Also sometimes referred to as secular, modern, or humanistic. This is an umbrella term for Protestant denominations, or churches within denominations, that view the Bible as the witness of God rather than the word of God, to be interpreted in its historical context through critical analysis. Examples include some churches within Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ. There are more than 2,000 Protestant denominations offering a wide range of beliefs from extremely liberal to mainline to ultra-conservative and those that include characteristics on both ends.
|•||Belief in Deity |
Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty. Many believe God is incorporeal.
Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Some believe we are all sons and daughters of God and that Christ was exemplary, but not God.
|•||Origin of Universe and Life |
The Bible's account is symbolic. God created and controls the processes that account for the universe and life (e.g. evolution), as continually revealed by modern science.
|•||After Death |
Goodness will somehow be rewarded and evil punished after death, but what is most important is how you show your faith and conduct your life on earth.
|•||Why Evil? |
Most do not believe that humanity inherited original sin from Adam and Eve or that Satan actually exists. Most believe that God is good and made people inherently good, but also with free will and imperfect nature, which leads some to immoral behavior.
Various beliefs: Some believe all will go to heaven, as God is loving and forgiving. Others believe salvation lies in doing good works and no harm to others, regardless of faith. Some believe baptism is important. Some believe the concept of salvation after death is symbolic or nonexistent.
|•||Undeserved Suffering |
Most Liberal Christians do not believe that Satan causes suffering. Some believe suffering is part of God's plan, will, or design, even if we don't immediately understand it. Some don't believe in any spiritual reasons for suffering, and most take a humanistic approach to helping those in need.
|•||Contemporary Issues |
Most churches teach that abortion is morally wrong, but many ultimately support a woman's right to choose, usually accompanied by policies to provide counseling on alternatives. Many are accepting of homosexuality and gay rights.
Saturday, April 30, 2005
President's younger brother served with then-cardinal on board of relatively unknown ecumenical foundation
BY KNUT ROYCE AND TOM BRUNE
April 21, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Neil Bush, the president's controversial younger brother, six years ago joined the cardinal who this week became Pope Benedict XVI as a founding board member of a little known Swiss ecumenical foundation.
The charter members of the board were all well-known international religious figures, except for Bush and his close friend and business partner, Jamal Daniel, whose family has extensive holdings in the United States and Switzerland, public records show.
The Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1999 to promote ecumenical understanding and publish original religious texts, said a foundation official.
Besides then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, founding board members included Rene-Samuel Sirat, the former chief rabbi of France; Jordan's Prince Hassan, a Muslim dedicated to religious dialogue; the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, another prominent Muslim; Olivier Fatio, director of the Institute of the History of the Reformation; and foundation president Metropolitan Damaskinos, a Greek Orthodox leader.
Gary Vachicouras, a theologian and foundation official in Geneva, would not explain in a telephone interview yesterday why Bush, who has no clear public connection to religious causes, was on the first board.
"He was interested at that particular time," said Vachicouras of Bush. But like some other initial board members, Bush is no longer involved, Vachicouras said. Ratzinger also left a few years ago and was replaced by Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, who is responsible for ecumenical relations for the Vatican, said Vachicouras.
Still active is Daniel, a Syrian American who has family active in the Orthodox Church in Geneva, said Vachicouras. "This is an Orthodox lay person," he said.
Neither Bush, now president of the educational software company Ignite! Learning, based in Austin, Texas, nor Daniel returned calls for comment.
In his highly publicized divorce last year, Bush revealed he and Daniel are co-chairs of Texas-based Crest Investment Co., which pays him $60,000 a year for consulting. Recently, Crest Investment officials used Bush's name as a reference in cutting an exclusive deal with Texas officials on construction of a liquid natural gas storage facility that will guarantee Crest payments of at least $2 million a year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In the divorce proceedings, Bush also revealed that while he was in a hotel in Asia, women on at least three occasions came into his room and had sex with him. Daniel hosted Bush's second wedding at his home.
Daniel reportedly became acquainted with Bush in 1991, the year the federal Office of Thrift Supervision sanctioned Bush for having "multiple conflicts of interest" in his role as a director of Silverado Savings and Loan, a Colorado thrift whose failure cost taxpayers $1.3 billion. Bush paid $50,000 in a settlement.
The foundation, based at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Geneva, is listed by Dun & Bradstreet business credit reports as a management trust for purposes other than education, religion, charity or research. But Vachicouras said the designation must be a mistake of translation to English because the foundation is a private nonprofit established under Swiss law. He said the foundation is being "relaunched" on its mission to publish the original text of the Bible's Old Testament in Hebrew, its New Testament in Greek and the Quran in Arabic.
Fatio, who left the board three years ago, said the foundation "never had any money." Vachicouras declined to discuss finances.
He said, "We keep a low profile because that makes it easier to get work done."
Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.
Are you listening, Sen. Frist? When George W. Bush suggests that you've gone too far in pandering to the religious right, it's time to start asking yourself whether you've got a problem. Last week, Frist threw his very public support behind Justice Sunday, an event built around the premise that the Democrats' efforts to block a handful of Bush's most extreme judicial nominees amount to a "filibuster against people of faith."
What's Bush think of that premise? He doesn't buy it.
In his prime-time press conference Thursday night, Bush was asked whether he believed "that judicial filibusters are an attack against people of faith." He said no. "I think people are opposing my nominees because they don't like the judicial philosophy of the people I've nominated," Bush said. It was the first of four times that the president rejected the notion that religious discrimination was motivating opposition to his nominees. "No, I just don't agree with it," he said. "I don't ascribe a person's opposing my nominations to an issue of faith," he said. "No, I think people oppose my nominees because -- because of judicial philosophy," he said.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is the primary promoter of the "it's an attack on people of faith" argument. What does he have to say about Bush's rebuttal? Nothing, yet. In his daily message to supporters Thursday, he was still making arguments about the Democrats' "religious intolerance" -- and still wrapping his arms around Bill Frist.
So two questions for today: Will Frist remain in his death hug with the far-right edge of American religion -- hey, you've got to win the 2008 Republican nomination somehow -- or will he take note of his president's words? And will Perkins and his ilk continue to use the prospect of persecution to whip up fervor over the nuclear option, or will they apologize for attacking Democrats with an argument that the president himself doesn't believe? We're holding our breath.
By PAUL ELIAS, AP Biotechnology WriterFri Apr 29, 8:44 PM ET
On a farm about six miles outside this gambling town, Jason Chamberlain looks over a flock of about 50 smelly sheep, many of them possessing partially human livers, hearts, brains and other organs.
The University of Nevada-Reno researcher talks matter-of-factly about his plans to euthanize one of the pregnant sheep in a nearby lab. He can't wait to examine the effects of the human cells he had injected into the fetus' brain about two months ago.
"It's mice on a large scale," Chamberlain says with a shrug.
As strange as his work may sound, it falls firmly within the new ethics guidelines the influential National Academies issued this past week for stem cell research.
In fact, the Academies' report endorses research that co-mingles human and animal tissue as vital to ensuring that experimental drugs and new tissue replacement therapies are safe for people.
Doctors have transplanted pig valves into human hearts for years, and scientists have injected human cells into lab animals for even longer.
But the biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into even more exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous chimera, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent.
In the past two years, scientists have created pigs with human blood, fused rabbit eggs with human DNA and injected human stem cells to make paralyzed mice walk.
Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep's head?
The "idea that human neuronal cells might participate in 'higher order' brain functions in a nonhuman animal, however unlikely that may be, raises concerns that need to be considered," the academies report warned.
In January, an informal ethics committee at Stanford University endorsed a proposal to create mice with brains nearly completely made of human brain cells. Stem cell scientist Irving Weissman said his experiment could provide unparalleled insight into how the human brain develops and how degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson's progress.
Stanford law professor Hank Greely, who chaired the ethics committee, said the board was satisfied that the size and shape of the mouse brain would prevent the human cells from creating any traits of humanity. Just in case, Greely said, the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice's behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior.
The Academies' report recommends that each institution involved in stem cell research create a formal, standing committee to specifically oversee the work, including experiments that mix human and animal cells.
Weissman, who has already created mice with 1 percent human brain cells, said he has no immediate plans to make mostly human mouse brains, but wanted to get ethical clearance in any case. A formal Stanford committee that oversees research at the university would also need to authorize the experiment.
Few human-animal hybrids are as advanced as the sheep created by another stem cell scientist, Esmail Zanjani, and his team at the University of Nevada-Reno. They want to one day turn sheep into living factories for human organs and tissues and along the way create cutting-edge lab animals to more effectively test experimental drugs.
Zanjani is most optimistic about the sheep that grow partially human livers after human stem cells are injected into them while they are still in the womb. Most of the adult sheep in his experiment contain about 10 percent human liver cells, though a few have as much as 40 percent, Zanjani said.
Because the human liver regenerates, the research raises the possibility of transplanting partial organs into people whose livers are failing.
Zanjani must first ensure no animal diseases would be passed on to patients. He also must find an efficient way to completely separate the human and sheep cells, a tough task because the human cells aren't clumped together but are rather spread throughout the sheep's liver.
Zanjani and other stem cell scientists defend their research and insist they aren't creating monsters — or anything remotely human.
"We haven't seen them act as anything but sheep," Zanjani said.
Zanjani's goals are many years from being realized.
He's also had trouble raising funds, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating the university over allegations made by another researcher that the school mishandled its research sheep. Zanjani declined to comment on that matter, and university officials have stood by their practices.
Allegations about the proper treatment of lab animals may take on strange new meanings as scientists work their way up the evolutionary chart. First, human stem cells were injected into bacteria, then mice and now sheep. Such research blurs biological divisions between species that couldn't until now be breached.
Drawing ethical boundaries that no research appears to have crossed yet, the Academies recommend a prohibition on mixing human stem cells with embryos from monkeys and other primates. But even that policy recommendation isn't tough enough for some researchers.
"The boundary is going to push further into larger animals," New York Medical College professor Stuart Newman said. "That's just asking for trouble."
Newman and anti-biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin have been tracking this issue for the last decade and were behind a rather creative assault on both interspecies mixing and the government's policy of patenting individual human genes and other living matter.
Years ago, the two applied for a patent for what they called a "humanzee," a hypothetical — but very possible — creation that was half human and chimp.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office finally denied their application this year, ruling that the proposed invention was too human: Constitutional prohibitions against slavery prevents the patenting of people.
Newman and Rifkin were delighted, since they never intended to create the creature and instead wanted to use their application to protest what they see as science and commerce turning people into commodities.
And that's a point, Newman warns, that stem scientists are edging closer to every day: "Once you are on the slope, you tend to move down it."
Friday, April 29, 2005
29/04/05 - Showbiz! section
Beckham: How I stay gorgeous
By Andre Paine, Evening Standard
David Beckham has revealed details of his beauty regime - including moisturising, eye cream and manicures.
The Real Madrid star came clean after being voted the world's Most Beautiful Sports Icon by America's People magazine.
He admitted to taking tips from wife Victoria, who is equally obsessed with looking good.
Beckham, 30 next month, said: "I've learned a lot. Being out in the cold and rain doesn't help your skin, so moisturiser in the morning is a big thing.
"And at night it's the eye cream. A manicure is probably my favourite pampering splurge."
Beckham is the only British sports star in the annual 50 Most Beautiful People poll.
He also denies his wife's infamous suggestion that he wears her G-strings.
"I wouldn't get them past my knees," he said.
Last year, Victoria Beckham revealed she smothers beauty creams on her husband at bedtime.
She said: "David is very much a new man, totally in touch with his feminine side. He loves having his face and nails done."
He also plucks his eyebrows and has spray-on tans, and famously wore pink nail polish at the christening of Elizabeth Hurley's son Damian.
Beckham is said to favour La Prairie eye cream, which costs more than £50 for 15ml.
The footballer also regularly changes his hairstyle and says his biggest regret was when a dye temporarily left it black.
The England captain also boasts that his wife says his best feature is his bottom. "She likes it because it's firm," he said.
However, Beckham told the magazine he doesn't like the look of his feet.
Legal proceedings launched by the Beckhams against their former nanny for breach of confidence are set to reach the High Court today.
The couple decided to take action following claims by Abbie Gibson in a newspaper that their six-year marriage was on the rocks. She is said to have received an estimated £300,000 for the story.
Griffin, whose book, "The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11," came out a year ago, drew an enthusiastic standing ovation from the majority of the 400 or so people who packed his lecture Monday night at Bascom Hall.
A retired Christian theologian, Griffin, 65, taught for more than 30 years at the Claremont School of Theology in California.
His comments Monday night were directed at religious people, who he said need to respond to Sept. 11 - and the American empire that has ensued - based on the moral principles of their religious traditions.
Drawing laughter from the crowd, Griffin said he had in mind principles like: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors' oil" and "Thou shalt not murder thy neighbors in order to steal their oil."
While Griffin noted that his books and talks have not received attention from the mainstream media, C-SPAN had a cameraman at the event and plans to air the lecture at a future date. Madison's public access cable television station, WYOU-TV/Channel 4, meanwhile, will air the talk at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Americans interpret the events of Sept. 11 in one of four ways, Griffin said:
• A first group accepts the official interpretation that Sept. 11 was a surprise attack by Islamic terrorists. It is easy for these people "to think of America's so-called War on Terror as a just war," Griffin said.
• A second group accepts the official line but thinks Sept. 11 has been used opportunistically by the Bush administration to extend the American empire. People who hold this view often believe that America's response to Sept. 11, which has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, is far worse than the attacks themselves, he said.
• A third group believes the Bush administration knew the attacks were coming and let them happen. It shows the government as "deliberate and cold-blooded," advancing its imperial designs while hypocritically portraying itself as promoting a "culture of life," Griffin said.
Although there has been no national survey, a Zogby poll taken last year indicated that almost half of the residents of New York City share this view, he said.
• A fourth group believes that the government orchestrated the attacks. While no poll shows how many Americans believe this, polls in Canada and Germany have found as many as 20 percent of those populations do, Griffin said.
In his follow-up book, "The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions," Griffin examines the questions that he and others in the "9/11 Truth Movement" charge were never examined by the federal government's 9/11 Commission.
Evidence to support the theory that U.S. officials had at least had some foreknowledge of the attacks comes from David Schippers, the chief prosecutor for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, who reportedly received warnings from FBI agents about the attacks six weeks earlier, Griffin said.
Other government officials, including Attorney General John Ashcroft, would not respond to the warnings, he added.
There was the extraordinarily high volume of "put options" purchased in the three days before the attacks, Griffin said, with investors betting that stock in United and American Airlines - the two airlines used in the attacks - would go down. There were also a suspiciously high number of put options for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, which occupied 22 stories of the World Trade Center.
"U.S. intelligence agencies monitor the market, partly to look for signs of impending attacks," Griffin said. "One wonders how information could be much more specific than this."
Griffin then made a case that government officials planned and executed the attacks.
For one, the United States military neglected to send fighter jets to intercept the hijacked planes. Such interceptions usually occur within 10 to 20 minutes after the first signs of trouble and are routine, happening about 100 times a year, Griffin said.
It seems implausible, he said, that the Pentagon was struck by Flight 77, since it is "surely the best defended building on the planet." The U.S. military has the best radar systems in the world and "does not miss anything occurring in North American airspace," he added.
Griffin also made a case that the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings was brought on by thousands of explosives placed throughout each of the buildings. They went straight down, at free-fall speed, as in controlled demolitions, and many people in the buildings reported that they heard or felt explosions, he added.
"High-rise steel-frame buildings have never - before or after 9/11- been caused to collapse by fire," he said.
Sue Adams, 50, introduced herself to Griffin after the talk, calling him heroic. "I think some day we may really know the truth," she said, adding that it will likely be after the Bush administration is gone.
Orion Litzau, a UW freshman studying engineering, agrees that the answers the government put out through the 9/11 Commission were more than a simple deception.
"They were not only partly false but a complete, bold face lie," he said. "David Ray Griffin brings out interesting points about what could be the true story behind the 9/11 attack."
Jim Goulding, 67, who teaches religious studies at Edgewood College, admitted at first he wondered whether Griffin was a crackpot, but instead found he had a "tremendous reputation as a theologian."
Goulding has read both of Griffin's Sept. 11 books.
"I think he makes a convincing case - well documented, well footnoted," he said.
Methodist Panel Reverses Action Against Lesbian Minister
By Foster Klug
The Associated Press
Friday, April 29, 2005; 12:07 PM
A lesbian minister has won her appeal of an earlier United Methodist Church decision that removed her from the ministry after she revealed her relationship with another woman.
The panel voted 8 to 1 that the earlier verdict defrocking Irene "Beth" Stroud for violating the church's ban on openly gay clergy be set aside.
The Philadelphia minister said she feels relieved by the ruling and hopes that it means the church will become more inclusive to people regardless of their sexual orientation.
After Stroud made her declaration to her congregation two years ago, the church defrocked her, meaning that she could no longer serve communion or baptize anyone. She kept the title of associate minister and worked in a lay capacity at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia.
"The church is not free to disregard the standards of justice and inclusiveness that are preached by Jesus Christ ... and are a part of church law," Stroud said after church authorities read the verdict at a hotel near the Baltimore-Washington International Airport."The ruling gives us hope that the United Methodist Church has the resources to do justice," Stroud said.
April 29, 2005
ASHINGTON, April 28 - The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Thursday that American intelligence agencies believed North Korea had mastered the technology for arming its missiles with nuclear warheads, an assessment that if correct, means the North could build weapons to threaten Japan and perhaps the western United States.
While Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, the Defense Intelligence Agency chief, said in Senate testimony that North Korea had been judged to have the "capability" to put a nuclear weapon atop its missiles, he stopped well short of saying it had done so, or even that it had assembled warheads small enough for the purpose. Nor did he give evidence to back up his view during the public session of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Still, his assessment of North Korea's progress exceeded what officials have publicly declared before.
When asked by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York during a hearing on Thursday whether "North Korea has the ability to arm a missile with a nuclear device," Admiral Jacoby responded, "The assessment is that they have the capability to do that, yes ma'am."
At a White House news conference on Thursday, President Bush said that given the uncertainties, he was worried about the progress North Korea had made on its nuclear program under its leader, Kim Jong Il. "There is concern about his capacity to deliver," he said. "We don't know if he can or not, but I think it's best when dealing with a tyrant like Kim Jong Il to assume that he can."
In 2003, the United States warned South Korea and Japan that satellite imagery had identified an advanced nuclear testing site in a remote corner of North Korea where equipment had been set up to test conventional explosives that could compress a plutonium core and set off a compact nuclear explosion.
Since then, American investigators have been pressing Pakistan for details about the kind of technology North Korea might have been given, perhaps in conjunction with visits to Pakistani nuclear sites. North Korea supplied Pakistan with many missiles it for its nuclear arsenal.
Building a nuclear warhead that can be delivered by a missile requires the technical sophistication to make it small and light. North Korea has never conducted a test that would prove it could manufacture a warhead, though in recent days anxiety has risen in Washington and among North Korea's Asian neighbors that the country could conduct a test in an effort to force the world to deal with it as a nuclear state.
To field a working nuclear missile, North Korea would also have to conduct new tests of its missiles themselves and of their payloads, including such complex components as heat shields for re-entry of the warhead. North Korea's last significant missile test, in 1998, overshot Japan and would not have been able to reach United States territory.
North Korea is considered one of the most opaque intelligence targets for American analysts, and the absence of reliable human spies has made it more difficult to understand the progress of its program.
Admiral Jacoby said North Korea's ability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States remained "a theoretical capability" because its Taepo Dong 2 missile had not been flight tested. But he added that American intelligence agencies judged that a two-stage Taepo Dong could strike parts of the American West Coast and that a three-stage variant could probably reach all of North America.
In an interview on Thursday, Mrs. Clinton called Admiral Jacoby's statement "the first confirmation, publicly, by the administration that the North Koreans have the ability to arm a missile with a nuclear device that can reach the United States," adding, "Put simply, they couldn't do that when George Bush became president, and now they can."
At his news conference, Mr. Bush defended his decision to pursue the talks in an effort to stop North Korea's nuclear program and noted that the United States was exploring options including taking the issue to the United Nations Security Council, if the North did not return to the talks.
"It's better to have more than one voice sending the same message to Kim Jong Il. It's the best way to deal with this issue diplomatically," he said. "We'll continue to do so."
In a statement, a Defense Intelligence Agency spokesman, Donald Black, said Admiral Jacoby "was reiterating" testimony he gave last month before the committee, in which he said the Taepo Dong 2 intercontinental ballistic missile "may be ready for testing," adding, "This missile could deliver a nuclear warhead to parts of the United States." He did not say then that the North Koreans were able to make a warhead that the missile could hurl such a distance.
Analysts with experience in Asia said the importance of Admiral Jacoby's conclusion was striking.
"This has to constrain the president's ability to deal with the North Korean nuclear problem," said Jonathan Pollack, a professor of Asian and Pacific Studies at the Naval War College who has written extensively on the North's program. "If you believe that Japanese territory is potentially at risk to a North Korean nuclear-armed missile, it has to change the calculation."
If Mr. Bush accepts that judgment, it could significantly complicate choices he must make in the next several months. North Korea declared publicly for the first time in February that it had nuclear weapons. This month, American spy satellites detected that the North had shut down its nuclear power plant at Yongbyon and could be preparing to reprocess its spent fuel, a move that could result in the production of enough plutonium to build up to three more nuclear bombs.
Admiral Jacoby said American intelligence agencies had increased their assessment of the current North Korean arsenal's size, but he gave no numbers. Other government officials have estimated that North Korea's arsenal has increased by six weapons' worth of plutonium since the North threw international inspectors out of the country in early 2003, and began turning a stockpile of 8,000 spent fuel rods into plutonium.
The six-nation talks have been stalled since last June. China has played host to three inconclusive rounds of the negotiations, which involved the United States, North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.
John Pike, a defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, said American estimates of the range of the Taepo Dong 2 and other North Korean missiles had nearly doubled in recent years. The increases, he said, may reflect American intelligence agencies' improving understanding of the help the North Korea has received from Pakistan.
James A. Haught
The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 25, Number 2.
Bizarrely, the 2004 U.S. presidential election was decided by voters who oppose the theory of evolution or await the Rapture or speak in the “unknown tongue” or seek faith-healing or send money to television preachers or think Satan is a real spirit stalking America.
White evangelicals and fundamentalists—mostly puritanical people who hate homosexuality, abortion, stem-cell research, Hollywood, etc. and who tend to favor guns and the death penalty— tipped the ballot balance to their hero, President Bush. The “three Gs”—God, guns, and gays—were a crucial factor in the squeaker election. Exit polls credited born-again voters who ranked “moral values” as their chief concern, more important than the Iraq war, job losses, or other issues.
“There are roughly 70 million people in America who do not believe in evolution, and those are Bush supporters,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh said just before the election when asked to explain the president’s mammoth backing. Other estimates of what has been called the Bigoted Christian Redneck realm range as high as 100 million, counting narrow-minded members of mainline churches. This segment of the U.S. population isn’t monolithic, either denominationally or politically. Nonetheless, it’s a mighty force in the electorate.
How did the Religious Right rise to power? It’s a long story, involving America’s amazing moral change over the past half-century. Ponder this social history:
Back in the 1950s, when I was young, moral values were oppressive: You could be jailed for looking at the equivalent of today’s R-rated movies or Playboy magazine; gays were sent to prison for “sodomy”; it was a crime to buy a cocktail or a lottery ticket in most states; blacks were forbidden to enter white schools, restaurants, hotels, theaters, pools, etc.; it was a crime for interracial couples to marry; Jews were banned from some clubs; birth control was still a crime in some states; “blue laws” made it illegal for stores to open on Sunday; divorce or unwed pregnancy were hush-hush; police might jail an unmarried couple for sharing a bedroom; a doctor who performed an abortion faced prison; schoolchildren were led in government-mandated prayers every morning; etc.
Of course, there was “sin” in the 1950s. Bootleggers furtively supplied illegal booze, pornography circulated illicitly, some unwed couples hid away, and so forth. But it was generally an era of narrow taboos.
Then came the historic Civil Rights movement and the youth rebellion, mostly in the 1960s, America’s liberal heyday. Young protesters fought the Vietnam draft, blacks marched for equality, courts struck down censorship, and human rights laws were passed. The sexual revolution snowballed. Bigotry became unlawful. Despite the adolescent excesses of the 1960s, it was a time of moral improvement, in my view. Many old prejudices were swept aside.
Then a backlash occurred in the 1970s and 80s. Fundamentalists, who previously had seemed a mere fringe group, began mobilizing against the wave of “wickedness” that had arrived. The historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 1962 and 1963 against government-led school prayer, plus the 1973 opinion legalizing a woman’s right to choose abortion, along with the easing of social stigmas against gays and the like, all convinced them that Satan was gaining control of America.
Evangelist Jerry Falwell coalesced this group by forming the Moral Majority.
He demanded restoration of school prayer, crackdowns on porn, recriminalization of abortion, and the ostracism of gays. This group yearned for a return to the “moral” 1950s—seemingly unaware that it had been a time of harsh prejudice. It was more proof of the age-old axiom that the most intolerant people in any society are religious hard-liners.
Although fundamentalists are mostly blue-collar folks and previously had tended to be Democrats, they began finding an ally in the Republican Party. In 1980, they were instrumental in electing Ronald Reagan president. When the Moral Majority faded, it was replaced by evangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, again solidly Republican.
Gradually, white evangelicals and fundamentalists became a wing of the GOP—anchoring the “base” that strategist Karl Rove milks for votes. The group is especially devoted to George W. Bush because he underwent an emotional conversion after years of heavy drinking, which makes him their hero, “one of us.” Conservative Catholics joined this base.
Meanwhile, liberal mainline Protestant churches—which advocate somewhat more tolerant and humane values—have shrunk in America, losing millions of members. The national tide has flowed toward fundamentalism and narrow morality.
Today, some in the latter camp even say born-again President Jimmy Carter isn’t a real Christian because he doesn’t embrace the Religious Right’s political agenda. He quit the Southern Baptist Church in protest of its hidebound outlook. Oddly, Carter’s piety would have galled many U.S. voters around 1970, but by 1976 the evangelical upsurge buoyed him. Yet now he’s reviled by the same group. A cycle has been completed.
So, today, born-again whites are a potent political element in the United States. Over the past decade, many researchers have found that Americans who attend church more than once a week are the most ardent Republican voters—while those who don’t worship generally vote Democratic. This gives the GOP a huge power base, because America is more religious than other advanced nations.
Is this lineup permanent? I hope not. Although the future is unforeseeable, thinking people should hope that America gradually will follow Europe, Australia, and other societies where churchgoing has faded. U.S. secularism is rising. In 1993, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that only 9 percent of U.S. respondents said they have no religion, but this group rose to 14 percent by 2002. During the same period, the ratio of Americans identifying themselves as Protestants fell from 63 to 52 percent.
Two 2004 reports—by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Institute for Jewish and Community Research—both raise the “none” group to 16 percent of the U.S. population. This trend toward rationality, away from supernaturalism, someday may weaken the Religious Right.
Right now, however, America must endure a political powerhouse of mean-spirited believers who can sway elections. For the good of the nation, let’s hope that 2004 was the nadir and that an upward path lies ahead.
James A. Haught is the editor of the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia.
Schwarzenegger says group's patrols against illegal immigrants have been effective. One critic calls remarks 'nothing short of base racism.'By Peter Nicholas and Robert Salladay
Times Staff Writers
April 29, 2005
SACRAMENTO — Calling the nation's borders dangerously porous, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday praised the private "Minuteman" campaign that uses armed volunteers to stop illegal immigrants from crossing into the U.S.
Schwarzenegger said in a radio interview that the federal government is failing to secure the border with Mexico, and he cast the hundreds of private citizens who have been patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border since April 1 as a popular response to government inaction.
"I think they've done a terrific job," Schwarzenegger said of the "Minuteman" volunteers, who plan to expand to California in June. "They've cut down the crossing of illegal immigrants a huge percentage. So it just shows that it works when you go and make an effort and when you work hard. It's a doable thing."
The governor added that, "It's just that our federal government is not doing their job. It's a shame that the private citizen has to go in there and start patrolling our borders."
President Bush has denounced the Minuteman volunteers as vigilantes.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) expressed surprise that Schwarzenegger would be "praising efforts by untrained volunteers to patrol the borders. The best course … would be to add an additional 2,000 border patrol agents."
The leader of a Mexican American group called the governor's comments "shameful" and "nothing short of base racism."
"I think we're seeing the real Arnold Schwarzenegger. The mask has now fallen," said Nativo V. Lopez, state national president of the Mexican American Political Assn. "Those of immigrant stock should have no illusions about what his real sentiments and feelings are toward them."
Just last week, Schwarzenegger and his aides sought to clarify his statement to a convention of newspaper publishers that the nation should "close the borders." Before his speech was over, an aide told reporters that Schwarzenegger had meant to say that the U.S. should secure its borders — not shut them down.
Schwarzenegger has frequently sought advice from former Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican who used the issue of illegal immigration to fuel his reelection campaign in 1994. Schwarzenegger also has hired several former Wilson staff members, including his chief of staff, Pat Clarey.
An organizer of what is being called the "Minuteman Project," Chris Simcox, said he welcomed Schwarzenegger's endorsement.
"It's gratifying to see that elected officials are responding to the will of the people," Simcox said in an interview Thursday.
He said there are about 15,000 volunteers who have committed to patrolling the border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The group is also incorporating, assembling a staff and opening a national fundraising campaign, Simcox said. He added that he planned to call Schwarzenegger.
Volunteers may carry firearms if they choose, he said, but they obey all local laws. Their practice is not to apprehend people but to report instances of illegal crossings, he said.
"We don't involve ourselves in taking the law into our own hands," he said.
Margita Thompson, the governor's press secretary, said: "At this point, the governor does not oppose" the group coming to California.
As far as the charge of racism against the governor, she said: "It's not racist to ask the federal government to enforce its laws. Everyone should be united in wanting to protect our national security."
In his interview with KFI-AM (640), the governor said he was deeply troubled by illegal crossings and what he described as an inadequate federal effort to tighten borders. He said he was especially disturbed by footage he had seen recently on Fox News showing "hundreds and hundreds of illegal immigrants coming across the border."
Schwarzenegger said the nation is sending the wrong signal by making water available to migrants as a convenience.
Humanitarian and religious groups, such as Humane Borders and No More Deaths, provide water for immigrants crossing the border. Federal wildlife officials have provided water stations in the desert for animals but have been criticized for not providing enough for people.
Said Schwarzenegger, "What we're doing basically is, by not really securing the borders, we're saying: 'Look, here are the various water stations. Here are the places where you can cross the borders. Here is where we're going to help you.' The whole system is set up to really invite people to come in here illegally, and that has to stop."
Enrique Morones, president of the Border Angels, an immigrant rights group, responded to the governor's comments. "I assure you, nobody is coming here for the water, and the stations we have set up by various organizations is a humanitarian effort.
"We don't respond to Arnold Schwarzenegger; we respond to a higher authority. We're a nonpolitical, humanitarian organization."
Asked by the hosts of the "John and Ken Show" why Bush called the volunteers vigilantes, Schwarzenegger said: "I really cannot tell you exactly what his thinking is. I'm sure he's trying to solve the problem as well as anyone can. And he maybe has more information than you and I have. Why he has a policy about the border the way he has, I don't know. I've not had that conversation with him.
"But the next time I see him, I will have that conversation."
Schwarzenegger's opponents in the Legislature voiced outrage at the governor's comments.
Aides to Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) said he was furious and promptly called Schwarzenegger to complain.
Assemblyman Hector De La Torre, a Democrat from South Gate, blasted the governor's comments as "scapegoating and immigrant bashing."
"To support vigilantism is completely against the oath he took" to uphold the law, De La Torre said. "It goes way beyond normal law enforcement, normal border patrol jurisdiction. It's just off the charts. For him to say this puts him to the right of President Bush. This is completely out of the mainstream in California."
In the same radio interview, the governor also asked a Spanish-language Los Angeles television station, KRCA-TV Channel 62, to remove a billboard it erected with the words "Los Angeles, Mexico." The governor said such sentiments — implying that Los Angeles was now part of Mexico — would encourage illegal immigration.
Some conservatives welcomed Schwarzenegger's comments.
"Obviously, we are very happy the governor is beginning to side more and more with those of us who have been taking the problems with illegal aliens seriously," said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, a volunteer group. "The governor gets that illegal aliens are a problem facing California."
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
by URI DOWBENKO
The Bush White House gay sex scandal heats up, as new revelations show that fake reporter and male prostitute Jeff Gannon "slept over" on numerous occasions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Gannon had previously advertised his services on the internet as a male prostitute "top" at $1200 per weekend.
White House overnight trysts were not uncommon, according to Secret Service logs of Jeff Gannon's White House entries and exits, requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) using the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).
Since "Jeff Gannon" has given the term "media whore" a whole new definition, the question arises -- could "Jeff Gannon" be President George Bush's Lewinsky albeit in gay apparel?
White House logs furnished by the Secret Service show that fake reporter Jeff Gannon (a.k.a James Guckert) stayed overnight at the White House on many occasions - even when press conferences or briefings were not scheduled.
These records reveal that the White House is like a Gay Roach Motel -- they check in but they don't check out.
By E&P Staff
Published: April 26, 2005 11:45 AM ET
NEW YORK Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Gallup Organization reported this morning.
"This is the highest percentage that Gallup has found on this measure since the question was first asked in late May 2003," the pollsters observed. "At that time, 31% said the administration deliberately misled Americans. This sentiment has gradually increased over time, to 39% in July 2003, 43% in January/February 2004, and 47% in October 2004."
Also, according to the latest poll, more than half of Americans, 54%, disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while 43% approve. In early February, Americans were more evenly divided on the way Bush was handling the situation in Iraq, with 50% approving and 48% disapproving.
Last week Gallup reported that 53% now believe that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was "not worth it." But Frank Newport, editor in chief at Gallup, recalled today that although a majority of the public began to think the Vietnam war was a mistake in the summer of 1968, the United States did not pull out of Vietnam for more than five years, after thousands of more American lives were lost.
By Steve Weissman
t r u t h o u t | Investigation
Part III: A Deadly Culture of Life
Tuesday 26 April 2005
"Our goal is a Christian Nation.... We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want Pluralism. We want theocracy. Theocracy means God rules. I've got a hot flash. God rules."
-- Randall Terry, Head of Operation Rescue, speaking in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on April 15, 1993, as reported the following day in The News-Sentinel.
Randall Terry claims he has mellowed, as most of us do with age. But, along with many of his fellow evangelicals, he remains aggressively committed to his goal of turning America into "a Christian nation."
Appearing almost nightly last month on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC as the spokesman for the parents of the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, the charismatic militant urged Florida’s Governor Jeb Bush to violate a court order and reinsert the feeding tube that had kept the poor woman in what her husband and doctors called "a persistent vegetative state" for nearly 15 years.
"If Gov. Bush wants to be the man that his brother is, he needs to step up to the plate like President Bush did when the United Nations told him not to go into Iraq," Randall Terry proclaimed. "Be a man. Put politics aside."
If the Brothers Bush and other Republican politicians did not do as he said, the 46 year-old Terry threatened political retribution:
I promise you, if she dies, there's going to be hell to pay with pro-life, pro-family, Republican people of various legislative levels, both statewide and federally, who have used pro-life, pro-family, conservative rhetoric to get into power, and then when they have the power, they refuse to use it.
Feeling the heat from his right-wing base, President Bush publicly urged the courts to show "a presumption in favor of life." Pope John Paul II had proclaimed a "culture of life" years before, and the president took every opportunity to repeat the phrase.
"It should be our goal as a nation," he declared, "to build a culture of life, where all Americans are valued, welcomed, and protected - and that culture of life must extend to individuals with disabilities."
Who could disagree? But what strange "culture of life" enables Mr. Bush to preach compassion as he pursues war? What "culture of life" embraces Randall Terry, who calls Mrs. Schiavo’s husband Michael "a monster" and openly preaches hatred, violence, and death?
A used car salesman and failed rock star, Terry created Operation Rescue in 1987, organizing violent blockades at abortion clinics around the country and openly applauding vandalism, arson, and the murder of doctors and clinic workers.
Terry himself spent five months in prison for sending one of his people to show a fetus to presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992, violating a federal court order. "If a Christian voted for Clinton, he sinned against God," said Terry. "It's that simple."
More mouth than muscle, Terry generally restricted himself to justifying the killing of "abortion doctors" and promising their legal execution.
"When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee," he warned, "because we will find you, we will try you, and we will execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed."
Talking here to an August 1995 banquet of Howard Phillip’s Taxpayers Alliance, Terry announced a new leadership institute that would provide "three days of intense training on vision, courage, biblical ethics, raising up a cadre of people who are militant, who are fierce, who are unmerciful to the deeds of darkness, unmerciful to the ideologies of hell."
With Terry’s view in mind, the Tax Payers Alliance has now become the Constitution Party, which promises "to restore our government to its Constitutional limits and our law to its Biblical foundation." Roy Moore, the "Ten Commandments Judge," is one of the party favorites, and has spoken at their events.
The party also continues to work closely with "the Patriot Movement" and its right-wing militias, including a number of groups that are virulently anti-Semitic, deny the Holocaust, and speak longingly of Der Fuhrer.
Far more troubling, Randall Terry’s vision seems to have also taken over much of the Republican Party, many of whose leading figures now openly pursue the same Christian Nationalism, deny the separation of church and state, and attack "unelected" federal and state judges.
"Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy," proclaimed the GOP’s Tom DeLay, Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives.
"This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today."
Republican Senator John Cornyn, of Texas, went even further, appearing to justify violent attacks against judges.
"We seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news," he said, "and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence."
And now Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader and a leading contender for the GOP presidential bid in 2008, has joined with right-wing evangelicals in a TV extravaganza to portray the Democratic defense of traditional Senate filibuster rules as a radical attack on "People of Faith."
"For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms," declared Tony Perkins, the chief lobbyist for one of the sponsoring groups, the Family Research Council.
"We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith."
When so many Republican leaders and their evangelical allies sound so much like Randall Terry, we can only wonder whether the Grand Old Party will ever again find the voice of reason.
Monday, April 25, 2005
By David Kelly Times Staff WriterWed Apr 20, 7:55 AM ET
DENVER — The Air Force Academy, still recovering from rape and sexual harassment scandals, is facing charges that some Christian cadets have bullied and berated Jews and students of other religious backgrounds.
School officials said Tuesday they had received 55 complaints over the last few months and were requiring students — and eventually all employees — to attend a course on religious tolerance.
"Some complaints had to do with people … saying bad things about persons of other religions or proselytizing in inappropriate places," said academy spokesman Johnny Whitaker. "There have been cases of maliciousness, mean-spiritedness and attacking or baiting someone over religion."
About 90% of the academy's 4,300 cadets identify themselves as Christians; the school's commandant, Brig. Gen. Johnny A. Weida, describes himself as a born-again Christian.
Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate and a lawyer in Albuquerque, said that his son Curtis — a sophomore at the academy — had been called a "filthy Jew."
"When I visited my son, he told me he wanted us to go off base because he had something to tell me," Weinstein said. "He said, 'They are calling me a … Jew and that I am responsible for killing Christ.' My son told me that he was going to hit the next one who called him something."
Weinstein, 50, said he wanted Congress to investigate what he said was a pervasive Christian bias at the academy.
"When I was at the academy, there wasn't this institutional notion that if you didn't accept Christ you would burn eternally in hell," he said. "I want the generals to come out and say, 'Yes, we have a systemic problem and we are working to fix it.' "
Air Force officials said they got an inkling of a problem after reading the results of a student survey last May.
Many cadets expressed concern over religious respect and a lack of tolerance. Then "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's film about the crucifixion, was released. Hundreds of movie posters were pinned up in the academy dining hall advertising the film. Cadets did mass e-mailings urging people to see it.
School leaders denounced the e-mails, saying students should not use government equipment to promote their religion.
At that point, officials began looking into the situation.
"We started getting people coming forward," Whitaker said. "Folks sent e-mails to the chaplain describing events — none of which were reported when they happened. Many of the complaints have been addressed."
Two years ago, the academy's reputation was tarnished by a scandal in which dozens of female cadets said their complaints about sexual assaults had been ignored.
In response to the complaints of religious intolerance, the Colorado Springs, Colo., campus created the RSVP program, which stands for Respecting the Spiritual Values of all People.
The cadets are required to attend a 50-minute class; soon all 9,000 employees of the academy will have to take part.
"A lot of this is just insensitivity or ignorance," Whitaker said. "These are people who are going into a very diverse Air Force, where they will have to deal with people of all faiths."
Weinstein called the RSVP program window dressing for a more serious problem.
"It's Jim Crow, it's lipstick on a pig, it's eye candy," he said. "I love the academy, but they are lying when they say this isn't a systemic problem. Do you know how much courage it takes for these kids to come forward?"
The academy is about 60% Protestant and 30% Catholic. Included in the number of Christian cadets are 120 Mormons. There are 44 Jews and a handful of Hindus and Buddhists at the academy, officials said.
Colorado Springs is home to more than 100 evangelical Christian organizations, including Focus on the Family, the International Bible Society and New Life Church, whose pastor, Ted Haggard, heads the National Assn. of Evangelicals.
Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family, denounced any acts of bigotry but said it was Christians who were facing discrimination.
"If 90% of cadets identify themselves as Christian, it is common sense that Christianity will be in evidence on the campus," he said. "Christianity is deeply felt and very important to people … and to suggest that it should be bottled up is nonsense. I think a witch hunt is underway to root out Christian beliefs. To root out what is pervasive in 90% of the group is ridiculous."
Pundits trying to understand last week's much-discussed "moral values" vote should go back and read (or re-read) Russell Shorto's New York Times Magazine cover story from October 31. While Ron Suskind's article the week before grabbed the headlines, Shorto provided the more illuminating picture of how evangelical Christianity seeks to influence virtually every aspect of American life. Even the workplace--long a bastion of secularism--has now become a target.
Shorto profiles the Riverview Community Bank in Ostego, Minn--a suburb of Minneapolis--where mortgage lender Chuck Ripka speaks to Jesus on a first name basis and "saves" souls in the parking lot, while teller Gloria Oshima prays with customers in the drive-through window. Riverview--whose deposits have jumped from $5 million to $75 million in just 18 months--is one of 900 self-described "workplace ministries" across the country.
"God has begun an evangelism movement in the workplace that has the potential to transform our society as we know it," says preacher Franklin Graham (Billy's son), who delivered the invocation at President Bush's inauguration.
The intersection between money and religion is nothing new. Just ask former televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. But the growing "faith@work" movement is quickly becoming an integral part of a larger social contract peddled by conservative Christian groups such as Billy Graham's Evangelical Association and The Promise Keepers. It's an agenda that's gained ground since the cultural backlash of the early 1990s and grew in popularity after the tragedy of September 11. The Christian Management Association was established in 1976 with only a handful of members. Today it represents over 3,500 CEOs and businessmen.
Proselytizing now occurs in government agencies like the Center for Disease Control and large corporations such as Intel, Coca-Cola and Sears. The laws governing the separation of church and corporation remain murky. Proselytizing is legal. But creating a hostile work environment or using religion as a basis for hiring or preferential treatment is forbidden.
Though the law is unclear, the troubling consequences are not. Religious-discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased by 84 percent since 1992 and 30 percent since 2000. "Protecting religion and religious expression is one hallmark of American society," Shorto writes. "Another is protecting minorities. And there is probably no more insidious form of bullying than religion."
America already has a president who ignores facts and expertise by appealing to a "higher father" in decisions of war and peace. We don't need Jesus to chair the board as well.
BABY GAP: Despite her husband's Jewishness, Courtney Cox dunked her baby into Alabama Baptismal waters
- While exiting the funeral of Pope John Paul II, a reporter managed to get Bush to lean over a railing and respond to a question:
- "Why did you think of Pope John Paul II?" the reported asked.
- "I liked him. He was a good man. A Christian man. I liked him..."
- Rapidly, the reporter shot back, "How did you feel about his opposition to the war in Iraq?"
- Without hesitation, Bush replied with a shrug, "He was a man of peace. A man of God. He didn't like war." It was all too visible across his face that he had just consigned himself and defined himself by contrast as one who likes war, as one who is not a man of peace and not a man of God.
- A man of war. A man of evil. A lover of war
Clinton backs Blair's Labour Party in British election
Sun Apr 24, 5:34 PM ET
Former US president Bill Clinton rallied in support of Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party, urging British voters to turn out in force for a May 5 general election.
Appearing on a giant screen at a Labour Party meeting in London, the former Democrat leader warned that when a country has "a progressive government in power, our people get a little easily disillusioned."
"They don't like this policy or that policy. They sometimes fall into the trap of thinking it doesn't matter and there are no consequences."
"But if you believe that look at the difference in the US between now and four years ago," he said, in a reference to the election of President George W. Bush, a Republican, in the United States.
Clinton's remarks were made after Blair gave a speech outlining his party's ambition to combat poverty in the developing world.
In the fight against global poverty, Clinton argued that global leadership was key to making a real difference.
"We just need leadership and Tony Blair, (Chancellor of the Exchequer) Gordon Brown and New Labour are providing that leadership," he said.
"I'm just here to say thank you, amen and go get 'em," he concluded.
In reply, Blair paid tribute to Clinton as a "fantastic friend and supporter", before quipping: "Thank heavens Michael Howard is running against me rather than Bill Clinton," referring to the leader of the main opposition Conservative Party.
Answering a question on whether Bush wanted Blair to be triumphant on May 5, White House spokesman Scott McClellan had said earlier this month that the issue would be "decided by the people in the United Kingdom".
"We don't tend to get involved in internal political matters," he said.
"But Prime Minister Blair has been a good friend of the president and a strong ally in the war on terrorism and we appreciate the partnership that we have with Prime Minister Blair and his government."
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