Man knows not his time
A forgotten hero of the cold war died on July 19, according to the UK's Sunday Telegraph. Born in 1936, Alexander Ginzburg worked as a journalist, theatrical producer, and lathe operator and became one of the Soviet Union's most prominent dissenters. He was the father of samizdat, the art of producing secret, self-published magazines. He battled Soviet authorities throughout the 1960s and 1970s and was imprisoned for five years. Mr. Ginzburg was eventually exiled to the United States, in a prisoner exchange. He worked for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and maintained a fund that used royalties from Solzhenitsyn's book The Gulag Archipelago to help political prisoners. He was also part of a group investigating Soviet compliance with the Helsinki accords, a 1975 human-rights agreement. Mr. Ginzburg settled in Paris and continued working for the dissident cause. His wife Irina, who had supported his efforts even while he was imprisoned, survives him, along with their two sons.
A cool invention turns 100
Dallas, 97°; Boise, 98°; Phoenix, 103°; Denver, 96°; Wichita, 94°. This summer marks the centennial of one of history's most important inventions-air conditioning. Back in 1902, Willis Haviland Carrier invented a system to cool, clean, and dry air. His idea was originally designed to cool the ink in printing presses. Carrier figured out that he could cool air by blowing it through coils full of cold water. For decades, the invention was little used except as a luxury or a curiosity. As late as 1960, only 12 percent of the nation's homes were air-conditioned. But once it caught on, it spread fast. Some complain that air conditioning stripped America of some cultural charm. Carrier's invention has brought people indoors, away from their old porches and closer to the TV set. Downtowns have sprung upward with giant skyscrapers sealed in glass largely to protect the artificial climate inside. Still, few doubt-especially those in the sweltering cities listed-that air conditioning has saved lives, protecting people from dangerous heat waves.
Terminator is back
It's back to business for Florida abortionist James Pendergraft. An appeals court last month overturned his conviction for extortion, mail fraud, and conspiracy, although a business associate's perjury conviction still stands. Dr. Pendergraft's run-in with the law began when he sued the Marion County government, claiming it wasn't doing enough to protect one of his clinics from protesters. County officials considered the suit part of an extortion plot: that Dr. Pendergraft and his real estate advisor, Michael Spielvogel, expected them to pay the pair to close up shop. Soon the doctor became the defendant. Prosecutors claimed Dr. Pendergraft and Mr. Spielvogel concocted a web of lies in an attempt to extort millions of dollars from the county, and both were convicted and sentenced to over three years in prison. Dr. Pendergraft appealed, and a three-judge panel ruled that his original lawsuit was not sufficient to merit an extortion charge. Yet the panel upheld a perjury conviction against Mr. Spielvogel for falsely telling the FBI that the chairman of the Marion County Board of Commissioners had threatened violence against Dr. Pendergraft's clinic. Dr. Pendergraft seems anxious to put the matter behind him and resume terminating unborn children. "I'm just looking forward to getting back to work," he told the Ocala Star-Banner.
A promise enforced
College student Joshua Davey won a Promise Scholarship for high performers from Washington state's Higher Education Coordinating Board. But after he declared a major in Pastoral Ministries and Business Management at Northwest College, an accredited Assemblies of God school in suburban Seattle, the board withdrew the scholarship. It cited separation of church and state as the reason, and pointed to a state law that bars aid to "any student who is pursuing a degree in theology." That was 1999. Last month, a three-judge panel of the liberal-tilted 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco surprisingly ruled 2 to 1 that the board was wrong. The state had no "compelling reason" to withhold the funds, the court held. It questioned why state policy makes aid available to all qualified students except those who choose a religious major. The criteria are discriminatory and "suppress a religious point of view." The decision overturned a lower court's finding. "A resounding victory for equal treatment of people of faith," announced religious-freedom advocate Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Davey's lawyers. "A student should not be penalized financially for pursuing a degree in theology." - Edward E. Plowman
Appropriate settlement, inappropriate relationship
Federal prosecutors announced the Catholic archdiocese of Milwaukee didn't do anything illegal when it paid about $450,000 in 1998 to settle a former theology student's complaint of sexual abuse. Paul Marcoux, 54, had accused Archbishop Rembert Weakland of assaulting him in 1979 when he was a student at Marquette University. Investigators wanted to know whether church funds raised for other purposes had been misappropriated to make the payoff. They concluded the money was paid from a real-estate fund that had no restrictions. Meanwhile, the archbishop's supporters have donated more than $300,000 so far to offset the outlay. Archbishop Weakland resigned in April when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75. He acknowledged an "inappropriate" relationship with Mr. Marcoux but denied there was any abuse. Meanwhile, more than 4,000 members of a new Catholic lay group, Voice of the Faithful, had their first national meeting in Boston. Born of the Catholic priest sex-abuse scandal, the group vowed to find ways for lay Catholics to "actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church." They also called on the pope to endorse reform policies the U.S. bishops approved in June to deal with abusers. - Edward E. Plowman
Diligence due: SEC settles fraud complaint
The federal Securities and Exchange Commission and a fund-raising arm of the 2,200-congregation Church of God (Anderson, Ind.) are in court. The SEC accused Church Extension (CE) of defrauding investors of more than $80 million between 1996 and 2002 by misstating income and the risk and type of investments. In court filings, the SEC said it had negotiated a preliminary settlement that requires CE to establish an oversight committee and return investor money. CE agreed to the settlement, subject to court approval, without admitting or denying the allegations. The complaint seeks repayment of $81 million plus interest from CE, along with seizure of assets from two principals in the fundraising operation. A CE spokesman said it might take years to repay noteholders, but "we're doing the best we can to meet their needs." A CE settlement with state authorities last year netted $350,000 in reimbursements to noteholders. - Edward E. Plowman