Friday, January 30, 2004

Returning female GIs report rapes, poor care
At least 37 allege assaults by U.S. soldiers overseas, little help afterward

Female troops serving in the Iraq war are reporting an insidious enemy in their own camps: fellow American soldiers who sexually assault them.

At least 37 female service members have sought sexual-trauma counseling and other assistance from civilian rape-crisis organizations after returning from war duty in Iraq, Kuwait and other overseas stations, The Denver Post has learned....

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Why the Evangelical Church Needs the Liberal Church
...I worry much about what would happen to Presbyterian evangelicals ourselves if we were to leave the PC(USA). When we evangelical types don’t have more liberal people to argue with, we tend to start arguing with each other....

Sex, lies, and life on the evangelical edge
An interview with Philip Yancey, the best-selling Christian author who is surprised at how much he gets away with.....

"I think some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent.' Those were not words we used."
- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 1/27/04

"This is about an imminent threat."
- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

"Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons."
- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

On January 26, 2003, CNN television asked White House communications director Dan Bartlett “is he (Saddam) an imminent threat to US interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?”
“Well, of course he is,” Bartlett replied.

On May 7, 2003, a reporter asked then White House spokesman Ari Fleischer: “We went to war, didn’t we, to find these — because we said that these weapons were a direct and imminent threat to the United States? Isn’t that true?”
“Absolutely. One of the reasons that we went to war was because of their possession of weapons of mass destruction. And nothing has changed on that front at all,” the spokesman replied.

In war, some facts less factual
Some US assertions from the last war on Iraq still appear dubious.

MOSCOW - When George H. W. Bush ordered American forces to the Persian Gulf – to reverse Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait – part of the administration case was that an Iraqi juggernaut was also threatening to roll into Saudi Arabia.

Citing top-secret satellite images, Pentagon officials estimated in mid–September that up to 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border, threatening the key US oil supplier.

But when the St. Petersburg Times in Florida acquired two commercial Soviet satellite images of the same area, taken at the same time, no Iraqi troops were visible near the Saudi border – just empty desert.

"It was a pretty serious fib," says Jean Heller, the Times journalist who broke the story....

...Shortly before US strikes began in the Gulf War, for example, the St. Petersburg Times asked two experts to examine the satellite images of the Kuwait and Saudi Arabia border area taken in mid-September 1990, a month and a half after the Iraqi invasion. The experts, including a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who specialized in desert warfare, pointed out the US build-up – jet fighters standing wing-tip to wing-tip at Saudi bases – but were surprised to see almost no sign of the Iraqis.

"That [Iraqi buildup] was the whole justification for Bush sending troops in there, and it just didn't exist," Ms. Heller says. Three times Heller contacted the office of Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney (now vice president) for evidence refuting the Times photos or analysis – offering to hold the story if proven wrong.

The official response: "Trust us." To this day, the Pentagon's photographs of the Iraqi troop buildup remain classified....

...More recently, in the fall of 1990, members of Congress and the American public were swayed by the tearful testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only as Nayirah.

In the girl's testimony before a congressional caucus, well-documented in MacArthur's book "Second Front" and elsewhere, she described how, as a volunteer in a Kuwait maternity ward, she had seen Iraqi troops storm her hospital, steal the incubators, and leave 312 babies "on the cold floor to die."

Seven US Senators later referred to the story during debate; the motion for war passed by just five votes. In the weeks after Nayirah spoke, President Bush senior invoked the incident five times, saying that such "ghastly atrocities" were like "Hitler revisited."

But just weeks before the US bombing campaign began in January, a few press reports began to raise questions about the validity of the incubator tale.

Later, it was learned that Nayirah was in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and had no connection to the Kuwait hospital.

She had been coached – along with the handful of others who would "corroborate" the story – by senior executives of Hill and Knowlton in Washington, the biggest global PR firm at the time, which had a contract worth more than $10 million with the Kuwaitis to make the case for war.....

My Enemy, Myself
What brings evangelicals together is also what pulls us apart.

Two decades in evangelicalism didn't do it. Planting a church didn't do it. A master's degree from Fuller Seminary didn't do it. Years of teaching theology at evangelical schools didn't do it. It was a Saturday morning trip to the Rose Bowl that finally showed me what evangelicalism is all about.

That day a revival meeting came to my town, as The Call inaugurated a 40-day fast in Southern California. When I arrived, an estimated 20,000 people were praying, kneeling, dancing, and milling around. The news reports called them "young people," probably because reporters are used to associating church with the elderly, but they spanned at least three generations. The parked buses said they came from all over the western United States and all over the denominational map, and the faces in the crowd said they came from nearly every tribe, tongue, and nation.

On my way out, I couldn't resist visiting the three demonstrators who had caught my eye on my way in. "The Call leads to hell," their signs warned. An exasperated audience surrounded each. "Who are you?" one listener demanded. Her answer came as a pamphlet from a group called A True Church. It featured a list of the false teachers and enemies of the faith the group had come to warn us about: "Benny Hinn, Billy Graham, Bobgans [Martin and Deirdre Bobgan], Charles Spurgeon, Charles Stanley, Chuck Smith, David W. Cloud, Dr. [David] Jeremiah, the Early Church Fathers, Glen Conjurske, Greg Laurie, Jack Hayford, James Dobson, John Hagee, John MacArthur, Keith Green, Miles McPherson, Paul Chappell, Raul Ries, Steven Shoemaker, T. D. Jakes, Tony Evans, Vernon McGee, Catholicism, Central Christian, Church of Christ, COGIC, Coptic Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Laurel Glen Bible, March for Jesus, Mormonism, New Life Center, New Wine Christian Center, Promise Keepers, Seventh-day Adventists, Stine Road Baptist, Valley Baptist, Valley Bible, Weigh Down Workshop." Whew!

"How many are there in your church?" another asked.


"What is so wrong with tens of thousands of Christians praying together?" asked someone else.

"They are ecumenical."

It hit me that day that there are two kinds of evangelicals: those who make distinctions, and those who don't. The dialectic of hospitality and separation is what brings tens of thousands into the Rose Bowl to plead for the Spirit to come, and also brings three outside it to warn them away. It is the key to who we are....

Ladies & gentlemen:

Following the coordinated attacks orchestrated on 9/11/2001, in which passenger aircraft were hijacked by a small group of Muslim extremists to destroy the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and to damage the Pentagon, there have been no significant terrorist attacks that have occurred in the entire United States since that time.

There have been no bombings of American nightclubs, movie theaters, grocery stores or shopping malls. There have been no assaults by gunmen on those attending NFL football games or any other sports events. There have been no significant attacks on any American citizens in any public or private sector since 9/11/2001.

In the meantime, both the northern and southern borders of the United States have remained largely undermanned and unguarded by the United States Government, allowing anyone to enter, smuggling anything from drugs to Russian-made SA-7 portable anti-aircraft missiles, to any other munitions domestic terrorists might want to obtain and use.

In point of fact, no terrorist threat exists, nor has it ever existed, in the mainland of the United States. If that were untrue, terrorists would have committed violent acts since 9/11/2001. They haven‘t happened. Not one. ...

...In truth, we had a small, coordinated band of Muslim misfits who hijacked passenger aircraft and did some damage to both buildings and killed citizens, with no back-up plan. There was no back-up plan to invade the United States, and incredibly, there was no back-up plan to continue further terrorist attacks. It was all over in one shot.

Think about that, and consider what has transpired in the aftermath to the basic liberties of every American. The terrorists won, and only because our own government led by George W. Bush, let them wag us.

We citizens are fools.

Why We'll Pay a Price for Bush's Fibs About Iraq's WMD
TV-mag journalist Diane Sawyer recently asked the president why, in the prewar stage, he portrayed Iraqi weapons as an imminent threat to U.S. security when intelligence reports, replete with cautionary tones and caveats, more often referred to potentialities. The president answered, “So what's the difference?”

Those were astonishing words, even for famously indifferent George W. Bush. Impossible to know is if he let them escape out of peerless arrogance or mere ignorance; yet, using his own standard of critical analysis, what difference does it make? The frightening reality is this: Either a want in character or deficiency of intellect has produced a president capable of dragging the nation to unparalleled heights of international loathing, all the while he was without a clue or a care.

The world simply doesn't trust us any longer – a reversal of goodwill in lightening time – yet Mr. Bush pretends it's only because of some silly difference of opinion over some petty difference about what was real and what was not.

Perhaps if the president engaged the world by at least reading newspapers he could grasp the unpleasant diplomatic consequences of crying wolf. According to a front-page report in the Washington Post last week, foreign policy analysts who had sat in the president's pro-invasion corner are now in anguish over sinking, or rather sunken, U.S. credibility abroad.

Defense Advisory Board member and war hawk Kenneth Adelman, for example, complained “the foreign policy blow-back” from the administration's rhetorical hyperbole “is pretty serious.” He noted the damage done to exercising future, legitimate actions against imminent threats to national security. In effect, the Bush doctrine had one shot at proving itself justifiable, but the postwar absence of damning evidence has only served to shoot down our credibility instead. (For those egg-on-the-face conservatives who now advance the curious defense that the always-wrong Clinton administration also believed in damning evidence, try to remember this much: It didn't slap on six-shooters and go blasting its way into Baghdad, only later to say, “Oops.”) ...

...In these most perilous of times – when we most need friends to help combat vicious global threats without first feeling compelled to vet our every word – the president has complicated America 's security. And that, Mr. Bush, is “the difference.”

Iraqi whispers mull repeat of 1920s revolt
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Whispers of "revolution" are growing louder in Baghdad this month at teahouses, public protests and tribal meetings as Iraqis point to the past as an omen for the future.

Iraqis remember 1920 as one of the most glorious moments in modern history, one followed by nearly eight decades of tumult. The bloody rebellion against British rule that year is memorialized in schoolbooks, monuments and mass-produced tapestries that hang in living rooms.

Now, many say there's an uncanny similarity with today: unpopular foreign occupiers, unelected governing bodies and unhappy residents eager for self-determination. The result could be another bloody uprising.

"We are now under occupation, and the best treatment for a wound is sometimes fire," said Najah al Najafi, a Shiite cleric who joined thousands of marchers at a recent demonstration where construction workers, tribal leaders and religious scholars spoke of 1920.

The rebellion against the British marked the first time that Sunni and Shiite Muslims worked in solidarity, drawing power from tribesmen and city dwellers alike. Though Shiites, Sunnis and ethnic minorities are rivals in the new Iraq, many residents said the recent call for elections could draw disparate groups together. A smattering of Sunnis joined massive Shiite protests last week, demanding that U.S. administrators grant the wishes of the highest Shiite cleric for general elections....

'We were all wrong': former top arms hunter
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay says he's more worried about the nuclear facilities the U.S. overlooked in Iran and Libya than the lack of evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

"It turns out that we were all wrong, and that is most disturbing," Kay said as he testified before the Senate armed services committee Wednesday. ...

Kay Cites Evidence Of Iraq Disarming
Action Taken in '90s, Ex-Inspector Says

U.S. weapons inspectors in Iraq found new evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime quietly destroyed some stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons in the mid-1990s, former chief inspector David Kay said yesterday.

The discovery means that inspectors have not only failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but also have found exculpatory information -- contemporaneous documents and confirmations from interviews with Iraqis -- demonstrating that Hussein did make efforts to disarm well before President Bush began making the case for war. ...

I Don't Owe the Military Anything
I get impassioned emails from readers who are military veterans or relatives of military veterans, saying, in essence, "You go ahead and say your terrible things. The men and women of the armed forces will continue risking their lives to defend your right to say it." These readers claim that the only reason I'm free to say the things I do, and the reason I owe the military all sorts of my money, is because the military has for 200 years defended my freedom all over the world.

I say, Hogwash!...

So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish: A Warhawk Flies the Coop
I start on a personal note. I would like for the record to show that, today, I formally disavow the Republican Party as well as my past support for the Second Gulf War.

Now, let me be frank: This is something I didn't see coming a year ago. I only saw things through a prism of GOP allegiance back then. ...

..."You know, it's not that I've ever taken things for granted, but my deep appreciation for American life only really settled in on September 11th. The feeling has yet to let me go."

Well, that's great and all, but what the hell was I saying? It didn't mean anything. ...

...But I wrote a lot of stuff like that during the build-up to the Second Gulf War. I was still in a woe-is-me, post-9/11 rut back then, and I went along with the war without thinking critically or questioning a damn thing. This bothers me now because, regardless of whether I support my having supported it, I would've done well to have followed less blindly -- as a writer, as an American, as a man.

In that very same article on February 25, I wrote: "I don't want this war… anymore than the next guy." That sounded nice when I wrote it, but it wasn't exactly true. I mean, of course I wanted the war more than the next guy. I was rooting for it with thousand-word diatribes each and every Tuesday....

...Before the Second Gulf War, we heard about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. I'll say now, like I said then, that the actual weapons were secondary to the shady way in which he treated the weapons inspectors. It seemed to prove he was hiding something, and there remains the chance that he was. Either way, I enjoy the fact that he's out of power. But if his sketchiness was cause for war, what, then, can I say about Bush's own sketchiness on this issue? ...

...So did Iraq really have WMD programs? Colin Powell says "we don't know yet." And David Kay says the evidence suggests "the weapons do not exist." Both men revealed their opinions mere days after the State of the Union. Surely the president knew about them ahead of time. Why no mention of it, then? A simple "Oops," or "I'm as surprised by this as you are," would've sufficed. Instead, he treated this "credibility gap" -- as Tom Daschle might call it -- as a non-issue. Out of sight. Out of mind. What a brilliant PR move. Sort of reminds me of the time Baghdad Bob said coalition troops were nowhere near the airport, when, in fact, they had taken the airport. ...

...I am an average, everyday American. I used to be able to see the Twin Towers from atop the hill behind my home. When those buildings went down, my heart said, "Give the government free reign." No longer. ....

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Operation Desert Guard
Bush's War Record: Missing, Inaction

...What are the facts? The single best rundown on this issue was contained in an article by Walter V. Robinson of The Boston Globe on May 23, 2000. On May 28, 1968, Bush enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard's 147th Fighter-Interceptor Group at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston and was selected for pilot training. In July of that year a board of officers said he should be commissioned as a second lieutenant; he left for six weeks of basic training and was commissioned that September 4. Then he took off for eight weeks to work on a Florida Senate campaign. Next he attended and graduated from flight school (November 25, 1968, to November 28, 1969). He trained full-time to be an F-102 pilot at Ellington, where from July 7, 1970, to April 16, 1972, he attended frequent drills and alerts.

From this point on, his record is murky. Bush's records reveal no sign he showed up for duty during his fifth year as a guardsman, according to the Globe. On May 24, 1972, Bush had moved to Alabama to work on a Senate race and received permission to serve with a reserve unit there. Headquarters ordered that he serve with a more active unit, and on September 5, 1972, he got permission to perform his Guard duty at the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery. But there is no record of his turning up, and the unit commander says he never did. From November 1972 to April 30, 1973, Bush was in Houston but didn't go to his Guard duties. In May 1973, two lieutenant colonels in charge of Bush's Houston unit were unable to rate him for the prior 12 months, claiming he had not been at the unit during that time. From May to July 1973, Bush logged 36 days on duty after special orders for active duty were issued to him. His last day in uniform was July 30, 1973, and that October 1, after beginning Harvard Business School, this weekend warrior was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard. That was eight months before his Guard tour was scheduled to expire. ...

Bush Backs Away From His Claims About Iraq Arms
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 — President Bush declined Tuesday to repeat his claims that evidence that Saddam Hussein had illicit weapons would eventually be found in Iraq, but he insisted that the war was nonetheless justified because Mr. Hussein posed "a grave and gathering threat to America and the world."

Asked by reporters if he would repeat earlier expressions of confidence that the weapons would be found in light of recent statements by the former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, David A. Kay, that Mr. Hussein had gotten rid of them well before the war, Mr. Bush did not answer directly....

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Powell '01: WMDs Not 'Significant'
Sept. 26, 2003

The debate over whether the Iraqi weapons threat was real or exaggerated by the Bush administration focused Thursday on a few words spoken more than two years ago by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

War opponents and some Congressional Democrats have pointed to a statement Powell made on Feb. 24, 2001, while meeting at Cairo's Ittihadiya Palace with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa.

Asked about the sanctions placed on Iraq, which were then under review at the Security Council, Powell said the measures were working. In fact, he added, "(Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

War critics said the remark bolstered their suspicions that the administration deliberately inflated the threat Iraq posed, because Powell's depiction of Iraq in the run-up to war painted a different picture.

Powell's doubts over CIA intelligence on Iraq prompted him to set up secret review
Specialists removed questionable evidence about weapons from draft of secretary of state's speech to UN

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday June 2, 2003
The Guardian

Fresh evidence emerged last night that Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, was so disturbed about questionable American intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that he assembled a secret team to review the information he was given before he made a crucial speech to the UN security council on February 5.

Mr Powell conducted a full-dress rehearsal of the speech on the eve of the session at his suite in the Waldorf Astoria, his New York base when he is on UN business, according to the authoritative US News and World Report.

Much of the initial information for Mr Powell's speech to the UN was provided by the Pentagon, where Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, set up a special unit, the Office of Special Plans, to counter the uncertainty of the CIA's intelligence on Iraq.

Mr Powell's team removed dozens of pages of alleged evidence about Iraq's banned weapons and ties to terrorists from a draft of his speech, US News and World Report says today. At one point, he became so angry at the lack of adequate sourcing to intelligence claims that he declared: "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit," according to the magazine.

Presented with a script for his speech, Mr Powell suspected that Washington hawks were "cherry picking", the US magazine Newsweek also reports today. Greg Theilmann, a recently retired state department intelligence analyst directly involved in assessing the Iraqi threat, says that inside the Bush administration "there is a lot of sorrow and anger at the way intelligence was misused"....

Bush 2004 Campaign Pledges To Restore Honor And Dignity To White House
BOSTON—Addressing guests at a $2,000-a-plate fundraiser, George W. Bush pledged Monday that, if re-elected in November, he and running mate Dick Cheney will "restore honor and dignity to the White House."

Above: Bush says he will "put an end to the current lack of honesty and compassion in Washington."

"After years of false statements and empty promises, it's time for big changes in Washington," Bush said. "We need a president who will finally stand up and fight against the lies and corruption. It's time to renew the faith the people once had in the White House. If elected, I pledge to usher in a new era of integrity inside the Oval Office."

Bush told the crowd that, if given the opportunity, he would work to reestablish the goodwill of the American people "from the very first hour of the very first day" of his second term....

International Justice Mission's covert ministry becomes very public
In 1999, Christianity Today covered the work of Gary Haugen and his International Justice Mission (IJM), which had then been doing case work against sexual slavery for a year. Still, what a year it had been: In 1998, the ministry had freed more than 700 people, largely through covertly infiltrating, investigating, and documenting abuses around the world.

Five years later, International Justice Mission has become a media focus, with Forbes specifically profiling the group and Dateline NBC cooperating with IJM on a major piece on Cambodia's child sex market.

But that's not all: Four weeks ago, NPR's Morning Edition gave much attention to IJM's work in a piece on the U.S. government's crackdown on American sex tourists, as does this week's New York Times Magazine cover story on sex trafficking (Times reporter Peter Landesman talked about his story yesterday on NPR's Fresh Air, and Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has also been reporting on Cambodia's sex slavery)

For a good look at the kind of work IJM does, check out the Dateline NBC report. The undercover, secret videotape work included in that report—of pimps, of victims, and of customer/rapists—along with a raid that includes the arrest of pimps and freeing of young girls, is the kind of thing that IJM is largely known for. Almost every time you hear "Dateline" in the report, mentally add, "working with IJM."

Part of Haugen's work is to go after American sex tourists, not just the pimps. And the Dateline report also includes a fine example of this: an IJM investigator caught American radiologist Jerrold Albom on video bragging about coming to Cambodia to have sex with girls as young as 14. Dateline reporters using the tape confronted Albom in Guam, and now stateside medical centers are promising that his radiology days are over. Dateline says that federal agents are investigating Albom, but no charges have been filed.

Missing from all of these reports is the faith that motivates Haugen and other IJM workers, though Dateline notes that it's a "faith-based organization" and Forbes has a brief mention of Haugen's church, adding that the "group does not preach." Haugen in fact works with proclamation missionaries to find out about cases of slavery, and sees his work as complementary to theirs.

American Christians should have the same approach to justice ministry as they do to missions, he said back in our 1999 article: "You can either go, you can send, or you can pray. … God's first step in enabling the body of Christ to seek justice for the oppressed has been to break down the isolation of the vulnerable by deploying his witness into their communities. It's fair to say that within a stone's throw of just about every victim of oppression in the world there is a Christian worker whom God has placed in the community to share the love of Jesus."

As more Americans are awakened to the horrors of the global sex trade (see also our November 2003 article on the subject), and as pressure mounts on the American government to take more action against this form of slavery, expect International Justice Mission to continue its difficult work on the front lines

New Global Survey Analyzes War and Human Rights
(London, January 26, 2004) — The invasion of Iraq ended the reign of a brutal government, but coalition leaders are wrong to characterize it as a humanitarian intervention, Human Rights Watch said in the keynote essay of its annual global survey released today....

...In the keynote essay, Roth notes that removing Saddam Hussein from power brought about the end of one of the world’s most abusive governments. But intervening militarily on the territory of a sovereign state, without its permission, is inherently dangerous and must be undertaken for humanitarian purposes in only the most extreme cases. While Saddam Hussein had an atrocious human rights record, his worst atrocities were committed long before the intervention. At the time coalition forces invaded Iraq, there was no ongoing or imminent mass killing of the sort that would require the kind of preventive military action that should characterize true humanitarian interventions.

For a military action to be characterized as “humanitarian,” Roth argues that the motive for intervening should be primarily humanitarian; the danger of slaughter should be imminent and the scale of the killings massive; and all other options for preventing the slaughter should have been exhausted.

“The Bush administration cannot justify the war in Iraq as a humanitarian intervention, and neither can Tony Blair,” said Roth. “Saddam Hussein’s atrocities should certainly be punished, and his worst atrocities, such as the 1988 genocide against the Kurds, would have justified humanitarian intervention then. But such interventions should be reserved for stopping an imminent or ongoing slaughter. They shouldn’t be used belatedly to address atrocities that were ignored in the past.” ...

The Girls Next Door
The house at 1212 1/2 West Front Street in Plainfield, N.J., is a conventional midcentury home with slate-gray siding, white trim and Victorian lines. When I stood in front of it on a breezy day in October, I could hear the cries of children from the playground of an elementary school around the corner. American flags fluttered from porches and windows. The neighborhood is a leafy, middle-class Anytown. The house is set back off the street, near two convenience stores and a gift shop. On the door of Superior Supermarket was pasted a sign issued by the Plainfield police: ''Safe neighborhoods save lives.'' The store's manager, who refused to tell me his name, said he never noticed anything unusual about the house, and never heard anything. But David Miranda, the young man behind the counter of Westside Convenience, told me he saw girls from the house roughly once a week. ''They came in to buy candy and soda, then went back to the house,'' he said. The same girls rarely came twice, and they were all very young, Miranda said. They never asked for anything beyond what they were purchasing; they certainly never asked for help. Cars drove up to the house all day; nice cars, all kinds of cars. Dozens of men came and went. ''But no one here knew what was really going on,'' Miranda said. And no one ever asked.

On a tip, the Plainfield police raided the house in February 2002, expecting to find illegal aliens working an underground brothel. What the police found were four girls between the ages of 14 and 17. They were all Mexican nationals without documentation. But they weren't prostitutes; they were sex slaves. The distinction is important: these girls weren't working for profit or a paycheck. They were captives to the traffickers and keepers who controlled their every move. ''I consider myself hardened,'' Mark J. Kelly, now a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security), told me recently. ''I spent time in the Marine Corps. But seeing some of the stuff I saw, then heard about, from those girls was a difficult, eye-opening experience.''

The police found a squalid, land-based equivalent of a 19th-century slave ship, with rancid, doorless bathrooms; bare, putrid mattresses; and a stash of penicillin, ''morning after'' pills and misoprostol, an antiulcer medication that can induce abortion. The girls were pale, exhausted and malnourished.

It turned out that 1212 1/2 West Front Street was one of what law-enforcement officials say are dozens of active stash houses and apartments in the New York metropolitan area -- mirroring hundreds more in other major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago -- where under-age girls and young women from dozens of countries are trafficked and held captive. Most of them -- whether they started out in Eastern Europe or Latin America -- are taken to the United States through Mexico. Some of them have been baited by promises of legitimate jobs and a better life in America; many have been abducted; others have been bought from or abandoned by their impoverished families....

Pastor Says Some Churches Seizing Christ's Lordship with 'Reinvented' Gospel
(AgapePress) - A well-known Christian author and pastor is concerned that a growing number of Evangelical ministers are watering down the gospel message in order to be "seeker sensitive."

Dr. John MacArthur says many Evangelical pastors are presenting what he calls a "reinvented designer pop gospel" in hopes of making Christianity appear more attractive or culturally relevant. The pastor of Grace Community Church in San Valley, California, says those who preach in that fashion have a weak view of the authority and power of scripture.

"I think it encompasses a weak view of the honor and the power of God and Christ," MacArthur says bluntly. "In other words, I think you're basically usurping the Lordship of Christ over His Church -- you're saying, 'I'm going to stand here and give a message that I think is better than the one that Christ gave.'" Such an attitude, he says, is "a frightening thing to think about."

MacArthur believes it is becoming harder than ever to find an Evangelical church that is not compromising the gospel. He says small churches that remain true to God's Word and do not embrace a user-friendly gospel are often viewed today as "archaic" and "unsuccessful."

"The huge crowds are drawn by lowering all the standards," he says, citing such apporaches as a "minimalist gospel," an entertainment mentality, and creation of a social environment that attracts people by promising them "the path to success" and better economic status.

"You know ... 'You'll do better in your job, your career, your family, your marriage, etc.'" he says. "Those are the kinds of things that are sold on the 'felt need' counter."...

Christian Evangelicals in Iraq: A Time-Bomb Waiting to Explode
Rene L. Gonzalez

01/25/04: (ICH) I've always had a big axe to grind with these Christian evangelicals. Ever since being accosted by one fervent follower in the hallways of a building at the University of Massachusetts and pressured to "recognize Jesus as my savior", I've had a very big distaste for their kind. These "know it all" pseudo-Christians make me sick, and I'll tell you why.

The British Telegraph newspaper recently featured an article on a supposed "war for souls" being waged by American Christian Evangelicals in Iraq. The article boiled my blood. My first reaction was, "How dare these religious nuts think they know better than Iraqis what their beliefs should be?" I thought the whole thing reflected a very ugly racism and paternalism about other people in the world and their traditions.

First of all, they're deceptive and dishonest about their agenda in Iraq. The following quote describes the nature of this deception.

-"Organising in secrecy, and emphasising their humanitarian aid work, Christian groups are pouring into the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim, bearing Arabic Bibles, videos and religious tracts designed to "save" Muslims from their "false" religion."-

The humanitarian aid work is the cover for the real agenda (which is converting Muslims to Christianity). The whole concept reveals a lot of racism, paternalism, arrogance, and ignorance....

Monday, January 26, 2004

IA: Iraq at risk of civil war
The warning, at odds with Bush's upbeat view, was delivered this week to Washington. His aides are pushing to save a transition plan.
By Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay
Inquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - CIA officers in Iraq are warning that the country may be on a path to civil war, current and former U.S. officials said yesterday, starkly contradicting the upbeat assessment that President Bush gave in his State of the Union address.

The CIA officers' bleak assessment was delivered orally to Washington this week, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified information involved.

The warning echoed growing fears that Iraq's Shiite majority, which has until now grudgingly accepted the U.S. occupation, could turn to violence if its demands for direct elections are spurned.

Meanwhile, Iraq's Kurdish minority is pressing its demand for autonomy and shares of oil revenue.

"Both the Shiites and the Kurds think that now's their time," said one intelligence officer. "They think that if they don't get what they want now, they'll probably never get it. Both of them feel they've been betrayed by the United States before."...

Fighting words
In this year's State of the Union address, President Bush made no compelling case that he spoke the truth about Iraq last year. Nor did he apologize.

A year ago, President Bush used his State of the Union address to sound a frightening alarm about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The president told the nation that Iraq had amassed 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin and 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve gas. He also charged that Saddam Hussein's regime had sought to acquire "significant quantities" of refined uranium and special aluminum tubes whose only practical use was as part of a program to develop nuclear weapons.

And he offered a chilling warning that only one vial from those vast stockpiles of weapons could "bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."

That dire, detailed warning of a looming threat to our national security served as the Bush administration's justification for war in Iraq. Of course, no weapons of mass destruction of any kind have been found there. No anthrax. No botulinum. No VX. In fact, U.S. weapons inspectors have not even found significant evidence of programs that might eventually have led to the development of weapons. And the allegations concerning Iraq's efforts to develop a nuclear weapons program were proved to have been based on fraudulent evidence.

Yet, having staked the reputation of our government on his allegations against Iraq, President Bush hasn't even tried to explain, much less apologize for, the utter lack of evidence to support the stark charges he made a year ago. Instead, the president talked in this year's State of the Union address of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

Would the nation have been so quick to support the president's call to war on the basis of vague references to Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities"?...

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Kay Departs Arms Hunt, Doubts Iraq's Stockpile
David Kay stepped down as leader of the U.S. hunt for banned weapons in Iraq on Friday and said he did not believe the country had any large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons.

In a direct challenge to the Bush administration, which says its invasion of Iraq was justified by the presence of illicit arms, Kay told Reuters in a telephone interview he had concluded there were no Iraqi stockpiles to be found.

"I don't think they existed," Kay said. "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale production program in the '90s," he said. ...

Friday, January 23, 2004

Nearly a decade ago, pastor Charles Lyons of Armitage Baptist Church was preparing for a siege. Members of Armitage Baptist, a multiracial congregation in Chicago's multiethnic Logan Square neighborhood, had played a leading role in nonviolent protests at local abortion clinics. Now abortion-rights groups and activists from Queer Nation were planning a noisy reverse Operation Rescue-style protest to shut down the church's Wednesday evening prayer meeting.

Then Lyons received a call from James Meeks, pastor of Salem Baptist Church, a congregation on Chicago's far South Side. Lyons, who is white, and Meeks, who is black, met about five years earlier during a Sunday school conference and quickly become friends. They pray together regularly.

Meeks asked Lyons, "Why didn't you ask me to come over and help?" That night, Meeks canceled a Bible study for 800 people at his church, loaded seven buses with members of his congregation, including a youth choir, and drove to Armitage.

Outnumbered 10 to 1, the 100 or so protesters didn't stand a chance. Once the Salem choir started singing, "the demonstrators were done for," wrote a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. "The kids were too good and too loud."

This quick action on behalf of a friend and a good cause is one reason James Meeks has risen from being a relatively unknown South Side preacher to one of the most recognizable and powerful pastors in the city.

Other reasons? Well, he has made Salem Baptist one of the largest African American churches in Chicago. It has grown from around 3,000 members in 1997 to more than 17,000 today.

Meeks is also an Illinois state senator, representing five of the poorest communities in Illinois.

He also serves as executive vice president of the Rainbow/PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) Coalition, and is named as successor to Jesse Jackson. He is perhaps the only person welcome at both the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and at Moody Bible Institute, where he often speaks. His many ambitious plans for his church and community include delivering 30,000 Bibles to residents in the church's ZIP code.

Despite these and other accomplishments, his name mostly draws blanks from people outside of Chicago. This is odd, since it's increasingly clear that Meeks is one of the most effective megachurch pastors in the nation....

Dry Drunk Confirmed?
O'Neill's Revelations and the Mind of Bush


...Earlier several other writers and I likened Bush’s personality characteristics to those of a person who, in AA parlance, is “dry” but whose thinking is not really sober. Grandiosity, rigidity, and intolerance of ambiguity, and a tendency to obsess about things are among the traits associated with the dry drunk. The dry drunk quits drinking, but his or her obsession with the bottle is often replaced with other obsessions. Twelve Step programs help their members modify their all-or-nothing thought patterns which associated with the disease alcoholism. “Easy does it” and “One day at a time” are among the slogans; the serenity prayer, similarly, helps persons with addictive tendencies to curb the tendency to excess.

In Bush’s irrational patterns of thought lie the clues to his single-minded obsession with Iraq. For the explanation for Bush’s vendetta against this one country, we have to look to his biography and to the meaning that Iraq held for his father.

The father-son relationship can be problematic in any family. When the father is considered a big hero, the first-born son, especially one bearing the father’s name, identity issues are common. As any chronology of George W Bush’s childhood will show, the son was set up to follow in the exact footsteps of his father. Sent away to the very New England prep school where his father’s accomplishments were still remembered, the younger Bush became better known for his pranks than athletic or academic achievements. His drinking bouts caused problems during his military service as well. (Remember that his father had been a war hero.) In college there was heavy drinking and other drug misuse, one arrest for a wild college prank and one conviction for drunken driving. A much later religious conversion turned his life around.

George W. Bush’s father set him up in business, and his father’s presidency helped him get his start in politics. His father, for all his success, experienced failure on three occasions. He was widely criticized for not finishing the job in Iraq-- for not moving the troops in to “take out” Saddam following the Gulf War victory--and he failed to get his bill to fund a NASA flight to Mars, and finally, he lost his bid for re-election.

What a unique opportunity has fallen George W Bush’s way. The prodigal son can not only prove himself to his father but he can show up his father at his own game. Remember that for his cabinet and key advisers, he chose some of the same men from his father’s regime. He chose people, furthermore, who would be favorable to a return campaign, “a crusade” against Iraq. Given his past history and tendency toward obsessiveness, the temptation to achieve heroism through a re-enactment of his father’s war clearly would have been too much for George Bush Jr. to resist. To accomplish his mission he would have to throw caution and international diplomacy to the winds, lie convincingly to the American people, threaten allies, bully members of the United Nations, but in the end he would be able to dress in full military regalia and declare “mission accomplished.” ....

Hi, I’m 21, have we met?
Trenton Starnes offers an open letter to the relevant and hip mega-churches

Dear Bill,
I’m sitting in the plush seats arranged stadium-style (they still smell new), waiting for the seeker service to begin. I know this is a state of the art media facility, designed to meet my needs as a seeker; the jumbo-trons and 80-foot speakers tell me that you are serious about this relevance thing. If this is the matinee, then can I throw less in the offering plate?

I basically know what I can expect: a rockin’ praise and worship band, Academy-nominated skits, and a non-boring, non-threatening, non-lengthy sermon with movie clips interspersed for good measure. I know that you’re aiming for relevance here; I’ll just bet you use the word relevance at least 2,349.5 times in your ministry team meetings. It’s sprinkled throughout your literature, I saw it in the name of your church, read it in the size of your has-it-own-area-code campus but I really knew you were serious about the whole relevance thing when I parked. You know, way out in lot W? I was feeling bummed about the half-mile walk to the sanctuary -- excuse me, I mean “meeting place” --when Deacon George pulled up in his urban golf cart and offered me a ride. Told me there was coffee inside (I must’ve been shivering), and not just any coffee. It was Brand Name. I mean, how many churches do that?

But I thought I should tell you, Bill… if I don’t, who will? I know nobody wants to burst your bubble or anything, so I’ll lay it on you gently. You know this whole “relevance” thing? This whole “seeker service” designed to reach as many as possible with the Gospel? Well, I’m here, and I’m watching, and I think you ought to know: you’re losing me. ...

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Infiltration of files seen as extensive
Senate panel's GOP staff pried on Democrats

WASHINGTON -- Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics....

...With the help of forensic computer experts from General Dynamics and the US Secret Service, his office has interviewed about 120 people to date and seized more than half a dozen computers -- including four Judiciary servers, one server from the office of Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and several desktop hard drives....

Evasions, Half-Truths, and the State of the Union
Can we trust this year's speech?

This time, at least, there were no blatant lies in the national-security section of the State of the Union address. The speechwriters, no doubt watched over by a hyperalert Condoleezza Rice, made sure to avoid a reprise of last year's scandal over false claims of an Iraqi hunt for yellowcake. Instead, however, the scribes piled on so many half-truths and evasions, often in disingenuous phrasings, as to erase the customary distinction between mere deceit and sheer falsehood.

Let's take them one by one....

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Couple Charged in Alleged Exorcism Death
ATLANTA - A husband and wife have been charged with murdering a 6-year-old girl whose back was broken in what police said may have been an exorcism gone wrong....

Bush Knew Iraq Info Was Dubious
(CBS) Senior administration officials tell CBS News the President’s mistaken claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa was included in his State of the Union address -- despite objections from the CIA.

Traveling with the president in Africa, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Friday said that the CIA had cleared the reference to the attempted uranium purchase.

Before the speech was delivered, the portions dealing with Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were checked with the CIA for accuracy, reports CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin.

CIA officials warned members of the President’s National Security Council staff the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa.

The White House officials responded that a paper issued by the British government contained the unequivocal assertion: “Iraq has ... sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” As long as the statement was attributed to British Intelligence, the White House officials argued, it would be factually accurate. The CIA officials dropped their objections and that’s how it was delivered.

“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” Mr. Bush said.

The statement was technically correct, since it accurately reflected the British paper. But the bottom line is the White House knowingly included in a presidential address information its own CIA had explicitly warned might not be true. ...

"No one can now doubt the word of America."
That's what George W. Bush told the United States and the world public in his State of the Union address this evening. He was referring to the war in Iraq, which he defended vigorously in the speech. But this remark made it seem he was oblivious to the fact that many people around the globe believe that the war in Iraq demonstrated that Bush's word is worth nothing....

From the Top Ten Bush Lies
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." And, "[Saddam Hussein is] a threat because he is dealing with al Qaeda."

These two Bush remarks go hand in hand, even though the first was said on March 17, 2003, two days before Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, and the other came during a November 7, 2002, press conference. Together they represented his argument for war: Hussein possessed actual weapons of mass destruction and at any moment could hand them to his supposed partners in al Qaeda. That is why Hussein was an immediate threat to the United States and had to be taken out quickly. But neither of these assertions were truthful. There has been much media debate over all this. But the postwar statements of Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of the CIA, provide the most compelling proof. He has been conducting a review of the prewar intelligence, and he has told reporters that the intelligence on Hussein’s WMDs was full of caveats and qualifiers and based mostly on inferential or circumstantial evidence. In other words, it was not no-doubt material. He also has said that prewar intelligence reports did not contain evidence of links between Hussein and al Qaeda. The best information to date indicates that the prewar intelligence did not leave "no doubt" about WMDs and did not support Bush’s claim that Hussein was in cahoots with al Qaeda. Bush’s primary reason for war was founded on falsehoods

"[T]he system [of democracy] is simple, and for a while it works well enough. The shrill gloats and exultations of A, who has got something for nothing, drown out the repining of B, who has lost something that he earned. B, in fact, becomes officially disreputable, and the more he complains the more he is denounced and detested. He is moved, it appears, by a kind of selfishness which is incompatible with true democracy. He actually believes that his property is his own, to remain in his keeping until he chooses to part with it. He is told at once that his information on the point is inaccurate, and his morals more than dubious. In an ideal democracy, he learns, property is at the disposal, not of its owners, but of politicians, and the chief business of politicians is to collar it by fair means or foul, and redistribute it to those whose votes have put them in office"
-- H.L. Mencken, The Smart Set, July 1923.

A Man's (and Woman's) Home Is a Castle
The story of Anthony Bars -- the 4-year-old boy who was starved and beaten to death in Indiana by foster parents with a criminal record of child abuse -- continues.

Due to media and public outrage, the caseworker who recommended removing Anthony from an earlier, loving foster parent is facing charges. Denise Moore is accused of official misconduct and of falsifying reports in an adoption proceeding: misdemeanor offenses.

Sadly, Anthony is just one in a long list of children neglected or abused by Child Protective Services in state after state. In his case, the press is still pounding on why child welfare officials never disciplined Moore for her actions and cited state confidentiality laws at almost every question asked.

Emerging scandals and conflicts in Indiana and elsewhere should not be allowed to distract from more fundamental questions: When should a third party have the terrible right to separate a child from its parents? By what right do civil servants enter your home and threaten to remove your children if you do not answer accusations of abuse -- often accusations made anonymously -- to their satisfaction?

The increased power of child welfare agencies to do so comes from legislation dating back to the Mondale Act of 1974. That act established huge financial incentives for state agencies to uncover abuse, without providing checks or balances to protect those wrongfully accused. It also virtually immunized child welfare workers and false accusers from liability....

The $45 Trillion Problem
Even if you think government budget numbers are generally not very interesting (and they do tend to blur together into an eye-glazing morass), here's a number to quicken the pulse: $45.5 trillion. That's the size of the long-term gap between the federal government's projected outlays (future spending plus current debt) and its projected revenues. Most government budget projections look only a brief distance into the future—a year, perhaps, or ten at the most. But Jagadeesh Gokhale and Kent Smetters, economists working at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively, have looked further into the future and determined that, in effect, if the U.S. government were a company its owner would have to pay a rational investor $45.5 trillion to take it off his hands. To put this figure in perspective: the entire U.S. economy generated only about $10.4 trillion last year, and total household wealth is currently only about $39 trillion. ...

...The long-term imbalance between the amount of taxes that Americans are accustomed to paying and the level of government services that Americans are accustomed to receiving will not, however, be changed by any alterations in short-term projections. Under any reasonable set of assumptions about economic growth, the natural growth rate of health-care costs, and other important factors, the gap between what we expect to pay and what we expect to receive is enormous. The magnitude of this looming gap has been masked for the past several decades by a demographic blip—the Baby Boom, which for nearly forty years has provided a large base of workers who contribute payroll and income taxes while consuming relatively few government services. In 2012, however, when the first Boomers hit retirement age, the situation will begin to reverse: a large proportion of the population will begin drawing more heavily on government services, while the relative number of taxpaying workers will start to shrink. Today there are nineteen elderly for every 100 working-age Americans; by 2050 there will be thirty-five for every 100. This means trouble: in 2015 Medicare taxes will fall short of Medicare expenditures for the first time; in 2018 Social Security payments will outstrip payroll-tax revenues. In short, if we don't make policy changes soon, the government's financial situation will begin imploding within the next ten years....

I believe in conspiracies
John Laughland says the real nutters are those who believe in al-Qa’eda and weapons of mass destruction Believing in conspiracy theories is rather like having been to a grammar school: both are rather socially awkward to admit. Although I once sat next to a sister-in-law of the Duke of Norfolk who agreed that you can’t believe everything you read in the newspapers, conspiracy theories are generally considered a rather repellent form of intellectual low-life, and their theorists rightfully the object of scorn and snobbery. Writing in the Daily Mail last week, the columnist Melanie Phillips even attacked conspiracy theories as the consequence of a special pathology, of the collapse in religious belief, and of a ‘descent into the irrational’. The implication is that those who oppose ‘the West’, or who think that governments are secretive and dishonest, might need psychiatric treatment.

In fact, it is the other way round. British and American foreign policy is itself based on a series of highly improbable conspiracy theories, the biggest of which is that an evil Saudi millionaire genius in a cave in the Hindu Kush controls a secret worldwide network of ‘tens of thousands of terrorists’ ‘in more than 60 countries’ (George Bush). News reports frequently tell us that terrorist organisations, such as those which have attacked Bali or Istanbul, have ‘links’ to al-Qa’eda, but we never learn quite what those ‘links’ are. According to two terrorism experts in California, Adam Dolnik and Kimberly McCloud, this is because they do not exist. ‘In the quest to define the enemy, the US and its allies have helped to blow al-Qa’eda out of proportion,’ they write. They argue that the name ‘al-Qa’eda’ was invented in the West to designate what is, in reality, a highly disparate collection of otherwise independent groups with no central command structure and not even a logo. They claim that some terrorist organisations say they are affiliated to bin Laden simply to gain kudos and name-recognition for their entirely local grievances.

By the same token, the US-led invasion of Iraq was based on a fantasy that Saddam Hussein was in, or might one day enter into, a conspiracy with Osama bin Laden. This is as verifiable as the claim that MI6 used mind control to make Henri Paul crash Princess Diana’s car into the 13th pillar of the tunnel under the Place de l’Alma. With similar mystic gnosis, Donald Rumsfeld has alleged that the failure to find ‘weapons of mass distraction’, as Tony Blair likes to call them, shows that they once existed but were destroyed. Indeed, London and Washington have shamelessly exploited people’s fear of the unknown to get public opinion to believe their claim that Iraq had masses of anthrax and botulism. This played on a deep and ancient seam of fear about poison conspiracies which, in the Middle Ages, led to pogroms against Jews. And yet it is the anti-war people who continue to be branded paranoid, even though the British Prime Minister himself, his eyes staring wildly, said in September 2002, ‘Saddam has got all these weapons ...and they’re pointing at us!’

In contrast to such imaginings, it is perfectly reasonable to raise questions about the power of the secret services and armed forces of the world’s most powerful states, especially those of the USA....

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Call It The Divorce Belt
Holy Britney Spears!

Here's a fact I couldn't find anywhere in George W. Bush's $1.5-billion plan to prop up American marriage.

The pro-Bush red states, especially those in the rural South, have a far higher divorce rate than Al Gore's blue states.

This is the Bible Belt?

Actually, it's more like the Divorce Belt, where the pro-marriage president's staunchest supporters tend to congregate.

For this little nugget, we are indebted to the insightful research of George Barna, who is probably America's leading pollster of religious attitudes. The Barna Research Group of Ventura, Calif., has spent the past 18 years tracking various church and cultural trends.

Trends like Baptists (29 percent) and nondenominational Christians (34 percent) getting divorced more frequently than do atheists/agnostics (21 percent).

Forget all that family-values talk from the Religious Right.

"Divorce rates among conservative Christians were much higher than for other faith groups," Barna says flatly....

Rip-off 'liberty'
To those who follow the workings of the American bureaucracy, one thing should be very clear: We the people have lost control of our government. Let me give you a stark example.

Rarely does the President sign a bill into law on a Saturday. In fact, the last time Bush did so was more than a year ago when he signed a spending bill to keep the federal government from shutting down.

But on Saturday, December 13, 2003, as Americans watched Saddam Hussein’s head being probed for lice, President Bush signed into law a bill that grants the FBI, among other intelligence agencies, expansive new powers, including the power to probe Americans’ financial records -- even if they are not suspected terrorists.

Congress passed this latest legislation around Thanksgiving. However, reportedly in order to avoid individual accountability, the Senate passed it with a voice vote....

...Why are we witnessing such end-runs around our Constitution? First, there is a dangerous mentality that permeates the upper echelon of the American government. This is the notion that the government can push through its agenda, even if it undermines basic protections of the U.S. Constitution.

Second, those who supposedly represent us have developed an unnerving tendency to approve and vote for legislation that they do not study carefully. Then there are those in Congress who are mere sycophants of the administration in power and push through the administration’s agenda without considering the fact that it is the people they represent, not the government. ...

...Finally, we the people have too often not been involved in the governmental process and have failed to protest the increasing governmental encroachment on our fundamental freedoms. We often fail to even ask the important questions. As David Martin writes in the San Antonio Current, “If these new powers are necessary to protect United States citizens, then why would the legislation not withstand the test of public debate? If the new act’s provisions are in the public interest, why use stealth in ramming them through the legislative process?”...

Scalia-Cheney Trip Raises Eyebrows
Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent part of last week duck hunting together at a private camp in southern Louisiana, just three weeks after the court agreed to take up the vice president's appeal in lawsuits over his handling of the administration's energy task force, the Los Angeles Times says in its Saturday editions.

While Scalia and Cheney are avid hunters and longtime friends, several experts in legal ethics questioned the timing of their trip and said it raised doubts about Scalia's ability to judge the case impartially, the newspaper pointed out. ...

Iraq soldier 'sickened' by amputation claim
A SCOTS soldier at the centre of a row over the quality of equipment supplied to British troops in Iraq last night demanded to know if his leg was amputated only because there was a lack of medical supplies.

Sergeant Albert Thomson said it "sickened" him to think this could be true and confirmed that his family have hired a lawyer to investigate the claims.

Thomson, from Whitburn in West Lothian, lost his leg after a fellow soldier in the Royal Highland Fusiliers accidentally fired a machine gun in March 2003. But MPs are now investigating claims by a whistle-blower that army doctors would not have removed his leg if they had had the appropriate surgical equipment.

The case comes only days after the widow of Sergeant Steven Roberts - a tank commander who was shot dead in Iraq days after being ordered to hand back body armour because of shortages - called for embattled Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon’s resignation over inadequate army supplies.

Thomson, 35, said: "I was just grateful to be alive after I lost my leg, but now I can’t believe this. It sickens me to think this could be true. I’m in complete shock. For the past few months I have just been trying to get on with day-to-day living." ...

Monday, January 19, 2004

Presiding Over Crisis--and Maybe Schism
The Presiding Bishop sees the denomination's current path as the only way--because it's 'truthful.'

Since last summer, Frank Griswold, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, has been in the vortex of his denomination's controversy over its election of an openly gay bishop. Yet during the church's August convention and into the fall, Griswold has remained out of the limelight.

In the last few weeks, dissident members of the church--those opposed to the church's liberal stance on homosexuality--are increasingly threatening to circumvent the bishop's authority in order to "replace" the Episcopal Church with conservative leadership. This week Griswold sat down to talk with Beliefnet. During an interview in his New York office, Griswold said he receives frequent private letters of support from bishops around the country and the world--including those who--publicly--strongly oppose the church's actions. He said "secrecy is the devil's playground," suggesting that those who want to accommodate homosexuality behind the scenes while publicly condemning it are the ones encouraging "sexual aberrance." He disputed the claim by conservatives that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams supports their actions and suggested that conservatives are fighting Griswold's proposal--to be discussed by the denomination's bishops at a March meeting--to accommodate their needs because, paradoxically, it is workable. He believes conservatives want to keep the fight going.

Griswold also admitted he believes the church will experience some sort of schism. Yet he sleeps well and stays spiritually grounded by reading the Psalms twice a day and celebrating the Eucharist. The following is an edited transcript of a 90-minute conversation....

Kissing Nonsense Goodbye
Well, I kissed dating goodbye. But it sure wasn't by choice. For the last four years, I have lived in a very conservative Midwestern town of 35,000. Jefferson City, Missouri, is a place where it's harder for a college-educated, twentysomething, professional, Christian man to find a date than it is to find a good coffeehouse or bookstore. And Starbucks and Barnes & Noble are nowhere near this town, if that tells you anything....

...In fact, if I were relying strictly on the models of relationship-building I see in Scripture, I wouldn't be courting either. I would either be waiting for God to create a wife for me out of my rib or expecting my parents to select for me a comely bride from among the other families in our subdivision. The realities of modern life no longer permit us to choose our spouses this way....

...Hsu goes on to argue convincingly that American evangelicals have all but made an idol out of the human concepts of marriage and family, thus marginalizing single Christians, who are just as complete in Christ as any married person.

The courtship books, it seems, don't begin with this premise. For instance, by stating in Choosing God's Best that "God's solution for man's aloneness is marriage, not dating," Raunikar implicitly labels singleness as something in need of a solution—in other words, a problem.

But these days it seems marriage may well be more of a problem than singleness. I have lost count of the number of friends and acquaintances near my age who either have already gone through a divorce or are in the midst of one. And the vast majority of them are committed believers who come from solidly evangelical congregations where divorce is not taken lightly.

This widespread reality doesn't jibe with the promarriage rhetoric I heard growing up in the youth group of a Southern Baptist megachurch. We were told constantly that "God has that special someone out there for you" and that "you should be preparing yourself for that person even now." My youth minister never said anything about how difficult marriage might be after we found that special someone. I can't blame him; he was too busy making sure that we would defer sex until marriage to tell us much about what came afterward.

Critics in non-Christian contexts have noted this aspect of the problem. Reflecting on the Kasses' book in The Atlantic Monthly, Peter Berkowitz articulates one of the things that has always troubled me about most Christian advice on marriage and dating: "If our anti-romantic tendencies persuade us to expect too little from marriage, our romantic tendencies seduce us into expecting too much."

In some ways, overemphasizing (and thus over-romanticizing) marriage may have created more problems among evangelicals than it has solved. Marriage is not always the solution, and singleness is not always a problem. In fact, singleness actually may be preferable to marriage in some cases. Just ask the apostle Paul....

Arms Issue Seen as Hurting U.S. Credibility Abroad
The Bush administration's inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- after public statements declaring an imminent threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein -- has begun to harm the credibility abroad of the United States and of American intelligence, according to foreign policy experts in both parties. ...

...The inability to find suspected weapons "has to make it more difficult on some future occasion if the United States argues the intelligence warrants something controversial, like a preventive attack," said Haass, a Republican who was head of policy planning for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell when the war started. "The result is we've made the bar higher for ourselves and we have to expect greater skepticism in the future."...

'We can't reunite thousands of mothers with children wrongly taken from them'
Thousands of parents who had children taken away from them on the evidence of the controversial paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow will not have them returned.

Ministers are to review as many as 5,000 civil cases of families affected over the past 15 years by Prof Meadow's now-discredited theory of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. This accused mothers of harming their children to draw attention to themselves.

Many mothers say that they have been vindicated in their insistence that they were wrongly accused and now want their children back. However, Margaret Hodge, the minister for children, has ruled out any widespread return.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mrs Hodge said that it would be wrong to raise the hopes of the families torn apart by the doctor's theory. It was called into question following three major miscarriages of criminal justice and is being investigated by the General Medical Council.

Mrs Hodge said that the exact number of civil cases where Prof Meadow's theory had been used to remove children from mothers was unknown, but could run into "thousands or even tens of thousands".

She added, however: "If a miscarriage of justice was made 10 or 15 years ago, what is in the child's interest now? If the adoption order was made on the back of Meadow's evidence and that was 10 years ago, what is in the real interest of the child? If they were taken as babies the only parent they know is the adopted one. It is incredibly difficult. It is a really tough call to make.

"The sort of families that are coming forward are heartbroken families. But if the child was adopted at birth the sensible thing to do is to let it stay. As children's minister my prime interest has to be the interests of the child."...

...Prof Meadow's theory was discredited following the cases of three mothers who were wrongly accused of killing their children on his evidence. Sally Clark was cleared on appeal, Trupti Patel was acquitted and Angela Cannings, who was jailed in 2002 for murdering her two baby sons, had the conviction quashed last December. On that occasion, three High Court judges said some of the professor's evidence was "simply wrong".

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, is examining a further 250 criminal trials involving Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy, to see whether more mothers imprisoned for murdering their babies might be innocent.

Mrs Hodge is likely to ask local authorities to search through their records to find all family law cases involving Meadow. Some campaigners estimate that 5,000 children were taken into care because of Prof Meadow.

In these civil cases, children were taken from their mothers on a balance of probability that they were harming them or might harm them in the future. In criminal cases, harm has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Another option being considered by Mrs Hodge is to appoint a judge to trawl through the records of each authority to identify possible miscarriages of justice, but this would prove costly....

Blood on the virtual carpet: tempers flare as 'editor' is thrown out of online town with 80,000 inhabitants
Peter Ludlow is not just a computer gaming enthusiast. He's also a philosophy professor, with an abiding interest in the relationship between the real and the virtual worlds. So when the world's most successful virtual-reality game, the Sims, launched an online version just over a year ago, he didn't just join in for fun; he also decided that he could carry out research for his next book.

And that was where the trouble started. Alphaville, the game's fictional city, could have gone in any number of directions, depending on the arbitrary decisions of the online game players who make up its people through their chosen "avatars", or game characters.

Alphaville could have become a socialist utopia, a grand experiment in free-market capitalism or simply a reflection of the allure and the pitfalls of any real Western city.

As it was, Alphaville quickly turned into a hellhole of scam-artists, crime syndicates, mafia extortion artists and teenage girls turning tricks to make ends meet. It became a breeding ground for the very worst in human nature - a benign-sounding granny, for example, who specialised in taking new players into her confidence, then showered them in abuse. Then there was the scam-artist known as Evangeline, who started out equally friendly and then stole new players' money.

Professor Ludlow, who teaches at the University of Michigan, decided he would chronicle Alphaville's seamy reality by setting up a newspaper,The Alphaville Herald, run by his game alter-ego. He reported on the scams and the prostitution rings, and also interviewed the protagonists. (Evangeline, his most intriguing source, turned out, in real life, to be a spectacularly warped teenage boy.)

But that was before his dispassionate academic inquiry ran smack into the authoritarian brick wall of the game's manufacturer and controller, the California gaming company Electronic Arts.

The Alphaville Herald was closed down and Professor Ludlow's avatar, Urizenus, was kicked out of town. "While we regret it," Electronic Arts told him in a letter, "we feel it is necessary for the good of the game and its community."

Officially, the reason for Professor Ludlow's expulsion was that he included links in his inside-the-game newspaper to outside websites, including one that gave players instructions on how to cheat. What Professor Ludlow and a growing band of academics and sympathisers believe, however, is that his efforts to publicise the tawdry fantasy activities of real-life teenagers were becoming simply too uncomfortable for Electronic Arts to stomach....

No blister agent' in Iraq shells
Three dozen mortar shells uncovered in Iraq earlier this month had no chemical agents, the Danish army says....

23 Killed (2 Americans), 130 Injured (including 6 Americans) in Baghdad Car Bombing
...When, 9 or 10 months after an army conquers a place, its HQ is not safe from attack, this is always a bad sign. For those who keep making Germany and Japan analogies, I ask you if MacArthur's HQ was getting blown up in Tokyo in April of 1946.

Friday, January 16, 2004

God Hates Unmarried Losers
It's BushCo's $1.5 bil plan to let the homophobic Christian Right dictate love. Whee!
By Mark Morford

Man, those inner-city poor people sure are dumb.

Just look at 'em, popping out babies like crazy and draining the welfare system like there's no tomorrow, all while remaining completely unable to either get or stay married in their sad, un-Christian, gangsta-rap lives. Pathetic.

And oh my God, those damnable gays. Would you just look at them, fighting for basic human rights, whining about wanting to get married, as if they knew anything about God's manly, flag-waving, 100 percent heterosexual love?

Clearly it's some sort of flaming pagan sorcery those gays used to persuade all those misguided states to suddenly begin to offer more and more rights to gay couples, granting civil unions and nearly full benefits and allowing them to copulate and hold hands in public and sodomize each other with strange phallic-shaped devices in the privacy of their own homes, even in Texas.

I mean, what the hell is the world coming to? And what, pray tell, is a self-righteous, homophobic, God-thumping, conservative administration that constantly kowtows to the preening Christian Right to do about all this?

Why, hurl $1.5 billion of your tax dollars at the problem, that's what. Educate them dumb poor people on how to fly right and learn more "interpersonal skills" so they can get married -- you know, just like their much happier and more heavily narcotized, sanctimonious, Botoxed, Zolofted, blank-eyed Republican masters -- er, fellow citizens....

...Or maybe "healthy" marriage is when your miserable GOP wife stays home and raises the disgruntled kids and keeps her big trap shut like a good wife should, and, as a reward, she gets all the Botox and therapy and Nordstrom shopping sprees your credit card can handle. Yes. That must be it. Isn't that right, senator?

Interesting, really, how difficult it is to track down one pure example of a healthy and beautiful and communicative Christian marriage -- isn't it, Dubya? We could ask Laura, but it looks like she's busy being a nice GOP token wife, smiling that perpetual wooden-mannequin smile off in a corner somewhere, reading books to baffled children, harmless as a sterile bunny. ...

"The Bible Alone"? Not for John Calvin!
When we seek answers to churchly and societal issues in the Bible alone, citing the Reformation principle of sola scriptura, we are actually contradicting the Reformers.
By Chris Armstrong | posted 01/16/2004

There's no question that the Bible is at the very center of conservative Christianity in America. When tough legislation limited access to the Bible in our public schools, Christians sought creative ways around the wall, legal prosecution notwithstanding. When translators set out to "modernize" the Bible's gender language, conservatives kicked up a storm. When lawmakers removed a Ten Commandments monument from a courthouse, Christian protesters mobbed the scene.

All of this activity hearkens back to the Reformation tradition of Sola Scriptura—the belief that the Bible should be the ultimate authority for the church, trumping all human traditions. For many conservatives, this authority is not only unquestioned within the church, but extended beyond the church to society at large. The dream of some evangelicals is a country—perhaps some day even a world—where every moral and political question is submitted to the Bible, which will provide answers both obvious and immediately applicable.

Worth asking, however, is whether we really understand what Sola Scriptura means within the church itself. Does this Reformation principle mean that the Bible yields up obvious answers to all our questions? That we need not turn to any interpretation of Scripture other than the conclusions each of us draws from our own common-sense interaction with Scripture? That the great teachers in the church's earlier eras—the "church fathers"—should have nothing to say to us today, for they represent nothing but "human traditions"?

Clearly even the most conservative believers have never been able to live as if they are not influenced by the teachings of other people—past and present—on how to interpret their Bibles. Everybody reads through a set of lenses created by the church, the family, and the schools that have shaped them.

Of course, evangelicals have expended tremendous resources of scholarship on trying to determine the most basic, literal meanings of any given Bible passage. They have rejected outright the fanciful, allegorical interpretations of many medieval exegetes.

But there come issues—more numerous than some are willing to admit—where the Bible yields its direction more reluctantly. For faithfully biblical answers to these questions, we are thrown back on the resources of church tradition....

...It has become increasingly clear since 9/11 that western intelligence agencies have completely failed to understand or to penetrate the networks of Islamist ultra-radicalism. No intelligence agency predicted the attacks on New York or Washington, DC. Nor were there any warnings of the attacks since then in Kenya, Bali or Morocco. Intelligence briefings linking Saddam Hussein to anthrax attacks in the US, or to a nuclear and chemical weapons programme in Iraq, have all proved wildly inaccurate or, as in the case of the documents detailing Saddam's search for nuclear materials in Niger, they were simply made up.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair's neoconservative chums in Washington, immune to the justifiable fears of the Muslim world, talk blithely of moving on from Iraq next year to attack Iran and Syria. They have also invited Franklin Graham, the Christian evangelist who has branded Islam a "very wicked and evil" religion, to be the official speaker at the Pentagon's annual service - and this immediately prior to his departure for Iraq to attempt to convert the people of Baghdad to Christianity.

All the while, the paranoia and bottled-up rage in the Muslim world grows more uncontrollable, and the attacks by Islamic militants gather pace, gaining ever wider global reach and sophistication. As long as British Muslims remain at the receiving end of our rampant Islamophobia, and remain excluded from the mainstream of British life, we can expect only still greater numbers of disenfranchised Muslims in the UK to turn their back on Britain and rally to the extremists.

As Jason Burke points out at the end of his excellent book Al-Qaeda, "The greatest weapon in the war on terrorism is the courage, decency, humour and integrity of the vast proportion of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims. It is this that is restricting the spread of al-Qaeda, not the activities of counter-terrorism experts. Without it, we are lost. There is indeed a battle between the west and men like Bin Laden. But it is not a battle for global supremacy. It is a battle for hearts and minds. And it is a battle that we, and our allies in the Muslim world, are currently losing."

This month's upsurge of rampant Islamophobia in Britain, widely reported in Muslim countries, is the last thing we need in such a desperately volatile climate....

Practice to Deceive
Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks' nightmare scenario--it's their plan.
By Joshua Micah Marshall

Imagine it's six months from now. The Iraq war is over. After an initial burst of joy and gratitude at being liberated from Saddam's rule, the people of Iraq are watching, and waiting, and beginning to chafe under American occupation. Across the border, in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, our conquering presence has brought street protests and escalating violence. The United Nations and NATO are in disarray, so America is pretty much on its own. Hemmed in by budget deficits at home and limited financial assistance from allies, the Bush administration is talking again about tapping Iraq's oil reserves to offset some of the costs of the American presence--talk that is further inflaming the region. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence has discovered fresh evidence that, prior to the war, Saddam moved quantities of biological and chemical weapons to Syria. When Syria denies having such weapons, the administration starts massing troops on the Syrian border. But as they begin to move, there is an explosion: Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon blow themselves up in a Baghdad restaurant, killing dozens of Western aid workers and journalists. Knowing that Hezbollah has cells in America, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge puts the nation back on Orange Alert. FBI agents start sweeping through mosques, with a new round of arrests of Saudis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and Yemenis.

To most Americans, this would sound like a frightening state of affairs, the kind that would lead them to wonder how and why we had got ourselves into this mess in the first place. But to the Bush administration hawks who are guiding American foreign policy, this isn't the nightmare scenario. It's everything going as anticipated. ...

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The New Mainstream
Two Worlds, Two Cultures

Two worlds. Two cultures. Two markets. Two mainstreams. This is what has become of Christian enterprise in America: a $4.2 billion industry committed to putting out records, books and entertainment with a message that according to Bill Anderson, president of the CBA, formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association, “aligns with Scripture.”

One has to wonder, however, how all of that $4.2 billion in merchandise could possibly be scripturally sound. Is scriptural integrity the primary motivation for this market or is it something else? My limited understanding of economics is that the primary motivation for any market is usually profit. Secondarily might be the spread of the gospel or the dissemination of the word of God, but I don’t think either of these can account for $4.2 billion of success. There’s something bigger here driving this machine, and I would suggest that it is primarily the fear factor, and the resulting protection that a Christian industry provides a worried and nervous clientele.

Many Christians find the world to be a frightening place, viewing secular culture as hedonistic, vulgar and even demonic. Parents naturally fear for their kids. How will they make it in such a world? What Christian parent wouldn’t acculturate their children in Christian education and alternative entertainment if these were made available to them?

One can see how any environment that provides a safe haven against a perceived hostile world would be very appealing among those who share this view. With a media and entertainment saturated culture, there is no end to what can be opted for in a Christian version, providing a more desirable, worry-free alternative to what is viewed as increasingly offensive and dangerous.

Up until now, I have been calling these two markets “Christian” and “mainstream.” It was a way in which to avoid the less desirable term “secular,” but this is no longer accurate, because "Christian" now can be considered as having its own mainstream. What we have are two very powerful markets operating side by side, utilizing the same principles of business and marketing while claiming to have radically different messages and worldviews. (I personally think these differences are debatable and not as great as touted, but that is for another discussion.)...

...But those outside the Christian culture are just as wary, in like manner, of the Christian label due in part to the political influence of many Christian groups and the aggressive stance taken on cultural issues that conflict with those who have a different worldview. Many in the world have developed a kind of allergic reaction to anything Christian because of this. Bottom line is: we’re afraid of them and they’re afraid of us. Is this what Paul meant by being separate from the world? I wonder.....

Tests Show No Agent in Iraq Mortar Shells
CAMP EDEN, Iraq (AP) - U.S. tests on mortar shells found in Iraq and suspected of containing blister agents have turned up negative, though further tests will be conducted, a Danish army spokesman said Wednesday.

The 36 shells, discovered last week by Danish troops, are believed to be from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Four initial tests by British and Danish experts came up positive for blister agents, Danish spokesman, Capt. Kim Vibe Michelsen, told The Associated Press.

But later tests by U.S. experts from the Iraq Survey Group on five of the shells have shown no trace of chemical weapons, the Danish military said. ...

When Does Politics Become Treason?
"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged" - that's what President Abraham Lincoln said during the War Between the States. While none have suggested such extreme measures in the midst of the war on terrorism, Lincoln's approach illustrates the deadly seriousness of political responsibility in wartime and draws a fine line between legitimate political dissent and aiding the enemy. The Supreme Court eventually stopped Lincoln's policy of having treasonous lawmakers arrested and tried before military tribunals, but for decades after the war the late president's Republican Party successfully tagged the Democrats as the "party of treason."

Today's very different Democratic Party is said to be playing with treason - even by outraged leaders within its ranks - to destroy the nation's wartime Republican president. Critics aren't using that word lightly. But with many liberal politicians having cut their teeth in the protest movement against the war in Vietnam - a movement characterized by militant displays of support for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese enemy - treason is something to be taken lightly. But two important political commentators with large national audiences recently have compiled damning indictments: Mona Charen in her best-selling Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First (Regnery), and Ann Coulter in her blockbuster Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism (Crown/Forum). The main difference from Lincoln's day is that the president's enemies are attacking him in the name of "supporting our troops."...

...A top figure in the national-security community fumes, "Some Democrat leaders are flirting with treason while the Republicans are acting like a bunch of sissies." But it isn't just Senate Republicans, the official concedes. "Where's the fight back from the White House?" Senators and congressmen have been reprimanded, censured, expelled, even put on trial for less. In some of Capitol Hill's pubs wags are urging, tongue in cheek, for Republicans to play hardball the way President Lincoln did. Shortly after signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Lincoln spoke forcefully of the need to arrest, convict and, if necessary, execute congressmen who by word or deed undermined the war effort. At least one congressman was exiled and another awaited the gallows.

"Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier-boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend, into a public meeting, and there working upon his feelings till he is persuaded to write the soldier-boy that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked Administration of a contemptible Government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that in such a case to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional, but withal a great mercy," Lincoln wrote in June 1863, after the arrest of Rep. Clement L. Vallandigham (D-Ohio)....