, Todd Strandberg was at his desk, fielding E-mails from around the world. As the editor and founder of, his job is to track current events and link them to biblical prophecy in hopes of maintaining his status as "the eBay of prophecy," the best source online for predictions and calculations concerning the end of the world. Already Barack Obama had drawn the attention of apocalypse watchers after an anonymous e-mail circulated among conservative Christians in October implying that he was the Antichrist. Former "Saturday Night Live" ingénue Victoria Jackson fueled the fire when, according to news reports, she wrote on her Web site that Obama "bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ." Now Strandberg was receiving up-to-the-minute news from his constituents in Illinois. One of the winning lottery numbers in the president-elect's home state was 666— which, as everyone knows, is the sign of the Beast (also known as the Antichrist). "It is very eerie, and I take it for a sign as to who he really is," wrote one of Strandberg's correspondents.

Ever since Jesus Christ was crucified and, according to the Gospels, rose again in glory, his followers have been anticipating the end of history—the time when their Lord will return to earth and reign for a thousand years. The question has always been when. Most Christians don't worry about the end too much; it's an abstract concept, a theological puzzle for late-night pondering. A few, however, have always believed that it is coming—and soon. Millennialist movements, as they're called, gain prominence especially when the world grows chaotic, during wars and at the turn of every century. According to a 2006 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a third of white evangelicals believe the world will end in their lifetimes. These mostly conservative Christians believe a great battle is imminent. After years of tribulation—natural disasters, other cataclysms (such as the collapse of financial markets)—God's armies will vanquish armies led by the Antichrist himself. He will be a sweet-talking world leader who gathers governments and economies under his command to further his own evil agenda. In this world view, "the spread of secular progressive ideas is a prelude to the enslavement of mankind," explains Richard Landes, former director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University.

No wonder, then, that Obama triggers such fear in the hearts of America's millennialist Christians. Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University's law school, says he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, but he can see how others might. Obama's own use of religious rhetoric belies his liberal positions on abortion and traditional marriage, Staver says, positions that "religious conservatives believe will threaten their freedom." The people who believe Obama is the Antichrist are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts: "They are expressing a concern and a fear that is widely shared," Staver says.

Before Christ comes again, those who are saved will ascend to heaven, according to this end-times theology, in a huge, upward whoosh called the Rapture. Strandberg is so certain that the Rapture is coming, he's bought a number of Internet addresses in addition to RaptureReady: AntiAntichrist, Tribulationus and RaptureMe. In the event that RaptureReady crashes during the apocalypse, anyone who needs an update will, with a simple Google search, be able to get one. Strandberg says Obama probably isn't the Antichrist, but he's watching the president-elect carefully. On his Web site, he has something called the Rapture Index, a calculation based on signs and prophecy of the proximity of the end. According to Strandberg, any number over 160 means "fasten your seat belts." Obama's win pushed the index to 161.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Serbian Abortionist Who Aborted 48,000 Babies Becomes Pro-Life Activist

MADRID, November 13, 2008 (CNA) - The Spanish daily "La Razon" has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former "champion of abortion." Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after spending 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

"The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue," the newspaper reported. "Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares."

In describing his conversion, Adasevic said he "dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. 'My name is Thomas Aquinas,' the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn't recognize the name."

"Why don't you ask me who these children are?" St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

"They are the ones you killed with your abortions,” the Dominican saint told him.

"Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions," the article stated.

"That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion - something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc. The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby's heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,"

After this experience, Adasevic "told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so. They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university."

After years of pressure and on the verge of giving up, he had another dream about St. Thomas.

"You are my good friend, keep going,” the man in black and white told him. “Adasevic became involved in the pro-life movement and was able to get Yugoslav television to air the film 'The Silent Scream,' by Doctor Bernard Nathanson, two times."

Adasevic has told his story in magazines and newspapers throughout Eastern Europe. He has returned to the Orthodox faith of his childhood and has studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

"Influenced by Aristotle, Thomas wrote that human life begins forty days after fertilization," Adasevic wrote in one article. Scientific advancements since Thomas’ time, however, have revealed that human life begins at the moment of conception. La Razon commented that Adasevic "suggests that perhaps the saint wanted to make amends for that error." Today the Serbian doctor continues to fight for the lives of the unborn.

Himala deserves Best Asian Film of All Time award

A week ago, Nov. 5, I received an e-mail from Simon Laub of The Screening Room, CNN in London. He said he got my name from researching on Himala as line producer and wrote, "As you may be aware, CNN is covering the Asian Pacific Screen Awards, on November 11th on the Gold Coast in Australia. I am happy to tell you that Himala, following a viewers choice poll placing it in the Top Ten Asian films ever, has been nominated among other contenders for a CNN viewers choice award. As a result we at CNN's The Screening Room are very keen to speak to the team responsible for creating this exceptional film."

I answered and gave him contact numbers of Charo Santos-Concio, executive producer of the film; Ricky Lee, scriptwriter; and Imee Marcos, head of Experimental Cinema which produced the film.

However, I had doubts. "Baka tayo ma peke," I told Ricky to which he agreed. We soon heard from Imee, Charo and Ricky but nothing more from the organizers of the awards.

Then last Tuesday noon, Nov. 11, I got a call from Neil from the CNN in Australia asking for a response since he was on his way to the awards ceremonies and Himala had won the audience choice award. I was flabbergasted and stammered out something like being happy since I had also felt the picture is indeed world-class and worthy of such an honor.

Today, however, there are comments from various other quarters casting aspersions on the award. On hindsight, I have always felt that on-line voting or text voting never represented the true winners in any competition. It was always the one with the largest fan base, the one with ample finances to pay for texting expenses. And this has been confirmed by many disappointed jurors of our numerous television competitions.

Himala competed as one of the Top 18 Asian Films chosen by a Nominations Council from Turkey, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Korea, Egypt, Iran and Hawaii. Then, CNN shortlisted 10 out of the 18 which included Himala; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of 2000 from China, the highest-grossing foreign-language film in American history which won the 2001 Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film; The Seven Samurai 1954 classic of Akira Kurosawa from Japan, Gabbeh from Iran, Peter Weir's 1981 Gallipoli from Australia, Pather Panchali of Satyajit Ray from India which won the Cannes' Best Human Document Award in 1956; Spirited Away from Japan; Oldboy from South Korea which won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival; Infernal Affairs from Hong Kong/China; and Chungking Express from China. Online voting closed on Oct. 31.

How could Himala win against the Seven Samurai or Ray's Pather Panchali which have been studied in film schools worldwide?

Yet, according to Neil, "Himala was the most discussed film on our website from the start. From the most popular, we compiled a short list of 10 and promoted it on TV, the web and YouTube. Himala won by a considerable margin ahead of Seven Samurai in second place and Crouching Tiger in third."

Obviously, as a writer aptly wrote, Pinoy on-line People Power won the day for Himala. It is possible that not even the multitudinous fans of Nora Aunor have brought about this victory. Nor even the film itself.

We once wrote "Himala would go down in history as the first major film to have been produced with dozens of newcomers from radio and theater, and only one name star - Nora Aunor. It was a risk the company was willing to take, a gamble that paid off in a big way. The film won for Nora the Best Actress Award in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) of 1982, among the nine awards out of the 13 given out that year. The film also won the Bronze Hugo Prize in 1983 at the 19th Chicago International Film Festival; participated in the non-competitive Moscow Film Festival which Nora attended; was personally handpicked by the 1983 Berlin International Film festival director to compete in the official selection. Nora was nominated for Best Actress at this same festival and it is said that she lost to a Russian actress by just one vote. The film was also declared one of the Ten Best Films of the Decade by the URIAN (1980-89); and won several awards in the Catholic Mass Media Awards of 1983."

Now Himala has won another award by a large margin. Whatever the reason, I do feel we deserve this award, if only as a tribute to our people who in once a great while decide to come together as one, forget their petty squabbles and divisiveness, and make a declaration of support for this troubled nation, and its tremendously talented and good-hearted if unfortunate population.

Long live Himala! As Ricky Lee once told us, "Immodest as it may sound, sana marami pang himala! Himala made money during its time and yet it was not mainstream in content and form. It was indie in spirit. It featured on one name star, and it was very minimalist. Yet, it survived time." Indeed it has survived!

Envoy pays homage to Roxas role in Israel independence
By Felipe V. Celino
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:54:00 04/18/2008

ROXAS CITY – The late President Manuel Acuña Roxas played a very crucial role in making Israel an independent state 60 years ago, a ranking Israeli diplomat said.

In his speech during the commemoration of the 60th death anniversary of Roxas on Tuesday, Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Zvi Vapni said President Roxas became part of the history book of Israel when he decided to recognize the country as an independent state.

Vapni said that Roxas instructed then Secretary Carlos P. Romulo, the Philippines’ representative to the United Nation, to vote in favor of the independence of Israel. The vote of Romulo broke the tie between those for and those against Israel’s independence, he added.

But a month before Israel’s declaration of independence on May 18, Roxas died of a heart attack on April 15, 1948, after he spoke at Clark Field in Pampanga.

Capiz Gov. Victor Tanco Sr. invited the ambassador as a guest during the late president’s death anniversary.

The celebration was also part of the five-day 107th Founding Anniversary of Capiz where President Roxas became governor at the age of 27.

A wreath-laying activity was held at his monument at Roxas City public plaza that was attended by Mrs. Judy Araneta-Roxas, the late President’s daughter-in-law, and all local officials of Capiz.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Russian Orthodox church stolen - brick by brick
The Associated Press

MOSCOW — Wanted: One missing Russian church. Last seen in July. Reward for its return. Orthodox officials in a central Russian region say an abandoned church building that was to be put back into use has been stolen by local villagers.

Orthodox priest Vitaly of the Ivanovo-Voskresenskaya diocese said officials last saw the two-story Church of Resurrection intact in late July. Sometime in early October, however, people from the nearby village of Komarovo, northeast of Moscow, dismantled the building, he said.

Villagers apparently sold it to a local businessman, one ruble (about 4 cents) per brick, Vitaly said. Orthodox priests use only one name.

"Of course, this is blasphemy," he told The Associated Press. "These people have to realize they committed a grave sin."

Vitaly said police were investigating the theft.

The 200-year-old building, which no longer had its icons and other religious valuables, was a school for disabled children during the Soviet era before it was closed down in 1998 and turned over to the church.

Vitaly said the diocese was thinking of reopening it for services.

The Orthodox church has experienced a major resurgence in Russia and has restored or built thousands of churches.

In poorer, rural regions, vandals or petty thieves regularly steal gilded icons or donations from churches and sell them for alcohol or drugs.

The Culture War and Barack Obama
By Bill O'Reilly

The fascinating thing about Barack Obama's election is that few Americans seem to know exactly how the man is going to govern. Is he going to be a Nancy Pelosi enthusiast, a far-left guy? Or will he move to the center like President Clinton did? Even his devoted followers don't really know how the man will initially use his power.

There's an old country saying: "You dance with the one who brung ya." Just hours after Obama's victory, the far left outfit issued a press release saying that, during the campaign, it had raised an astounding $88 million on behalf of the president-elect. The timing of MoveOn's statement was no accident: It was a subtle reminder that payback is expected.

For far-left zealots, the goal is a European-like entitlement culture where the feds provide direct assistance to those not having a lot of money. In places like France and Sweden, there are no demands placed upon those receiving government money; cradle-to-grave financial support is simply given to anyone earning under a certain amount. So, if you want to gamble all day long or drink vodka until your legs give out, fine—you still get the check, the housing, the medical care.

Traditionally, Americans have rejected that kind of nanny state, but make no mistake, that is what the far left sees as "economic justice."

And then there are "San Francisco values." That is the George Soros vision of legalized narcotics and prostitution, unfettered abortion rights, legalized euthanasia, and gay marriage, to name just a few social issues. Soros, a big time contributor to MoveOn, believes America should be a libertine society where moral judgments about social behavior are unacceptable.

So, where will Barack Obama be on those issues? He says he personally opposes gay marriage, but I can't imagine him working against it. He's also fine with abortion in cases where the health of the mother is an issue. Of course, the health of the mother could be a panic attack or a headache. Based upon his voting record in the past, I expect Obama to be extremely liberal when social legislation is presented to him. I also expect Ruth Bader Ginsburg to have a new best friend if a Supreme Court opening occurs.

However, if Obama tacks to the left on entitlements and the controversial social stuff, his appeal to working Americans might quickly diminish... especially if the economy doesn't turn around. Even while Obama was winning liberal California, voters were overturning the gay marriage law imposed upon them by activist judges. The United States is still a center-right country when it comes to traditional values.

I believe Obama and his advisors understand that. But I am also sure that the MoveOn brigades and devoted liberal media outlets are hungry for more "progressive" change. This is a real dicey situation for the newly elected President. The words "rock" and "hard place" come to mind.

Oregon Offers Terminal Patients Doctor-Assisted Suicide Instead of Medical Care
By Dan Springer

PORTLAND, Ore. — Some terminally ill patients in Oregon who turned to their state for health care were denied treatment and offered doctor-assisted suicide instead, a proposal some experts have called a "chilling" corruption of medical ethics.

Since the spread of his prostate cancer, 53-year-old Randy Stroup of Dexter, Ore., has been in a fight for his life. Uninsured and unable to pay for expensive chemotherapy, he applied to Oregon's state-run health plan for help.

Lane Individual Practice Association (LIPA), which administers the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County, responded to Stroup's request with a letter saying the state would not cover Stroup's pricey treatment, but would pay for the cost of physician-assisted suicide.

"It dropped my chin to the floor," Stroup told FOX News. "[How could they] not pay for medication that would help my life, and yet offer to pay to end my life?"

The letter, which has been sent to other terminal patients throughout Oregon, follows guidelines established by the state legislature.

Oregon doesn't cover life-prolonging treatment unless there is better than a 5 percent chance it will help the patients live for five more years — but it covers doctor-assisted suicide, defining it as a means of providing comfort, no different from hospice care or pain medication.

"It's chilling when you think about it," said Dr. William Toffler, a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. "It absolutely conveys to the patient that continued living isn't worthwhile."

In issuing their latest Prioritized List of Health Services, state officials reported a new emphasis on preventive care and cost effectiveness. Dr. John Sattenspiel, LIPA's senior medical director, defended the measures.

"I have had patients who would consider knowing that this is part of that range of comfort care or palliative care services that are still available to them, they would be comforted by that," Sattenspiel said. "It really depends on the individual patient."

Toffler called it a callous practice that went against medical convention. "It corrupts the consistent medical ethic that has been in place for 2,000 years," he said. "It's absolutely breathtaking."

Oregon is the only state to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, which came into effect in 1997. Since that time, there have been 341 reported cases where doctors provided lethal doses of medicine to patients to end their lives.

Oregon voters have upheld the "Death with Dignity" law three times, and Sattenspiel says it is the state's duty to inform patients of all their legal options.

For Stroup, however, suicide was never an option. He fought back, and the Oregon Health Plan eventually reversed its decision and is now paying for his chemotherapy, giving him hope he'll be around a little longer for his 80-year-old mother and five grandchildren.

Tolerance fails T-shirt test
By John Kass

Catherine Vogt, 14, conducted an experiment in political tolerance at her Oak Park middle school and learned some valuable lessons. (Tribune photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo / November 12, 2008)

As the media keeps gushing on about how America has finally adopted tolerance as the great virtue, and that we're all united now, let's consider the Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment.

Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching "inclusion," and she decided to see how included she could be.

So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:

"McCain Girl."

"I was just really curious how they'd react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters," Catherine told us. "I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be."

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain's name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.

"People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn't be wearing it," Catherine said.

Then it got worse.

"One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed," Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren't the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

"In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain," Catherine said.

If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college.

"Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said," Catherine said.

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.

"He said, 'You should be crucifixed.' It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?' " Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be "burned with her shirt on" for "being a filthy-rich Republican."

Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn't want to jeopardize her experiment.

"I couldn't show people really what it was for. I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing," she said.

Only a few times did anyone say anything remotely positive about her McCain shirt. One girl pulled her aside in a corner, out of earshot of other students, and whispered, "I really like your shirt."

That's when you know America is truly supportive of diversity of opinion, when children must whisper for fear of being ostracized, heckled and crucifixed.

The next day, in part 2 of The Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment, she wore another T-shirt, this one with "Obama Girl" written in blue. And an amazing thing happened.

Catherine wasn't very stupid anymore. She grew brains.

"People liked my shirt. They said things like my brain had come back, and I had put the right shirt on today," Catherine said.

Some students accused her of playing both sides.

"A lot of people liked it. But some people told me I was a flip-flopper," she said. "They said, 'You can't make up your mind. You can't wear a McCain shirt one day and an Obama shirt the next day.' "

But she sure did, and she turned her journal into a report for her history teacher, earning Catherine extra credit. We asked the teacher, Norma Cassin-Pountney, whether it was ironic that Catherine would be subject to such intolerance from pro-Obama supporters in a community that prides itself on its liberal outlook.

"That's what we discussed," Cassin-Pountney said about the debate in the classroom when the experiment was revealed. "I said, here you are, promoting this person [Obama] that believes we are all equal and included, and look what you've done? The students were kind of like, 'Oh, yeah.' I think they got it."

Catherine never told us which candidate she would have voted for if she weren't an 8th grader. But she said she learned what it was like to be in the minority.

"Just being on the outside, how it felt, it was not fun at all," she said.

Don't ever feel as if you must conform, Catherine. Being on the outside isn't so bad. Trust me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Michigan liberals attack Lansing congregation in the middle of Sunday worship
By Nick,
Section News

This is what we're up against.

On Sunday morning, amidst worshiping congregants and following unifying prayers that our President-elect be granted wisdom as he prepares to lead our nation through difficult global, social and economic challenges, the Michigan left declared open war on peaceful church goers.

They did it with banners, chants, blasphemy, by storming the pulpit, by vandalizing the church facility, by potentially defiling the building with lewd, public, sex acts and by intentionally forcing physical confrontations with worshipers.

This didn't take place in some dystopian, post modern work of fiction and it didn't take place in San Francisco or Berkley. This was the scene at a Bible believing church in Lansing, Michigan.

I returned home myself yesterday, from church and an afternoon watching football with the family, to find an email in my inbox from a friend in the Capitol City. Isn't surprising to see her name in the inbox as she and I often compare notes on our Sunday services.

Truth be told, I've done my best over the last year to start a friendly little rivalry with her. My church is better than hers, I insist, and I have been known to tell her why. Hers is superior to mine, she reminds me, and lists the reasons. (I admit I'm maybe a tad hyper-competitive, but my church really is the best in the world.) Yesterday's email began with an understated proclamation; "So church today was exciting..."

On Sunday, November 9, 2008 Michigan liberals sat peacefully through announcements, worship and prayer for the sick, our nation and our President-elect before staging a coordinated, disgusting and repulsive attack on worshipers and the broader concept of the church itself at Lansing's Mount Hope Church.

The lefties were a part of a liberal organization known as Bash Back Lansing and their collection of radical blogs, including one of the state's most widely read "mainstream" progressive blogs (and none which will receive a link on this website) called on "queers and trannies" from across the state and the region to converge on Lansing for what they refer to as an "action." While many of the members claim to be anarchists (they drove on roads, ate non-garden grown foods, printed materials on products created by government protected free markets, wore clothing, talk incessantly about "organization," etc etc etc) their broader goal is stated plainly on one of their lefty blogs.

"I can tell you that we are targeting a well-known anti-queer, anti-choice radical right wing establishment."

Mount Hope, for the record, is an evangelical, bible believing church whose members provide free 24 hour counseling, prayer lines, catastrophic care for families dealing with medical emergencies, support groups for men, women and children dealing with a wide variety of life's troubles, crisis intervention, marriage ministries, regular, organized volunteer work in and around the city, missions in dozens of countries across the globe, a construction ministry that has built over 100 churches, schools, orphanages and other projects all over the world and an in-depth prison ministry that reaches out, touches and helps the men and women the rest of society fears the most. They also teach respect for all human life and the Biblical sanctity of marriage as an institution between one man and one woman.

This is what Michigan liberals label a "radical right wing establishment," and over 30 of them showed up in force yesterday. Wearing secret-service style ear pieces and microphones they received the "go" from their ringleader and off they went.

Prayer had just finished when men and women stood up in pockets across the congregation, on the main floor and in the balcony. "Jesus was gay," they shouted among other profanities and blasphemies as they rushed the stage. Some forced their way through rows of women and kids to try to hang a profane banner from the balcony while others began tossing fliers into the air. Two women made their way to the pulpit and began to kiss.

Their other props? I'll let them tell you in their own words... from another of their liberal blogs:

"(A) video camera, a megaphone, noise makers, condoms, glitter by the bucket load, confetti, pink fabric...yeh."

The video camera they put to good use as they attempted to provoke a violent reaction. The image of the pink-clad folks above is one of theirs, stating in a picture worth more than a thousand words the goals of the Michigan left.

The "open minded" and "tolerant" liberals ran down the aisles and across the pews, hoping against hope to catch a "right winger" on tape daring to push back (none did). And just in case their camera missed the target, they had a reporter in tow. According to a source inside the church yesterday there was a "journalist" from the Lansing City Pulse along for the ride, tipped off about the action and more interested in getting a story than in preventing the vandalism, the violence and anti-Christian hatred being spewed by the lefties. We'll see what he files and what his editors see fit to print.

Props were readily on display too, though some of the condoms may have been put to even more nefarious use.

An hour after police and security had collected and removed who they thought were the last of the liberals, a volunteer security person discovered two more, hiding, together, in a public restroom. While their compatriots engaged in openly violent protest in front of everyone these two snuck away to potentially stage their own protest of sorts, and only by the grace of God did one of the hundreds of kids at the church not happen upon that particular restroom in those moments. Precisely how long they'd been there and precisely what they'd been up to we don't know.

The church's response? After things settled down, the blasphemy ended, the lewd props removed and the families safe from fear of additional men and women running into and past them the pastor took the stage and led the congregation in one more prayer... not for retribution, or divine justice or a celestial comeuppance (that's what I'd have prayed for) but instead that the troubled individuals who'd just defiled the Lord's house, so full of anger and hate, would know Jesus' love in their lives and God's peace that exceeds human understanding.

Yesterday morning defined the difference between a church of believers and Michigan liberals. It also illustrated in shocking, painful detail precisely what we're up against.

Obama surfs through
The Obamas are a warm vision for the White House -- but he should strive toward full transparency. Plus: Yes, I still like Sarah Palin!
By Camille Paglia

Nov. 12, 2008 | Dazed and confused. A week after the election of Barack Obama, millions of American news junkies are in serious cold turkey, the big bump of withdrawal from two years of addiction to the dizzying ups and downs of a campaign that threatened never to end.

Eat dirt, you sour Clintons, who said Obama was "unelectable." Obama's 8 million vote margin over his Republican opponent -- miraculously sparing us endless litigation and chad counting -- was an exhilarating testimony to his personal gifts and power of persuasion. And the formidable Michelle Obama, with her electric combo of brains and style, is already rewriting first ladyhood. The warm partnership of the Obamas (wonderfully caught by the camera as they disappeared offstage after his victory) has set an inspiring standard for modern marriage.

Yes, it's true we know relatively little about Barack Obama, and his triumph is a roll of the dice. But John McCain (like Bob Dole) was a major Republican misfire -- a candidate of personal honor and heroic sacrifice who was woefully inadequate for the times. McCain's lurching grandstanding during the Wall Street crisis made him look like a ham actor on a bender. In debate, McCain was always pugnacious but too often bland or rambling, and he often missed glaring opportunities to score off Obama's vagueness or contradictions.

McCain's brusque treatment of his long-suffering wife, Cindy, was also off-putting -- nowhere more so than after his concession speech, when he barely remembered to give her a perfunctory hug. Probably no one is more relieved by McCain's defeat than Cindy, who seemed too frail and tightly wound for the demanding role of first lady. Now she can slip away once more into blessed privacy.

No one knows whether Obama will move to the center or veer hard left. Perhaps even he doesn't know. But I have great optimism about his political instincts and deftness. He wants to be president of all the people -- if that is possible in so divided a nation. His natural impulse seems to be toward reconciliation and concord. The big question will be how patient the Democratic left wing is in demanding drastic changes in social policy, particularly dicey with a teetering economy.

As I've watched Obama gracefully step up to podiums or move through crowds, I've been reminded not of basketball, with its feints and pivots, but of surfing, that art form of his native Hawaii. A photograph of Obama body surfing on vacation was widely publicized in August. But I'm talking about big-time competitive surfing, as in this stunning video tribute to the death-defying Laird Hamilton (who, like Obama, was raised fatherless in Hawaii). Obama's ability to stay on his feet and outrun the most menacing waves that threaten to engulf him seems to embody the breezy, sunny spirit of the American surfer.

In the closing weeks of the election, however, I became increasingly disturbed by the mainstream media's avoidance of forthright dealing with several controversies that had been dogging Obama -- even as every flimsy rumor about Sarah Palin was being trumpeted as if it were engraved in stone on Mount Sinai. For example, I had thought for many months that the flap over Obama's birth certificate was a tempest in a teapot. But simple questions about the certificate were never resolved to my satisfaction. Thanks to their own blathering, fanatical overkill, of course, the right-wing challenges to the birth certificate never gained traction.

But Obama could have ended the entire matter months ago by publicly requesting Hawaii to issue a fresh, long-form, stamped certificate and inviting a few high-profile reporters in to examine the document and photograph it. (The campaign did make the "short-form" certificate available to, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.) And why has Obama not made his university records or thesis work widely available? The passivity of the press toward Bush administration propaganda about weapons of mass destruction led the nation into the costly blunder of the Iraq war. We don't need another presidency that finds it all too easy to rely on evasion or stonewalling. I deeply admire Obama, but as a voter I don't like feeling gamed or played.

Another issue that I initially dismissed was the flap over William Ayers, the Chicago-based former member of the violent Weather Underground. Conservative radio host Sean Hannity began the drumbeat about Ayers' association with Obama a year ago -- a theme that most of the mainstream media refused to investigate or even report until this summer. I had never heard of Ayers and couldn't have cared less. I was irritated by Hillary Clinton's aggressive flagging of Ayers in a debate, and I accepted Obama's curt dismissal of the issue.

Hence my concern about Ayers has been very slow in developing. The mainstream media should have fully explored the subject early this year and not allowed it to simmer and boil until it flared up ferociously in the last month of the campaign. Obama may not in recent years have been "pallin' around" with Ayers, in Sarah Palin's memorable line, but his past connections with Ayers do seem to have been more frequent and substantive than he has claimed. Blame for the failure of this issue to take hold must also accrue to the conservative talk shows, which use the scare term "radical" with simplistic sensationalism, blanketing everyone under the sun from scraggly ex-hippies to lipstick-chic Nancy Pelosi.

Pursuing the truth about Ayers, I recently rented the 2002 documentary "The Weather Underground," from Netflix. It was riveting. Although the film seems to waver between ominous exposé and blatant whitewash, the full extent of the group's bombing campaign is dramatically demonstrated. It's not for everyone: The film uses gratuitous cutaways of horrifying carnage, from the Vietnam War to the Manson murders (such as Sharon Tate's smiling corpse, bathed in blood). But the news footage of the Greenwich Village townhouse destroyed in 1970 by bomb-making gone wrong in the basement still has enormous impact. Standing in the chaotic street, actor Dustin Hoffman, who lived next door, seems like Everyman at the apocalypse.

Ayers comes off in the film as a vapid, slightly dopey, chronic juvenile with stunted powers of ethical reasoning. The real revelation is his wife, Bernardine Dohrn (who evidently worked at the same large Chicago law firm as Michelle Obama in the mid-1990s). Of course I had heard of Dohrn -- hers was one of the most notorious names of our baby-boom generation -- and I knew her black-and-white police mug shot. But I had never seen footage of her speaking or interacting with others. Well, it's pretty obvious who wears the pants in that family!

The mystery of Bernardine Dohrn: How could such a personable, attractive, well-educated young woman end up saying such things at a 1969 political rally as this (omitted in the film) about the Manson murders: "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach. Wild!" And how could Dohrn have so ruthlessly pursued a decade-long crusade of hatred and terrorism against innocent American citizens and both private and public property?

"The Weather Underground" never searches for answers, but it does show Dohrn, then and now, as a poised, articulate woman of extremely high intelligence and surprising inwardness. The audio extra of her reading the collective's first public communiqué ("Revolutionary violence is the only way") is chilling. But the tumultuous footage of her 1980 surrender to federal authorities is a knockout. Mesmerized, I ran the clip six or seven times of her seated at a lawyer's table while reading her still defiant statement. The sober scene -- with Dohrn hyper-alert in a handsome turtleneck and tweedy jacket -- was tailor-made for Jane Fonda in her "Klute" period, androgynous shag. Only illegalities by federal investigators prevented Dohrn from being put away on ice for a long, long time.

Given that Obama had served on a Chicago board with Ayers and approved funding of a leftist educational project sponsored by Ayers, one might think that the unrepentant Ayers-Dohrn couple might be of some interest to the national media. But no, reporters have been too busy playing mini-badminton with every random spitball about Sarah Palin, who has been subjected to an atrocious and at times delusional level of defamation merely because she has the temerity to hold pro-life views.

How dare Palin not embrace abortion as the ultimate civilized ideal of modern culture? How tacky that she speaks in a vivacious regional accent indistinguishable from that of Western Canada! How risible that she graduated from the University of Idaho and not one of those plush, pampered commodes of received opinion whose graduates, in their rush to believe the worst about her, have demonstrated that, when it comes to sifting evidence, they don't know their asses from their elbows.

Liberal Democrats are going to wake up from their sadomasochistic, anti-Palin orgy with a very big hangover. The evil genie released during this sorry episode will not so easily go back into its bottle. A shocking level of irrational emotionalism and at times infantile rage was exposed at the heart of current Democratic ideology -- contradicting Democratic core principles of compassion, tolerance and independent thought. One would have to look back to the Eisenhower 1950s for parallels to this grotesque lock-step parade of bourgeois provincialism, shallow groupthink and blind prejudice.

I like Sarah Palin, and I've heartily enjoyed her arrival on the national stage. As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is -- and quite frankly, I think the people who don't see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma. So she doesn't speak the King's English -- big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist. I stand on what I said (as a staunch pro-choice advocate) in my last two columns -- that Palin as a pro-life wife, mother and ambitious professional represents the next big shift in feminism. Pro-life women will save feminism by expanding it, particularly into the more traditional Third World.

As for the Democrats who sneered and howled that Palin was unprepared to be a vice-presidential nominee -- what navel-gazing hypocrisy! What protests were raised in the party or mainstream media when John Edwards, with vastly less political experience than Palin, got John Kerry's nod for veep four years ago? And Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, for whom I lobbied to be Obama's pick and who was on everyone's short list for months, has a record indistinguishable from Palin's. Whatever knowledge deficit Palin has about the federal bureaucracy or international affairs (outside the normal purview of governors) will hopefully be remedied during the next eight years of the Obama presidencies.

The U.S. Senate as a career option? What a claustrophobic, nitpicking comedown for an energetic Alaskan -- nothing but droning committees and incestuous back-scratching. No, Sarah Palin should stick to her governorship and just hit the rubber-chicken circuit, as Richard Nixon did in his long haul back from political limbo following his California gubernatorial defeat in 1962. Step by step, the mainstream media will come around, wipe its own mud out of its eyes, and see Palin for the populist phenomenon that she is.

On the culture front, I was startled to read of the death last week of Yma Sumac, the virtuoso five-octave Peruvian singer who seems like a legendary figure of the misty past. Sumac's 1950 debut album, "Voice of the Xtabay," made a tremendous impact on me as a child. My family attended her performance (with her company of 20 artists) at the Binghamton Theatre in what was probably 1951. I still have the yellowed clippings and program, which lists songs eerily mimicking the sound of the Andean winds and earthquakes. The cover image of "Voice of the Xtabay" with a glamorous Sumac in the pose of a prophesying priestess against a background of fierce sculptures and an erupting volcano, contains the entire pagan worldview and nature cult of what would become my first book, "Sexual Personae," published 40 years later. Thank you, Yma!

News items: My article "Final Cut: The Selection Process for 'Break, Blow, Burn'" has just been published in the Fall 2008 issue of Arion at Boston University. It is available online at Arion or via that invaluable international site, Arts & Letters Daily. No more Mr. Nice Guy: I've taken the gloves off against John Ashbery, Jorie Graham and the rest of that insufferably pretentious crowd. For real English used in a vital, vigorous contemporary way, see the new book of poems by my colleague Jack DeWitt, "Almost Grown," which deals with cars, gals and brawls -- American culture at its finest!

My keynote lecture for the Theodore Roethke Centenary Conference, held at the University of Michigan last month, has gone to press for the forthcoming issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review. The lecture is called "Dance of the Senses: Natural Vision and Psychotic Mysticism in Theodore Roethke." One of my main points: I'm sick of the insipid bourgeois neuroticism in current, careerist American poetry. Bring back the psychotics!