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December 7, 2008

Klingon Theater -- A Christmas Carol and Hamlet

A small St. Paul theater working on a Klingon style "Christmas Carol" production has been commissioned by Hollywood to produce "Hamlet" for Hollywood’s release of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered County? Blu-ray Disc, according to the Pioneer Press.

Commedia Beauregard artistic director Christopher Kidder received an email from Paramount about three weeks ago, and hesitated in opening it, fearing that it would tell the company to cease production, the Pioneer Press reported.

Rather than being told to stop, Paramount was requesting their help in producing excerpts from “Hamlet? to accompany the disc’s release, which will include the “to be, or not to be? and “alas, poor Yorick? scenes complete with a Klingon skull, the Pioneer Press reported.

November 23, 2008

Vatican Forgives John Lennon’s Remark

After four decades, the Vatican has released an article forgiving John Lennon for saying that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, according to Reuters and the BBC Saturday.

In 1966, Lennon mentioned that he “did not know which would die out first, Christianity or rock and roll,? the BBC reported.

At that time the comment met with controversy, particularly in the U.S., where conservative Christians “burned Beatles’ albums in huge pyres,? according to Reuters.

The article in the Vatican paper coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Beatles “White Album,? Reuters and the BBC reported.

November 15, 2008

The Dirty 30

President Bush may pardon U.S. spies that have interrogated Guantanamo Bay detainees over the past seven years where allegations of torture have been prolific, according to the Telegraph.co.uk.

Agents interrogated body guards for Osama Bin Laden and other detainees, according to the New York Times.

These body guards, known as “The Dirty 30,? were captured early in the war in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.

Guantanamo Bay “includes prisoners who the government says were trained in assassination and the use of poisons and disguises,? the New York Times reported.

“One detainee is said to have been schooled in making detonators out of Sega game cartridges,? the New York Times reported.

Roughly 255 prisoners remain in the detention center according to the New York Times and Telegraph.co.uk.

“It’s easy to close the place, but what do you do with the detainees? There are some serious head cases in there,? an ex-CIA official told the Telegraph.co.uk.

“Many fear that Barack Obama, who has pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and put an end to the policy of extraordinary rendition, could launch a legal witch hunt against those who oversaw the policies after his is sworn in,? the Telegraph.co.uk said.

Although little is known regarding these detainees, the New York Times research team developed some indications of who these detainees are by analyzing records of hearings, now made public following a lawsuit put forth by the Associated Press, the New York Times reported.

Interrogation techniques revealed by the research includes “sleep deprivation, isolation and being put on a leash and forced to perform dog tricks,? the New York Times reported.

“I admit to you it is my honor to be an enemy of the United States,? a detainee being held said according to the New York Times.

Regarding a confession made by an Algerian detainee the record states “I was abused mentally and psychologically, by threatening to be raped,? he added “You would say anything,? according to the New York Times.

November 9, 2008

President - Elect Obama's Upcoming Challenges

A broad range of issues await new President-elect Barack Obama when he assumes office in January, the BBC reported on their perceived TOP 10 Foreign Challenges, and “how he might tackle them,? the Wednesday morning following the historic election.

Here are a few of the 10 listed.

First on the list, the U.S. role in the world is perceived as shifting with the election of Obama to the presidency. “The change might be characterized as a move from unilateralism to multilateralism – with less talk about the Untied States as the ‘world’s only superpower,? the BBC reported.

Second, Iraq, Obama “says he will tell his commanders to redefine their mission as one of ‘successfully ending the war,’ but that has to be done ‘responsibly,’? the BBC reports. Obama’s plan called for troop withdrawal “’within 16 months,’ which means the end of May 2010,? the BBC reported. However, troops would remain in place to “conduct operations against al-Qaeda? so complete withdrawal is not anticipated.

Afghanistan is listed as “perhaps the biggest challenge on his agenda,? according to the BBC. Obama has stated he would send “two more combat brigades? to support the war effort in Afghanistan, and he “promised to attack al-Qaeda figures wherever they might be, and it seems, whether or not Pakistan agrees,? the BBC reported.

The “War on Terror,? a phrase introduced by President Bush, “might be given less prominence,? the BBC reported. Instead, Obama has focused on “winning what the 9/11 Commission called ‘the battle of ideas’? in which traditional American values are upheld with cooperative “partnering with moderates within the Islamic world to counter al-Qaeda propaganda,? the BBC reports. This may lead to the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and finding a new way of prosecuting the prisoners held there, the BBC reports.

Iran’s behavior will determine in part how the Obama administration responds to the country. While campaigning, Obama discussed opening talks with Iran “without conditions,? the BBC reported, however should Iran begin weapons grade enrichment of uranium, Israel may call for military strikes ‘against Iran’s nuclear facilities.? “The consequences of such a strike would be severe,? the BBC reports.

November 1, 2008

Ex-Convict Guns Down Trick-or-Treater

An ex-convict gunned down a 12-year-old boy who approached his home trick-or-treating in Sumter, S.C., “spraying nearly 30 rounds with an assault rifle from inside his home,? police said Saturday according to the Associated Press.

Quentin Patrick, 22, was charged with “murder, and three counts of assault and battery with intent to kill,? according to the New York Times.

The family had attended a city-sponsored event earlier that Friday evening, and around 8:30 p.m. decided to stop at a few houses on their way home, according to the New York Times.

Patrick unloaded his AK-47, “shooting at least 29 times through his front door, walls and windows after hearing the knock,? Police Chief Patty Patterson told the Associated Press.

A 19-year-old woman who had been in the home, Ericka Patrice Pee, was charged with obstruction of justice. She was caught fleeing the scene with $7,500 in cash, according to the Associated Press.

October 25, 2008

McCain Volunteer Fabricated Attack

A 20-year-old woman from Pennsylvania was detained with $50,000 bail set after confessing to police Friday that she made up the details describing a politically motivated robbery and assault against her, CNN, the Boston Herald and Seattle Times reported.

Ashley Todd has been charged with filing a false police report, according to CNN. Police said they were detaining her pending a psychiatric evaluation because she told them “she had suffered from mental problems in the past.?

She did not enter a plea and did not post bail, according to CNN.

Todd had worked as a volunteer for the McCain campaign phone bank in Pittsburgh, CNN reported.

Todd, told police that a “6-foot-4 black man approached her from behind, put a knife blade to her throat and demanded money,? the Seattle Times reported.

She handed over 60 dollars and returned to her car. When the assailant noticed her McCain bumper sticker, “the man punched her in the back of the head, knocked her to the ground and scratched a backward ‘B’ into her face with a dull knife,? according to the Seattle Times.

CNN reported that she said the attacker was “punching and kicking her while threatening to teach her a lesson for being a McCain supporter?

Before Todd admitted the story was false a McCain spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, said that McCain and Gov. Palin “spoke to the victim and her family after learning about the incident,? CNN reported.

The Obama campaign similarly wished the woman “a speedy recovery,? CNN said.


October 18, 2008

Pros and Cons of Electronic Textbooks

The cost of text books “has risen twice as fast as inflation, nearly tripling in two decades from 1995 to 2005, according to a U.S. government study,? the Christian Science Monitor reported, Friday.

But, “students still prefer the printed textbook,? the Dally Skiff reported Friday. The draw of the hands on text book is that it supplements learning through tactile reinforcement, and is able to be interactive, highlighted and page turning all factor into learning the Daily Skiff reported.

Another drawback, noted by the Daily Skiff, is that electronic textbooks can not be sold back to the book store because the electronic access codes are one-use only.

Keith Whitworth, an instructor of sociology, told the Daily Skiff students have been socialized through their elementary through high school experience with textbooks.

That may change however, because “Independence Hall Association launched a free, comprehensive, online U.S. history textbook,? according to a statement issued Monday at 24-7 press release. This is the “first entirely free digital textbook for middle and high-school students,? the press release reports.

October 12, 2008

Petters Group Initiates Layoffs Friday

Following the former CEO’s resignation and detainment for fraud charges, Petters Group has cut nearly 50 jobs in layoffs on Friday, the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press reported.

The CEO, Tom Petters, has been charged with “masterminding a massive investment fraud scheme, which is estimated to involve more than $3.5 billion,? and is in jail without bond, the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press reported.

The headquarters, located in Minnetonka, along with another branch in West Palm Beach, Fla., and elsewhere throughout the United States will be affected the Star Tribune reported.

Polaroid is one company held under the umbrella of Petters Group. In addition, Pettesr owns “all of the voting shares of Sun Country Airlines,? according to the Star Tribune, and the company “filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday,? according to the Pioneer Press.

September 28, 2008

13-Million-Digit Prime Number Discovered

UCLA mathematicians (and their 75 lab computers) discovered a 13-million-digit prime number winning a $100,000 prize.

Prime numbers are only divisible by one and themselves, such as 3, 5 and 7.

The computers were part of a worldwide effort to discover the next largest prime number, through a program called the “Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search?, or “GIMPS.? The program harnesses and runs on unallocated computer power, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Prime numbers are expressed in the equation "2P-1," in which P is to the power of a prime number, the Los Angeles Times explained.

“In the new UCLA prime, P = 43,112,609,? the Los Angeles Times reported.

“We’re delighted. Now we’re looking for the next one, despite the odds,? Edson Smith, the leader of the UCLA winning team, told the Associated Press.

Those odds “are thought to be about one in 150,000 that any number tested will be a Mersenne prime,? according to the Los Angeles Times.

September 19, 2008

Church Leader Apologizes to Darwin

The church owes Charles Darwin an apology for the its reaction to his theory of evolution, a public affairs spokesperson for the church said.

The Church of England should apologize, The Rev. Malcolm Brown wrote, for “getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand (Darwin) still,? CNN reported.

His commentary did not constitute a formal apology by the Church of England.

“Brown’s piece was a ‘personal view’ of Darwin’s contribution to science and did not amount to an official apology from the church,? a Church of England spokesman told the Guardian.

Darwin belonged to the Church of England but clashed with other Anglicans with whom he debated his theory of evolution.

His breaks from the Church of England and from his faith were mentioned in the Guardian.

“I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete,? Darwin wrote.

September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike Hammers Houston

Hurricane Ike’s winds, clocked at 110 mph, battered Galveston, Texas, early Saturday morning while residents who had not evacuated called for aid.

As the category-two hurricane barreled onto shore, Galveston residents were ordered to evacuate, but Houston did not face a mandatory evacuation of all areas. Low lying areas were ordered to evacuate but “Houston officials… told some 2 million others to ‘hunker down,’? The Associated Press story reported wihin the Star Tribune.

Glass windows blew out of Houston’s skyscrapers, fires burned, and concern grew as distressed residents called in for help.

Emergency crews could not immediately respond.