News & Reviews


Issue: "Chaos in Colorado," May 1, 1999

u.s.-russia relations deteriorate further as war drags on
A chill in the air
There was no spring thaw in relations between the United States and Russia, hardened since NATO began its air war against Yugoslavia. Miffed over continuing attacks on a traditional ally, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov announced the country would not send a delegation to the NATO summit in Washington, which would mark the alliance's 50th anniversary. The event was to have showcased NATO's record of creating and expanding stability across Europe, highlighted by the fall of the Berlin Wall and greater cooperation with the states of the former Soviet Union. Events in Yugoslavia, however, turned the three-day Washington ceremony into a war council. As Day 30 of the air strikes passed, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said beefed-up numbers of aircraft were exacting greater damage on strongholds of President Slobodan Milosevic. NATO firepower blasted two key sites in Belgrade: a building that housed both ruling parties and served as a link in Mr. Milosevic's air defense command, as well as the president's Belgrade villa. Neither Mr. Milosevic nor his family was home when three missiles slammed into the residence. Officials noted a pause in refugee activity. Much of the border between Kosovo and Albania was closed. Humanitarian relief officials said the exodus to Macedonia dropped to as low as 600 refugees per day. Relief workers, however, believe that thousands of Kosovar Albanians are still trapped at the border. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that around 400,000 to 500,000 ethnic Albanians remain in Kosovo, compared to almost 2 million before the conflict began in February last year. The Clinton administration said it was ready to take in 20,000 Kosovo refugees on the U.S. mainland. The White House reversed plans to house the refugees at Guantanamo Bay after World Relief, the evangelical relief agency that headed up work among Haitian and Cuban refugees at Guantanamo, criticized the location as too much like a prison camp. china's new weapons: look familiar?
U.S. intelligence officials warned that the results of Chinese espionage to obtain U.S. nuclear secrets would likely be seen in Chinese weapons over the next several years. CIA director George Tenet briefed congressional intelligence committees on a report assessing the implications of China's acquisition of U.S. nuclear secrets. The report found that China obtained at least basic design information on several nuclear weapons, including the Trident II W88 miniaturized nuclear warhead. "China has obtained by espionage classified U.S. information," an anonymous senior intelligence official admitted to Reuters. "We expect that future Chinese weapons will look more like ours." jesuits denied in russia
Religion law strikes again
Russia's Ministry of Justice denied the application of the Jesuit order for official registration under Russia's controversial law on religion. The rejection made Jesuits the first Roman Catholic entity since the law's passage in 1997 to be explicitly denied the right to function in Russia. The Justice Ministry ruling denied Jesuits the right to establish a religious organization on Russian soil because it classified them as a 'foreign' religious body, even though Jesuits existed legally in czarist Russia as far back as the 18th century. hockey loses its greatest: gretzky
A career on ice
Sportwriters from newspapers across the country last week wore out the phrase "the Michael Jordan of ..." to help explain Wayne Gretzky's importance to the game of hockey. Actually, Mr. Jordan is the Wayne Gretzky of basketball. By number of records set, the Great Gretzky was superior: most goals (career, single season, and playoff), most assists (career, single season, and playoff)-in all he holds 61 different National Hockey League scoring records. But Wayne Gretzky is more than just statistics. He was the NHL's ambassador, whose finesse style of play emphasized the grace and beauty of what had been known as a bruising, brutish sport. Mr. Gretzky singlehandedly won hockey some respectability-and a foothold in more lucrative sports markets. Since Mr. Gretzky's 1988 trade from the Edmonton Oilers (not exactly the flashiest of media centers) to the Los Angeles Kings, the game has caught on big time south of the border. California now has as many NHL teams as Ontario and Quebec combined; Florida has as many as Alberta. Wayne Gretzky, the skinny, shy kid from Brantford, Ontario, ended his career in flashy New York City. In announcing his retirement he passed up media opportunities to revel in personal greatness; he preferred to use the term "God-gifted." Said Mr. Gretzky: "For some reason, the good Lord gave me a special talent." if partial-birth abortion doesn't work, try infanticide?
Killing a baby called Hope
It's not news when the life of a late-term unborn child is snuffed out at the hands of Martin Haskell, the abortionist who pioneered the partial-birth abortion procedure. But it is news when there's a survivor. Last week, pro-lifers called attention to the case of a 22-week-old child born alive in a Cincinnati hospital-a day after Dr. Haskell began his multi-part, three-day abortion technique. The mother suffered abdominal pains and was rushed to Bethesda North Hospital, where the child-named Baby Hope by nurse Shelly Lowe-was born. But the nurse was not permitted to provide care; she was allowed only to comfort and rock the newborn. "I named her Hope because I had hoped she would make it," Ms. Lowe said. But the controversy concerns whether emergency room physicians shared her hope. Officially, they ruled the baby's lungs were not developed enough to permit them to place her on a respirator. Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical and Dental Society was not buying it. "Babies at this same age-22 weeks-can and have survived outside the womb. The difference that apparently led doctors to let 'Baby Hope' die is that she was the product of a failed partial-birth abortion.... This clearly crosses the line into infanticide-just like that practiced by the ancient Romans, who left their undesired babies out in the elements to die." the education evidence is in
Follow the money
The debate over whether poor parents are dissatisfied with American public schools seems to be over. The Children's Scholarship Fund, which begins this year offering privately funded vouchers to 40,000 low-income schoolchildren, announced last week that there were nearly 1.25 million applicants for the scholarships. Theodore Forstmann, who along with Wal-Mart heir John Walton founded the fund in 1998, explained that parents applying for the vouchers had to be willing to supplement the voucher with $1,000 of their own money. "Think of it: 1.25 million applicants asking to pay $1,000 a year over four years," Mr. Forstmann wrote in The Wall Street Journal. "That's $5 billion that poor families were willing to spend simply to escape the schools where their children have been relegated and to secure a decent education." federal court establishes secularism as dominant religion
Getting nonreligion
A federal appeals court declared last week that "nonreligion" must be the dominant worldview in public schools. In a 2-1 decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Beaumont (Texas) Independent School District's "Clergy in the Schools" program is unconstitutional. Beaumont schools began the program in 1996 in an effort to teach students morality and civic virtues. The district invited religious leaders to counsel elementary and secondary students during school hours. Ministers could not pray with the students or discuss religion, sex, or abortion. But even this wasn't watered down enough for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Anti-Defamation League, and several parents. The parents sued the district and the groups submitted briefs against the program. The appeals court, in overturning a lower federal court's ruling in support of the program, said the school district's "creation of a special program that recruits only clergymen to render volunteer counseling makes a clear statement that it favors religion over nonreligion." The judges also objected because the school district disproportionately selected Protestant ministers. Parents were not notified or asked to give consent, though students could decline to participate. drunk-driving atheist doesn't have to attend aa meetings
Atheists anonymous
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, siding with a lower federal judge, ruled that a county probation department cannot force an atheist to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as part of his probation following an impaired-driving conviction. Robert Warner had sued the Orange County (N.Y.) Department of Probation, saying that its order meant he would have to participate in AA's "religious" exercises in violation of his First Amendment rights. U.S. District Court Judge Gerard Goettel agreed that Mr. Warner cannot be forced to attend, but he also awarded him a token $1 settlement. This month an appeals court agreed, saying the tiny damage award was "just about right." Orange County wants to fight back and take the case to the Supreme Court. Attorney Richard Golden, representing the community just north of New York City, claims the spiritual aspect to AA meetings does not rise to the level of an establishment of a religion. The No-Comment Zone

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