OakGrove Archives
Past News and Issues
3rd Quarter 2002
Posted 9/30/02 7:02 PM:
Dracula theme park town bites back
Monday, September 30, 2002 Posted: 1:07 PM EDT (1707 GMT)
BUCHAREST, Romania -- A bloody battle is brewing in Romania as environmentalists protest over government plans to build a Dracula theme park in a Transylvanian town.
"We respect UNESCO's stand ... but this is a government project and UNESCO cannot put constraints on it," a tourism ministry spokesman told Reuters on Monday.
Protesters though vowed to step up the fight. "Building a Dracula park near Sighisoara would endanger the cultural value of the city," UNESCO Secretary-General Koichiro Matsuura told Reuters this month during a visit to Romania.
Sighisoara is the birthplace of the 15th century Romanian Count Vlad Tepes, or "Vlad the Impaler" who inspired Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula."

Posted 9/26/02 10:40 PM:
(Yeah, yeah.. I know. I've been a slug lately. But here's some news... - Oak)
Creation, evolution debated in Georgia
Thursday, September 26, 2002 Posted: 5:38 PM EDT (2138 GMT)
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Questions are growing heated in a suburban Atlanta school district as school officials, parents and educators lend their voices to a noisy debate over the origin of species.
Creationism or evolution?
Adam and Eve or Darwin?
The Cobb County (Georgia) Board of Education is scheduled to vote Thursday night on a proposal that would allow students to discuss alternatives to Darwin's theory of evolution.

Posted 8/10/02 11:00 PM:
The devil's advocate
In the art world, cats often stood as symbols for Lucifer and the world's evils. But they did get the occasional break, as Justine Hankins discovers
Saturday August 10, 2002
The Guardian
 When it comes to art, a cat is rarely just a cat. The painted puss is overloaded with symbolic significance. In the ancient world, the cat symbolised fertility, motherhood, the moon and sometimes the sun. In medieval Europe, paranoia and superstition turned the cat into a villain and enemy of the church. Accused of witchcraft and sorcery, the cat came to symbolise all things bad: lasciviousness, pride, envy, treachery and the very devil himself.

Pledge ruling defies high court, U.S. argues
Justice Department asks full appeals court to reconsider three judges' decision.
August 10, 2002
By CHRISTOPHER NEWTON - The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department argued Friday that a three-judge appeals panel ignored Supreme Court rulings when it found that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional.
Government attorneys asked for a hearing before all 11 judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to reconsider the earlier 2-1 ruling. The ruling overturned a 1954 act of Congress that added "under God" to the pledge, saying the words violated the basic constitutional tenet of separation of church and state.

Posted 8/7/02 3:02 PM:
Women to Worship Goddess of Beer
Tue Aug 6, 9:29 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - British beer lovers have enlisted the support of a Sumerian goddess in their efforts to shake off the masculine image of their favorite tipple.
Fed up with the drink's beer bellied image, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said on Tuesday it had adopted the goddess Ninkasi -- said to have created a recipe for beer 4,000 years ago -- as patron in a bid to attract more women tothe pumps.
"We think real British beer is something to be proud of and it should be marketed to women as well as men," said Camra's Mike Benner.
"Almost all the advertising we see on our TV screens...is a real turn off for women. Ninkasi, the new Goddess of British beer, is here to change all that."
Ninkasi, worshipped by one of the world's earliest civilizations in what is now Iraq in around 3500 BC, is thought to be one of the early brewers of beer.
She was worshipped by both men and women at a time when ale was made and served exclusively by women.

British Monument Adorned with Giant Condom
Tue Aug 6, 9:26 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - The Cerne Abbas Giant, a giant fertility symbol cut into a hillside in southern England, bore a new accessory on Monday: a 21-foot condom.
In a publicity stunt carried out by the British Family Planning Association to raise sexual health awareness, the 197-foot tall figure famous for its erect phallus was adorned with the huge sheath overnight Sunday.
The image, etched into the chalk rock of a Dorset hillside, is believed to date from the second millennium BC. At least one couple claim to have cured their infertility by making love in its one-foot-wide trenches.

Florida Court Bars Use of Vouchers
IAMI, Aug. 5 — A judge in Tallahassee ruled today that Florida's school voucher program is unconstitutional and barred students in public schools from using vouchers to attend private schools.
The judge, P. Kevin Davey of Leon County Circuit Court, struck down a 1999 Florida law that gives money to students from poorly performing public schools to pay tuition at private schools, including ones run by churches. In his decision, Judge Davey wrote that the Florida Constitution was "clear and unambiguous" in prohibiting public money from being used in any sectarian institution.
"There is scant room for interpretation or parsing," he wrote. "While this court recognizes and empathizes with the salutary purpose of this legislation — to enhance the educational opportunity of children caught in the snare of substandard schools — such a purpose does not grant this court the authority to abandon the clear mandate
of the people as enunciated in the Constitution."

Rounding Up the 'Enemy'
by Chisun Lee
July 31 - August 6, 2002
There are few people still living who can claim Kazu Iijima and Minn Matsuda's perspective on post-September 11 America. Friends for over six decades, they were adults in California when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Iijima was one of 120,000 adults and children of Japanese ancestry—including 77,000 U.S. citizens and almost every person of Japanese descent on the West Coast—imprisoned by the U.S. government without charge or trial in 10 remote barbed-wire internment camps between March 1942 and March 1946. Matsuda, who moved inland before the roundup, was among a small minority left outside.
Last September, Matsuda saw the second jet hit the trade center from her ninth-floor terrace in Fort Greene. She watched through the morning, periodically ducking back into the apartment to relieve her 91-year-old heart. Uptown on 190th Street, Iijima was also stunned, viewing the news footage and listening to the analogies to Pearl Harbor, an event she had learned of 60 years earlier during Sunday brunch at home with  her sisters.

Posted 8/5/02 9:42 PM:
Rift in Lutheran denomination widens over post-Sept. 11 service
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Twelve days after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, the Rev. David Benke, a Lutheran minister, joined with clergy from other faiths in a New York City prayer service for the victims.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's president, the Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, gave the church's top New York leader his blessings to take part in what he considered an innocent public event.
Kieschnick never envisioned the fallout from that day within one of the most theologically conservative Protestant denominations.

AJC Issues Guide to Religion in Public Schools
U.S. Newswire
5 Aug 11:19
American Jewish Committee Issues Guide to Religion in Public Schools
To: National Desk
Contact: Kenneth Bandler of the American Jewish Committee,
NEW YORK, Aug. 5 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee released today a new guide to the proper place of religion in the nation's public schools.
"Religion in the Public Schools: A Primer for Students, Parents, Teachers, and School Administrators," is being widely distributed to school districts across the country. It also is available at http://www.ajc.org

Posted 8/3/02 1:24 PM:
Welsh 'vampire' guilty of murder, drinking victim's blood
By Jason Hopps - Reuters
Posted August 2 2002, 12:56 PM EDT
LONDON - A British teen-ager obsessed with vampires was jailed for at least 12 years Friday for butchering a 90-year-old woman, carving out her heart and drinking her blood in a case police said was uniquely macabre.
Art student Mathew Hardman, 17, murdered pensioner Mabel Leyshon in November 2001 as she watched television at home in a sleepy north Wales tourist village until now most famous for having the longest place name in Britain.
Hardman stabbed the elderly widow 22 times, cut out her heart and placed it next to two pokers arranged in the shape of a crucifix at her feet, Mold Crown Court in Wales heard.

Posted 8/2/02 7:21 AM:
How Christianity is being replaced by 'green' religion, goddess worship, globalism
Posted: August 1, 2002
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Relentless attacks on America's Christian churches – not just from without, but from within – which are steadily remolding institutionalized Christianity to serve a new, non-Christian, globalist agenda, are the focus of August's eye-opening edition of WorldNetDaily's popular monthly Whistleblower magazine.
And just what, exactly, is attempting to replace Christianity as the dominant religion in America?
Superficially, it appears to be just a freak show, ranging from the seemingly harmless  "Entertainment Paganism" ("Dungeons and Dragons," "white witchcraft," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Witchblade") to "Teen Cult Paganism" (teens in Gothic drag, freaky hair colors, tattoos, body piercing, "body art," black garb, studs and chains) to "Ecology Theology" (free-form sexual morality, "gaia" worship, native spirituality rituals) to the wide-ranging "New Age Movement" (believes humankind is on the cusp of a new dawn, beginning new phase in evolutionary history) to "Dark Paganism" (believes there's no such thing as "evil," and that destruction and death are forms of beauty) to "Wicca" (witchcraft is reportedly the fastest growing religion in Australia) and "Satanism" (consciously acknowledges Satan as master, and seeks power to corrupt all things, especially Christianity).

Posted 8/1/02 7:04 AM:
Wizards of sign
By MELANIE CREAMER, Portland Press Herald News Assistant
Copyright © 2002 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
FALMOUTH - Summer students at Governor Baxter School for the Deaf turned to "Harry Potter" this week to improve their literacy skills - even as they search for the sorcerer's stone.
The Baxter School became Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and students were divided into the school's four houses - Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff - to learn about the fictional boy wizard who has stormed children's popular culture.
The Harry Potter Literacy Camp is the first of its kind in Maine and was created by Todd Czubek, a bilingual mentor at the Scranton State School for the Deaf in Pennsylvania.

Police Guard CCSU Class
Seminar Focuses On Mideast Studies
July 30, 2002
By MARYELLEN FILLO, Courant Staff Writer
When Jack Issac signed up for the five-day Middle Eastern Studies Summer Institute at Central Connecticut State University, he didn't expect his classroom to be guarded by police.
But on Monday, the Pulaski Middle School social studies teacher and more than 70 other area teachers who had enrolled in the program to get more information on the Middle East for their classroom curriculums were welcomed to the first day of class by a group of security police, on hand to make sure the class was not disrupted.
(Ridiculously long URL)

Controversial Operation TIPS appears dead
BY CASSIO FURTADO - Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - - The Homeland Security Bill passed early Saturday by the House of Representatives appears to kill Operation TIPS, the administration's controversial effort to encourage millions of Americans to report suspected terrorists to  authorities. The 200-page bill, which passed by a 295-132 vote, prohibits programs such as the proposed Terrorism Information and Prevention System. TIPS was part of President Bush's recently-released homeland security plan, but it drew fire from Republican conservatives and from the American Civil Liberties Union, which charged that it would encourage "government-sanctioned peeping toms."

Posted 7/29/02 10:04 PM:
Water witching works, commissioner insists
By Joe Rowley - Deseret News staff writer
FIELDING, Box Elder County — Box Elder County Commissioner Scott Hansen doesn't believe in witchcraft or sorcery, but he does know that water witching works.
Water witching, sometimes called water dowsing, is an obscure activity that few people claim to fully understand. Explanations of why it works range from scientific discussion about magnetism, electricity and anomalies to discussions of the paranormal and supernatural that are best left to Art Bell to tackle on late-night talk radio.
Hansen tends to lean toward the scientific. "The world is a magnet," he said referring to the north and south magnetic poles. "The best I understand it is we're out there sensing breaks or variations in magnetism."

Religion figures prominently in Texas races
Matt Curry; The Associated Press
As the fall campaign season nears, politicians are already setting their sights on the faithful, particularly in the home state of proudly Christian President Bush.
Few places have a more potent mix of faith and politics than Texas, where churches sprout up along lonely stretches of highway as frequently as mesquite bushes and Dairy Queens.
This year, candidates in Texas races are making not-so-subtle Bible Belt appeals to move voters from the pews to the voting booth.

Goth girls just want to have fun
Goth is dead.
Long live Goth.
Every time we're convinced the Goth movement has drawn its last breath, it manages to gasp and sputter back to life.
It usually returns with some of the original symbolism intact, corsets and crucifixes, for example, or dark eye makeup and white faces, but it always comes back in an altered state.
(Ridiculously long URL)

Posted 7/28/02 9:46 PM:
Black magic blamed for nails in stomach
BANGKOK: A young Thai army conscript has blamed Cambodian witchcraft for the unexplained presence of four nails and a metal hook found in his body, reports here said Saturday.
The objects were detected by X-ray inside the stomach of private Somkiat Kammao, 20, who went to hospital in northern Phrae province complaining of stomach pains.
Somkiat said he did not ingest the objects, which included four two-inch nails and a fishing hook, insisting instead that he fell victim to witchcraft, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported.

Couple could be evicted for noisy praying
Two born again Christians face eviction from their Ontario flat for praying too loudly. Teresa Tafawa and Derrick Mitchell have appeared before the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal following repeated complaints from neighbours. They are awaiting a verdict.
The building's property manager Richard Pfinder claims they don't listen to any authority, except perhaps God's. They say they are spreading the word.

Posted 7/24/02 6:49 AM:
Court OKs '7 Aphorisms'
By Elaine Jarvik - Deseret News staff writer
The "Seven Aphorisms" can be displayed next to the "Ten Commandments," the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
The aphorisms are principles of a Utah-based religion known as Summum, founded in 1975 by Corky Ra. Summum, which claims 250,000 members worldwide, filed suit in 1999 against the city of Ogden. Since 1966, the city has allowed a Ten Commandments monument erected by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in a garden next to the municipal building, but it turned down Summum's request to put up a Seven Aphorisms monument in the same location.
"The Free Speech clause of the First Amendment compels the City of Ogden to treat with equal dignity speech from divergent religious perspectives," the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in its ruling.
Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey said the city will appeal the decision.

Liberal Bishop Chosen As Next Anglican Leader
By Mike Wendling - CNSNews.com London Bureau Chief
July 23, 2002
London (CNSNews.com) - A liberal Welsh bishop was appointed to be the next leader of the Church of England on Tuesday, a decision that worried evangelical groups but was welcomed by homosexual organizations.
The Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, will become the church's next leader and will take up the post of Archbishop of Canterbury when George Carey retires in October.
Unlike Carey, who is seen as a traditionalist, Williams holds outspoken liberal views on a number of issues, including the ordination of homosexuals and women.
Williams also caused controversy earlier this month when he it was revealed that he will be inducted into a Welsh order of druids next month.
The dawn ceremony, which has pagan roots, will include prayers to druid deities. Members of the Gorsedd of Bards, a Welsh society of poets, writers and artists, say their organization is a fraternal society rather than a religious cult and includes several religious leaders along with Queen Elizabeth II.

Frederick Receives Md. ACLU Warning
Ten Commandments Suit Threatened
By David Snyder - Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 24, 2002; Page B03
The Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union intervened yesterday in a dispute in Frederick over the Ten Commandments, threatening to sue if a monument that bears them is not removed from public property.
In a letter received yesterday by Frederick and Frederick County officials, the ACLU contends that a three-foot-high granite tablet inscribed with the Ten Commandments violates the constitutional separation of church and state. The letter sets an Aug. 1 deadline for the city and county to "resolve this matter without litigation."

Posted 7/23/02 7:23 AM:
Letters to the Editor for July 22, 2002
By CNSNews.com Readers
CNSNews.com Information Services
Wiccans, Christians Weigh in on Book Controversy
 “First of all, the title of the article, ‘Book Battle Pits Wiccans Against Christians,’ (July 19) is misleading and shows a clear bias against Wiccans. It's the Christians who are starting the trouble, not the Wiccans.

UNC changes assignment for students offended by book on Islam
 The Associated Press
Jul 20, 2002 : 4:57 pm ET
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill won't force
incoming freshmen to read a book about Islam, but those who don't will have to
write a one-page paper about their religious objections to the book.
After the threat of a lawsuit, UNC-CH administrators quietly added the disclaimer
Wednesday to their Web site about the mandatory reading selection, "Approaching
the Qur'n: The Early Revelations."
The new option makes the situation worse by requiring objectors to defend their
religious beliefs in class, critics said.

Posted 7/20/02 9:20 AM:
Student loses lawsuit citing Wicca religion
2002-07-20 The Associated Press
TULSA -- A high school student has lost her lawsuit that claimed she was suspended because of her interest in the Wicca religion.
Brandi Blackbear, a senior- to-be at Union High School, filed her federal lawsuit in October 2000.
An order Thursday by U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan said neither of Blackbear's two suspensions in 1999 violated her constitutional rights.

Wicker man organisers deny pagan undertones
Alastair Jamieson
IT WAS 30 years ago when police sergeant Howie met a sticky end, becoming a human sacrifice in the cult horror movie The Wicker Man.
But locals could be forgiven for thinking paganism was alive and well in Galloway last night as hundreds gathered to re-enact the terrifying burning scene as part of a festival in the film’s honour.
The Wickerman Festival, a two-day event staged on farmland in Dundrennan, near Kircudbright, is set to attract up to 5,000 fans of the 1973 movie in which the policeman, played by Edward Woodward, investigates the fictitious pagan island of Summerisle.

Posted 7/19/02 8:14 PM:
Curse burst: WPLR's Winn gives it his best shot
Billy Winn heard about some futile attempts by Red Sox fans to break the curse of the Bambino, and he shook his head.
Diving to the bottom of a natural body of water to retrieve a piano that once belonged to Babe Ruth? C'mon.
Winn, a Stratford native and diehard Red Sox fan for more than a quarter century, had a better idea. If Babe Ruth was going to lift his curse that has prevented the Red Sox from winning a World Series since he was dealt to the Yankees in 1920, Winn believed he'd have to go straight to the source.
"I said, 'Let's just go see the guy,'" Winn said. "I asked him for forgiveness. People talk about the curse, but no one had ever apologized to him."
Winn, a reporter for WPLR's Smith and Barber morning radio show, visited a witch at Curious Goods Witchcraft Shop in West Haven and found a potion a witch's mojo bag, oil and sea salt that was designed to break curses.
Said Winn: "I get (the potion) and she said, 'What are you going to do with that?' I'm walking out the door and I said, 'I'm going to take the curse off the Red Sox.' She said, 'But I'm a Yankees fan,' and I said, 'Too late now.' I got in the car and took off."

Posted 7/19/02 7:23 AM:
TAG works its magic
Comedy best part of original Bewitched story
By Andrea Nemetz / Entertainment Reporter THEATRE REVIEW
Before there was Charmed, the TV series about the lives and loves of three beautiful sisters who just happen to be witches trying to keep their supernatural powers hidden from the world around them, there was Bewitched. The classic TV series, which ran from 1964-72, featured lovely witch Samantha Stephens who created magic with a wiggle of her upturned nose much to the discomfort of her advertising executive husband Darrin, a mortal.
And before Bewitched, there was Bell, Book and Candle, a romantic comedy about a witch who falls in love with a mortal. Written by John Van Druten, the play ran on Broadway for a year before becoming an Academy Award-nominated movie in 1958 with Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart as the lovers trying to navigate more than the usual relationship obstacles.

Book Battle Pits Wiccans Against Christians
By Michael L. Betsch - CNSNews.com Staff Writer
July 19, 2002
(CNSNews.com) - In Cromwell, Conn., a local middle school is resisting a call from Christian parents to ban certain children's books, including 'The Witch of Blackbird Pond' and 'Harry Potter.'
Some Christian parents want such books removed from the school library on the grounds that they promote the Wiccan religion. One local minister said the books have some of the town's kids cooking up magic spells and reading Tarot cards.
School officials refused to comment to CNSNews.com.

Study finds Alaska glaciers melting at higher rate
July 18, 2002 Posted: 10:35 PM EDT (0235 GMT)
From Natalie Pawelski - CNN Sci-Tech
(CNN) -- A new study indicates that glaciers in Alaska are melting faster than previously thought, providing further evidence of global warming, researchers said Thursday.
Scientists have long warned that global warming -- when heat-trapping gases force atmospheric temperatures to rise -- could eventually raise sea levels to a dangerous point by melting ice sheets and glaciers.

Study: Breast-feeding lowers cancer risk
July 18, 2002 Posted: 8:37 PM EDT (0037 GMT)
By Miriam Falco -  CNN Medical Unit
(CNN) -- Women who breast-feed longer and bear more children are better protected from breast cancer, according to new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet.
Researchers found if women in developed countries breast-fed their children just six months longer than they do now, 25,000 breast cancers worldwide could be prevented each year.

Operation TIPS stirs new eavesdropping fears
July 17, 2002 Posted: 11:58 AM EDT (1558 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new program which the government envisions as a tip service for authorities concerned with terrorism is being assailed as a scheme to cast ordinary Americans as "peeping Toms."
The focus of the American Civil Liberties Union's wrath is Operation TIPS -- Terrorism Information and Prevention System - in which rank-and-file citizens would watch for suspicious activity and report it.

Posted 7/17/02 7:07 AM:
Judge rejects complaint against schools
A civil rights complaint filed against Lincoln Park schools has been dismissed by a federal judge. The claim was filed by the family of Tempest Smith, a sixth-grade girl who committed suicide in February 2001. The child's family had insisted her death was caused by classmates teasing her over her interest in a form of witchcraft. Even though the taunting was known to school officials, it was allowed, family members

Protestant Clergy Wary of Faith-Based Initiatives
By Michael L. Betsch
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
July 16, 2002
(CNSNews.com) - Support for President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Act remains "lukewarm" among Protestant clergy across the nation, a new study reveals.
Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, a Phoenix-based marketing research company, said the faith-based agenda is just "swirling around" out there among larger issues such as corporate scandals, pedophile priests in the Catholic Church and
homeland security issues.
Sellers said all of the 567 ministers surveyed admit they are concerned about the potential loss of religious freedom or the ability to further their spiritual mission that may come with accepted federal funds.
"Liberals were much more concerned about separation of church and state," he said. "Conservatives were much more concerned about who's going to get the funds and who's going to be eligible for it and what that's going to do."
The survey revealed that 62 percent of the pastors agreed that "certain" religious groups should not be eligible for funding through the faith-based program.
Sellers said one of the ministers' big concerns is the notion that some non-mainstream groups such as atheists, Wiccans, Druids, and voodooists could receive funding.

A View from the Experts: Patriotism and religion are separate, group says
Friday, July 12, 2002
By Lynda Guydon Taylor, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, as its name would imply, is pleased about the court ruling that inclusion of God in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.
"Patriotic rituals ought to remain secular. One of the tests used over the years is: Does the act of government aid or further religion? If it does, it's unconstitutional," said Robert Boston, assistant director of communications for the 70,000-member group, whose membership runs the gamut from Christians, Jews and Pagans to atheists or nonbelievers.

Books Being Targeted
Two Residents Urge School Officials To Remove Two Works From The Curriculum That They Believe Promote Witchcraft
July 16, 2002
By WILLIAM WEIR, Courant Staff Writer
CROMWELL -- At least two residents want a pair of award-winning books removed from the middle school's curriculum, contending that the books promote witchcraft and violence.
The women have circulated a petition urging school officials to remove "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" by Elizabeth George Speare, and "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson.
Both books were awarded the prestigious Newbery Medal for children's literature.

Hackers help counter Net censorship
New software aims to circumvent monitoring
July 15, 2002 Posted: 12:17 PM EDT (1617 GMT)
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Some of the world's best-known hackers unveiled a plan this weekend to offer free software to promote anonymous Web surfing in countries where the Internet is censored, especially China and Middle Eastern nations.
An international hacker group calling itself Hactivismo released a program on Saturday called Camera/Shy that allows Internet users to conceal messages inside photos posted on the Web, bypassing most known police monitoring methods.

Posted 7/15/02 10:10 PM:
What's up with "The Grove" lately?
Every so often I break from news stories and offer a personal note or two. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, this is one of those times.
If you're a regular visitor you probably have noticed by now that for the past couple of years the postings here tend to slow somewhat during the summer months. That's not because Amberflame and I are off somewhere basking in the sun, or tramping about the countryside at various Pagan festivals. Far from it, we're right here working like dogs, just not on the website.
You see, our daughters Silver Dragon and Willow spend their summer out of state with their biological mother. We use this time to get things done around the house that would otherwise be harder in a house containing a family of four than with just the two of us here. Three years ago, we completely remodeled the girls' bathroom, a job that involved completely tearing out the floor and working up from there. In 2000 their bedroom got a makeover, with not only a new floor, furniture and paint, but a new ceiling as well. Last year saw little done to the house but took even more time from the site because I was working up to 80 hours weekly away from home.
This year, the big project is outside. I'm enclosing a corner behind the house and making a garden. Not the "beans and 'maters" variety, but the "get outside and enjoy life" kind. One more difference between this year's project and previous ones is that the kids know about it. (The past remodelings were complete surprises!) So, since they know what's going on, I've been sharing the progress with them online so they can see it, too. (If you want to peek, just click here.)
One more bit of personal news before we get to the real stuff: I just picked up a copy the May-October 2002 issue of WebBound - World's Best Web Sites, which is sort of like a search engine except somebody already downloaded it and printed it out in magazine form. I don't usually buy this publication as I really don't see the point in it, but guess which site got picked as one of their profile sites this time around? Yep, OakGrove! You could have knocked me down with a feather.
And now, the news:

Now God can be a woman again
Tony Grist
Monday July 15, 2002
The Guardian
On the far side of the River Dee, facing the old city of Chester, is a rock carving from the Roman period. Weather has rendered it featureless, but if you know what you are looking for, you can still make out a human figure.
It has a spear in one hand and a shield in the other, an owl perched on the shoulder. This is Minerva, the Roman version of Athena, goddess of wisdom, war and the arts. The carving is about all that is left exposed of a quarry face from which the Romans cut the stone to build their fortress town of Deva.
Legend has it that the carving survived the middle ages through being mistaken for an image of the Virgin Mary. Both times that I have visited it, there have been flowers and coins at its foot. This is still a living shrine, where God is honoured in the form of Woman.

Claiming ancestral land
By Lindsay Riddell
Staff Writer
Daniel Walkingstick said his quest to claim 160 acres of the Cherokee National Forest will help American Indians claim other lands.
"Basically this is a fight for our people," he said.
Mr. Walkingstick is the only individual American Indian known ever to have filed a land claim with the U.S. Forest Service. But Mr. Walkingstick's lawyer, Ben Bridgers, said he doubts the claim will spur similar ones.
The contested land, deeded to Mr. Walkingstick's family in 1842, is at the southern tip of the forest in Polk County, Tenn., at the junction of Tumbling and Indian creeks near Copperhill. Testuskey Walkingstick, Daniel Walkingstick's great-great-great-grandfather, is the only known individual American Indian ever given land by the government.
[Link requires registration (free) to view this story. Submitted by and thanks to Emerald Moon.]

When does the sun set in space?
Israeli astronaut faces quandary
By Holly Lebowitz Rossi Religion News Service
The physical and mental preparation required for space travel is immense, but for one crew member on an upcoming space shuttle mission there is a spiritual dimension to it as well.
Col. Ilan Ramon, an officer in the Israeli air force and the first Israeli astronaut scheduled to fly aboard a space shuttle, also has another first to his name -- he is the first astronaut to request kosher food aboard the shuttle, and he has announced his intention to observe the Sabbath while on board.
A series of complications immediately arose when Ramon considered how he would observe Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath that lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday each week, on his 16-day mission. Jews observe the holiday with blessings over bread and wine, candle-lighting, prayer services and a cessation of work.
The major problem in space is that the shuttle will orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, so technically a "day" will pass each hour and a half. Shabbat is observed every seventh day, so Ramon could find himself quite busy.

Posted 7/11/02 7:36 PM:
Source: COG Press Release
Author: Kirk White, Covenant of the Goddess
Date: 7/4/02
For Immediate Release
Wiccan Elected to Global Council
Don Frew, a National Interfaith Representative for the Covenant of the Goddess, has been elected as one of the three North American members of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative. Frew is the first and only Wiccan on the URI's Global Council.
The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. The URI includes almost 200
active, local interfaith groups in 30 countries around the globe.
Representatives from these groups will meet in Rio de Janeiro in August 2002 for the URI's annual Global Summit. (More info at www.uri.org)
The Covenant of the Goddess was founded in 1975 to in cooperation among Witches and to secure for Witches and covens the legal protection enjoyed by members of other religions. The Covenant is very active in interfaith work on local, national and global levels.
[Contributed by Amberflame Moonfyre (Thanks, Darlin'!) - Oak]

University's Quran Reading Stirs Controversy
NEW YORK — What could be a better way to start a college career than by reading from a Good Book?
Plenty, if the book in question is the Quran and your country has been attacked by Muslim terrorists, according to one pro-family group.
Virginia-based Family Policy Network is taking aim at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for requiring all incoming freshmen this fall to read a book about the Quran, the holy book of Islam.
"Today I am ashamed to admit that I am a graduate of UNC," FPN chairman and 1981 Chapel Hill graduate Terry Moffitt said in a statement earlier this year. "The entire university system in North Carolina should be ashamed of itself for forcing a religion on students that many will find not only offensive, but totally opposed to their own religious views."

Exorcism Held At Girls Boarding School
African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)
July 4, 2002
Posted to the web July 5, 2002
Marvelous Mpofu
Selebi Phikwe
A girls boarding school in Botswana was forced to seek the church's help this week after mysterious fires destroyed five buildings and after reports that a tokoloshe (goblin) was harassing the girls.
The Zion Christian Church (ZCC) performed an exorcism on Sunday at Tlhalogang Community Junior Secondary School, 40km from Francistown, Botswana's second large city.
The church, which combines Christian and African beliefs, has a large following in Botswana where most people believe in witchcraft and the power of evil spirits.

Posted 7/4/02 11:44 AM:
Burning Man Festival Sues Over Naked Women Video
July 03, 2002 08:28 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Burning Man organization, which hosts the legendary arts festival known for its libertine spirit and fiery spectacles, is suing a company for allegedly selling videotapes of naked women filmed at the event, a
lawyer said on Tuesday.
The lawsuit charges Voyeur Video Inc. with invading the privacy of unsuspecting women by filming them nude in their campsites and elsewhere at the private event, said Terry Gross, the lawyer representing the Burning Man organization.

Posted 7/3/02 9:53 PM:
'Metaphysical store' has healing as its purpose
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
By Linda Wilson Fuoco, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Moonstones has everything from A to Z, which in the case of this shop means everything from Angels to Zen and Amethyst to Zircon.
A pentagram adorns the door of the shop at 1517 Potomac Ave., Dormont. Pentagrams, five-pointed stars, abound in the shop, along with Christian crosses and Celtic crosses. The merchandise includes feng shui crystals, singing bowls used during meditation sessions, jewelry, stones and scented candles.

Mo. Schools Must Recite Pledge
Pledge of Allegiance Must Be Recited Every Week in Missouri Public Schools Under New Bill
The Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. July 3 — The Pledge of Allegiance must be recited every week in Missouri's public schools under a bill signed into law Wednesday, a week
after a panel of federal judges ruled the pledge unconstitutional.
State lawmakers had passed the bill before the ruling was issued, and Gov. Bob Holden said it didn't affect his decision to sign.
"This is a symbolic gesture that we as a state believe in the Pledge of Allegiance and its values and that we hold those values dear to our heart," Holden said. "I think that court decision will be overturned."

Jesus school essay sparks federal suit
By RON SELAK JR. Tribune Chronicle
YOUNGSTOWN - A Masury woman who claims her son was denied the right to write about Jesus is suing the Brookfield School District for $1.5 million.
Peggy E. Koehler also is asking for the school district to declare that Jesus was a person about whom her son, Phillip M. Vaccaro, 14, could write an essay.
Vaccaro is an educationally challenged boy who used his faith to conquer daily struggles at school, the suit states. The middle-school student chose Jesus as the person ''who most influenced his life,'' but the suit states the teacher cautioned him that Jesus was not a real person and instructed him to select another topic.

School prayer’s lingering legacy: Ruled illegal 40 years ago, it’s still observed
By Stephanie Hoops - NYT Regional Newspapers
June 30, 2002
TUSCALOOSA - It might have been easier to get Alabamians to start drinking unsweetened tea than to accept the 1962 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made school-sponsored prayer in public schools unconstitutional.
So, depending on which side of the fence you're on, the 40th anniversary of the decision is either a time for celebration or a time to consider regrouping.
The landmark case, Engel vs. Vitale, was decided 40 years ago last week, on June 25, 1962, and Alabama has openly defied it ever since.

Posted 7/3/02 7:11 AM:
Witchcraft Taking Hold In Australia
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com Pacific Rim Bureau Chief
July 03, 2002
Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - Buoyed by census figures suggesting that witchcraft is among the fastest-growing religious tendencies in Australia, an organization representing pagans voiced support Wednesday for the scrapping of legislation outlawing witchcraft and related practices.
Pagan Awareness Network secretary Louise Ainwight sent a letter to the Victoria state government saying the group backed the repeal of sections of a 1966 vagrancy law that bans "any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration."

Hindus turn to the Internet for prayer
BANGALORE, India (AP) -- When an astrologer warned an Indian stage designer and mother of three children that bad luck was on her horizon, she took the road increasingly traveled by modern Hindus looking to appease ancient divinities.
Anasuya Dhanrajgir logged onto the Internet.
In the old days, 39-year-old Anasuya might have taken her astrologer's advice literally and made the 1,450-kilometer (900-mile) journey to a temple on the southern tip of India to pay respects to Shani -- the Hindu god she was said to have angered.

Hitting the trifecta
Bush’s favorite joke about 9/11 is not only in bad taste, it’s a lie
By David Neiwert
June 27 —  Professional stand-up comedians know that Sept. 11 jokes are radioactive. Not even the bravest have tried to turn the deaths of some 3,000 people into a laughing matter. But President Bush has forged ahead anyway. Bush has now been telling the same, spectacularly tasteless joke to a variety of mostly Republican audiences as part of his stock stump speech for the better part of four months now.


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