Friday, August 20, 2004
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: UNTESTED DEFENSE TRIUMPHS OVER PESSIMISM.
At a Boeing missile plant, President Bush warned anyone thinking of threatening America and the free world with nuclear missiles that if "You fire; we're going to shoot it down." It sounded like "make my day," but is the gun loaded? A day later, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld called deployment "a triumph of home and vision over pessimism and skepticism." That sounds about right.
2. NUCLEAR TERROR: NEW BOOK SAYS U.S. CITIES ARE VULNERABLE.
The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism asserts that terrorist groups are now the only ones "seeking to rain nuclear destruction on the United States." Charles Ferguson and William Potter, both at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, break the threat down as: 1) theft of an intact nuclear weapon, 2) a bomb improvised from stolen fissile material, 3) attack on a nuclear power plant, and 4)dispersal of radioactive material. The first two are the most horrific, but least likely; the other two scare the bejesus out of people, but are unlikely to result in major loss of life. None involves the use of ballistic missiles.
3. PROJECT STEVE: THE EVOLUTIONARY ADVANTAGE OF BEING "STEVE."
In 2001, the Discovery Institute published ads listing names of 100 "scientists" who doubted Darwinism. The National Center for Science Education parodied the ads by collecting signatures just of scientists named "Steve" on a statement endorsing evolution. "Steve" was chosen to honor the late Stephen J. Gould, a renowned evolutionary biologist. The 440 "Steves" are co-authors of a paper in the Annals of Improbable Research, and can note on their resumes that they co-authored a paper with Stephen Hawking and Nobel laureates Steve Weinberg and Steve Chu.
4. CHURCH AND STATE: RELIGIOUS COALITION ENDORSES GEORGE W. BUSH.
The National Faith-Based Initiative Coalition, "religious leaders of the African-American faith-based community" backed George W. Bush for president today. They praised Bush for making it clear "what the American family should look like." They said Democrats no longer cared about blacks, and that it was time for them to choose a new political affiliation. When What's New asked what they thought about separation of Church and State, the Coalition explained that it was okay to lobby for federal funding of religious groups, so long as they did so as individuals.
5. SUPERSTITION: CHURCH DENIES SALVATION TO THE DIET-CHALLENGED.
The Catholic Church denied 8-year-old Haley Waldman Holy Communion. Her sin? A rare disorder involving a severe reaction to gluten. Catholic doctrine says communion wafers must be made of wheat, like in the Last Supper. The Diocese of Trenton refuses to make an exception for Haley, who believes a rice-based communion should be sufficient. According to Catholic doctrine, the communion host becomes Atkins-friendly human flesh after the priest blesses it, so what's the problem?
Paul Gresser contributed to this week's issue of What's New.