Saturday, August 21, 2004

Viagra's Latest Celebrity Backer: The Devil

Viagra introduces its latest celebrity backer: the devil
By David Usborne in New York

Gone are the days when coyness ruled the marketing of the drug that helps the condition that men find hard to talk about. In a Madison Avenue dream situation, Viagra is facing some stiff competition in a three-way battle for the erectile dysfunction dollar.
For Pfizer, the giant pharmaceuticals firm that gave us the lozenge-shaped pill, prudishness worked while it had a 100 per cent monopoly on the market. At its launch six years ago, Viagra was touted by, among others, Bob Dole, the former Republican senator and presidential candidate, whose second name was never Casanova.
But the ride got tougher for Pfizer a year ago when two competitors appeared on the landscape with their own versions of the drug, Cialis and Levitra. In recent months, Pfizer has watched its market share soften. It has responded with a new advertising agency and a new campaign on television and in print media.
Conceived by the advertising giant McCann Erickson Worldwide, the $100m (£55m) campaign goes under the slogan "Get back to mischief". And thatmischief is the devil's business. Hence, the horns, stylised in the form of the V of Viagra, that sprout from the heads of men who appear in the new commercials.
The first in a new series of television advertisements now airing in the US features a husband shopping with his wife, dutifully standing by as she browses the shoe shelves. Up go the horns when they switch their gaze to the lingerie section. "Remember that guy who used to be called Wild Thing?" an announcer asks. "The guy who wanted to spend the entire honeymoon indoors? Remember the one who couldn't resist a little mischief? Yeah, that guy. He's back." It ends with the sober admonition, "Ask your doctor if Viagra is right for you."
Keeping its previous buttoned-down approach became less viable once the maker of Cialis, Lilly Icos, bought premium time in the Super Bowl broadcast last February with an ad featuring a late-middle aged couple in adjoining hot-tubs touching fingers. The announcer asked, "Will you be ready?"
Critics may counter that the drug makers are still dancing too delicately around the real message of their campaigns: sex is possible for guys with fickle equipment. However, they are also wary of appearing to encourage consumption of their pills for reasons other than erectile dysfunction.
Recent research has shown a huge rise in consumption of Viagra, especially among men aged from 18 to 45. While the numbers using Viagra for straightforward medical reasons has begun to slide, the research shows a 312 per cent jump in sales to men who are using the pill just for fun.
This has given rise to another problem: the growing availability of fake Viagra pills, some of which can pose a risk to those who use it and which are mostly marketed illegally via the internet.Pfizer has recently taken legal action to close down a series of Viagra-touting websites, including one based in Britain.
Meanwhile, McCann Erickson is enjoying the attention its new Viagra ads are generating. Simon Hunter, a senior vice-president for the firm in America, told The New York Times: "What we're trying to dramatise is that a man doesn't have to compromise between the loving relationship he has now and being the 'wild guy' he was in his youth. He doesn't have to swap the self-esteem of maturity for youthful erections."

© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.

Defence Dept. Mishandles Millions of Dollars

Aug. 21, 2004. 07:19 AM
Millions mishandled, military audit finds
Dubious dealings could reach $81M
Transactions with suppliers examined

OTTAWA—An audit of the way the military spends has found problems with up to $81 million in payments it makes each year to suppliers.
The newly released audit, which examined the local budgets of hundreds of National Defence facilities across Canada, found examples of payments made to the wrong supplier, cheques in the wrong amount, missing documentation and financial rule-breaking.
Altogether, a sampling of 521 randomly selected transactions found that 7.4 per cent had serious problems that violated government guidelines.
"The level of non-compliance ... appears significant and exceeds the targets established by some other federal government departments," says the report, dated January this year but only made public this summer.
Projecting the findings to the $1.1 billion spent each year by hundreds of local units, the report said the value of the dubious transactions is between $23 million and $81 million.
"We observed 10 instances where payment was made before goods were received, including two large prepayments — totalling $1.3 million — of utilities at year-end," the auditors noted. "Expediency was often given as the reason for non-compliance. However, the resulting purchases ... did not appear operationally urgent."
At some locations, there were problems with as many as 13 per cent of all payments.
The military's top accountant, Maj.-Gen. Terry Hearn, said the findings are troubling.
"Anything at that level, to be quite frank, is a concern to me," said Hearn, chief financial officer at National Defence.
The department has since devoted more people to inspecting invoices before they're paid, and to auditing them afterward to try to reduce problems, he said.
And over the last four months, thousands of staff involved in accounting services were required to take a rigorous training course to improve their performance, Hearn said.
None of the suspicious transactions cited in the audit have led to police investigations or fraud-related charges, he added.
The audit report called on the department to make better use of the 5,000 Visa and MasterCard credit cards distributed throughout the department to help root out fraud and other problems, with potential savings of $12 million annually.
Charging low-value purchases to the cards helps save the department up to $70 in processing costs connected with using traditional purchase orders and cheques for each purchase.
The credit-card firms also deliver a daily report on suspicious transactions, such as bars, nightclubs and escort services.

Closet Conservatives in Hollywood?


August 21, 2004 -- IS there a growing cadre of closet conservatives in Hollywood?
In an exposé on secret Hollywood Republicans in its upcoming September issue, Details magazine unmasks a host of stealth celebrity conservatives, including Adam Sandler, Freddie Prinze Jr., Jessica Simpson and Shannen Doherty.
According to Details, the Republican National Committee has been quietly circulating a list of GOP-supporting Hollywood celebrities in the hopes of offsetting the Democratic Party's A-list star power, which includes liberal luminaries such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio.
But many on the Left Coast are reluctant to come forward with their conservative convictions. Rather than face Democratic venom at Tinseltown parties, most of the stars on the Republican list have chosen to conceal their political leanings, and some even live in fear of being blacklisted by the leftie powers that be.
Pop princess Mandy Moore, whose name appeared on Details' list, vehemently denied any affiliation to the Republican party via her publicist, who emphatically stated that "Mandy is not, nor has she ever been, a Republican."
In a piece appearing in the same issue, powerful young Sony producer Mike DeLuca comes clean on what it's like being an open Republican in Hollywood, telling horror stories full of screaming environmentalists, vandalized cars, and being looked at like "you've recently been exposed as a serial killer."
DeLuca blasts hypocritical Hollywood liberals: "They scream about the environment before they hop onto their private jets and blow 8,000 pounds of fuel getting to the Hamptons. Maybe the anger stems from the fact that the left is out of power, or maybe it's because creative people are passionate by nature and prefer emotion to facts."

Seeking strength in numbers, some Bel Air conservatives have found solace at the Wednesday Morning Club meetings held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Republican Hollywood players can rub shoulders with like-minded colleagues. But these are still lonely times for most of them.
DeLuca sniffs, "The country may be polarized, but Hollywood is in lockstep behind Babs [Streisand] and Whoopi [Goldberg] and [John] Kerry."

The Banality of Current Evil


The late philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote brilliantly on the causes of totalitarianism, especially as it occurred in Nazi Germany. Perhaps her most memorable phrase—used to describe the way in which Germans became almost immune to human suffering—was the "banality of evil."
That phrase applies equally well today to describe what is happening in America.
To intentionally kill an innocent child who is 80 percent born is not only evil; it is Satanic. The American Medical Association, which is steadfastly in favor of abortion rights, has admitted that partial-birth abortion is never needed to save the life of the mother. Yet thousands of these abortions take place every year in the United States.
The late senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was "pro-choice," but he drew the line at partial-birth abortion: he properly called it infanticide. Ditto for Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City. So why is it that so many other abortion-rights public figures continue to defend a procedure that is so barbaric that it rivals anything done by the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, Idi Amin or Saddam Hussein?
While it is true that most Americans are opposed to partial-birth abortions, it is also true that most give it little attention. One reason for this is media bias: it has been well established that the media elite are almost unanimous in their support for abortion-on-demand. So much so that media insiders like Bernie Goldberg and others have admitted that it is extremely difficult for a pro-life person to get hired in any position of influence in journalism or the broadcast industry. Given this monopoly of thought, it is no wonder why "60 Minutes," or any of the other TV magazine-type shows, will ever do a segment on partial-birth abortion. Wouldn't it be great to learn what the hospitals and clinics do with the "remains"?If that's too gruesome, wouldn't it be great if "Dateline" interviewed the very same doctors who are mentioned on pages 8-9? Or how about ABC's Diane Sawyer? Would she bring that same pained look on her face—you know, the one she flashed when interviewing Mel Gibson—to work when asking the doctors what kind of scissors they like best? Wouldn't it be instructive to learn how these monsters manage to sleep at night?
The banality of evil really shines through when these doctors are asked about the pain that the baby feels. Not only do they not have a clue—they don't want to know. That's because it's not their job. Their job is to deliver a dead baby—and maybe put a cap on the kid's head before slipping him into one of their little coffins.
Their answers are so icily cold as to be scary. These are well-educated men and women who were trained to help the sick. And what they do for a living is to kill the kids. Is it because the money is good? Maybe it is, but surely they could make lots of money treating people's feet. No, what they elect to do tells us something about the way they see the world: they are servants, trained to deliver a service. Just like prostitutes, only the ladies of the night don't have to learn how to use a suction tube.
This may come as a surprise to you: not one nation in the world has more liberal laws governing abortion than the United States. Every European nation—including the sexually liberated Scandinavian countries—has some restrictions on abortion. We have none. We know this because a few decades ago a member of the Catholic League's board of advisors, Mary Ann Glendon, revealed this dirty little secret in a book she did on the subject. The Harvard law professor was herself surprised to learn that the U.S. has the most promiscuous laws on abortion of any nation on the face of the earth.
There are plenty of issues in this election season for voters to consider, and it makes no sense to focus on one to the exclusion of others. But it also makes no sense to treat issues like the environment, housing and the minimum wage as the moral equal of infanticide. Yet that is what many Catholics, including members of the clergy, are urging us to do. It is important that their quest for moral equivalency be resisted.
All of this is very troubling, and not simply because it is immoral to jam a scissors into a little baby's head and then suck out the boy or girl's brain. It is troubling because of what it does to the rest of us. It allows us to retreat—to escape into ourselves. It coarsens us. It promotes the fiction that we can each carve out our own universe, complete with our own morality. In short, such nihilism is deadly in more ways than one.


After President Bush signed a law banning partial-birth abortion last year, Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry sued to have the law overturned. This past spring, several doctors who have performed such abortions testified before judges in various parts of the nation. The following is an excerpt of their remarks.

The Procedure
April 5, 2004:
Excerpts from cross-examination of Dr. Carolyn Westhoff:

Q. And at that point the fetus' body is below the cervix and the neck is in the cervix with the head still in the uterus, right?A. Yes.Q. And it's at that point that you take a scissors and insert it into the woman and place an incision in the base of the fetus' skull, right?A. Yes.Q. Now the contents of the fetus' skull, just like the contents of my skull and your skull is liquid, right?A. That's right.Q. And sometimes after you've made the incision the fetus' brain will drain out on its own, right?A. That's right.Q. Other times you must insert a suction tube to drain the skull, right?A. That's right.Q. And then the skull will collapse immediately after its liquid contents have been removed and the head will pass easily through the dilated cervix, right?A. That's right.
April 2, 2004: Testimony of Dr. Carolyn Westhoff:
Q. Do you tell her [the mother] that you are going to then, ultimately, suck the brain out of the skull?A. In all of our D&E's the head is collapsed or crushed and the brains are definitely out of the skull but those are—Q. Do you tell them that?A. Those are details that would be distressing to my patients and would not—information about that is not directly relevant to their safety.
April 1, 2004: Judge Richard C. Casey and Dr. Timothy Johnson, plaintiff:
Casey asked Johnson if doctors tell a woman that an abortion procedure they might use includes "sucking the brain out of the skull."
"I don't think we would use those terms," Johnson said. "I think we would probably use a term like 'decompression of the skull' or 'reducing the contents of the skull.'"
The judge responded, "Make it nice and palatable so that they wouldn't understand what it's all about?"
"We try to do it in a way that's not offensive or gruesome or overly graphic for patients," Johnson said.
The GoalApril 6, 2004: Excerpts from Government's cross-examination of Dr. Mitchell Creinin:
Q. If the fetus were close to 24 weeks, and you were performing a transvaginal surgical abortion, you would be concerned about delivering the fetus entirely intact because that might result in a live baby that may survive, correct?A. You said I was performing an abortion, so since the objective of an abortion is to not have a live fetus, then that would be correct.Q. In your opinion, if you were performing a surgical abortion at 23 or 24 weeks and the cervix was so dilated that the head could pass through without compression, you would do whatever you needed to do in order to make sure that the live baby was not delivered, wouldn't you?A. Whatever I needed, meaning whatever surgical procedure I needed to do as part of the procedure? Yes. Then, the answer would be: Yes.Q. And one step you would take to avoid delivery of a live baby would be to deliver or hold the fetus' head on the internal side of the cervical os in order to collapse the skull; is that right?A. Yes, because the objective of my procedure is to perform an abortion.Q. And that would ensure you did not deliver a live baby?A. Correct.
How the Baby Reacts
April 5, 2004: Excerpts from direct examination of Dr. Marilynn Fredriksen:
The Court: Do you tell [the woman] whether or not it will hurt the fetus?Fredriksen: The intent of an [abortion is] that the fetus will die during the process of uterine evacuation.The Court: Ma'am, I didn't ask you that. Very simply I asked you whether or not do you tell the mother that one of the ways she may do this is that you will deliver the baby partially and then insert a pair of scissors in the base of the fetus' skull?Fredriksen: I have not done that.The Court: Do you ever tell them that after that is done you are going to suction or suck the brain out of the skull?Fredriksen: I don't use suction.The Court: Then how do you remove the brain from the skull?Fredriksen: I use my finger to disrupt the central nervous system, thereby the skull collapses and I can easily deliver the remainder of the fetus through the cervix.The Court: Do you tell them that you are going to collapse a skull?Fredriksen: No.The Court: The mother?Fredriksen: No.The Court: Do you tell them whether or not that hurts the fetus?Fredriksen: I have never talked to a fetus about whether or not they experience pain.
April 1, 2004: Judge Richard C. Casey, Dr. Timothy Johnson, plaintiff:
"Does the fetus feel pain?" Judge Richard C. Casey asked Johnson, saying he had been told that studies of a type of abortion usually performed in the second trimester had concluded they do.
Johnson said he did not know, adding he knew of no scientific research on the subject.The judge then pressed Johnson on whether he ever thought about fetal pain while he performs the abortion procedure that involves dismemberment. Another doctor a day earlier had testified that a fetus sometimes does not immediately die after limbs are pulled off.
"I guess whenever I…" Johnson began before the judge interrupted."Simple question, doctor. Does it cross your mind?" Casey pressed.Johnson said that it did not.
"Never crossed your mind?" the judge asked again.
"No," Johnson answered.
Proof that the Baby is AliveMarch 29, 2004: Testimony of Dr. Maureen Paul:
Q. And when you begin the evacuation, is the fetus ever alive?A. Yes.Q. How do you know that?A. Because I do many of my procedures especially at 16 weeks under an ultrasound guidance, so I will see a heartbeat.Q. Do you pay attention to that while you are doing the abortion?A. Not particularly. I just notice sometimes.
April 2, 2004: Testimony of Dr. Cassing Hammond:
Q. And you have observed signs of life in the fetus, didn't you?A. That is correct. Q. You have seen spontaneous respiratory activity, right?A. Yes. Q. Heartbeat?A. Yes Q. Spontaneous movements?A. Yes.
The BurialMarch 31, 2004: Dr. Amos Grunebaum:
Grunebaum said doctors used to hide the fetus from women after an abortion before studies in the late 1970s and early 1980s showed that women grieved less after a failed pregnancy if they get to see the fetus.
"It is the same as any baby dying. People want to hold the fetus," he said, adding that he goes so far as to put a cap on the head of the fetus just as he would for a newborn.
April 5, 2004: Excerpts from cross-examination of Dr. Fredrik Broekhuizen:
Q. Doctor, you testified earlier that sometimes parents want an intact fetus for blessing or burial. Have you ever had the parent express that desire where you had compressed the head of the fetus to complete the delivery?A. Yes.Q. Was anything done in those instances, doctor, to improve the appearance of the fetus' head after decompression?A. Yes.Q. What was done?A. The fetus was—just like a newborn—it was dressed and kind of had a little hat placed on it so only the face was visible.Q. You have seen the fetus' leg move before crushing the head, haven't you?A. I have seen that before compressing/decompressing the head.
April 2, 2004: Testimony of Dr. Carolyn Westhoff:
A. Because it is the back of the skull that collapsed, since this is not disfiguring, and the face, for instance, is intact. Several of my patients have wished to hold the fetus after the procedure and have expressed gratitude that they were able to do so…. We have arrangements to permit burial of the fetus if the patients want…. Because the hospital also has small coffins present, both for stillbirths or for fetuses after a termination, and in the case of our D&E patients we actually have little hats available so we could in fact cover the back of the head where the incision had been made.

Villagers Terrorized By Animal Rights Activists

The terror within: a village living in fear of animal rights activists
By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent
21 August 2004

Animal rights extremists have developed a sinister new tactic, targeting an entire village that is home to a family of farmers who breed guinea pigs for medical research.
In what is regarded by the Home Office as the most extreme campaign of intimidation known, activists have attacked and threatened the farmers' neighbours, their golf club and staff at the newsagents. They have also threatened to burn down the pub where family members drink.
A string of other businesses - including a fuel supplier, the local vet, hotel and solicitor - have been warned not to deal with the family. Another target was the glazier called in to repair windows after attacks by extremists.
Members of the Hall family, who run farms near Newborough, Staffordshire, have faced harassment and threats for four years. Police protection has cost £500,000.
After the windows of John Hall's local pub, the Red Lion, were smashed and staff received abusive calls, the brewery banned the Hall family from using it. The village newsagent no longer delivers the family's newspapers after threats, and the greens of the local golf course were dug up after the club refused to bar the Halls.
The full extent of the violence was revealed yesterday on a BBC Radio 4's Face the Facts. One village resident told the programme: "It is pure and simple terrorism. They come in balaclavas. They come in the middle of the night. They bang, they shout, they throw bricks through your windows, bricks through your doors. You don't want to go to bed at night in case they are going to come. You live from day to day in terror."
A 70-year-old woman, who looks after two children of a labourer at the farm received a letter containing two squares of yellow card. She was told to put up them in the youngsters' bedroom windows so they would not be smashed in. She told the programme that after she ignored the letter it proved to be no idle threat. "We were in bed at half past one in the morning and we just heard bangs and when I came down my window was in."
The woman said she received a stream of "ugly letters" that were also sent to neighbours containing death threats and claims she had sexually assaulted a member of the community. "My family have stopped coming to see me because of these people in case they get followed to where they live," she said.
Keith Marklew, who ran the Red Lion, received a demand that the Hall family be barred. When he ignored it, poison-pen letters followed, threatening to burn the building to the ground and to pour acid over customers' cars. Mr Marklew said: "The phone calls ... were horrendous - you would get them 24 hours a day."
The activists hurled bricks through the windows of the Red Lion, sent letters to every house in the village calling for a boycott of the pub and went on to threaten the whole 1,100-pub chain.
The brewery went over the licensee's head and barred the Hall family. Mr Marklew has since left the pub.
The Hall family - father David and sons Chris and John - has bred guinea pigs for more than 30 years, sending them to dozens of customers, including research laboratories. They are accused by campaigners of keeping the animals in appalling conditions in three locations in the villages of Newborough and Newchurch.
Details of the family have been posted on the internet and an organisation called the Animal Avengers reports attacks on Hall employees' property, including acid poured on their cars and slogans daubed on their homes.
A website, called Liberation Now!, says: "The campaign to close this evil animal breeding business has had many successes to date including employees leaving, companies refusing to deal with the Halls, local pubs and shops banning the Halls from their premises."
The local MP, Michael Fabricant, said: 'The irony is that if this particular guinea pig farm is closed, laboratories will import these guinea pigs from France where there are no inspections whatsoever."
The Government pledged last month to end the "animal extremists' reign of terror'' by toughening harassment laws and giving police new powers to arrest activists. A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We're working closely with people like the Hall family and people in the industry. The amendments we're making to the legislation should make a difference."

Federal Probe Urged of Planned Parenthood

Federal probe of Planned Parenthood urged
After racism charge, group wants to investigate if its widespread
Posted: August 21, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004

In the wake of accusations of racism against minority employees of Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, an opponent is urging elected officials to launch an investigation to determine if racial discrimination is widespread at the organizations' facilities nationwide.
"With new allegations officially recorded, it now raises the question of how many other incidents may have occurred but have gone unreported," said Jim Sedlak, executive director of American Life League's STOPP International, a group that monitors Planned Parenthood.
As WorldNetDaily reported, several black and Hispanic male employees of Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, or PPLA, have filed multiple complaints of racism against the organization, charging they were the subject of constant slurs in a hostile, anti-male environment controlled by white women.
The employees made the allegations in sworn affidavits filed with California's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, and Fair Employment and Housing Administration, or FEHA.
Sedlak said this is not the first such claim made against the group.
"Many people have noted the apparent external racism of Planned Parenthood through the years," he said. "Now employees of the organization are documenting what is going on behind closed doors."
The new allegations raise the question of how many other incidents have gone unrecorded, he said.
On Nov. 11, 1998, he noted, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of ruled Lamarilyn Fadeyi, an employee of Planned Parenthood of Lubbock, Texas, had standing to file complaints against the organization for racial discrimination.
Fadeyi was an African-American woman employed by the group for seven years. She alleged Planned Parenthood engaged in various acts of racial discrimination, ranging from discriminatory scheduling and distribution of office resources to the executive director giving her and another black employee an application for membership in the Ku Klux Klan.
Fadeyi filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Commission on Human Rights.
Nationally, Planned Parenthood receives over $250 million in taxpayer money annually, Sedlak said. Last year, Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles received $9.6 million in taxpayer money, half of its total income.
Along with the federal investigation, STOPP also is renewing its call to legislative bodies at the federal, state and local levels to cease all funding of the group and its affiliates.

Friday, August 20, 2004

U.S. Federal Judges Don't Have to Declare Conflicts of Interest

Why should judges not disclose conflicts of interest?
August 10, 2004

Top federal prosecutors, members of Congress and even the president must make their personal finances public every year. But anyone looking for the same information on a federal judge is in for a long wait and big surprise.
Some information, or all of it, can be blacked out under an exception available only to judges. And while requests are being processed, the public waits. In 2002, it took an average 90 days to obtain a judge's disclosure — compared with minutes or a few days for those of other officials.
The whole point of disclosure is to reveal — and, at best, prevent — conflicts of interests. That's why the reports require such data as stock investments, spouse employment, outside income and gifts. When judges selectively choose what information will be hidden from public view, real-life consequences follow, particularly for those who appear before them.
Last year, for example, a New York appeals court ordered a new trial in a 16-year-old case because the presiding judge belatedly disclosed to participants that he owned stock in one of the banks involved. Legal fees in the case already had mounted to $20 million, according to news accounts.
Appeals judges also have ruled in cases involving companies in which they owned stock, according to a 1999 report in The Washington Post. And the Community Rights Counsel, a Washington public-interest law firm, has identified judges who took trips to resorts for which groups interested in litigation paid the bills.
This is just the kind of information a sweeping disclosure law, passed in 1978, was designed to reveal.
Yet soon after the law's passage, judges began building a wall to keep the public out. The first brick was laid when judges began requiring that the name of anyone requesting a report be sent to them. Then, in 1989, Congress dropped a mandate that made reports available in each courthouse. Instead, they were gathered in a single Washington office, to which the public must make requests. The exception that allows judges to edit reports came in 1998.
From 7% to 10% of the nation's more than 2,000 federal judges took advantage of the exemption each year from 1999 through 2002, according to a report last month from Congress' General Accountability Office. In those four years, 592 deletion requests from judges were granted. Each year, 13 to 15 judges got their entire reports blacked out.
Judges maintain that the release of some data could endanger their safety. But judges have failed to point to a single instance in which data from a report led to a security problem. And U.S. attorneys, who face similar dangers as they prosecute criminal cases, file reports with no special exemptions.
It's hard to imagine how listing investments could be dangerous, much less what valid excuse there might be for blacking out an entire report. The public will never know the reasons. Judges don't have to provide one, and the deletions are done behind closed doors by a committee of fellow judges.
The special exception is set to expire next year unless Congress renews it. While disclosing certain data — the address of a vacation home or a spouse's workplace — might be harmful, Congress needs to tighten the rules on what can be shielded and why.
No one is asking federal judges to divulge intimate secrets. Just to follow the spirit of the ethics law, as other public officials do.

The Unreliability of Polls

U.S. Poll Firm in Hot Water in Venezuela
The Associated Press
Thursday 19 August 2004

CARACAS, Venezuela Aug. 19, 2004 — A U.S. firm's exit poll that said President Hugo Chavez would lose a recall referendum has landed in the center of a controversy following his resounding victory.
"Exit Poll Results Show Major Defeat for Chavez," the survey, conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, asserted even as Sunday's voting was still on. But in fact, the opposite was true Chavez ended up trouncing his enemies and capturing 59 percent of the vote.
Any casual observer of the 2000 U.S. presidential elections knows exit polls can at times be unreliable. But the poll has become an issue here because the opposition, which mounted the drive to force the leftist leader from office, insists it shows the results from the vote itself were fraudulent. The opposition also claims electronic voting machines were rigged, but has provided no evidence.
Election officials banned publication or broadcast of any exit polls during the historic vote on whether to oust Chavez, a populist who has sought to help the poor and is reviled by the wealthy, who accuse him of stoking class divisions.
But results of the Penn, Schoen & Berland survey were sent out by fax and e-mail to media outlets and opposition offices more than four hours before polls closed. It predicted just the opposite of what happened, saying 59 percent had voted in favor of recalling Chavez.
Cesar Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States who monitored the referendum, said the poll must have had a tremendous impact on Chavez's opponents, who felt they were about to complete their two-year drive to oust him.
"They were told they had a lead of 20 points and then when the results came, they lost by 20 points," Gaviria said. "It's very difficult to deal with that."
Both Gaviria and former President Jimmy Carter, another election monitor, endorsed the vote, saying the results coincided with their own independent samplings.
Mark Penn, of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, said Wednesday he has limited knowledge of the exit poll. He said his partner, Doug Schoen, "believes there were more problems with the voting than with the exit poll."
Schoen could not immediately be reached, and another employee familiar with the poll declined to comment.
"We have to let the authorities do their investigation of the election," said Marcela Berland, with the firm. "It would be irresponsible to interfere with that."
Critics of the exit poll have questioned how it was conducted because officials have said Penn, Schoen & Berland worked with a U.S.-funded Venezuela group that the Chavez government considers hostile.
Penn, Schoen & Berland had members of Sumate, a Venezuelan group that helped organize the recall initiative, do the fieldwork for the poll, election observers said.
Roberto Abdul, a Sumate official, acknowledged in a telephone interview that the firm "supervised" an exit poll carried out by Sumate. Abdul added that at least five exit polls were completed for the opposition, with all pointing to a Chavez victory.
Abdul said Sumate which has received a $53,400 grant from the National Endowment for Democracy, which in turn receives funds from the U.S. Congress did not use any of those funds to pay for the surveys.
The issue is potentially explosive because even before the referendum, Chavez himself cited Washington's funding of Sumate as evidence that the Bush administration was financing efforts to oust him an allegation U.S. officials deny.
Venezuelan Minister of Communications Jesse Chacon said it was a mistake for Sumate to be involved in the exit poll because it might have skewed the results.
"If you use an activist as a pollster, he will eventually begin to act like an activist," Chacon told The Associated Press.
Chris Sabatini, senior program officer for the National Endowment for Democracy, defended Sumate as "independent and impartial."
"Exit polls are notoriously unreliable," Sabatini said by telephone from Washington. "Just because they're off doesn't mean that the group that conducted them is partial to one side."

AP reporters Juan Pablo Toro in Caracas and Will Lester in Washington contributed to this report.

Movies Getting Raunchier

Ministry cited movie 'ratings creep' years agoChristian organization not surprised by recent findings of Harvard study
Posted: August 20, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Ron Strom
© 2004

A Christian ministry advising parents about the content of popular movies says its not surprised by a Harvard University study finding films within the same rating class are getting raunchier, noting it made the same discovery four years ago.
ChildCare Action Project Movie Ministry indicates the Harvard data echoes its own findings from 2000. The Harvard study, released last month, shows content of movies with specific ratings is getting stronger, meaning a film rated PG-13 today likely would have received an R rating several years ago.
Researchers looked at films released between 1992 and 2003. The study found more sex and violence in later PG movies and more of the same, plus more profanity, in PG-13 movies. It also found R-rated movies contained more profanity and sex.
Today's PG-13 movies, it was found, are inching toward what R-rated movies looked like in 1992.
Even films rated G were found to have more violence, especially in animated features.
The CAP Ministry notes it scrutinized films for eight years using a specific set of standards and mathematical formulae. The group's statistical analysis found PG-13 movies consistently including more objectionable elements as the years went on, leading the researchers to coin the rating "R-13."
"In the first five years the percentage of R-13 movies more than quadrupled (an increase of 459 percent) which says in the year 2000, 450 percent more of the PG-13 audiences were fed R-rated programming than in 1996/7," the Christian research said.
Researchers from both CAP Ministry and Harvard noted the movie rating system used by the Motion Picture Associated of America, or MPAA, is too general.
Said CAP Ministry founder Tom Carder: "The CAP Analysis Model could replace the MPAA. And the CAP Analysis Model provides it objectively, not vulnerable to mood and preference subjectivity so you can be in a better position to have the information you need to make an informed moral decision whether a film is fit for your kids (or yourself)."
Carder touted his film-analysis system, noting it includes "80 prescribed unchanging investigation standards (biblical values/morals)" and "more than 30 mathematical operations to generate comparative and trending values in each of six investigation areas, plus a final score plus an influence density plus frequency of examples per hour in each of six investigation areas."
CAP Ministry's analysis tool includes mathematical statistics based on a film's amount of: wanton violence/crime, impunity/hate, sex/homosexuality, drugs/alcohol, offense to God and murder/suicide. The first letters of each category spell out "wisdom."
Carder hopes the fact his organization beat a large university to the punch will help raise funds needed to continue his work:
"Help us not let the mainstream media and their animosity toward anything Christian bury another little 'David' grass-roots Christian ministry which provides before-the-fact corroboration with a Goliath university," he writes on his website. "Rally all in your circles of influence. Please, please help us distribute this most significant information by forwarding this page in its entirety to all your friends and lists."

Ron Strom is a news editor for

Pope John XXIII Saved Thousands of Jews

Pope John XXIII and the Jews
By Joseph D'Hippolito
August 20, 2004

For almost 60 years, angry controversy has surrounded the Roman Catholic Church’s response to the Holocaust. A recent event that received minimal attention, however, illustrates another side to the story.
On July 10 near Buenos Aires, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation dedicated a kindergarten named for Monsignor Angelo Roncalli. The kindergarten, part of the adjoining Raoul Wallenberg Community Center, serves children of poor families. Among those presiding was Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Relations with the Jews.
Roncalli – who would become Pope John XXIII – played a pivotal role in saving the lives of thousands of Jews while serving as the papal representative to Turkey during World War II.
"Much blood and ink have been spilled in the Jewish tragedy of those years," said Chaim Barlas, who worked closely with Roncalli as head of the Palestine Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee. "But to the few heroic deeds which were performed to rescue Jews belong the activities of the apostolic delegate, Monsignor Roncalli, who worked indefatigably on their behalf."
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation asked the Holocaust Museum of Israel to designate Roncalli as "Righteous Among the Nations," an honor reserved for non-Jews who helped Jews during the Holocaust. Rabbi Simon Moguilevsky, chief rabbi of Buenos Aires, called Roncalli "a man truly created in the image of God."
Roncalli displayed the behavior that earned such praise long before the Holocaust. As the papal representative to Bulgaria from 1925-34, Roncalli worked diligently not only to serve the needs of Bulgaria’s small Catholic community but also to reduce intense suspicion from the overwhelmingly Orthodox majority.
Three examples speak loudly. Nine days before Roncalli arrived in Bulgaria, terrorists tried to assassinate King Boris III by placing a bomb in the dome of Sofia’s main Orthodox cathedral. The explosion sent the dome crashing on the congregants, killing 150 and injuring 300.
Roncalli visited the wounded in a Catholic hospital that offered free care to everyone, regardless of religion. Boris was so impressed that he received Roncalli days later – a significant gesture because Roncalli had no diplomatic standing; his official title was "papal visitor." Boris would prove indispensable to Roncalli 20 years later.
In July 1924, Roncalli visited a town where anti-Catholic sentiment erupted into violence. As Lawrence Elliott wrote in his biography, I Will Be Called John, "he returned glares of hostility with smiles. Then he preached a sermon of such friendship and unqualified good will that afterwards, the Orthodox vice-prefect, a wild-eyed anti-Catholic, came to pay his respects."
In 1928, a series of earthquakes devastated central Bulgaria. Roncalli personally directed the distribution of food and blankets in the ravaged areas and even slept in emergency tents among the homeless, "comforting them with his presence when he had nothing else to offer," Elliott wrote. Roncalli also solicited papal and private funds for a soup kitchen that fed everyone who came for nearly two months.
Six years later, the Vatican sent Roncalli to Istanbul as the apostolic delegate to Turkey and Greece. Though he held no diplomatic standing with Turkey’s secular government, Roncalli developed cordial relationships with diplomats and various officials as the Vatican’s only representative. Those contacts became vital when World War II started and neutral Istanbul became a hive of diplomatic intrigue and espionage.
Roncalli first heard about the plight of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe when he met Jewish refugees fleeing Poland in September 1940 – and helped them reach Palestine, then a British colony.
"We are dealing with one of the great mysteries in the history of humanity," Roncalli wrote about the Holocaust. "Poor children of Israel. Daily I hear their groans around me. They are relatives and fellow countrymen of Jesus. May the Divine Savior come to their aid and enlighten them."
Roncalli even communicated his outrage to the Germans. He rebuked German Ambassador Franz von Papen, a devout Catholic who suggested that the anti-Communist Pope Pius XII demonstrate public support for Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union.
"And what shall I tell the Holy Father," Roncalli replied, "about the thousands of Jews who have died in Germany and Poland at the hands of your countrymen?"
Nevertheless, even von Papen became useful. Roncalli wrote to the Nuremberg tribunal that von Papen – one of the Weimar Republic’s last chancellors who barely escaped death in a 1934 Nazi purge – "gave me the chance to save the lives of 24,000 Jews."
As the persecution increased, Roncalli accelerated his activities. In January 1943, he forwarded Berlas’ request for the Vatican to inquire whether other neutral countries could grant asylum to Jews, to inform the German government that the Palestine Jewish Agency had 5,000 immigration certificates available and to ask Vatican Radio to broadcast that helping Jews was an act of mercy approved by the church.
Though the Vatican declined, Roncalli remained determined. With the help of Bulgaria’s King Boris, a reluctant Axis ally, Roncalli used the Red Cross to save thousands of Slovakian Jews who had been deported to Bulgaria prior to extermination.
In February 1944, Roncalli met twice with Rabbi Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Jerusalem. Herzog asked him to intercede for 55,000 Jews interred in Romania, another Axis ally. Though Roncalli notified Rome, only 750 Jewish refugees – 250 of them orphans – were saved when their ship arrived in Jerusalem.
"The limits on Roncalli’s ability to help Jews were now cruelly apparent," Peter Hebblethwaite wrote in his biography. "There was very little room left for maneuver."
Yet in 1944, Roncalli launched his riskiest gambit.
That summer, Roncalli received Ira Hirschmann, a special envoy from the American War Refugee Board and a Hungarian immigrant. Germany invaded Hungary in March, and Hirschman brought statistics and eyewitness accounts of the resulting anti-Semitic purge.
"Roncalli listened intently as I outlined the desperate plight of Jews in Hungary," Hirschmann later recalled. "Then he pulled his chair up closer and quietly asked, ‘Do you have any contact with people in Hungary who will cooperate?’"
The monsignor had heard reports of Hungarian nuns distributing baptismal certificates to Jews, mostly children. Nazi officials recognized the certificates as legitimate and allowed the bearers to leave Hungary unmolested. Roncalli planned to reinforce and expand the operation – regardless of whether Jews were actually baptized. Hirschmann readily agreed.
"It was clear to me that Roncalli had considered the plan before my arrival," Hirschmann remembered, "and that he had created an atmosphere in which to test my credentials, my discretion and my ability to help put the operation into practical effect."
Roncalli used diplomatic couriers, papal representatives and the Sisters of Our Lady of Zion to transport and issue baptismal certificates, immigration certificates and visas – many of them forged – to Hungarian Jews. A dispatch dated Aug. 16, 1944 from Roncalli to the papal nuncio to Hungary illustrates the intensity of "Operation Baptism":
"Since the ‘Immigration Certificates’ we sent you in May contributed to the saving of the Jews they were intended for, I have accepted from the Jewish Agency in Palestine three more bundles, begging your excellency to pass them on to the person they were intended for, Mr. Miklos Krausz."
Miklos Krausz was Moshe Kraus, Budapest secretary of the Palestine Jewish Agency.
"Operation Baptism" proved so effective that when the Soviets captured Budapest in February 1945, "some 100,000 Jews (200,000 in the whole of Hungary) had been spared," Elliott wrote.
By that time, Roncalli was in his third month as papal nuncio to France, considered the choicest position in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps. In 1952, Pius XII made him a cardinal and the patriarch of Venice. Six years later, Roncalli became Pope John XXIII and reigned until his death in 1963.
John XXIII’s pontificate is best known for the Second Vatican Council, which he initiated to modernize Catholic practices and attitudes. One product of that council was the encyclical Nostra Aetate ("In Our Time"), which stressed Christianity’s Judaic roots and sought to repair centuries of hostility between both faiths. Some excerpts:
"Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues."
"Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures."
"Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone."
Though John XXIII died before the encyclical became public, it expresses theologically the attitude he bravely demonstrated two decades earlier.
"To Roncalli, who referred to the virtual obliteration of European Jewry as six million crucifixions," Elliott wrote, the mission to save Jews from Hitler "was in no way singular but indeed mandatory on anyone who claimed to love God and humanity."

State Suspends Abortionist's Licence

Posted on Thu, Aug. 19, 2004
Mississippi suspends license of doctor who performed abortions
Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi authorities on Thursday suspended the license of Dr. Malachy DeHenre, who has performed abortions at a Jackson clinic.
The action mirrors a license suspension in Alabama, where officials say one of DeHenre's patients died after having an abortion last year.
"We couldn't wait another day to take action," said Dr. W. Joseph Burnett, executive director of the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure. "He won't be practicing in Mississippi."
The state board is scheduled to meet Sept. 16, but Burnett and the board's executive committee agreed to take action Wednesday. An investigator located DeHenre, 53, on Thursday to serve the suspension documents, and the suspension took effect at noon. DeHenre lives in Laurel.
The Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners concluded DeHenre practiced medicine in a way to "endanger the health of patients" and committed "repeated malpractice."
Alabama's board suspended his license as of July 28. He has a Sept. 22 hearing date to respond to the charges.
DeHenre could not immediately be reached.
If Alabama acts to revoke DeHenre's license, Mississippi officials have the authority to mirror that action, Burnett said.
DeHenre, who has the right to appeal the Mississippi suspension, has been performing abortions at the New Woman Medical Center in Jackson for about five years.
Part of the Alabama investigation looked into an abortion he performed at the Jackson clinic on March 20, 2003, in which a woman "began hemorrhaging uncontrollably" and was taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where she received a total hysterectomy, the board found.
Pro-Life Mississippi of Jackson has lodged complaints against the doctor with state agencies since last year.
"Thank goodness it finally happened," said the group's executive director, Pat Cartrette.
Jackson has one other abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization.
In the case against DeHenre in Alabama, a woman at the Summit Medical Center was discharged 20 minutes after having an abortion on Nov. 25, 2003. She sustained an unrecognized uterine perforation during the abortion, the Alabama board said.
Less than six hours later, her husband contacted the medical center and said she had abdominal pain and a low temperature. She died about 18 hours after her discharge.
The woman was identified as Leigh Ann Stephens Alford, 34, of Blount County, Ala., in court papers filed in June by her husband. The court filing is the first stage of a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against Summit Medical Center of Alabama and the doctor and staff that treated her. The suit represents only one side of a legal argument.
This report contributed on-cycle by The Clarion-Ledger.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

CA Hate Crimes Law 'Dangerous' For Christians

California's Hate Crimes Expansion Potentially 'Dangerous' for Christians, Activists Say
Pending Legislation Would Punish Those Who Speak Out Against Homosexuality
By Jody BrownAugust 18, 2004

(AgapePress) - The "thought police" may soon be roaming the corridors of businesses and schools in California, in search of people who have been accused of uttering "hate speech" toward homosexuals. Several Christian activists in the Golden State are concerned that that indeed could be the scenario if Senate Bill 1234 becomes law.
The intent of SB 1234 is to redefine what constitutes a "hate crime" in California. In general, hate crimes laws create different classes of victims, seeking greater punishments for crimes committed against one class of people -- such as homosexuals -- over other victims. Under this legislation, individuals could claim that someone expressing their deeply held beliefs, whether political or religious, presents an "intimidating" threat that is punishable.
A section of the proposed law reads as follows:
Speech alone is not sufficient to support an action brought [under this law] except upon a showing that the speech itself threatens violence against a specific person or group of persons; and the person or group of persons against whom the threat is directed reasonably fears that, because of the speech, violence will be committed against them or their property and that the person threatening violence had the apparent ability to carry out the threat.
Penalties for violating SB 1234 include criminal prosecution and fines of $25,000.
Sponsored by lesbian State Senator Sheila Kuehl, SB 1234 has already been passed by the Senate and could be voted on by the Assembly as soon as today (Wednesday). Opponents of the bill are not optimistic about the Assembly vote and expect the measure to move along to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk for his signature before the end of the month.
Punishing Perceived ThreatsThose critics maintain that crimes against persons should be punishable, but that unlawful conduct -- not attitudes -- should be punished. The Campaign for California Families says Keuhl's legislation, in redefining what constitutes hate crimes, "borders on stifling free speech and infringing upon peaceful, conscientious conduct."
CCF continues, describing the bill as "dangerous to our society" and vulnerable to being applied subjectively and inequitably. "It is wrong to award proponents of certain beliefs unprecedented power to criminalize their opponents' free speech and peaceful conduct," CCF states. "This bill is overly-broad and can injure innocent persons who are expressing political speech, not committing assault or violence of any kind."
Hate crimes law, CCF says, are the first step toward "thought police" because they punish people's points of views instead of focusing on people's conduct.
California pro-family activist James Hartline calls SB 1234 a "frightening rewrite" of current civil rights laws that is masquerading as a protection measure. Christians, he says, should be particularly concerned.
"This bill would censor all Californians from their constitutional right to free speech when articulating what the Bible states regarding the sinful nature of homosexuality," he says, citing several scenarios. He contends the bill would prevent pastors from speaking out against homosexuality from the pulpit and would allow law enforcement to enter a church and arrest a pastor for doing so.
"[And] any person who says they are 'fearful' because someone has said homosexuality is wrong could have the speaker arrested and jailed," Hartline says. "This is the worst bill ever put before the California legislature -- and that's saying a lot. This evil, anti-Christian propaganda must be defeated."
Hartline is calling for a massive e-mail and telephone campaign to Governor Schwarzenegger, urging him to veto the bill when it reaches his desk.
Like CCF and Hartline, the California Family Council agrees SB 1234 is intended to restrict the rights of individuals to speak out against homosexuality. The Riverside-based group describes the measure as a "dangerous" bill because it expands special protections to certain groups of people, and also questions the need for hate-crimes legislation.
The California Family Council asks: "Why are crimes against certain people or classes of people more deserving of stronger punishment than the same crimes committed against persons or classes of persons that do not fit into the designated 'hate-victim' list?" The group wonders if that makes their lives less important -- or if that amounts to legal discrimination.

© 2004 AgapePress all rights reserved.

RFID Chips Will Pay for Burgers

Wave your RFID credit card to get a burger
Technology Enquirer August 19 2004

BURGER OUTLET McDonald's said it will accept payment for its meaty products later this year using radio frequency tech implemented on Mastercards.It will trial the method at some of its fast food joints in the US - in particular in Dallas and the Big Apple - using Mastercard Paypass.
This will let you, according to McDonald's, "wave" your card near a till that uses RF chips to complete payments.
Verifone card tills which can interpret the wave and charge you for your burger and chips will be used to detect your Paypass credit card, said McDonald's.
The idea conjures up a strange vision in the otherwise banal business of buying and stuffing your face with burgers. A whole fast food joint full of hungry and possibly overweight people waving their credit cards at a cash till while smurfing the net, using the awesome power of the Centrino, is an image that verges on the surreal.

Bible Banned From Citizenship Ceremonies

Bibles banned from citizenship ceremonies
Last Updated Thu, 19 Aug 2004 10:43:45 EDT

SASKATOON - Citizenship and Immigration Canada has banned the Canadian Bible Society from giving out Bibles at citizenship ceremonies, saying the practice is not consistent with the federal government's secular nature.
"We find that allowing holy books to be made available at citizenship ceremonies detracts from this message and could be construed as a tacit endorsement of certain religions," the citizenship department told the society in a recent letter.
A department spokesman told the CBC it banned the Bibles because it was getting complaints from new citizens, but couldn't say how many complaints because such things are not tracked statistically.
"I was surprised, and the surprise was due to the fact that this came out of the blue," said the society's Len Bachiu. "We had not been told that this was on the horizon."
The society has been handing out Bibles to new Canadians for 50 years, as well as distributing them to many other groups.
Every year, it gives away thousands of the holy books in dozens of languages.
"We give Hebrew Old Testaments to Hebrew students, Greek New Testaments to Greek students; we provide scriptures to people who receive a home through Habitat for Humanity," Bachiu said.
The Citizenship and Immigration ban on Bibles doesn't sit well with Maurice Vellacott, the Conservative MP for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin.
He had his own run-in with the citizenship department last December, when it asked him not to refer to God while giving a speech at a citizenship ceremony.
He did anyway, citing the fact that God is referred to in the preamble to the Constitution, and plans to fight the Bible decision too.
"I hear some of the whimsy and flimsy excuses they give but I don't buy that," he said.
Not everybody disagrees with the department's decision, however.
Nayyar Javed, who works with the group Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan, says many people come to this country specifically because it is secular.
"People know that it's a multicultural and secular state. It's a great country," she said. "That's the worldwide image Canada has, and so people come thinking that they will be treated as equal citizens and there won't be any religious distinctions one way or the other."

Written by CBC News Online staff

Free Heroin From Government for Vancouver Addicts
Free heroin project wins federal OK
CanWest News Service
Thursday, August 19, 2004

VANCOUVER -- Ottawa has given conditional approval to the dispensing of free heroin to drug addicts in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
The North American Opiate Medication Initiative will recruit 158 local drug-users for the 21-month pilot project, set to begin by the end of the year.
Health Canada said it wants adequate security measures in place for staff and users before full permission is granted.
Initiative spokesman Jim Boothroyd said the clinic to be used for the project will have "extraordinarily high levels of security" because it will have heroin on site.
The project will include the delivery of heroin to the clinic by armoured truck.
In the study, 88 people will receive prescribed heroin; another 70 will get methadone. The first North American study of its kind, it has the blessing of the federal government and Vancouver police.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2004

U.S. Court Allows Some Forced DNA Tests

In Reversal, U.S. Court Allows Some Forced DNA Tests

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The U.S. government can require certain criminals to submit to DNA testing after their release from prison, a divided U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday in a reversal of an opinion it issued last year. In October, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal law requiring people convicted of serious crimes to give blood for an FBI databank was unconstitutional. That 2-1 decision sided with the plaintiffs's argument that such a requirement violated Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures. An expanded panel of 11 judges overturned the opinion in a 6-5 decision on Wednesday. "Compulsory DNA profiling of qualified federal offenders is reasonable under the totality of the circumstances," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, wrote for the majority.
"Therefore, we today realign ourselves with every other state and federal appellate court to have considered these issues -- squarely holding that the DNA Act satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment."
The case stems from a former Navy sailor Thomas Kincade who robbed a bank in 1993 with a gun. After his release from prison in 2000, tests showed cocaine in his urine and a court required him to undergo a drug program.
When his probation officer asked Kincade to submit a DNA blood test, he challenged the constitutionality of the 2000 law requiring certain criminals to provide DNA samples.
"The interests furthered by the federal DNA Act are undeniably compelling," the court ruled. "DNA profiling of qualified federal offenders helps bring closure to countless victims of crime who long have languished in the knowledge that perpetrators remain at large."
"DNA profiling can help to steer conditional releases toward law-abiding lives."
California's Attorney General Bill Lockyer hailed the decision. "California's DNA data bank contains profiles of 245,00 convicted felons," he said in a statement. "These data banks are crucial to match convicted felons to crime scene evidence and solve cases that were before deemed unsolvable."
Five judges dissented, with Judge Stephen Reinhardt calling the decision a "dangerous and drastic" limitation on liberties.
"All Americans will be at risk, sooner rather than later, of having our DNA samples permanently placed on file in federal cyberspace, and perhaps even worse, of being subjected to various other governmental programs providing for suspicionless searches," wrote Reinhardt, an appointee of former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat.
"It is undoubtedly true that were we to maintain DNA files on all persons living in this country we would make the resolution of criminal investigations easier," he wrote.
"The same would be true were we to sacrifice all of our interests in privacy and personal liberty.
"We as judges do not have the authority to sacrifice those constitutional protections."
Monica Knox, a federal public defender in Los Angeles who represents Kincade, said she would seek to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

08/18/2004 20:08 RTR

Canadian Broadcasters Want Fox Kept Out of Canada

CRTC should not reward Fox: CAB 8/16/2004

OTTAWA - The Canadian Association of Broadcasters has told the CRTC that Fox News should not be granted a spot on the eligible satellite list for digital distribution in Canada - and that consideration on adding it and the NFL Network should be delayed anyway.While not directly saying in black and white that it opposes the addition of Fox News, the broadcast group told the Commission in a letter last week that reneging on an earlier deal Fox signed with CanWest Global Communications to launch a category two digital Canadian version of the channel, should be questioned."The CAB is concerned that approval of the current request by the CCTA for the addition of Fox News would create a precedent that encourages non-Canadian broadcasters to forgo partnerships with Canadian broadcasters, in favour of direct market entry by way of inclusion on the lists of eligible satellite services," reads the letter from Wayne Charman, the CAB's senior vice-president, television.As reported by, the Canadian Cable Television Association has sponsored Fox News and NFL Network's addition to the list for digital-only distribution.Back in 2000, the Commission granted CanWest a license for Fox News Canada, however, in a letter to the Commission supporting the CCTA's request, Fox said it no longer wished to launch a Canadianized Fox News.Fox News has emerged as the top-rated all-news channel in the States, with a decidedly shrill, right-wing-focused agenda which has been less than kind to Canada and Canadians on the air, but is nonetheless regularly requested by Canadian viewers from their cable and satellite companies. A recent poll showed that of over 570 voters, over 83% want Fox News legally available in Canada.This isn't the only American news channel on the Commission's plate. As previously reported, the owners of MSNBC Canada (MSNBC, Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications) have asked the CRTC to allow carriage of the regular U.S. MSNBC feed since digi-net MSNBC Canada is not viable going forward. Shaw Communications, holders of a Bloomberg Canada digital license, has also asked for the full American version to be added. The CAB opposes those applications as well.The CCTA maintains that denying Canadians the ability to see Fox News and the others contributes to the illegal satellite market here.But, the broadcasters' association feels Fox News is doing an end-run around the Canadian system. "The CAB maintains that best way of bringing increased choice of foreign programming to the Canadian system is to encourage partnerships between non-Canadian services and Canadian broadcasters, to ensure that such services make the greatest possible contribution to the system," reads its submission."To that end, the CAB submits that the Commission should not reward a non-Canadian programming service that has forgone its joint-venture with a Canadian broadcaster, in favour of pursuing a direct market entry approach in which it would carry no Canadian content and provide no tangible benefits to the system."As for the NFL Network, if it is added, the CAB says it must be subject to conditions of carriage where if the channel ever decided to add live regular season or playoff football games to its slate of lifestyle and entertainment programming (sprinkled with NFL Europe and preseason NFL games), that its carriage in Canada would then be revoked."Moreover," says Charman's letter, "the CAB submits that the NFL Network's commitment not to carry NFL games should be extended to also include any football games originating in Canada (e.g. CFL games), since this would also render the NFL Network competitive with Canadian broadcasters who hold such rights."Additionally, with the CRTC having begun a proceeding to hear the Canadian cable industry's request to sell the two minutes per hour of local ad availability time on American cable channels, decisions on adding these two channels should be put off anyway, says the CAB.Since adding two more U.S. channels would increase the inventory of local avail time, "the CAB submits that is premature to consider the inclusion of non-Canadian services on the lists of eligible satellite services at a time when the policy respecting the use of local availabilities on such services is under review," adds the letter.

Europe, Japan Face Huge Population Declines

Europe, Japan Face Large Population Declines Thanks to "Modernization"
by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 18, 2004

Washington, DC ( -- Japan and many industrialized nations in Europe are facing the potential of significant population declines. But, underdeveloped nations may face huge population booms that will lead some to call for legalizing abortion and bringing birth control to such countries.
While U.N. estimates still project a worldwide population growth rate of 50 percent, scoffed at by some experts, Japan, for example, could see a 20 percent population decline in the coming decades. That's according to new information from the Population Reference Bureau.
The PRB also projects a 17 percent decline for population in Russia and a 9 percent decline in Germany. According to the PRB report, Bulgaria could lose as much as 40 percent of its population.
Aging populations are contributing to the overall decline. In Japan, only 14 percent of its population is under the age of 15.
Martha Farnsworth Riche, the former head of the U.S. Census Bureau, tells the Associated Press that the population decline problems stem from "modernization."
With today's educated workforce and competitive workplace, young adults are thinking more about college and finding a job rather than beginning a family, Riche said.
As more young adults decide to have fewer children and wait until later in life to begin families, and as the prevalence of abortion and birth control reduce the number of babies born, many countries are faced with the challenge of underpopulation.
The underpopulation problem in Europe is already prompting lawmakers to act. Some legislative leaders are putting forward proposals to soften anti-immigration laws while others, such as members of Italy's parliament, are offering various financial incentives for couples to have children.
Despite shrinking populations in Europe, projections that show a worldwide population increase are based on rocketing populations in underdeveloped nations.
The populations of industrialized nations are projected to increase by only 4 percent, while populations of third-world countries are expected to grow 55 percent. Nations in Africa and southeast Asia are expected to see the largest increases.
That leads abortion advocates to demand that industrialized nations help underdeveloped nations -- in party by exporting abortion and birth control to countries where it is illegal.
"World population is going to grow massively in some of the most vulnerable countries in the world. We have to ask how rich countries are going to help," Kirstyen Sherk, of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the London Guardian newspaper.
But others see population increases as a resource, not a problem.
"In fact, the greatest unmet need in many countries is for workers," explains Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute. "Julian Simon was right when he called people, 'the ultimate resource.'"

Planned Parenthood Accused of Racism

Multiple Claims Alleging Racism by Planned Parenthood Filed With Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

To: National Desk
Contact: Richard D. Ackerman of the PRO-FAMILY LAW CENTER
(951) 308-6454

(Los Angeles, CA) Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles is the subject of multiple complaints of racism filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The formal complaints were filed by Afro-American and Latino employees. Specifically, several male employees have officially filed claims, or sworn affidavits, with the EEOC and California Fair Employment & Housing Administration. They allege that Planned Parenthood is controlled by white women who have created a hostile environment for male and minority employees. According to one affidavit, a management employee of Planned Parenthood “used the word nigger directed to me. I am African and was shocked by her cultural insensitivity. I immediately placed my concerns in writing and requested disciplinary action with the human resources department at PPLA. Nothing ever happened to my complaint. In fact, I was later put on probation by a female supervisor and then terminated. . . . there appeared to be a damaging anti-male bias in the organization.”According to another statement, from a female PPLA contractor responsible for ensuring compliance with EEOC regulations, “[a corporate officer] initiated an investigation on the occasion of one of his employees being called a “nigger” and he was prevented from finishing this investigation. The perpetrator of this ethnic slur . . . was never punished for this action. . . . [Planned Parenthood] posters showing males as irresponsible are prominently displayed throughout headquarters, one shows an African American leaving his child abandoned in the middle of an apartment, another shows all male US Supreme Court justices beating down on women’s rights . . .” The affiant also mentioned that Planned Parenthood had postings criticizing President Bush and denouncing Reverend Jerry Falwell. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that is legally required to avoid political activity.When asked about this case, the Scott Lively, President of the Pro-Family Law Center said, “Considering the claim of liberals to hold a higher standard on racism, I’m appalled that a “liberal organization” based in one of the most “liberal” cities in the United States would be so cavalier about racial issues as to allow this type of insulting conduct to occur in its offices.”Yet one more employee, reacting to knowledge of racism at Planned Parenthood, said under oath, “There was a sense that any employee who was not a white female was going to be carefully watched. I am an African-American who witnessed and experienced it. ... It upset me because if they allowed her to call him one, they were probably calling all of the African-American[s] “nigger” too.” This employee also corroborated the claim that Planned Parenthood prominently displayed anti-male propaganda throughout the office. Richard D. Ackerman, the lead attorney for two claimants, says, “This is a really sad state of affairs. It is unfortunate to find out that PPLA, as a self-proclaimed promoter of “tolerance and diversity,” is engaging in what appears to be the most primitive form of hate against its own employees. We invite the ACLU and NAACP to join us in repairing this awful situation. Hopefully we will be able to make our clients whole, and help Planned Parenthood develop policies that ensure that this will never happen again.”According to the ACLU’s website, “Segregation and discrimination in housing opportunity still exists, and a backlash against affirmative action in employment and education threatens to slam the door of opportunity in the faces of those who are most deserving. [. . .] We have come a long way since Jim Crow ruled the South, but deeply entrenched discrimination, subjugation, subordination, and racial violence are still with us and affect not only African-Americans, but Latinos, Asian Americans, American Indians, and Arab Americans as well. The ACLU’s historic commitment to racial equality remains a centerpiece of its work in the courts and the legislatures, and in the arenas of public policy and public education.”The mission statement of the NAACP states, “The NAACP insures the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority groups and citizens; achieves equality of rights and eliminates race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; removes all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes; seeks to enact and enforce federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights; informs the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and seeks its elimination; educates persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action in furtherance of these principles.”Mark Crutcher, of Life Dynamics, Inc., a Texas-based organization who has investigated allegations of racism at Planned Parenthood commented, “As revolting as these revelations about Planned Parenthood are, no one should be surprised by them. After all, the organization was started by an admitted eugenicist whose stated goal was to create what she called “A Race of Thoroughbreds.” And don’t be so naïve to think that the “Thoroughbreds” she was talking about included anyone other than White n’ Wealthy. The fact is Planned Parenthood’s racist agenda has never been any different than that of the Nazis or the Klan. That they regard their employees with the same sleazy attitude that they have always held toward the general minority population is hardly unexpected.”The Reverend Clenard Childress, Jr., of Life Education and Resource Network says, “I am not surprised at these degrading and discriminatory remarks directed at African American employees at Planned Parenthood. This demeanor is indicative of its founder Margaret Sanger, whose comments regarding minorities often parallel these racist and bigoted slurs.”

(951) 308-6454,
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ottawa Won't Oppose Same-Sex 'Marriage, Divorce' required)

Aug. 17, 01:10 EDT
Ottawa won't oppose same-sex marriage, divorce
Applications will be accepted 'as they arise,' justice minister tells lawyers' conference

The last federal barrier to same-sex marriage and divorce collapsed in dramatic fashion yesterday, with Justice Minister Irwin Cotler offering a blanket assurance that Ottawa will no longer stonewall or resist applications.
"We will not be opposing any of these," he told the annual conference of the Canadian Bar Association. "We will allow these proceedings as they arise."
During a question-and-answer session, Cotler was asked point blank by Toronto lawyer and activist Doug Elliott if the federal government plans to force gays and lesbians to endure court battles as they continue their fight for equality in provinces across the country.
The government opposed same-sex marriage in constitutional challenges to the law brought by gays and lesbians in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
When courts in those provinces ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional, Ottawa reversed its position.
It threw its support behind same-sex marriage in material filed in connection with an upcoming hearing on the issue before the Supreme Court of Canada.
But as gays and lesbians in other provinces applied to marry or divorce, federal lawyers asked judges to delay the proceedings until the country's highest court rules on the constitutionality of proposed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage.
The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 6-8, but it could take months, and possibly until next year, before the court releases its decision.
In an interview, Elliott said: "It is a significant shift in the attorney-general's position because up until now, while he has not been opposing, he has been trying to delay."
Cotler's announcement was welcome news to lawyer Sean Foreman, who last Friday began proceedings in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on behalf of three same-sex couples wanting to marry.
One is a lesbian couple who married in Toronto last year after same-sex marriage was legalized by the Ontario Court of Appeal. The couple wants to adopt a child, but their Ontario marriage is not legally recognized in Nova Scotia.
While Premier John Hamm has said the province will not oppose the couples in court, "Nova Scotia has refused to proactively begin issuing (marriage) licences," Foreman said.
Despite the federal government's position, municipal clerks and provincial registrars could still refuse to issue marriage licences, which could, in itself, lead to litigation, Elliott said.
Cotler told lawyers at the conference that while Ottawa now supports same-sex marriage, it decided to refer the issue to the Supreme Court so those opposed to the concept can have their day in court and "it can never be said in this country they never had the chance to debate the whole question."
No fewer than 18 interest groups are expected to intervene in the case.
On the issue of divorce, last month the justice department conceded that excluding gays and lesbians from the definition of "spouse" in Canada's Divorce Act is also unconstitutional.
The concession came in a letter to a Toronto lawyer who represents a lesbian seeking a divorce from her same-sex spouse.
In addition to a divorce, the couple launched a constitutional challenge to the law, saying it violates the Charter of Rights.

Christian Protesters Booted From Phillies Game

Christian Protestors Get the Boot from Ballpark Security During Phillies Game
By Jim Brown
August 10, 2004

(AgapePress) - Five members of a Philadelphia-based Christian activist group were thrown out of a Philadelphia Phillies game on Tuesday night. The group was there to protest what had been billed as "Gay Community Day" at Citizens Bank Park.
The game began with a homosexual men's chorus singing the national anthem and a lesbian throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Then during the fifth inning, the Repent America group unfurled a banner which read: "Homosexuality is sin, Christ can set you free." Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America, explains what happened next.
"Within a few moments, a security officer approached us and demanded that we take the banner down," he says. "Moments later, two homosexual men stood up and they began to passionately kiss in front of our banner -- then two lesbian women stood up and did likewise as the crowd cheered them on."
After three homosexuals began tugging on the banner, Marcavage says he was tackled by "physically abusive" security guards as he tried to prevent the theft of his banner. "It went from baseball to tug-of-war to football as I was tackled to the ground by a security guard for attempting to prevent the theft of our banner," he says. "The security guards were acting extremely irrational, and physically escorted us out of the ballpark."
Officials then detained Marcavage for ten minutes, claiming the content of his group's message was causing a riot. But he says it was the Christians that ended up being ejected from the game. "They decided they were going to remove us from the stadium instead of just those who are acting disorderly."
Repent America had been outside the stadium before the game, handing out gospel literature and displaying banners urging the Phillies organization to stop its promotion of homosexuality. Marcavage reports that a group of more than a dozen people refused to attend the game when they learned of the pro-homosexual theme of the evening, and were refunded their admission fees. He says two men from that group even rescued one of the signs from someone who attempted to steal it. "The police stood idly by [during that time]," Marcavage says.
Marcavage believes something must be done to prevent families from being exposed to public acts of homosexuality. "This is really opening up a forum where children are being ushered into these events, unaware, and being exposed to these lewd acts and riotous behavior. It's just unacceptable," he says. "There needs to be something done in a court of law that would allow us to be able to have our viewpoint expressed just as the other groups."
Repent America has reportedly been in contact with a Christian legal group and is considering filing a lawsuit claiming the group's First Amendment rights were violated when they were ejected from the ballpark.

© 2004 AgapePress all rights reserved.

Education Vital in Right-to-Life Struggle

AgapePress Christian News Service
August 13, 2004

A spokesman for the National Right to Life organization says the greatest weapon against abortion is education. NRL's Director of Education, Randy O'Bannon, believes teaching people the truth about abortion and its aftermath will be a key element in changing the hearts of America on the issue. "For the longest time the people who are in favor of abortion have controlled the sort of media and the sort of information that's gone out, and we've always had to struggle to correct all the misperceptions," O'Bannon says. But now, he says with the help of the Internet, and other media for disseminating their factsheets and information, he says, "we're able to tell people about abortion, andabout how dangerous it is." NRL's spokesman says the truth is on the side of the pro-life movement, and as people discover the truth about abortion and about the "development and the preciousness of the life of the unborn child," their thinking changes. O'Bannon adds that it is possible to see, statistically, how the number of abortions declines as the education process sinks in.

[Bill Fancher]

Planned Parenthood Will Stop at Nothing: Critic

AgapePress Christian News Service
August 13, 2004

A group dedicated to shutting down Planned Parenthood says the abortion provider will stop at nothing to promote sexual activity to children. JimSedlak, executive director of the American Life League's STOPP International, believes Planned Parenthood has a singularly nefarious goal: to introduce children to sex and develop future customers for abortions. Sedlak says that abortion mill's latest foray into pre-teen sexual indoctrination is its distribution of a six-inch ruler that poses the sarcastic question: "Does sizematter?" The ruler is just one item offered through Planned Parenthood's online store on a website Sedlak says is filled with sexual content. He says what the organization is doing with such items and content is "trying to get people to visit Planned Parenthood's website so that they will eventually be able to sell them products," he says. Sedlak warns parents, especially as their children begin getting their supplies and preparing to return to school, to be aware of this offensive ruler and other products and tactics employed by Planned Parenthood in its profit-motivated agenda.

[Rusty Pugh]

Romanian Police Use the Bible to Fight Crime

Police use bible to beat crime

Police in a rural area of Romania are sending criminals to church in an attempt to drive down crime figures. Officers in the Satu Mare region also use the bible to “put the fear of God” into suspects.This, they say, makes people own up in questioning, and also deters others from committing crimes, said the daily National.People in the region are deeply religious but also very poor, and while some locals resort to theft to solve their problems or use drinking to forget about them, lying while under oath on the bible is unthinkable. Feher Vasile, head of police in Livada, said: “We thought this was a good idea. And it works, I can tell you.“Sometimes, when we deal with something we send people involved to go to see the local priest. And we ask them to swear in front of God to mend their ways. If they are drunk and disorderly for example, it’s amazing how quickly it sobers them up.”


Pollutants Causing Huge Rise in Brain Diseases,11381,1283588,00.html

Pollutants cause huge rise in brain diseases
Scientists alarmed as number of cases triples in 20 years
Juliette Jowit, environment editor
Sunday August 15, 2004
The Observer

The numbers of sufferers of brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, have soared across the West in less than 20 years, scientists have discovered.
The alarming rise, which includes figures showing rates of dementia have trebled in men, has been linked to rises in levels of pesticides, industrial effluents, domestic waste, car exhausts and other pollutants, says a report in the journal Public Health.
In the late 1970s, there were around 3,000 deaths a year from these conditions in England and Wales. By the late 1990s, there were 10,000.
'This has really scared me,' said Professor Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University, one of the report's authors. 'These are nasty diseases: people are getting more of them and they are starting earlier. We have to look at the environment and ask ourselves what we are doing.'
The report, which Pritchard wrote with colleagues at Southampton University, covered the incidence of brain diseases in the UK, US, Japan, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain in 1979-1997. The researchers then compared death rates for the first three years of the study period with the last three, and discovered that dementias - mainly Alzheimer's, but including other forms of senility - more than trebled for men and rose nearly 90 per cent among women in England and Wales. All the other countries were also affected.
For other ailments, such as Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, the group found there had been a rise of about 50 per cent in cases for both men and women in every country except Japan. The increases in neurological deaths mirror rises in cancer rates in the West.
The team stresses that its figures take account of the fact that people are living longer and it has also made allowances for the fact that diagnoses of such ailments have improved. It is comparing death rates, not numbers of cases, it says.
As to the cause of this disturbing rise, Pritchard said genetic causes could be ruled out because any changes to DNA would take hundreds of years to take effect. 'It must be the environment,' he said.
The causes were most likely to be chemicals, from car pollution to pesticides on crops and industrial chemicals used in almost every aspect of modern life, from processed food to packaging, from electrical goods to sofa covers, Pritchard said.
Food is also a major concern because it provides the most obvious explanation for the exclusion of Japan from many of these trends. Only when Japanese people move to the other countries do their disease rates increase.
'There's no one single cause ... and most of the time we have no studies on all the multiple interactions of the combinations on the environment. I can only say there have been these major changes [in deaths]: it is suggested it's multiple pollution.'
Pritchard's paper has been published amid growing fears about the chemical build-up in the environment. A number of studies have pointed to serious problems. TBT is being banned from marine paints after it was blamed for masculinising female molluscs, causing a dramatic decline in numbers. A US report linked neurological disorders to pesticides. And testing by WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) found non-natural substances such as flame retardants in every person who took part.
WWF has named chemical pollution as one of the two great environmental threats to the world, alongside global warming, and is particularly worried about 'persistent and accumulative' industrial chemicals and endocrine - hormone distorting - substances linked to changes in gender and behaviour among animals and even children.
'We've started seeing changes in fertility rates, the immune system, neurological changes [and] impacts on behaviour,' said Matthew Wilkinson, the charity's toxics programme leader.
Pesticides and pharmaceutical chemicals must now undergo rigorous testing before they can be used. But there are an estimated 80,000 industrial chemicals and the 'vast majority' do not need safety regulation or testing, said Wilkinson.
However, the chemical industry strongly rejects what it claims are often unproven fears. Just because chemicals are present does not mean they are at dangerous levels.
But critics are not reassured. 'It is true that just because we find a chemical does not mean it is dangerous,' said Wilkinson. 'But it is equally true that for the vast majority of chemicals we have so little safety data that the regulatory authorities have no idea what a safe level is.'
The Royal Society of Chemistry also said quantities of pesticides were declining. 'Improvements in analytical chemistry mean that lower and lower levels of pesticides can be detected,' said Brian Emsley, the society's spokesman. '[But] because you can detect something doesn't necessarily mean it is dangerous.'

Kiss Your Internet Goodbye

By Servando González
April 6, 2003

In a short, but forceful article, Peter Sparacino pointed out that constitutional tools are no longer valid in our losing battle against a government out of control, rapidly becoming a totalitarian dictatorship. According to Sparacino, neither the ballot box, nor the jury box can be used to stop its advances -- not even the cartridge box. The only thing left to fight back, he states, is freedom of the press.
But, as media critic A.J. Liebling rightly expressed, freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. Though in theory the opportunity to own his own printing press was open to every American citizen, in practice just a few, and lately only the very rich and powerful, were able to own one.
Granted, the media monopoly was never total, and many small presses proliferated, but the big ones, later joined by the network TV channels, just played the game, giving the false image of independent thinking. But suddenly, less than ten years ago, a technological breakthrough changed the rules of the game in a radical way, bringing about what media guru Marshal McLuhan envisioned more than thirty years ago: the global village. This revolutionary new medium is the Internet.
The Internet is a totally new type of communication medium that has changed our lives. It allows for easy, fast, and cheap exchange of ideas in an optimum way. Thanks to the Internet, owning your own press is as cheap as $20 a month. Almost anybody can afford it.
As soon as the people realized the power of the tool they had in their hands, many began using the Internet not only to gather the information they wanted, but also to become themselves providers of information. Sites offering the most surprising, contradictory, interesting, and useful information mushroomed, soon to be followed by many offering not-so-useful, in-your-face, sometimes disgusting or plainly gross content. But, even with its nasty aspects, the Internet radically changed the way most of us get the daily news.

Initially, the powerful media giants, both in printed and TV form, ignored the Internet as a curiosity or a passing fad. But sites like the Drudge Report, NewsMax, or WorldNetDaily, just to mention a few of the most successful, soon began attracting more and more readers, while newspapers like the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times began losing theirs. Soon after, the big TV networks experimented their own dramatic loss of viewers.
Faced with the strong, unexpected competition, the media giants joined the Internet bandwagon, but they were in for a big surprise. Contrary to the traditional printed media and TV, where money plays a cardinal role -- only the very rich can afford to hire the qualified personnel and promote and market the product -- the Internet seems to be a pure product of the human intellect. As the extraordinary success of the Drudge Report indicates, most people don't visit a site because it has a fancy design or is professionally made, but because it is a place where they can find provoking, non-mainstream ideas that make them think; exactly the type of thinking they were not able to find in the orchestrated, self-censored mainstream media. Consequently, a site made by a housewife right from her kitchen in Hot Springs, Arkansas, or by an almost unknown journalist from his home office in Oregon or Florida, can compete on equal footing with the New York Times. This is exactly how extraordinarily successful sites like the Drudge Report and WorldNetDaily were born. Like the Colt .44 in the Old West, the Internet became the great equalizer.
But the people who control the media monopoly were not going to see their power challenged without a fight. After their initial skepticism and scorn, and their failed attempts to extend their media monopoly to the Internet, they began a subtle process of infiltration. For example, I was surprised when, in June, 2001, the notorious Alexander Haig Jr. joined NewsMax's advisory board. It is probably only a coincidence, but lately NewsMax has become a sort of mouthpiece for the Republican Party and an uncritical provider of the Bush administration's propaganda. Its most recent no-brainer is a "boycott France" campaign. I stopped visiting the site several weeks ago. On the other hand, if only half of what I found in this article is true, perhaps NewsMax's problems have deeper roots than I thought.
There is a saying in Latin America: "A los periodistas se les paga o se les pega." ("Journalists: you buy them or you hit them.") I don't think it is much different here. I expect that after some unsuccessful attempts to derail some of the most successful sites, just to bring an example, the media powers will try to buy them. But, even though I don't think it would be easy for them to do it, and they may resort to strong arm tactics, the bottom line is that, because of its inherent characteristics -- the Internet is an off-shoot of the Arpanet, a military communications decentralized nodular network designed to survive a full scale nuclear attack on the U.S. -- the Internet is uncontrollable. It is a Hydra of innumerable heads.
They can keep buying and coercing people and eventually may get control over the most successful Internet sites, but other people will come forward, and their sites will rapidly become extremely successful. The attempts of the media monopolists to control the Internet the way they managed to get control of the printed press, the TV channels, and, most recently, am radio, will never be successful. Currently, they are extremely concerned about such a powerful tool in the hands of the American people. The Internet has become a growing obstacle to their plans.
Therefore, what will they do? Very simple: They will destroy it. The only solution to solve the Internet's growing challenge to the media monopoly is to shut it down and throw the key away.
How it will happen? One of these days, out of the blue, the Internet will be used for launching a devastating terrorist attack on the United States. Somehow, this cyberattack will cost the lives of scores of American citizens. In order to avoid more damage, the government, putting to good use the recently approved anti-terrorist laws, will shut the Internet down and ban the use of the Internet as we know it.
But most government agencies rely heavily on the Internet. How can they function without it? No problem. The replacement already exists; it is called Internet 2, reportedly a consortium being led by more than 200 universities working in partnership with industry and government to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies, accelerating the creation of tomorrow's Internet. But, contrary to the deceptive techno-babbling rhetoric, Internet 2 is nothing more than a controlled Internet, similar to the one currently in place in totalitarian countries like China and Cuba.
Internet 2 will be fully controlled by the state. In order to access it, or to have e-mail access, you must be a member of, or be affiliated to, any of the government-authorized organizations and have a sort of security clearance. Internet 2 will be out of the reach of the general public, and every person trying to have unauthorized access to Internet 2 will be charged with terrorist activities, and severely penalized
The unavoidable fact is that the Internet is incompatible with a totalitarian system of government. Therefore, either we are a bunch of delusionary paranoids, and what we see happening in this country is only a figment of our feverished imagination, and, consequently, the Internet will not be banned, or we are right, and it will disappear. Actually, the disappearance of the current free Internet will serve as a litmus test that will accurately mark our final loss of freedom.
The banning of the Internet, the cancellation of the Second Amendment rights, and the closing of our borders -- not to stop illegals from entering the country, but to stop Americans from fleeing it -- in exactly that order, will be important steps in the implementation of this evil plan.
In the meantime, hope for the best, and enjoy the Internet while you can.

© 2003 Servando González - All Rights Reserved

Servando González is a Cuban-born American writer. Among his most recent books are The Secret Fidel Castro: Deconstructing the Symbol and The Nuclear Deception: Nikita Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Currently he is working on Fidel Castro Supermole, the second volume of a trilogy he is writing on Castro. E-Mail: