News & Reviews

"News & Reviews" Continued...

Issue: "Taking on the thugs," Nov. 6, 1999
  • Peaceful quests in Colombia
    Residents in 700 Colombian cities took to the streets Oct. 25 in unprecedented numbers to demand an end to fighting in the violent and drug war-ridden country. Officials estimated that 12 million people joined in the demonstrations, which were organized nationwide by Francisco Santos, well-known heir to a large publishing and media conglomerate. In 1998 a record 2,600 Colombians were kidnapped, and rebels are increasingly active as they grow stronger in Colombia's rural areas. In 1990 Mr. Santos himself was kidnapped by Medellin drug mobsters and held for eight months.
  • Assault in armenia
    Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sarksyan was assassinated in a hail of machine-gun bullets after gunmen burst into a session of parliament Oct. 27. Parliament speaker Karen Demirchyan and six other top officials were also killed. Five members of parliament, as well as the privatization minister, were hospitalized. Lawmakers were held in the chamber overnight, but were freed after officials in Yerevan, the capital of the ex-Soviet state, agreed to give the gunmen, apparently attempting a coup, a fair trial. Investigators fail to find remains
    Missionary search
    Teams of investigators fanned across Colombia's western jungles in search of the bodies of three American missionaries believed to have been kidnapped over six years ago by Colombian rebels. No bodies were discovered in what Colombian media described as a "spectacular operation." FBI, U.S. embassy officials, and Colombian military all participated in the search, which included digging over 600 holes along the banks of the Murri River to find the bodies of three men, Mark Rich, David Mankins, and Richard Tennenoff. According to a former guerrilla interviewed by a Colombian radio network, the men, abducted in 1993 while serving under Florida-based New Tribes Mission in Panama, were murdered in 1995. The search, according to New Tribes, "may not indicate that our men are alive, but it certainly does not substantiate the claim that they are dead." The No-Comment Zone
  • Six public college professors in Virginia say a state law against state employees surfing for porn at work violates their academic freedom, so they're taking their case to a federal appeals court. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema declared the law unconstitutional in February 1998, but a three-judge appeals court panel overturned her decision a year later. Now the profs have ACLU support in their quest for a full-court ruling against the law.
  • Hal Hovey, former state finance director for Ohio and state budget director for Illinois, decided he didn't want to pay the cost of living with cancer. After consulting with doctors about treatment options, The uninsured Mr. Hovey, 60, studied a cost-benefit analysis spreadsheet and learned that treatment would run $25,000. He then set up a charity for young cancer patients with the money and committed suicide. His final decisions "were really just a continuation of his whole life and the difficult decisions you make in government," said his daughter, Kendra Hovey.
  • The Southern Baptist Convention took heat from liberal critics after printing up 30,000 pamphlets urging believers to pray for the conversion of Hindus. Keith Parks, who spent 13 years as president of the convention's International Mission Board, charged the Baptists with "fundamentalism," complaining that "we need to cultivate personal relationships rather than launch a new crusade that's confrontative and abrasive."
  • "If you had to assassinate one famous person who is alive right now, who would it be and how would you do it?" A teacher at Franklin High School near Cincinnati used this as a suggested essay topic and found herself the subject of outrage. Administrators refused to name the now-reprimanded teacher.
  • The government-run Hospital Authority in Hong Kong has suspended a doctor whose patient complained that he talked on a hands-free mobile phone while operating. Chung Chi-cheung said he heard his doctor chatting with a car salesman during follow-up surgery to remove a growth on his colon at Queen Mary Hospital. The Hospital Authority apologized to Mr. Chung for "his unpleasant experience." Court upholds partial-birth abortion ban
    Supreme Court or bust
    The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld Illinois and Wisconsin laws banning partial-birth abortion. The 5-4 decision reversed a lower court's ruling that the Illinois law was unconstitutional and an appeals panel's order that temporarily stopped enforcement of the Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin law provides for life imprisonment of anyone performing such an abortion, except to save the life of the mother. Partial-birth abortionists receive a three-year sentence under the Illinois statute. The decision conflicts with an 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, one month earlier, that a Nebraska ban on the procedure was unconstitutional. Activists on both sides of the issue predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court would settle the matter. The 7th Circuit Court's ruling "creates a constitutional crisis which will probably go to the Supreme Court," said Janet Benshoof of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life agreed that the high court likely would rule, "perhaps next year, on whether Roe vs. Wade covers pulling most of a living baby feet-first outside of the womb, puncturing her skull, and removing her brain." Why is children's series so popular (con't.)?
    More Potterville
    One additional reason for the success of the Harry Potter books (WORLD, Oct. 30) is this: They vindicate the smart kid, who often is ridiculed in stories and in life. Many of the children with disposable cash who are buying the series probably identify with bookish, misunderstood Harry, and one of the worst parental reactions would be to make it look as if Christians are the opponents of joy, fun, and good reading. (That might make a kid see Christians, rather than materialists, as the "Muggles," the boring folks who just don't get it.) The better approach is for parents and children both to read J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and make these fantasy books part of their common family stock of references. (Test: When it's time to clear the table and wash dishes, will children refer to chipping glasses or cracking plates, "for that's what Bilbo Baggins hates"?) If a child is already bitten by the Potter bug, the best approach may be to co-opt his enthusiasm. Children fascinated by going to a school like Potter's Hogwarts can be shown that if they really want to learn about supernatural powers and spiritual warfare, the school they need is Sunday school.

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