Thursday, March 20

Westboro church founder Fred Phelps dies

1:36 PM By



Fred Phelps -- the founding pastor of a Kansas church recognized for its virulently anti-gay protests at public occasions, including military funerals -- has died, the church stated Thursday.
Phelps founded Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, in 1955 and molded it in his fire and brimstone picture. Many members of the tiny congregation are related to Phelps through blood or marriage.

In a statement Thursday, the church chided the "world-wide media" for "gleefully anticipating the departure."

"God forbid, if every small soul in the Westboro Baptist Church should happen to perish only at that instant, or to turn from serving the authentic and living God, it would not alter one thing regarding the judgments of God that await this greatly corrupted nation and globe."

According to Westboro, the church has picketed over 53,000 occasions, including Lady Ga Ga concerts to funerals for slain U.S. soldiers. Normally, a dozen or so churchgoers -- including little children -- will brandish signs that say "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."

Phelps was regularly called "the most hated man in The Us," a label he appeared to relish.
"Basically had no body mad at me," he advised the Wichita Eagle in 2006, "what correct would I have to assert that I was preaching the Gospel?"

Under Phelps' leadership, Westboro members have preached that every calamity, from natural disasters to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Ct, is God's punishment for the nation's acceptance of homosexuality. Phelps had urged for homosexuals and lesbians to be put to death.

"Fred Phelps won't be missed by the LGBT neighborhood, individuals with HIV/AIDS/AIDS and also the numerous decent folks around the world who found what he and his followers do greatly hurtful and offensive," the Nationwide Gay and Lesbian Task-Force said in a statement.
"While it is hard to locate anything good to mention about his viewpoints or activities, we do give our condolences to his family members at what should be a painful time in their opinion."
Phelps began his anti-homosexual demonstrations in Wichita in 1991 after whining the city refused to discontinue homosexual actions in a public park. He climbed to nationwide notoriety in 1998, when Westboro members picketed in the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming guy who was tortured and killed because he was gay. Phelps and his church carried signs that said Shepard was rotting in hell.

In 2011, the Highest Court upheld Westboro's correct to picket military funerals on free-speech reasons. Congress and many states, however, have passed laws aimed at keeping church members at a distance from funerals.

In 2013, over 367,000 petitioners called on the White House to legally acknowledge Westboro Baptist Church as a dislike group. The White House called Westboro's demonstrations "reprehensible" but stated that "as a matter 
of practice, the federal government does not maintain a listing of hate groups."

Anti-homosexual preacher once fought for civil rights
Produced in Meridian, Mississippi, on November 29, 1929, Phelps had his sights set on West Stage before he attended a Methodist resurrection.

"I believed the call, as the saying goes, and it had been strong," Phelps advised the Topeka Capital-Journal in 1994. "The God of glory appeared."

He bounced around several Christian faculties as his theology and his sermon took a difficult right flip.

A Time journal article from 1951 describes Phelps as a "craggy-confronted engineering pupil" who harangued fellow students concerning the dangers of promiscuity and profanity.
Tim Miller, a professor of religious history at the University of Kansas who has analyzed Westboro Baptist Church, stated Phelps liked to consider himself a "primitive Baptist preacher who held to the outdated manners."

Phelps married his wife, Marge, who survives him, in 1952. The couple moved to Topeka on May 4, 1954, the day the High Court handed down its landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated community schools.

Phelps shortly started a law career that dedicated to civil rights, winning honours for his function and praise from neighborhood leaders and interpreted that as a sign.

"Most blacks -- that's who they went to," the Rev. Ben Scott, president of the NAACP's Topeka division, told CNN in 2010. "I don't know if he was cheaper or if he had that stick-to-it-ness, but Fred did not drop many back then."

The Kansas Supreme Court stated that Phelps "has little regard for the moral principles of his career."

Phelps surrendered his license to practice law in federal courts in 1989, as stated by the Topeka Capital-Journal, after nine U.S. District Court judges filed disciplinary complaints against him.

All the members of Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church are members of his large household. Phelps has 1-3 children; 11 are attorneys. One son, Nathan, is estranged from his dad and from organized religion. He's an atheist.

Nathan Phelps posted a Facebook message March 15 saying that his dad was excommunicated from your church. After, though, Nathan Phelps mentioned it was "uncertain" whether his dad were expelled from Westboro.

Westboro declined to say whether Phelps has been excommunicated. A church statement said March 1-6 that "membership dilemmas are personal" and that eight unnamed elders lead the congregation.

On Thursday, the church included, "Listen carefully; there are no power challenges in the Westboro Baptist Church, and there is no human intercessor -- we serve no guy, with no hierarchy, only the Lord Jesus Christ."

For decades, Phelps joked regarding the possibility that protests would be drawn by his own funeral. Throughout a sermon in 2006, he mentioned a CNN reporter once asked how he'd feel if that happened.

"I Would like it. I Had encourage them," Phelps advised the newsman, based on the Wichita Eagle. "I said: 'I'll put in my will to pay your method. But not first class.' "

But Shirley Phelps-Roper, Phelps' daughter, said Westboro won't hold a funeral.
"We do not worship the dead," Phelps-Roper told CNN.com

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Author: Daniel Burke, CNN

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Sunday, December 15

South Africa buries Mandela

Mandela funeral: The coffin of former South African President Nelson Mandela is seen draped in a South African national flag during his funeral: The coffin of former South African President Nelson Mandela is seen draped in a South African national flag during his funeral in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.
The coffin of former South African President Nelson Mandela is seen draped in a South African national flag during his funeral in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.

Britain's Prince Charles and former Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai were among dignitaries attending Nelson Mandela's funeral in Qunu, South Africa.
QUNU, South Africa — Nelson Mandela was buried Sunday in the African ground he loved after a funeral ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and fly-overs by military aircraft as well as a eulogy by a traditional leader wearing an animal skin.
Mandela's casket was lowered into the earth after military pallbearers carried it to the family gravesite in the rolling hills of Qunu, the rural village in eastern South Africa which was the childhood home of the anti-apartheid leader who became the country's first democratically-elected president.
Banyanda Nyengule, head of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha and Qunu, was one of the eyewitnesses to the private burial and said it hit him hard.
"I realized that the old man is no more, no more with us you know," Nyengule said. "The moment when the coffin went down into the ground I felt too ... emotional."
South African television showed Mandela's casket at the family gravesite, but the broadcast went to a different scene just before the coffin was lowered at the request of the Mandela family.
It was South Africa's final goodbye to the man who reconciled the country in its most volatile period.
Several hundred people attended the burial. Earlier, more than 4,000, some singing and dancing, gathered for a funeral service in a huge tent at the family compound of Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at the age of 95 after a long illness. They sang the national anthem in an emotional rendition in which some mourners placed fists over their chests.
Mandela funeral: Graca Machel, the widow of former South African President Nelson MandelaReuters: SABC via Reuters TV
Graca Machel, the widow of former South African President Nelson Mandela
Mandela's portrait looked over the assembly in the white marquee from behind a bank of 95 candles representing each year of his remarkable life. His casket, draped in the national flag, was placed on a carpet of cow skins below a lectern where speakers delivered eulogies.
"A great tree has fallen, he is now going home to rest with his forefathers," said Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, a representative of Mandela's family. "We thank them for lending us such an icon."
The tent ceremony was broadcast on big screens in the area, including at one spot on a hill overlooking Mandela's property. Several hundred people gathered there, some wearing the black, yellow and green colors of the African National Congress — the liberation movement-turned political party that Mandela had led — and occasionally breaking into song.
Nandi Mandela said her grandfather went barefoot to school in Qunu when he was boy and eventually became president and a figure of global import.
"It is to each of us to achieve anything you want in life," she said, recalling kind gestures by Mandela "that made all those around him also want to do good."
In the Xhosa language, she referred to her grandfather by his clan name: "Go well, Madiba. go well to the land of our ancestors, you have run your race."
Ahmed Kathrada, an anti-apartheid activist who was jailed on Robben Island with Mandela, remembered his old friend's "abundant reserves" of love, patience and tolerance. He said it was painful when he saw Mandela for the last time, months ago in his hospital bed.
"He tightly held my hand, it was profoundly heartbreaking," Kathrada said, his voice breaking at times. "How I wish I never had to confront what I saw. I first met him 67 years ago and I recall the tall, healthy strong man, the boxer, the prisoner who easily wielded the pick and shovel when we couldn't do so."
Some mourners wiped away tears as Kathrada spoke, his voice trembling with emotion.
Mandela's widow, Grace Machel, and his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, were dressed in black Xhosa headwraps and dresses. Guests included veterans of the military wing of the African National Congress as well as United States Ambassador Patrick Gaspard and other foreign envoys.
Britain's Prince Charles, Monaco's Prince Albert II, U.S. television personality Oprah Winfrey, billionaire businessman Richard Branson and former Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were also there.
Mandela funeral: British entrepreneur Richard Branson, right, and TV host Oprah Winfrey
British entrepreneur Richard Branson, right, and TV host Oprah Winfrey, center, attend the funeral ceremony for former South African President Nelson Mandela
South African honor guards from the army, navy and air force marched in formation amid rolling green hills dotted with small dwellings and neatly demarcated plots of farmland. Clouds cast shadows over the landscape.

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China's moon rover leaves traces on lunar soil

Moon rover: China's first moon rover "Jade Rabbit" touches the lunar surface Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.: China's first moon rover "Jade Rabbit" touches the lunar surface Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.
China's first moon rover "Jade Rabbit" touches the lunar surface Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.

Images show that "Jade Rabbit," China's first moon rover, left deep tracks on the lunar soil following the first soft landing on the moon in four decades.
BEIJING — China's first moon rover has touched the lunar surface and left deep traces on its loose soil, state media reported Sunday, several hours after the country successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades.
The 140-kilogram (300-pound) "Jade Rabbit" rover separated from the much larger landing vehicle early Sunday, around seven hours after the unmanned Chang'e 3 space probe touched down on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon.
State broadcaster China Central Television showed images taken from the lander's camera of the rover and its shadow moving down a sloping ladder and touching the surface, setting off applause in the Beijing control center. It said the lander and rover, both bearing Chinese flags, would take photos of each other Sunday evening.
Later, the six-wheeled rover will survey the moon's geological structure and surface and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will carry out scientific explorations at the landing site for one year.
The mission marks the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon. China's space program is an enormous source of pride for the country, the third to carry out a lunar soft landing — which does not damage the craft and the equipment it carries — after the United States and the former Soviet Union. The last one was by the Soviet Union in 1976.
"It's still a significant technological challenge to land on another world," said Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane's Space Systems and Industry. "Especially somewhere like the moon, which doesn't have an atmosphere so you can't use parachutes or anything like that. You have to use rocket motors for the descent and you have to make sure you go down at the right angle and the right rate of descent and you don't end up in a crater on top of a large rock."
On Saturday evening, CCTV showed a computer-generated image of the Chang'e 3 lander's path as it approached the surface of the moon, saying that during the landing period it needed to have no contact with Earth. As it was just hundreds of meters (yards) away, the lander's camera broadcast images of the moon's surface.

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Sunday, December 8

South Korea announces expanded air defense zone

2:02 AM By

South Korea extends defense zone: A group of disputed islands known as Senkaku.: The new South Korean zone includes a submerged rock embroiled in territorial disputes with China.
The new South Korean zone includes a submerged rock embroiled in territorial disputes with China.

After requesting that China redraw its expanded air defense zone, South Korea announced Sunday that it was extending its own zone.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea on Sunday announced expansion of its air defense zone following China's move to establish a similar zone that has been criticized by Beijing's neighbors.
South Korea earlier requested China to redraw its air defense zone because it partly overlaps with South Korea's but Beijing rejected it. The U.S., Japan and other countries have also protested the Chinese zone.
Beijing said last month that all aircraft entering the vast area must identify themselves and follow Chinese instructions. U.S. and Japan have flown military reconnaissance flights in the area without notifying China in defiance of Beijing's announcement.
The new South Korean zone includes a submerged rock embroiled in territorial disputes with China and enlarged parts of airspace that is also covered by the Chinese zone. The new South Korean zone also overlaps with parts of the Japanese air defense zone.

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Pearl Harbor ceremony marks bombing anniversary

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Pearl Harbor: Pearl Harbor survivors watch a vintage WWII airplane fly over Pearl Harbor: Pearl Harbor survivors watch a vintage WWII airplane fly over Pearl Harbor at the ceremony commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 2013, in Honolulu.
Pearl Harbor survivors watch a vintage WWII airplane fly over Pearl Harbor at the ceremony commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 2013, in Honolulu.

Thousands gathered on the 72nd anniversary of the attack that pulled the US into World War II.
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — About 2,500 gathered at Pearl Harbor on Saturday to remember those killed in the 1941 Japanese attack that launched the U.S. into World War II.
The crowd observed a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute the bombing began 72 years ago.
A vintage World War II-era airplane — a 1944 North American SNJ-5B — flew overhead to break the silence. The Hawaii Air National Guard has used its fighter jets and helicopters to perform the flyover for many years, but federal budget cuts prevented it from participating this year.
About 50 survivors returned to Pearl Harbor for the ceremony.
"I come back to be with my comrades — meet the ones who are still alive, and we're going fast," said Delton Walling, who was assigned to the USS Pennsylvania at the time of the attack.
Pearl Harbor: The destroyer USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.AP Photo: File
The destroyer USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Navy and National Park Service co-hosted the ceremony, which was open to the public. Their theme for the event, "Sound the Alarm," explores how Americans answered a call to duty in the wake of the attack.

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Friday, December 6

Dylan's Newport guitar sells in NY for $965,000

3:04 PM By

Bob Dylan: In this photo provided by Christie's Auction House, the Fender Stratocaster Bob Dylan played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival is shown.: In this photo provided by Christie's Auction House, the Fender Stratocaster Bob Dylan played at the historic 1965 Newport Folk Festival is shown.
In this photo provided by Christie's Auction House, the Fender Stratocaster Bob Dylan played at the historic 1965 Newport Folk Festival is shown.

Christie's says the electric guitar that Bob Dylan plugged in at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and later left on a plane set a new auction record for guitars.
NEW YORK — The guitar that Bob Dylan plugged in when he famously went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival sold at auction Friday for a record $965,000.
Christie's auction house did not immediately identify the absentee buyer of the sunburst Fender Stratocaster. The instrument went for the highest price ever paid for a guitar at auction, Christie's said.
The festival performance cemented Dylan's move from acoustic folk to electric rock 'n' roll. Now viewed as a defining moment that irrevocably changed American music, the raucous, three-song electric set at the Rhode Island festival was met with boos from some in the crowd, and folk purists saw Dylan as a traitor and a sellout.
The presale estimate by Christie's for the guitar, which was sold with its original black leather strap and Fender hard shell case, was $300,000 to $500,000.
The previous record for a guitar sold at auction was held by Eric Clapton's Fender, nicknamed "Blackie," which sold at Christie's for $959,500 in 2004.
With a classic sunburst finish and original flat-wound strings, Dylan's guitar had been in the possession of a New Jersey family for nearly 50 years. Dylan left it on a private plane.
The pilot's daughter, Dawn Peterson of Morris County, N.J., said that her father asked Dylan's management company what to do with the guitar but nobody ever got back to him.
Last year, she took it to the PBS show "History Detectives" to have it authenticated, and experts matched the wood grain on the instrument to close-up color photos of the guitar taken at the 1965 festival.

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Thursday, December 5

Report: NSA tracks billions of cellphones daily

5:33 AM By

NSA reportedly tracks phones: A man looks at his phone in downtown Madrid.
A man looks at his phone in downtown Madrid.

The NSA inadvertently gathers the location records of "tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad" annually, along with the billions of other records it collects by tapping into worldwide mobile network cables.
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency tracks the locations of nearly 5 billion cellphones every day overseas, including those belonging to Americans abroad, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The NSA inadvertently gathers the location records of "tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad" annually, along with the billions of other records it collects by tapping into worldwide mobile network cables, the newspaper said in a report on its website.
Such data means the NSA can track the movements of almost any cellphone around the world, and map the relationships of the cellphone user. The Post said a powerful analytic computer program called CO-TRAVELER crunches the data of billions of unsuspecting people, building patterns of relationships between them by where their phones go. That can reveal a previously unknown terrorist suspect, in guilt by cellphone-location association, for instance.
The program is detailed in documents given to the newspaper by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. The Post also quotes anonymous NSA officials explaining the program, saying they spoke with the permission of their agency.
Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment on the report.

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2 million passwords to global Web accounts stolen

5:32 AM By

2 million passwords to global Web accounts stolen: Security experts have uncovered a trove of some 2 million stolen passwords to websites including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo from Internet users across the globe.: The Facebook logo is pictured at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
The Facebook logo is pictured at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

The credentials were discovered during an investigation of a server in the Netherlands that cyber criminals use to control a massive network of compromised computers.
BOSTON - Security experts have uncovered a trove of some 2 million stolen passwords to websites including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo from Internet users across the globe.
Researchers with Trustwave's SpiderLabs said they discovered the credentials while investigating a server in the Netherlands that cyber criminals use to control a massive network of compromised computers known as the "Pony botnet."
The company told Reuters on Wednesday that it has reported its findings to the largest of more than 90,000 websites and Internet service providers whose customers' credentials it had found on the server.
The data includes more than 326,000 Facebook Inc accounts, some 60,000 Google Inc accounts, more than 59,000 Yahoo Inc accounts and nearly 22,000 Twitter Inc accounts, according to SpiderLabs. Victims' were from the United States, Germany, Singapore and Thailand, among other countries.

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Ancient DNA from human relative sets age record

5:31 AM By

Ancient DNA from human relative sets age record: This artist's rendering provided by Madrid Scientific Films in December 2013 shows Sima de los Huesos hominins who are estimated to have lived approximately 400,000 years ago during the Middle Pleistocene.
This artist's rendering provided by Madrid Scientific Films in December 2013 shows Sima de los Huesos hominins who are estimated to have lived approximately 400,000 years ago during the Middle Pleistocene.

Experts said the work shows that new techniques for working with ancient DNA may lead to more discoveries about human origins.
NEW YORK — Scientists have reached farther back than ever into the ancestry of humans to recover and analyze DNA, using a bone found in Spain that's estimated to be 400,000 years old. So far, the achievement has provided more questions than answers about our ancient forerunners.
The feat surpasses the previous age record of about 100,000 years for genetic material recovered from members of the human evolutionary line. Older DNA has been mapped from animals.
Experts said the work shows that new techniques for working with ancient DNA may lead to more discoveries about human origins.
Results were presented online Wednesday in the journal Nature by Matthias Meyer and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, with co-authors in Spain and China.
They retrieved the DNA from a thighbone found in a cave in northern Spain. It is among thousands of fossils from at least 28 individuals to be recovered from a chamber called the "Pit of the Bones." The remains are typically classified as Homo heidelbergensis, but not everybody agrees.
The age of the bones has been hard to determine. A rough estimate from analyzing the DNA is around 400,000 years, which supports what Meyer said is the current view of the anthropologists excavating the site. Todd Disotell, an anthropology professor at New York University, said geological techniques suggest the remains are older than 300,000 years but it's not clear by how much. By comparison, modern humans arose only about 200,000 years ago.
The researchers mapped almost the complete collection of so-called mitochondrial DNA. While the DNA most people know about is found in the nucleus of a cell, mitochondrial DNA lies outside the nucleus. It is passed only from mother to child.
Researchers used the DNA to construct possible evolutionary family trees that include the Spanish individuals and two groups that showed up much later: Neanderthals and an evolutionary cousin of Neanderthals called Denisovans. They assumed the DNA would show similarities to Neanderthal DNA, since the Spanish fossils have anatomical features reminiscent of Neanderthals.

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Wednesday, December 4

Federal study warns of sudden climate change woes

9:59 AM By

Federal study warns of sudden climate change woes: A curious adult polar bear (Ursus maritimus) approaches the National Geographic Explorer in the Barents Sea off the eastern coast of Edgeya (Edge Island) in the Svalbard Archipelago, Norway July 21, 2009. The IUCN now lists global warming as the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food.
A curious adult polar bear (Ursus maritimus) approaches the National Geographic Explorer in the Barents Sea off the eastern coast of Edgeya (Edge Island) in the Svalbard Archipelago, Norway July 21, 2009. The IUCN now lists global warming as the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food.

The panel said Tuesday that melting ice in the Arctic Ocean and mass species extinction are already here and worse than predicted.
WASHINGTON — A panel of scientists advising the federal government says the world needs to worry more about hard-to-predict sudden changes from global warming than it does about the bigger but more gradual impacts.
The National Academy of Sciences looked at warming problems that can occur in years instead of centuries. The panel said Tuesday that melting ice in the Arctic Ocean and mass species extinction are already here and worse than predicted. It says the melting ice could be more of a wild card than originally thought.

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