Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Ethiopia's new flower," May 31, 2008

Famine alert

World food officials warned that up to 6 million children in Ethiopia are at risk of acute malnutrition. Almost overnight, they say, more than 60,000 children in two Ethiopian regions require immediate specialist feeding just to survive. "In just one clinic we have more than 250 children who will only survive with immediate treatment," David Noguera, head of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) emergency unit, told the BBC May 20. Drought and worldwide food price hikes are contributing to the shortages, along with aid efforts currently focused on Myanmar and China (see cover story, p. 40, and related stories, pp. 57 and 69).

Einstein

A handwritten letter from the pen of Albert Einstein, which belittles the Bible and the concept of God, surfaced at a London auction this month, where it sold for more than $400,000. Written a year before the physicist's death in 1955, the note calls God a "product of human weakness" and disregards Jewish and Christian Scripture as "a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

Some atheists have jumped on the news as evidence that one of the brightest minds of the 20th century considered God a fairytale. But Einstein was no atheist. He wrote elsewhere of the universe's evidence for an order-making divine law-giver. Though he rejected the concept of a personal and moral judge, he rebuffed with equal force the notion that God does not exist: "In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human understanding, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views."

Faith-based help

Among the lessons the federal government learned from Hurricane Katrina: Faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) now are go-to groups. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told leaders of various private disaster response organizations at a White House roundtable discussion May 19 that the government wants to do a better job of cooperating with them in the face of future disasters. "We're in the middle of a very active tornado season, so we don't need to be reminded of the fact that at a moment's notice nature can visit some very serious consequences and devastation upon our communities," he said. "We want to do everything we can to harness this energy" of faith-based groups.

Bet's on

Energy prices were rising, food prices were up, and consumer confidence was down, but none of that stopped Americans from gambling away a record amount of money at commercial casinos in 2007. The American Gaming Association reports that gamblers lost $34.1 billion at the nation's 467 commercial casinos last year, a 5.3 percent increase over 2006. Gamblers lost another $5.3 billion at 41 racetrack casinos, a jump of 45.6 percent from 2006. The numbers in the AGA report do not include gambling at the nation's 424 tribal casinos.

Tenured

Baylor president John Lilley has overturned seven tenure denials after his initial decision to deny 12 of 30 candidates met stiff criticism. But some news reports suggest the embattled university head may still lose his job over the public-relations fiasco, which prompted accusations of unfairness and unilateral governance. In an internal letter obtained by WORLD, Lilley claims that new documents surfaced during the appeals process to bolster academic records in seven of the 10 appealed cases.

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