Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "More than a warlord," July 21, 2001

Army of none
Two weeks after cutting a deal in Congress that would cut many Christ-centered organizations out of the faith-based initiative, the Bush administration has backed away from an apparent commitment to create new protection for participating Christian groups that want to maintain theological distinctives in their hiring practices. On July 10, The Washington Post quoted from a 79-page internal memo from the Salvation Army, saying it had received a "firm commitment" from the White House to create a regulation that would prevent state and local authorities from insisting that the Army and other faith-based groups not "discriminate" by refusing to hire homosexuals or provide benefits to "domestic partners." The memo also said that the administration should issue this rule because the Army supported the Bush initiative. Liberal activists attacked within hours. "The administration is in fact willing to throw the rights of some citizens overboard in return for political support," charged Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has claimed to support legislation aiding faith-based groups, said the suggested rule could "terminally wound" the Bush initiative. The White House denied any secret deal, but Vice President Dick Cheney declared it was important that "we not require fundamental changes in the underlying principles and organizing doctrines, if you will, of the organizations that participate." Later in the day, though, the White House said it would not develop a new regulation because faith-based groups already have adequate protection. Many groups disagree. Family Research Council leader Ken Connor blasted attempts to use "discrimination" to denigrate religious charities: "The Salvation Army has never discriminated in serving those in need. No matter. Liberals are determined to force all of society into conformity with their ideas of fairness." -Tim Graham, at the White House BUSH, JIANG HAVE A TENSE LITTLE CHAT
Dialing for dissidents
Probably they won't be doing lunch yet, but President Bush and President Jiang Zemin of China talked to each other for the first time July 5. Top aides, including national security adviser Condoleeza Rice, set up the phone call to signal a new chapter in U.S.-China relations after the successful return (if crated is how one defines success) of the Navy EP-3 surveillance plane that collided with a Chinese fighter last spring. Problem was, Mr. Bush brought up another touchy matter: Americans who are held by China's security thugs in violation of international law (WORLD, "Detention season," June 30). Things apparently went downhill from there. According to one White House official, Mr. Bush made it clear that the scholars, journalists, and businessmen should be "treated fairly and returned promptly." The Chinese president offered the usual refrain: He said their cases would be "expedited" and dealt with under Chinese law. Translation: We will hold them and try them as we please. Chinese officials notified the State Department that legal proceedings were underway for two of the jailed after the presidential call. The two having their day in court are Li Shaomin, a naturalized American citizen and business professor in Hong Kong, arrested in February and charged in May with espionage; and Gao Zhan, a United States permanent resident and sociology researcher at American University. She, too, was detained in February. Conservatives in Congress are pressuring Mr. Bush to resolve the incidents quickly. So is the calendar. Secretary of State Colin Powell plans to visit Beijing this month, and Mr. Bush is scheduled to go to China in October, when Asian and Pacific leaders will gather in Shanghai for their annual summit meeting. At that time Mr. Bush also plans to make a state visit to Beijing. -Mindy Belz U.S. OPPOSES UN PLANS ON INT'L GUN CONTROL
Pleading the 2nd
The Bush administration and delegates attending a weapons trafficking conference at UN headquarters charged that a proposal to limit international arms transactions could tread on the Second Amendment rights of Americans. Working papers circulated at the conference called for regulating all transfers of small arms and light weapons. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said these were so poorly defined "it could be construed as outlawing legitimate international trade in all firearms." In a plenary address to the 11-day conference of 150 nations, Mr. Bolton said the goal of reducing illicit arms trade was "laudable" but told UN delegates that Americans "do not begin with the presumption that all small arms and light weapons are the same or that they are all problematic." He also rejected any provisions that could ban private ownership of small arms. MANHATTAN EPISCOPALIANS CUT FUNDING TO THE POOREST OF THE POOR IN AFRICA
Liberal churchmen TEEd off
Don't mess with America's Episcopal establishment, or it will cost you. That's the message one of the world's richest churches sent this month to Anglican churches in one of Africa's neediest countries. Trinity Church, Wall Street, announced on July 3 that it had rejected a $146,000 grant request from the Episcopal Church in Rwanda. The grant would have enabled a Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program Trinity had funded the preceding three years to continue. Trinity officials faulted Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, primate of the Rwanda church, and two of his bishops for "actively working to promote schism" within the U.S. Episcopal Church. The three prelates participated in the consecration of four American priests as bishops of the fledgling Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) last month in Denver. Archbishop Kolini earlier had accepted oversight of the South Carolina-based AMiA as an evangelical missionary province of the Rwanda church on U.S. Episcopal soil. Its purpose: to plant new biblically faithful churches and provide an Anglican refuge for conservatives fleeing the increasingly liberal Episcopal Church. Most Anglican provinces in Africa are conservative; many are growing rapidly. Leaders have turned to evangelical-oriented TEE programs to help train new clergy recruits quickly (Rwanda lost many of its clergy in the genocide of 1994). Trinity has funded many of them despite its own liberal orientation. Trinity has pursued its grant-making policy "regardless of whether we were in agreement with local churches on points of theology," program associate Judith Gillespie wrote in a letter informing Rwanda's TEE coordinator of the rejection. Trinity "cannot provide support to a church that undertakes such divisive activity." The 303-year-old Trinity Church sits in the heart of lower Manhattan. Although it claims only about 700 members, it owns 27 buildings, including some skyscrapers, in Manhattan; its wealth comes from leases and rent. It set up its Grants Program in 1972, disbursing nearly $60 million since then to community, Episcopal Church, and worldwide Anglican causes. Current-year grants total $2.5 million. Some conservative Anglican leaders denounced Trinity's reprisal. It punishes ordinary, suffering people in a struggling church, said clergy leader Bruce Ballantine-Jones of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia-a diocese that long has helped provide care for Rwanda's numerous orphans. He suggested Trinity's action smacks of "blackmail"-a warning to bishops in other provinces to toe the line, or else. -Edward E. Plowman CHANGE-THE-TONE WATCH: NAACP CHAIRMAN ATTACKS BUSH, GOP
Blustering Bond
NAACP officials may be wondering why President Bush hasn't met with them at the White House, and why he discovered "scheduling conflicts" that prevented him from speaking in person at their recent convention in New Orleans. He sent a taped message. But are they really surprised? Last fall, the NAACP aired an ad suggesting then-Gov. Bush's refusal to support a Democratic "hate crimes" bill in Texas was like killing racial dragging victim James Byrd "all over again." At its convention on July 8, NAACP chairman Julian Bond said most blacks were correct to vote for Al Gore, since Mr. Bush "has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right, and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection." Mr. Bond's remarks were so strong that even low-key White House spokesman Ari Fleischer suggested "there was a certain sense of going too far." Perhaps, but the tone is nothing new. In 1997, Mr. Bond said that Reagan-era Republicans were "a crazed swarm of right-wing locusts" waging an "assault on the rule of law." While Mr. Bond joked that Mr. Bush "had his picture taken with more black people than voted for him," the president sounded another conciliatory note in his videotaped address to the NAACP audience: "I've tried to speak in a tone that brings us together and unites us in purpose. I believe that even when disagreements arise, we should treat each other with civility and with respect. That is a basic requirement of democracy." Perhaps the president also considers it a basic requirement for an invitation to the White House. Securities industry proposes new regulations for stock analysts, but the bottom line still is ...
Stock buyer beware
Who caused the stock market meltdown? Many lay much blame on high-profile equity analysts who promoted stocks to the moon in public, and now the financial industry is considering stricter rules as a result. Numerous critics complain that analysts-particularly those who publicize their views on CNBC cable channel and elsewhere-treat companies with kid gloves, eagerly making positive comments yet rarely saying something negative. These talking heads reached millions of households and earned cult hero status despite all sorts of conflicts of interest. A company may be a client of the analyst's firm. The analyst may own the stock-or may earn hefty bonuses for bringing business to their firms from companies they analyze. The House Financial Services subcommittee last month explored the issue of analysts' cheerleading for companies through biased advice, and this month federal regulators with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned investors not to rely solely on such recommendations. So the National Association of Securities Dealers followed with its own self-regulatory proposal, which would require analysts to disclose potential conflicts of interest when they recommend stocks in public. "When an individual speaks authoritatively in recommending a security, it is essential that the listening audience understand the stake that person, or their employer, has in that security," said NASD Regulation president Mary Schapiro. CNBC says it already requires analysts to disclose potential conflicts. Still, the SEC's warning advised stock traders to do their own due diligence. Regulators urged people to first consider company financial reports, independent news reports, and other objective sources. With or without rules and regulations, the investor is always stuck with the fruits of his actions. -Chris Stamper Man knows not his time
Common man's philosopher
Mortimer J. Adler was the guy who taught the world How to Read a Book. The former Encyclopedia Britannica editor spent decades trying to make Aristotle and Aquinas understandable to the masses and gave the world the Great Books program. He died last month at age 98 at his San Mateo, Calif., home. Adler and former University of Chicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins launched a movement in 1946 that still influences how Americans think about education. Years before the culture wars put such notions on the defensive, Adler championed a canon of literature and ideas that would help ordinary people learn throughout their lives. For all his efforts, Adler was not beloved in the ivory tower; intellectuals frequently attacked him as a mere middlebrow popularizer. "I've been run out of the academy," he told The New York Times in 1981. "But it doesn't bother me. I thumbed my nose at them-so why should they pay any attention to me? They think you're spoonfeeding if you write something free of jargon and footnotes. But you're not spoonfeeding-you're simply avoiding putting obstacles in people's path." Adler wrote or co-wrote more than 45 books, with titles like Aristotle for Everybody, Six Great Ideas, and Ten Philosophical Mistakes. Over the years he became more conservative. Born Jewish, he showed signs of a move toward Christianity toward the end of his life. Adler even contributed an essay to Kelly James Clark's 1993 book Philosophers Who Believe. A cold state by any other name ...
Northern exposure
Which sounds better: "North Dakota" or just "Dakota"? The state's chamber of commerce has proposed shortening the name as a way to dispel thoughts of cold winters. Chamber members hope a name change would make the area more popular with high-tech companies, helping to revive a stagnating state economy. Some supporters even wore badges saying, "I'm from Dakota." But most of the attention the idea attracted was of the satirical and mocking variety. "You can put a pig in a dress, but it wouldn't change the fact that it's a pig," said South Dakota state Rep. Mel Olson. "I can change my name to Arnold Schwarzenegger to make people think I'm big and muscular, but the first time people see me, they'll know it's not true." The North Dakota and South Dakota names date back to when the Dakota Territory was split into two states in 1889. Any name change would require a state constitutional amendment, approval from voters, and a change in federal law.

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