Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Nuclear neighbours spooked by apocalptic headlines?

The spotlight looking on how the media use apocalyptic language has fallen on the aftermath of the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai, India.

Even before the situation was over, the Indian media was "quick to pin the blame on Islamabad" while the Pakistani media were no less blameless - quickly responding against all accusations.

However, the more worrying aspect was the way the global media picked up on the tensions and you'd have been forgiven for thinking we were on the verge of a war between two nuclear neighbours. Yet in reality, neither country seemed to be anywhere near that stage or even thinking about it. Pakistan's indignant reaction to the early accusations do raise the question of whether the media can itself contribute to and escalate an already tense situation.

But apocalyptic language can make quick and easy headlines. The consequences of using it, however, are not so easily dealt with.

18 years for apocalyptic preacher

Wayne Bent has been sentenced on Tuesday to 18 years in prison for molesting one of his followers. Eight years of his sentence have been suspended.

Before the sentencing, Bent admitted in an looong online posting that he laid down naked with the two girls in 2006 but said any touching was "an act of religious healing with no sexual overtones".

Monday, 29 December 2008

US apocalypse in 2010, scholar predicts

A former KGB analyst and Russian academic predicts a civil war in the United States which will lead to the eventual fall of the country.

Igor Panarin
, doctor of political science and dean of the foreign affairs department at the Diplomacy Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry claims that the economic decline, mass immigration and "moral degradation" will trigger a civil war in the US "as early as the autumn of 2009".

The piece claims Panarin's theory of the US demise was "first introduced in 1998" but "the current global financial meltdown has lent credibility to his prediction". Er ... if it was inaccurate in 1998, how precisely does the stock market not doing so well lend him credibility ... ?

Bent to be banged up?

Just before Christmas, a jury convicted our dear friend Wayne Bent - leader of a New Mexico apocalyptic sect - of criminal sexual contact with a minor and "contributing to the delinquency of two minors" in 2006.

Although acquitted of the more serious charge of sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl, the 67-year-old self-proclaimed Messiah of The Lord Our Righteousness Church (LORC) was found guilty of the 'sexual contact' during 'spiritual healing' he conducted on two naked sisters aged 14 and 16 two years ago. The two girls had testified that the incidents were religious healing and not sexual.

Bent continues to claim he's being persecuted, going so far to claim that he is the Messiah in a post on his website. He has previously stated that his persecution would lead to the end of the world.

It didn't.

He faces a sentence of up to 18 years in prison, though he has been allowed to wait at his cult's compound in northeast New Mexico under house arrest until his court date, which is tomorrow. On the site, he continues to claim he has been crucified and falsely convicted like Christ, threatening to starve himself in prison.

Survivalism inudstry gets a boost in uncertain times

Far be it from us at The End is Nigh to suggest newspaper headlines cause people to act irrationally, but one Wisconsin TV station is reporting that firms touting survivalist paraphernalia are doing brisk business.

Lehman's, an Ohio retailer of "home self-sufficiency equipment" has apparently recorded "large sales increases, with water-pump sales up 95 percent and sales of home agriculture equipment up 50 percent from last fall. Minnesota-based Safecastle, which markets home shelters for protection against disasters like hurricanes and chemical attacks, has seen revenues more than double since 2007, says founder Vic Rantala."

"If most people think of a survivalist as an armed loner with extreme views -- there are folks like that out there, but there are many more in America who are simply involved in preparing for down times, lean times, or disaster," says Mr. Rantala, a former US intelligence analyst. "It's logical. It's common sense."

We're sure the US economy could do with the spending boost, but after years of being told just how misleading those old Cold War public service announcements about 'Duck and Cover' were, why are people still handing money over to KI4U, a Texas-based firm that peddles "personal radiation-detection devices", 'anti-radiation' potassium iodide pills and "distributes free nuclear-disaster survival guides, instructing people to keep rain ponchos, dust masks, and honey (a high-calorie food that doesn't spoil) on hand at all times"?!

Monday, 22 December 2008

An expedition to Armageddon

Nice but short piece in the Washington Post about Megiddo, the place where the world will end (see John Reppion and Leah Moore's piece in issue two, available as a download from our website)

"There is an eerie sensation of time displacement one gets at Megiddo, or a foreboding of a future disaster that those of us standing on the mount were powerless to prevent. Mr. Cline used to give out T-shirts to his volunteers that said, "I survived Armageddon."

But where do you collect your winnings?!

In an interesting follow-up to our feature in issue three about the odds bookmakers William Hill were placing on various apocalypi, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has apparently given odds of 4/1 for the lord God to reveal him/herself in a definitive manner in the 365 days that constitute 2009.

Unconvinced, many punters are still plumping for the 'safe' bet of a Mayan-related apocalypse (or possibly even a Palin-related one) in 2012.

Bush - how on Earth did we survive EIGHT years?!

"The president of the United States, now for 50 years, is followed at all times, 24 hours a day, by a military aide carrying a 'football' that contains the nuclear codes that he would use, and be authorized to use, in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States. He could launch the kind of devastating attack the world has never seen. He doesn't have to check with anybody. He doesn't have to call the Congress. He doesn't have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in"

Bill Gates: the nuclear antichrist?

It seems Microsoft Windows is now powering the British Royal Navy's nuclear-armed submarine fleet.

The end, surely, cannot be far away ...

Friday, 19 December 2008

Anti-MAD adviser dies

William Kaufmann, 90, a political scientist and Pentagon adviser who helped shape Cold War nuclear defense strategy, died on December 14.

The former national security expert spent many years fighting the prevailing war plan of the United States - all-out nuclear attack in response to any potential Soviet armed threat no matter how trivial.

Kaufmann attracted attention in military circles for a controversial 1954 essay, "The Requirements of Deterrence, which criticised the idea that the US could 'win' a nuclear war.

"We must face the fact," he wrote, "that, if we are challenged to fulfill the threat of massive retaliation, we will be likely to suffer costs as great as those we inflict."

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The coal apocalypse?

Coal kick-started the modern world - is it possible that it could also end it?

Scientists are claiming that if growth in carbon dioxide emissions is to be constrained and even reversed then the world cannot afford a 'coal renaissance'.

But at an American Geophysical Union meeting, researchers said it was possible oil's demise could trigger an acceleration in emissions through more coal use.

Which is worrying, considering that in the US coal has for some time been touted as an environmentally friendly alternative to oil ... yes, that's right ... Coal. Environmentally friendly. In the same sentence. Without the word 'isn't' inserted in the middle. Environmentalists have been fuming (geddit?) during the election over the coal industry's concerted efforts to establish the 'myth' of 'clean coal' so they can cash in on the drive for cleaner energy.

And is it working? Well, in his speech accepting his party's nomination on August 28th 2008, President-elect Obama promised to end America's dependence on Middle East oil within a decade by investing $150 billion in 'alternative' energy sources that included, yep, so-called clean coal alongside wind, tidal etc.

As the Washington Post found itself, almost Cassandra-like, forced to point out - coal ain't clean, whether you're sticking it in a power station or liquefying it to stick in your car's fuel tank. It ALL produces as much, if not more, CO2 - the primary climate change gas - than the demon oil. And demand is rising.

Obviously, while the Americans argue, everyone else seems to have decided it's a gamble worth taking in a world where extracting oil means dipping toes into the Middle East. The Russians and the Chinese continue to consume coal like it's no tomorrow - reserves are believed to be far, far greater than those of oil - and in response to the Russian propensity to use its natural gas supplies to Europe as a bargaining chip, Europe's getting in on the act too ...

Coal has become another pawn in the global trend towards major countries striving for 'energy independence'. The consequences on the environment of these nationalistic concerns are grim.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The point of no return ...

Scientists have found the first unequivocal evidence that the Arctic region is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the world at least a decade before it was predicted to happen.

Climate-change researchers have found that air temperatures in the region are higher than would be normally expected during the autumn because the increased melting of the summer Arctic sea ice is accumulating heat in the ocean. The phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, was not expected to be seen for at least another 10 or 15 years and the findings will further raise concerns that the Arctic has already passed the climatic tipping-point towards ice-free summers, beyond which it may not recover.

The Arctic is considered one of the most sensitive regions in terms of climate change and its transition to another climatic state will have a direct impact on other parts of the northern hemisphere, as well more indirect effects around the world.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Get me a new apocalypse, this one's Bent!

Not only did Wayne Bent's persecution not lead to the apocalypse, it didn't prevent him from spending a few days behind bars.

Known as Michael Travesser within his The Lord Our Righteousness Church, sometimes called the Strong City Cult, the former Seventh Day Adventist preacher and his followers moved to New Mexico Idaho in 2000. As of this year, the community apparently consists of 50 people, but the failure of a sustained fast - in which his followers consumed neither food nor water - leaves the future of the commune in doubt.

Bent originally announced the Day of Judgment would be on October 31 2007 after calculating a Bible prophecy number (490) and adding it to the year 1517, when the Protestant Reformation began, yielding 2007 as a result. The specific date October 31 comes from the day that Martin Luther produced his 95 Theses.

The details of his arrest, the removal of young followers from the camp by the authorities and the ongoing battle by and against the sect are interesting enough, but what will be fascinating now is - since the day of judgment failed to appear - how the sect changes its 'narrative', in other words how does it explain away the failure? They have apparently ended their fast, claiming that they had essentially 'held up their end of the bargain' with God (Jeff Bent was apparently "surprised" by how weak the fast had left some of his members).

Bent is due to face his own personal apocalypse when an expected week-long trial begins on December 8. He is accused of criminal sexual contact with two of his female teenage followers.

“They were looking for deliverance from God,” said Sarah Montoya, an attorney for the church’s leader, Wayne Bent. Montoya spoke with Bent’s son Jeff on Saturday. “They’re disappointed, but they understand that life goes on.” Montoya says she told Jeff Bent that the group will now have to listen quietly for direction from God, and Bent just chuckled.

World 'must tackle space threat'

The international community must work together to tackle the threat of asteroids colliding with Earth, a leading UN scientist says.

Professor Richard Crowther's comments come as a group of space experts called for a co-ordinated science-led response to the asteroid threat.

The Association of Space Explorers (ASE) says missions to intercept asteroids will need global approval.

The UN will meet in February to discuss the issue.

It wasn't *quite* the end

Many apologies for the lack of post activity around here - for some reason known only to itself, Blogger wouldn't let me log in. All fixed now. And so, on with the apocalyptic action!!