Friday, March 30, 2007

History of Easter-Part 1

Pagan Origins
Submitted by MelindaBA
KNN Staff
Easter, a Christian festival, embodies many pre-Christian traditions. The origin of its name is unknown. Scholars, however, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, believe it probably comes from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to April. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox; traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts.
Such festivals, and the stories and legends that explain their origin, were common in ancient religions. A Greek legend tells of the return of Persephone, daughter of Demeter, goddess of the earth, from the underworld to the light of day; her return symbolized to the ancient Greeks the resurrection of life in the spring after the desolation of winter. Many ancient peoples shared similar legends. The Phrygians believed that their omnipotent deity went to sleep at the time of the winter solstice, and they performed ceremonies with music and dancing at the spring equinox to awaken him.
Stay pluged in to KNN for Part 2.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

As the EU turns 50, Pope says it's on path to oblivion

Europe 'ignoring Christian roots' says Benedict XVI
by Ian Traynor in Berlin
The Guardian

European leaders celebrated the EU's 50th birthday, with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, telling the prime ministers or presidents of 27 countries that modern Europe was a dream come true.

But the birthday party summit for the EU - staged with rock concerts, Beethoven, beer and cake in brilliant sunshine in Berlin - was soured by the German Pope, Benedict XVI, who delivered a profoundly pessimistic verdict on Europe at 50, declaring that the continent could be heading for extinction.

Angry that a "Berlin Declaration" unveiled yesterday listing the EU's achievements and challenges on its 50th birthday contained no reference to the continent's Christian roots, Pope Benedict said that Europe could "not be built by ignoring its people's identities".

In his remarks to bishops gathered for ceremonies in Rome to mark the signing of the treaty that founded the EU in 1957, the Pope declared that the reluctance of women in Europe to have babies and Europe's failure to regenerate itself was putting the continent on the path to oblivion. "From a demographic standpoint ... Europe seems set on a path that could lead it to take leave of history," he warned. Europe was "losing faith in its own future".

Birthrates are at historic lows in many EU countries, most notably in strongly Roman Catholic countries such as Poland, Italy and Spain. According to UN projections, the population of the EU could shrink by 50m within a few decades. See Complete Article: As the EU turns 50, Pope says it's on path to oblivion

Frankenfoods vs. Organics

Genetically Modified Foods: Boon or Boondoggle?
U.S. regulators say they're safe, but critics aren't convinced

By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay News) -- When you bite into an apple, you pretty much know what you're getting. The same can't be said for many packaged foods, which often contain ingredients that have been "genetically modified."

Corn and soybeans, along with cotton and canola, are among the most common genetically modified (GM) crops in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an estimated 61 percent of the corn and 89 percent of the soybeans planted in 2006 were biotech varieties.

While the bulk of GM crops are destined to become animal feed, some of the bounty ends up in kitchens, restaurants and vending machines.

"Most of the processed foods that we eat -- cookies, chips, sodas, crackers -- all of those will contain some ingredients that are derived from corn or soybeans," said Michael Fernandez, executive director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a nonpartisan source of information on agricultural biotechnology.

It's estimated, he added, that as much as 70 percent of processed foods contain an ingredient that has been genetically engineered. These ingredients include corn syrup, soy protein, canola oil, cottonseed oil and lecithin, a food additive derived from soy.

Genetically modified crops, first introduced for commercial production in 1996, take advantage of modern biotechnology. Scientists can select a desirable gene from one living organism and splice it into another. The gene for Bacillus thuringiensis, a toxin commonly used as an insecticide, for example, can be inserted into a plant to increase its resistance to diseases caused by insects. Other genetic modifications can boost a crop's resistance to a particular virus, say, or herbicide.

"They're now putting human genes into rice, for example, trying to produce pharmaceutical drugs," said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, an advocacy group of organic consumers and businesses. "They have put petunia genes into soybeans to make them [resist] a powerful herbicide," he added.

But could these combinations, which never occur spontaneously in nature, pose a threat to human health? See: Frankenfoods vs. organics

Why don't we talk about hell any more, asks the Pope

Fire and brimstone is part of the pontiff's push for a back-to-basics Catholicism
Tom Kington in Rome
The Guardian

For centuries it has been one of the Catholic Church's favourite topics. But the Pope has given a fresh reminder to his flock that Hell is hell and bemoaned the fact that it rarely gets talked about these days.

The 79-year old pontiff used a Mass in the gritty Fidene suburb of Rome to put damnation back on the agenda. "Jesus came to tell us everyone is wanted in paradise, and that hell, about which little gets said today, exists and is eternal for those who shut their hearts to his love," Pope Benedict warned the congregation on Sunday.

The talk of fire and brimstone stopped there, as Pope Benedict failed to elaborate on what lay ahead for the sinner in the afterlife, adding only that "our real enemy is the attachment to sin, which can bring about the failure of our existence".

But the tough talk was typical of the Pope's conservative stance and an increasingly back-to-basics view of religion and society that has spilled over into political debate in Italy and beyond.

He warmed up this year with stern criticism of Italian politicians for considering a law giving rights to homosexual couples, attacks which have created serious rifts within the government of Romano Prodi. The Vatican then asked the UN this month to adjust the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights to give doctors and nurses the right to boycott abortions and the manipulation of human embryos.

On Sunday, the Pope upset the EU's 50th birthday party by suggesting that plummeting birth rates on the continent could send the continent to oblivion.

Although short on details about hell, the Pope has never gone so far as to dismiss the existence of the devil.

In The Ratzinger Report, a book-length interview published when he was the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Pope Benedict says the devil is "a puzzling but real, personal and not merely symbolic presence. He is a powerful reality, a baneful superhuman freedom directed against God's freedom."

The Pope has not gone as far as John Milton, who depicted Satan "chained on a burning lake" in hell in Paradise Lost. If Pope Benedict has declined to paint a picture of hell, one expert said, believers should not let their imagination get away from them either.

"Forty to 50 years ago priests were depicting hell along the lines of the famous sermon in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," said Michael Paul Gallagher, dean of theology at the Gregorian University in Rome. "However, the talk of devils with forks tended merely to foster fear in a way unfaithful to the gospels themselves."

"But it is a terrifying freedom to live a refusal of love and to live only for oneself. Hell is better seen as a state of self-separation from God or self-exclusion from love, rather than as God's punishment. We can opt to live that way here on Earth and terrifyingly we can choose it for ever," he added.

"Sartre said hell is other people, to which TS Eliot replied hell is oneself. But they both agreed that hell can begin on Earth."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

God the Black Man and Truth

The book that started it all

Hailed as the "decoder to the Bible", this seminal work by Ben Ammi, renowned Hebraic Scholar and Spiritual Leader of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, is the first part of the acclaimed Resurrection Trilogy. In God the Black Man and Truth, Ben Ammi clearly and thoroughly explores the numerous spiritual, social, political, economic and health ills that are plaguing Black people around the globe and links them unquestionably to our failed relationship with God. Scriptural and prophetic analysis is brought to bear on the crumbling family structure, the sad state of the ecosystem... But far more than just analysis, Ben Ammi offers the Redemptive Plan of God -- tested and true solutions to the state of the world today and its people in simple and direct language.

If you have not read it get one today. If you have read it re-read it. Place your order now. Go to:

Britain to use donor eggs for stem cell research

Women will be compensated up to $500 for costs related to donation
Associated Press

LONDON - The British government on Wednesday approved plans to allow women to donate eggs for stem cell and cloning research, and said they will also be entitled to compensation for costs incurred.

Women undergoing fertility treatment will receive a discount if they donate eggs, authorities said, while others will receive up to 250 pounds (about $500 U.S.) for each fertilization cycle to cover costs such as travel or lost work time.

The eggs would be used to create cloned embryos, with the hope of extracting stem cells. Because stem cells have the potential to become any cell in the body, scientists believe studying them could lead to cures for numerous diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or motor neurone diseases. See Complete Article: Britain OKs donor eggs for studies

By the Numbers: Blacks Still Lag Behind Whites

by James Parks
AFL-CIO Weblog

The pictures from New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, graphically showed the gaping hole between the haves and the have-nots in this country, especially those have-nots who are African American.

Now the newly released State of Black America 2006: The Opportunity Compact produced by the National Urban League tells the story in stark numbers:

The median net worth of the average black family ($6,166) is less than one-tenth of that of the average white family ($67,000). The gap is due largely to the difference in home ownership and income. African Americans own 50 percent of their homes while whites own more than 70 percent. Blacks also are denied mortgages at a higher rate than similarly qualified whites.

The black unemployment rate is twice as high as it is for whites.

Blacks are four times more likely to depend on public transportation systems than whites.

Blacks have less access to health care and a far lower rate of health insurance coverage than whites.

Black males are more likely to get longer sentences than white males for convictions for the same crime.

Unfortunately, the initial flurry of concern and attention to poverty and injustice [after Katrina] has given way to the status quo of neglect, domestic budget cuts, insensitivity and short-sighted policy priorities, said Marc Morial, president of the Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans.

The report, issued annually, uses an equality index that measures disparities between African Americans and whites in economics, education, health, social justice and civic engagement. A rating below 1.0 means blacks are worse off than whites and above 1.0 means they are better off than whites. Overall, the index this year is 0.73, the same as last year, meaning blacks made no economic progress compared with whites in 2005.

But the report notes its possible to close the equality gap and recommends many measures strongly advocated by the union movement. Among them: Increasing the minimum wage and redirecting money that’s now funneled into tax cuts for the wealthy into a new Child Poverty Elimination Fund universal affordable health care.

Such programs would benefit not just the poor but all Americans, Morial said: Poverty, the racial divide, and social injustice do not impact only those who suffer most visibly; they tear apart the fabric of our nation in ways that damage and diminish us all. Alleviating poverty and injustice is a responsibility we must never forget.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Sudden Disappearance of Honeybees

By Louise McCoy
Epoch Times New York Staff

A tragedy, noticeably starting as many as six years ago, has suddenly escalated since October 2006. What was noticed six years ago was the steady disappearance in numbers of our natural pollinators—those insects, birds, and bats that cause our flowers to become fruits. Since October 2006 a massive disappearance of honeybees on an unprecedented scale has occurred. One Midwestern beekeeper, who had 13,000 healthy hives as of November 2006, has now lost 96 percent of his bees, and is facing bankruptcy...

Genetically modified plants have herbicidal and insecticidal genes that have been found transmitted to the gut bacteria of young bees that haven't left the hive, according to a German study. Because viruses are used to transmit genes from one organism to another, this has led to an unnatural open door between species through which genes can slip....

In United States there are 130 million acres of genetically modified crops, which make it possible to use lots of herbicide without killing the crops. There are also plants with insecticidal genes that attract bees. Bees work ceaselessly to supply us with about 14 billion dollars worth of food. Someone estimated that about one third of what we eat is made possible by bees. Fans, helicopters, and other methods have been unsatisfactory substitutes for pollination. See: The Sudden Disappearance of Honeybees

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Irradiate fruits and vegetables?

Dateline NBC takes a look at the food safety issues that caused the recent E. coli outbreak — and puts irradiation technology to the test
By Victoria Corderi
NBC News

What would make two grown men eat spinach laced with E. coli?

That’s the question Dateline NBC set out to answer six months after an E. coli spinach outbreak killed four people and sickened more than 200 in 26 states.

The men who were willing to eat the E. coli-laced spinach work for SADEX Corporation in Sioux City, Iowa, one of only three irradiation plants in the country. The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of irradiation on meat in 1999, and some think it's time to use it on fruit and vegetables as well. See Complete Article: Food: Is irradiation the answer?

KNN-Definition: Irradiation - exposure to radiation (as X rays or alpha particles) : the application of radiation (as X rays or gamma rays) for therapeutic purposes or for sterilization (as of food); also : partial or complete sterilization by irradiation.

Most Say America is in Moral Decline

CBN News - Most Americans say the country is in a moral decline and the media is to blame.

A new survey by the Culture and Media Institute finds that people believe it will be hard to change America's moral decline unless the entertainment and news media stop promoting "secular values and undermining orthodox faith."

About 74 percent of all Americans believe the nation is in moral decline and that a "culture war" is happening in the country. Sixty-four percent say the news and entertainment media are a major influence in that decline.

The survey finds Americans are largely split into three camps: the faithful, the secular progressives, and the independents.

While more than half of Americans say they believe biblical principles are authoritative, only 36 percent, including those considered faithful, say people should live by God's Word. Forty-five percent say they take a pragmatic approach to life, combining God's principles with their own. Fifteen percent said they would ignore God's principles when they conflict with their own.

On sexual issues, 90 percent of those considered faithful, said that sex among teens is "always wrong," while only 33 percent of progressives think so. Fifty-four percent of secular progressives say that it "depends on the situation," and 11 percent said it is "never wrong." Of those considered independent, three percent said teen sex is "never wrong," while 65 percent say that it is "always wrong."

Still, all three groups considered the media a bad influence on America's morality.