Christian Right’s Emerging Deadly Worldview: Kill Muslims to Purify the Earth – eminentize the eschaton! more jeezis horseshit.
Latest Anti-Pot Quack Science: ‘Marijuana Makes Your Teeth Fall Out’ – more anti-cannabis horseshit
Scientists breed world’s first mentally ill mouse – schizophrenic mice… just what the world needs… 8/
Christian Right’s Emerging Deadly Worldview: Kill Muslims to Purify the Earth
Christian extremists are preaching a war against tolerance to target and persecute all Muslims, including the 6 million who live in the U.S.
February 12, 2008
By Chris Hedges
Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani are the three stooges of the Christian right. These self-described former Muslim terrorists are regularly trotted out at Christian colleges — a few days ago they were at the Air Force Academy — to spew racist filth about Islam on behalf of groups such as Focus on the Family. It is a clever tactic. Curly, Larry and Mo, who all say they are born-again Christians, engage in hate speech and assure us it comes from personal experience. They tell their audiences that the only way to deal with one-fifth of the world’s population is by converting or eradicating all Muslims. Their cant is broadcast regularly on Fox News, including the Bill O’Reilly and Neil Cavuto shows, as well as on numerous Christian radio and television programs. Shoebat, who has written a book called Why We Want to Kill You, promises in his lectures to explain the numerous similarities between radical Muslims and the Nazis, how “Muslim terrorists” invaded America 30 years ago and how “perseverance, recruitment and hate” have fueled attacks by Muslims.
These men are frauds, but this is not the point. They are part of a dark and frightening war by the Christian right against tolerance that, in the moment of another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, would make it acceptable to target and persecute all Muslims, including the some 6 million Muslims who live in the United States. These men stoke these irrational fears. They defend the perpetual war unleashed by the Bush administration and championed by Sen. John McCain. McCain frequently reminds listeners that “the greatest danger facing the world is Islamic terrorism,” as does Mike Huckabee, who says that “Islamofascism” is “the greatest threat this country [has] ever faced.” George W. Bush has, in the same vein, assured Americans that terrorists hate us for our freedoms, not, of course, for anything we have done. Bush described the “war on terror” as a war against totalitarian Islamofascism while the Israeli air force was dropping tens of thousands of pounds of iron fragmentation bombs up and down Lebanon, an air campaign that killed 1,300 Lebanese civilians.
The three men tell lurid tales of being recruited as children into Palestinian terrorist organizations, murdering hundreds of civilians and blowing up a bank in Israel. Saleem says that as a child he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights, although no incident of this type was ever reported in Israel. He claims he is descended from the “grand wazir” of Islam, a title and a position that do not exist in the Arab world. They assure audiences that the Palestinians are interested not in a peaceful two-state solution but rather the destruction of Israel, the murder of all Jews and the death of America. Shoebat claims he first came to the United States as part of an extremist “sleeper cell.”
“These three jokers are as much former Islamic terrorists as ‘Star Trek’s’ Capt. James T. Kirk was a real Starship captain,” said Mikey Weinstein, the head of the watchdog group The Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The group has challenged Christian proselytizing in the military and denounced the visit by the men to the Air Force Academy.
The speakers include in their talks the superior virtues of Christianity. Saleem, for example, says his world “turned upside down when he was seriously injured in an automobile accident.”
“A Christian man tended to Kamal at the accident scene, making sure he got the medical treatment he needed,” his Web site says. “Kamal’s orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist were also Christian men whom over a period of several months ministered the unconditional love of Jesus Christ to him as he recovered. The love and sacrificial giving of these men caused Kamal to cry out to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob acknowledging his need for the Savior. Kamal has since become a man on a new mission, as an ambassador for the one true and living God, the great I Am, Jehovah God of the Bible.”
This creeping Christian chauvinism has infected our political and social discourse. It was behind the rumor that Barack Obama was a Muslim. Obama reassured followers that he was a Christian. It apparently did not occur to him, or his questioners, that the proper answer is that there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim, that persons of great moral probity and courage arise in all cultures and all religions, including Islam. Christians have no exclusive lock on virtue. But this kind of understanding often provokes indignant rage.
The public denigration of Islam, and by implication all religious belief systems outside Christianity, is part of the triumphalism that has distorted the country since the 9/11 attacks. It makes dialogue with those outside our “Christian” culture impossible. It implicitly condemns all who do not think as we think and believe as we believe as, at best, inferior and usually morally depraved. It blinds us to our own failings. It makes self-reflection and self-criticism a form of treason. It reduces the world to a cartoonish vision of us and them, good and evil. It turns us into children with bombs.
These three con artists are not the problem. There is enough scum out there to take their place. Rather, they offer a window into a worldview that is destroying the United States. It has corrupted the Republican Party. It has colored the news media. It has entered into the everyday clichés we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. It is ignorant and racist, but it is also deadly. It grossly perverts the Christian religion. It asks us to kill to purify the Earth. It leaves us threatened not only by the terrorists who may come from abroad but the ones who are rising from within our midst.
Latest Anti-Pot Quack Science: ‘Marijuana Makes Your Teeth Fall Out’
February 9, 2008
By Bruce Mirken
Recent weeks have seen a rash of new studies of marijuana hitting the mass media, generating scary headlines like “Smoking Pot Rots Your Gums,” “Cannabis Bigger Cancer Risk Than Cigarettes” and “Pot Withdrawal Similar to Quitting Cigarettes. Most of this coverage can be boiled down to a fairly simple equation:
Flawed science + uncritical reporting = misinformation.
Mercifully, the U.S. mass media were so distracted by Super Tuesday, Heath Ledger’s autopsy and the latest Britney Spears trauma that reports of these studies didn’t get as much play as they might have. That’s good, because the research had significant gaps, and the reporting ranged from slapdash to flat wretched.
Lung cancer: One joint = 20 cigarettes?
The lung cancer study was the scariest. Since cigarettes are a known lung cancer risk, it seems plausible that marijuana might carry similar risks. In fact, most of the scientific evidence tends in the opposite direction — though one would never know it from reading either the study or the Reuters wire story that got the heaviest circulation.
Conducted in New Zealand, this was what is called a “case-control” study, in which researchers looked at a group of patients who had lung cancer and compared them to a group without cancer — the controls — matched for age and other demographics. All were asked about various factors that might increase their lung cancer risk, including smoking cigarettes or marijuana. After running the data on 79 cancer cases and 324 controls through myriad equations and mathematical analyses, the researchers proclaimed that one joint packed a cancer risk roughly equal to 20 cigarettes — an assertion that became Reuters’ lead.
What was downplayed in the study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, and missing entirely from most media reports was context — context that strongly suggests that its alarming conclusion is wrong.
For one thing, the new conflicts with other, much larger studies. In a study published in 1997, Kaiser-Permanente researchers followed 65,000 patients for 10 years and saw no sign of marijuana use increasing the risk of lung cancer or other smoking-related cancers. And a UCLA study similar in design to this one, published in 2006, found a trend toward lower lung cancer rates among marijuana smokers. Instead of 79 cancer cases, the UCLA team looked at 1,212. The result was so striking that they speculated that it “may reflect a protective effect of marijuana.”
That’s right: Marijuana might protect from cancer. Piles of published studies going back to the mid-1970s document the cancer-fighting properties of marijuana’s active components, THC and other chemicals called cannabinoids. Anticancer activity has been shown in many types of malignant cells, including lung cancer cells. So even though marijuana smoke contains tars and other potentially carcinogenic compounds, it is entirely plausible that cannabinoids counter any harmful effects.
But even without such context, a closer look at the New Zealand data raises questions that should have been asked by reporters. For example, most marijuana smokers in the study actually didn’t show an increased risk of cancer. The only group that did was those whose marijuana use equaled at least 10.5 “joint-years” (one joint-year equals smoking a joint every day for one year). That group constituted a whopping 14 people. All those complicated mathematical models leading to the “20 times the risk” assertion, and contradicting reams of published research, rest on exactly 14 people.
Does marijuana rot your gums?
The gum disease study was even more tenuous, but again you would never know it from most of the coverage. Researchers — also in New Zealand — followed 903 participants from birth through age 32. At ages 18, 21, 26 and 32, they were asked whether they had used marijuana in the past year, and how often. The heaviest marijuana users had a 60 percent increased risk for gum disease after controlling for several factors that might affect their risk, including cigarette use and professional dental care.
The researchers were careful to say they hadn’t proved cause and effect, but simply what scientists called an “association.” But that didn’t stop one U.S. reporter from writing that marijuana “could … destroy gum tissue” and an Australian headline writer from declaring that marijuana “makes teeth fall out.”
Reading the actual study — something one suspects most reporters never did — raises questions the media never asked. Why is there no indication that participants were questioned about use of alcohol or other illicit drugs, both of which are known risk factors for dental and gum problems? Why were they not asked about brushing and flossing habits?
Given the relatively small effect — the statistical margin of error meant that the increased risk could be as low as 16 percent — confounding by alcohol/drug use or poor dental hygiene could easily explain the whole difference. In other words, there is a very good chance this study found nothing real at all.
I raised this issue with an editor at one news organization, whose story had been particularly hysterical and lacking in context, asking why they hadn’t noted these potential doubts. The rather snippy reply: “As for the rest of your concerns, we are dealing with a peer-reviewed journal study, and I don’t feel at all comfortable going beyond what they are publishing. That is not our role.”
Memo to editors: Journal peer-reviewers are human. They sometimes miss stuff. When did it stop being a reporter’s job to ask questions?
Marijuana as addictive as tobacco?
If you haven’t lost your teeth or died of lung cancer yet, another set of grim headlines warned that marijuana is as addictive as tobacco — again, a conclusion that went beyond the study’s findings and which was almost certainly wrong.
In this U.S. study, researchers took 12 people who regularly smoked both marijuana and cigarettes and had them stop using one, the other and both, in varying orders. Physiological tests and responses to questionnaires were used to assess withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and difficulty sleeping. The withdrawal symptoms reported were roughly comparable.
But the limitations of this research are obvious. In fairness, most were acknowledged in the study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
For one, the study looked only at regular users of both substances, so it tells nothing about marijuana users who do not use tobacco — a considerable number, by most accounts. Second, the researchers did not publish the results for individual participants. In a sample of 12, one or two extreme responses can skew the averages enough to make them meaningless.
The researchers also did not note any changes in participants’ use of caffeine or alcohol, which could easily have affected their findings. Volunteers were asked not to change their use of these substances, but we have no clue whether they followed these instructions.
And though the overall withdrawal symptom ratings were similar, ratings of anger and craving were higher for tobacco than for marijuana. And even in areas where the two substances were statistically comparable, there was often a trend toward the tobacco withdrawals being stronger. Had this been a larger study, those trends might have reached statistical significance.
Also, the five-day abstinence period may not have been enough to fully gauge withdrawal effects. For longtime cigarette smokers, tobacco cravings can continue for years.
Finally, a reality check: It is an established fact that about 32 percent of those who ever touch a cigarette become dependent on tobacco. For marijuana, the figure is nine percent. In the real world, it’s clear that marijuana is nowhere near as addictive as tobacco — but again, you’d never know it from the coverage of this study.
In fact, you wouldn’t learn much from the coverage of any of these studies.
Scientists breed world’s first mentally ill mouse
July 29, 2007
By Jonathan Leake
SCIENTISTS have created the world’s first schizophrenic mice in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the illness.
It is believed to be the first time an animal has been genetically engineered to have a mental illness. Until now they have been bred only for research into physical conditions such as heart disease. It will allow researchers to study the disease and develop treatments using a limitless supply of laboratory animals.
Animal rights campaigners have condemned the research, saying that it is morally repugnant to create an animal doomed to mental suffering.
The mice were created by modifying their DNA to mimic a mutant gene first found in a Scottish family with a high incidence of schizophrenia, which affects about one in every 100 people. The mice’s brains were found to have features similar to those of humans with schizophrenia, such as depression and hyperactivity.
“These mutant mice may provide an important new tool for further study of the combinations of factors that underlie mental illnesses like schizophrenia and mood disorders,” said Takatoshi Hikida, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a leading researcher.
The egg cells of mice were genetically modified by inserting a gene associated with schizophrenia into their DNA. The eggs were fertilised and grown into viable baby mice using surrogate mothers.
Animal Aid, a campaign group, said rodents were not a reliable way of modelling human disease.