“Million Man March” promises to paralyze Pakistan capital

“Terrorism and violence cannot be permissible in Islam,” Tahir ul Qadri told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in 2010 after declaring a Fatwa on terrorism.

The bold pronouncement thrust Qadri into headlines worldwide and led to an invitation to speak at the prestigious World Economic Forum and United States Institute for Peace.

Two years on, the religious cleric has resurfaced in Pakistan, demanding free and fair elections, after spending the last six years living in Canada.

Qadri has come a long way since his time as a parliamentarian during General Pervez Musharraf’s regime in the early 2000s.

After promoting his agenda from abroad — speaking out in videos and books — he is now back in the political spotlight in his home country, calling for a caretaker administration to take the government’s place and carry out election reforms ahead of an upcoming vote.

According to Qadri, the composition of the caretaker government should be decided with the input of the judiciary and the military.

But in a country with a history of military coups, Qadri’s mention of the army in the electoral process set off alarm bells with the current government and opposition who quickly reassured the Pakistani people that nothing would stand in the way of timely elections and the democratic process…

Qadri threatened that unless his election reform demands were met by Thursday, he would stage a “Million Man March” to the capital, paralyzing the city with thousands of supporters.

“We will not succumb to these illegal demands,” Senator Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister told media Thursday, in anticipation of the protest, which is expected to arrive in Islamabad tomorrow, on Monday.

Malik said he would not allow the rally to enter downtown Islamabad as it posed a security risk and would disrupt business operations in the city; he said the Pakistani government had cordoned off sensitive areas of Islamabad.

I suggest you cock an ear to broadcasts from AlJazeera or BBC World starting early Monday morning. Hopefully, the march will remain peaceful. Hopefully, the people who oppose the march will remain peaceful.

Revolutionary War cannon turns out to be loaded, ready to fire!

Cannon ball and black powder from the Hussar cannon

Workers cleaning a cannon, last fired more than 200 years ago, were shocked to find that it was still loaded with gunpowder, wadding and a cannonball.

The preservation workers from New York’s Central Park Conservancy were removing rust from the antique cannon, which once fired munitions aboard the British warship HMS Hussar, when they made the explosive discovery…

Dena Libner, a spokeswoman for the Central Park Conservancy, said the workers found the munitions after removing a concrete plug from the mouth of the cannon.

Workers immediately called 911, and technicians determined that the gunpowder was still active.

Authorities removed about 1.8 pounds of black gunpowder from the scene and took it to a gun range for disposal…

“We silenced British cannon fire in 1776, and we don’t want to hear it again in Central Park,” New York police said…

The loaded artillery piece was one of two Revolutionary War-era cannons being stored at the park’s Ramble shed, near the 79th Street transverse, according to the affiliate.

“This was an amazing surprise,” John Moore, author of the upcoming book “The Secrets of Central Park,” told WCBS. “It was there for so many years, and people were sitting on it when it was a loaded cannon.”

It’s always the gun you presume to be unloaded that gives you a surprise.

Astronomers discover largest known structure in the universe

Astronomers have discovered the largest known structure in the universe – a group of quasars so large it would take 4 billion years to cross it while traveling at speed of light.

The immense scale also challenges Albert Einstein’s Cosmological Principle, the assumption that the universe looks the same from every point of view…

The findings by academics from Britain’s University of Central Lancashire were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and reported on the society’s website on Friday.

Quasars are believed to be the brightest objects in the universe, with light emanating from the nuclei of galaxies from the early days of the universe and visible billions of light-years away.

“Since 1982 it has been known that quasars tend to group together in clumps or ‘structures’ of surprisingly large sizes, forming large quasar groups or LQGs,” the society said.

This newly discovered large quasar group has a dimension of 500 megaparsecs, each megaparsec measuring 3.3 million light-years.

Because the LQG is elongated, its longest dimension is 1,200 megaparsecs, or 4 billion light-years, the society said.

That size is 1,600 times larger than the distance from Earth’s Milky Way to the nearest galaxy, the Andromeda.

“While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe,” Roger Clowes, leader of the research team, said in a statement. “This is hugely exciting – not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe.”

Wow. People who hate and fear science have no comprehensions of [1] the inherent conservatism of the craft – which requires an accumulation of validation to change a body of knowledge – and [2] the excitement engendered throughout whenever a quality is challenged by solid data.

Einstein’s Cosmological Principle may not be replaced in my lifetime – but, whatever replaces it will also face continued, disciplined poking and prodding based on a never-ending search for more understanding.

Gun nutball found in his home — fatally shot in the head

Here’s how Keith Ratliff’s mind worked

In a rather macabre bit of irony, a self-professed “gun nut” – Keith Ratliff – who was a YouTube channel producer for fellow gun enthusiasts was found fatally shot in the head in his Carnesville, Ga., home on Jan. 3. Police are investigating the case as a homicide.

Police found numerous weapons at the crime scene, according to WSB-TV. Some of the weapons were even manufactured by Ratliff himself. “He (Ratliff) did sustain a gunshot wound that was not self-inflicted,” said Mike Ayers of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation…

Although Ratliff primarily worked behind the scenes of the YouTube channel he would occasionally jump in front of the camera himself. In one video he went on a rant about how all Americans should be allowed to carry assault weapons.

“…Every one of you should be able to own an assault weapon of your choice because that’s what the Second Amendment is about. It’s about owning weaponry to allow you to defend yourself from all enemies no matter where they rise from…”

Did you a lot of good, eh, Bubba?