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Religion News Report

November 20, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 287)

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Rainbow


=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. Aum cultist freed from prison
2. Senior AUM member freed, denounces cult
3. AUM followers number 1,151, up 11 from Aug.

=== Falun Gong
4. Canada demands access to citizen arrested in China Falun Gong crackdown
5. Sect Members Petition Hong Kong
6. UN Rights Chief Signs 'Milestone' China Pact

=== Scientology
7. Travolta Plans 'Battlefield' Re-Edit

=== Islam
8. Fundamentalism on the Wane
9. Beyond the chador -- Muslim women point to greater freedom in America as
proof that oppression is rooted in a country's culture, not Islam
10. Three years' jail for defying court order to repent

=== The Body / Attleboro Cult
11. Sect member's sister revealed as star witness
12. Mass. cult attorney may defend 2nd client from sect
13. Legal opinions vary on sect case

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
14. Court upholds Yahoo! Nazi ruling
15. Yahoo: French Court Threatens Internet Freedom
16. Message of hate is brought to Maine
17. Ex-Klan leader's use of donations questioned

=== Other News
18. The Way International reaches settlement with couple
19. The Way settles suit with couple
20. Resurrection of girl 'will be cloning turning point'
21. Temple, U.S. marshals seek peaceful ending to standoff
22. Religious leaflets stir anger at schools
23. Christianity Started As A Cult, Says Ige

=== Death Penalty
24. Penry Reprieve Shows Death Penalty Caprice
25. Death penalty support fading Polls indicate state, nation may be at
turning point with capital p unishment
26. Abolish Death Penalty, Says Envoy
27. Lethal injection is a hit

=== Noted
28. Veteran recalls recovery after Jonestown suicides

=== Books
29. Cultist subversion of scientists and physicians


=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. Aum cultist freed from prison
Japan Times (Japan), Nov. 19, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WAKAYAMA (Kyodo) Hisako Ishii, a former senior member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, was released from a Wakayama prison early Saturday after completing a term she received for crimes including helping Aum members allegedly involved in the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing evade arrest.

In a statement released to the press at Kansai International Airport before she left for Tokyo's Haneda airport, Ishii, 40, said she feels sorry for the victims of Aum crimes and has no plans to rejoin the cult, which now calls itself Aleph.

Ishii served as a close aide to Aum founder Shoko Asahara.
(...)

During a news conference in Tokyo, Ishii said she will try to talk to Aum followers about the mistakes of the cult's preachings. She admitted that she was receiving financial aid from the cult until the summer of last year.
(...)

On Feb. 16 last year, the Tokyo District Court sentenced her to three years and eight months in prison for aiding Aum fugitives evade justice, burning a corpse and destroying evidence.

She was released Saturday because her sentence included the time Ishii had already spent in detention and during her trial prior to the ruling.

The court ruling said Ishii, who served as Aum's ''finance minister,'' gave 35 million yen and a car to Aum followers after they carried out the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995, which killed 12 people and injured thousands.

In June 1993, she incinerated the body of an Aum believer who died while undergoing ''religious training'' at a cult facility in Shizuoka Prefecture, the ruling said.

Ishii also destroyed evidence concerning Aum's illegal purchase of a plot of land in Kumamoto Prefecture by submitting a false document to local prosecutors in October 1990.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Senior AUM member freed, denounces cult
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Nov. 19, 2000
http://www.mainichi.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WAKAYAMA - Former AUM Shinrikyo cult member Hisako Ishii was freed early Saturday morning after serving a prison term for having incinerated the body of a follower who died during religious training.
(...)

At the airport, she delivered to reporters a hand-written statement that read: ''I cannot avoid responsibility for the crimes committed by AUM Shinrikyo. I offer an apology to the victims.''

Law enforcement authorities will pay close attention to Ishii's future moves even though they believe she is unlikely to return to the cult.
(...)

During a court hearing in May 1997, Ishii declared that she would break with the cult saying that AUM's principles were wrong and that cult founder Shoko Asahara had made mistakes.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. AUM followers number 1,151, up 11 from Aug.
AP, Nov. 15, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
TOKYO - The AUM Shinrikyo religious group currently has 1,151 members, up 11 from three months ago, according to a report the cult submitted Wednesday to the Public Security Investigation Agency.

The number of followers living in AUM facilities across Japan is 554, up five, while the number of outside members is 597, up six, according to the report.
[...entire item...]


=== Falun Gong

4. Canada demands access to citizen arrested in China Falun Gong crackdown
AFP, Nov. 18, 2000
http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A Canadian government official said Friday that Ottawa was seeking access to a Canadian citizen reportedly arrested in China and sent to a labour camp without trial.

Reynald Doiron, a spokesman with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, confirmed that Kulun Zhang, 60, had been arrested by the Chinese authorities and that Beijing had refused to allow Canadian diplomats access to him.

Zhang's daughter Lindi Zhang said her father had been taken away to a labour camp two days earlier, without any trial.

Lindi Zhang told a press conference that her mother -- still a Chinese citizen but with permanent resident status in Canada -- was being held under house arrest.

She claimed her father, who had been arrested three times since July, had been subjected to electric shock torture and was ''forced to write a confession denouncing Falun Gong.''
(...)

Doiron told AFP that Kulun Zhang apparently had dual Canadian and Chinese citizenship and entered China with his Chinese passport. China, Doiron noted, does not recognize dual citizenship.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Sect Members Petition Hong Kong
AP, Nov. 17 ,2000
http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
HONG KONG (AP) - Members of the Falun Gong spiritual group appealed to the Hong Kong government Friday for help in tracing a member who disappeared after he filed a lawsuit against Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
(...)

The group sought help in contacting Chu O-ming, a Hong Kong resident. He was working as a furniture dealer in Beijing when he and another Falun Gong member sued Jiang for banning the group. Group members have not been able to contact him recently.

Chinese security officials say Chu and Wang Jie, who joined him in filing the lawsuit, are under ``residential surveillance.'' Falun Gong members hope to obtain more information, said Hui Yee-han, a spokeswoman for the group.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. UN Rights Chief Signs 'Milestone' China Pact
New York Times, Nov. 20, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING (Reuters) - United Nations human rights chief Mary Robinson signed an agreement with China Monday which she said would tackle the ``laogai'' labor camps to which Beijing consigns anyone it considers a threat to Communist rule.

``This is a very significant move by China and I'd like to acknowledge it as such,'' Robinson told reporters after signing a memorandum of understanding with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya.

The pact, calling for programs in human rights education and police and judicial training, would build a ``stronger culture of human rights here in China'' and bring the country closer to international norms, she said.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the first fruits of the memo on technical cooperation would come in February, when her office would review ``laogai,'' or reeducation through labor.

Human rights groups say Beijing has used labor camp sentences to banish hundreds of political dissidents and more recently, thousands of adherents of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, to the Chinese gulag without trial.

Robinson said her Geneva-based office intended to use the new cooperation to send special U.N. investigators, known as rapporteurs, to look into allegations of torture and China's treatment of Falun Gong, banned as an ``evil cult.''
(...)

Human rights groups remain skeptical that more dialogue and legal seminars will do enough to halt what they and some Western nations say are widespread violations of political and religious freedoms in the world's most populous nation.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

7. Travolta Plans 'Battlefield' Re-Edit
Space.com, Nov. 20, 2000
http://www.space.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - John Travolta wants to make some improvements to his Battlefield Earth flop inspired by Scientology before it is released on video in Germany, the movie's distributor said on Friday.

The sci-fi thriller, which was slammed by critics following its May release, will hit the shelves at video stores next year rather than in this quarter, German media group Intertainment said.

''Following the movie's poor reception in the U.S., Travolta wants to make a few improvements in the post-production of the film,'' Intertainment Chief Executive Ruediger Baeres told Reuters.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

8. Fundamentalism on the Wane
ABC News, Nov. 17, 2000
http://abcnews.go.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Nov. 17 - Islamic fundamentalism, the ideological movement that swept revolutionary groups into power throughout the Middle East and North Africa, is on the wane.

Although the movement remains an important factor in many Middle Eastern and North African Islamic countries, fundamentalism's life cycle as a revolutionary tool in the region is beginning to hamper instead of benefit the governments that used it to achieve power.

Today, fundamentalist Islamic governments in these regions are distancing themselves from the radical ideology.

The shift is an important step in the self-preservation of Islamic regimes faced with a growing global economy and a shifting international political landscape. But fundamentalist governments that have employed radical mechanisms to ensure their reign could face devastating consequences if viewed as straying too far from their Islamic heritage. The movement that swept through the Middle East and North Africa focused on a return to fundamental Islamic principles as the guiding force in building a state.
(...)

Islamic fundamentalism proponents define domestic and foreign policies through a strict interpretation of Islam's basic principles. Islam's many branches and the various interpretations of its principles, however, have produced several versions of the movement.
(...)

Despite these disparities, the movements share several characteristics. For one, all would-be leaders justify the movement and their claims to power based on the principles of Islam. In Islamic countries, this helps to strengthen their base of support.
(...)

Events in Iran provide an example of the dominant patterns other fundamentalist nations likely will follow. Libya and Sudan are shifting toward less antagonistic, pro-capitalist roles. As a result, several oil companies investing in Sudan and are considering the same in Libya. But the image of fundamentalist nations remains and the stigma of state-sponsored terrorism won't be easily forgotten.

As these countries move closer to Western economic models, domestic opposition groups may seize upon the disparity between the government's purported adherence to fundamentalist movement ideals and the reality of a modernized economy.

Fundamentalist governments may find themselves caught between the rock of fundamentalism and the hard facts of a flailing economy. And as the clashes in Iran illustrate, trying to maintain the balance may be a hopeless endeavor.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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9. Beyond the chador -- Muslim women point to greater freedom in America as proof that oppression is rooted in a country's culture, not Islam
Star-Telegram/South Florida Sun Sentinel, Nov. 17, 2000
[URL removed because it currently refers to inappropriate content]/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- To be a Muslim woman in Afghanistan means staying indoors unless escorted by a male relative. In Qatar, a woman can attend a university -- but only with other women.

And in the United States, Muslim women say, don't confuse our religion with cultures that oppress.

''I'm not from India and I'm not an Arab, but I'm Muslim,'' says Maryam Abdool, who is originally from North Carolina. ''I didn't grow up in a closed room behind walls. God blessed me with a mind to think and a mouth to talk. And I'm encouraged to express my opinions.''

Abdool, an educator for an Islamic school, isn't alone. Many of her spiritual sisters here actively pursue their religious education while juggling the demands of family and jobs.
(...)

''In many Islamic cultures, there have been movements of educated women for about 20 years; but in the last five years, they've begun to organize networks,'' says Jane I. Smith, a Hartford Seminary professor and author of `Islam in AmericaOff-site Link' (Columbia University Press, $14). ''But the education is at a higher level in Western Europe and America.''
(...)

There appears to be a slow liberalizing trend in several Islamic nations.

In traditionally Shiite Iran, six top religious jurists this summer permitted women to lead prayer, although only for other females, such as girls' school classes. In the national university at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, women outnumber male students. And in Pakistan, a new national commission started work in September, pledging to end discrimination and bolster women's rights.

Even women's fashion has shown some change, with more form-fitting coats in Iran, pantsuits in Egypt and dresses in Turkey, although the head scarf usually remains -- out of choice in some nations, by requirement in others.

But opportunities vary widely between countries. And even within nations, cultural shifts can change the picture drastically. Since the Taliban faction took over Afghanistan, women have faced severe restrictions on work, dress and education.

But the restrictions on women are ''based on a mistaken interpretation of Islam; it contradicts what the Prophet said,'' says James Badawi, an associate professor of religion at St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and author of the 1995 book `Gender Equity in Islam.' ''And no one can say they know better than the Prophet.''

Muslim women are often vehement in saying Islam -- the religion itself -- does not oppress females. Says Abdool: ''Women have rights; it's just a matter of applying them. It's cultures that oppress.''
(...)

Some observers have said they even perceive an emerging American form of the faith, complete with Sunday schools and marching bands. After all, America has changed other religions. Protestant churches are more upbeat and show biz than their European counterparts. And American Catholics vex the Vatican with their mix of loyalty and casual disobedience. Is an American version of Islam with women in an equal role on the horizon?
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Three years' jail for defying court order to repent
The New Straits Times (Malaysia), Nov. 20, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
KOTA BARU, Sun. - A couple and two men were today sentenced to three years' jail by the Syariah High Court when they were found guilty of defying a court order to repent of their involvement in cult practices about four years ago.

Judge Abdul Rahman Abdullah passed the sentence on Mohamad Ya, 55, his wife Kamariah Ali, 49, Mat Yaakub Ismail, 54, and Daud Mamat, 60, under Section 69 of the State Islamic and Malay Customs Enactment. The sentence is effective from today.

Under the enactment, the accused can be jailed for up to three years and fined not more than RM5,000 and whipped.

However, they are spared from the rod as the law exempts men above 50 and women from this punishment.

The four, charged with involvement in cult practices in 1996, were charged in the Syariah High Court on Oct 5 for violating the Syariah Court of Appeal order that they repent within three to five years.
(...)

Syariah prosecutor Abu Bakar Abdullah Kutty, in applying for a tough sentence, said religious deviance would lead to chaos if allowed to spread due to clashes of opinions.

''Worshipping certain religious leaders with dubious backgrounds can lead to zealotry.''

Earlier, Mohamad, Kamariah, Mat Yaakub and Daud were charged with attempting to renounce Islam.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== The Body / Attleboro Cult

11. Sect member's sister revealed as star witness
The Providence Journal, Nov. 19, 2000
http://www.projo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[...The Body...]
(...) The indictment and arraignment last week of three sect members revealed that prosecutors have been relying on a star witness who has remained out of the public eye.

Her name is Renee E. Horton.

Horton, 30, is the older sister of Karen E. Robidoux, 25, who was charged with murder in the death of her son Samuel. Both women are the daughters of Roger A. and Vivian M. Daneau, elder members of the sect.
(...)

According to prosecutor Walter Shea, Renee Horton was a member of the sect in March 1999, when some members of the group decided to withhold food from Samuel. She was there until Samuel died, Shea said. She left the sect a few days afterward, he said.

Through an intermediary, Horton declined to be interviewed for this article.

Prosecutors' discussions with sect insiders were revealed on Monday, the day that Jacques and Karen Robidoux, Samuel's parents, were indicted on murder charges and G. Michelle Mingo, Jacques's sister, was indicted on a charge of being an accessory before the fact of assault and battery on a child. At a news conference announcing the indictments, Dist. Atty. Paul F. Walsh Jr. distributed an internal memorandum that summarizes the evidence that led to the indictments.

The memorandum includes details that only could only have been known to someone living within the sect.

Examples include:

''One witness described that Samuel looked sad and that his eyes were pleading for help. The witness provided information that on one occasion when Jacques was rocking Samuel, the witness smiled at Samuel, and he looked at the witness begging for help.

''Investigators learned that Karen Robidoux asked one of the members of the cult if what she was doing was right. Karen Robidoux told this witness that she could see all of his bones.''

Then on Tuesday, the day the Robidouxes and Mingo were arraigned, prosecutor David R. Frank, in summarizing the case for a judge, gave one detail further: the witness in whom Karen Robidoux confided was her sister.

In interviews outside of court, prosecutors indicated that much of their case hinges on information they received from Horton.

If the case proceeds to trial, Horton is expected to be a key witness.

Her testimony might, paradoxically, work to condemn and spare her sister. While having an eyewitness increases the likelihood of a conviction, Horton's testimony paints Karen Robidoux as being torn between her desires to feed her baby and to obey her husband and her religion, which said not to. That could explain why the grand jury charged Jacques Robidoux with first-degree murder, while Karen Robidoux faces a charge of second-degree murder. A conviction on a first-degree murder charge would carry a mandatory sentence of life without parole. For second-degree murder, parole is possible after 15 years.

Horton is one of a trio of sect insiders whose cooperation with investigators has proved pivotal in the case so far.
(...)

Prosecutors also were guided in the case by thousands of pages of detailed diaries that were seized from sect members.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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12. Mass. cult attorney may defend 2nd client from sect
Boston Herald, Nov. 18, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The attorney who helped cut an immunity deal for an Attleboro cultist who led police to the grave of a starved child may now represent one of the boy's alleged killers.

''I'm thinking about getting into it for the trial, but I'm not sure at this point,'' Hub attorney Robert George said yesterday of the possibility of representing Karen Robidoux. ''They (the cult) say they want me to handle it.''

George's client, David Corneau, led investigators to the Maine gravesite of Samuel Robidoux three weeks ago as part of a deal protecting him and his wife, Rebecca, from prosecution. Investigators say Samuel was starved to death by his parents, Karen and Jacques Robidoux, as part of a bizarre prophecy set in motion by Jacques' sister, Michelle Mingo.

The Robidouxs face murder charges while Mingo is charged as an accessory. All three are part of an insular Attleboro-based cult that denounces government and mainstream religion.

George says Corneau visited him this week, along with cult elder Roland Robidoux and his nephew, Mark Daneau, to ask him to defend Karen Robidoux.

But prosecutors say it's unlikely the court would allow George into the case because he already represents Corneau, the government's star witness.
(...)

While the group is apparently unhappy with Karen's court- appointed attorney Robert Jubinville, they like Mingo's attorney Alan Zwirblis. Zwirblis scored points with the sect for biblical references he made this week while arguing bail for Mingo, George said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. Legal opinions vary on sect case
Boston Globe, Nov. 19, 2000
http://www.boston.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A decade ago, when David and Ginger Twitchell went on trial for denying their dying son medical treatment based on their Christian Science faith, Massachusetts became the epicenter of a national debate on the religious rights of parents versus the interests of the state in protecting children.

Few legal experts, however, expect the case of three Attleboro religious sect members charged with starving a 10-month-old boy to death to spark the same sort of discussion.

Changes in state law and high court rulings on both the state and federal level since the Twitchell case have firmly established that religious belief is not a legal defense for endangerment or killing of a child, according to attorneys including Michael Mone, former Massachusetts Bar Association president.

''If you are an adult, you can decide that you want to die for your faith. But you can't let your child die for your faith,'' said Mone, former chief of the American College of Trial Attorneys.

Boston civil rights and defense attorney Harvey Silverglate called the law clear. The state's interest in protecting the welfare of children trumps First Amendment guarantees to freedom of religion.
(...)

Still, while agreeing that there is little hope a defense based on freedom of religion would succeed, several lawyers said they believe Walsh had ''overcharged'' the case in accusing Jacques Robidoux of first-degree murder.

''I think it [first-degree murder] is a very tough case,'' said Martin Murphy, a former state and federal prosecutor who is now a defense lawyer with the Boston firm Bingham Dana. ''Most juries are going to be looking for some evidence that the parent had hostility toward the child.''

Robidoux's lawyer, Francis O'Boy, agreed.

''I think Paul [Walsh] and his helpers went a mile too far on this one,'' O'Boy said.

Experts interviewed earlier this week were mostly of the opinion that Jacques and Karen Robidoux should have been indicted for manslaughter, the same charge that the Twitchells were convicted of in 1990 for the death four years earlier of their 21/2-year-old son, Robyn.

The Twitchells' convictions were reversed on technical grounds by the state Supreme Judicial Court three years later. But in that same decision, the justices firmly rejected the argument that parents could neglect the health of their children on religious grounds.

State lawmakers later repealed a law that allowed parents to rely on faith healing instead of modern medicine.

Walsh defended his decision, pointing to court papers that argue that Jacques Robidoux's actions meet the requirements of first-degree murder, since he acted with ''extreme atrocity and cruelty'' - one element of the charge - in letting his son die of starvation over two months. The court papers also argue that Robidoux was clearly aware that his actions were causing Samuel's eventual death.

By telling other cult members to ignore the boy's physical condition, Robidoux was in effect admitting that he knew the consequences of his actions, Walsh said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

14. Court upholds Yahoo! Nazi ruling
BBC, Nov. 20, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1032000/1032605.stmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A French judge has upheld a ruling that the internet site Yahoo! must prevent French users from participating in auctions for Nazi memorabilia, no matter where the site hosting the auction is based.

The ruling is among the first of its kind and could set a major international legal precedent.

Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez gave the US-based site, one of the internet's most popular, three months to comply with the ruling or face fines.
(...)

The California-based company said that it was not technically feasible to ban French users from participating in auctions because it is difficult to identify the identity or location of any individual bidder.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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15. Yahoo: French Court Threatens Internet Freedom
http://news.excite.com/news/r/001120/15/net-yahoo-react-dcOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
PARIS (Reuters) - A French court has taken the first dangerous step toward pegging the frontier-free Internet back behind national boundaries, Yahoo France Managing Director Philippe Guillanton said on Monday.

Speaking after the court ordered Yahoo Inc to prevent people in France from accessing U.S. sites selling Nazi memorabilia, Guillanton told Reuters the ruling ran against the spirit of the World Wide Web.

''It is the first time to our knowledge that an online content editor is being asked to impose national limits to the content he makes available on the Internet,'' Guillanton said.

''This sets a very dangerous precedent,'' he added.

Under French law, it is illegal to exhibit or sell objects with racist overtones and Yahoo's French portal does not carry Nazi online auctions.

However, French surfers, like all others, can switch over to Yahoo.com services with a click of the mouse, and there they can find sites selling anything from SS uniforms to replica canisters of gas used in Nazi death camps.

Such sales are possible in the United States due to the country's first amendment governing freedom of speech.

''We accept that this content is not acceptable for European standards, but it should be the price (worth paying) for the fantastic freedom the Internet gives people to access knowledge,'' Guillanton said in a telephone interview.
(...)

Yahoo has two weeks to decide whether to appeal against the court ruling. Guillanton said his company could also seek to bring the matter before a U.S. court.

''Yahoo.com is not doing anything unlawful. It is completely complying with the law of the country in which it operates and where its target audience is,'' he said.

''Yahoo auctions in the U.S. are ruled by the legal, moral and cultural principles of that country.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. Message of hate is brought to Maine
Boston Globe, Nov. 20, 2000
http://www.boston.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
KENNEBUNK, Maine - Followers of a Kansas pastor who preaches hate for gays and lesbians demonstrated outside several churches here yesterday, denouncing the churches' support for extending equal rights to homosexuals under the Maine Human Rights Act.

Maine voters narrowly rejected the gay-rights bill on Election Day after a hard-fought campaign.

Brandishing harshly worded anti-gay signs, a dozen members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., spread the message of their pastor, the Rev. Fred Phelps, who disseminates his views via a ''picketing ministry'' and an Internet site.

Phelps's followers plan to travel to Montpelier today to voice their opposition to Vermont's same-sex civil union law. Then they plan to target Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for recently allowing gay and lesbian couples to serve as dormitory parents.
(...)

Some of the protesters were accompanied by their children yesterday as they brandished signs reading ''God Hates Fags'' and ''Thank God For AIDS.''
(...)

The group is also targeting the academy because one of its best-known alumni, author Gore Vidal, often scoffs at sexual norms.

One protester, Phelps's daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, lambasted Vidal for calling for the arrest of church members who picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, gay college student beaten to death two years ago in Wyoming.

Phelps-Roper, a mother of 10 and self-described civil rights lawyer, said she picketed Shepard's funeral and brought three of her children to the New England protests because it's her ''job.''

She said her group targeted five ''mainline'' Kennebunk churches ranging from Roman Catholic to Lutheran because ''they push the issue that it's OK to be gay.'' Phelps-Roper said the protesters chose Kennebunk because of its proximity to President Bush's summer home in Kennebunkport, and because they believe his son, Governor George W. Bush of Texas, isn't saying ''plain and straight'' that homosexuality is wrong.

Westboro Church has provoked angry flare-ups in other parts of the country lately.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. Ex-Klan leader's use of donations questioned
Seattle Times/AP, Nov. 18, 2000
http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
NEW ORLEANS - A federal raid of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's home stemmed from allegations that Duke gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars he raised for white-supremacist causes, court documents said.

According to papers filed in U.S. District Court yesterday, Duke, 50, was considered a ''high roller'' at casinos in Mississippi, Louisiana and Nevada, betting money that he solicited from supporters.

A search warrant affidavit made public yesterday cited four confidential informants and numerous casino records. Informants told investigators that his office workers ''would laugh at the often-untruthful excesses Duke concocted in his mass mailouts asking supporters for money,'' court papers said.

Agents from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Postal Inspection Service raided Duke's home Thursday, carting off boxes of documents and a rifle.

Duke's associates said the one-time state legislator was in Russia, promoting a new book, and that they had not been able to reach him yesterday.

His new organization is the National Organization For European American Rights, or NOFEAR. He launched it in January, declaring that whites in the United States face ''massive discrimination'' at the hands of minorities.

No charges have been filed against Duke, and NOFEAR spokesman Vince Edwards said the raid was a ''fishing expedition.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

18. The Way International reaches settlement with couple
Wapakoneta Daily News, Nov. 7, 2000
http://www.wapakdailynews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SIDNEY -- Two days before the start of a civil trial in Shelby County Common Pleas Court, The Way International and Paul and Frances Allen reached an out-of-court settlement, according to a Cleveland attorney representing the Allens.

The Allens, who were seeking $2 million plus additional punitive damages that could have totaled more than $50 million, filed a six-count lawsuit April 3 against L. Craig Martindale and the New Knoxville-based religious organization, located at 5555 Wierwille Road, New Knoxville.

The suit alleged The Way and its leadership engaged in a ''pattern of corrupt activity'' as defined by the Ohio Revised Code ''including, but not limited to acts of theft, fraud, coercion, assault and rape.''

The suit also alleged breach of contract, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud in a fiduciary capacity, defamation of character and civil conspiracy.

Along with Martindale, Rosalie R. Rivenbark, John Reynolds, Donald E. Wierwille, Ramona Biden, Howard Allen and up to 50 unnamed members of ''The Way Leadership'' were also named as defendants in the Allens' suit.

James Burns, attorney with the Cleveland firm of McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal and Haiman, representing the Allens, would not disclose terms of the settlement.

''Yes, there is an agreement,'' said Burns. ''I cannot comment on the case. The agreement specifies that the terms of the settlement will not be commented on.''
(...)

Shelby County Clerk of Court employees reported Common Pleas Court Judge John D. Schmitt dismissed the case Monday, but no official documents had been received for the case file. Court employees said that because it was an out-of-court settlement no documents, sealed or not, need to be filed with the court.

Rico Magnelli, public relations coordinator for The Way, confirmed a settlement with the Allens had been reached but would not divulge any more information.

''We are not ready to release anything at this time,'' Magnelli said. ''We will release something on this at a later date.''

The settlement came after Judge Schmitt on Oct. 30 dismissed two of the six counts -- the third and fourth counts -- in the lawsuit. Schmitt ruled against the Allens' claim that The Way misused its fiduciary relationship with plaintiff to defraud plaintiffs of money and other things of value, and against the Allens' claim of harm derived from the church organization's doctrine of ''mark and avoid.''

Of the third count, Schmitt's written opinion states the court ''cannot adjudicate this claim, because to do so would require the Court to examine and evaluate The Way's religious doctrines and beliefs.''

Of the fourth count, Schmitt wrote that ''Churches are free to decide, without state interference, matters of church government and discipline, as well as those of faith and doctrine. The Court finds the words 'mark and avoid' would mean little to an individual who had no connection with The Way.''

In that October ruling, Schmitt upheld the remaining four counts of the Allens' suit, including the allegation that Frances Allen was sexually victimized by Martindale, Bidon and others; that the assault upon Frances Allen occurred as a result of civil conspiracy; that The Way engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity which included acts of assault and rape; and breach of contract.

The Allens contend the illegal activities occurred during and after their involvement with The Way when they were agents or employees of The Way between 1978 and 1981.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. The Way settles suit with couple
The Sidney Daily News, Nov. 7, 2000
http://www.sidneydailynews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A couple who were former employees of The Way International have settled a lawsuit they filed in Shelby County Common Pleas Court against officials of the religious organization, thus averting a trial scheduled to begin Wednesday.
(...)

Francis Allen and Paul Allen claim they suffered humiliation, embarrassment and stress at the hands of The Way officials, and that officials attempted to ''coerce'' Mrs. Allen into engaging in sexual activity with the Rev. L. Craig Martindale, former president, between 1996 and 1999. The Allens resigned from The Way in 1999.
(...)

The Allens had sought $2 million on a claim of breach of contract and additional damages on other claims. They also claimed The Way officials defrauded them of money, conspired against them and damaged their reputations. They claimed damages totaling $56 million. They also claimed the ''mark and avoid'' designation ordered by The Way leaders on former members defamed them.

Defense attorneys filed a motion seeking a judgment and dismissal of the lawsuit, claiming The Way, is protected by the First Amendment against most of the claims alleged by the Allens and that they waited too long to make allegations regarding coerced sexual activity.

Martindale is named a defendant in the lawsuit along with the Rev. Rosalie F. Rivenbark. Martindale resigned as The Way president soon after the complaint was filed and was replaced by Rivenbark. In September Martindale resigned from all official affiliations with The Way. Martindale claims he and Mrs. Allen had a consensual affair.

Schmitt ruled a jury should decide the following allegations: that The Way breached its contract with them by creating impossible working conditions, including requiring Francis Allen to submit to sexual assault as a condition of employment; that she was sexually victimized by Martindale and others; that the alleged assault against her was the result of a conspiracy; and that officials of The Way engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity.

The judge noted that while the U.S. Constitution and court rulings prohibit courts from interfering with religious beliefs and opinions, courts may become involved in practices and conduct among organization members.
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20. Resurrection of girl 'will be cloning turning point'
The Montreal Gazette (Canada), Nov. 20, 2000
http://www.montrealgazette.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Humans are the result of a genetic experiment by gods, Raelians believe, and Rael says the cloning of a dead child next year will turn public opinion around.

The spiritual leader of the Raelian movement is accustomed to ridicule; he is, after all, best known for his belief in extraterrestrials.

But now that a Raelian-sponsored cloning laboratory somewhere in the U.S. is said to be preparing to clone a 10-month-old American girl, Rael is generating another reaction.

''Twenty-seven years ago, when I talked about cloning, they laughed. They don't any more. Now they are afraid,'' Rael told about 700 people crammed into the Theatre du Gesu on Bleury St. yesterday.

On hand for the rare conference given by Rael - who claims to be in regular contact with the gods, known in the movement as Elohim - were a camera crew from a U.S. television network and a photographer preparing for a New York Times magazine story.
(...)

Rael said a wealthy American family, whose 10-month-old child died because of a hospital error, is providing major financial support for the venture and will get the first clone, a genetic duplicate of their departed daughter.

The family's contributions include all the money it will get from a wrongful-death suit against those responsible for the child's death, Rael said. The second human clone will also go to a wealthy family who is supplying seed money, he said.

A fund has also been established for legal fees, said Rael, who expects that legal challenges to human cloning will eventually take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the cloned daughter will be presented to the world via television before 2001 is over, Rael said.
(...)

Until he was renamed Rael by the aliens he says first visited him in 1973, he was a sportswriter named Claude Vorilhon. Rael means ''the messenger'' and part of the message is that humans were created in the image of the Elohim as the result of an intergalactic genetic experiment.

Rael said cloning will not only give ''genetic codes a second chance,'' it will pave the way to eternal life.
(...)

The hedonistic Raelians, who believe in liberal sex, are said to number about 500,000. The Swiss-based movement has a substantial following in Quebec and has a UFOland in Valcourt.
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21. Temple, U.S. marshals seek peaceful ending to standoff
Indianapolis Star, Nov. 17, 2000
http://www.starnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Indianapolis Baptist Temple reached an understanding Thursday with the U.S. Marshals Service that would allow for a peaceful end to the three-day occupation of the fundamentalist church.

The Baptist Temple's attorney, Albert Cunningham, said deputy marshals would ask everyone to leave the church when the marshals arrive. People could leave voluntarily or make a statement by being carried or escorted away.

''The intent is not to arrest,'' Cunningham said. ''We do not expect the type of raid where they just enter in, take over and abuse the people.''

In a brief comment to news media, U.S. Marshal Frank Anderson said that lines of communication have been established.

''No implication should be drawn that any kind of deal has been or will be reached, only that both sides desire a peaceful solution,'' said Anderson, who directs the local marshal's office.

However, he added, ''I have not requested and do not expect the church's followers to compromise their ideals or beliefs.''

Members of the Baptist Temple have been defying a federal judge's order to vacate the church by noon Tuesday so that it could be sold to satisfy a tax judgment.

Throughout the three days since the deadline, many church members and supporters have been keeping a nervous eye on windows and doors, wondering when heavily armed federal agents might come crashing inside.
(...)

The church's dispute with the government stems from its refusal to withhold employee income taxes and to pay the employer share of Social Security and other taxes.

Arguing that the church should not be made a governmental agent, it stopped collecting and paying those taxes.

Although about two dozen pastors have come to the Baptist Temple to be part of the sit-in, most represent small, conservative, fundamentalist churches. Most mainstream churches comply with Internal Revenue Service regulations.
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22. Religious leaflets stir anger at schools
San Diego Union-Tribune, Nov. 18, 2000
http://www.uniontrib.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Self-described missionaries distributing religious tracts to students at North County high schools are angering some parents and students.

The documents from Chick Publications of Ontario provide materials for missionaries to use ''to win the lost,'' according to promotional materials. The documents have been criticized for harboring anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and racist leanings.
(...)

But officials at West Coast Baptist Church in Vista defended the tracts, saying the material printed in cartoon form effectively spreads their gospel.
(...)

The church is independent and not affiliated with other Baptist churches or organizations.

One of the tracts passed out refers to wafers received by Catholics during Communion as ''death cookies.'' The Catholic tradition of confession, it claims, is part of ''an occult religious system'' that does not lead to salvation.

A recent tract alleges Muslims honor a ''moon god.'' Other tracts show God burning a city of homosexual men and have Jesus condemning a rabbi to hell.
(...)

Catholics have widely condemned the tracts, saying they contain religious and factual errors.

When the documents were passed out at August's national youth day with Pope John Paul II, Catholics countered with a publication of their own, said Karl Keating, president of an El Cajon-based nonprofit group Catholic AnswersOff-site Link.

Millions of copies of a church-produced publication in several languages were distributed to ''explain what the Catholic faith is about.''

Keating said that when confronted with the ''outrageous historical inaccuracies'' in the tracts, some leafleteers ''packed up and left.''

''I have no doubt that some of these people are well-intentioned, but misinformed,'' he said. ''Often these tracts bolster their own prejudices.''
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23. Christianity Started As A Cult, Says Ige
This Day (Nigeria)/Africa News Service, Nov. 19, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Lagos - The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, Friday in Abuja chided religionists over their attitude towards the Rosicrucian order, Amorc, saying that Christianity started as a secret cult.
Speaking at the ''Bilingual Convention'' of the order, Ige said that those who criticised Amorc and tagged it secret cult were doing so out of ignorance because they do not know how their creeds came about, adding that Christianity, at its early stage, was a secret society that suffered a lot of persecution in the hands of Jews.

''Every organisation, including Christianity, has rules and regulations. Today, followers who know little about the religion, do not even know how their creeds came about. they do not know the history of the early church, they do not know about how the early Christians were persecuted and they are saying a lot of things about Amorc,'' he said.

While urging people to be more tolerant on religious issues in the interest of peaceful coexistence, Ige, however, pointed out that ''with this conference we are having and what people would have seen today, the minds of people who have cobweb would be cleaned''.

According to Ige, great Nigerian leaders, including Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Herbert Ogunde and Chris Ogunbanjo were all distinguished members of Amorc.
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=== Death Penalty

24. Penry Reprieve Shows Death Penalty Caprice
Greensboro News & Record, Nov. 18, 2000 (Editorial)
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Hours before his scheduled execution Thursday night, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the clock for Johnny Paul Penry, a mentally retarded Texas man with the mind of a 6-year-old. This was a welcome temporary reprieve.

For as long as we can remember, this page has been categorically opposed to the death penalty on moral and constitutional grounds. Penry's case is another atrocious example of why capital punishment should be abolished in favor of life without parole.

Of the 38 states that have capital punishment, 13 forbid execution of the mentally retarded.

This reflects a widespread uneasiness - either with the idea of executing someone who can't understand the reason it is happening, a morally problematic position, or more fundamentally with the idea of killing someone for an act he may not have understood was wrong.

North Carolina is not among the states that exempts the mentally retarded from execution. The Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham reports that 46 of the 214 prisoners on death row are technically classified as mentally retarded or borderline retarded, with IQs of 70 or below.

Penry's IQ is 56. His lawyers appealed his death sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1989 the court ruled that executing a mentally retarded person does not violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. But the court said mental retardation could be a ''mitigating'' factor to be considered by the jury in deciding punishment. The court ordered a second trial for Penry and, despite testimony about his mental incapacity, the Texas jury found him guilty and sentenced him to death.

Penry, 22 at the time of his crime, is the son of abusive parents who mocked his stupidity. Some believe an abused childhood should be considered as a mitigating factor; we don't. But this disagreement, like the disagreement over what weight to give mental retardation, contributes to the capriciousness of capital punishment.

Penry confessed. Psychologists say mentally retarded people may have such a strong desire to please people in authority that they make false confessions. That, too, underscores the death penalty's fallibility.
(...)

Most Americans cannot support the execution of children. To an extent, at least, that attitude extends to children in men's bodies. Penry, 44, whiles away his time in prison coloring with crayons. He cannot read or count above 10.

That our system cannot reliably keep people like Penry off death row is an eloquent argument for doing away with the irreversible death penalty.
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25. Death penalty support fading Polls indicate state, nation may be at turning point with capital p unishment
San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 17, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
It may not be apparent from the presidential campaign, but support for the death penalty has been declining in California and nationwide, say critics of capital punishment, backed by national polls.

''The American people are getting out in front of the politicians,'' Steven Hawkins, director of the National Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, told reporters Thursday at the opening of a four-day convention of anti-capital punishment activists at the Cathedral Hill Hotel.

''We are at one of those historic turning points,'' said Nadine Strossen, national president of the American Civil Liberties Union. ''We are well on our way to abolition.''

Such assertions may sound strange when state and national polls still show nearly two-thirds of the public endorsing the death penalty, executions are proceeding at a record pace nationwide, and Texas Gov. George W. Bush continues to preside over the nation's busiest death chamber without a word of criticism from his Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore, who also supports capital punishment.

But opponents are taking heart. Public support for the death penalty has declined about 10 percentage points since 1997 and polls show majority support, both in California and nationally, for a moratorium on executions until questions of innocent prisoners on death row are addressed. Gov. Davis has rejected proposals for a moratorium in California.

''People are no longer convinced of the moral rightness of the death penalty . . . as a consequence of our ability to bring to the American people, for the first time, the inner workings of this barbaric and backward practice,'' declared Ajamu Baraka, death penalty director for Amnesty International.

One of the conference participants will be Illinois Gov. George Ryan. Ryan is a pro-death penalty Republican who declared a moratorium on executions in his state last January after court rulings, new evidence and investigations by college students freed 13 death row inmates.
(...)

Several speakers have seen death row from the inside.

''I promised a lot of the guys that I wouldn't forget about them, that I would come out and be their voice,'' said William Nieves, 35, who was freed last month after six years on Pennsylvania's death row for a 1992 murder in Philadelphia.

The state Supreme Court overturned his conviction because of incompetence by his lawyer, and he was acquitted at a retrial based on evidence that Nieves said the prosecutor had previously withheld. He now works as an organizer for an anti-death penalty organization and is getting ready to go back to community college, which he had started before his conviction.

Sonia ''Sunny'' Jacobs, 53, spent five years on Florida's death row and another 12 years in prison for the murders of two police officers. She said previously suppressed evidence, uncovered by a friend and lawyers working without pay, led to her freedom in October 1992 after she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. She said the evidence also called into question the guilt of her husband, Jesse Tafero, who had been executed in the electric chair in 1990.
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26. Abolish Death Penalty, Says Envoy
The Nation (Kenya)/Africa News Service, Nov. 18, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Nairobi - The death sentence does not serve any useful purpose in modern society, the Pope's representative, Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci, said yesterday.

The Apostolic Nuncio said the value of human life could be upheld much better if society developed an alternative punishment.

Archbishop Tonucci said he hoped Parliament would one day repeal the death sentence.

''Over the past 14 years or so President Moi has not signed any execution order in respect of condemned prisoners. This shows the President is against the death sentence and I hope he will one day manage to present his suggestions to Parliament to reject the sentence as it is no longer useful,'' he said.
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27. Lethal injection is a hit
The Sunday Telegraph (England), Nov. 19, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
John Paul Penry has spent 21 years on Death Row, and was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection last Thursday. His death, although sanctioned by the Texas governor George Dubya Bush, was delayed at the last minute by the US Supreme Court. Penry is said to have an IQ somewhere between 50 and 60, but he still showed a pretty clear grasp of what this meant: ''At least I'm alive.''

Had the Supreme Court not intervened, Penry would have been the 38th person to be executed under Bush's governorship in Texas this year. That is the highest number in any state since 1976, when the US Supreme Court restored capital punishment.

George Dubya seems to enjoy authorising executions. He once parodied the pleas of Karla Faye Tucker, a remorseful axe-murderer, by whining, ''Please, Governor. Spare my life'': then Bush signed her death warrant. Even before the Penry case, Bush has showed few qualms about executing those of flagrantly low intelligence: last August, he sanctioned the execution of Oliver Cruz, a murderer who scored between 64 and 76 on an IQ test. Those with an IQ below 70 are deemed ''retarded'', and exempted from execution in certain states - but not Texas.

The Mirror - excited by the closeness of the presidential race - last week seized the occasion of Penry's imminent execution to publish a front-page picture of Mr Bush above the single word: ''Lethal''. Inside were pages of ''The Texas Massacre'', including photographs and names of the 150 people executed in Texas since ''The Executioner'' became Governor. It concluded: ''Do we really want a man like him making snap decisions on whether to drop bombs or go to war?''.

This might all be very compelling, if Al Gore did not also support the death penalty. Mr Gore does so even though, as he recently informed reporters, ''If you are honest about the debate, you've got to acknowledge there are always going to be some small number of errors''. I'll translate that: innocent people will be put to death.
(...)

It was hard, reading The Mirror, to feel personal sympathy for the gallery of former Texas Death Row inmates - the drug-crazed robber who slit a cowering pensioner's throat, or the unrepentant child- killer. But one does not require sympathy to believe that the American death penalty is inherently degrading.

It is ''freakishly'' imposed, as the Supreme Court said in 1972 when it ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional. Today, one state has the death penalty, another does not; one governor can afford to be lenient, another needs to look tough; one prisoner has a good lawyer, another has a dud. Convicts spend decades on Death Row, trapped in a Byzantine system of appeals.

If one takes the view that the death penalty is morally wrong, then which man is preferable: Bush, who believes in the death penalty, and gleefully authorises executions - or Clinton, who once opposed it, and then backed it for political gain? Only Michael Dukakis has the right to attack them both - but where is he now? Still lamenting the day that he ever granted that weekend pass to Willie Horton. In America, a live convict can lose you an election: only a dead one helps you win.
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=== Noted

28. Veteran recalls recovery after Jonestown suicides
South Bend Tribune, Nov. 15, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BREMEN -- It was 22 years ago Saturday when Air Force Col. Al Heeter received a telephone call from Gen. Bob Tanguy telling Heeter to report to South America.

The first call said 600 Americans had committed suicide in Guyana in a village called Jonestown. Heeter was put in charge of returning bodies to the United States. When the Fulton County native arrived and began counting, he found 913 bodies.

He was assigned the responsibility of making sure that the body of Jim Jones, the leader of the suicide cult as it became known, was accounted for and returned.

''It was my responsibility to make sure Jimmy Jones' body was properly tagged. I had to watch them put him in a casket. And then I had to call the Pentagon and tell them, 'Jim Jones has just now taken off from Georgetown (the capital of Guyana) to Dover, Delaware,' '' Heeter said.

When Heeter, now 64 and retired in Rochester, first entered the compound in a clearing surrounded by dense jungle, he had to pass by signs that said, ''Greetings. Everything grows well in Jonestown, especially the children.''

The children were found lying under three and four layers of dead bodies, evidently killed first by their parents and other adults, Heeter said.
(...)

Heeter was the guest speaker Tuesday at the American Legion Post in Bremen at the annual Veterans Day dinner.

He presented a slide show of what he found at The People's Temple communal village in Jonestown.
(...)

Identification of the victims was easier than expected. Jones had required extensive medical charts, including dental X-rays, to be done and kept for the residents of Jonestown.
(...)

Heeter said Jones' body was found lying next to a chair in a pavilion, in the center of the activities so he could oversee the suicides. Jones was from Lynn, Ind., but had started his church in Richmond, Ind., before moving to California and then Guyana.

Jones had died of a gunshot wound to the head, fired from someone about 30 to 40 feet away from him.

''He didn't drink the cyanide,'' Heeter said. ''Someone shot him. It should have happened sooner in Richmond, Indiana.''
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=== Books

29. Cultist subversion of scientists and physicians
BioscienceOff-site Link, Oct. 1, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global TerrorismOff-site Link. Robert J. Lifton. Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt, New York, 1999. 352 pp. $26.00. (ISBN 0-8050-5290-9 cloth).

In Destroying the World to Save It. Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence and the New Global Terrorism, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton chronicles the activities of the Aum Shinrikyo cult that carried out the chemical weapons attack in the Tokyo subway in 1995. Lifton focuses on the motivations of the few Aum members he interviewed. The result, unfortunately, is an overly analytic, often tedious accounting of the roles of individual Aum members. It is difficult for the reader to gain an overall assessment of the Aum. The book is ambiguous about how the Aum functioned as a cult and how its members chose to follow its leader, Shoko Asahara, in his quest to destroy the world, presumably to save it. The book does, however, show its readers the risk that groups like the Aum present to the world. Throughout, Lifton illuminates the central roles played by physicians and scientists in the Aum's plans to force Armageddon. Lifton characterizes the Aum's reversal of healing and killing as the most systematic since the Nazis. Had the Aums been successful, their mass killing would have dwarfed the Holocaust, he contends.

The revelation of the subversion of science and medicine by the Aum must be especially troubling to members of the scientific community. According to Lifton, ''Totalistic groups seeking forms of absolute control tend to seek out physicians for their death-linked knowledge and power'' (p. 138). Within the Aum, doctors replaced healing with killing. This was similar to the Nazi use of German physicians ''to medicalize their killing project, that is, to transform it into something on the order of medical treatment'' (p. 136). The psychological foundations for acts of mass killing is a recurring theme of Lifton's writings, a theme that he continues by comparing the motivations of the Aum members to the Nazis and to members of several cults who committed mass suicides. The Aum justified mass killing as a means of spiritual purification; Asahara viewed Armageddon as the ending for a corrupt world and the time for rebirth of a spiritually pure world.

Aum physicians fulfilled its leader's world-ending fantasy to acquire deadly chemical and biological agents. They carried out assassinations, oversaw the development of biological and chemical weapons, and participated in the wellpublicized Sarin attack in the Tokyo subway. ''Without their scientific knowledge bent to [Asahara's] will, [Ashahara] would have had neither the imagination nor the means to force the end,'' according to Lifton (p. 135). Clearly, the Aum was able to subvert physicians from the ethical practice of medicine to the insane terrorism aimed at destroying the world. How could well- educated physicians enter into such unethical roles as mass murderers? Given the traditional role of physicians as the gatekeepers between life and death-the symbolic view is that the physician holds life in his or her hand-- Lifton proposes that ''physicians can be all too amenable to the feeling of omnipotence that such collaboration affords them'' (p. 138).

Within the Aum, ''medicine was completely in the service of the cult's theology and central to its various levels of violence'' (p. 139). Physicians used drugs to control the behavior of cult members and even poisoned members who were considered a threat to Asahara. Scientists and physicians also led the efforts to produce and release chemical weapons such as Sarin, cyanide, and other gases, and biological weapons such as botulinum toxin and anthrax-- causing bacteria. Physicians and scientists also contributed to the Aum's fantasies about medical resources that would help the group survive Armageddon. ''Like Nazi doctors and Chinese Communist administrators of `thought reform,' Aum leaders and scientists saw themselves as advanced practitioners let loose in a vast human laboratory that required of them neither ethical nor intellectual restraints'' (p. 127).

Lifton's analysis leads him to conclude that seven features characterize apocalypse-seeking cults like the Aum: ''totalized guruism that leads to paranoid guruism and megalomanic guruism...vision of an apocalyptic event or series of events that would destroy the world in the service of renewal...its ideology of killing to heal, of altruistic murder and altruistic world destruction...the relentless impulse toward world-rejecting purification...the lure of ultimate weapons..a shared state of aggressive numbing...extreme technocratic manipulation, coupled with its claim to absolute scientific truth'' (pp. 203-207). Lifton repeatedly points to the Nazis of World War II and other cultist movements as fulfilling many of these characteristics.
(...)

Finally, Lifton's most frightening message is that the Aum may not be an isolated case of a cult trying to bring about the end of the world. Other groups may also acquire weapons of mass destruction and may pursue a course of not just predicting an apocalypse but trying to bring it about. While the Aum ''can claim the distinction of being the first group in history to combine ultimate fanaticism with ultimate weapons in a project to destroy the world...the next group of disciples to try might not be quite as small as Aum, or as inept, or as encumbered by its own madness'' (p. 344). Understanding the psyche of the Aum is essential for averting the rise of such death- seeking cults. Preventing the misuse of science and medicine is critical.
(...)

RONALD M. ATLAS

Department of Biology University of Louisville Louisville KY 40292
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