Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 09:14:50 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 24, 1996 A M E
Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 09:14:50 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 24, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
In This Issue...
* Dole Backs Off: Should Robertson-Lippo Ties Be Probed?
* Poland: Legislature Stands Up To Vatican Demands
* "Millennium" ~ End-Of-The-World Jitters
* About This List...
ROBERTSON-LIPPO ''SOFT MONEY'' LINK OFF POLITICAL RADAR SCREEN
Dole Suddenly Retreats On Campaign Funding Issue
Despite revelations that "soft money" is pouring into the coffers of both
major political parties, there is still little scrutiny in either media or on
capital hill between the powerful Indonesian mega-billionaire Riady family
and televangelist Pat Robertson.
Republicans have spent the last week capitalizing on the so-called "Asian
connection," especially following revelations that the powerful Lippo Group
had been funneling money to the Clinton Campaign through Webster Hubbell,
former deputy attorney general convicted of fraud and sent to prison. An
estimated $250,000 is known to have changed hands.
Yesterday, AANEWS outlined the relationship betwen the Riady family,
founders and owners of the Lippo conglomerate, and televangelist Pat
Robertson. Lippo and Robertson are involved in a giant "family channel"
outreach in China and other Asian countries as partners in China
Entertainment Television Broadcast Ltd, a venture formed by Honk Kong
broadcaster Robert Chua. Robertson's International Family Entertainment Inc.
based in Virginia made an initial investment of $10,000,000 in the project
with the Lippo group, and gained a major foot in the door to the enormous and
lucrative cable television market in Peoples Republic of China. Robertson,
Lippo, Chua and the Chinese Communist Party apparently all share a common
interest in "no sex, no news, no violence" programming.
Yesterday, Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole suddenly and
unexpectedly stopped hammering Clinton on the "soft money" and Lippo-Riady
connection. Even the right-wing Washington Times expressed disbelief, noting
that "The 'Indonesian Connection' has been pegged by senior Dole advisers as
his best hope to draw voters' attention to the character issue and overcome
Mr. Clinton's double-digit poll lead in the last two weeks of the race."
Dole had been joking that "Foreign aid is finally coming to America. The
problem is, it's all going to the Democrats." But yesterday, while on the
stump in Michigan, the Republican candidated suddenly declared that "all of
us in politics have been guilty one way or another when it comes to campaign
Dole suddenly shifted ground in his speech to supporters , instead
dragging out the old chestnut of President Clinton being a draft dodger, and
saying "Take a look at my record of my service, take a look at the record of
his service, to his state, to his country, whatever..."
Something To Hide? Or A Double-Standard ?
While Dole was unexpectedly trying to move the campaign focus away from
Lippo and the "soft money" issue, House Speaker Newt Gingrich was blasting
away at the Riady-Hubble-Clinton connection in a speech in Michigan. While
he accused the media of being "lax" in demanding an explanation from the
White House about the contributions, he made no mention of the involvement of
Riady and Pat Robertson. He also promised a full investigation into the
contributions to the Clinton campaign when the House reconvenes.
But the Lippo-Robertson link -- one involving a leading American
religious-right televangelist and an Indonesian conglomerate allegedly
involved with improper campaign contributions -- has dropped off the nation's
media and political radar screen. Indeed, the Riady-Robertson association was
not mentioned earlier this week by Christian Coalition Director Ralph Reed,
who was busy denouncing the disingenuous role of Buddhist Temple monks in Los
Angeles in a scheme to funnel chunks of cash into the coffers of the
Democratic National Committee.
Technically, there may be nothing improper about Robertson's business deal
with the Riady family; and the former presidential candidate and founder of
the Christian Broadcasting Network refers to the Riadys as "friends."
Robertson has said that he "doesn't understand what all the flap is about,"
although Speaker Gingrich is less generous with his words, referring to James
Riady, son of Lippo patriarch Mochtar Riady as as "Indonesian billionaire"
and "foreigner (who is allowed) to corrupt our system." Indeed, any
investigation which starts digging into the numerous links between Riady and
Clinton may end up backfiring, and take a circuitous path to the right and
POLISH LEGISLATURE BUCKS VATICAN: LIBERALIZES ABORTION
State-Church Ties At "Lowest Point In Years"
The Polish Parliament's lower chamber yesterday defied both the authority
of the Vatican and thousands of church-mobilized demonstrators outside and
enacted major liberalization of the country's strict abortion laws. The
measure overrides a veto by the other legislative body, the Senate, and will
permit women to have abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy if they are
in financial need. The vote was 228-119; and President Aleksander
Kwasniewski has announced that he will sign the legislation into law.
Yesterday's vote highlights the growing tension between secular
institutions and the Roman Catholic church. Following the establishment of a
post-Revolution Solidarity government that toppled Poland's Communist Party,
anti-abortion laws were enacted at the behest of the Vatican. In addition, a
Concordant between Rome and Warsaw was concluded in 1993, but never enacted;
the church has been pushing for ratification of the agreement. In addition,
Rome wants the nation's new constitution to acknowledge God, an idea rejected
by secularists in Poland who see it as an incestuous relationship between
church and the state.
In anticipation of yesterday's vote in the Parliament, Catholic officials
mobilized over 40,000 demonstrators, many "pushing baby carriages, carrying
rosaries and crosses" according to the Washington Post. Pope John Paul II
had scolded Polish legislators earlier this month for attempting to
liberalize abortion, saying that "a nation that kills its own children is a
nation without hope."
The new law will anger ecclesiastical officials over more than just the
abortion issue; it provides for sex education in the school system and wider,
less expensive access to contraception.
Yesterday's vote brought words of dismay from Church officials, include
Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, who said that "all threads of agreement" between
Rome and the Polish government "have been snapped." He added that relations
had reached "their lowest point in years."
The Church is involved in an alliance of nationalist and right-wing
political parties which are throwing their support to the pro-Vatican
Solidareity group in anticipation of elections next year.
"MILLENNIUM'' EXPECTED TO BOOST DOOMSDAY, END-TIMES FEARS
A New Program From The Creator Of "The X-Files" Rides A
Wave Of Fin de Siecle Angst
In yet another media production cashing in on fears of impending
catastrophe and doomsday, the Fox Network launches its hyped-up and highly
anticipated series "Millennium" tomorrow night. That didn't stop Fox from
giving enthusiasts a sneak preview though; last night, the opening program in
"Millennium" was shown in 29 theaters across the country, followed by a live
conversation via satellite link with producer Chris Carter, the brains behind
Fox's other hit show "The X-Files."
In terms of plot, Millennium is partly what has now become somewhat
standard fare on the tube; a former FBI agent tracks down serial killers. If
this sounds like "Red Dragon," "Silence of the Lambs," or even the script
from NBC's "Profiler," though, it isn't. "Millennium" is more meancing,
darker, and more evocative; it plugs into a growing wave of fears and
expectations related to the onset of the next millennium, an event just three
years away and one repleat with eschatological, transformational and
"Millennium" stars Lance Henriksen (a veteran of plenty of sci-fi genre
films including "Terminator") as a former FBI agent now working for a shadowy
organization called The Millennium Group. Unlike the cabals in other Carter
creations like X-Files, though, they're the good guys trying to fight off an
epidemic of serial killing and other senseless violence threatening to
overtake society as the millennium bears down on us. Reviews of last night's
theater previews all seem to agree that the tone of "Millennium" is more
menacing and creepier than anything we've seen to date.
There is the usual gratuitous violence and special effects, of course;
what's a horror show without some decapitations and bleeding walls, fare that
was served up over a decade ago in movies like "The Omen" and "The Shining"?
What distinguishes "Millennium," though, is its context -- along with its
title. "Millennium" is fast becoming synonymous with notions of impending
doom, biblical judgment, armageddon, and the end of the world, whether at the
whim of a vengeful god or a chance encounter with a rogue asteroid.
For Chris Carter -- and advertisers -- the timing couldn't be better.
There have always been warnings that the prophetic visions of apocalyptic
writings such as Book of Daniel and Book of Revelations were about to be
fulfilled. Early church fathers learned quickly to discourage such
anticipations, fearing that second-coming mania was interferring with the
more mundane, lucrative and theo-politically correct tasks of organizing the
institutional church with its hierarchy of doctrinal authority. And over the
past two thousand of so years, just about every political and social event --
invasions, wars, revolutions, famines and other catastrophes -- has been
fitted into the Revelational timetable as a "sign" of prophetic fulfillment,
even if it requires some Procrustean selective thinking and distortion of
evidence. William Miller, for instance, predicted the end of the world for
three different dates in the mid- nineteenth century, and thousands of
expectant followers unburdened themselves of worldly ties and possession to
await the Second Coming and their Rapture into heaven. In the 1970's,
pop-eschatologist Hal Lindsey started to establish his reputation as a drum
beater for Armageddon and the "end times", a refrain echoed throughout the
Christian fundamentalist and evangelical subculture, from the more bizarre
predictions of Edward Whisenant and the Southwest Radio Church to the latest
novel of televangelist Pat Robertson.
A number of factors are fueling this millennialist angst, not the least of
which is that the year 2000 is no longer some far off date in a science
fiction novel or mid-50's grade-b movie. Historians and social scientists
have noted the prevelence of fin de siecle turmoil in the human
consciousness; Stjepan Mestrovic, for instance, finds remarkable similarities
to our present millennialist anxieties, and the rampant dislocations and
uncertainties of Europe (particularly France) in the 1890's. Those problems
are "remarkably similar to our own," says Mestrovic in his book "The Coming
Fin de Siecle: An Application of Durkheim's Sociology to Modernity and
Postmodernism" (1991, Routledge).
"Syphilis, wars, political scandals, economic catastrophes, the increase
in rates of mental illness, sucidie, smoking and drug abuse concerned them
(the Europeans). They read in their newspapers about satanism, devil worship,
and the spread of the occult, and of course, our media is saturated with
similar reports. They started talking about the rise of homosexuality --
lesbianism became almost a fad. Sado-masochism was much discussed, and they
wrote much about the rise of immorality in the family, in sexual relations,
and the general style of life..."
Today, the fin de siecle of Europe a century ago is tame in comparison's
to the turbo-charged, media-driven culture which is rushing headlong toward a
new millennium. A 1992 poll taken by Cable News and Time Magazine showed
that 53% of Americans were expecting the second coming of Jesus Christ to
take place within the next millennium. What was once the province of sects
like the Seventh Day Adventists -- a curious remnant of the old Millerite
movement -- has become a pop-christian belief finding credibility in the
utterances of a U.S. President (Ronald Reagan) or on bumper stickers seen on
the nation's highways which warn motorists "This Vehicle Un-Mannned In Case
New Agers, environmental catastrophists, Christian Fundamentalists and
others all have different visions of what is in store for the human race, but
an astonishing amoung of those expectations and concerns appear focused on
one event -- the coming of the new millennium. Books like Mestrovic's, or
Hillel Schwartz's updated tome "Century's End: An Orientation Manual Toward
The Year 2000" and newsgroups such as TALK2000 try to monitor and make sense
of the growing number of events which seem to reflect the apocalyptic mind
set. Millennialism is emerging as a common analytical thread -- if not a
philosophy -- linking crazed militia groups, outburst of ethnic nationalism,
waves of new-found religious fundamentalism, epidemics of Virgin Mary and UFO
sightings, "instant-mix" doomsday ideologies espoused by groups like the Aum
cult in Japan, and even the seemingly more benign expressions of nagging
unease found in the abundance of "invasion-subversion" motif films gushing
out from Hollywood onto the big screens and into our living rooms.
"Millennium" certainly promises to amplify end-of-the-world anxieties
which already permeate popular consciousness. Serial killers and crazed juju
cultists join an ever-expanding list of entitites which threaten to innundate
and overwhelm our illusory bourgeois sensibilities; they bolster the ranks of
maurading aliens, shadowy satanic cults, lurking paedophile rings, drug-mad
street gangs, lone stalkers, amorphous cabals, and other vestiges of
afternoon talk-shows and prime-time scare features that too often seriously
alter our sense of what is real and what is not. "Millennium" also might
turn out to be, along with other expressions of doomsday angst, a
self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, the year 2000 sounds as good a time as
any for at least this generation of people to believe, as many of their
ancestors did, that the Second Coming -- or some other significant
eschatological event -- is just around the temporal corner.
(The "Millennnium" website at http://www.foxworld.com launches tomorrow.
If the world lasts that long.)
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