Monday, March 12, 2007
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Feds Try to Dismiss Domestic Spying Suit
Filed at 6:56 a.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Justice Department said Friday it was moving to dismiss a federal lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's secretive domestic wiretapping program.
The lawsuit, brought by the Internet privacy group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, does not include the government.
Instead, it names AT&T, which the San Francisco-based group accuses of colluding with the National Security Agency to make communications on AT&T networks available to the spy agency without warrants.
The government, in a filing here late Friday, said the lawsuit threatens to expose government and military secrets and therefore should be tossed. The administration added that its bid to intervene in the case should not be viewed as a concession that the allegations are true.
As part of its case, the EFF said it obtained documents from a former AT&T technician showing that the NSA is capable of monitoring all communications on AT&T's network, and those documents are under seal. The former technician said the documents detail secret NSA spying rooms and electronic surveillance equipment in AT&T facilities.
Next month, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker will hold a hearing on whether they should be divulged publicly.
President Bush confirmed in December that the NSA has been conducting the surveillance when calls and e-mails, in which at least one party is outside the United States, are thought to involve al-Qaida terrorists.
In congressional hearings earlier this month, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested the president could order the NSA to listen in on purely domestic calls without first obtaining a warrant from a secret court established nearly 30 years ago to consider such issues.
Gonzales said the administration, assuming the conversation related to al-Qaida, would have to determine if the surveillance were crucial to the nation's fight against terrorism, as authorized by Congress following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The EFF lawsuit, alleging AT&T violated U.S. law and its customers' privacy, seeks to stop the surveillance program.
The San Antonio-based telecommunications giant said it follows all applicable laws.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Friday, April 14, 2006
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
While attending a Pennsylvania Republican Party picnic, Jennie Mae Brown bumped into her state representative and started venting.
''How could this happen?'' Ms. Brown asked Representative Gibson C. Armstrong two summers ago, complaining about a physics professor at the York campus of Pennsylvania State University who she said routinely used class time to belittle President Bush and the war in Iraq. As an Air Force veteran, Ms. Brown said she felt the teacher's comments were inappropriate for the classroom.
The encounter has blossomed into an official legislative inquiry, putting Pennsylvania in the middle of a national debate spurred by conservatives over whether public universities are promoting largely liberal positions and discriminating against students who disagree with them.
A committee held two hearings last month in Pittsburgh and has scheduled another for Jan. 9 in Philadelphia. A final report with any recommendations for legislative remedy is due in June.
The investigation comes at a time when David Horowitz, a conservative commentator and president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, has been lobbying more than a dozen state legislatures to pass an ''Academic Bill of Rights'' that he says would encourage free debate and protect students against discrimination for expressing their political beliefs.
While Mr. Horowitz insists his campaign for intellectual diversity is nonpartisan, it is fueled, in large measure, by studies that show the number of Democratic professors is generally much larger than the number of Republicans. A survey in 2003 by researchers at Santa Clara University found the ratio of Democrats to Republicans on college faculties ranged from 3 to 1 in economics to 30 to 1 in anthropology.
Mr. Horowitz said he was pushing for legislation only because schools across the country were ignoring their own academic freedom regulations and a founding principle of the American Association of University Professors, which says schools are better equipped to regulate themselves without government intervention.
''It became apparent to me that universities have a problem,'' he said in an interview. ''And nothing was being done about it.''
Mr. Horowitz and his allies are meeting forceful resistance wherever they go, by university officials and the professors association, which argues that conservatives are overstating the problem and, by seeking government action, are forcing their ideology into the classroom.
''Mechanisms exist to address these glitches and to fix them,'' said Joan Wallach Scott, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and former chairwoman of the professors association committee on academic freedom, in testimony at the Pennsylvania Legislature's first hearing. ''There is no need for interference from outside legislative or judicial agencies.''
In a debate with Mr. Horowitz last summer, Russell Jacoby, a history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, portrayed Mr. Horowitz's approach as heavy-handed. ''It calls for committees or prosecutors to monitor the lectures and assignments of teachers,'' he said. ''This is a sure-fire way to kill free inquiry and whatever abuses come with it.''
So far, the campaign has produced more debate than action. Colorado and Ohio agreed to suspend legislative efforts to impose an academic bill of rights in favor of pledges by their state schools to uphold standards already in place. Georgia passed a resolution discouraging ''political or ideological indoctrination'' by teachers, encouraging them to create ''an environment conducive to the civil exchange of ideas.''
While comparable efforts failed in three other states, measures are pending in 11 others. In Congress, House and Senate committees passed a general resolution this year encouraging American colleges to promote ''a free and open exchange of ideas'' in their classrooms and to treat students ''equally and fairly.'' It awaits floor action next year.
Mr. Horowitz's center has spawned a national group called Students for Academic Freedom that uses its Web site to collect stories from students who say they have been affected by political bias in the classroom. The group says it has chapters on more than 150 campuses.
The student group has fielded concerns from people like Nathaniel Nelson, a former student at the University of Rhode Island and a conservative, who said a philosophy teacher he had during his junior year referred often to his own homosexuality and made clear his dislike for Mr. Bush.
Mr. Nelson, now a graduate student at the University of Connecticut, said in an interview that the teacher frequently called on him to defend his conservative values while making it clear he did not care for Republicans.
''On the first day of class, he said, 'If you don't like me, get out of my class,' '' Mr. Nelson said. ''But it was the only time that fall the course was being offered, and I wanted to take it.''
Marissa Freimanis said she encountered a similar situation in her freshman English class at California State University, Long Beach, last year. Ms. Freimanis said the professor's liberal bias was clear in the class syllabus, which suggested topics for members of the class to write about. One was, ''Should Justice Sandra Day O'Connor be impeached for her partisan political actions in the Bush v. Gore case?''
''Of course, I felt very uncomfortable,'' Ms. Freimanis, who is a Republican, said in an interview.
In Pennsylvania, lawmakers are examining whether the political climate at 18 state-run schools requires legislation to ban bias. Mr. Armstrong said he discussed the issue in several conversations with Mr. Horowitz ''as an expert in the field'' before calling for the creation of a committee.
''But I don't know if his Academic Bill of Rights is necessary in Pennsylvania,'' Mr. Armstrong said in an interview. ''Before we have legislation to change a problem, we first have to determine whether the problem exists. If it does exist, the next question is, 'Is it significant enough to require legislation?' ''
''So the question I'm asking,'' he added, ''is, 'Do we have a problem in Pennsylvania?' ''
For now, the answer is unclear. While Mr. Armstrong said he had received complaints from ''about 50 students'' who said they were intimidated by professors expressing strong political views, Democratic members of the committee have called the endeavor a waste of time, and the Republican chairman, Representative Thomas L. Stevenson, seemed to agree.
''If our report were issued today,'' Mr. Stevenson said, ''I'd say our institutions of higher education are doing a fine job.''
Photo: Jennie Mae Brown told her Pennsylvania state representative, Gibson C. Armstrong, that she felt a physics professor's comments in the classroom about President Bush and Iraq were inappropriate. (Photo by Bradley C. Bower for The New York Times)
|Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company|
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Sunday, November 27, 2005
November 27, 2005
Word for Word Church v. State U.
Here's the Problem With Emily Dickinson
By THOMAS VINCIGUERRA
INTELLIGENT design isn't the only flashpoint in the battle over religion in the nation's classrooms. On Dec. 12, the Federal District Court in Los Angeles will hear a lawsuit filed by a consortium of Christian high schools against the University of California system for refusing to credit some of their courses when their students apply for admission.
Among those courses are "Christianity's Influence in American History" and "Christianity and American Literature," both of which draw on textbooks published by Bob Jones University of Greenville, S.C., which describes itself as having stood for "the absolute authority of the Bible since 1927."
The plaintiffs, the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents more than 800 schools in California, and the Calvary Chapel Christian School of Murrieta, Calif., contend that their students are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. The university system counters that it has the right to set its own standards. Here are excerpts from the disputed texts. THOMAS VINCIGUERRA
"United States History for Christian Schools," written by Timothy Keesee and Mark Sidwell (Bob Jones University, 2001), says this about Thomas Jefferson.
American believers can appreciate Jefferson's rich contribution to the development of their nation, but they must beware of his view of Christ as a good teacher but not the incarnate son of God. As the Apostle John said, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son" (I John 2:22).
Slavery, which most historians look at politically or economically, is seen as "an excellent example of the far-reaching consequences of sin."
The sin in this case was greed - greed on the part of African tribal leaders, on the part of slave traders and on the part of slave owners, all of whom allowed their love for profit to outweigh their love for their fellow man. The consequences of such greed and racism extended across society and far into the future. It resulted in untold suffering-most obviously for the black race but for the white race as well. ... The Lord has never exaggerated in warning us of sin's devastating consequences - for us and for our descendants (Exodus 34:7).
The book also criticizes the progressive movement championed by Theodore Roosevelt, and the Progressives themselves.
On the whole, they believed that man is basically good and that human nature might be improved. ... Such a belief, of course, ignored the biblical teaching that man is sinful by nature (Ephesians 2:1-3). Progressives therefore also ignored the fact that the fallible men who built the corrupt institutions that they attacked were the same in nature as those who filled the political offices and staffed the regulatory agencies that were supposed to control the corruption.
On the other hand, the "devout Methodist" H. J. Heinz is praised for his fine products and humane treatment of workers, which set him apart from the typical 19th-century robber baron.
Heinz illustrates the Christian's response to the challenge of business management: "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24).
"Elements of Literature for Christian Schools," by Ronald Horton, Donalynn Hess and Steven Skeggs (Bob Jones University, 2001), faults Mark Twain for calling God "an irascible, vindictive, fierce and ever fickle and changeful master."
Twain's outlook was both self-centered and ultimately hopeless. Denying that he was created in the image of God, Twain was able to rid himself of feeling any responsibility to his Creator. At the same time, however, he defiantly cut himself off from God's love. Twain's skepticism was clearly not the honest questioning of a seeker of truth but the deliberate defiance of a confessed rebel.
Emily Dickinson, too, is criticized for her lack of faith.
Dickinson's year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary further shaped her "religious" views. During her stay at the school, she learned of Christ but wrote of her inability to make a decision for Him. She could not settle "the one thing needful." A thorough study of Dickinson's works indicates that she never did make that needful decision. Several of her poems show a presumptuous attitude concerning her eternal destiny and a veiled disrespect for authority in general. Throughout her life she viewed salvation as a gamble, not a certainty. Although she did view the Bible as a source of poetic inspiration, she never accepted it as an inerrant guide to life.
By contrast, the piety of Christina Rossetti, the 19th-century British poet, gets high marks.
The loneliness she faced is often reflected in her poems. But stronger than her loneliness was her total confidence in and submission to her Lord and Savior. Rossetti filled her mind and heart with Scripture. She gained from it a unique appreciation of the sustaining and sacrificial love of God. Her poetry and uplifting devotional literature are the natural overflow of her complete dependence on God.
"Physics for Christian Schools," by R. Terrance Egolf and Linda Shumate (Bob Jones University, 2004), addresses the question, "What is Christian about physics?"
Some people have developed the idea that higher mathematics and science have little to do with the Bible or Christian life. They think that because physics deals with scientific facts, or because it is not pervaded with evolutionary ideas, there is no need to study it from a Christian perspective. This kind of thinking ignores a number of important facts to the Christian: First, all secular science is pervaded by mechanistic, naturalistic and evolutionistic philosophy. Learning that the laws of mechanics as they pertain to a baseball in flight are just the natural consequences of the way matter came together denies the wisdom and power of our Creator God. ... Second, physics as taught in the schools of the world contradicts the processes that shaped the world we see today. Trying to believe both secular physics and the Bible leaves you in a state of confusion that will weaken your faith in God's Word.
Even the abstract laws of energy and matter, the authors write, reflect the hand of God.
You are about to embark on an adventure. The study of physics reveals the wonderful orderliness of God's creation - so orderly that it can be comprehended in terms of relatively simple principles (mathematical formulas). ... Physics is important because through it mankind learns how creation actually works. It satisfies our God-given curiosity about nature. Seeing that God does "great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number" (Job 5:9), men have dedicated their lives to unraveling the rich mysteries of creation.
Thomas Vinciguerra is deputy editor of The Week.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Monday, November 14, 2005
November 14, 2005
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At Some Colleges,
Evolution Take Hold
'Intelligent Design' Doctrine
Leaves Room for Creator;
In Iowa, Science on Defense
A Professor Turns Heckler
By DANIEL GOLDEN
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 14, 2005; Page A1
AMES, Iowa -- With a magician's flourish, Thomas Ingebritsen pulled six mousetraps from a shopping bag and handed them out to students in his "God and Science" seminar. At his instruction, they removed one component -- either the spring, hammer or holding bar -- from each mousetrap. They then tested the traps, which all failed to snap.
"Is the mousetrap irreducibly complex?" the Iowa State University molecular biologist asked the class.
"Yes, definitely," said Jason Mueller, a junior biochemistry major wearing a cross around his neck.
That's the answer Mr. Ingebritsen was looking for. He was using the mousetrap to support the antievolution doctrine known as intelligent design. Like a mousetrap, the associate professor suggested, living cells are "irreducibly complex" -- they can't fulfill their functions without all of their parts. Hence, they could not have evolved bit by bit through natural selection but must have been devised by a creator.
"This is the closest to a science class on campus where anybody's going to talk about intelligent design," the fatherly looking associate professor told his class. "At least for now."
Overshadowed by attacks on evolution in high-school science curricula, intelligent design is gaining a precarious and hotly contested foothold in American higher education. Intelligent-design courses have cropped up at the state universities of Minnesota, Georgia and New Mexico, as well as Iowa State, and at private institutions such as Wake Forest and Carnegie Mellon. Most of the courses, like Mr. Ingebritsen's, are small seminars that don't count for science credit. Many colleges have also hosted lectures by advocates of the doctrine.
The spread of these courses reflects the growing influence of evangelical Christianity in academia, as in other aspects of American culture. Last week, the Kansas state board of education adopted new science guidelines that question evolution.
Intelligent design does not demand a literal reading of the Bible. Unlike traditional creationists, most adherents agree with the prevailing scientific view that the earth is billions of years old. And they allow that the designer is not necessarily the Christian God.
Still, professors with evangelical beliefs, including some eminent scientists, have initiated most of the courses and lectures, often with start-up funding from the John Templeton Foundation. Established by famous stockpicker Sir John Templeton, the foundation promotes exploring the boundary of theology and science. It fostered the movement's growth with grants of $10,000 and up for guest speakers, library materials, research and conferences.
Intelligent design's beachhead on campus has provoked a backlash. Universities have discouraged teaching of intelligent design in science classes and canceled lectures on the topic. Last month, University of Idaho President Tim White flatly declared that teaching of "views that differ from evolution" in science courses is "inappropriate."
Citing what they describe as overwhelming evidence for evolution, mainstream scientists say no one has the right to teach wrong science, or religion in the guise of science. "My interest is in making sure that intelligent design and creationism do not make the kind of inroads at the university level that they're making at the K-12 level," says Leslie McFadden, chair of earth and planetary sciences at the University of New Mexico, who led a successful fight there to re-classify a course on intelligent design from science to humanities. "You can't teach whatever you damn well please. If you're a geologist, and you decide that the earth's core is made of green cheese, you can't teach that."
At Iowa State, where Mr. Ingebritsen teaches, more than 120 faculty signed a petition this year condemning "all attempts to represent intelligent design as a scientific endeavor." In response, 47 Christian faculty and staff members, including Mr. Ingebritsen, signed a statement calling on the university to protect their freedom to discuss intelligent design.
At stake in this dispute are the minds of the next generation of scientists and science teachers. Some are arriving at college with conflicting accounts of mankind's origins at home, in church and at school. Many of Iowa State's 21,000-plus undergraduates come from fundamentalist backgrounds and belong to Christian student groups on campus.
According to an informal survey by James Colbert, an associate professor who teaches introductory biology at Iowa State, one-third of ISU freshmen planning to major in biology agree with the statement that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years." Although it's widely assumed that college-bound students learn about evolution in high school, Mr. Colbert says that isn't always the case.
"I've had frequent conversations with freshmen who told me that their high-school biology teachers skipped the evolution chapter," he says. "I would say that high-school teachers in many cases feel intimidated about teaching evolution. They're concerned they're going to be criticized by parents, students and school boards."
Warren Dolphin, who also teaches introductory biology at Iowa State, says he's begun describing evolution to his class as a hypothesis rather than as a fact to avoid confrontations with creationist students. "I don't want to get into a nonproductive debate," he says. "What I'm saying is so contrary to what they're hearing in their small town, their school, their church that I won't convert them in 40 lectures by a pointy-headed professor. The most I can do is get them to question their beliefs."
In a 1999 fund-raising proposal, the Discovery Institute -- an intelligent design think tank in Seattle -- outlined what it called a "wedge strategy" to replace the "stifling dominance of the materialist worldview" with "a science consonant with Christian and theistic conviction." Its five-year objectives included making intelligent design "an accepted alternative in the sciences" and the "dominant perspective" at two universities which weren't identified.
While these goals weren't met, some intelligent-design advocates associated with the Discovery Institute, found a receptive ear at the Pennsylvania-based Templeton Foundation. Between 1994 and 2002, the foundation funded nearly 800 courses, including several on intelligent design. It has also supported research by William Dembski, who headed an intelligent-design center at Baylor University, and Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of a 2004 book, "The Privileged Planet." The book claimed to discern a designer from the earth's position in the cosmos. Mr. Gonzalez, an assistant professor of astronomy at Iowa State, received $58,000 from the foundation over three years.
Foundation staff members now say that intelligent design hasn't yielded as much research as they'd hoped. Mr. Templeton, who chairs the foundation and will turn 93 later this month, believes "the creation-evolution argument is a waste of time," says Paul Wason, the foundation's director of science and religion programs. Mr. Wason adds that Mr. Templeton is more interested in applying the scientific method to exploring spiritual questions such as the nature of forgiveness. Nevertheless, staff members remain reluctant to dismiss intelligent design entirely, in part because the doctrine's popularity could help achieve the foundation's goal of persuading evangelical Christians to pursue scientific careers. The foundation also complains that academia is too quick to censor the doctrine.
Templeton-funded proponents of intelligent design include Christopher Macosko, a professor of chemical engineering at University of Minnesota. Mr. Macosko, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, became a born-again Christian as an assistant professor after a falling-out with a business partner. For eight years, he's taught a freshman seminar: "Life: By Chance or By Design?" According to Mr. Macosko, "All the students who finish my course say, 'Gee, I didn't realize how shaky evolution is.' "
Another recipient of Templeton funding, Harold Delaney, a professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, taught an honors seminar in 2003 and 2004 on "Origins: Science, Faith and Philosophy." Co-taught by Michael Kent, a scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, the course included readings on both sides as well as a guest lecture by David Keller, another intelligent-design advocate on the New Mexico faculty.
The university initially approved the course as qualifying students for science credit, as had been the custom with many interdisciplinary courses. Then the earth sciences chairman, Mr. McFadden, heard about the course. In an email to the chairman of biology, he described Mr. Delaney and Mr. Kent each as a "known creationist." The course, Mr. McFadden wrote, was "clearly 'designed' to show that 'intelligent design' is legitimate science.' " He added that he was "absolutely opposed" to classifying "Origins" as a science course.
The biology chairman and other faculty members agreed, and Reed Dasenbrock, then dean of arts and sciences, re-categorized "Origins" as a humanities course.
Mr. Delaney complained in a letter to the director of the honors program that the reclassification was "a violation of my academic freedom." But Mr. Dasenbrock, now interim provost, says the principle of academic freedom was not at stake in the decision. "People didn't buy it as science," he said.
The controversy didn't end there. Once the course started, a retired neuroscientist, Gerald Weiss, sat in on several classes, passing out evolution literature and heckling the teachers. Intelligent design is "deception," Mr. Weiss said. "They had the students in the palm of their hands. I wasn't welcome at all, and I finally gave it up."
Despite the humanities classification, Mr. Delaney says, other faculty continued to object to "Origins" and regard it as an embarrassment. He doesn't plan to offer the course again.
Some well-respected scientists have fostered the spread of intelligent design. Henry F. Schaefer, director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia, has written or co-authored 1,082 scientific papers and is one of the world's most widely cited chemists by other researchers.
Mr. Schaefer teaches a freshman seminar at Georgia entitled: "Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?" He has spoken on religion and science at many American universities, and gave the "John M. Templeton Lecture" -- funded by the foundation -- at Case Western Reserve in 1992, Montana State in 1999, and Princeton and Carnegie Mellon in 2004. "Those who favor the standard evolutionary model are in a state of panic," he says. "Intelligent design truly terrorizes them."
This past April, the school of science at Duquesne University, a Catholic university in Pittsburgh, abruptly canceled its sponsorship of a lecture by Mr. Schaefer in its distinguished scientist series. According to David Seybert, dean of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Mr. Schaefer was invited at the suggestion of a faculty member belonging to a Christian fellowship group on campus. The invitation was withdrawn after several biology professors complained that Mr. Schaefer planned to speak in favor of intelligent design. The school wanted to avoid "legitimizing intelligent design from a scientific perspective," Mr. Seybert said. Faculty members were also concerned that top students might not apply to Duquesne if they thought it endorsed intelligent design. Mr. Schaefer gave his lecture -- entitled "The Big Bang, Stephen Hawking, and God" -- to a packed hall at Duquesne under the auspices of a Christian group instead.
Tensions are running high at Iowa State, with Mr. Ingebritsen playing a key role. Joining the Iowa State faculty in 1986, he specialized in studying how cells communicate, but ended his research about 10 years ago and took up developing online biology courses. Shortly before that career change, he had converted from agnosticism to evangelical Christianity. As he explored whether -- and how -- modern science could be compatible with his religious beliefs, intelligent design intrigued him.
He taught "God and Science" for three years starting in 2000 without incident. But when he again proposed the seminar in 2003, members of the honors curriculum committee sought outside opinions from colleagues in biology and philosophy of science. They reported that the course relied on a textbook by a Christian publisher and slighted evolution. "I have serious worries about whether a course almost exclusively focused on the defense of Christian views is appropriate at a secular, state institution," wrote Michael Bishop, then philosophy chairman. The committee rejected the course by a 5-4 vote.
After protesting to a higher-level administrator to no avail, Mr. Ingebritsen revised the syllabus, added a mainstream textbook, and resumed teaching the course in 2004.
On the Spot
On a brisk Thursday in October, following the mousetrap gambit, Mr. Ingebritsen displayed diagrams on an overhead projector of "irreducibly complex" structures such as bacterial flagellum, the motor that helps bacteria move about. The flagellum, he said, constitutes strong evidence for intelligent design.
One student, Mary West, disputed this conclusion. "These systems could have arisen through natural selection," the senior said, citing the pro-evolution textbook.
"That doesn't explain this system," Mr. Ingebritsen answered. "You're a scientist. How did the flagellum evolve? Do you have a compelling argument for how it came into being?"
Ms. West looked down, avoiding his eye. "Nope," she muttered. The textbook, "Finding Darwin's God," by Kenneth Miller, a biology professor at Brown University, asserts that a flagellum isn't irreducibly complex because it can function to some degree even without all of its parts. This suggests to evolutionists that the flagellum could have developed over time, adding parts that made it work better.
During a class break, Ms. West says that Mr. Ingebritsen often puts her on the spot. "He knows I'm not religious," she says. "In the beginning, we talked about our religious philosophy. Everyone else in the class is some sort of a Christian. I'm not." The course helps her understand "the arguments on the other side," she adds, but she would like to see Mr. Ingebritsen co-teach it with a proponent of evolution.
Ms. West and other honors students will have a chance to hear the opposing viewpoint next semester. Counter-programming against Mr. Ingebritsen, three faculty members are preparing a seminar titled: "The Nature of Science: Why the Overwhelming Consensus of Science is that Intelligent Design is not Good Science."
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005
U.S. Used Chemical Weapons In Iraq Veteran admits: Bodies melted away before us. :: from www.uruknet.info :: news from occupied Iraq - ch
Veteran admits: Bodies melted away before us.
Shocking revelation RAI News 24.
White phosphorous used on the civilian populace: This is how the US "took" Fallujah. New napalm formula also used.
November 7, 2005 - "La Repubblica" -- -- ROME. In soldier slang they call it Willy Pete. The technical name is white phosphorus. In theory its purpose is to illumine enemy positions in the dark. In practice, it was used as a chemical weapon in the rebel stronghold of Fallujah. And it was used not only against enemy combatants and guerrillas, but again innocent civilians. The Americans are responsible for a massacre using unconventional weapons, the identical charge for which Saddam Hussein stands accused. An investigation by RAI News 24, the all-news Italian satellite television channel, has pulled the veil from one of the most carefully concealed mysteries from the front in the entire US military campaign in Iraq.
A US veteran of the Iraq war told RAI New correspondent Sigfrido Ranucci this: I received the order use caution because we had used white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military slag it is called 'Willy Pete'. Phosphorus burns the human body on contact--it even melts it right down to the bone.
RAI News 24's investigative story, Fallujah, The Concealed Massacre, will be broadcast tomorrow on RAI-3 and will contain not only eye-witness accounts by US military personnel but those from Fallujah residents. A rain of fire descended on the city. People who were exposed to those multicolored substance began to burn. We found people with bizarre wounds-their bodies burned but their clothes intact, relates Mohamad Tareq al-Deraji, a biologist and Fallujah resident.
I gathered accounts of the use of phosphorus and napalm from a few Fallujah refugees whom I met before being kidnapped, says Manifesto reporter Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped in Fallujah last February, in a recorded interview. I wanted to get the story out, but my kidnappers would not permit it.
RAI News 24 will broadcast video and photographs taken in the Iraqi city during and after the November 2004 bombardment which prove that the US military, contrary to statements in a December 9 communiqué from the US Department of State, did not use phosphorus to illuminate enemy positions (which would have been legitimate) but instend dropped white phosphorus indiscriminately and in massive quantities on the city's neighborhoods.
In the investigative story, produced by Maurizio Torrealta, dramatic footage is shown revealing the effects of the bombardment on civilians, women and children, some of whom were surprised in their sleep.
The investigation will also broadcast documentary proof of the use in Iraq of a new napalm formula called MK77. The use of the incendiary substance on civilians is forbidden by a 1980 UN treaty. The use of chemical weapons is forbidden by a treaty which the US signed in 1997.
Fallujah. La strage nascosta [Fallujah, The Concealed Massacre] will be shown on RAI News tomorrow November 8th at 07:35 (via HOT BIRDTM statellite, Sky Channel 506 and RAI-3), and rebroadcast by HOT BIRDTM satellite and Sky Channel 506 at 17:00 [5 pm] and over the next two days.
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Sunday, November 06, 2005
The New York Times
November 6, 2005
Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Doubts
By DOUGLAS JEHL
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.
The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.
The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al 8Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.
Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.’’
The newly declassified portions of the document were made available by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Mr. Levin said the new evidence of early doubts about Mr. Libi’s statements dramatized what he called the Bush administration’s misuse of prewar intelligence to try to justify the war in Iraq. That is an issue that Mr. Levin and other Senate Democrats have been seeking to emphasize, in part by calling attention to the fact that the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee has yet to deliver a promised report, first sought more than two years ago, on the use of prewar intelligence.
An administration official declined to comment on the D.I.A. report on Mr. Libi. But Senate Republicans, put on the defensive when Democrats forced a closed session of the Senate this week to discuss the issue, have been arguing that Republicans were not alone in making prewar assertions about Iraq, illicit weapons and terrorism that have since been discredited.
Mr. Libi, who was captured in Pakistan at the end of 2001, recanted his claims in January 2004. That prompted the C.I.A., a month later, to recall all intelligence reports based on his statements, a fact recorded in a footnote to the report issued by the Sept. 11 commission.
Mr. Libi was not alone among intelligence sources later determined to have been fabricating accounts. Among others, an Iraqi exile whose code name was Curveball was the primary source for what proved to be false information about Iraq and mobile biological weapons labs. And American military officials cultivated ties with Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group, who has been accused of feeding the Pentagon misleading information in urging war.
The report issued by the Senate intelligence committee in July 2004 questioned whether some versions of intelligence report prepared by the C.I.A. in late 2002 and early 2003 raised sufficient questions about the reliability of Mr. Libi’s claims.
But neither that report nor another issued by the Sept. 11 commission made any reference to the existence of the earlier and more skeptical 2002 report by the D.I.A., which supplies intelligence to military commanders and national security policy makers. As an official intelligence report, labeled DITSUM No. 044-02, the document would have circulated widely within the government, and it would have been available to the C.I.A., the White House, the Pentagon and other agencies. It remains unclear whether the D.I.A. document was provided to the Senate panel.
In outlining reasons for its skepticism, the D.I.A. report noted that Mr. Libi’s claims lacked specific details about the Iraqis involved, the illicit weapons used and the location where the training was to have taken place.
“It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers,’’ the February 2002 report said. “Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.’’
Mr. Powell relied heavily on accounts provided by Mr. Libi for his speech to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, saying that he was tracing “the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda.’’
At the time of Mr. Powell’s speech, an unclassified statement by the C.I.A. described the reporting, now known to have been from Mr. Libi, as “credible.’’ But Mr. Levin said he had learned that a classified C.I.A. assessment at the time stated “the source was not in a position to know if any training had taken place.’’
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Levin also called attention to a portion of the D.I.A. report that expressed skepticism about the idea of close collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda, an idea that was never substantiated by American intelligence but was a pillar of the administration’s prewar claims.
“Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements,’’ the D.I.A. report said in one of two declassified paragraphs. “Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.’’
The request to declassify the two paragraphs was made on Oct. 18 by Mr. Levin and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. In an Oct. 26 response, Kathleen P. Turner, chief of the D.I.A.’s office for Congressional affairs, said the agency “can find no reason for it to remain classified.’’
At the time of his capture, Mr. Libi was the most senior Qaeda official in American custody. The D.I.A. document gave no indication of where he was being held, or what interrogation methods were used on him.
Mr. Libi remains in custody, apparently at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was sent in 2003, according to government officials.
The Senate intelligence committee is scheduled to meet beginning next week to review draft reports prepared as part of a long-postponed “Phase II’’ of the panel’s review of prewar intelligence on Iraq. At separate briefings for reporters on Friday, Republicans staff members said the writing had long been under way, while Senate Democrats on the committee claimed credit for reinvigorating the process, by forcing the closed session. They said that already nearly complete is a look at whether prewar intelligence accurately predicted the potential for an anti-American insurgency.
Other areas of focus include the role played by the Iraqi National Congress, that of the Pentagon in shaping intelligence assessments, and an examination of whether public statements about Iraq by members of the Bush and Clinton administrations, as well as members of Congress, were substantiated by intelligence available at the time.
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Monday, July 11, 2005
July 11, 2005
A Drug Scourge Creates Its Own Form of Orphan
In a rocking chair, a volunteer uses one arm to feed a 5-day-old boy taken from his mother at birth, the other to placate a toddler who is wandering from adult to adult begging, "Bottle?" A 3-year-old who arrived at dawn shrieks as salve is rubbed on her to kill the lice.
This is a problem methamphetamine has made, a scene increasingly familiar across the country as the number of foster children rises rapidly in states hit hard by the drug, the overwhelming number of them, officials say, taken from parents who were using or making methamphetamine.
Oklahoma last year became the first state to ban over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the crucial ingredient needed to make methamphetamine. Even so, the number of foster children in the state is up 16 percent from a year ago. In Kentucky, the numbers are up 12 percent, or 753 children, with only seven new homes.
In Oregon, 5,515 children entered the system in 2004, up from 4,946 the year before, and officials there say the caseload would be half what it is now if the methamphetamine problem suddenly went away. In Tennessee, state officials recently began tracking the number of children brought in because of methamphetamine, and it rose to 700 in 2004 from 400 in 2003.
While foster populations in cities rose because of so-called crack babies in the 1990's, methamphetamine is mostly a rural phenomenon, and it has created virtual orphans in areas without social service networks to support them. in Muskogee, an hour's drive south of here, a group is raising money to convert an old church into a shelter because there are none.
Officials say methamphetamine's particularly potent and destructive nature and the way it is often made in the home conspire against child welfare unlike any other drug.
It has become harder to attract and keep foster parents because the children of methamphetamine arrive with so many behavioral problems; they may not get into their beds at night because they are so used to sleeping on the floor, and they may resist toilet training because they are used to wearing dirty diapers.
"We used to think, you give these kids a good home and lots of love and they'll be O.K.," said Esther Rider-Salem, the manager of Child Protective Services programs for the State of Oklahoma. "This goes above and beyond anything we've seen."
Although the methamphetamine problem has existed for years, state officials here and elsewhere say the number of foster children created by it has spiked in the last year or two as growing awareness of the drug problem has prompted more lab raids, and more citizens reporting suspected methamphetamine use.
Nationwide, the Drug Enforcement Administration says that over the last five years 15,000 children were found at laboratories where methamphetamine was made. But that number vastly understates the problem, federal officials say, because it does not include children whose parents use methamphetamine but do not make it and because it relies on state reporting, which can be spotty.
On July 5, the National Association of Counties reported that 40 percent of child welfare officials surveyed nationwide said that methamphetamine had caused a rise in the number of children removed from homes.
The percentage was far higher on the West Coast and in rural areas, where the drug has hit the hardest. Seventy-one percent of counties in California, 70 percent in Colorado and 69 percent in Minnesota reported an increase in the number of children removed from homes because of methamphetamine.
In North Dakota, 54 percent of counties reported a methamphetamine-related increase. At what was billed as a "community meeting on meth" in Fargo this year, the state attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, exhorted the hundreds of people packed into an auditorium: "People always ask, what can they do about meth? The most important thing you can do is become a foster parent, because we're just seeing so many kids being taken from these homes."
Officials also say methamphetamine has made it harder to reunite families once the child is taken; 59 percent of those surveyed in the national counties study agreed.
The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, enacted as babies born to crack users were crowding foster care, requires states to begin terminating parental rights if a child has spent 15 out of 22 months in foster care. It was intended to keep children from languishing in foster homes. But rehabilitation for methamphetamine often takes longer than other drugs, and parents fall behind the clock.
"Termination of parental rights almost becomes the regular piece," said Jerry Foxhoven, the administrator of the Child Advocacy Board in Iowa. "We know pretty early that these families are not going to get back together."
The drug - smoked, ingested or injected - is synthetic, cheap and easy to make in home labs using pseudoephedrine, the ingredient in many cold medicines, and common fertilizers, solvents or battery acid. The materials are dangerous, and highly explosive.
"Meth adds this element of parents who think they are rocket scientists and want to cook these chemicals in the kitchen," said Yvonne Glick, a lawyer at the Department of Human Services in Oklahoma who works with the state's alliance for drug endangered children. "They're on the couch watching their stuff cook, and the kids are on the floor watching them."
The drug also produces a tremendous and long-lasting rush, with intense sexual desire. As a result of the sexual binges, some child welfare officials say, methamphetamine users are having more children. More young children are entering the foster system, often as newborns suffering from the effects of their mother's use of the drug.
Oklahoma was recently chosen to participate in a federally financed study of the effects of methamphetamine on babies born to addicted mothers. Doctors who work with them have already found that the babies are born with trouble suckling or bonding with their parents, who often abuse the children out of frustration.
But the biggest problem, doctors who work with children say, is not with those born under the effects of the drug but with the children who grow up surrounded by methamphetamine and its attendant problems. Because users are so highly sexualized, the children are often exposed to pornography or sexual abuse, or watch their mothers prostitute themselves, the welfare workers say.
The drug binges tend to last for days or weeks, and the crash is tremendous, leaving children unwashed and unfed for days as parents fall into a deep sleep.
"The oldest kid becomes the parent, and the oldest kid may be 4 or 5 years old," said Dr. Mike Stratton, a pediatrician in Muskogee, Okla., who is involved with a state program for children exposed to drugs that is run in conjunction with the Justice Department. "The parents are basically worthless, when they're not stoned they're sleeping it off, when they're not sleeping they don't eat, and it's not in their regimen to feed the kids."
Ms. Glick recalls a group of siblings found eating plaster at a home filled with methamphetamine. The oldest, age 6, was given a hamburger when they arrived at the Laura Dester Shelter; he broke it apart and handed out bits to his siblings before taking a bite himself.
Jay Wurscher, director of alcohol and drug services for the children and families division of the Oregon Department of Human Services, said, "In every way, shape and form, this is the worst drug ever for child welfare."
Child welfare workers say they used to remove children as a last resort, first trying to help with services in the home.
But everywhere there are reminders of the dangers of leaving children in homes with methamphetamine. In one recent case here, an 18-month-old child fell onto a heating unit on the floor and died while the parents slept; a 3-year-old sibling had tried to rouse them.
The police who raid methamphetamine labs say they try to leave the children with relatives, particularly in rural areas, where there are few other options.
But it has become increasingly clear, they say, that often the relatives, too, are cooking or using methamphetamine. And because the problem has hit areas where there are so few shelters, children are often placed far from their parents. Caseworkers have to drive children long distances to where parents are living or imprisoned for visits; Leslie Beyer, a caseworker at Laura Dester, logged 3,600 miles on her car one month.
The drain of the cases is forcing foster families to leave the system, or caseworkers to quit. In some counties in Oklahoma, Ms. Rider-Salem said, half the caseworkers now leave within two years.
After the ban on over-the-counter pseudoephedrine was enacted - a law other states are trying to emulate - the number of children taken out of methamphetamine labs and into the foster care system in Oklahoma declined by about 15 percent, Ms. Glick said. But she said the number of children found not in the labs but with parents who were using the drug had more than compensated for any decline.
The state's only other children's shelter, in Oklahoma City, was so crowded recently that the fire marshal threatened to shut it down, forcing the state to send children to foster families in far-flung counties.
At Laura Dester, three new children arrived on one recent morning, the 3-year-old being treated for lice and two siblings, found playing in an abandoned house while their mother was passed out at home. The girl now wanders with a plastic bag over her hair to keep the lice salve from leaking. She hugs her little brother, then grabs a plastic toy phone out of his hand, leaving him wailing.
"Who's on the phone?" asks Kay Saunders, the assistant director at the shelter, gently trying to intervene.
"My mom," the girl says, then turns to her little brother. "It's ringing!" Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Paul A. Bové
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Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
By Bill Toland, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- Hoping to root out political intolerance at Pennsylvania's college campuses, the state House of Representatives is forming a committee to investigate claims among some college students that professors gave them unfair grades because of differing political ideologies.
But critics of proposals like these say political conservatives, emboldened by election successes over the past decade, are making a thinly veiled charge at the last bastion of liberalism -- college campuses -- armed with flimsy evidence and in search of a problem that doesn't really exist.
Rep. Gibson Armstrong, R-Lancaster, says he's collected about 50 examples of "intolerance" from college students. Armstrong's proposal, which parrots others made in legislatures across the country, is based on the concern among Republicans that conservative students are at worst graded unfairly, or at the very least feel intimidated because their views don't match those of their liberal professors.
The resolution was approved last night by the House, 108-90, after the House voted to end debate on the subject, even though several representatives remained in the speaking queue. By that point, debate on the resolution had consumed parts of two days, with the House interrupting debate Monday night, Independence Day, so everyone could go watch the fireworks.
Gibson, in explaining the proposal, said that he hopes to guarantee "free speech and tolerance" at the colleges that are owned or partly owned by the state. The resolution, which does not need the governor's signature, says that "students and faculty should be protected from the imposition of ideological orthodoxy," and students should be "graded based on academic merit, without regard for ideological views."
The investigative committee, composed primarily of the House's higher education subcommittee, plus two appointees, would explore whatever problems exist and then determine if corrective legislation is necessary.
The movement to temper the liberal stronghold on college campuses germinated quickly. So far this calendar year, more than a dozen state legislatures have considered bills that would either restrict professors, or set up a committee or grievance process that would explore the allegations of unfair treatment.
None of the proposals has passed into law, and wherever they have been advanced, they've created controversy among lawmakers, students and especially university professors. Pennsylvania's version has been percolating since April, and has already drawn opposition from teachers groups, like the American Association of University Professors.
One of the driving forces behind the movement is the Students for Academic Freedom, a Washington-based group founded by activist David Horowitz. In an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, he said the past six months have been a "watershed in the academic-freedom movement" and hopes the movement to monitor teachers for bias will eventually trickle down to public elementary and high schools.
Students for Academic Freedom says its goal is to "end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge." The group plans to distribute a book called "Unpatriotic University," which tells readers that colleges are full of "anti-American rhetoric, and [shut out] conservative points of view both in classrooms and on speakers' platforms."
Much of the Pennsylvania bill was borrowed from the Horowitz group's "academic bill of rights."
Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia, referred to the Horowitz group and said the resolution is just "an attempt to respond to a national movement. ... We're just trying to fall in line."
(Bill Toland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-717-787-2141.)
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