OakGrove Archives
Past News and Issues
1st Quarter 2002

Posted 3/31/02 6:51 PM:
High school student pushes county to post Five Pillars of Islam
Associated Press
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County, one of several Tennessee counties to vote recently to post the Ten Commandments, has been asked to extend its endorsement of religious documents in public places to include the Five Pillars of Islam.
The commission has been asked several times by Rachel Cate, a student at Cleveland High School, to post the Islamic document alongside the Old Testament one.
''This is not only a Christian nation, but a nation for everyone,'' Cate told the commission at its most recent meeting last week. ''I think it is discriminatory not to decide on the Five Pillars of Islam ... just as you decided on the Ten Commandments.''
The commission has declined to grant Cate's request.

Posted 3/30/02 12:28 AM:
Ten Commandments on Display in Metro Courthouse
A Metro councilman wants Nashville to do what's been done recently by several Tennessee counties: post the Ten Commandments at the local courthouse.
It's a controversial idea that may need some rethinking after a discovery by a News 2 crew.
Inside the courthouse, take a look above the courthouse center door. That's Moses clutching the Ten Commandments.
It was even an eye-opener for long time Metro official Billy Fields.
News 2: 'You've been going in this building for 16 years and you have never looked above the center door?'
Fields: "I don't guess I have."

Posted 3/29/02 5:02 PM:
Religious sword has two edges
If America learned anything from the past six months, it should have been the danger of imposing one religion on its citizens to the exclusion of all others. Our Taliban and al-Qaida foes in Afghanistan clearly demonstrated the pitfalls of even one sect of one religion -- never mind a religion -- claiming preeminence over all others.
We learned nothing. In fact, we seem to have retreated into a "my religion's better than yours" mode. Does anybody think it was a mistake President Bush used the word "crusade?" We scoff at Muslim extremists pursuing "jihad," or holy war, against the Western infidels, but crusade is the exact Christian equivalent of jihad.
Last week, the Florida Legislature continued its headlong rush toward a monotheistic state when the fundamentalists who run the state politics pushed a measure through the House requiring all schools to put the slogan "In God We Trust" in all schools. It's not the end of the world. The same words are on every piece of currency in the the country. It's our national slogan and, frankly, it pretty much covers all the various gods. But we all know which God they meant and if it isn't yours, tough.

Posted 3/29/02 4:25 PM:
SPAM ALERT: Yahoo.com users beware!
Anyone who's signed up with yahoo.com for email, mailing lists or other services should be aware that yahoo  recently reset YOUR personal preferences to show that you want to be spammed to death by damn near anyone who sends them a buck for your email addy.
To fix this, go to http://my.yahoo.com. At the top of the page, select "account info."
Log in.
Under "member information" select "Edit your marketing preferences."
Change THEIR preferences back to YOUR preferences and hit the "save" button.
Final step: Write the assholes and tell them how you feel about them violating your privacy like this. - Oak

Metro Council member plans to introduce Ten Commandments resolution
By ANNE PAINE - Staff Writer
Metro Council could become the latest Tennessee body to face a debate over posting of the Ten Commandments on public buildings.
Councilman Ron Nollner of Madison yesterday said he plans to file a resolution endorsing the biblical rules in Nashville, even though the council's staff director and lawyer advises against it.
''It's my belief it is unconstitutional to adopt a resolution to encourage posting of the Ten Commandments in public buildings,'' Staff Director Don Jones said.
He recommends waiting on the outcome of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against Hamilton County (Chattanooga) over passage of a similar resolution there.

Deaths of 3 friends a mystery
Cops seek clues; pagan rites, fantasy noted
By Kirk Mitchell, Denver Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 29, 2002 - Police have no clues to explain why three Denver-area people died violently on a California beach.
Officers believe that on Tuesday, David Bachman shot Malinda Leippe, his girlfriend, and Brenda White, a close friend, in the back of the head and then shot himself, said Sgt. Dave Deverell of the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Department. What officials don't know is why.

County Closes Bank Account to Protest Handling of Boy Scouts
AUBURN, N.Y. — The Cayuga County legislature decided to close its $3.8 million account with HSBC Bank USA after the company shut its doors to local Boy Scout meetings because of the group's ban on gay leaders.
The county council voted 14-1 Tuesday night without dispute to withdraw its money from the bank.
"I hope it sends a message to the bank that if they want to fight with the national Boy Scout organization, go right ahead and do it. But they should not just single out the local group and discriminate against them," said county lawmaker Herbert Marshall.

Posted 3/28/02 8:40 PM:
Wiccan attack could be federal rights issue
This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press March 28, 2002.
By NORMAN SHOAF - Valley Press Religion Editor
LANCASTER - The FBI is being asked to look into possible civil rights violations in a March 16 incident in which Christian protesters disrupted a Wiccan religious ceremony.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney on Wednesday rejected information submitted by the Lancaster Sheriff's Station that could have resulted in a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace or a misdemeanor noise violation, saying the incident was a one-time occurrence and did not meet their minimum requirements for a case filing.
Cyndia Riker, whose Witches Grove store on Lancaster Boulevard was targeted, learned earlier this week that the D.A. had determined that the incident did not contain elements that would warrant prosecution as a hate crime.

Lesbian Mother Who Lost Alabama Child-Custody Case Mulls Appeal
LOS ANGELES — Speaking out for the first time, a mother who lost an Alabama child-custody case because of her homosexuality said she is still deciding whether to go to the nation's highest court to try to get her children back.
"Presuming that I am an unfit parent simply based on whom I choose to love is wrong," said Dawn Huber, 42, of Van Nuys, whose bid for custody of her three children was unanimously rejected in February by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has drawn protests and criticism from gay rights groups, clergy and the City Council in Birmingham, Ala., for his concurring legal opinion that homosexuality "an inherent evil" and a criminal act that "is destructive to a basic building block of society — the family."

Bills to place U.S. motto, Ten Commandments in schools stand chance of passing
By L.E. Forster - Star Staff Writer
Religion might be on the minds of some Alabama students, but it soon could be on their classroom walls, too.
A bill to put the country's motto, "In God We Trust" in public school cafeterias, classrooms and auditoriums sailed through the state Senate last week and looks likely to pass the House of Representatives.
In addition, several different bills to post the Ten Commandments in public buildings, most notably schools, show a fighting chance of becoming reality soon.
 "It's a political season. Everybody wants to be more religious and more righteous than everybody else," Dr. Paul Hubbert said.

Morals, values debated
(letter to the editor)
From Jim D. Shelton, Conway:
Both Scott Harmon (Log Cabin Democrat, Feb. 26) and Jim Guinee (Log Cabin Democrat, March 7) miss the point of my letter (Log Cabin Democrat, Feb. 24). I accused people of hypocrisy who advocate that no one should be subject to coercive religious (or anti-religious) indoctrination and yet who systematically and deliberately do that very thing to children. Neither answers that charge. I did not argue that religious belief was not beneficial. It is a question of rights, not utilitarian benefits.
Both also seem to think that morality is not a matter of rational justification and that it, along with religious dogma, has to be coercively conditioned into a child. I grant them that the very basic moral impulses are acquired in a pre-critical stage, usually as a response to being loved by one's parents and learning to have tolerable behavior in the home. But beyond that, much of our morals are rationally justifiable in terms of being very valuable for free, just and well-functioning individuals and society. A rule that cannot be justified on such a basis should never be psychologically conditioned into a human being.

Hindus in Utah: Group subscribes to a faith that is complex, diverse
By Elaine Jarvik - Deseret News staff writer
It's been a cold spring, but any day now the ground will thaw — and construction will finally begin on the Salt Lake Valley's first free-standing Hindu temple.
Sri Ganesh Temple will sit on a perfect rectangle of land in South Jordan. An auspicious location, facing east.
At first, says Indra Neelameggham, the temple will probably just look like a big, square building. The embellishments, the architectural details that will turn the box into something more majestically Indian, will come later, when enough money is raised. "We go step by step," says Neelameggham, who has learned to be patient.
Originally, the temple was slated to be completed in 2001.

Posted 3/27/02 8:37 PM:
A bit 'o personal stuff here.. Amberflame and I are happy to announce that today marks the anniversary of our handfasting. It's been three wonderful years, but it's passed by like it was only three days.
Amber, I love you, darlin'.. Thank you for being such a great a part of my life! - Oak

And now the news:
Wiccan store attack 'not a hate crime'
This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press March 27, 2002.
By NORMAN SHOAF - Valley Press Religion Editor
LANCASTER - An incident at the Witches Grove store has been ruled "not a hate crime" by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Hate Crimes Unit and the L.A. County District Attorney's Office.
The countywide Hate Crimes Unit and hate-crimes specialists in the District Attorney's Office drew that conclusion as of Friday, Lancaster sheriff's Sgt. Chris Walker said.
The March 16 incident, in which store proprietors allege Christian protesters disrupted a Wiccan rededication ceremony, has drawn national attention after hitting the Associated Press wire and numerous Web sites.
Deputy Donald Rubio of the Lancaster Sheriff's Station said the initial report of the incident being investigated as a "suspicious circumstance involving a business" and "not hate" came from a department file and was "not my personal opinion, but only what was in the file about the way the call was handled."
Several individuals still may face criminal charges stemming from the incident, however.

Posted 3/26/02 8:45 PM:
First a little personal news - When my old web host decided they no longer needed the websites that helped their business grow 300% in 3 years and kicked us all out into the cold, lonely world of *shudder* PAYING for server space last September, we also lost our guestbook because it was a "built-in" feature. Since moving "the grove" to its current home (and registering a domain name) I've done without a guestbook because I just never found one that I really liked.
Well, today that all changed, and with a little help* from Dr. D at my current web host,  Coastland Technologies, you may once again drop us a line RIGHT HERE -
*Actually I couldn't get the stupid thing to upload and work right so Dr. D did the complete installation for me, free of charge. (And just how many webhosts do THAT nowdays?? - What a guy!) All I had left to do once it was all set up and running was go in and change the colors around and play with the buttons and thingies so it looked like it belonged with the rest of the site. - Oak

On a somewhat sadder note, Wren Walker just forwarded me this message from Nancy Mostad at Llewellyn:
-----Original Message-----
From:    Nancy Mostad
Sent:    Monday, March 25, 2002 1:44 PM
To:    Everyone
Subject:    Lady Sheba
I received word from Lady Sheba's daughter that Lady Sheba passed from this world into the Summerland on March 20th, at home, surrounded by her family.  Patricia, her daughter, wrote this:
"In accordance with her final wishes, she was cremated and her ashes will be spread over the Wicker family graveyard in Kentucky.  We sent with her, to be mingled with her ashes, a copy of THE BOOK OF SHADOWS, because it was such a part of who mother was.  She had accomplished many things in her life, but the publication of that book was her proudest moment.  She spoke often and fondly of Carl and Sandra and her association with Llewellyn.  She was so thrilled when you chose to re-issue her books for a new generation and died knowing her work was not forgotten."
Blessed Be.
Nancy J. Mostad
Acquisitions and Development Manager
Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.

And now, the rest of the news:
Man drives truck into Florida mosque
March 26, 2002 Posted: 4:47 AM EST (0947 GMT)
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- A man drove his truck into a mosque near Florida State University on Monday night, prompting police to seal off the area and call in a bomb squad.
No one was inside the Islamic Center of Tallahassee at the time, and police say only the driver was injured.
"We believe this was a hate crime," Tallahassee Police Lt. Edward Smith said.

Ten Commandments put to test
Atheists urge suit against display in Northampton County courtroom.
By Tyra Braden  - The Morning Call
March 26, 2002
Thousands of people sit in Northampton County's historic Courtroom 1 throughout the year. Although few may notice the plaque above the witness stand, the words inscribed on the bronze tablet may soon add fuel to a national controversy.
County Councilman Ron Angle last week said he wants to fight to keep the plaque, which lists the Ten Commandments. He may not have to wait long.
The group that won a recent legal battle to have a similar plaque removed from the Chester County Courthouse is considering filing a lawsuit over Northampton County's plaque.

Librarians testify in Internet porn court battle
March 25, 2002 Posted: 8:17 PM EST (0117 GMT)
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Three soft-spoken, gray-haired librarians fired the opening salvo Monday in a constitutional battle over how far the U.S. government can go to protect children from exposure to pornography on library computers.
 As an unusual constitutional trial opened in U.S. District Court, librarians from Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington state warned that the Children's Internet Protection Act could undermine the role of American libraries that seek to provide adult patrons with any lawful material regardless of content or viewpoint.

Posted 3/25/02 7:42 PM:
Off-duty cop shoots 'witch'
Durban - An off-duty police sergeant at Paulpietersburg in northern KwaZulu-Natal is expected to appear in court on Monday after allegedly shooting a 70-year-old woman he accused of witchcraft, police said.
Police spokesperson Inspector Sabelo Zwane said the sergeant accused the woman of killing his father, his mother and his son through witchcraft.
Zwane said man's son died recently, and his parents some time ago.

Sex Abuse by Clerics—a Crisis of Many Faiths
Clerics: While sexual misconduct has rocked many religions, leaders of some have acted far more quickly than others.
By TERESA WATANABE, Times Staff Writer
The wave of clergy sex scandals now engulfing the Roman Catholic Church has battered other denominations as well, producing an uneven record of response that ranges from the Episcopal Church's aggressive and detailed policies to the Southern Baptist Convention's widespread lack of written standards.
 In the last decade, clergy sexual misconduct has been exposed in virtually every faith tradition. National studies have shown no differences in its frequency by denomination, region, theology or institutional structure.
Mainline Protestant denominations have generally taken the earliest and most aggressive measures against clergy abuse and fundamentalist churches the least, according to Gary Schoener, a Minneapolis psychotherapist who has handled more than 2,000 cases of clergy sexual abuse over the past 10 years. Rabbis began working on their policies more recently.

Woman spared Nigeria stoning death
By CNN's Jeff Koinange
SOKOTO, Nigeria (CNN) -- A Nigerian mother sentenced to death by stoning has had her sentence quashed.
A sharia appeals court overturned a lower court ruling on technical grounds, the woman's lawyer told CNN.
The lower court in the northwestern state of Sokoto had sentenced Safiya Husaini, 35, to be stoned to death on a charge of adultery.

Posted 3/24/02 3:49 PM:
Unravelling mummy's mystery
Secrets of embalming: Scientists reveal a witches' brew of fats, resins, perfumes and waxes
Josie Glausiusz - Discover magazine
Professor Richard Evershed keeps mummy parts in his drawers. Not bandages or bones but tiny glass vials containing specks of brown powder, the sad residue of an ancient embalmer's art.
Retrieved from the remains of once-proud Egyptians, these remnants now resemble dried tea leaves.
"Some people spend hours looking at them," says Evershed of the dusty, dimly lit collection of sarcophagi in the Bristol museum nearby. "I'm more interested in the bodies."

Woman gets $300,000 in exorcism suit
By DARREN BARBEE - Star-Telegram Staff Writer
FORT WORTH - Six years after Laura Schubert sued members of a Colleyville church for trying to cast demons out of her, a Tarrant County jury's award of $300,000 filled her with joy.
Because of an earlier court ruling, jurors made their decision without hearing any religious aspects of the case, including Schubert's accounts of two exorcism attempts in 1996.
"This is a situation where religion went real bad," said Schubert's father, Tom Schubert, a former Assembly of God minister and missionary.
David Pruessner, an attorney for Pleasant Glade Assembly of God Church, said an appeal is likely. The pastor and some church members were found liable for abusing and falsely imprisoning Schubert, who was 17 at the time.

Posted 3/22/02 8:36 PM:
Religious hatred ignites attack on Wiccan store
This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press March 22, 2002.
By NORMAN SHOAF - Valley Press Religion Editor
LANCASTER - Religious hatred ignited a disruptive attack at a rededication ceremony Saturday afternoon for the Witches Grove store on Lancaster Boulevard.
In a complaint filed Tuesday with the Lancaster Sheriff's Station, store proprietors alleged that Christian protesters bumped participants in the Wiccan ritual, screamed Bible verses and blared Christian rock music in the store's back parking lot, where the rededication ceremony took place.
One protester allegedly flashed a card bearing a printed logo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Lisa Morgenstern, a Wiccan priestess who helped conduct the ceremony, said Lancaster deputies failed to respond to a call for help from one of the pagan celebrants.

New laws could arise out of church's scandal
2 legislators aim to allow suits, improve reporting
By TOM KERTSCHER of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: March 19, 2002
Two state legislators grappling with the child sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church offered separate plans Tuesday to require that suspected cases be reported to police and make it possible for victims to sue.
State Sen. Alberta Darling said she is looking for ways around a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that attorneys say makes it nearly impossible for abuse victims to sue the church and other religious organizations.
And state Rep. Peggy Krusick said she plans to introduce legislation requiring members of the clergy to report suspected abuse cases to police, as long as reporting did not violate their faith.
The potential for new legislation in Wisconsin comes as charges of sex abuse by priests in Boston and other parts of the country roils the church hierarchy.

Posted 3/21/02 8:03 PM:
"Wicker" horror war erupts as two remakes compete
Thu Mar 21, 1:39 AM ET
By Jonathan Bing
NEW YORK (Variety) - Universal Pictures and Nicolas Cage plan to remake the cult horror picture "The Wicker Man." So do actor Christopher Lee and director Robin Hardy, part of the team behind the 1973 original.
Which "Wicker" will be quicker?
Universal, which owns the title, has the upper hand. Cage intends to star in and produce its U.S.-set contemporized update, which will be written and directed by Neil LaBute ("Nurse Betty").
But Hardy has already written a script for a different version of "Wicker" called "The Riding of the Laddie," which he plans to shoot on location near Glasgow. Lee, who last played Saruman the White in "Lord of the Rings," has been recruiting a cast. Lee's "Rings" co-star Sean Astin is flirting with the project.

Rabbi Ordered To Stop Home Prayer
Attorney Plans To Fight Decision
Posted: 2:43 p.m. EST March 20, 2002
Updated: 10:23 a.m. EST March 21, 2002
ORLANDO, Fla. -- An Orange County rabbi faces fines of up to $50 a day if
he continues to hold prayer gatherings inside his home, according to Local 6
The Orange County Code Enforcement Board ruled Wednesday that Rabbi Yosef Konikov's prayer gatherings are in violation of a county code, according to Local 6 News.
Konikov was served with a code violation last March  after officials discovered that he was leading ten to 20 Central Florida families in prayer and song.
Under the current zoning law, operating a synagogue or any function related to synagogue or church services is not a permitted use in residential zoned area, Local 6 News reported.

Posted 3/20/02 7:34 AM:
Schools consider ban on ‘Potter’
By Kelly Doria - News-Leader
Harry Potter could find himself magically disappearing from the library shelves at Springfield Public Schools.
That’s because someone has filed a complaint with the district asking that the books be removed because of content involving witchcraft.
The district won’t reveal the name of the complainant or whether the person is a parent.
But the district has a procedure in place to deal with such complaints and intends to follow it.

Posted 3/19/02 8:05 PM:
Chief Nothing Pass God achieves nothing with rain chant
A professional rain doctor hired to stop rain at a weekend public ceremony in south-eastern Nigeria was a washout, after a downpour flooded the event.
A Nigerian newspaper reports March is normally a dry month in Nigeria but cautious organisers of the launch of a new political movement, the Anambra Peoples' Forum, hired local raindoctor 'Chief Nothing Pass God', to ward off the heavens.
However, shortly after he started reciting his incantations, a torrential downpour started, drenching all the guests and flooding out the area.

Stoning sentence appeal
By Tim Butcher, Africa Correspondent
(Filed: 19/03/2002)
A NIGERIAN woman who was sentenced under an Islamic legal code to be stoned to death for adultery launched an appeal yesterday.
Although Sharia courts have handed out numerous brutal sentences in Nigeria's predominantly Islamic north, including amputations for theft and public floggings, Husaini's is the first case involving death by stoning.

Dozens arrested in child porn probe
50 more arrests expected by week's end
March 19, 2002 Posted: 8:44 AM EST (1344 GMT)
 WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI said Monday 27 people who have confessed to molesting 36 children have been arrested in a major investigation into child pornography over the Internet.
"When we pursue child pornography, the path often leads to evidence of real sexual predators who have abused real children," said U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The investigation, dubbed "Operation Candyman," focused on an e-group, or online "community," whose 7,000 members uploaded, downloaded or traded images of sexually exploited children.
"Forty individuals in 20 states are now in custody, with another 50 expected by week's end," FBI Executive Assistant Director Bruce Gebhardt.
"They include members of the clergy, law enforcement officers, a nurse, a teacher's aide, a school bus driver, and others entrusted with protecting, nurturing and educating the American youth," he said.

Posted 3/18/02 7:02 AM:
Tony Paterson in Berlin
The Telegraph (UK)
Wizards really did wear tall pointed hats - but not the crumpled cloth kind donned by such fictional characters as Harry Potter, Gandalf and Merlin.
The wizards of early Europe wore hats of gold intricately embellished with astrological symbols that helped them to predict the movement of the sun and stars.
This is the conclusion of German archaeologists and historians who claim to have solved the mystery behind a series of strange yet beautiful golden cone-shaped objects discovered at Bronze Age sites across Europe.
[Thanks to Wren Walker for sending this in - Oak]

Posted 3/17/02 4:34 PM:
Florida high court rules U.S. Constitution doesn't protect churches
March 15, 2002 Posted: 10:33 AM EST (1533 GMT)
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) -- Florida's highest court has ruled that the Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom does not protect churches from lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy.
In its ruling Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court revived two separate cases that lower courts had dismissed because of the constitutional ban on government involvement in religion.
"The First Amendment does not provide a shield behind which a church may avoid liability" for negligent hiring and supervision of its clergy members, the court said.

Man guilty of abortion in ex-girlfriend's beating
By MATT GRYTA - News Staff Reporter
A North Buffalo man admitted Friday that he deliberately beat his pregnant girlfriend two months ago to abort the fetus he helped create. It was the first abortion conviction in the state in more than three decades.
Jeremy Powell, 20, pleaded guilty to felony abortion and second-degree assault in the attack on his girlfriend Jan. 27 in her home. She was three months pregnant.
The woman, who also is 20, told officers he beat her because she had refused to have an abortion.
"I'm going to beat that baby out of you," he is accused of telling the woman as he assaulted her.

Woman fired for wearing cross?
Says Target managers 'targeted' her for discrimination
Posted: March 16, 2002 1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Jon Dougherty
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
A former employee of a Trussville, Ala., Target store has filed suit against the company, alleging that managers fired her because she refused to remove or hide a Christian cross hanging from her neck that was visible to customers.
Cindy Dunn of Springville, Ala., filed the suit last week against the Minnesota-based retailer –  the nation's second-largest after Wal-Mart – over management's alleged discrimination against her because of her religion, according to a report in the Birmingham News.

Posted 3/16/02 1:07 PM:
School wants to shed 'fundamentalist' label
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — The president of Bob Jones University says he wants to shed the school's fundamentalist label because the term has been equated with terrorists in the minds of many people since Sept. 11.
Bob Jones III has suggested using the word preservationist to describe Christians with a fierce belief in the Bible's literal, inerrant truth.
"Instead of 'fundamentalism' defining us as steadfast Bible believers, the term now carries overtones of radicalism and terrorism," writes Jones in his "President's Corner" on the university Web site.
[Unless you're Pagan, in which case it's been associated with terrorism for a couple of thousand years. - Oak]

KIRBY: Springville Bedeviled By Mascot
Saturday, March 16, 2002
My town is back in the news again. Springville can't seem to maintain a low profile for long, especially when it comes to legislating piety.
First it was the evilness (or not) of maintaining the Red Devil as the high school mascot. Then it was the nastiness of nude models in the art museum. Finally, we blazed a new Utah County trail by offering beer for sale on Sunday.
The Devil has popped up again. Concerned residents recently asked the Nebo School District to change the mascot, citing numerous reasons why it's wrong to make Satan the object of school spirit.
Among other things, they say the mascot sends an inappropriate message to kids about stuff like drugs, music, fashion, and in general fills them with an evil spirit.
Meanwhile, Red Devil supporters -- not to be confused with satanic jockstraps -- say the protestors are full of crap.

Posted 3/15/02 7:18 PM:
Saudi police face deaths criticism
March 14, 2002 Posted: 6:58 AM EST (1158 GMT)
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi media, in a rare criticism of the kingdom's powerful religious police, have accused the force of hampering efforts to rescue 15 girls who died inside a blazing school.
Saudi media and families of the victims have been incensed over the deaths of the girls in the fire that gutted a school on Monday in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Most of the girls were crushed to death in a stampede as they tried to flee the blaze.
The al-Eqtisadiah daily said firemen scuffled with members of the religious police, also known as "mutaween," after they tried to keep the girls inside the burning building because they did not wear head sca rves and abayas (black robes) as required by the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islam.

Life From Old Seeds
Researcher Coaxes New Sprouts From Centuries-Old Lotus Seeds
By Lee Dye - Special to ABCNEWS.com
March 14 — Jane Shen-Miller's garden consists of two plants that, for the moment,  seem to be doing pretty well.
But she watches over them day and night, like a mother nursing a sick child, because those plants could hold key secrets about longevity and good health, not only for other plants but quite possibly for humans as well.
You see, these aren't just ordinary plants.
They were raised from seeds of the fabled lotus plant, and remarkably, they remained viable after spending nearly 500 years in a dry lakebed in China, subject to wind and sand storms, occasional flooding, and radiation. Shen-Miller, a plant biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, grew the plants from ancient seeds she collected from the lakebed in China, where she was born and raised.
They are the first mature plants ever raised from seeds known to be so old.

Ohio Gets Federal Ally in Anti-Abortion Case
Friday, March 15, 2002
By Steve Brown
CINCINNATI — In an unusual move for the U.S. Justice Department, lawyers are siding with the state of Ohio and pro-life groups in defense of an Ohio law that outlaws partEven pro-life groups were surprised by the move to stake out new territory in the legal battles over abortion before they reach the Supreme Court despite President Bush's clear stance on abortion issues.
"We're very pleased that the president has chosen to do that, particularly since we didn't ask them to," said Denise Mackura, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Right to Life organization.
"It's not the usual situation when a federal law is not involved ... because here there is no federal legislation involved in this litigation. It is only an Ohio statute," said Ronna Greff Schneider, a professor at the University of Cincinnati Law School.

Psychic soothsayer's really a Valley girl
March 15, 2002 Posted: 12:28 PM EST (1728 GMT)
By Matt Bean - Court TV
(Court TV) -- Here's one reason television soothsayer Miss Cleo's Jamaican accent might seem a bit off: The shaman, real name Youree Dell Harris, is from California, not the Caribbean.
 According to a birth certificate released Thursday by the Florida Attorney General's office, the purported shaman was born in the Los Angeles County Hospital on August 13, 1962.
"The company made a special effort to tell people that she is a master shaman from Jamaica," said David Aronberg, an assistant attorney general in Florida. "We wanted her birth certificate from the beginning."
The certificate, which the Los Angeles clerk's office sent to Florida after authorities there filed a broad suit against Harris and the company that employs her, Fort Lauderdale-based Access Resource Services (ARS), shows that Harris' parents are a Californian woman, Alisa Hopis, and Texan David Harris.
The document released Thursday puts an end to what had become a crusade to unveil the origin of the television psychic, who claimed to be descended from a line of Jamaican shamans.

Posted 3/14/02 8:27 PM:
'ATHEIST' plate raises a holy ruckus
After getting complaints, the state decides a Florida man's license plate is objectionable and yanks it.
By KATHRYN WEXLER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 14, 2002
Steven Miles has tooled around Gainesville for 16 years with a license plate that says "ATHEIST."
To Miles, it is a form of self-expression, one he is happy to spend a few extra dollars every year to keep.
But to the state of Florida, the tag is "obscene or objectionable," according to a letter Miles received last month from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. That puts the personalized plate on the department's blacklist, right up there with epithets, expletives and words describing certain body parts.

Teachers proposing book ban in Russell
50 titles on blacklist for county high school
By Bill Estep
RUSSELL SPRINGS -- A teachers' prayer group is involved in an effort to get dozens of books dealing with ghosts, cults and witchcraft reviewed for possible removal from the library at Russell County High School.
God revealed to the group that the presence of the books was one reason his "manifested presence" hadn't yet come to the school to change the hearts and minds of students, according to a letter from one member of the group.
"He can not come into a place that is corrupted," the letter said, adding "we must not allow for these books to continue polluting the minds of our teen-agers. ..."

T-shirts in demand
Story By Julio Ochoa
Posted on Thursday, March 14 @ 03:26:28 EST (342 reads)
Because of an overwhelming national demand for T-shirts from the Fightin’ Whities, University of Northern Colorado intramural basketball team members are in business.
 Charlie Cuny, 27, the team’s founder and a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, worked with other students Wednesday to open a nonprofit account, talk with lawyers about copyrighting the logo and secure a printing deal.
Team members from various backgrounds, including Hispanic, American Indian and Caucasian, came up with the idea for the mascot after finding Eaton High School’s Indian mascot offensive.
The issue gained national attention, and the team has received more than 1,000 e-mails to their address, fightingwhites@hotmail.com, from interested T-shirt buyers.
Any profits from the shirts will go to the Native American Coalition or another cause for education, Messner said.

Posted 3/12/02 9:06 PM:
Evolution debate back in Ohio schools
March 12, 2002 Posted: 2:53 PM EST (1953 GMT)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The state school board, struggling to come up with new science standards, heard during a packed hearing from  backers of evolution and from those who believe life must have been designed by a higher power.
About 1,500 people attended Monday's meeting, where supporters of "intelligent design" backed off their push to have the concept written into the standards.
 Instead, they told the board teachers should be allowed to discuss evidence for and against evolution, the most widely accepted life process based on Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.

Posted 3/11/02 7:46 PM:
Ohio's science standards
It may not be a repeat of the 1925 Scopes monkey trial, but Monday's planned debate over the inclusion of the ''intelligent design'' theory in Ohio's science curriculum seems to be attracting almost as much attention.
The State Board of Education has gotten so many inquiries that it has moved the debate to a 4,000-seat auditorium near downtown Columbus.
Standing in for Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan will be Stephen Meyer and Jonathan Wells of the Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture in Seattle, arguing the case for intelligent design; and Lawrence Krauss, chairman of the physics department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and Kenneth Miller, a biology professor at Brown University, arguing that it doesn't belong in the science courses taught to Ohio's 1.8 million students.

March 11, 2002 -- Andrea Yates' "spiritual leader" once sent her a newsletter that called modern mothers "Jezebels" and expressed concern for their "disobedient" children.
Evangelist Michael Woroniecki's influence over the mother accused of murderi ng her five children has become an issue as testimony in her trial comes to a close, Newsweek reports.
Houston psychiatrist Lucy Puryear told the jury that Yates' delusions "are built around" the contents of Woroniecki's newsletter, "The Perilous Times," which he sent to Yates and her husband, Rusty.

As Rabbis Face Facts, Bible Tales Are Wilting
Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.
Such startling propositions — the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years — have gained wide acceptance among non- Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity — until now.

Voodoo church members prayed over body of dead spiritual healer for weeks in Guyana
Associated Press
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Police have detained at least two voodoo church members who they say have spent weeks praying over the decomposed body of a spiritual healer they hoped to bring back to life.
Greta Bearam, 55, might have died several weeks ago, but was kept in a Georgetown home while members of the voodoo church she attended prayed over her body three times a day, police said Wednesday.

House:Kids must stand for pledge
By AMY McCONNELL - Monitor staff
House lawmakers voted yesterday to make New Hampshire students show respect for the American flag - whether they want to or not.
In an emotional and sometimes acidic debate, legislators shrugged off free-speech worries and agreed 234-121 to require schools to set aside time each day for elementary and high school students to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Although saying the pledge would be voluntary, all students would be required to stand during the recitation.

Kids' chance to sing dissolves in discord
A student group bows out of a Red Cross show rather than drop 'god' and 'prayer' from their songs.
March 9, 2002
By RACHANEE SRISAVASDI - The Orange County Register
SANTA ANA -- A student group will not sing at a Red Cross event Sunday because the troupe's director says the charity barred the use of the words "god" and "prayer."
The Orange County High School of the Arts seventh- and eighth-graders planned to sing a medley of three songs: "America the Beautiful," "Prayer of the Children" and "God Bless the U.S.A."

Carroll County bus driver decertified by school system
Student safety cited in relieving Tsourakis of driving qualification
By Jennifer McMenamin and Sheridan Lyons - Sun Staff
Originally published March 9, 2002
Stella N. Tsourakis, the Carroll school bus driver who was embroiled in a dispute for leading her middle school passengers in a recitation of the Lord's Prayer for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has been told she cannot drive for the county any longer.
Tsourakis has been decertified -- effectively firing her by revoking her permission to drive a school bus for the county -- by Carroll school officials, who say they are concerned about the safety of her passengers.

Afghan women celebrate new freedoms on International Women's Day
March 8, 2002 Posted: 1:37 PM EST (1837 GMT)
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- In a dramatic departure from years of repression under the Taliban regime, Afghan women shed the all-enveloping burqa and publicly recited verses of the Koran on Friday as Afghanistan marked International Women's Day for the first time in 11 years.
In New York, first lady Laura Bush reiterated the U.S. commitment to women's rights at an observation of the day at the United Nations and tied that commitment to the drive for worldwide peace.

Oops! Color of the universe isn't green, it's beige
March 8, 2002 Posted: 4:22 AM EST (0922 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The color of the universe is not an intriguing pale turquoise, as astronomers recently announced. It's actually beige -- and a rather ordinary beige at that.
Two Johns Hopkins University astronomers announced in January they had averaged all the colors from the light of 200,000 galaxies and concluded that if the human eye could see this combined hue, it would be a sprightly pale green. That, they said, was the color of the universe.
But Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry said Thursday that their conclusion was wrong. They had been tripped up by flawed software that was uncovered by color engineers who checked their data.

Posted 3/6/02 9:08 PM:
Lawmakers protest Senate prayer
By Steven K. Paulson, Associated Press
About six lawmakers walked out during the morning Senate prayer Tuesday after a Greeley pastor gave an invocation they characterized as offensive.
Sen. Dave Owen, R-Greeley, who invited the pastor, later apologized to fellow lawmakers for remarks the pastor made that he said were inappropriate.
Both legislative houses start each day with a prayer that is supposed to be non-denominational and nonpolitical.

Hacker claims worm meant to combat sexism
March 5, 2002 Posted: 9:43 AM EST (1443 GMT)
SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- A hacker claiming to be a 17-year-old girl says she wrote a new worm targeting Microsoft Corp.'s .NET Web services platform to prove women are capable of creating computer viruses and make a statement against sexism, a computer security company said Monday.
Dubbed the "Sharpei" worm, it is believed to be the first virus written in C-sharp, the programming language which runs on .NET platforms, said UK-based Sophos, which received a copy of the virus from the programmer.
"She wrote the worm to make a social point" and dispel the perception that therearen't female virus writers, said Chris Wraight, U.S.-based technology consultant for Sophos.
[Okay, let's be sure she gets equal treatment. Make her jail sentence just as long as if she was male. - Oak]

Staff cry poetic injustice as singing Ashcroft introduces patriot games
Julian Borger in Washington
Monday March 4, 2002
The Guardian
Since John Ashcroft became US attorney general last year, workers at the department of justice have become accustomed to his daily prayer meetings, but some are now drawing the line at having to sing patriotic songs penned by their idiosyncratic boss.
Mr Ashcroft, a devout Christian and a grittily determined singer, went public with one of his works last month, when he surprised an audience at a North Carolina seminary with a rendition of Let the Eagle Soar, a tribute to America's virtues, which continues: "Like she's never soared before, from rocky coast to golden shore, let the mighty eagle soar," and so on for four minutes.
[You can also take a link from this site to actually see and hear his performance. Warning: this is not for the squeamish. - Oak]

Militants raze mosque, install statue of monkey god  - Radical Hindus lash out against India's Muslims
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post
Tuesday, March 5, 2002
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle
Ahmadabad, India -- Built of brick and covered with lime-colored paint, the Manchaji mosque attracted hundreds of Muslims for daily prayers for more than 80 years.
Yesterday, it drew hundreds of Hindu militants, many wielding sledgehammers, metal rods and shovels.
They knocked down the minarets and smashed through the walls. They hoisted saffron-colored Hindu nationalist flags atop the rubble. And on a concrete slab in the center of the compound, they erected an orange, foot-tall statue of the monkey god Hanuman, surrounded by coconuts and flower petals.

Suit against Moore progresses: Depositions sought from chief justice, supporter, ministry
By Dana Beyerle - Montgomery Bureau
March 1, 2002
MONTGOMERY - The federal lawsuit about Chief Justice Roy Moore's 5,280-pound Ten Commandments monument in the Judicial Building has moved into a second phase.
Lawyers are now seeking depositions from Moore, his chief supporter, Dean Young, and a Florida television ministry.
Moore is scheduled to give a deposition April 8 for the trial that is to begin Oct. 15 in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, said attorney Morris Dees.
Attorney Ste-phen Glassroth of Montgomery and the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued Moore after he installed the monument in the rotunda of the Judicial Building. The move by Moore fulfilled a campaign promise he made when running for chief justice in 2000.
"The claim is simple," said Dees, an attorney for Glassroth. "Placing the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court violates the First Amendment clause that guarantees the separation of church and state."

Sudan jihad forces Islam on Christians
Women refusing to convert gang-raped, mutilated, says relief worker
Posted: March 4, 2002
By Art Moore - © 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Sudan's militant Muslim regime is slaughtering Christians who refuse to convert to Islam, according to the head of an aid group who recently returned from the African nation.
The forced conversions are just one aspect of the Khartoum government's self-declared jihad on the mostly Christian and animist south, Dennis Bennett, executive director of Seattle-based Servant's Heart told WorldNetDaily.

Plattsmouth will appeal Ten Commandments ruling
The Associated Press
PLATTSMOUTH -- The city of Plattsmouth will appeal a federal judge's ruling that a Ten Commandments monument must be removed from display in a city park, council members unanimously voted Monday.
"Basically, the will that we've got from the citizens of Plattsmouth is that this is something they want to stay there," said City Administrator John Winkler. "We haven't had one dissenting opinion, outside of the person who filed the lawsuit."
The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a Plattsmouth resident who says he is an atheist. It alleged that the monument fails to maintain a proper separation between church and state.

Posted 3/4/02 7:01 AM:
Psychiatrist: Yates thought she was defeating Satan
March 1, 2002 Posted: 7:40 PM EST (0040 GMT)
HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- A psychiatrist testified Friday that Andrea Yates believed she was saving her five children from an eternity in hell when she drowned them in her bathtub last June.
"Mrs. Yates did not know the difference between right and wrong," said Dr. Phillip Resnick, who formed his opinion after examining Yates twice while she was in jail.

China cuts power, water to elderly Christians
BEIJING, March 1 (Reuters) - China cut off power and water on Friday to a group of elderly Christians, detained during U.S. President George W. Bush's recent visit, in an attempt to evict them from an old people's home, its manager said on Friday.
Chen Zhongxin, 63, manager of the home where police picked up 47 Christians when they gathered to pray last week, said local officials had dispatched workers to shut off electricity and water at the home in northern Beijing's Changping district.

God Goes Back to Schools in Form of National Motto
In a rush that only picked up momentum after Sept. 11, legislatures across the country are passing laws which allow public school officials to post the national motto, "In God We Trust," in schools.
And even in states that haven't passed such laws, people like Clay County School Superintendent David Owens, near Jacksonville, Fla., are already nailing up God plaques.

Anti-Muslim Article Upsets WSU Students
Writer's Religious Commentary Called Racist
Updated: 10:03 p.m. EST February 27, 2002
DETROIT-- An anti-Muslim article in the Wayne State University student newspaper has outraged students and concerned administrators at the school.
Tuesday's South End, which bills itself as Detroit's third-largest daily, included a column by Joe Fisher in which the writer said that he is not very fond ofreligion and then continues to tell readers why he has a problem with Islam.

Seventh grade lessons on Islam draw criticism in Calif.
Associated Press
March 01, 2002 17:00:00
BERKELEY, Calif. - Complaints that California schools present Islam in glowing terms but shortchange Christianity are highlighting a classroom dilemma: How do you teach - but not preach - religion?
Conservatives have been outraged to learn that seventh-graders across the state studied Islam in September, in some cases dressing up in robes and playing games about pilgrimages.

Bulgarian church slams Harry Potter
Reuters     01 Mar 2002
SOFIA (Reuters) - The hugely popular Harry Potter books are "spiritual AIDS" for readers, diminishing their immune system against black magic and making them more open to evil, a priest backed by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has said.
Father Stefan Stefanov from the Saint Nicholas Christian Orthodox church in Bulgaria's northern city of Rousse said his service on Sunday would denounce British author J.K.Rowling's best-selling novels about the young wizard.

Nixon, Graham anti-Semitism on tape
President, pastor recorded views in 1972 meeting
By James Warren - Tribune staff reporter
Published March 1, 2002
Rev. Billy Graham openly voiced a belief that Jews control the American media, calling it a "stranglehold" during a 1972 conversation with President Richard Nixon, according to a tape of the Oval Office meeting released Thursday by the National Archives.
"This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain," the nation's best-known preacher declared as he agreed with a stream of bigoted Nixon comments about Jews and their perceived influence in American life.

Famous atheist's son now campaigning for prayer in public schools
By the Associated Press
BOZEMAN (AP) - As the son of a famous atheist, William Murray thought it was great when, as a teen, he learned the U.S. Supreme Court ordered religion out of public schools.
Today at age 56, having completely rejected the teachings of his late mother, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Murray is lobbying to bring prayer back to schools.  "Good Christian education works - it's working for 4.5 million students in the United States right now," Murray said in a phone interview from his Virginia office. "On average, those 4.5 million students are performing at two grade levels beyond their peers in public schools."

Meditation mapped in monks
During meditation, people often feel a sense of no space Scientists investigating the effect of the meditative state on Buddhist monk's brains have found that portions of the organ previously active become quiet, whilst pacified areas become stimulated.
Andrew Newberg, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, US, told BBC World Service's Discovery programme: "I think we are poised at a wonderful time in our history to be able to explore religion and spirituality in a way which was never thought possible."

Lawmakers want Pledge of Allegiance in more schools
February 28, 2002 Posted: 4:11 PM EST (2111 GMT)
HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) -- Responding to the post-September 11 burst of patriotism, state lawmakers around the country want to put the Pledge of Allegiance into more public schools.
Half the states now require the pledge as part of the school day, and half a dozen more recommend it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This year, bills to make the oath mandatory have been brought up in Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, Mississippi and Indiana.

Posted 2/27/02 5:57 PM:
Unmentionable No Longer
What Do Mormons Wear? A Polite Smile, if Asked About 'the Garment.'
By Hank Stuever - Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 26, 2002; Page C01
It would be crazy to leave here and not at least try to find out more about the sacred underwear.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, for short) may never again be so open and welcoming to such irreverent global scrutiny, and it's hard to think of anything else about the faith I'd rather know. Never mind about the angel Moroni, the golden plates, the forbidden coffee and the spirit babies. Let's just move right to the good stuff:
What is the "garment"? Do all Mormons wear it? Is it a onesie or separates? Is it true that women have to wear it under bra and pantyhose? Does it really have a Masonic symbol sewn over each nipple? Is it cotton? Poly-blend? Comfy? Restrictive? Spiritually protective? Magical?
"Now that's a question I didn't expect to get," says a helpful (everybody's so helpful) man, greeting visitors at Temple Square.

Posted 2/27/02 7:13 AM:
Has the Attorney General Been Reading Franz Kafka?
Big John Wants Your Reading List
Nat Hentoff - The Village Voice
During the congressional debate on John Ashcroft's USA Patriot Act, an American Civil Liberties Union fact sheet on the bill's assaults on the Bill of Rights revealed that Section 215 of the act "would grant FBI agents across the country breathtaking authority to obtain an order from the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court . . . requiring any person or business to produce any books, records, documents, or items."
This is now the law, and as I wrote last week, the FBI, armed with a warrant or subpoena from the FISA court, can demand from bookstores and libraries the names of books bought or borrowed by anyone suspected of involvement in "international terrorism" or "clandestine activities."

Posted 2/26/02 9:01 PM:
Supreme Court considers local permits for door-to-door solicitors
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday considered the constitutionality of a local ordinance which requires religious groups and other organizations engaging in door-to-door solicitations to obtain permits.
The Church of Jehovah's Witnesses brought suit against the small village of Stratton, Ohio, which passed an ordinance which prohibits all forms of door-to-door solicitation without a permit.

Posted 2/25/02 9:54 PM:
BP drops Crazy Horse name
Posted February 21 2002, 9:46 AM EST
HOUSTON - BP Plc said it has dropped ``Crazy Horse'' as the name for a giant offshore oil discovery in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico out of respect for descendants of the Native American warrior of the same name.
The complex of oilfields, estimated to contain at least 1.5 billion barrels of oil, will now be known as ``Thunder Horse.''
BP said it adopted the new name after the family of the Lakota warrior and spiritual leader made the company aware that use of his name outside of a spiritual context is sacrilegious.

Posted 2/25/02 9:43 PM:
It Takes a Little Juju to Keep Peace in the Home
The East African (Nairobi)
February 25, 2002
Joachim Buwembo
When a new school term opens, you expect to pay for a variety of items over and above the tuition fees. But nothing could have prepared the parents of a couple of rural schools for the "extraordinary item" on their latest fee note - a tidy sum of money to exorcise evil spirits that had been persecuting the pupils during the last term and were reported to be still hovering around the school compound.
Many people thought this was rubbish, judging from the number of irate callers to a local FM radio station that had thrown the subject open to the public for discussion. "It wasn't spirits that made the students sick, it was cholera! What the school needs is to maintain proper hygiene," said one caller. Another said it was asthma, while still others cited examination pressure. Only a few supported the idea of hiring an African medicine man, and a high-powered, expensive one from Tanzania at that, to rid the schools of evil spirits. Many parents just took their kids out of the haunted schools.
But does witchcraft, sorcery or juju as it is variously called, really work?

Posted 2/25/02 8:57 PM:
Supreme Court won't rule on statehouse Ten Commandments monument
February 25, 2002 Posted: 10:50 AM EST (1550 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court refused Monday to be drawn into the explosive church-state debate over whether the Ten Commandments may be displayed on government grounds.
 The court did not comment in refusing to hear an appeal from Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon, who wanted to erect a 7-foot stone monument on the statehouse grounds in Indianapolis. O'Bannon said the Ten Commandments represent tenets of American law as much as religious teachings.
The court's action leaves in place a hodgepodge of conflicting court rulings across the country that allow the Ten Commandments' display in some instances but not in others.

Posted 2/24/02 2:11 PM:
Bill A Harmful Distraction
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
Posted February 21 2002
"Prayer shouldn't be legislated."
So said former Gov. Lawton Chiles, in vetoing a bad bill in 1996 that would have permitted student-led prayers at official public school ceremonies.
Florida senators and Gov. Jeb Bush should heed his words and reject a similar bill that just passed the Florida House.
It's a harmful, divisive, probably unconstitutional distraction from meaningful lawmaking. It is also an insult to those who don't want somebody else's prayers shoved into their ears when they are a "captive audience" in a public school.

Posted 2/24/02 12:56 PM:
Black magic murder in London
A grisly find is leading London police into the horrific world of an African cult that kills for body parts. PAUL VALLELY reports.
The torso of a 5-year-old child is found in the Thames. A murder investigation begins. Then evidence emerges of something chillingly sinister - ritual killing and mutilation.
Has a dark cult of African magic taken root in Britain? Until two weeks ago, police could not be sure. The body had been found several months earlier in the river near Tower Bridge. The child had been decapitated and his limbs had been removed after the violent blow to the neck that killed him.

Lindsey Nair - The Roanoke Times
 Police and youth workers who gathered at a Roanoke hotel Thursday were told that if they had not yet encountered youth occult behavior, they will - soon.
"Get ready," Don Rimer, a nationally recognized authority on the subject told the crowd of 75. "We're only scratching the surface here."
At his Thursday seminar, "Ritual Crime and the Occult: The New Youth Sub-Culture," Rimer, who works for the Virginia Beach Police Department, said many cast off youth occult behavior as a game.

Couple to create life saver baby
February 22, 2002 Posted: 3:17 PM EST (2017 GMT)
LONDON, England -- A couple have been given permission to use IVF treatment to create a child whose cells will be used to try to save the life of their child.
The UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) agreed to allow Shahana and Raj Hashmi to use IVF to ensure the child does not have the same rare blood condition as their son Zain.
Pro-life campaigners have condemned the landmark ruling which they say "turnschildren into commodities."

Justices hear landmark voucher case
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Several Supreme Court justices seemed sympathetic Wednesday to the idea that government can help pay tuition for children at religious schools and stay within constitutional bounds.
Again and again during a spirited argument, four justices suggested that a school tuition voucher program can pass muster if it gives parents lots of choices — both religious and nonreligious.
"Unless there's an endorsement of religion, I don't see why it matters if (government) money goes to a religious school," said Justice Antonin Scalia.
The court's answer, expected by summer, could remap the educational landscape. Numerous states and school districts are awaiting word from the high court about whether there is a way to set up a voucher program that does not violate the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

Witch Hunts an Indirect Effort to Prove God Exists, Scholar Says
BALTIMORE, Feb. 21 (AScribe Newswire) -- In his new book, Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex and the Crisis of Belief (University of Chicago, March 2002), Walter Stephens asserts that belief in such threatening beings has for centuries helped skeptics resolve doubts about religious doctrine and their faith in God. Accused witches - women who allegedly received evil powers from demon lovers - were interpreted by theologians as living "proof" of the spiritual world, Stephens argues.
"Without witches, some late medieval theologians were left facing their questions as to why bad things happen," Stephens says. "In their pre-scientific, biblically based world view, the logical alternative to witches and demons as an explanation of
misfortune was a God not powerful enough to stop bad things happening or not good enough to try. Because theologians repressed that alternative, you find them justifying witch hunts. It's rather Freudian at bottom: the thoughts you refuse to think, you will act out in some violent, seemingly illogical way."

Cleo, Walgreens: Not in the cards
Published February 21, 2002
A glimpse into the crystal ball showed an odd pairing. It showed Miss Cleo and Walgreens, infomercial queen and drugstore giant.
They were in a relationship. But it seemed troubled. Could it last?
Two days after the Miss Cleo campaign was sued by both the state of Florida and thefederal government -- accused of being a scam -- an ad popped up in Walgreens fliers hawking the "Miss Cleo's Tarot Power" kit.
Cleo had made the leap from late night to prime time.

Posted 2/21/02 9:11 PM:
Judge's Ouster Sought After Antigay Remarks
Gay rights organizations in Alabama and Washington called yesterday for the resignation of Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court, who wrote in a child- custody opinion issued on Friday that homosexuality was considered "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God."
Chief Justice Moore, who was championed by the religious right as a lower court judge after he hung a copy of the Ten Commandments on his courtroom wall, argued in a concurring opinion that homosexuality was an "inherent evil against which children must be protected." He said homosexuals were "presumptively unfit to have custody of minor children under the established laws of this state."
The case concerned a custody battle between a father of three children and his former wife, a lesbian.

Posted 2/19/02 8:19 PM:
Seeing evil in Harry Potter, fire police refuse an event
By Amy Worden
Inquirer Staff Writer
LANCASTER - Harry Potter, boy wizard, has faced some formidable foes, from abusive Uncle Vernon and nasty Draco Malfoy to malevolent Lord Voldemorte. Never before, though, had he come up against an adversary quite like the Penryn Fire Police.
The conflict is set not at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry but in a wee Central Pennsylvania town 10 miles north of Lancaster. There, a squad of eight volunteers who direct traffic at fires, accidents, and special events has refused to work the annual Lancaster YMCA triathlon this fall.
Their reason: They claim the Y promotes witchcraft by reading the Potter tales in children's story hours.

Gay mother to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
By PHILLIP RAWLS - The Associated Press
2/18/02 4:40 PM
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A gay mother trying to get custody of her three children will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse an Alabama Supreme Court decision awarding the children to their heterosexual father.
On Friday, the nine-member state Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of a Birmingham man and against his ex-wife, who lives with her gay partner in southernCalifornia. The Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision that had awarded custody to the mother.
The Supreme Court's main decision did not mention the domestic partnership, but the chief justice's concurring opinion did. Moore wrote that the mother's homosexuality made her an unfit parent and that homosexuality is "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature."

Posted 2/18/02 7:29 PM:
State rep to file ethics complaint against chief justice
By DAVE BRYAN - The Associated Press
2/17/02 8:45 PM
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A state representative said Sunday he will file an ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore over a ruling that denied child custody to a mother because she is homosexual.
Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, said Sunday he will file a complaint with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission over a state Supreme Court ruling released Friday in which Moore wrote a lengthy concurring opinion.
Holmes said language in Moore's 35-page opinion that claims that all homosexuals are inherently evil violates the state judicial ethics canon and Moore should be removed from office.

High court readies for school voucher case
February 18, 2002 Posted: 10:52 AM EST (1552 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- For Roberta Kitchen, the national debate overschool vouchers is more about the education of her 11-year-old daughter than entrenched arguments over separation of church and state.
The girl attends a Lutheran elementary school almost entirely on the public dime. Her tuition is tuition paid by a pilot program available to parents whose children attend Cleveland schools.
Hers is the test case in the legal battle over voucher plans that give parents alternatives to public education.

Ministry makes homeschooling easier
By Laura Whittington - Montgomery Advertiser
Cindy Moore wanted to homeschool her child, but she didn’t want to be forced to join a different church in order to do it.
In Alabama, parents who choose to homeschool their children must be enrolled at a church school. And the majority of the church schools in the state allow only church members to join.
However, a new homeschool ministry in Millbrook allows people of all faiths to enroll. Shortly after the school began enrolling students, Moore  took her 7-year-old daughter out of public school and joined.
“The Outlook Academy doesn’t push religion,” said Moore. “That’s kind of why we picked it. My husband doesn’t like religion pushed.”

Posted 2/17/02 8:55 PM:
Miss Cleo's Future: Not So Bright
WASHINGTON  — Miss Cleo didn't see this coming.
The Federal Trade Commission and Florida authorities have gone to court to make the telephone psychic lay all her Tarot cards on the table and shut down what they call a fraudulent business.
The FTC complaint, filed Wednesday in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida, accuses the service of misdeeds including false promises of free psychic readings, tricky billing tactics to squeeze money out of consumers and unrelenting and abusive telemarketing calls.
"Considering the laundry list of unfair and deceptive practices in this case, it's a mystery to us why Miss Cleo and her employers haven't seen this coming," said Howard Beales, the agency's director of consumer protection. He said the FTC acted after getting more than 2,000 consumer complaints.

Posted 2/16/02 8:00 PM:
Court awards custody to father over gay mother
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - In awarding custody of three teenagers to their father over their gay mother, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court on Friday wrote that homosexuality is "an inherent evil" and shouldn't be tolerated.
The nine-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of a Birmingham man and against his ex-wife, who now lives with her gay partner in southern California.
The parents weren't named in court documents to protect the identity of the children, ages 15, 17 and 18.

Alabama Senate OKs Ten Commandments bill
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama Senate voted unanimously to require every public school in the state to post the Ten Commandments along with other historical documents.
Republican Sen. George Callahan, who sponsored the bill, said it aims "to teach our children where our laws come from."

Senate panel kills Ten Commandments in schools
Associated Press © February 14, 2002
RICHMOND -- A bill that would have ordered the state Board of Education to draft guidelines for schools to post the Ten Commandments on classroom walls died today before a Senate committee.
The Senate Education and Health Committee voted 9-6 to kill the bill after committee members grilled Del. Scott Lingamfelter over his intent in submitting legislation similar to a Kentucky law the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 1980.

'Prophet' denies role in funeral home slayings
February 15, 2002 Posted: 5:48 AM EST (1048 GMT)
AUGUSTA, Wisconsin (AP) -- A woman who calls herself a prophet and opposes embalming the dead is a suspect in the slayings of two funeral home workers found shot to death last week, police say.
But the woman -- a grandmother of 10 who leads a small ministry with a handful of followers from her rural home -- has denied the charges, saying she is "not an assassin for the devil."

Ten Schools Recognized for Commitment to First Amendment
To: National Desk, Education Reporter
Contact: Sarah Trahern of the First Amendment Center,
615-727-1535; e-mail: strahern@fac.org
ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The First Amendment Center, Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association, Quill and Scroll Society and Columbia Scholastic Press Association have designated 10 schools as "Let Freedom Ring: America's First Amendment High Schools" for 2001.
The honorees are: Archbishop Hogan High School, Akron, Ohio; Central High School, Davenport, Iowa; Chase County High School, Cottonwood Falls, Kan.; Clayton High School, Clayton, Mo.; Franklin Community High School, Franklin, Ind.; Johnsburg High School, McHenry, Ill.; Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo.; Lakewood High School, Lakewood, Ohio; Park High School, Cottage Grove, Minn.; and Townsend Harris High School, Flushing, N.Y.

Altoona schools ban distribution of materials by private groups
Thursday, February 14, 2002
By The Associated Press
ALTOONA -- The Altoona School District will no longer allow private groups to distribute written materials on campus after the American Civil Liberties Union challenged a flier for religious study groups.
Under the change, approved by the school board Monday, the district will now distribute only materials related to school events.
The policy revision is just the latest in a string of changes, dating back to 1999 when a Baptist preacher filed a request to display the Ten Commandments in a school, saying it would help build character.

Fla. lawmakers push to expand school voucher law
February 14, 2002 Posted: 3:01 PM EST (2001 GMT)
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) -- State lawmakers pushed to expand Florida's first-in-the-nation statewide school voucher law, while a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 3-year-old law was put on hold Wednesday.
House Republican leaders expected the full House as early as Thursday to take up a bill that would make every student in Florida eligible for a state-funded voucher to attend a private school. Current law limits state-funded vouchers to students at schools that receive failing grades two years out of four.

Evolution debate heats up in Ohio
Battleground: The school board is debating the theory of 'intelligent design'
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio has become the latest battleground for conservative groups that want alternative theories to evolution to be taught in classrooms.
But supporters of a change in new teaching standards aren't necessarily pushing for creationism, the classic foe of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.
Instead, backers of a rival theory called "intelligent design" want the state Board of Education to include the idea that living things must have been "designed" by some purposeful being.

Book Banning Still A Practice In Schools Around The Region
(New York-WABC, February 12, 2002) — In tonight's Eyewitness News Extra: Banning books. It's a sensitive and emotionally charged issue. For some it involves defending the first amendment, while for others it involves what they say is defending their children. The facts are that more schools these days are bowing to pressure and banning popular books, like Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn. Education Reporter Celeste Ford has the story.
Harry Potter has captivated a generation of young readers, but the focus on witchcraft has prompted formal challenges in at least 27 states, including New York. Critics say the series should be banned in the schools because it promotes an interest in the occult.

Posted 2/10/02 8:54 PM:
House narrowly passes Ten Commandments bill
Associated Press © February 8, 2002
RICHMOND -- The House of Delegates passed legislation Friday requiring the State Board of Education to write guidelines for posting the Ten Commandments and three other ``historical texts'' in public schools.
Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter's bill now goes to the Senate after the 52-46 vote in the House. Gov. Mark Warner has not taken a position on the bill.
The bill originally applied only to the Ten Commandments. After critics raised constitutional concerns about separation of church and state, Lingamfelter had the bill amended to add the nonreligious texts: the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and portions of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of Virginia.

Posted 2/10/02 5:30 PM:
Couple Lynched in Witchcraft Saga
The Nation (Nairobi)
February 10, 2002
A man and his wife suspected to be witches were lynched in Nyamira
District on Friday night.
Their two children escaped with serious burns and are fighting for their
lives at the district hospital.

Believers Don't Need Such Signs
Sunday, February 10, 2002
The Legislature is considering legislation that would mandate the placement of signs reading "In God We Trust" in prominent places in public schools. As a believer in God, I would hope that people would trust in God. But I believe this legislation is a bad idea.
This legislation is unnecessary. The vast majority of Americans and Utahns believe in God. This fact has been true for years without the  presence of any signs in public schools saying that. In fact, according to  public opinion surveys, religious faith has remained strong despite the social upheavals of the past half-century.

Maryland Teen Tells Police Vampires Gave Him Permission to Kill
Sunday, February 10, 2002
LEESBURG, Va. -- Police said a teen-ager with a history of mental illness confessed to the sword slaying of a prominent scientist, saying fantasy creatures gave him permission to kill the man in order to protect a friend.
Authorities made public Friday a statement in which Kyle Hulbert, 18, of Millersville, Md., said he believed biophysicist Robert Schwartz, 57, was trying to kill his own daughter -- Hulbert's friend -- by lacing lemons with sulfuric acid and poisoning her pork chops.

Posted 2/7/02 7:33 PM:
Zombies were disabled kids
Zenzele Kuhlase
White River - About 300 Mpumalanga villagers last week marched to a tribal authority to demand that their elders hand over two alleged zombies so that they could burn them to death.
The villagers walked away disappointed as the zombies turned out to be two mentally disabled and very dishevelled brothers, aged 10 and 13.

Cameroon coach in cup storm
From our wire services
News Interactive
BAMAKO: The African Nations Cup has been plunged into controversy here after a member of Cameroon's coaching staff was amazingly arrested by riot police at the March 26 Stadium.
Nkono was later released and re-emerged with Cameroon's players as they warmed up for the semi-final.
Earlier, after Nkono's arrest, a member of the police ran back onto the pitch and appeared to retrieve an object from the ground where Schafer and Nkono had been standing.
The policemen jubilantly waved the unidentified object to roars of applause from fans inside the stadium.
Local journalists speculated that the object was a black-magic charm aimed at helping Cameroon's cause, although neither police nor tournament officials were immediately available for comment.

N.Y. Judge Allows Girl to Say Grace
By Associated Press
February 6, 2002, 2:27 PM EST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- A federal judge has ordered school officials to let a kindergartner say grace out loud before eating lunch.
Kayla Broadus, 5, had been stopped from praying with friends on Jan. 15 at her elementary school in Wilton,  36 miles north of Albany.
The girl's lawyer argued it was her First Amendment right to say grace, but the Saratoga Springs school system said the prayer, because it was audible, violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

Sand dunes may be next national park
Great Sand Dunes would be 56th U.S. national park
February 4, 2002 Posted: 12:05 PM EST (1705 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress' efforts to convert the tallest sand dunes in North America into a Colorado national park and wildlife refuge have taken a big step with a private conservation group buying a huge ranch next to the area.
The Nature Conservancy said it's spending $31.28 million to purchase the 97,000-acre Baca Ranch and two 14,000-foot peaks in southern Colorado, next to Great Sand Dunes National Monument and Preserve. The ranch's plentiful aquifer keeps the750-foot-high dunes intact and nourishes the San Luis Valley's farmers and ranchers.

Bush budget revives private-school funding fight
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A proposal in President Bush's budget Monday to give a tax credit for private school tuition has revived a long-simmering dispute over using public funds for private or religious schooling.
The proposal would give families with students in underachieving public schools a tax credit up to $2,500. It could cover tuition, fees or transport to the private school, and would cost anestimated $186 million over five years.
Past efforts to use federal funds to support private schools, typically through vouchers or tax credits for tuition costs, ave faced opposition both onconstitution grounds and for diverting funds from needy public schools.

Hare Krishnas to File Chapter 11
By STEPHEN MANNING, Associated Press Writer
LANHAM, Md. (AP) - Hare Krishna congregations named in a $400 million lawsuit alleging sexual and emotional abuse of boarding schoolstudents plan to file for bankruptcy, a spokesman for the Hindu sect said Wednesday.
Anuttama Dasa, a Maryland-based spokesman for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, or ISKCON, said the lawsuit would cost congregations millions to fight and potentially bankrupt many even if they won.

Mother God would enable more freedom
February 7, 2002
In April, the International Bible Society is planning to issue a new Bible that will replace some of the male-oriented references with gender-neutral language. Language like "Sons of God" found in Matthew 5:9 will now read "children of God." The changes in the Today's New International Version will only affect about 7 percent of the original text.
Most of the changes, however, aren't about gender, but about updating and clarifying language. For example, Mary, the mother of Jesus, will no longer be "with child," but simply pregnant.
Still, it's the gender references that have raised a furor. To some, the IBS is bowing to political correctness rather than staying true to the original Holy Scriptures.
But I'd argue that the IBS isn't going far enough. Even as they are changing "brothers" to "brothers and sisters," one thing will remain the same: God will still be a "He."

A MATTER OF FAITH: Muslims may get protection from fraudulent food sellers
Bill would make sure religious rules followed
February 7, 2002
Sami Klait knows trust is vital in his line of work. He's not a psychologist or attorney, but a butcher in east Dearborn's Muslim commercial district.
He promises that his meat is halal -- that it was processed and prepared in accord with Islamic dietary law -- and his patrons count on it.
"People know I kill it  myself," Klait said, trimming fat from beef tenderloin at Al-Zahraa Meat Market, his shop on West Warren Road. "I have even let customers watch me slaughter, because their trust is very important. I lose that, and it's too hard to bring it back."
Muslim consumers in
Michigan may soon have something more tangible than trust on their side: the law.
Under a bill to appear before the state House of Representatives, food sellers and producers could face misdemeanor fraud charges if the Department of Agriculture finds they have misrepresented food as halal.

Posted 2/4/02 12:38 PM:
Pediatric group endorses gay adoptions
February 4, 2002 Posted: 8:38 AM EST (1338 GMT)
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed homosexual adoption, saying gay couples can provide the loving, stable and emotionally healthy family life that children need.
The new policy focuses specifically on gaining legally protected parental rights for gay "co-parents" whose partners have children, but it also could apply to gay couples who want to adopt a child together, said Dr. Joseph Hagan Jr., chairman of the committee that wrote the policy.
Citing estimates suggesting that as many as 9 million U.S. children have at least one gay parent, the academy urged its 55,000 members to take an active role in supporting measures that allow homosexual adoption.
An academy report, based on related research, says "there's no existing data to support the widely held belief that there are negative outcomes" for children raised by gay parents, Hagan said.

Posted 2/2/02 3:20 PM:
Groundhog Day rooted in pagan tradition
By TERRI JO RYAN Tribune-Herald staff writer
Groundhog Day's journey from pagan holiday to pop culture phenomenon is like a trek through the center of the earth. How a flabby mammal of the frozen north come to be associated with the first signs of spring is a tale that spans centuries.
Feb. 2 is a day marked by pagans and other "earth spirits" as Imbolc, which heralds the return of the life-giving forces of spring. This season belongs to Brigid, the Celtic goddess who in later times became revered as a Christian saint.

Groundhog Day has rich history
By PATTI BROWN - Register Staff Writer
Groundhog Day is a tradition much older than Punxsutawney Phil. The holiday is a midwinter celebration rooted in pagan and Christian traditions.
Because it is situated 40 days after Christmas and exactly halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, many Christians call Feb. 2 Candlemas and observe the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Purification of Mary, said the Rev. Jean McCarthy, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Des Moines.

Protests Subdued at Economic Forum
Larger Turnout Expected for Protesters at World Economic Forum in New York
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) Two days of rain helped keep street demonstrations low-key during the first two days of the World Economic Forum.
But activists and police were expecting larger turnouts on Saturday, including a rally outside the hotel where 2,700 business and political leaders from around the world were to continue discussing the global economy.
On Friday night, in keeping with the subdued tenor of the protests, about 500 people from a group called Pagan Cluster gathered for a candlelight vigil in lower Manhattan.
"This is a time when New York needs healing. We have to protest here, so we want to do it in a way that expresses our caring and love," said the group's leader, a woman named Starhawk.

Amendment sought tolerating polygamy
Advocates for religious freedom gathered in the Capitol rotunda Monday to present petitions to the Legislature and Gov. Mike Leavitt asking for a constitutional amendment that would tolerate polygamy.
Ken Larsen, co-director of the Coalition for Religious Freedom and Tolerance, said legalization is the first step to help any who may be abused in the polygamist culture. "It's time to tolerate everyone, no matter how much we may personally dislike their practice," Larsen said.

Memphis high school class on Bible gets board OK, awaits state approval
MEMPHIS (AP) — An elective Bible class for public high school students was approved by the Shelby County school board and awaits the go-ahead from state officials.
Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures is a one-semester course for juniors and seniors. The course had been studied by board members for six months before the vote Thursday. Designed to be neutral in terms of religion, it presents how different religious groups view the Bible.
It was developed by the Bible Literacy Project with guidance from the First Amendment Center.

Challenge made to `Choose Life' license plates
Palm Beach Post Wire Reports
Saturday, February 2, 2002
MIAMI -- Abortion rights activists asked a federal judge Friday to stop the distribution
                   of fees from state license plates bearing the "Choose Life" slogan because pro-choice groups aren't eligible for any of the money.
Attorneys for the state argued that abortion providers wouldn't have the legal right to sue unless they set up an adoption-counseling affiliate or were rejected by the Legislature for an abortion-rights specialty tag.

Flag ruling to end overpass patriotism
It's over. That brief, shining moment, post-Sept. 11, when we bonded in an impromptu burst of patriotism. The flags flapping from car antennas and taped to windows meant different things to different people, but we were all Americans, darn it. And we were proud.
Most dramatic were those oversized stars and stripes that mysteriously appeared on freeway overpasses. A little jingoism to perk up the daily commute.
I've grown fond of those flags. Not from patriotic fervor, but because they were impulsive, straight from the gut. Those symbols didn't come from some ad agency shoving sentiment down our throats; they came from just plain folks.
But now we can kiss those red, white and blue banners bye-bye. Caltrans will likely yank them down following a court ruling in a case in which two Santa Cruz women challenged the agency's policy of removing political banners (namely their own) while allowing flags to remain.
Something about the First Amendment.

Woman says cross cost her job
LOUISVILLE (AP) -- A woman who claims she was fired from a public library for wearing a necklace with a cross on it sued the western Kentucky library Friday, saying her free speech rights were violated.
Kimberly Draper was fired from the Logan County Public Library in April because she refused to remove the necklace, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.
Draper is being represented in the suit by the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative organization founded by Pat Robertson that is "committed to the defense of Judeo-Christian values," according to its Web site.

NRA official urges vigilance on rights
A top official of the group speaks out against body searches at airports as well as national ID cards.
February 2, 2002
By WILL LESTER - The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Conservatives should resist steps such as body searches at airports and national ID cards, even if that means sometimes opposing the Bush administration, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association said Friday.
"Maybe you worry that if you question or criticize, your phone will stop ringing, you'll get dropped from the Washington party circuit," LaPierre, the group's executive vice president, told the Conservative Political Action  Conference.
Don't, he said, because pressures from the anti-terror campaign are threatening Americans' freedoms.

Posted 2/1/02 12:38 PM:
Murder Throws Spotlight on Rise in Satanism
  By David Crossland
BOCHUM, Germany (Reuters) - A bizarre murder by two Devil worshippers has highlighted a rise in Satanism in Germany, where one expert estimates there are up to 7,000 followers, many of them also adhering to Nazi ideology.
Daniel and Manuela Ruda, a married couple who were being sentenced on Thursday, confessed to killing a friend with a hammer and 66 knife stabs last July, saying the Devil had ordered them to kill.
Both have severe psychological disorders, psychiatrists told the court in the western town of Bochum.

Posted 1/31/02 10:15 PM:
Muslim woman sues state over drivers license
By Pedro Ruz Gutierrez and Amy Rippel | Sentinel Staff Writers
Posted January 30, 2002
WINTER PARK -- A 34-year-old woman is suing the state for suspending her Florida drivers license after she refused to have her photo taken without an Islamic veil.
Sultaana Freeman, a former evangelist preacher who converted to Islam about five years ago and wears the traditional niqab, says her religion doesn't allow her to show her face to strangers.

Castle Hills First Baptist Church v. The City of Castle Hills
Castle Hills First Baptist Church, which was established in the early 1950s, is in the unfortunate position of being located within a jurisdiction that may well be the most anti-church city in the United States. A suburb of San Antonio, Texas, the city has gone to extraordinary lengths to drive churches out of town.
Castle Hills First Baptist Church has enjoyed tremendous growth over the years, and in the late 1990s it acquired six residential lots accross the street for badly needed additional parking for its 17,000 members. Knowing that the church intended to use the lots for parking, the city allowed it to demolish and remove homes on the lots, but then refused to grant a special use permit allowing construction of the parking areas.

Deal in Irish Child Sex Abuse Cases
01/31/2002 3:50 AM EST
DUBLIN, Ireland - The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has agreed to a landmark
 $110 million payment to Irish children sexually abused by its clergy over decades.
 Sex abuse campaigners and opposition lawmakers brand the offer as inadequate.
 The deal late Wednesday was designed to conclude a 10-year struggle by the
 church in this predominantly Catholic nation to overcome sex scandals going back
 to the 1940s. More than 20 priests, brothers and nuns have already been
 convicted of molesting children, with much of the abuse taking place in
 state-funded, church-run schools.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) A jury awarded $290,000 to two...
By Associated Press, 1/30/2002 06:54
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) A jury awarded $290,000 to two women who said they were deceived by a fundamentalist church whose leaders promised to produce Jesus Christ in the flesh.
The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints of the Last Days was ordered Monday to pay $270,000 to Kaziah Hancock and more than $20,000 to Cindy Stewart for fraud, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Posted 1/30/02 8:47 PM:
ACLU sues to ban Ten Commandments display
By Bill Poovey, Associated Press
CHATTANOOGA - The American Civil Liberties Union sued Tuesday to ban Ten Commandments displays in three Hamilton County government buildings - a fight welcomed by supporters of the postings.
Hedy Weinberg, the director for the Tennessee ACLU, said in a statement announcing the federal lawsuit that displaying the Ten Commandments in public buildings is "divisive to religiousdiversity" and a threat to religious freedom.

NetTrends: Move over porn, prayer has power online
By Andrea OrrPALO ALTO, Calif., Jan 30 (Reuters) - Even by the ``anything goes'' standards of Internet publishing, these topics might seem a little on the fringe: a trivia challenge about the angels of the Bible, a discussion of 6th century B.C. Zoroastrian theology, a ``spiritual weight loss'' program based on filling the emptiness with faith instead of food.
Actually, the material all comes from a Web site that is so popular it has pulled off something of a small miracle. Beliefnet.com (http://www.beliefnet.com), devoted to religions of all kinds, has grown its advertising revenues steadily over the past year, when so many other content sites faced their last judgment.
``I think it is something like 11 of the last 12 months that our revenues have been going up,'' said Steve Waldman a co-founder of New York-based Beliefnet. ``I wouldn't say that the advertising slump has passed us by, because we probably would have signed up even more advertisers otherwise.''

Posted 1/29/02 8:01 PM:
Celestial tours of our evening skies - by Ashen Path Observatory (Website)
============ The Night Sky ============
JAN. 28 -- MONDAY Full Moon (exact at 5:50 p.m. EST). Jupiter's moon Io casts its tiny black shadow on the planet from 6:13 to 8:28 p.m. EST. This is the first of three moon shadows that will cross Jupiter in the next three evenings at good times for telescope users in most of the Americas. If you have a telescope you can watch it!
JAN. 29 -- TUESDAY Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, crosses the planet's bright face this evening from 6:28 to 9:30 p.m. EST. Much more easily visible is Ganymede's black shadow, which crosses Jupiter from 9:15 p.m. to 12:21 a.m. EST.
JAN. 31 -- THURSDAY Jupiter's Red Spot transits across the front of the giant planet around 7:38 p.m. EST.
FEB. 1 -- FRIDAY Go out around midnight and you can get a taste of the springtime stars! You will find a waning gibbous Moon shining in the east with bright Arcturus well to its left. Spica shines roughly half as far below the Moon. High in the northeast is the Big Dipper. High in the southeast, far to the Moon's upper right, is Leo.
To find the bright stars Arcturus AND Spica simply look to the Dippers handle. Take the handle and visually trace the arc of the handle out into space. "Follow the Arc to Arcturus and speak Spica"
=========== Planting Time! ===========
Now is the time to get ready to plant that Summer garden. If you don't have the land to do it in - containerize it in large pots out on your lanai or in a sunny spot. I recommend the following books to get you going:
Tom MacCubbin Florida Home Grown 2: The Edible Landscape
LLewellyn's 2002 Moon Sign Book And Gardening Almanac.
Gardening is a magical "back to the roots" experience. You plant a tiny seed in the warm earth, add water and fertilizer and the tiny seed of life grows! Its a magical experience your whole family can get involved in. To get the children involved work with them to plant a children's garden.
Things like multi colored Indian Corn, soft Cotton, Bird House Gourds, Yard Long string beans - all the neat things and all useful. Kids that are involved in planting gardens do eat their vegetables and kids are excited to grown things. It also teaches discipline, patience and respect for mother earth. Should you need gardening advice let me know, for it is better to have too many tomatoes than not a one and have to go to the grocery store.
This past Friday night I saw plain old green tomatoes at our Winn Dixie for $3.00+ a pound. That's outrageous! They are so easy to grow... If you have too many of something in the garden you simply preserve it for later use. Nothing is thrown away. Compost happens.
Now off to the planets......
================== Where are the Planets? ==================
MERCURY and VENUS are hidden in the glare of the Sun.
MARS is in Pisces and is the brightest "star" in the southwest during twilight, glowing orange. It sinks lower in the west-southwest later in the evening and sets around 10 p.m.
JUPITER is located in Gemini it's the brightest point of light in the sky. It blazes white in the east in early evening, high in the south by 10 p.m., and in the west during early-morning hours.
SATURN is in Taurus and shines high in the east far to Jupiter's upper right during early evening. Later in the evening it's in the south directly to Jupiter's right. The star Aldebaran sparkles just 4 degrees (two or three finger-widths at arm's length) from Saturn -- below it in early evening, and to its lower left or left later at night. Compare their colors. Saturn is pale yellow; Aldebaran is more orange.
URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glare of the Sun and so are invisible to the eye.
PLUTO lies in Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer and is in the southeast before dawn.
Visit your local Planetarium or Observatory to learn more about the night sky.
Ashen Path Observatory ~ Lehigh Acres Florida

Posted 1/29/02 12:18 PM:
Real Witches Don't Need Lawyers
It was a proud day in Massachusetts last fall when Bay State legislators officially exonerated the Salem witches. As is often the case with legislative action, the effort to right a wrong came a little late, given that the girls were hanged some 300 years ago.
The case against the Salem witches always struck me as a bit shaky, given that there was little evidence of real witch stuff: riding on brooms and scaring poor Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, half to death - or melting when someone poured water on them.
If we're to take witches seriously, they have to cooperate. No subtlety. No ambiguity about whether they're witches or  whether they're merely women with a hormonal imbalance. We want them in the woods, chanting over a pot of frog brains and puppy-dog tails.
The modern witches don't even begin to fit the bill. They all deserve to be hanged for the crime of boring us to death with their efforts to assimilate.
[Oh, okay.. dress up every day like it's Halloween, live in some drafty old shack and cackle a lot, and THEN you'll take us seriously? I would have thought working, paying our taxes, being good neighbors and supporting our communities would be enough. Guess I was wrong. - Oak]

Posted 1/28/02 8:03 PM:
Top-Selling Bible to Be Issued in Gender-Neutral Version
The Bible, which once taught men how to be better God-fearing citizens, will now teach "people" the same lesson.
Starting with its next update, America's most popular modern Bible is going to be gender neutral, the International Bible Society said Monday.
The new version will be called "Today's New International Version," or TNIV, with a New Testament on sale in April and the full Bible expected by 2005. The original "New International Version," which has sold more than 150 million copies worldwide since 1978, will remain on the market.
Examples of some changes from 1978 to 2002: "sons of God" to "children of God" in Matthew 5:9, and "a man is justified by faith" to "a person is justified by faith" in Romans 3:28.

Read what others are saying or log in and share your views on Penryn Fire Company
"I moved away from Lancaster 3 years ago, but still keep tabs on local news. I was absolutely dumbfounded to find that the Penryn Fire Company refused to support the YMCA triathlon. Their reason was that they cannot support a group that condones 'witchcraft'; the YMCA reads Harry Potter to children at their facility.
"It sickens me that people with this kind of mentality are leaders in the community. I don't know which disturbs me more; the fact that these people have such a difficult time separating reality from fantasy, or the fact that such moronic clods have been saddled the with the heavy responsibility of saving peoples' lives."

Posted 1/27/02 8:58 PM:
Transgender Advocates vs Feminists in Legal Battle
By Alison Appelbe - CNSNews.com Correspondent
January 25, 2002
Vancouver, BC (CNSNews.com) - A Canadian transsexual woman has been awarded $4,664 by a human-rights tribunal after she was turned down for a position with a program that trains women to counsel female rape victims. The unusual case pitted transgender advocates against feminists.
The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter, also known as the Rape Relief Society, had tried to persuade the government-appointed British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal that a person who grew up as a male lacks the personal history and life experience to sensitively counsel women who've been raped or abused by men.
However, the tribunal rejected this position in its recent decision, charging that Vancouver Rape Relief discriminated against Kimberly Nixon, a former pilot, on the basis of appearance, and thereby injured her dignity and self-esteem.

Norfolk fire chief apologizes, pulls Bibles from stations
By CINDY CLAYTON, The Virginian-Pilot
© January 25, 2002
NORFOLK -- Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin said Thursday that he didn't mean to offend anyone when he allowed Gideons International to place Bibles inside the city's fire stations.
The books, about the size of a deck of cards, were put inside the 15 stations Tuesday, but should be removed by today, he said. They contain the New Testament portion of the Christian Bible along with the Old Testament's Psalms and Proverbs.
 Rubin, who has been chief since June, sent out an all-hands memorandum Thursday explaining his initial decision and then apologizing to his employees.
``Although I consider myself a spiritual individual, I would never attempt to impose such beliefs on others or suggest to members of this department that one faith should be represented more than another,'' Rubin wrote. ``My only motivation, in this instance, was an attempt to provide something for the membership.''

Posted 1/27/02 4:32 PM:
Sooner or later we all feel pressure from this group or that individual to try "their" brand of spirituality, generally some branch of Christianity. While I understand that most Christians feel it their duty to "spread the Gospel," it can wear a bit thin after a while. That's why it was so refreshing to read this article, "The Theology of a Nut" by my Christian friend from several message boards that I know as Fledgling Prophet.

And now the news:
Georgia appeals court: Vermont civil unions don't equal marriage
January 26, 2002 Posted: 2:44 PM EST (1944 GMT)
ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- A Georgia appeals court has ruled that Vermont's civil unions law does not create a partnership equal to marriage, the first test of the landmark law that gives some marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that Susan Freer and her lesbian partner could not seek child-visitation rights because they are not married. The couple established a civil union in Vermont in 2000.
Freer has three sons from a marriage that ended in 1995. A visitation agreement with her ex-husband, Darian Burns, forbids the children to stay overnight with a parent who is living with someone to whom they are not married or related.
A judge severed her visitation rights in January 2001.

THE new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow will make his first major public appearance this week - at an ancient pagan festival.
The Most Rev Mario Conti, named by the Pope as successor to the late Cardinal Thomas Winning, will be in Shetland for the Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival.
Archbishop-elect Conti and the Most Rev Bruce Cameron, head of the Scottish Episcopal Church, will be welcomed by the head Viking Guizer Jarl in Lerwick on Tuesday.

Posted 1/26/02 5:55 PM:
YMCA on lookout for traffic control
Triathlon organizers ponder options
Saturday, January 26
Triathlon: Traffic control is needed for Sept. 7 event
Civia Katz
Lancaster YMCA's annual triathlon remains in jeopardy as organizers scramble to find volunteers to handle traffic control for the Penn Township portion of the race.
The safety detail is unfilled because eight members of Penryn fire police voted unanimously to boycott the event after accusing YMCA of promoting witchcraft by reading Harry Potter books to children.
YMCA executive director Michael Carr said organizers need fire police, preferably people from the community, for the Sept. 7 event to proceed.

New Help In Torso Murder
A world expert in African ritualistic murder is travelling to Britain to join the hunt for the killer of a boy whose torso was found in a river.
Detectives hope forensic pathologist Dr Hendrik Scholtz will be able to shed new light on the death of the five-year-old, whose severed body was discovered floating in the Thames.
Officers believe the boy could be the first person in the UK to die in a "muti" killing of a kind known to have been practised in South Africa.
The killings are done by witch doctors who use the victim's body parts for black magic potions.
Related story: Police release image of torso victim
Police investigating the death of a boy whose torso was found in the Thames have released a picture of the body.

Prayers at State-Run Military School Ruled Unconstitutional
Friday, January 25, 2002
LYNCHBURG, Va.  — School prayers at the Virginia Military Institute will no longer be recited  now that a judge has ruled that saying grace before dinner is unconstitutional.
Cadets at state-supported VMI, based in Lexington, Va., have been praying before the evening meal since the 1950s. The Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the school last May on behalf of two cadets, Neil Mellen and Paul Knick, who had complained about the prayers.

A woman's faith
Religious conference focuses on gender role perceptions
Story by Robert Evatt - Log Cabin Staff Writer
Judeo-Christian and Muslim traditions almost unfailingly refer to God as a "he." The prophets of the major religions, such as Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed, are all male. And the leaders of most sects are men.
So where do women fit in?
This year's World Religions Day Conference, a student-organized event held Saturday at Hendrix College, examined exactly that. During the centerpiece of the conference, a number of local women from a variety of faiths and backgrounds held a forum discussion on their perception of women's role within faith. Dr. John Farthing, Hendrix professor of religion and philosophy, served as moderator.

State of Washington   57th Legislature    2002 Regular Session
By Senator Hochstatter
Both the United States Constitution and the Washington state Constitution were instituted to protect rights endowed by the Creator.
All state legislators in the state of Washington swear an oath to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the state of Washington.
The legislature finds that the teaching of the theory of evolution in the common schools of the state of Washington is repugnant to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and thereby unconstitutional and unlawful.
All textbooks and curriculum that teach the theory of evolution shall be removed from the public schools forthwith and replaced with textbooks and curriculum that teach the self-evident truth of creation.

Posted 1/24/02 10:05 PM:
Woman accused of witchcraft
Maryland woman charged in three deaths allegedly used fear, black magic to hide crimes
By STEPHEN MANNING-- The Associated Press
ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) -- Josephine Gray had a different style of cooking -- one that involved a collection of powders, roots and teas she kept hidden in her bedroom.
After some people ate her concoctions, acquaintances say, Gray gained so much power over them that they would do her bidding -- perhaps even kill for her.
"She's an evil witch-doer. She has a long history of witchcraft," said Lenron Goode Jr. His brother Clarence Goode, a boyfriend of Gray's, was found shot and stuffed in a trunk.
[You know, if she did it, she did it and should be found guilty and punished. But I fail to see the need to examine her spice rack. We've probably got more herbs, potions, teas and brews sitting around than your average 10th-century alchemist, and we can't even get the kids to turn out the light when they leave the room. - Oak]

Posted 1/24/02 8:04 PM:
Potter witchcraft accusation hits Pa. town
PENRYN, Pennsylvania (AP) -- The police department has refused to direct traffic at a YMCA triathlon because it says the club promotes witchcraft by reading Harry Potter books to children.
Penryn Fire Police Capt. Robert Fichthorn said the eight-member force voted unanimously to boycott the 20th running of the triathlon, scheduled for September 7.
"I don't feel right taking our children's minds and teaching them (witchcraft)," Fichthorn said. "As long as we don't stand up, it won't stop. It's unfortunate that this is the way it has to be."
[Wait a fricken' minute... Took a VOTE?? Since when do civil servants VOTE on whether they want to do their jobs or not? Since when does a government agency decide morality for a community? Last one I heard about, we're still bombing. - Oak]

Re: the above - From Wren Walker at Witchvox.com:
Pennsylvanian Pagans should call or write their state attorney and their Congressional representatives and demand that the Constitutional guarantee of equal protection be upheld in the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanians should be outraged and deeply embarrassed that such an outrageous act by a public agency could occur in a state so instrumental in our nation¹s history and in the founding of U.S. liberty and justice.

Governor: Mark Schweiker
225 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
Telephone: (717) 787-2500
Governor's Email form at:

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney Mike Fisher
16th Floor, Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Email: info@attorneygeneral.gov

A.G. Civil Law Division:
Eastern Regional Office
21 South 12th Street, 3rd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-560-2402

Western Regional Office
6th Floor, Manor Complex
564 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412-565-7680

The Selling of Mothman
A Small Town Hopes to Make Big Bucks Off a Winged Monster
By Buck Wolf
Jan. 22 — Move over, Bigfoot. See ya, Sasquatch. America's new No. 1 monster this year is destined to be Mothman.
The flying, blood-eyed, 7-foot-tall monster that once terrorized Point Pleasant, W.Va., chasing cars and mutilating animals, is making a comeback. He's out to fill Bigfoot's big shoes — especially at the cash register.
The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere, opens in theaters Jan. 25, and that might be the best thing in the paranormal tourism business since the Loch Ness Monster backstroked to Scotland.

Religious tiles moved for mental health, school district says
Religious symbols on tiles painted by families after the Columbine High School shootings were banned to protect students' mental health and keep the school from becoming a memorial, school officials say.
The families argued that their views were wrongly excluded while other religious-themed exhibits inside the school were allowed, including a framed poster saying, "God wept over Columbine this day, April 20, 1999."
The arguments are in 185 pages of appellate briefs filed Tuesday by the two sides with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear oral arguments in the case in its Denver courthouse on Feb. 1.

Posted 1/23/02 8:45 PM:
Homeschoolers seek access to school clubs
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Nestor Hrycenko would love the chance to score for a high school soccer team, but homeschooling has kept the 16-year-old sidelined.
His father has sued, demanding that his son be allowed to play on a local team. Now, he's pushing state legislators to force the issue.
A bill introduced in the Legislature last month would require the state's public schools to let homeschoolers join sports teams and other clubs. Fourteen states already have such laws, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Virginia.

Posted 1/22/02 8:32 PM:
Policeman Denies Using Witchcraft
The East African Standard (Nairobi) - January 22, 2002
Boniface Kaona
A police detective yesterday denied having used witchcraft to hunt down a gang of killers who murdered Ruiru mayoral contender, Councillor Charles Maina Wanjuguna.
Constable Bernard Nthiwa told the High Court that police launched intensive investigations soon after Wanjuguna's body was found in a maize plantation within his homestead in June 1999.
He vehemently denied that in the course of the investigations he used witchcraft to assist him in hunting down the murderers as suggested by one of a dozen defence lawyers, Mr Kioko Kilukumi.
"It is not our practice in the police force to employ witchcraft when carrying out investigations," he said in response to the lawyer's question during cross-examination.

Posted 1/21/02 10:30 PM:
Honoring unknown God wrong
When the Apostle Paul arrived in Athens, Greece, on his second missionary journey, he found among the religious sites in that city an "altar to the unknown God."
If Paul were to make his way to Montgomery today, and stop off at the state Supreme Court building, he would have an opportunity to visit the altar to the "non-specific God" of Alabama. At least, that seems to be what Judge Roy Moore and his legal team are arguing as they defend the public display of the Ten Commandments.

Posted 1/21/02 8:37 PM:
Old-time religion at the schoolhouse
Suzanne Fields in The Washington Times
Picture this: Tiffany, Melanie and Samantha, ages 11, 11 and 12, all dressed up in burqas. You can't see the blonde hair or blue eyes that suggest Valley Girl good looks, but you can see high-top sneakers or wedgy boots beneath the hemlines, giving them away as trendy sub-teens.
Then picture Brian, Justin and Kevin. They're dressed in flowing Muslim robes, looking more like miniatures of T.E. Lawrence out of the movie "Lawrence of Arabia," than the fanatic Islamists we've seen on the front pages of the newspapers.

Bless this house
Prayerful find heavenly peace at home shrines
By Betsy Lehndorff, News Staff Writer
Though psychotherapist Michael Pass lives in a cramped basement apartment inDenver, he has created room for a sacredspace in a tiny library. On a bookshelf he has placed a few rocks, photographs, a triptych of the Annunciation, candles, wood flowers from Indonesia and the bouquet from his daughter's wedding.
In private moments, he sits on a leather-covered stool and studies the collection he has created.
"I see it as a place to come closer to God and to support the process of prayer and meditation and gather a sense of peace and tranquillity," Pass says.

Posted 1/20/02 1:05 PM:
School official recommends against buying Potter books
But Copley-Fairlawn will keep old titles. Multiple reasons cited
BY KATIE BYARD -Beacon Journal staff writer
COPLEY TWP.: Although Harry Potter has not been banned in Copley-Fairlawn schools, a district official has recommended that elementary and middle school libraries not buy additional titles of the best-selling books featuring the boy wizard.
Cathy Hall, in her second year as coordinator of library and media services for the district, said one reason for the recommendation is that the district has limited money. She added that she was ``also keeping in mind those things that are being said about the book'' series.
[Good idea. The last thing you want to do is spend limited library funds on books that kids actually WANT to read. - Oak]

Radios lead Indians to tune out past
Missionaries take to air in remote regions of Mexico
By Marion Lloyd, Globe Correspondent, 1/20/2002
AS LATAS, Mexico - Rafael de la Cruz was tending his crops in this remote Huichol Indian community one morning when he heard the strange sound of a propeller engine echoing off the canyon walls. Moments later, small airplane swooped down over the
main ceremonial plaza and began dropping clothbound packages lashed to tiny parachutes.
''It was like we were being invaded,'' the farmer said of the falling bundles, which contained solar-powered radios tuned to Christian evangelical stations. Many of the packets also included Spanish-language religious texts from the Billy Graham
Evangelical Association and other US-based missionary groups.
De la Cruz and other Huichol leaders now point to that October 1998 day when everything changed for their indigenous community, and a religious conflict began.

Which prison chaplain is Witch?
Published January 20, 2002
Steve Chapman - The Chicago Tribune
Republicans do not normally wear themselves out worrying about how to keep prison inmates happy. But GOP State Rep. Scott Walker of Wisconsin firmly sides with any convicts who may not like the new chaplain at the Waupun Correctional Institution. The reverend is a real witch, and we're not talking about her personality.
No, Jamyi Witch is a minister of Wicca, a neo-pagan faith based on the worship of nature. She changed her last name from Welch to fit her adoptive religion--whose practitioners are known as witches despite what appears to be no special enthusiasm for brooms or pointed black hats. She told the Los Angeles Times that some prisoners lose interest when they find that she can't show them how to magically melt the bars in their cells.

KKK to rally in Tennessee
NEWPORT, Tennessee (AP) -- Just days after a wooden cross was burned on the lawn of this town's first black mayor, authorities were stepping up security in advance of a rally by as many as 200 Ku Klux Klansmen.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol was sending officers to increase security at  the Saturday rally, which falls on the anniversary of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's birthday and two days before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
"I hope we don't have any violence, but if we do we've made preparations for that," Police Chief Clay Webb said. "We won't tolerate that in any way."

Constitution doesn't square religious debate
Friday, January 18, 2002
The holidays are weeks past, but their hangover will linger for months in Tuscola County. In the county seat of Caro, a nativity scene has become the subject of a federal lawsuit over the First Amendment and the separation of church and state.
With this kind of debate hashed over thoroughly in the 1970s, we thought fights over nativity scenes on public property were battles resolved years ago.
Apparently not.

Potter's not a Wiccan
[Reader's letter to Contra Costa Times]
As a Christian wife, I am in a position to objectively observe my Wiccan husband for any possible resemblance to Harry Potter.
I must report that I have never seen him fly on a broomstick, cloak himself in invisibility, cause chess pieces to shatter each other, or do any of the other  things Harry Potter can do. He does not receive owl mail, nor eat candy that moves and, while he has served me candlelight dinners on several occasions, the candles never floated above us.

Posted 1/17/02 10:05 PM:
Website - The UMass Sunwheel Project
Professor Judith S. Young
Department of Astronomy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
In October of 1995, I received PERMISSION to construct a Sunwheel on campus here at the University of Massachusetts. The OBSERVATIONS necessary for the construction of this Sunwheel were begun in June of 1996, and were completed by March 1997. These observations consisted of WATCHING THE SUN RISE AND SET FROM THE CENTER OF THE  SUNWHEEL AT THE TIMES OF THE SOLSTICES AND EQUINOXES.

Posted 1/17/02 9:32 PM:
Fascinated or frightened, they hunt for haunts of Jersey Devil
The mangled remains of bird carcasses were spread across the public boat dock. Feathers littered the ground 10 feet away, but the entrails lay neatly, as if awaiting a high school lab dissection.
The heads were missing.
Paul Velez, 26, bent over the entrails: "Guys, this isn't rotten. This is fresh."
"We're getting out of here," Laura Leuter, 23, said into her voice recorder in a scene right out of The Blair Witch Project. "Whatever did this could come back and do this to us."
It might not have been the Jersey Devil, but it was enough to convince the group's skeptics that the Pine Barrens could be home to a strange, undocumented species. It was also enough to scare the bejesus out of the  believers.

Frescoes show how the Roman middle-class once lived
Paintings depict fruit-picking cupids, nude young men
Shasta Darlington - Reuters
ROME - After three years of restoration, Italy reopened a third-century dwelling yesterday that gives a rare glimpse of how middle-class Romans lived -- in rooms adorned by frescoes and courtyards replete with fountains.
Rome's "case Romane al celio," a complex of 20 rooms, was discovered in 1887 under the Basilica of Saints John and Paul, but was forced to close when one courtyard collapsed and mould started to eat away at the frescoes.
"The reopening of the site will allow visitors to Italy to seeanother side of Roman history," Elio Paparatti, the city's head restorer, said at the opening.

Online Petition: Pagan Holidays on Mainstream US Calendars
It is said that discrimination against Wiccans, Pagans, and Pantheists is the final civil rights frontier. More and more of such religious beliefs are "coming out of the broom closet" each year.
Still there is a long way to go. It would help if the media would cover more Pagan culture. One easy way to get coverage is for us to have our holidays mentioned on mainstream calendars where everyone will see them.

Posted 1/16/02 10:07 PM:
Unraveling the Jinx
Updated: Tuesday January 15, 2002 5:49 PM
As years go, 2001 was a pretty good one for the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx. Which is to say it was annus horribilis for Nomar Garciaparra, the Oregon State football team, Eric Crouch and the Washington Redskins, all of whom graced our cover and paid for it.
That's why I'm bracing to hear from the ASPCA.
See, I wrote this week's cover story, in which we conducted a thorough exploration of what happened to everyone who has appeared on our cover, from Eddie Mathews, on the inaugural issue in 1954, to Michael Jordan, who took his 51st turn last week just as his wife filed for divorce. To illustrate the story, we asked St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner to pose for the cover with a black cat. Only Warner refused, so the cat does a solo turn with the billing THE COVER THAT NO ONE WOULD POSE FOR.
The cover:

Doctors, patients embrace spirituality in medical care
When Louisville physician David Hibbard conducts an hourlong physical, the usual questions come up: Do you have a family history of any diseases? Have you had any surgeries?
But then Hibbard throws in a question that may catch some by surprise.
"I always ask, 'Do you have a religious or spiritual practice,' " says Hibbard, founder of the Family Medical Center in Louisville, Ky. He goes on to ask if the patient believes in some kind of "higher power," if they pray, and if they would want for him to pray for them if they fell ill.

Posted 1/15/02 8:38 PM:
Unseen auras, untapped energy
BELIEVING: Intuitive arts' fans seek confirmation at festival.
By Sandi Gerjevic - Anchorage Daily News
(Published: January 15, 2002)
Saturday was girls' day out for Jody Jaros, her friend Rona Johnson-Kurzejeski and Rona's mom, Norma Johnson. The trio descended on the Alaska Intuitive Arts Festival, open to anything.
The festival, held at the Anchorage Senior Center, offered rune readings, Egyptian goddess scarves, energy healing, acupuncture and more. Its featured guest was an amiable, potty-mouthed psychic from Texas named Starr Fuentes, who boasted that her clients included heads of states and "a -- -- load of movie stars."
First, Jaros, 43, had her aura photographed.

Business on a small scale: Astrologer's career foretold in the stars
Christine Van Dusen - Staff
Tuesday, January 15, 2002
Toni Thomas is a psychic astrologer and is very familiar with the presumptions that go along with her title: that she uses a crystal ball, perhaps wears a head scarf and has the ability to read minds and see the future.
In reality, Thomas uses a $2,000 computer program and astronomy manuals to help calculate the positions of planets and stars and then uses that data to interpret and predict events in a person's life. She doesn't operate from a tent at a carnival; she runs a full-time, one-woman, home-based business in Duluth called Astrology Source. Gross revenue for 2001 hit $48,000.

Posted 1/14/02 9:33 PM:
Woman who allegedly enticed lovers to kill charged in slayings of two husbands
Associated Press
Saturday, January 5, 2002
ROCKVILLE, Md. - A woman accused of killing two husbands and a boyfriend with the help of successive lovers - including two who allegedly became her victims themselves - was charged with first-degree murder.
Josephine Gray, who allegedly kept witnesses quiet with threats of voodoo, was charged with murder Friday in the first two deaths, Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler said. The third killing took place in Baltimore, outside Gansler's jurisdiction.

Jewish sangoma causes a stir
Ilda Jacobs
Santa Barbara - A white man dancing frenziedly around a fire and possessed by African ancestors has raised eyebrows in the normally open-minded neighbourhoods of Santa Barbara, California, in the United States.
The sight of a respected Jewish doctor from South Africa throwing the bones and communing with the dead from a Zulu hut in his backyard has caused somewhat of a stir. Before being called to traditional healing Dr David Cumes was just your average conservative boytjie from an upmarket suburb in Johannesburg.

Posted 1/14/02 7:20 PM:
Mom tries to beat 'demons' out of teen
Associated Press
Jan. 14, 2002 10:40:00
GERRARDSTOWN, W.V. - A West Virginia woman who reportedly thought her 15-year-old daughter was a witch faces battery charges for hitting the girl and allegedly trying to shake the demons out of her.
The girl told Berkeley County authorities that her mother called her a demon and a witch. She said her mom slapped her in the face and began shaking her, saying she was trying to revoke demons and witches from the girl.

Posted 1/13/02 2:22 PM:
County education board passes resolution in favor of legal prayer in schools
John Stiles, Blount County bureau
The Blount County Board of Education has passed a resolution supporting prayer in schools.
The board last week voted unanimously for a resolution encouraging lawmakers to pass legislation making school prayer legal. Board member Don Talbott offered the resolution.
Talbott said the board's resolution would support one by the Tennessee School Board to allow prayer back in schools.

Posted 1/12/02 7:41 PM:
Pope acts against paedophile clergy
January 12, 2002 Posted: 9:53 AM EST (1453 GMT)
By CNN's Rome Bureau Chief Ale ssio Vinci
VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II is taking action against a problem that the church has been widely criticised for handling poorly: priests involved in sexual child abuse.
There has not been a problem in the life of the Catholic Church in the last 30 year that is more traumatic and painful than the problem of accusations of sexual misconduct directed against priests, especially in cases involving children.
This has been both an enormously difficult pastoral problem, it has also been a public relations problem, and it has also been a big financial problem.

Posted 1/12/02 6:41 PM:
Animal-assisted therapy
Children with multiple disabilities including mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome, may benefit from animal-assisted therapy, concludes a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study.
Most of children in the eight-week study showed some improvement in attention span, physical movement, communication and compliance, says Kathy Heimlich, a graduate student and lead researcher.

Witch's suit says church cast spell of hostility
Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle
A Houston-area witch says in a lawsuit that members of a Unitarian Fellowship program fell far short of their promise to welcome people of all religious beliefs when, among other things, they dismissed her as a "hunchbacked, toothless, redneck, hillbilly witch."
Mary LeBlanc says in a lawsuit filed this week that members of the Unitarian group belittled her disabilities and religion and harassed her to violate her religious beliefs by teaching them secret Wiccan rituals.

Tibetan Healing Mandala for Healing and Protection in the aftermath of September 11
Exactly four months after the tragedies in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and New York, twenty Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery will come to the Sackler Gallery to construct one of the largest sand mandalas (sacred paintings) ever created in the West, for the healing and protection of America. Chanting, meditation, and other traditional healing ceremonies will also take place at the gallery through the duration of the monks' visit.

Taking over churches part of Third Reich plan
Edward Colimore
Knight Ridder Newspapers
PHILADELPHIA - The fragile, typewritten documents from the 1940s lay out the Nazi plan in grim detail:
Take over the churches from within, using party sympathizers. Discredit, jail or kill Christian leaders. And re-indoctrinate the congregants. Give them a new faith — in Germany's Third Reich.
More than a half-century ago, confidential U.S. government reports on the Nazi plans were prepared for the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg; they became available on the Internet starting Thursday — some for the first time.

History class riles parents
Principal of Byron school says Islam is being studied, not promoted
Kelli A. Phillips - CONTRA COSTA TIMES
BYRON -- Seventh-graders dressed in Muslim clothing, citing Islamic proverbs and calling each other Muslim names are stirring up a dispute in a small rural school in east Contra Costa County.
Sept. 11 probably heightened the negative reaction to the history class.
"It's just bad timing. They started this in the middle of October, right after the terrorist attacks. They could've put it more toward the end of the year or something. It's just bad timing," said Don Dutra, parent of a seventh-grader.

Group works to keep religion, state apart
Every Friday at lunchtime during his senior year, Charles Moreland would go to a private place in his public high school and pray.
Some years later, Moreland became ''the Rev. Moreland'' and a U.S. Army chaplain. He was a chaplain for 20 years, and a Methodist pastor for 13 more. While he has strong ties to his faith, he has always believed unequivocally that the church should remain autonomous, even from the government. In an effort to inform others about the issue, he is now part of the newly formed Nashville chapter of Americans United — an organization that works to sustain the separation of church and state.

Judge rules teen must bow in judo case
Dad plans appeal, says court decision violates civil rights
Journal Staff and wire reports
BELLEVUE -- Requiring judo contestants to bow to the mat before a picture of the founder of the Japanese martial art does not violate freedom of religion, a federal judge has ruled.
But John Holm says he and his teen-age children, both Newport High students, will fight the ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
``They'll make you face a dead person and bow down to it -- and that's just not right,'' Holm said.

Pilgrimage to 'witch's house' was a rite of passage
Last Updated: Jan. 10, 2002
I never met Mary Nohl. But I confess to being one of the countless hooligans who piled in cars and drove to the "witch's house" where she lived.
That made me part of the problem, I now realize. But we were young, and the lure of the night and the creepy rumors and legends surrounding the place was more than we could resist.

Posted 1/11/02 8:28 PM:
Public School Pedals[sic] Book Promoting Witchcraft
January 10, 2002
Enterprise, Utah - An elementary school in Enterprise, Utah was recently caught pedaling a book to elementary school students entitled, "The Wizards Handbook". The Scholastic Book Club order form promotes the book by stating, "Find the Wizard Inside YOU!" and "Make your own magic wands, cast spells, predict the future, and lots more!"
A concerned parent contacted the Pacific Justice Institute after learning the school was making available such a book to her child, without any prior parental notice or consent.

Posted 1/10/02 8:38 PM:
Wicca: A Response to April Shenandoah
By High Priestess Morgan Ravenwood - 01.10.02
Ye Gods! I just read April Shenandoah's vituperative article on the Rev. Jamyi Witch (the newly-appointed Wiccan prison chaplain) and can hardly credit that this kind of religious bigotry still exists in the 21st century. However, since I too am a Wiccan priestess, instead of "losing it" and lowering myself to Ms. Shenandoah's level, I'd like to address her comments, not with anger but a level head, and armed with hard, cold facts.

The end is near?
Stan Coffey, pastor of San Jacinto Baptist Church, found considerable symbolism in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In his Sept. 23 sermon, he said the number 11 keeps coming up. Sept. 11 was the 254th day of the year. Add the numbers two, five and four and you get 11, he said.
There's more, much more.

Study: New clues to ancient thinkers
Researcher: Pushes 'modern behavior' back 35,000 years
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Intricate patterns engraved on bits of stone found in a cave and dated at 77,000 years suggest that ancient humans in Africa developed complex behavior and abstract thought thousands of years earlier than the famed cave painters of Europe.
Pieces of crafted ochre, a stone used for carving and for making pigment powder, were unearthed from the floor of a seaside cave in South Africa.

Posted 1/9/02 8:51 PM:
Which Witch is the "Good" Witch in Wis-con-sin?April Shenandoah: 01.09.02
witch (wich), n. 1. a woman supposedly having supernatural power by a compact with evil spirits. 2. an ugly and ill-tempered old  woman; hag; crone. 3. [Colloq.], a bewitching or fascinating woman or girl. vt. 1. to put a magic spell on; bewitch. 2. to cause, bring, effect, etc. by witchcraft. (Webster's New World Dictionary 1960)
The Wicca witch has gained credibility in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. The newly appointed prison chaplain is none other than Rev. Jamyi Witch (the last name being of her own choosing). She is the first Wiccan priestess in the country to be appointed to a full-time state position. Witch, 43, states that the term "witch" is merely a description -like "Protestant" or "Jewish." Wis-con-sin – ironic syllables for a place that recognizes Wicca as a religion on par with other traditional faiths.
[And it get worse after that... - Oak]

Posted 1/8/02 8:32 PM:
School Panel Chairman Seeks Prayer at Meetings
Times Staff and Wire Reports
WOONSOCKET, R.I. -- The new chairman of the city's school committee wants to begin each board meeting with a prayer.
Edward Boucher said he needs God's help in his job and plans on asking for  it even if others don't think it's appropriate.

Court allows student-led prayer
MICHAEL KIRKLAND, UPI Legal Affairs Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower-court ruling allowing student-led prayers during a Florida county's high school graduation ceremonies.
The high court's refusal to review the case sets no precedent, and the justices could rule on the issue in some future case. However, Monday's action leaves in place an appeals court ruling that holds sway in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Posted 1/6/02 7:50 PM:
Christian schools says state law exposes kids to Net 'filth'
Concerned about "unlimited filth" on the Internet, a small Christian school is asking the Tennessee legislature to allow students an exemption from the state's computer education requirement for reasons of conscience.
Since 1994, Tennessee law has required a full year of computer education, including "online communication," to obtain a high school diploma. The law does not specify when the unit must be taken. It was enacted "to enable (pupils) to communicate and participate in the 21st Century," according to the preamble to the statute, part of the 1992 Education Improvement Act.

Curious El Pasoans take in Psychic Fair
Event offers answers to 'hard life questions' today
Laura Cruz - El Paso Times
El Pasoans not content to go through 2002 blindly can try to find out whether their careers will flourish or whether love will blossom at the El Paso Psychic Fair today.
"I think people are always looking for answers to those hard life question," Kathryn Kelly said as she waited for one of 13 self-proclaimed psychics to read her palm Saturday.

Posted 1/5/02 5:57 PM:
Mali's art celebrates the life force
NEW YORK (AP) -- For the Bamana people of West Africa, the power of nature is tapped by kicking up dust and making noise, bringing along brightly painted puppets and awe-inspiring masks to harness positive energy, rein in chaos and keep evil at bay.
Although almost 100 objects and photos and a half-dozen videos, "Bamana: The Art of Existence in Mali," at the Museum for African Art in SoHo, takes an unprecedented look at a Malian art, culture and religion that in many ways is a paradigm for other West African traditions.
Basically, they believe that everything contains a force -- nyama," says Frank Herreman, who co-organized the show with photographer Catherine de Clippel and anthropologist-filmmaker Jean-Paul Colleyn.

Hidden trackers in file share software
NEW YORK (AP) -- Thousands of Internet users who installed popular software for sharing music and other computer files also unwittingly accepted a program that tracked their Web surfing habits.
The companies that produce LimeWire, Grokster and KaZaA have since posted new versions of their software, absent the tracking program. LimeWire's maker also issued an apology.

Redefining Father Frost
Some Russians Want to Make Secular Figure a Godly One
Frank Brown - Religion News Service
Saturday, January 5, 2002; Page B09
MOSCOW -- Father Frost, a mythical figure fond of cold weather and children, dominates the last days of every Russian year.
He is in television, billboard and newspaper ads peddling everything from beer to vacuum cleaners. He is on the minds of small children waiting for New Year's gifts.
In the world's most immense country, that kind of exposure translates into money and influence. So it is no surprise that a battle is underway to define just who Father Frost is -- part Soviet man, part ill-tempered pagan god and, lately, part Russian Orthodox Christian.

Aykroyd Set to Go 'Out There' for Sci Fi
NEW YORK (Variety) - Cable's Sci Fi Channel has signed Dan Aykroyd to host ``Out There,'' a late night talk show devoted to the paranormal.
``Dan is passionate about these subjects, and he's incredibly well connected with everyone from the fanatic who works out of his garage to the MIT science-based expert,'' Sci Fi Channel president Bonnie Hammer said.
Guests on ``Out There'' will range from the average Joe obsessed with things like cloning, crop circles and alien abduction to the scientific investigator who studies such phenomena as an academic discipline.

Study offers new evidence about near-death experiences
Tuesday, January 01, 2002
Shankar Vedantam, The Washington Post
The 44-year-old man who had collapsed in a meadow was brought to a hospital, unconscious and with no pulse or brain activity. Doctors began artificial respiration, heart massage and defibrillation.
A nurse trying to feed a tube down the man's throat saw that he wore dentures and removed them. The patient was moved to the intensive care unit.
A week later, the nurse saw the man again. The man immediately recognized the nurse as the person who had removed his dentures and also remembered other details of what had happened while he was in a deep coma. He said he had perceived the events from above the hospital bed and watched doctors' efforts to save his life.
This account would be standard fare in a supermarket tabloid, but recently it was published in The Lancet, a British medical journal. It's the latest in a long series of efforts to either document or debunk the existence of "near death" experiences, something that for the most part has remained in the realm of the paranormal.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon
The most prominent and successful certified public accountant firm in the nation today, that specializes in keeping churches out of trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, is now boldly saying to the pastors of America that they not only have to be "ordained by God, but also the IRS."
[Note: Not so much news as it it is some sort of fanatical railing against following the same rules that any other tax-exempt religious organization does in order to enjoy that status. I include it here because it provides some insight into the mindset of some of these lunatic religious zealots. - Oak]

Ex-Klansman ruled competent for church bombing trial
January 3, 2002 Posted: 6:39 PM EST (2339 GMT)
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) -- A judge ruled Thursday that former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry is mentally competent to stand trial on murder charges in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four black girls.
Circuit Judge James Garrett had initially ruled Cherry mentally incompetent last year. But he reversed himself after further evaluation of Cherry, whose age is listed in court records as both 71 and 72.

Dealers Cast Spell with Harry Potter Drug
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Drugs dealers are using Harry Potter (news - web sites) to try to cast a spell over young Australian party goers with a new ecstasy drug doing the rounds named after the popular fictional schoolboy wizard.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said an Internet chat site (www.pillreport.com) about drug use indicated Harry Potter tablets containing the amphetamine MDMA, also known as ecstasy, were now on sale in Australia.
Several reports submitted to the site from the Melbourne area in the state of Victoria advised of the effects of the large, round tablets which picture a witch flying over a moon.
AMA spokesman Dr. John Gullotta condemned illegal drug distributors for trying to target a young market by exploiting Harry Potter, the bespectacled boy-wizard-in-training created by British author J.K. Rowling (news - web sites) and now star of a blockbuster film.

Posted 1/2/02 9:53 PM:
Witch' is charged over death of three partners
Rupert Cornwell in Washington
03 January 2002
Once, she might have been thrown into a pond and condemned if she floated. Or they might have searched her body for a "devil's mark." But in 21st century America, the way you try to stop a suspected witch is by charging her with insurance fraud.
It is this method that prosecutors have chosen to pursue against Josephine Gray, 55, from Maryland, three of whose husbands and lovers have died violent deaths, amid allegations that she used dark powers to enlist accomplices to kill them.

Posted 1/1/02 8:48 PM:
Southland psychics make 2002 predictions
No one could predict what these psychics are seeing in the New Year
Tuesday, January 1, 2002
Guy Tridgell - Staff writer
A few years ago, psychics and astrologists offering services in places like Tinley Park, Joliet, Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park would have been hard to predict.
Pages of ads in the local Yellow Pages for people and businesses specializing in psychic skills suggest fortunes have changed.
A New Age store of some sort is becoming almost as common in a suburban strip mall as a dry cleaner or convenience store. Although laughable at times, the late night stream of infomericals for fortunetellers like Miss Cleo indicate someone, somewhere is paying attention.
Here is a sampling of what a few local psychics and astrologists are predicting for the coming year.

Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution
PCBs Drenched Ala. Town, But No One Was Ever Told
Michael Grunwald - Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 1, 2002; Page A01
ANNISTON, Ala. -- On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people ate dirt. They called it "Alabama clay" and cooked it for extra flavor. They also grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn't know their dirt and yards and bass and kids -- along with the acrid air they breathed -- were all contaminated with chemicals. They didn't know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.
Now they know. They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents -- many emblazoned with warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" -- show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.

ACLU clings to Bill of Rights in taking on Ten Commandment postings
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) -- Those who want the Ten Commandments posted in Kentucky courthouses say history is on their side. A civil liberties group that wants the displays taken down makes the same claim.
In one corner of the legal fight -- which has been waged from courthouses and schools in rural Kentucky to federal courtrooms -- is the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. It cites a fundamental principle from the nation's founding fathers -- separation of church and state.
On the opposite side are county officials, backed by a conservative legal group, who claim the commandments played a historic role in the nation's development.

Church group burns 'Potter' books
Erica Molina - El Paso Times
Fire consumed what hundreds of churchgoers saw as evil in Alamogordo on Sunday night.
After coming to the conclusion that the popular "Harry Potter" books encouraged children to pursue an interest in witchcraft, Jack Brock, pastor at Christ Community Church, organized what he called a "holy bonfire" to burn "Potter" along with all other things concerning evil, witchcraft and devil worship.
While hundreds of the nondenominational church's members sang and applauded as they watched the pages of "Harry Potter" turn to ash, they also prayed for the crowd of protesters waving signs and shouting their disapproval from across the street.

Vandals damage Islamic center, Koran
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Vandals broke water pipes and flooded the Islamic Center of Columbus and left several copies of the Koran shredded or thrown in the parking lot.
"I think this is part of the hate crimes that we have received right after the September 11 attacks," said Mohammed Shareef, president of the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio and a center member. "Things have been cooled down, but it looks like there's some new revival."

Healing vacations abound to soothe the mind, body, and spirit
JUDI DASH / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Call it coincidence, or call it karma.
Just when Americans need a kinder, gentler vacation that soothes psyches frayed by recent traumatic events, resorts, adventure tour operators, and even those bastions of sybaritic excess – cruise ships – are introducing programs devoted to nurturing emotions as well as bodies.
In 2002, healing activities and treatments once found mainly at New Age-y centers of quirky repute will become standard offerings at mainstream places, both pricey and budget-oriented.

Church sues N.Y. town over temple size limit
Associated Press
HARRISON, N.Y. — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has filed a federal lawsuit against the Town of Harrison over zoning rules that would restrict the size and height of a proposed temple.
The suit is the latest fight in years of wrangling between the church and residents, who fear the temple will cause congestion and environmental damage. The building is meant to attract members from Hartford, Conn., to Philadelphia.
The lawsuit accuses the town of infringing on the church's freedom of religion and assembly.

Worldly theme parks: Feng shui, seafood
For luck: Bury a water buffalo's head under your foundation
December 29, 2001 Posted: 11:22 AM EST (1622 GMT)
ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- When it opens in 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland may be the Most Harmonious Place on Earth.
That's because the 310-acre park will be constructed according to the ancient principles of feng shui, the Chinese system of arranging buildings and furnishings in harmony with natural elements.

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