No Charges Against Kansas Abortion DoctorDecember 28, 2006 10:50 Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline spent more than two years investigating a nationally known abortion provider, but he'll likely leave office next month with little to show for it.

A judge on Wednesday refused to reinstate the 30 criminal charges Kline filed against Dr. George Tiller, and Kline's successor said Thursday that he won't keep the special prosecutor Kline appointed to the case.

Democrat Paul Morrison, who defeated Kline in November and takes office as attorney general on Jan. 8, would not completely rule out an investigation into Tiller.

But he told The Associated Press that any investigation won't involve Kline's special prosecutor. Kline had named Wichita attorney Don McKinney to the case on Wednesday, saying that doing so would keep politics out of the investigation. But McKinney, who had campaigned for Kline, is viewed as a strong anti-abortion activist.

``He is extraordinarily political and, in my opinion, would absolutely not present any kind of independent perspective,'' Morrison said Thursday.
  Abortion Not Winning IssueDecember 26, 2006 11:34 Something very interesting happened in the Alabama elections this November. And it happened four years ago as well.

Three candidates with leads in the polls lost. And all three used anti-abortion statements prominently in their ads leading up to the election. These three were in the same party as the winning gubernatorial candidate, who won by a large margin. They should have gotten some help from his coattails, but I believe their anti-abortion stance hurt them. Why else would they lose after leading in the polls?

Four years ago, a candidate for governor tried the same strategy, using anti-abortion slogans throughout his campaign. He, too, lost.
  Muslim Group Seeks Apology From Va. CongressmanDecember 20, 2006 19:19 A Muslim group is asking Virginia Republican Rep. Virgil Goode Jr. to apologize after he told hundreds of his constituents that more Muslims will follow Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., to Congress if strict immigration laws aren't passed.

"The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," Goode wrote.

The letter was written to constituents who contacted Goode after Ellison said he planned to bring his Quran, the Muslim holy book, with him when he takes the oath of office on Jan. 4.

In his letter, Goode said: "When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way."

  Haggard Rules Out PETA Video NarrationDecember 19, 2006 14:06 Animal rights crusader PETA is looking for a new preacher.
The organization had arranged for Ted Haggard, the Colorado Springs evangelical pastor disgraced by accusations of soliciting gay sex from a prostitute, to narrate a 15-minute PETA slaughterhouse video called "What Would Jesus Do?"
The video was to appear on and be widely distributed to the evangelical community. It was to show graphic slaughterhouse conditions of chickens, turkeys, cattle, calves and pigs. Haggard had agreed to narrate the piece.
The script, obtained by this column, has Haggard saying things like, "Of all God's creatures, chickens and turkeys are the most abused," and "Confined to tiny stalls that don't even allow them to turn around for most of their pregnancy, the first time that mother pigs breathe God's fresh air is when they are on the back of a truck headed to a slaughterhouse."
It was all a go, according to PETA officials, until 36 hours before the Haggard scandal broke. On Oct. 30, Haggard abruptly pulled out of the project. His media relations director - and niece - Carolyn Haggard wrote to PETA, "Unfortunately, I just don't think this project will fit with what I'm jumping into."
  Another Minister At Ted Haggard's Church ResignsDecember 19, 2006 14:03 In an e-mail to church members, executive Pastor Lance Coles of Ted Haggard's New Life Church wrote of the success of Wonderland, the Christmas program, and how it had the most attendees ever. Two paragraphs later he informed them that the director of the young adult leadership program resigned after admitting that he "displayed poor judgment" in several decisions throughout his tenure and in an instance of sexual misconduct several years ago.

Mr. Coles said the misconduct did not involve Ted Haggard.

While being interviewed, Christopher Beard, 35, confessed that he had consensual sexual contact with an unmarried adult several years ago. According to the Denver Post, Beard, a New Life employee for nine years and married since 2004, was not married at the time of the incident.

In November, an outside panel of four directors of New Life Church in Colorado Springs removed the founder of the church, Ted Haggard, after he admitted to a long-term sexual affair with a male prostitute who claimed he supplied Haggard with drugs. After that event Senior Pastor Ross Parsley interviewed pastoral staff searching for anyone involved in impropriety. In a statement, the church said they took action so that "secondary effects of Rev. Haggard's disordered moral life would not be part of the church's future."
  Bush 'Happy' For Pregnant Mary CheneyDecember 15, 2006 13:30 Vice President Dick Cheney's pregnant lesbian daughter Mary will make a "fine mom," President Bush said, sidestepping his past comment that a child ideally would be raised by a mother and father.

Mary Cheney, 37, and her longtime partner, Heather Poe, are expecting their first child, which would be the sixth grandchild for the vice president. Cheney was hired last year as an executive for America Online -- whose parent company Time Warner also owns People as well as CNN.

"I think Mary is going to be a loving soul to her child. And I'm happy for her," Bush said in an interview with People magazine.

The Washington Post reported that the baby was due in late spring.

In a 2005 interview with The New York Times, Bush said: "I believe children can receive love from gay couples. But the ideal is -- and studies have shown that --the ideal is where a child is raised in a married family with a man and a woman."
  N.J. Assembly Approves Civil Union BillDecember 14, 2006 16:00 Under pressure from New Jersey's highest court to offer marriage or its equivalent to gay couples, the state Assembly approved a bill Thursday to create civil unions.

The measure passed 56-19. The state Senate was expected to take up the bill later in the day.

The legislation _ which would extend to gay couples all the rights and privileges available under state law to married people _ would make New Jersey the third state with civil unions.

"Love counts," Democratic Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, a chief sponsor of the bill, said as the debate opened. "The gender of whom one loves should not matter to the state."

But Republican Asseblyman Ronald S. Dancer said: "It's my personal belief, faith and religious practice that marriage has been defined in the Bible. And this is one time that I cannot compromise my personal beliefs and faiths."

Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine said he would sign the measure into law if it passed.
  What The Hell Happened To Christianity?December 14, 2006 11:04 What the hell happened? Where did we go wrong? How was Christianity co-opted by a political party? Why are Christians supporting laws that force others to live by their standards? The answers to these questions are integral to the survival of Christianity.

While the current state of Christianity might seem normal and business-as-usual to some, most see through the judgment and hypocrisy that has permeated the church for so long. People witness this and say to themselves, "Why would I want to be a part of that?" They are turned off by Christians and eventually, to Christianity altogether. We can't even count the number of times someone has given us a weird stare or completely brushed us off when they discover we work for a church.

So when did the focus of Christianity shift from the unconditional love and acceptance preached by Christ to the hate and condemnation spewed forth by certain groups today? Some say it was during the rise of Conservative Christianity in the early 1980s with political action groups like the Moral Majority. Others say it goes way back to the 300s, when Rome's Christian Emperor Constantine initiated a set of laws limiting the rights of Roman non-Christians. Regardless of the origin, one thing is crystal clear: It's not what Jesus stood for.
  Second Colorado Evangelical Resigns Over Gay SexDecember 13, 2006 10:26 A second Colorado evangelical leader in little over a month has resigned from the pulpit over a scandal involving gay sex, church officials said on Tuesday.

Paul Barnes has resigned from the 2,100-member Grace Chapel, a church he founded in suburban Denver, said church spokeswoman Michelle Ames.

Barnes' resignation follows last month's admission by high-profile preacher Ted Haggard that he was guilty of unspecified "sexual immorality" after a male prostitute went public with their liaisons.

Many evangelical Christians view homosexuality as a sin, though some are more strident on the issue than others.

Ames said Barnes told his congregation in a videotaped message on Sunday he had "struggled with homosexuality since he was five years old."

Barnes was confronted by an associate pastor of the church who received an anonymous phone call from a person who heard someone was threatening to go public with the names of Barnes and other evangelical leaders who engaged in homosexual behavior, Ames said.

Barnes, who is married with two grown daughters, then confessed to church elders.

  House Panel Finds Republicans Negligent In ScandalDecember 08, 2006 16:46 A House ethics panel has concluded that Republicans failed to adequately respond to warnings about a lawmaker blamed for the Internet sex scandal that shook the U.S. Congress this year, a source said on Friday.

Concluding a two-month investigation, the bipartisan panel found that no one violated specific ethics rules but were negligent in protecting young interns in the matter, the congressional source said.

Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, a six-term lawmaker, resigned from the House of Representatives on September 29 after it was disclosed he had sent sexually explicit electronic messages to former teenage male interns.

The revelation triggered charges that Republicans had tried to cover up the matter and likely helped Democrats win control of an already scandal-rocked Congress in the November 7 elections.

The ethics panel investigation focused largely on who knew about Foley's e-mail contacts with the young aides, when they knew it and what they did about it.
  Gay Daughter's Pregnancy Throws Cheney SupportersDecember 07, 2006 11:15 NO REPUBLICAN in Washington is more beloved by social conservatives than the Vice-President Dick Cheney, who with his wife Lynne, has backed and breathed every issue dear to them for six tumultuous years.

News that Mr Cheney's gay daughter, Mary, is pregnant has therefore touched a raw nerve as advocates for conservative family values struggle to reconcile their loyalty to the Cheneys with their visceral opposition to same-sex relationships - and particularly to raising a child without a father.

"Not only is she doing a disservice to her child, she's voiding all the effort her father put into the Bush Administration," said Janice Shaw Crouse, a senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, run by Concerned Women for America.

Asked why the Administration played down the news, she said: "This is Cheney's daughter; anything they say will make the situation worse."
  Carleton Students Won't Fund Anti-Abortion GroupsDecember 06, 2006 10:29 Canada...

Student leaders at Carleton University have passed a controversial proposal denying funding to campus groups opposed to abortion.

The decision was reached shortly before midnight after a four-hour debate that exposed sharp divisions among the student body.

The 32 members of Carleton's students' association voted overwhelmingly for the proposal with 25 members in favour and five opposed. One abstained from the vote and another was absent.

Opponents of the new policy accused the students' association of limiting free speech.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen to our club," said Sarah Fletcher, president of Carleton Lifeline, a fledgling anti-abortion group on campus. "It means we no longer have the right to express our views in student space."

Few issues have inflamed emotions and ignited such heated debate.

Don Hutchison, legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, told the association the proposal is a violation of provincial and federal human-rights legislation and would expose the students' association to public complaints.
  Editor Who Published Comics Of Mohammed Visits ColoradoDecember 05, 2006 09:45 After careful consideration, we believe that while the feelings of other ethnic or religious groups should be respected, non-affiliated and secular organizations should not be held to the standards of those groups. It is personal choice to live under Jewish Orthodox rules, Sharia law, or Buddhist guidelines, and those rules should not be imposed upon those who choose not to do so.

The editor of the Danish newspaper who angered the Muslim world last year with cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed visited the metro area Monday.

Flemming Rose is editor of the cultural section of Jyllands-Posten.

In September of 2005, the newspaper published about a dozen of the caricatures. The cartoons stirred up Muslim riots, demonstrations, the burning of Danish embassies in Beirut and Damascus, and led to the deaths of 150 people.

"I was stunned, I mean I have no words for it," said Flemming. "I was shocked and I couldn't believe what I saw, you know, cut the throats of those who offend the Prophet."

Flemming noted that the Muslim riots actually happened five months after publication of the cartoons. He says he believes the riots had little to do with his cartoons.

Muslims have said, though, that any depiction of Mohammed is a sacrilege to members of their faith.

Flemming sees much darker implications.

"This is the first time ever that Muslims have insisted on applying Islamic law to what non-Muslims are doing in non-Muslim countries. It never happened before so this is a unique case. Nobody could have foreseen these implications," he said.

  Supreme Court Refuses Aerial-ad CaseDecember 05, 2006 09:41 The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to consider the case of an anti-abortion group seeking to fly planes over Honolulu towing aerial banners with images of aborted fetuses.

With the court not taking the case, Honolulu will be able to continue to ban aerial tow-banner operations.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's ruling that the city's ordinance does not violate the First Amendment and is a "reasonable and viewpoint neutral restriction on speech in a nonpublic forum." The group has other means of conveying its message, the appeals court said.

The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform has flown its advocacy ads over many other states, and argued it should be able to do the same over Oahu.

  Obama and EvangelicalsDecember 04, 2006 09:25 If Barack Obama ends up running for the White House, expect to see this footage run over and over on a television screen near you: the charismatic black Democratic senator from Illinois talking the language of God and receiving a standing ovation from a packed crowd at one of the country's most prominent conservative evangelical mega-churches.

Mr Obama entered the political equivalent of the lion's den - the sprawling campus of Saddleback Church in the most conservative far reaches of suburban Orange County in southern California.

Many evangelicals were appalled that he should be invited to address their own, given his liberal attitude to hot-button issues such as abortion and gay rights. One fundamentalist leader said he represented "the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality". A coalition of "pro-life" groups said they could never work with someone who advocated "the murder of babies in the womb".

And yet Mr Obama not only survived the experience. He made perhaps the most powerful case to date that Democrats can talk to evangelicals, too, that Jesus is not a Republican, and that no voters are so ideologically distant that they cannot be wooed and won over.
  Women Take On Major Battlefield RolesDecember 03, 2006 22:34 A goodwill mission to deliver kerosene heaters to Iraqi schools erupts into the fiery chaos of a roadside bombing - and Maj. Mary Prophit shields a comrade so he can rescue a critically burned Iraqi soldier.

A convoy outside Baghdad is ambushed by machine-gun wielding Iraqi insurgents - and Spc. Ashley Pullen races down a road to save an injured sergeant.

A Black Hawk helicopter is struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq - and co-pilot Tammy Duckworth, bloody and severely wounded, struggles to stay conscious until the damaged aircraft is down and her crew is safe.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, women warriors are writing a new chapter in military history, serving by the tens of thousands, fending off enemy fire and taking on - and succeeding in - high-profile roles in the battlefield and the skies as never before.