Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 10:43:07 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 15, 1996 nn nn

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Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 10:43:07 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 15, 1996 Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn # 132 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu8/15/96 * Convention Hype, Image Upsetting Some Delegates * Roswell "UFO" Material From Earth, Says Los Alamos Scientist * Florida: Where Prayer Really Isn't Prayer * About This List... A DOLE-KEMP TICKET, BUT A BUCHANAN PLATFORM... Some Delegrates Grumble At "Moderated" Image On TV Tonight could well include the most important forty minutes in Bob Dole's political career. The 35-year veteran of Washington partisan turf wars is scheduled to accept his party's nomination in an address which is all part of a carefully scripted, Republican convention. Dole's handlers are buoyed by evidence that the ticket is finally getting its media-generated "bounce," thanks in part to the addition of former Congressman Jack Kemp in the VP slot. But there is some grumbling in religious conservative ranks underscoring a tactical split between Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition and more zealous delegates tied to the Pat Buchanan camp. A number of religious delegates are complaining that party officials are scripting the pro-life agenda out of the media spotlight in order to project a "big tent" image of moderation and inclusion. Several party activists from the pro-life side are quoted in today's Los Angeles Times; one told the paper that ''There's a disconnect between the platform and the image projected at the convention." Another complained that GOP bigwigs were "tolerant to everybody except the conservative wing of the party -- and we're the majority. It's a slap in the face." Reportedly, Christian Coalition Director Ralph Reed is "comfortable" playing a backseat role -- especially since the party platform reflects the views of his group and other religious activists. "What we are willing to do is to allow the party to do what its job is, and that is to put on a winning convention," Reed declared. "Our job was to ensure that the party remained pro-life and pro-family, and we did our job." * Pundits note that despite the presence of the Dole-Kemp ticket, and the carefully crafted media blitz emphasizing "tolerance" and "inclusion," the Platform is a Buchananesque document on most of the social issues, including abortion and school prayer. * Religious conservative Alan Keyes, never quite totally comfortable in the Christian Coalition stable of approved candidates, is lamenting the high-profile appearances of pro-choice Republicans like New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman and the keynoter, Rep. Susan Molinari. "This has been a very scripted, Stalinist convention," Keyes told USA TODAY. Hard-Ball Strategy Against Tolerance Not getting play in the media, though, is the story of exactly how the Christian Coalition "did its job," especially behind the doors of the Platform Committee meetings. Even before the opening gavel sounded in San Diego, Committee members were huddling to craft the policy document; and the Coalition has two objectives. The first was to insure that the Platform reflected continued support of an abortion ban in the form of a Human Life Amendment, something which most pundits admitted was a foregone conclusion. But there was the threat of a "tolerance language" statement which Reed, Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council, and anti-choice maven Phyllis Schlafly abhored. Christian Coalition had already polled the delegates on the Family Issues Subcommittee which was debating the abortion and tolerance planks, and knew that 14 members (most of them CC operatives) out of the 25 on the subcommittee opposed "tolerance." "At the last minute," says a Coalition e-mail release to members, "a family emergency kept one of the 14 pro-life delegates from traveling to San Diego...Pro-abortion delegates needed one vote to skuttle the pro-life plank." Tracking the crucial subcommittee delegates, and insuring that CC-affiliated delegates were at the right place at the proper time, was the result of nearly a year of training sessions and strategy meetings to get Coalition members elected as delegates. "After delegates were selected, the Coalition polled each one, asking a series of questions including whether they supported the pro-life plank and a pro-life running mate. Next, pro-life delegates worked for placement on the platform committee." Squelching even the tolerance declaration, says the CC, "meant smooth sailing for this week's convention." In other related developments from the convention... * AANEWS reported earlier this week that before even offering the VP slot to Jack Kemp, Senator Dole was on the phone to Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson for their input. Or was it permission? But even before the Kemp name was pulled out of the hat, Dole offered the post to kultur-guru William Bennett, who reportedly turned down the offer. * Christian Coalition has superb, Star Wars style technology at the convention, but it may not have the numbers off the convention floor. The Faith & Freedom Rally drew only 2,000 of the expected 3,000 participants; and the Coalition had set the goal of selling 50,000 tickets (at $10 a head). * The Coalition is looking beyond the 1996 Platform fight, and is choosing the perennial question of legalized gambling as another "hot button" issue for the year 2000. * Hollywood tough guy Bruce Willis -- usually one of the GOP supporters found on the streets of Tinseltown -- has released a statement blasting Bob Dole for his slap at the movie "Stripteast," which starred wife Demi Moore. "He needs to be reminded that movies are simply a form of entertainment," said Willis adding that "attendance to any movie is not compulsory." "Sen. Dole's comments that "Striptease" is simply 'a sad waste of talent and human energy' more aptly applies to the state of the government today rather than the entertainment industry. We cannot rule out the possibility that Sen. Dole never actually saw "Striptease"...or perhaps he simply didn't understand it. *** ROSWELL ''UFO'' DEBRIS FROM EARTH, SAYS LOS ALAMOS SCIENTIST One of the most enduring and unsubstantiated claims of pop-culture pseudoscience has suffered a setback, according to a story in today's edition of Britain's Electronic Telegraph. The paper reports that wreckage which some believe came from an alien space craft that supposedly crashed in Roswell, New Mexico decades ago, is really from earth, and displays the metalurgical properties endemic to this neck of the universe. Pieces of metal fragments were found by military personnel outside of Roswell on July 4, 1947. New coverage insisted that the Army had recovered portions of a flying saucer. Over the years, the government has claimed that the wreckage was from a weather balloon, although recently there have been reports suggesting that the debris was linked to a top-secret program to monitor Soviet nuclear tests by sampling air in the upper atmopshere. Despite those claims, "The Roswell Incident" has fostered a torrent of books, articles and claims. Some scenarios have the government recovering bodies of dead or living aliens; Roswell is also credited as the inspiration for the hit movie "Independence Day" where a reconstructed craft from Roswell was used to infect the invading mother ship with a computer virus. On a more down-to-earth note, though, Larry Collins, a scientist at Los Alamos National laboratory, analyzed a fragment of the debris which had been contributed by the Roswell UFO Museum. The Telegraph reports that Collins used mass spectrometry to examine the 50-50 mix of copper and silver present in the fragment; tests showed that the sample exhibited the same ratios as found on earth. "From a theoretical viewpoint, one would expect material from another solar system would not necessarily have the same ration," declared Collins. It is doubtful that many hard-core believers in the Roswell "mystery" will be swayed, though; evidence which tends to suggest a more prosaic explanation for the debris is often portrayed as part of a "government cover-up." Indeed, the Los Alamos findings may prompt yet another round of interest in "The Roswell Incident", similar to the flap over the "Alien Autopsy" film, which purported to show a medical examination of "what might be" one of the deceased beings from the wrecked UFO. The Telegraph reports that the British version of the film included "doctors dissecting hairless female corpses with reptilian eyes, no navels and enormous heads." The American version aired on the Fox network and was hosted by a grinning Jonathan Frakes, the actor who portrayed Commander William Riker on the popular "Star Trek: The Next Generation" series. Interestingly, Fox chose to digitially mask the genital region of the "alien" corpse. That film was allegedly sold by an unidentified American cameraman to a music video producer named Ray Santilli; there are reports that the film was supposedly acquired with the financial assistance of an unidentified German "collector." Santilli, says The Telegraph, "has struck worlwide exclusive deals with magazines and television companies" for rights on the grainy, indistinct footage. Despite claims made on the American program that a hoax would have required "state-of-the-art" special effects, critics said that 'Alien Autopsy" was clumsy, and far from a masterpiece. There are also questions concerning the age of the film; while one sample submitted to Kodak suggested that it could indeed date to 1947, there is no evidence that it is from the same reel as "Alien Autopsy." Notes The Telegraph: "Critics pointed out that even if the film stock can be proved to date from 1947, it does not prove the footage was originally shot on it." *** WHEN A PRAYER REALLY ISN'T A PRAYER Lawyers in a Florida suit challenging prayer at graduation ceremonies declared yesterday that a "spiritual message" really isn't the same as a prayer, and should thus be permitted. The Federal Appeals Court in Jacksonville is hearing arguments over the matter, which stems from a decision by the Duval County School Board, which banned the practice. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "school sponsored prayers" at graduation ceremonies were unconstitutional. The "spiritual message" ploy is similar to other strategems used by school prayer advocates, including a "moment of silence" and even a "non-denomination prayer" which supposedly offends no one. School prayer has become a volatile issue in Florida. In May, Governor Lawton Chiles vetoed a bill enacted by the state legislator which would have permitted "student led" or "student initiated" prayer in public schools. The provision was part of a larger education reform package, and would have given district school boards the option of deciding to permit the prayer during graduations, sporting events and certain kinds of assemblies. Following the veto, Chiles declared that "it is better for us to reverently honor prayer as individuals, in our places of worship, in our homes and in our hearts." *** About This List... AANEWS is a free service from American Atheists, a nationwide movement founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair for the advancement of Atheism, and the total, absolute separation of government and religion. For information about American Atheists, send mail to: and include your name and postal address. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to AANEWS and American Atheists. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send mail to: and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.


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