Worth Noting

By Hetherly, Marian | The Humanist, July 1999 | Go to article overview

Worth Noting


Hetherly, Marian, The Humanist


* This year's National Day of Prayer, celebrated May 6, came under renewed criticism from advocates of church-state separation that one fundamentalist Christian group is increasingly dominating the day. Although the congressionally mandated observance was intended as an interfaith expression of "civil religion," Americans United for Separation of Church and State insist that the National Day of Prayer Task Force--affiliated with religious broadcaster James Dobson and other religious-right leaders--is dominating the day with a campaign of misinformation aimed at excluding minority faiths, distorting U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and falsifying U.S. history.

* Domino's Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan is spending $50 million in his home base of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to establish the Ave Maria School of Law, which the April 22, 1999, New York Law Journal reports "will combine legal advocacy and Catholic morality." The school has already attracted some influential religious right-wingers--former U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, House Judiciary Chair Henry Hyde, New York Archbishop Cardinal John O'Connor, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia--and plans to open in 2000 with about forty students and seven or eight teachers.

* Wal-Mart, which provides millions of dollars to right-wing causes and operates the second largest pharmacy system in the United States, is prohibiting its 2,435 stores from stocking, ordering, or dispensing the "morning-after" contraceptive Preven. The National Organization for Women has organized a letterwriting campaign against the retail giant and says researchers have estimated that Preven, if widely used, could prevent an estimated 50 percent of all unintended pregnancies.

* Congress has been asked to investigate reports that a global electronic communications surveillance system known as ECHELON is being operated by the National Security Agency and may be engaged in the illegal interception of private satellite, microwave, cellular, and fiber-optic communications worldwide. NSA computers reportedly then sort through conversations, faxes, and e-mails using keywords that determine whether intelligence agencies transcribe and forward the communications for further investigation.

* The first substantive bill to finally emerge from the post-impeachment Congress was the Education Flexibility Partnership Act, signed by President Clinton on April 29. The so-called EdFlex legislation expands to the entire United States a program established in 1994 that allows states to waive certain federal education requirements in order to create their own programs to improve school and student performance.

* Bills have been introduced in Congress that would make criminals out of most anyone who helps a teenager travel to another state for an abortion. The bills make it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion unless she has already fulfilled the requirements of her home state's parental consent or notification law. …

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