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Einstein's letter questioning God goes up for auction

Einstein's Letter
© Auction Cause, www.einsteinletter.com
In a 1954 handwritten letter, Albert Einstein reveals his thoughts on God and religion. The original letter is going up for auction Oct. 8, 2012.
From studying slices of his brilliant brain to probing profound physics theories, scientists and enthusiasts alike have long been spellbound by Albert Einstein. Now, an auction is offering the world a peek at Einstein's thoughts on what may be humanity's most profound question: the existence of God.

The private letter written by Einstein expressing his views on God and religion will go up for auction Monday (Oct. 8) on eBay. In the letter, he calls belief in religion and God "pretty childish" and ridicules the idea that the Jews are a chosen people.

"This is the most historic and significant piece we have listed on eBay," Eric Gazin, president of Auction Cause, the agency managing the sale, told LiveScience in an email. "We are excited to offer a person or organization an opportunity to own perhaps one of the most intriguing 20th-century documents in existence. This personal letter from Einstein represents the nexus of science, theology, reason and culture."

Einstein handwrote the letter in German to Jewish philosopher Eric B. Gutkind on Jan. 3, 1954, a year before Einstein's death. The letter was a response to Gutkind's book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt (1952, H. Schuman; 1st edition).

In part of his letter, Einstein writes, "For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.

As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them," as translated from German by Joan Stambaugh.


Second case of corruption in recent weeks: 12 French officers of anti-crime squad arrested

At least 12 members of the police anti-crime squad (BAC) in the southern French city of Marseille have been arrested in an inquiry into corruption.

© Reuters
Those arrested worked on the housing estates of northern Marseille.
They are suspected of having stolen drugs and cash from dealers and taking cigarettes from illicit sellers.

Five hundred grams of hashish, cash and jewellery were found hidden in the ceiling of a police station.

A lawyer said the find did not prove the officers were corrupt, as they frequently worked under deep cover.


Maple syrup theft of $20 million worth in Canada

16,000 barrels were siphoned off in August in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, near Victoriaville

Montreal - If you like your maple syrup hot, there's tons of it out there.

maple syrup
© Dario Ayala , Montreal Gazette
In case the thieves were trying to stock up on nutritious foods in light of upcoming shortages, it might've been better to do their homework properly - both in regards to law as well as to the importance of meat and fat as opposed to health-wreaking sugar.
The purloined product even traversed a provincial border after sticky-fingered thieves made off with the amber gold over the summer months.

Contents of 16,000 45-gallon barrels, siphoned off and reported stolen from a central distribution centre in August, have been found.

The Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP obtained search warrants last week and raided a facility in New Brunswick.


Immigrant stole military technology for Russia

An American success story of an immigrant from Kazakhstan who made millions off his Texas export firm took a Cold War-era turn on Wednesday when U.S. authorities accused him of being a secret agent who's been stealing military technology for the Russian military.

Alexander Fishenko was among 11 defendants named in a federal indictment filed in Brooklyn charging them in an alleged scheme to purposely evade strict export controls for cutting-edge microelectronics. It also charges Fishenko with money laundering and operating inside the United States as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.

Fishenko, a naturalized U.S. citizen and owner of Houston-based Arc Electronics Inc., and seven others were in custody in Houston following raids there by the FBI. He was expected to make his first court appearance on Thursday.

The name of Fishenko's attorney was not immediately available. His wife, Viktoria, who was identified as a co-owner of her husband's business but not charged, declined to comment Wednesday.

"I will speak when I know what's going on," she said.


Ignoring reality, U.S. government pulls out of G20 emergency food crisis meeting

© Financial Times
The G20 has called off an emergency ministerial meeting to discuss rising agricultural commodities prices, only weeks after France and the most senior food official at the UN formally convened the gathering.

The rare climbdown comes as the cost of agricultural commodities from corn to soyabean remains close to its highest in nominal terms.

Washington, which this year chairs a new G20 body focused on agriculture, said in a statement that leading countries had decided food commodities markets were "functioning", and an emergency meeting of the Rapid Response Forum was not "necessary at this time". The forum is part of the G20-backed Agricultural Market Information System, created last year at the prompting of France.

"Governments around the world, including large agricultural exporters in G20, have exercised prudence and responsibility in policy making, including by avoiding export bans that exacerbated volatility in 2007-08," said Karen Johnson, chargé d'affaires at the US embassy to the UN agencies in Rome.

Che Guevara

Viva Chavez! Hugo Chávez's 14 years as Venezuelan president

Paraphrasing the immortal words of George W. Bush: "They hate him for his freedoms."


Experts: Food prices will soar leading to political, civil unrest

© American Free Press
Midwest droughts, growing unrest in the Middle East have prognosticators worried

The worst U.S. drought since 1936 has devastated crops and livestock across the country and opened the floodgates to opportunists hawking genetically modified (GM) seed products. Worse yet, socioeconomic experts now predict that the world may be less than one year away from a catastrophic food crisis that could lead to even more political instability and civil unrest.

Meanwhile, consumers are bracing for a harsh winter as food prices begin their rise to unprecedented levels. Meat and dairy products, which account for 52% of the world's food basket, are expected to become far more expensive over the next several months as farmers around the globe continue to slaughter millions of hogs, dairy cows and steers because they cannot afford the corn and soybean products used to make feed. It has gotten so bad that, in several cases, farmers have even been adding candy to cattle feed because of rising grain prices.


Misery for UK households as food prices soar at twice the EU average

Prices are high now, but what will they be like once this year's crop failures affect long-term food supplies?
British families have been hit twice as hard by the rising cost of food as most of western Europe, a report has found.

The squeeze on household finances will continue for at least the next decade as experts warned prices would continue to increase at double the current rate of inflation.

Food prices in Britain have risen by 32 per cent since 2007, double the EU average, according to figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Economists expect the cost of the weekly shop to continue to rise by around 4 per cent a year until 2022 at least. The increase is almost twice the current rate of inflation of 2.5 per cent.

Rising prices will take the annual food bill for the average family to over £4,000 within a decade, up from £2,766 last year, heaping further pressure on already-stretched households.

Arrow Up

Food prices jump to six-month high as dairy costs rise

World food prices rose in September to the highest in six months as dairy and meat producers passed on higher feed costs to consumers, the United Nations' Food & Agriculture Organization said.

An index of 55 food items tracked by the FAO rose to 215.8 points from a restated 212.8 points in August, the Rome-based agency reported on its website today. Dairy costs jumped the most in more than two years.

Livestock breeders and dairy farmers are passing on the higher cost of feed, after grain prices jumped in June and July, according to Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the FAO in the Italian capital. Higher prices don't mean a food crisis is imminent, he said today by phone.

"Despite a very difficult market, the fundamentals that suggest a food crisis are just not there," Abbassian said. "Market sentiment is now accepting high prices more as a rule than as an exception."


World food prices near crisis levels


Food protest in Mexico in 2008
Prices driven higher by US drought along with production problems in Russia and other exporting countries

World food prices rose in September and are moving nearer to levels reached during the 2008 food crisis.

The United Nations food agency reported on Thursday that the worst drought in more than 50 years in the United States had sent corn and soybean prices to record highs over the summer, and, coupled with drought in Russia and other Black Sea exporting countries, raised fears of a renewed crisis.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) price index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, rose 1.4% in September, mainly due to higher dairy and meat prices.

"It's highly unlikely we will see a normalisation of prices anytime soon," said FAO senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian.