eNews For The Week Of April 17, 2012
In This Week’s Issue
- The Expense of Nuclear Power - (Read)
- Salafists Distribute Korans in German 'Lies!' Campaign - (Read)
- Isaac Newton the Creationist - (Read)
Memory Verse of the Week
Important News Headlines
Over 50 Chinese cities are sinking into the ground because of the continuous subsidence of the soil. The excessive consumption of ground water is to blame. As its result, under many Chinese cities, including Beijing, the world's largest underground funnels have formed. But there are other environmental problems in the country.
In China lakes are evaporating, rivers are drying out, 75 percent of forests have been logged. Because of the destruction of the topsoil the land turns into desert sand that invades cities and even neighboring countries. The country is paying for the unprecedented pace of economic development and a passion for unbridled consumption...
Today, cinema is the most attractive show business for the haters of Israel; Hollywood celebrities, such as the Trotskyite Vanessa Redgrave and Viggo Mortensen, have boarded the anti-Israel bandwagon. It's an Israelophobic star system that joined the most perverse sabotage of human rights. Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, a winner of the UNESCO International Music Prize, is a renowned Jew-hater who declared on Greek television that he was "anti-Israel and anti-Semitic." Meanwhile, "Manifest Destiny" by composer Keith Burstein and librettist Dic Edward is another musical opera that romanticizes Palestinian suicide bombers.
Parents at a Massachusetts elementary school were furious after educators first removed the word 'God' from the popular Lee Greenwood song, "God Bless the U.S.A." and then pulled the song all together from an upcoming concert.
Children at Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham were told to sing, "We love the U.S.A." instead of "God Bless the U.S.A.", though the song's writer, Lee Greenwood, had not given his permission for the words of his song to be changed.
After parents started complaining, school officials removed the song from the school assembly concert altogether. The superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools finally released a statement last Wednesday stating that students would be allowed to sing or not sing "God Bless the USA" during an upcoming assembly at Stall Brook Elementary School.
"Political correctness is certainly a consideration in the public sector," Superintendent Edward Fleury wrote in a statement posted on the district's website.
"Students will be allowed to sing or not sing the words 'God Bless the USA' as they sing in celebration of their acquired knowledge," he said. "No other words will be substituted."
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Articles And Commentary
THE EXPENSE OF NUCLEAR POWER
All but one of Japan's nuclear reactors are on bed rest for the moment, and the country may face severe power shortages this summer if the government decides not to allow them to be started up again. Before the earthquake and tsunami that caused the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant a year ago, Japan's 54 nuclear reactors provided the natural resource-strapped country with 30 percent of its energy needs. Now, public sentiment against the plants is strong, and Japan may be scrambling to find alternate sources of power.
One sole Japanese nuclear reactor remains in operation on the island of Hokkaido until the beginning of next month. Like the other 53 reactors in Japan, this one too will be shutdown on May 5th to test it and make sure that it meets safety requirements. Whether the reactors will start back up is still in question.
The nuclear industry took a major hit on March 11, 2011 when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Emergency systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant worked as planned after the earthquake itself. The three reactors that were up and running automatically shut down, and backup generators came on to keep the coolant systems running. (Even after a reactor shuts down, the unstable isotopes in it continue to decay, creating heat.) When the tsunami hit, however, the backup generators were flooded with seawater. The generators ceased working to pump coolant water through the reactors, allowing them to overheat – resulting in full meltdown, along with a number of hydrogen explosions. Significant amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere and into the ground water and ocean. Food grown within 50km of the plant was banned from being sold because measured radioactive cesium levels were too high.
The Fukushima meltdown raised massive distrust of the nuclear industry. Radioactive iodine from the power plant spread across the Pacific, being detected as far as the kelp off the coast of California. As the Japanese government debates about whether to restart the other 53 reactors, the people of Japan have protested in fear of another disaster in the earthquake-prone country.
France v. Germany:
Europe is also in a state of flux concerning the value of nuclear energy. Germany backed away from nuclear power shortly after the Fukushima meltdown, revoking the licenses of seven of its 17 nuclear power plants within three months of the Japan earthquake. While nuclear power provides France with about 79 percent of its energy, Germany decided to scrap nuclear altogether and shut down the rest of its plants by the year 2022.
The German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung recently reported that four countries in Europe - France, the United Kingdom, Poland, and the Czech Republic - are seeking to get Brussels to place nuclear energy under the "low-emission technology" category along with technologies like wind and solar. This would give the nuclear industry in Europe access to subsidies that would help build new power plants and keep it alive in a world increasingly hostile to anything radioactive. It would also mean that German taxpayers, which contribute heavily to the EU, would be paying for a technology their own government has rejected.
How dangerous is nuclear energy, though, in reality? According to the European Nuclear Society, there are currently 436 nuclear power plants in operation in 31 countries. The United States is home to nearly one-fourth (104) of those plants, and France has currently 58 running. Japan's 54 plants put it in third place – if they ever get started up again. Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi disaster are the two worst nuclear power plant meltdowns in history. Three-Mile Island in Pennsylvania had a partial meltdown in 1979 when a pilot-operated relief valve was stuck open and reactant coolant escaped. There have been a few smaller incidents and times when reactors were shut down, but for the most part, nuclear reactors sell very few newspapers.
It's interesting to note that most of Japan's reactors did survive the worst earthquake in recent Japanese history, and even the Fukushima Daiichi plant would not have been quite an issue had its cooling system had a steam-generated pump. Unlike boiling water reactors, which require an electrcity source to pump coolant through the system, pressurized-water reactors use the steam generated by the reactor itself to run the pump and keep the reactor cool. Plus, the system can be operated manually if necessary in the absence of electricity. Fukushima Daiichi was unfortunately built with boiling water reactors. Nuclear power technology has been developed to be much safer than it was even 30 years ago, with multiple levels of defense built in to protect against accidents.
At the same time, as safe as these power plants can be built today, the safety isn't cheap. It requires heavy investment to keep nuclear reactors up to high standards, and as long as coal and natural gas are inexpensive, many people would rather pay for fossil fuels than nuclear power.
One of the biggest issue with nuclear energy is that it generates a tremendous amount of spent radioactive material. The United States has 70,000 metric tons of used nuclear fuel. Japan has stockpiles of separated plutonium that itself is radioactive and difficult to dispose of - plutonium that can be stolen by unsavory characters and made into radioactive weaponry. Nuclear waste is an inconvenient part of using nuclear power in any country.
Japan was planning to use fast reactors to deal with its plutonium stockpiles. Fast reactors can recycle the plutonium waste and use it as fuel in a fission reaction. The benefit of fast reactors is that they convert dangerous radioactive waste into energy rather than leaving it stockpiled, waiting to be stolen for weapons purposes or dumped into a hole in the earth.
"If they really want to get rid of plutonium, a fast spectrum reactor is safer and gets rid of more of it," argues nuclear engineer Eric Loewen, chief consulting engineer at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. "It just seems like humans are grappling with the question: 'How do we do it better?'"
However, there are problems with the fast reactors too. The technology is sophisticated, and the reactors are still hard to run reliably. The liquid sodium used to cool them causes fires if there is a leak and the sodium has a chance to react with water or air. It is expensive to keep these reactors running and running well, and in the end, the fast reactors also generate nuclear waste that still must be disposed of. And not only do people not want the waste buried in their backyard, they're resistant to having it transported through their backyards to be buried somewhere else.
Conventional light-water reactors can also be used to eat up plutonium. "If I was going to try to get rid of 100 tons of plutonium, I'd burn it in a light-water reactor," by making it into mixed oxide fuels, says physicist Thomas Cochran of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. And "the cheapest thing to do is vitrify it [convert it to glass] and mix it with other nuclear waste."
Nuclear power is not the dream source of cheap energy it was once hoped to be. This summer in Japan promises to be not and miserable with power outages. The Japanese government may work to reassure the population that the reactors will be safe, even in the event of another natural disaster. Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said two nuclear reactors would be restarted at the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant in western Japan, but the idea was not warmly accepted by the people. If Japan decides not to restart its nuclear reactors, it will have to come up with a replacement source of energy quickly.
SALAFISTS DISTRIBUTE KORANS IN GERMAN 'LIES!' CAMPAIGN
The founder of Salafism in Lebanon recently declared his support for the rebels in Syria against the tyranny of President Bashar al Assad. "Salafists are part of the popular movements that express rage at what is happening to the Sunnis in Syria at the hands of the criminal regime," Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal told the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper early this week.
The Syrian rebels are by no means a homogenous group, but having the Salafists on their side does not make them look too good. Salafists promote an extreme brand of Islam that seeks to return Muslims to the culture of the time of Mohammed and his followers. Not only do Salafists approach Islam with a centuries-old conservativism, they have been linked to forms of terrorism.
The Salafists have been raising concerned discussion in Germany recently because of their commitment to handing out a million Korans to their fellow Germans. It is legal in Germany to hand out religious material, and normally the distribution of Korans would be considered a mundane result of the influx of Muslims into Europe. The Salfists, however, give out their Korans with the purpose of recruitment and with a menacing attitude toward those who disagree with them, raising discussions that might result in less religious freedom for everybody.
The followers of the Salafist imam Ibrahim Abou Nagie focused on the Easter season to set up information stands and offer free Korans to passers by. Their goal is to get Korans into every German, Swiss and Austrian home, sounding like any other mission-oriented religion. When the newspapers got ahold of the story, however, the Salafists became threatening. A video has appeared on Youtube informing the "pig and monkey" journalists that their cell phone numbers and home locations were known, sending concern through the German population.
The situation has rummaged up a political debate in Germany about whether to halt the Koran distribution. To do so would be an abridgement of Germany's religious freedom, and many Germans do not want one group to inspire an encroachment against the liberties of the whole country. At the same time, Salafism espouses a philosophy similar to that of Al Qaida, and many other Germans are worried that the Salafists are recruiting others to their especially dangerous brand of Islam, and they want the Koran giveaway stopped.
One German security officer reminded the populace of the Salafist interests of Arid Uka, who opened fire in a bus at the Frankfurt airport last year, killing two people. Green Party co-leader Cem Özdemir echoed the sentiments of many when he told Die Welt, "I have a problem with all religious groups that place their world view above the constitution and above human rights. That applies as well to those Salafists who invoke violence and whose ideology fuels Islamist terrorism."
On the other hand, professor of religious sociology at the University of Osnabrück, Rauf Ceylan, called the extremists "a minority within a minority" and warned against focusing too much on them. "Politicians have a great responsibility for communicating the fact that Germany is now an immigration society," he said, "and thus far they have failed at that."
Putting a halt to the campaign could set a poor precedent against proselytizing in general, which would endanger religious freedom for all in Germany. Many groups distribute materials, from Hare Krishnas to Jehovah's Witnesses. If the Salafists are told to take down their booths and stop giving out Korans, Christian groups may one day find they are not free to hand people New Testaments - in the name of being even-handed.
There is also danger that anti-Muslim sentiment could encourage a different kind of extremist - like Anders Behring Breivik currently on trial for his slaughter of young people in Norway last July.
While the campaign to get Korans into the hands of Germans has sparked debate, it has a double meaning for English speakers on its own, even without the political fuss. The group chose the German word for "Read!" as their campaign slogan, but those four letters have a much different meaning in English. The Muslims manning the booths wear shirts that boldly shout "Lies!" For non-Muslim passers-by who understand the English meaning of that word, the campaign slogan might be the most appropriate one possible from those recruiting young Germans to the extremist Salafists.
The campaign does offer a way to get a free copy of the Koran, whether it considered true or not. The group claims that about 300,000 copies have been given away so far. The monitoring eye of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has been keeping keen watch on the organization.
ISAAC NEWTON THE CREATIONIST
"This most beautiful system [The Universe] could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." - Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton is best known as the brilliant mathematician who redefined physics for the world in the 17th century. His laws of motion dominated physics until Einstein, and are still used to calculate the forces on objects when they don't approach the speed of light. Schoolchildren regularly learn about Newton's law of gravity, but few are taught that the great scientist was also a bit of a theologian. While he's most famous for his scientific discoveries, Newton also wrote commentaries on Daniel and Revelation. The man who invented Calculus also argued that the Jews would return to the Holy Land before the end of the world and wrote that the Apocalypse would not occur until after A.D. 2060. Now, 7500 pages of Newton's original handwritten papers and letters have been digitized by Israel's national library and placed online, offering the world a broader glimpse of this great scientist's deeply religious nature.
For 250 years, many of Newton's papers remained locked away in a trunk at the estate of the Earl of Portsmouth. In 1936, they were auctioned off and most were acquired by two very different sorts of men; the very secular economist John Maynard Keynes, and the Jewish Oriental Studies scholar Abraham Shalom Yahuda, who was devoted to proving the Pentateuch's authenticity. While Keynes' collection went to Cambridge University, Yahuda bequeathed his collection to the new State of Israel in 1951. In 1969 the manuscripts were locked away at Israel's National Library, to be read only by select scholars. They were brought out of hiding in 2007 put on display for a month at the Jewish National and University Library at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Now that they've been digitized, they can be accessed from across the globe.
These manuscripts offer to the world a greater understanding of Newton's mystical side. While today's secular scientists work to separate "religion" from "science," Newton believed that the physical world revealed and glorified God. According to Israel's National Library web site:
"There are at least three reasons why these papers are important, even though they do not always speak directly to the canonical Newton. First, the manuscripts help illuminate Newton's science. Newton's piety served as one of his inspirations to study nature and what we today call science. But Newton's theological papers also tell us much about his inductive methods and his views on the unity of God's Creation.
"Second, the manuscripts illuminate the person of Newton. The figure once viewed almost uniformly as an icon of cold rationality, now appears as an alchemist, a biblical scholar and a religious devotee who pored over the symbols of the Books of Daniel and Revelation for decades in an attempt to decode the meaning of the future foreordained by God. Newton can now be studied as an alchemist and a theologian in his own right."
In one of the letters in the collection, Newton's words have been taken as a prediction that the Apocalypse would occur in 2060, 1260 years (3.5 years x 360 years) after the Holy Roman Empire was formed in A.D. 800. His precise words are, "The time times and half a time do not end before 2060 nor after ___," and he leaves the second date blank, as though he forgot to go back and fill it in. Newton was only a human being, after all.
Ultimately, however, this brilliant mind appreciated the foolishness of date setting. He wrote, "This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail."
Many researchers love to point out Newton's interest in alchemy, his disagreements with the Church of England, and his tendency to question the Anglican description of the Trinity. Newton's passion for the Scriptures, however, is obvious throughout his writings, matched by his passion for studying the universe that God created. Newton would fully reject the idea that science and religion cannot mix. He admired God's excellence in designing the universe, and in inspiring the Bible.
"The system of revealed truth which this Book contains is like that of the universe, concealed from common observation yet...the centuries have established its Divine origin." - Isaac Newton
Memory Verse Of The Week
Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
James 5:4 KJV
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