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Entertainment, New Zealand - Mar 12, 2014 16:25 - 0 Comments

‘Beam me up Scotty!’ – Star Trek’s Captain Kirk arrested in land of hobbits

Actor Chris Pine, who plays Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the Star Trek movie reboots, will need more than the help of Bones and Spock to get him out of his latest mess.

New Zealand’s Ashburton Guardian newspaper is tonight reporting Pine is cooling his heels in the foothills of the Southern Alps, where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, after being picked up by local police for driving under the influence last weekend.

It’s understood Pine had just wrapped filming Z for Zachariah when he got caught.

Other celebs in the area included his girlfriend Iris Bjork Johannesdottir and Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie, although they were not directly involved in the incident according to reports.


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World - May 28, 2014 20:18 - 0 Comments

Illogical – atheists want right to pray blessings at meetings

Secular groups sign up to give ‘blessings’ at meetings

By Stephen Hudak

Orlando Sentinel

     May 27–David Williamson doubts the heavens will open up next month when he delivers a secular invocation to begin the Osceola County Commission meeting.

     In Central Florida, Christian clergy predominantly provide that service.

     But Williamson, founder of the Central Florida Freethought Community, which sued last year to make atheist literature available to students in Orange County schools, hopes his brief, nonreligious ceremonial greeting June 16 will be a revelation to those accustomed to traditional public invocations that often appeal to God and invoke Jesus’ name.

     He petitioned Osceola County and two dozen other elected councils for a chance to deliver the invocation after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that legislative boards may begin meetings with prayer even if the devotion favors a religion.

     “This is not ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,’ because we’re not going to pray,” he said. “It’s about inclusion.”

     Five local governments have slotted the Freethought group to deliver an invocation at an upcoming meeting, including Orlando City Council, which will host Chris Allen of the Florida Humanist Association on June 23. The city of DeLand, which features a cross in its city seal, did not reject the group’s request but wanted residency information about the prospective speaker.

     Some boards require the person offering an invocation to reside in the community.

     Lake County signed up a county resident with the Freethought group to provide the invocation before the commissioners’ meetings Aug. 26 and Nov. 18. The county, which recently issued open invitations to “religious leaders and other representatives” to deliver the ceremonial message, requires that invocations be kept to a minute or two.

     Speakers in Lake also are advised to refrain from proselytizing, said county spokeswoman Elisha Pappacoda.

     Volusia County and the city of Eustis also accepted a request from Williamson’s group, which is affiliated with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The organizations were embroiled in a controversy last year when they objected to the distribution of Bibles in Orange County schools and sued the district for refusing to allow pamphlets questioning whether Jesus rose from the dead.

     “I don’t expect our members will offer an atheist’s prayer,” Williamson said. “What we’re doing is offering a perspective that we all should share, a perspective that does not require a belief in a god to carry out the business of good government.”

     Allen, president of the Florida Humanist Association, which has the motto “Good Without a God,” said he has not yet written his remarks, but he expects they will sound similar to traditional invocations but without a reference to religion or God.

     The Freethought members are banking on the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, which suggested a government’s invocation practice was constitutional if it was nondiscriminatory. The justices noted that, in Greece, N.Y., where the prayer case originated, “a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation.”

     James Coffin, a Christian clergyman and executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, said he rarely invokes a deity at government invocations, appealing instead to elected leaders to provide fairness, justice and civil dialogue.

     “When I’m with Christians, I pray Christian prayers,” he said. “But when it’s in a government context … I don’t.”

     Coffin said he wants all people to feel included, especially at public gatherings and government meetings, where all citizens should be welcome, regardless of creed.

     “It makes little sense to start a meeting where we have come to solve problems together by offering an invocation that immediately excludes some people,” he said.

     But the Rev. Bruce Lieske, Orlando-based founder of Burning Bush Ministries, makes no apology for offering prayers in public settings that mention Jesus. He said he was challenged once for using a Christian devotion to open a Rotary Club meeting.

     “My response, when I was asked why, was: ‘Why not?’”

     He said he would pay special attention to an invocation delivered by an atheist at a government meeting.

     “I think it takes a lot of faith to believe there is no God,” Lieske said.


     (c)2014 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)


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Feature articles, Health, New Zealand - Jul 28, 2014 22:10 - 0 Comments

Blinded by the light – eco bulbs and smartphone screens a major sight risk


New generation energy efficient appliances and lights are destroying our sight


Listen up. This could be one of the most important articles you read this year. IAN WISHART explains why we’re blind to the truth about eco-lights and LED technology


Ever noticed your eyes feeling red, gritty and tired after working at the computer for a while? The race for ever-sharper definition, and more energy efficient screens, has seen the widespread adoption of LED technology over the past couple of years.

Light Emitting Diodes used to be confined to clock radios, the very first digital watches and stereos, and numerous geeky electronics projects for kids. Now, they’re everywhere: in smartphone screens, tablets, iPads, TVs, computers, car dashboards.

The problem with all that, is eye strain leading to possible eventual blindness. Researchers all over the world are warning that the proliferation of LED displays everywhere is exposing us to higher and higher levels of blue light radiation on a daily basis – the kind that causes serious eye damage over time.

Blue light is found at the upper end of the UV radiation spectrum, at a wavelength between 460-500nm. It’s a by-product of LED technology, and is also an environmental pollutant from fluorescent lighting in offices and CFL ‘energy efficient’ lights in homes.

Normal incandescent light bulbs tend to be warmer, more yellow/orange in tone that the extreme whites verging on blue of LEDs and CFLs. Whilst the official government propaganda describes incandescent bulbs as “inefficient”, that’s not strictly correct. The more primitive bulb technology burns a higher proportion of its energy as heat, thus helping to heat homes and partly offset heating bills. LED and CFL lights are much colder, both in tone and in energy output, but they come with blue light baggage.

Scientists have known for some years that exposure to high intensity blue light can rapidly damage your eyes, but they didn’t have hard data on the impact of low intensity household lighting. Because of ethical constraints they couldn’t test the theory on humans, so laboratory rats were used for a just-published study in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives.[1]

To simulate household lighting, they placed a low power LED light 20cm above the floor of a rat enclosure, at such a distance from the animal so as to match the power of a household light at human eye level. Four control groups of rats using four different light sources were tested – 108 rats in all. The lights were left on for 12 hours a day, and turned off and left dark for 12 hours a day.

The rats were not strapped to a little rat bed and force to stare at the ceiling, this experiment allowed them to go about their daily business, just as we do.

Rats were examined in staggered groups – some ended after three days, some for 9 days, some for 28 days. The results were shocking. The longer it went, the worse the eyes became, and damage was apparent early in the piece.

After just nine days exposure to white LED light from either PC LEDs or domestic LED lightbulbs, there were significant signs of eye damage in the retinas. Remember, this was a test of “chronic exposure” simulating home and office conditions using home and office light power levels.

“White LED light may induce outer retinal damage within 9 days and may be responsible for further deterioration when the exposure duration is extended,” the study warns.

Of course, in the real world we live in our homes all our lives, and most of us go to work each day.

“LEDs are expected to become the primary domestic light sources in the near future. Certain amounts of LED light exposure may induce retinal damage, and this animal model provides comparative measures of damage from different commercial light sources,” says the study.

The real risk, they say, is that the damage becomes greater and greater with time, and is not repairable:

“Bluish-white (high CCT) LEDs contain a major fraction of short-wavelength light that causes irreversible retinal neuronal cell death…When analyzing blue-light hazards, we cannot exclude the risk of chronic effects from daily exposure because photochemical damage may not induce an acute syndrome; instead, blue light exposure may cumulatively induce WOULD YOU LIKE TO READ MORE OF THIS STORY?

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