Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A message from Psalm 43

PSALM 43 IN THREE ACTS

Photobucket

Galilee heights
João Cruzué

Have you ever noticed the great message from Psalm 43? Even contenting some few lines, believe Lord spoke to my soul through it, and for sure He will also speak with you of a very special way.

Last year, I rich man invited me to train a new public accountant to his foundation. He would pay me $2,000 Dollars, as fees. But I ended all the trainning, but I received not a cent, neither the transportation expenses. A surprised and unexpectable loss, and I had done some plans about that money. Who knows, are you also facing things alike? Now let's listen to the Psalm 43.

PSALM 43

"Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. For Thou art the God of my strength; why dost Thou cast me off? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out Thy light and Thy truth! Let them lead me. Let them bring me unto Thy holy hill and to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy; yea, upon the harp will I praise Thee, O God, my God.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.

*.*
FIRST ACT

In the first versicles, the author are realy upset complaining with God, once He was Almight, why did HE not solve his cause? But he imediately changes his mind, and pointed that it would not worth the pity to keep lamenting for the loss. Well, this is a very commom thing for you and me.

SECOND ACT

In the verses of the second paragraph, the psalmist prayed for a direction to be closer God instead to be murmuring. Believing that more blessings had God to give him than the enemy could steal, he renewed his soul because he could already glimpse victory days, and therefore he could imagine himself worshiping joyful to the Lord with the sounds of Harp. A sharply change!

THIRD ACT

After renewing his soul and to be joyfull by the presence of the Lord, the psalmist David told to himself: Why are you cast down of my soul? Why are you concerned, saddened, looking at that loss there behind? Wait just a little, a little bit more, because sooner you think , my soul, you shall see me worshiping and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord, with the sounds of harp, due to a blessing ten times bigger, just ahead.

THEN,

The will of our enemy is that you and I be eternaly focusing and lamenting sad happenings on the past. However, if we search the presence of the Lord - praying - as the psalmist did, we will be able to see the real big blessings are hiden in the future, waiting for us. That is what Lord always has told to my heart, and at this time, He is also speaking to yours.

But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
1 Corinthians 15:57


Brother Joao Cruzue
Blog Olhar Cristao
cruzue@gmail.com

Friday, April 18, 2008

Vatican - new rules for abuse cases

New Rules Considered for Abuse Cases, Vatican Says


Photobucket
Cardinal Bernard Law - Victim of rape - Pope Benedict XVI

New York Times

by Laurie Goodstein and Katie Zezima
April 19, 2008

"A top Vatican official said on Friday that the Roman Catholic Church is considering changes to the canon laws that govern how the church handles cases of sexual abuse by priests.

The official, Cardinal William Levada, suggested that this was not something that the Vatican planned to make public just yet, but the revelation came one day after Pope Benedict XVI held a private meeting with survivors of clergy abuse during his first trip to the United States.

Far from avoiding the abuse scandal, Benedict has brought it up each day of the first three days of his trip.

Many survivors say they are now waiting for the pope to match his words with actions. They want to see the church do more to prevent priests from abusing children, and hold bishops accountable for keeping abusive priests in ministry.

Cardinal Levada, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the position held by Benedict before he became pope, heads the office that decides cases of priests accused of sexual abuse. He spoke today at a luncheon sponsored by Time magazine.

He would not specify which canons were under re-consideration. But he suggested they relate to the church’s statute of limitations, saying that his office has frequently had to judge allegations from years ago because the victims “don’t feel personally able to come forward until” until they are more mature.

Cardinal Levada discussed the possible changes to canon laws shortly after the pope arrived in New York on the second leg of his trip, a visit that included a speech to the United Nations, a Saturday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a Mass on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

The Vatican arranged the meeting Thursday between the pope and five victims of clergy sexual abuse at the request of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, an official of the Archdiocese of Boston said Friday.

Disappointed that the pope would not be coming to Boston on his first official visit to the United States, Cardinal O’Malley had been lobbying the Vatican to have the pope meet with victims, said Barbara Thorp, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Healing and Assistance Ministry, which assists victims.

“Cardinal Sean really had a very strong sense of how important it would be for the Holy Father, when he came to the U.S., to meet survivors,” Ms. Thorp said. “Finally, in response to the invitation from Cardinal Sean, the Holy See and the Vatican extended invitations to people to meet with him.”

It was the Vatican that selected the victims who were invited, said one of those who attended, Bernie McDaid.

“The pope directly wanted an unrehearsed meeting with free dialogue,” said Mr. McDaid, a former altar boy from Salem, Mass., who said that, as a child, he was molested by his parish priest, the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham.

Mr. McDaid said he received a call about two weeks ago from Ms. Thorp and the Rev. John Connolly, who has overseen the Archdiocese’s efforts to respond to reports of clergy sexual abuse. The three met for dinner at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant at a mall in Burlington, Mass.

“They said the Vatican wanted me to be one of the people invited,” Mr. McDaid said. “I’ve been waiting seven years. I was ecstatic. I said, ‘Let’s go.’ It was very surreal.”

“They said, ‘keep it quiet,’ and that was it,” Mr. McDaid said.

Mr. McDaid spoke to Ms. Thorp and Father Connolly sporadically over the last two weeks, and reconnected with them in Washington.

Mr. McDaid said he and his mother attended the papal Mass on Thursday in Washington.

“I was so emotional when the pope apologized to us” during the Mass, Mr. McDaid said. “I cried, I didn’t believe it. That was the turning moment.”

Mr. McDaid then went to the home of the papal nuncio, the Vatican’s top diplomat in the United States, where he and four other victims met with Pope Benedict; Cardinal O’Malley; Ms. Thorp; Father Connolly; Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio; and other Vatican officials.

Pope Benedict XVI told the United Nations that human rights should be the basis for ending war and poverty".

Article Nytimes


Timeline: USA Church sex scandal

BBC News

"The main events in the ongoing sex abuse scandal involving the US Roman Catholic Church and in particular the Boston Archdiocese, which has been at the centre of many of the highest-profile accusations.

Cardinal Bernard Law (archive image)
Cardinal Law resigned, accused of covering up sex abuse by priests
1984: Bernard Law is appointed archbishop of Boston, and elevated to cardinal a year later.

1985: Sex abuse by priests becomes a national issue in the US for the first time, as Louisiana priest Gilbert Gauthe pleads guilty to 11 counts of molestation of boys.

1992-3: The Reverend James Porter of Fall River diocese, Massachusetts, is accused of abusing children in five US states in the 1960s and 1970s. He later pleads guilty to 41 counts of abuse.

1992: US bishops meeting in South Bend, Indiana, admit attempts by some of their number to hide abuse.

1993: First legal proceedings brought against Dallas diocese over sex abuse by the priest Rudolph Kos.

13 July, 1998: Dallas diocese forced to pay more than $31m to victims of Kos.

1999: Former Massachusetts priest John Geoghan indicted on child rape charges.

8 January, 2002: Vatican publishes guidelines on how to deal with paedophile priests, saying all cases should be reported to Rome.

Former Massachusetts priest John Geoghan
Geoghan was jailed for 10 years in 2002 - and later killed in prison

9 January: Cardinal Law apologises to victims of John Geoghan and promises a tougher line on abusive priests in future.

18 January: Geoghan convicted of indecent assault and battery of a 10-year-old boy, for which he later receives a 10-year prison sentence.

4 April: Two US men, in Florida and Oregon, begin legal action which symbolically names the Vatican for its alleged role in covering up sex abuse cases.

8 April: File released on the Rev Paul Shanley, alleging he publicly advocated sex between men and boys and still received the backing of the archdiocese for his ministry.

23 April: Pope John Paul II calls emergency meeting with US cardinals in Rome.

2 May: Paul Shanley arrested in California and later charged on three counts of child rape. He denies the charges.

13 June: US bishops approve "zero tolerance" national policy on abuse, but the Vatican demands changes to protect rights of priests.

17 September: Boston Jesuit priest James Talbot charged with raping and assaulting three teenaged students.

19 September: The Boston Archdiocese reaches $10m settlement with victims of John Geoghan, retracting a previous settlement of $30m which the Church said would have bankrupted the archdiocese.

Paul Shanley
Shanley was convicted of raping at least one boy

3 November: Cardinal Law apologises for "decisions which led to suffering".

13 November: US bishops meet in Washington and approve revised policy on abusive priests which takes account of Vatican concerns.

On the same day, Roman Catholic activists from the Survivors First group launch an online database listing 573 US priests accused of involvement in paedophilia since 1996, later dropping 100 of the names.

3 December: New revelations about eight priests in Boston archdiocese accused of abusing women and girls, taking drugs and supplying drugs in return for sexual favours.

6 December: Cardinal Law leaves for the Vatican, on the same day that he reportedly is ordered to appear before a grand jury investigating sex abuse allegations.

13 December: Cardinal Law resigns as archbishop.



The Vatican has demanded some protection for accused priests

April 2003: The Boston Archdiocese avoids bankruptcy by agreeing to sell land and buildings for over $100m to fund legal settlements to more than 500 abuse victims.

24 August: John Geoghan is killed in a Massachusetts prison.

27 February 2004: A report commissioned by the Church says more than 4,000 US Roman Catholic priests had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years, in cases involving more than 10,000 children - mostly boys.

1 July: The key accuser of defrocked priest Paul Shanley is dropped from the case by prosecutors.

7 July: In an unprecedented move, the Portland Archdiocese files for bankruptcy because of the huge costs from clergy sex abuse lawsuits.

The action halts a trial of a lawsuit seeking some $155m against the late Rev Maurice Grammond, who was accused of molesting more than 50 boys in the 1980s.

28 September: Prosecutors drop a case against former Massachusetts bishop Thomas Dupre, hours after he is charged with raping two children in the 1970s.

15 November: US Roman Catholic bishops elect Bishop William Skylstad as their new president. His Washington diocese faces bankruptcy due to the volume of compensation claims made by alleged victims of child abuse.

3 December: After two years of talks, the diocese of Orange County, California, settles a sex abuse lawsuit brought by 87 plaintiffs for an unspecified sum. The diocese later says the package is worth $100m (£53m).

7 February 2005: A US court convicts Paul Shanley of four charges relating to offences committed in the 1980s including rape and indecent assault.

June: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, California, agrees to pay $35m (£17m) to 33 victims.

August: The Diocese of Oakland, California, agrees to pay $56m (£27.5m) to 56 people.

December 2006: The Archdiocese of Los Angeles agrees to pay $60m (£30m) to settle to 45 cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests.

January 2007: The Spokane diocese in Washington agrees to pay at least $48m (£24.7m) as compensation to people abused by priests.

July: The Los Angeles Archdiocese settles 508 cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests for a record-breaking pay-out of $660m (£324m). The deal is reached just before the scheduled start of a series of trials into abuse claims dating back to the 1940s.

September: The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, California, agrees to pay $198m to settle 144 claims of sexual abuse by clergy".

BBC News

.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Response to Benedict 16

"My Response to Benedict"

By Christopher Hitchens
Washington Post - 16.04.2008

Tuesday, Pope Benedict said he is "deeply ashamed" of the scandal and assured Catholics that seminaries will not tolerate pedophiles. "It is a great suffering for the Church in the United States, for the Church in general and for me personally that this could happen," Benedict told reporters. "If I read the stories of these victims, it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way their mission to give healing, to give love of God to these children."

In his response, the Pontiff has utterly mis-stated the nature of the clerical pedophilia scandal. The scandal is not the presence of pedophiles in the church, but the institutionalization of child-rape by the knowing protection and even promotion (by non-pedophiles) of those who are guilty of it. The most grievous offender in this respect is Cardinal Bernard Law, currently an honored figure at the Vatican. This expression of contempt for the victims makes the Pope himself a direct accomplice in the very atrocity that he affects to denounce.

Source: Washington Post Article


NOW SOME COMMENTS:

John Matro:
All of you Catholic Church defenders need to watch the Oscar-nominated documentary "Deliver Us From Evil" and then get back with the rest of us. Until then, you don't realize the evil that you're defending.

Christie:
Benedict should feel ashamed about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. He has other things to be ashamed of. In the official biography of Benedict it states:
“His youthful years were not easy. His faith and the education received at home prepared him for the harsh experience of those years during which the Nazi regime pursued a hostile attitude towards the Catholic Church. The young Joseph saw how some Nazis beat the Parish Priest before the celebration of Mass.
It was precisely during that complex situation that he discovered the beauty and truth of faith in Christ; fundamental for this was his family’s attitude, who always gave a clear witness of goodness and hope, rooted in a convinced attachment to the Church.
During the last months of the war he was enrolled in an auxiliary anti-aircraft corps.”
If he had true faith in Christ, why didn’t he follow Christ’s example? Thousands of Germans, including women, went into Nazi concentration camps rather than support Hitler and the war effort. They put their faith in Christ. Some died. Some survived. But, they were faithful. Individual Catholics stood up to Hitler; but the Catholic Church and the then pope supported Hitler. Shame on them all.

Chris Everett:
The pope says "it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way their mission to give healing, to give love of God to these children."
In other words, the only betrayal the pope is aware of is the betrayal of the CHURCH and its mission to instill its particular brand of superstition into the populace. Upon hearing about the rape of thousands of innocent little boys and girls, the pope's first response is to turn to the priests and say "you idiots, you let them get away!"

Warren:
If there was any other organization that committed the acts of the RC church that organization would have been destroyed through the use of RICO and other statutes.

The church instead of protecting its children put them in harms way by re assigning criminal child rapists to new parishes with no notice to the new communities, even making them youth pastors. As someone who was brought up in the RC church I can not ever see myself ever going back to this religion which is nothing more than a criminal enterprise, with the morals of NAMBLA and the mafia combined.

Cardinal Law and his predecessor Mederios are the filth of the earth, they should be reviled throughout history.


jim flynn
Hitchens may be wrong about many things in this world, but the Pope's complicity in this matter is not one of them. During the time that someone (the Pope would have been good) should up and shouted about the immorality basic to this scandal all we heard were the voices of those Bishops who wanted to deny Sen. John Kerry at the communion rail. And oh how the Bishop in Lincoln, Nebraska (Brusky) fulminated about Sen. Kerry but said nothing about the pedofile priests--certainly neither Bruskowitz or the Pope said anything about Boston's Cardinal Law. These are sad events. . .a visit from the Pope doesn't change this unredressed transgressions.

John Boy:
Yes Hitchens is completely correct. After all, George Bush himself said, "you're either with us, or you're with the terrorists." And then he said, "anyone who harbors terrorists is equally guilty of terrorism and we won't distinguish betwee the two" (ok paraphrasing here but that's the gist of what he said). So if we are to believe Bush, and I'm not saying I do, but if we are to go along with his logic, rare as it may be, then that logic applies here too.
Hitchens is correct in saying that harboring the guilty makes one an accomplice. To allow Cardinal Law a high place in the Vatican after he spent years covering up abuse in his parish is a shame and smacks of hypocrisy. But we all know that the Catholic Church power structure is concerned with power, not with honesty. Power corrupts all, even (or perhaps especially) those who are in power in a religious organization.

Paul Leddy:
We all agree that the clerical pedophilia scandal has left a horrendus mark on its victims, their families and their faith communities. The Church has responded to what was in deed true: their knowing protection of the clerics and their re-victimizing the victims.
One might say that Cardinal Law has been “promoted;” it is more the case that he has been exiled and brought low.
This has been a shameful period for the Church, His Holiness admits this shame. There will never be “closure” for the victims; there is no “moving on” from the experience. It leaves a sad legacy to future generations.
The Good News still must be proclaimed by the laity, the religious and clergy. The whole Church must continue its mission: He said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

Jon:
"I'm afraid this is true. It's not the seminaries' fault that the Pope's direct reports, the bishops, protected the abusers and tolerated the abuse by shuffling problem priests around.

Now, had the Pope made the same comments when the scandal first broke, I would give him the benefit of the doubt, figure maybe he's just still confused, and hope he would get up to speed soon on the problem.

But the scandal is now years in the open. The Pope has had plenty of time to get clear on the nature and scope of the problem.

So the Pope's comments cannot be excused. This is merely passing the buck. Since the Pope is clear head of his organization, the buck stops right at his desk. Pointing his finger at anyone else is ugly and wrong. With great power comes great responsibility.

It's time for him to stop passing the buck. A good first step would be to set an example with Bernard Law.

Either Law has no place in the Vatican, no position of responsibility and trust in the church, and no further right to represent the church in any way, or else the Pope is passing the buck. The Pope can't have it both ways.

And that is merely a first step. If the Pope cannot take the first step, nothing will change. As Jesus said, if I can't trust you in small things, I can't trust you in large things.

A good second step would be a message to all bishops that priests who abuse cannot be shuffled around and the matter hushed up. Bishops unclear on this should ask Law if the Pope is serious. Priests unclear on this should ask their Bishop. See how this second step would follow nicely from the first?

This is not rocket science. This is management 101.

And it turns out the Roman Catholic church is ideally set up for exactly this sort of management. There are clear lines of responsibility that go in a hierarchy directly to the top. There is exactly one man at the top, he's the Pope, and this gives him all the tools he needs to fix this problem.

So it also follows that the Pope cannot dodge responsibility here. It's his job and he has everything he needs to do it. If he doesn't do it, it's his failure and no one else's".


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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Biotechnonanogenomicology

The Future Is Now


By Joel Achenbach - Washington Post

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"The most important things happening in the world today won't make tomorrow's front page. They won't get mentioned by presidential candidates or Chris Matthews or Bill O'Reilly or any of the other folks yammering and snorting on cable television.

They'll be happening in laboratories -- out of sight, inscrutable and unhyped until the very moment when they change life as we know it.

Science and technology form a two-headed, unstoppable change agent. Problem is, most of us are mystified and intimidated by such things as biotechnology, or nanotechnology, or the various other -ologies that seem to be threatening to merge into a single unspeakable and incomprehensible thing called biotechnonanogenomicology. We vaguely understand that this stuff is changing our lives, but we feel as though it's all out of our control. We're just hanging on tight, like Kirk and Spock when the Enterprise starts vibrating at Warp 8.

What's unnerving is the velocity at which the future sometimes arrives. Consider the Internet. This powerful but highly disruptive technology crept out of the lab (a Pentagon think tank, actually) and all but devoured modern civilization -- with almost no advance warning. The first use of the word "internet" to refer to a computer network seems to have appeared in this newspaper on Sept. 26, 1988, in the Financial section, on page F30 -- about as deep into the paper as you can go without hitting the bedrock of the classified ads.

The entire reference: "SMS Data Products Group Inc. in McLean won a $1,005,048 contract from the Air Force to supply a defense data network internet protocol router." Perhaps the unmellifluous compound noun "data network internet protocol router" is one reason more of us didn't pay attention. A couple of months later, "Internet" -- still lacking the "the" before its name -- finally elbowed its way to the front page when a virus shut down thousands of computers. The story referred to "a research network called Internet," which "links as many as 50,000 computers, allowing users to send a variety of information to each other." The scientists knew that computer networks could be powerful. But how many knew that this Internet thing would change the way we communicate, publish, sell, shop, conduct research, find old friends, do homework, plan trips and on and on?

Joe Lykken, a theoretical physicist at the Fermilab research center in Illinois, tells a story about something that happened in 1990. A Fermilab visitor, an English fellow by the name of Tim Berners-Lee, had a new trick he wanted to demonstrate to the physicists. He typed some code into a little blank box on the computer screen. Up popped a page of data.
Lykken's reaction: Eh.

He could already see someone else's data on a computer. He could have the colleague e-mail it to him and open it as a document. Why view it on a separate page on some computer network?

But of course, this unimpressive piece of software was the precursor to what is known today as the World Wide Web. "We had no idea that we were seeing not only a revolution, but a trillion-dollar idea," Lykken says.

Now let us pause to reflect upon the fact that Joe Lykken is a very smart guy -- you don't get to be a theoretical physicist unless you have the kind of brain that can practically bend silverware at a distance -- and even he, with that giant cerebral cortex and the billions of neurons flashing and winking, saw the proto-Web and harrumphed. It's not just us mortals, even scientists don't always grasp the significance of innovations. Tomorrow's revolutionary technology may be in plain sight, but everyone's eyes, clouded by conventional thinking, just can't detect it. "Even smart people are really pretty incapable of envisioning a situation that's substantially different from what they're in," says Christine Peterson, vice president of Foresight Nanotech Institute in Menlo Park, Calif.

So where does that leave the rest of us?

In technological Palookaville.
Science is becoming ever more specialized; technology is increasingly a series of black boxes, impenetrable to but a few. Americans' poor science literacy means that science and technology exist in a walled garden, a geek ghetto. We are a technocracy in which most of us don't really understand what's happening around us. We stagger through a world of technological and medical miracles. We're zombified by progress.

Peterson has one recommendation: Read science fiction, especially "hard science fiction" that sticks rigorously to the scientifically possible. "If you look out into the long-term future and what you see looks like science fiction, it might be wrong," she says. "But if it doesn't look like science fiction, it's definitely wrong."

That's exciting -- and a little scary. We want the blessings of science (say, cheaper energy sources) but not the terrors (monsters spawned by atomic radiation that destroy entire cities with their fiery breath).

Eric Horvitz, one of the sharpest minds at Microsoft, spends a lot of time thinking about the Next Big Thing. Among his other duties, he's president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. He thinks that, sometime in the decades ahead, artificial systems will be modeled on living things. In the Horvitz view, life is marked by robustness, flexibility, adaptability. That's where computers need to go. Life, he says, shows scientists "what we can do as engineers -- better, potentially."

Our ability to monkey around with life itself is a reminder that ethics, religion and old-fashioned common sense will be needed in abundance in decades to come (see the essay on page B1 by Ronald M. Green). How smart and flexible and rambunctious do we want our computers to be? Let's not mess around with that Matrix business.

Every forward-thinking person almost ritually brings up the mortality issue. What'll happen to society if one day people can stop the aging process? Or if only rich people can stop getting old?

It's interesting that politicians rarely address such matters. The future in general is something of a suspect topic . . . a little goofy. Right now we're all focused on the next primary, the summer conventions, the Olympics and their political implications, the fall election. The political cycle enforces an emphasis on the immediate rather than the important.

And in fact, any prediction of what the world will be like more than, say, a year from now is a matter of hubris. The professional visionaries don't even talk about predictions or forecasts but prefer the word "scenarios." When Sen. John McCain, for example, declares that radical Islam is the transcendent challenge of the 21st century, he's being sincere, but he's also being a bit of a soothsayer. Environmental problems and resource scarcity could easily be the dominant global dilemma. Or a virus with which we've yet to make our acquaintance. Or some other "wild card."

Says Lykken, "Our ability to predict is incredibly poor. What we all thought when I was a kid was that by now we'd all be flying around in anti-gravity cars on Mars."

Futurists didn't completely miss on space travel -- it's just that the things flying around Mars are robotic and take neat pictures and sometimes land and sniff the soil.

Some predictions are bang-on, such as sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke's declaration in 1945 that there would someday be communications satellites orbiting the Earth. But Clarke's satellites had to be occupied by repairmen who would maintain the huge computers required for space communications. Even in the late 1960s, when Clarke collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay to "2001: A Space Odyssey," he assumed that computers would, over time, get bigger. "The HAL 9000 computer fills half the spaceship," Lykken notes.

Says science-fiction writer Ben Bova, "We have built into us an idea that tomorrow is going to be pretty much like today, which is very wrong."

The future is often viewed as an endless resource of innovation that will make problems go away -- even though, if the past is any judge, innovations create their own set of new problems. Climate change is at least in part a consequence of the invention of the steam engine in the early 1700s and all the industrial advances that followed.

Look again at the Internet. It's a fantastic tool, but it also threatens to disperse information we'd rather keep under wraps, such as our personal medical data, or even the instructions for making a fission bomb.

We need to keep our eyes open. The future is going to be here sooner than we think. It'll surprise us. We'll try to figure out why we missed so many clues. And we'll go back and search the archives, and see that thing we should have noticed on page F30".

Page Article - the future is now

achenbachj@washpost.com
Joel Achenbach is a reporter on the national staff of The Washington Post.


.

Bionic man


"Confessions of a bionic man"

Whashington Post - Sunday April 13, 2008

By Michael Chorost

"If I were catapulted back in time to 1978, in many ways I'd find it easy to adjust. Cars would still be cars. Books would still be books. Stores would still be stores. But I'd look at people on the street and wonder, "How can they stand to be so disconnected? How do they make it through the day?"

For my grandparents, the biggest changes in daily life were caused by the Great Depression, World War II and innovations such as television and jet travel. But for my generation -- I'm 43 -- the biggest changes have been driven by computers and other technologies that convey information.

I can imagine a life without microwave ovens. I can't imagine one without e-mail.

My life has changed even more than most: I have information technology inside my body. I'm deaf, having had rubella (German measles) before I was born. Fortunately, the damage wasn't complete, so I was able to get by with hearing aids until 2001. Then my "good" ear abruptly quit working, for reasons that are still unknown. My hearing aids couldn't help me anymore, just as glasses can't help a blind person.

Now I have a cochlear implant in each ear. At first glance, they look like behind-the-ear hearing aids -- but the technology is totally different. They digitize sound and broadcast the data through quarter-size radio transmitters. The transmitters are stuck to my head, behind my ears, using magnets.

The data are picked up by implants countersunk into my skull, which send the information to 16 electrodes in my inner ears. The electrodes trigger my auditory nerves with tiny, precisely targeted shocks, making them send sound information to my brain.

My implants don't aid my hearing. They create my hearing.

What I hear is, quite literally, a computer simulation of real sound. The day my first implant was activated in 2001, voices sounded bizarre; the radio might as well have been in Esperanto. That was because the software couldn't reproduce all the aspects of a normal auditory system. Still, I learned how to recognize consonants and vowels again by listening to books on tape. Now I can turn on the radio and hear it all but effortlessly.

In 2005, I got new software that made music sound brighter and clearer. The software's improved frequency resolution enabled me to distinguish between tones that had sounded identical before. It was a simple upload; no surgery was necessary.

I'm lucky because technology has actually restored much of what I lost, instead of merely offering workarounds, as it does with most other disabilities. I don't hear as well as people with normal ears, but I can use the phone, listen to the radio and enjoy music.

Deafness has been especially helpful to me as a science writer because it has put me at the cutting edge of technologies that transform bodies. Cochlear implants have inspired research on prosthetic limbs and devices for restoring vision, controlling pain and enabling muscle coordination.

Today, implanted technologies are strictly for the disabled; they don't match the capabilities of normal organs, much less exceed them. Still, people keep asking me, "When can I get superhuman ears?" My efforts to answer questions like that have made me something of an accidental futurist.

I don't think that superhuman hearing is likely, or even a good idea, because the normal human ear is already awesomely sensitive. Much more feasible, and already in development, are drugs that preserve hearing and gene technologies that restore it. And sound-enhancing gadgets can be found at any electronics store.

But there are other, much more intriguing possibilities. The human body hasn't changed in millions of years -- and that's a problem. Our bodies don't do very well with information technology. Screens are tiny and eye-straining, and keyboards injure fingers and wrists. Even people with young, nimble fingers can't type as fast as they can talk, let alone think.

This mismatch between our Pentium chips and our Paleolithic bodies could be solved by physically integrating the two, the way I have cochlear implants inside me. Much as my implants make my brain "hear" sound, more advanced implants could one day evoke sensations of sight, touch and even feelings.

Or information could go the other way. For example, researchers at Brown University are implanting electrodes into the brains of people with paralyzed limbs to let them control computers and appliances with mental commands.

Consider where such technologies might go. Imagine someday being able to dictate e-mail with your thoughts, or thinking a Google search while walking down the street and "hearing" the answer read to you. Technologies like that could trigger changes in daily life even more profound than those unleashed by e-mail and the Web over the past 15 years.

Obviously, this scenario is an extrapolation from current technologies. But consider how far cochlear implants have come since 1978, when the first experimental multi-electrode device was surgically implanted in a patient. The device was so primitive that voices were barely intelligible, and the operation took eight hours. Compare that with my first implant surgery in 2001, which took 75 minutes. The second, in 2007, took 43 minutes. With both, I was listening to audiotapes within weeks.

These days, the field of neural prosthetics is booming. Researchers at New York University are investigating the possibility of threading tiny wires into the brain through the capillary system, the way angiograms are done by threading a wire through an artery to the heart. The electrodes would be used to gather detailed data on neural activity in the brain.

Researchers elsewhere have used brain-scanning machines to investigate the neural basis of thought and perception. In 2006, researchers in the Netherlands were essentially able to tell with 65 percent accuracy whether subjects watching "Home Improvement" were seeing the character Jill Taylor on screen.

That said, decoding everyday human thought, in all its variety and complexity, is far beyond our present technology. But I'd wager that, in time, neural prosthetics will follow a trajectory similar to that of cochlear implants, going from bulky experimental devices to sleek, easily installed commercialized products. About 100,000 people worldwide now have cochlear implants.

When I got my first implant, the idea of having a computer installed in my body shook me up considerably. Science fiction is full of negative images of human-machine couplings, from Michael Crichton's thriller "The Terminal Man," in which an implant for epilepsy turns the patient into a maniac, to "Star Trek's" shambling, robotic Borg characters. In my life, I aim to create a more positive image. During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I stuck a peace symbol on my transmitter.

I now believe that implanted technologies can make us more human, not less: more aware of the world; more connected to each other; better able to find and use the information we need. New tools challenge us to do new things that we couldn't have imagined before, let alone attempted. I have had the marvelous opportunity to play with my implants by trying out new software and settings that allow me to hear the world in different ways.

During one programming session, I asked my audiologist to turn off all the electrodes except the one that transmitted the lowest-frequency sounds. I heard a faint rattling noise. The audiologist couldn't hear it. We finally realized that I was hearing the air conditioner through the vents. With every other frequency filtered out, I was able to hear what normally hearing people couldn't.

I've gotten used to the idea of having a quarter of a million transistors in my head -- now it's just part of my normal life. I boot myself up in the morning, and when my transmitter attaches itself magnetically to my implant, it takes only a second or two for it to begin sending data. I hear a clicking sound and -- whoosh!-- the world of sound emerges around me. Then I make breakfast.
I see myself as a precursor to a world in which people communicate with each other, at great distances, in new ways, using implanted technologies that feel as much a part of their bodies as their own hands. We can't imagine what that will be like, just as in 1978 no one could have imagined broadcasting their activities to friends by using Twitter on a cellphone.

Thirty years from now, our children may look back on us and wonder, "How could they stand to be so disconnected? How did they make it through the day?"

michael@chorost.com
the author of "Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A barbaric kind of beauty

By Andrea Thompson, Daily Mail

"Clutching her Hermes holiday bag under her arm, Susan Barrington, a 52-year-old housewife from Buckinghamshire, can't help smiling as she leaves the exclusive clinic in London's Wimpole Street.

She has been given the final go-ahead to travel abroad for a cutting edge nonsurgical treatment that promises to make her look ten years younger.

She doesn't care if the treatment is expensive, involves babies and is so controversial that it is not allowed to be performed in this country - among her well-heeled friends, this is the ultimate new elixir of youth.



The attractive brunette has opted for a controversial stem- cell therapy where umbilical cord tissue from new-born babies will be injected into her body.

It may seem distasteful, but thousands of women have already done it and it is organised by a seemingly respectable British clinic then carried out in Rotterdam, Holland, where rules regarding stemcell therapies are not so strict.

Stem-cell therapy has been big business for beauty doctors since medics discovered the strong healing and rejuvenating potential of stem cells for medical conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. But there has also been a furious ethical debate.

In America, President Bush has denounced stem- cell therapy even for medical purposes as 'godless', vetoing any public funding, though controversially Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, one of the few U.S. states to allow stem-cell research, has allocated 80 million dollars to it. Tony Blair met him only last week to support the move.

So what is it about stem cells that has set tongues wagging in the beauty world? They are the building blocks of every human body but are far more plentiful in embryos, which are still growing, human foetuses, or newborn babies, than in adults.

They are immature but powerful cells that, once extracted, can be stimulated in a laboratory to develop into any type of body cell or organ, including bone, muscle and body tissue.

When injected, these powerful cells target the organs that are not functioning at their optimum and encourage them to produce new tissue.

But scientists agree that further research is required to substantiate the claim that injecting stem cells can diminish wrinkles or reverse the signs of ageing.

In Britain, stem-cell research is governed by strict ethical considerations - it is limited to registered institutions using cells from embryos up to 14 days old or aborted foetuses donated to science.

But it has proved difficult to police clinics abroad and it is here that many people go for a range of stem-cell treatments, with a whole industry happy to cater for their needs.

Such unregulated companies have mushroomed across the globe offering 'aesthetic stem-cell therapies' at exorbitant prices to anyone willing to pay. They claim that stem cells have the ability to rejuvenate the body and renew the cells, not just to produce younger, smoother skin, but increased sex drive and energy.

'By definition, what such clinics are doing is highly experimental and risks damaging the reputation of legitimate stem-cell research we are doing to help cure illnesses,' says leading UK stem-cell researcher Colin Blakemore.

'Because so many clinics are based in tourist spots and refuse to be members of the only recognised board to regulate ethical stem-cell research - The International Stem Cell Forum - there is much room for unethical and morally dubious treatment by unqualified doctors. And if anything goes wrong afterwards, it is hushed up to prevent damage to the business.

This week, posing as a 50-year-old, I went in search of the latest anti-ageing remedies that the world's top clinics have to offer.

My investigation threw up a worrying new trade across the globe in unregulated stemcell treatments costing anywhere between £150 and £20,000. Yet hundreds of British women are visiting such clinics desperate for the new elixirs of youth.

Here, The Mail names clinics at the forefront of this disturbing new beauty craze and reveals what really goes on."

Destination: Barbados:
The Institute for Regenerative Medicine

The Treatment: Anti-ageing stem-cell injections made from aborted foetal tissue, £15,000 The past 12 months have seen this popular holiday resort become the stem-cell capital of the developed world, treating hundreds of patients in a year.

The upmarket clinic opened last year in one of the island's most luxurious hotels - Villa Nova - after Ukrainian stem-cell researchers, who have been secretly pioneering stem-cell studies with aborted human foetuses for 20 years, teamed up with U.S. investors backed by the Caribbean tourist industry.

The aim was to attract wealthy British and American stem-cell tourists for treatment, avoiding the strict ethical barriers to such treatment enforced in Europe and America. The clinic is so busy it has a waiting list of more than 1,000 patients for cosmetic treatments and has treated dozens of British women. The promise: The clinic claims that the foetal tissue derived from elective abortions at six to 12 weeks is rich in regenerative stem cells. 'We inject the cells taken from the liver tissue of human foetuses directly into the vein in the back of your hand,' explains the well-spoken English consultant Jenny, who gives telephone consultations to potential patients.

'The results are incredible. You'll feel and look different after a month because these cells help the body to regenerate itself. The effects last for approximately a year before it needs to be "topped up'' '.

Despite criticism from Church leaders and religious groups on the Island, Barnett Suskind, chief executive of IRM, is unapologetic about the treatment he carries out. 'It is the most natural form of healing there is - in ten years, everyone will be doing this,' he says. 'You think better, sleep better, and look better. Your quality of life improves and your libido certainly improves.' The reality: 'The science behind the treatments on offer at IRM is based on the theory that stem cells from aborted foetuses may search out damaged and dead cells in the body and work to repair and replace them,' says Dr Stephen Minger, director of stem cell biology at King's College, London.

'But what this clinic is doing raises serious issues. For a start, it is not regulated by any medical board and there is no documented evidence or controlled clinical trials to back up their claims. More worryingly, there is no proof that the tissue is obtained from truly elective abortions rather than financially induced ones.

'Research shows that they openly import foetuses from poverty-stricken provinces in Ukraine and Russia, preying on the financially desperate to treat vain Western women.'

Destination: Moscow:
The Cellulite Clinic.

The treatment: Anti-ageing injections of stem cells from aborted foetuses into thighs, buttocks and stomach -

£10,000 to £15,000 for a course of six.

More than 50 clinics, including this one, have sprung up in Russia's capital over the past three years to meet the demand from wealthy Russians and Westerners alike who flock to the global capital of cosmetic stem-cell therapy, where clinics use loopholes in the law to administer injections.

Nearby Ukraine is home to Emcell, the world's largest clinic that has openly experimented in stem-cell therapy for the past 15 years and administers hundreds of anti-ageing therapies a year.

The promise: Treatments range from the injection of stem cells from animals such as cows and pigs to injecting cells taken from the umbilical cords or livers of aborted human foetuses. 'Foetal tissue has been shown to be highly rich in regenerative stem cells which, when injected into adults, helps the body fight the ageing process,' says Dr Elena Bochkaryova.

'I have had patients who leave my clinic after a course of injections looking and feeling ten years younger than when they came in.' The reality: RUSSIA and the Ukraine currently top the world abortion league, with more of the operations carried out here than anywhere else on earth. Evidence gathered by the Moscow police department has shown a growing black market in aborted foetuses, which are smuggled into Russia from the Ukraine and Georgia.

Here, poverty-stricken young women are paid 200 U.S. dollars to carry babies up to the optimum eight to 12-week period - thought to be best for harvesting stem cells. They are then sold on to cosmetic clinics.

'The cavalier attitude of Russian cosmetic surgeons is grotesque,' says Dr Minger. 'The origin of the cells is ethically immoral. Furthermore, they don't bother to test for compatibility between the cells injected and the patient who receives them. Medical risks from complications can include infection, tumours and rejection of foreign tissue.'

Destination: Dominican Republic
Medra Clinic

The treatment: Foetal stem-cell injections from £15,000. Malibu psychiatrist William Rader, 67, previously owned a string of private clinics in LA dedicated to treating eating disorders. He recently founded Medra to offer stem-cell treatments to wealthy clients who wanted to combine a holiday on the exotic La Romana beach resort in the Dominican Republic with their stem-cell therapy.

He has arranged for hundreds of patients to be injected with cells taken from six to 12-week-old aborted foetuses since the clinic opened its doors. Initial consultations are done at Rader's LA surgery at Malibu beach. Arrangements are then made for patients to fly out to the luxury resort in the Dominican Republic to have the treatment administered. The promise: According to Medra's website, the foetal stem cell 'detects and then attempts to repair any damage or deficit discovered in the body, as well as releasing growth factors, which stimulate the body's own repair mechanisms.

'Stem-cell therapy is the future. It's just unfortunate that there is so much opposition to it in the West,' Rader says.

The reality: Debra Huff-Rader, director of physician and patient relations, is deliberately vague when I ask where the foetuses are sourced, saying only that they are from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. But she invites me to speak with Rader himself.

'Because Rader is acting outside America, his work falls outside U.S. regulations on stem-cell therapy,' says Dr Minger. 'Patients risk at best wasting a lot of money on a treatment that is not proven in clinical trials and at worst one that is putting their health at serious risk.'

Destination: Rotterdam
The PMC clinic

The treatment: Anti-ageing stem-cell injections composed of umbilical cord blood - £8,500. Consultations cost £150 per hour and take place in London's Wimpole Street with Dr Robert Trossell. His patients fly out to Holland, where treatment is carried out. Antiageing treatments involve being injected with stem cells extracted from the umbilical cords of babies who have had a natural birth to full term.

The promise: 'Umbilical cord stem cells are the youngest, safely available stem cells,' claims the website. 'We have never had any negative side-effects. Because of the purity of the stem cells, the body will not recognise them as invaders.'

I am reassured by Dr Trossell's Londonbased assistant that it is perfectly safe and easy to arrange, although they are so busy that I must wait over a month for my initial appointment and then a further three months before treatment.

The reality: 'There is no convincing evidence that what the PMC clinic is doing actually works or is safe,' says Dr Minger. 'To state that these cells cannot be rejected is false. This treatment runs the risk of serious infection, tumours and cancer.

'To inject cells from one human being into another, a range of checks must be made to make sure they genetically match each other. Without being properly regulated, you cannot trust that the clinic will do this. At the least you risk being ripped off, at most developing a serious illness.'

Destination: New York
The Nabi Medspa

The treatment: The Frozen in Time Stem-Cell Facial - £150. The latest beauty treatment to hit Manhattan's spa scene has, according to the owner, already drawn a host of customers from the UK and Europe as well as wealthy New Yorkers. The facial involves an exfoliation and steam. The face is then covered in a moisturiser composed of cells harvested from the embryonic fluid of pregnant cows. The result according to Nabi's owner Ivy Cho is ' biological supremacy over ageing skin'.

The promise: The spa claims that introducing live stem cells from cows helps your skin cells - which may be damaged by ' environmental factors' - restore and replicate themselves, creating healthier, stronger, more youthful-looking skin.

'The treatment is originally from France and has become popular with premium customers,' says a consultant at the spa who claims the cows are not hurt in any way during the process.

'We pat the liquid onto the face rather than rubbing it in, which breaks up the cells. It takes just an hour, but immediately afterwards your skin will feel hydrated, firmer and tighter, with a flawless glow. After six days your skin becomes radiant.' The reality: Scedptics argue that the treatment is useless. 'Rubbing on cow cells which have been previously frozen and are consequently dead is of no use at all. In any case, simply putting them onto the surface of the skin means they could never actually seep in to the body,'says Dr Minger.

'This treatment is farcical. Why would putting the cells of cows on to a human being's skin rejuvenate it? It's just not possible. Any woman who wants to rejuvenate her skin should simply eat healthily and invest in a good facial moisturiser.'


Destination: Barbados:
The Institute for Regenerative Medicine

The Treatment: Anti-ageing stem-cell injections made from aborted foetal tissue, £15,000 The past 12 months have seen this popular holiday resort become the stem-cell capital of the developed world, treating hundreds of patients in a year.

The upmarket clinic opened last year in one of the island's most luxurious hotels - Villa Nova - after Ukrainian stem-cell researchers, who have been secretly pioneering stem-cell studies with aborted human foetuses for 20 years, teamed up with U.S. investors backed by the Caribbean tourist industry.

The aim was to attract wealthy British and American stem-cell tourists for treatment, avoiding the strict ethical barriers to such treatment enforced in Europe and America. The clinic is so busy it has a waiting list of more than 1,000 patients for cosmetic treatments and has treated dozens of British women. The promise: The clinic claims that the foetal tissue derived from elective abortions at six to 12 weeks is rich in regenerative stem cells. 'We inject the cells taken from the liver tissue of human foetuses directly into the vein in the back of your hand,' explains the well-spoken English consultant Jenny, who gives telephone consultations to potential patients.

'The results are incredible. You'll feel and look different after a month because these cells help the body to regenerate itself. The effects last for approximately a year before it needs to be "topped up'' '.

Despite criticism from Church leaders and religious groups on the Island, Barnett Suskind, chief executive of IRM, is unapologetic about the treatment he carries out. 'It is the most natural form of healing there is - in ten years, everyone will be doing this,' he says. 'You think better, sleep better, and look better. Your quality of life improves and your libido certainly improves.' The reality: 'The science behind the treatments on offer at IRM is based on the theory that stem cells from aborted foetuses may search out damaged and dead cells in the body and work to repair and replace them,' says Dr Stephen Minger, director of stem cell biology at King's College, London.

'But what this clinic is doing raises serious issues. For a start, it is not regulated by any medical board and there is no documented evidence or controlled clinical trials to back up their claims. More worryingly, there is no proof that the tissue is obtained from truly elective abortions rather than financially induced ones.

'Research shows that they openly import foetuses from poverty-stricken provinces in Ukraine and Russia, preying on the financially desperate to treat vain Western women.'

Destination: Moscow:
The Cellulite Clinic.

The treatment: Anti-ageing injections of stem cells from aborted foetuses into thighs, buttocks and stomach -

£10,000 to £15,000 for a course of six.

More than 50 clinics, including this one, have sprung up in Russia's capital over the past three years to meet the demand from wealthy Russians and Westerners alike who flock to the global capital of cosmetic stem-cell therapy, where clinics use loopholes in the law to administer injections.

Nearby Ukraine is home to Emcell, the world's largest clinic that has openly experimented in stem-cell therapy for the past 15 years and administers hundreds of anti-ageing therapies a year.

The promise: Treatments range from the injection of stem cells from animals such as cows and pigs to injecting cells taken from the umbilical cords or livers of aborted human foetuses. 'Foetal tissue has been shown to be highly rich in regenerative stem cells which, when injected into adults, helps the body fight the ageing process,' says Dr Elena Bochkaryova.

'I have had patients who leave my clinic after a course of injections looking and feeling ten years younger than when they came in.' The reality: RUSSIA and the Ukraine currently top the world abortion league, with more of the operations carried out here than anywhere else on earth. Evidence gathered by the Moscow police department has shown a growing black market in aborted foetuses, which are smuggled into Russia from the Ukraine and Georgia.

Here, poverty-stricken young women are paid 200 U.S. dollars to carry babies up to the optimum eight to 12-week period - thought to be best for harvesting stem cells. They are then sold on to cosmetic clinics.

'The cavalier attitude of Russian cosmetic surgeons is grotesque,' says Dr Minger. 'The origin of the cells is ethically immoral. Furthermore, they don't bother to test for compatibility between the cells injected and the patient who receives them. Medical risks from complications can include infection, tumours and rejection of foreign tissue.'

Destination: Dominican Republic
Medra Clinic

The treatment: Foetal stem-cell injections from £15,000. Malibu psychiatrist William Rader, 67, previously owned a string of private clinics in LA dedicated to treating eating disorders. He recently founded Medra to offer stem-cell treatments to wealthy clients who wanted to combine a holiday on the exotic La Romana beach resort in the Dominican Republic with their stem-cell therapy.

He has arranged for hundreds of patients to be injected with cells taken from six to 12-week-old aborted foetuses since the clinic opened its doors. Initial consultations are done at Rader's LA surgery at Malibu beach. Arrangements are then made for patients to fly out to the luxury resort in the Dominican Republic to have the treatment administered. The promise: According to Medra's website, the foetal stem cell 'detects and then attempts to repair any damage or deficit discovered in the body, as well as releasing growth factors, which stimulate the body's own repair mechanisms.

'Stem-cell therapy is the future. It's just unfortunate that there is so much opposition to it in the West,' Rader says.

The reality: Debra Huff-Rader, director of physician and patient relations, is deliberately vague when I ask where the foetuses are sourced, saying only that they are from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. But she invites me to speak with Rader himself.

'Because Rader is acting outside America, his work falls outside U.S. regulations on stem-cell therapy,' says Dr Minger. 'Patients risk at best wasting a lot of money on a treatment that is not proven in clinical trials and at worst one that is putting their health at serious risk.'

Destination: Rotterdam
The PMC clinic

The treatment: Anti-ageing stem-cell injections composed of umbilical cord blood - £8,500. Consultations cost £150 per hour and take place in London's Wimpole Street with Dr Robert Trossell. His patients fly out to Holland, where treatment is carried out. Antiageing treatments involve being injected with stem cells extracted from the umbilical cords of babies who have had a natural birth to full term.

The promise: 'Umbilical cord stem cells are the youngest, safely available stem cells,' claims the website. 'We have never had any negative side-effects. Because of the purity of the stem cells, the body will not recognise them as invaders.'

I am reassured by Dr Trossell's Londonbased assistant that it is perfectly safe and easy to arrange, although they are so busy that I must wait over a month for my initial appointment and then a further three months before treatment.

The reality: 'There is no convincing evidence that what the PMC clinic is doing actually works or is safe,' says Dr Minger. 'To state that these cells cannot be rejected is false. This treatment runs the risk of serious infection, tumours and cancer.

'To inject cells from one human being into another, a range of checks must be made to make sure they genetically match each other. Without being properly regulated, you cannot trust that the clinic will do this. At the least you risk being ripped off, at most developing a serious illness.'

Destination: New York
The Nabi Medspa

The treatment: The Frozen in Time Stem-Cell Facial - £150. The latest beauty treatment to hit Manhattan's spa scene has, according to the owner, already drawn a host of customers from the UK and Europe as well as wealthy New Yorkers. The facial involves an exfoliation and steam. The face is then covered in a moisturiser composed of cells harvested from the embryonic fluid of pregnant cows. The result according to Nabi's owner Ivy Cho is ' biological supremacy over ageing skin'.

The promise: The spa claims that introducing live stem cells from cows helps your skin cells - which may be damaged by ' environmental factors' - restore and replicate themselves, creating healthier, stronger, more youthful-looking skin.

'The treatment is originally from France and has become popular with premium customers,' says a consultant at the spa who claims the cows are not hurt in any way during the process.

'We pat the liquid onto the face rather than rubbing it in, which breaks up the cells. It takes just an hour, but immediately afterwards your skin will feel hydrated, firmer and tighter, with a flawless glow. After six days your skin becomes radiant.' The reality: Scedptics argue that the treatment is useless. 'Rubbing on cow cells which have been previously frozen and are consequently dead is of no use at all. In any case, simply putting them onto the surface of the skin means they could never actually seep in to the body,'says Dr Minger.

'This treatment is farcical. Why would putting the cells of cows on to a human being's skin rejuvenate it? It's just not possible. Any woman who wants to rejuvenate her skin should simply eat healthily and invest in a good facial moisturiser.'

Link: Daily Mail page


cruzue@gmail.com


.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sayings of Mother Teresa of Calcutta


By Mother Teresa


The dying, the cripple, the mental,
the unwanted, the unloved
they are Jesus in disguise.

Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.

Little things are indeed little,
but to be faithful in little things is a
great thing.

It is not how much we do,
but how much love we put in the doing.
It is not how much we give,
but how much love we put in the giving.

Nakedness is not only for a piece of clothing;
nakedness is lack of human dignity,
and also that beautiful virtue of purity,
and lack of that respect for each other.

There is a terrible hunger for love.
We all experience that in our lives - the pain, the loneliness.
We must have the courage to recognize it.
The poor you may have right in your own family.
Find them.
Love them.

Before you speak,
it is necessary for you to listen,
for God speaks in the silence of the heart.

Speak tenderly to them.
Let there be kindness in your face,
in your eyes, in your smile,
in the warmth of your greeting.
Always have a cheerful smile.
Don't only give your care,
but give your heart as well.

If you are humble nothing will touch you,
neither praise nor disgrace,
because you know what you are.

Do not allow yourselves to be disheartened
by any failure as long as you have done your best.

There is only one God and He is God to all;
therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God.
I've always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu,
a Muslim become a better Muslim,
a Catholic become a better Catholic.

If we really want to love
we must learn how to forgive.

If we pray, we will believe;
If we believe, we will love
If we love, we will serve.

We can do no great things;
only small things with great love.

Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor
for helping us to love God better because of them.


- Mother Teresa

.

Missions - Encyclopedia on ethnics


Welcome to Etnopedia


The free editable encyclopedia on the ethnic peoples of the world from a Christian perspective.




Monday, April 07, 2008

Obama's Church of Contradictions

Lisa Miller

Belief Watch

Lisa Miller

“On Faith” panelist Lisa Miller is a senior editor at Newsweek. She oversees all of the magazine's religion coverage and writes the regular "Belief Watch column. She edited Newsweek’s “Spirituality in America” double issue, which looked at the rise of spirituality and why many Americans are choosing to seek spiritual experiences outside traditional religions. She has supervised publication of major cover stories including “Sex, Shame and the Catholic Church,” (March 2002), “The Bible and the Qur’an,” (February 2002), “Fighting Addiction,” (February 2001), and “God and the Brain,” (May 2001). Miller came to Newsweek from the Wall Street Journal, where she was an award-winning senior special writer covering religion for the paper’s front page since 1997. Prior to the Journal, Miller worked at the New Yorker, Self magazine and Harvard Business Review. In 1998, she won a New York Newswomen’s Club award for feature writing. She earned a B.A. in English from Ohio’s Oberlin College. Miller is writing a book about contemporary beliefs and conceptions of heaven.
“On Faith” panelist Lisa Miller is a senior editor at Newsweek. She oversees all of the magazine's religion coverage and writes the regular "Belief Watch column.

Obama's Church of Contradictions

"When you walk into Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago, the first thing you see on a Sunday morning are the people crowding the lobby, hugging and kissing, asking after each other’s children. The congregation is older and formally dressed: many of the women wear fur coats, stockings and heels; almost no one is dressed in jeans. As an usher leads a reporter upstairs to the pastor’s office, he rebukes a young boy: “Take off your hat in church, son.”

The service warms up with a few numbers by a 300-member gospel choir. Then there’s a performance by a drill team, three rows of women, dressed in matching white shirts and red suspenders, walk through military moves while chanting verses from Scripture. There’s the sermon, a time for quiet reflection, and an altar call. When asked about the controversial statements of their former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, statements that have been pasted all over the Internet and cable news for the past few days, congregants are almost universally dismayed. These messages are being taken out of context, they say; their church is the most benign place in the world. “Come on, media, it’s just a gospel choir,” says Dwight Hopkins, a member of Trinity and a theology professor at the University of Chicago. “It’s about the least scary place on the planet,” says Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a professor at Princeton University who attended Trinity for a time.

How is that Trinity church-along with its message and its messenger of 36 years--can look so different to different people? More to the point, how is that presidential hopeful Barack Obama, a member of that church for two decades, could fail to anticipate how terrifying Wright would look to the rest of the world? Trinity Church, like so many places of worship, is a place of contradictions. From the inside, it’s a place of comfort and solace, a place where the most heated conversations are about what kind of music the choir should sing on Sundays: hip hop or gospel. From the outside, it looks like a hotbed of radical, anti-establishment talk.

America may be the most religious nation in the Western world, but as so many scholars have pointed out recently, Americans are also among the least well educated on the subject of religion - they know little about the history and theology of their own religious traditions and even less about those of their neighbors. As we learned after September 11, Americans pay scant attention to the religious practices of the minorities among us. When the spotlight does shine on adherents of an unfamiliar religion or religious movement, we do a bad job trying to understand them and they, in turn, do a bad job trying to explain themselves.

Rev. Wright represents a vein of thought in the African-American church tradition called “black liberation theology,” a commitment, born out of the racial strife of the late 1960s and early 1970s, to use Christianity as a weapon in the fight against what was seen as systemic, overreaching and unchanging racism. Obama condemned this view as narrow in his speech on Friday. Rev. Wright’s views “expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country,” he said, “ a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America.” At the same time, Obama refused to pretend that the problem of racism, which so inflamed his pastor, no longer exists. The anger that finds its voice in the sermons of Rev. Wright, Obama said, “is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

Last Friday, in an effort to gauge just how “out there” Wright’s sermons are in the context of the African-American church tradition, NEWSWEEK phoned at least two dozen of the country’s most prominent and thoughtful African-American scholars and pastors, representing a wide range of denominations and points of view. Not one person would say that Wright had crossed any kind of significant line.

“An effort on the part of Christians--both clergy and laypersons--to critique the United States in light of what they understand as biblically based moral and ethical guidelines isn't new,” explains Anthony Pinn, a professor of religious studies at Rice University. “There is a dominant style in black churches and Rev. Wright’s preaching is a prime example of this…Some of what Rev. Wright says is controversial, but that doesn’t make him unique.”

The Rev. James Forbes, the recently retired longtime pastor of Riverside Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side explained that, broadly speaking, there has been a historical division in the world of black churches. One group thinks you should work hard, keep quiet and get ahead; the other thinks that you need to agitate and provoke to make progress. Forbes puts himself in the first camp but supports Wright’s efforts. “Some of us wish we had the nerve that Jeremiah had,” he said. “We praise God that he’s saying it, so the rest of us don’t have to.” Does Wright ever cross a line? “I think if a person is a prophet and he’s not seen as ever crossing a line, then he has not told the truth as it ought to be told.”

In 1969, the theologian James Cone wrote “Black Liberation Theology,” the book that so influenced Jeremiah Wright. Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, sees a straight line from the rhetoric of Martin Luther King, Jr., through Wright to Obama himself. Indeed, in 1964, when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, King spoke movingly about -- what else? -- audacity and hope. “I believe that even amid today’s motor bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow…I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”

In Obama’s rhetoric, “the fierce urgency of now comes from his church,” explains Cone. “His emphasis on hope-hope has been the most dominant theme with black people because without hope you die. What that church represented for Obama is hope for black people.” Cone sees in Obama a prophetic, King-like figure. “ He represents what America wishes was true. . . I think the vast majority of Americans want a society without racial conflict and racial oppression. Obama strikes a note in that hope and that wish.”

In his speech on Tuesday, Obama explicitly aligned himself with King when he retold an anecdote he first told on Martin Luther King day, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. It's a story about a young, white nine-year-old girl who convinced her sick mother that she liked mustard and relish sandwiches because they were the cheapest food she could think of. She grows up to work on the Obama campaign. "It is not enough to give health heare to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children," he said. "But it is where we start."

For their part, members of the church are just grateful that they can give the job of defending and explaining of their church to Barack Obama, the person with the most explaining to do".

(with Elise Soukup.)

Source: Washington Post


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Cuban Methodist Church News

C U B A
ACTS OF
THE HOLY SPIRIT
IN 12 PHOTOS


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Metodista Church in Cuba
http://www.imecu.org

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