Flat (and cool) earth society: In response to recent warnings by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the consequences of greenhouse-gas emissions, the conservative American Enterprise Institute is offering a $10,000 prize to scientists and economists who write articles which call attention to weaknesses of the IPCC report. In reporting this news, the Chronicle of Higher Education (March 2) said it is eagerly awaiting a patron who will offer “a reward for papers that discredit the spherical-earth theories that have been circulating for the past millennium or so.”
Casualties of war: Nearly half of the 3,000 members of the U.S. military who have died in Iraq have come from towns with fewer than 25,000 residents, and one in five have come from towns with fewer than 5,000 residents. Nearly three-fourths of the casualties are from towns where the per capita income is below the national average, and more than half come from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty is above the national average (Chicago Tribune, February 20).
Made in Japan: A Japanese Christian women’s leader has joined opposition political groups in urging the country’s health minister to resign because he said that women are “birth-giving machines.” “We Christian women cannot tolerate the idea that life is produced with machines. We believe that life is created by God and that we receive it,” said Junko Matsuura, chair of the Women’s Committee of the National Christian Council in Japan (Ecumenical News International).
Beyond Belief: All references to God in the Oscar-nominated movie The Queen have been bleeped out in a version distributed to Delta and some other airlines. The president of the distribution company said it was a mistake made by an overzealous employee who had been told to edit out all profanities and blasphemies (USA Today, January 25).
Talking about Jesus: Jonathan Miller, Democratic state treasurer in Kentucky, is considering a run for governor. He has developed a stump speech that works well in a conservative, religious state like Kentucky—it talks about Jesus. Nothing startling there, except that Miller is Jewish. Miller says that when he wants to talk to poor people about how he would help them he keeps getting asked, “What’s your position on gay marriage?” (Forward, December 15)