July 30, 2003 - continued
[Hinduism] Pilgrims gather for Hindu festival
Hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims are gathering for the Kumbh Mela
festival on the banks of the Godavari river in western India.
The colourful festival will last for 12 days.
[Islam] Islam's Image Problem
Americans are increasingly negative about Islam and Muslims - or so found an
important survey that the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press
published last week.
What explains this increasingly worried attitude? Clearly, much of it follows on
the on-going reality of terrorism, hate-filled statements and other problems
tied to militant Islam around the globe. But some of it also results from the
problems concerning militant Islam's control of the institutions of American
Whether it be the imam at the local mosque, the principal of the Islamic school,
the Muslim chaplain in a prison or the armed forces, the editor of an Islamic
publishing house or the spokesman for a national group, the American Muslim
scene presents an almost uniform picture of apologetics for terrorism,
conspiracy theories about Jews and demands for Muslim privilege.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, with 17 offices across North America,
has emerged as the powerhouse of Muslim groups and best exemplifies this
[Black Hebrews] Ex-Chicago sect OKd to live in Israel
The African Hebrew Israelite Community--a group of African Americans founded by
a Chicago cabdriver who believe they are descendants of one of the lost tribes
of Israel--was given permanent resident status by the Israeli government Monday.
The group, commonly known as "Black Hebrews," immigrated to Liberia in 1967 and
then relocated to Israel about two years later.
"To be recognized at the very highest level speaks volumes . . . for the
consistency of the community to maintain the highest level of integrity and
credibility inside the country as well as outside," said Prince Asiel
Ben-Israel, the community's international ambassador, who resides in Chicago and
[Black Hebrews] Israel grants ''Black Hebrews'' permanent residency
Israel has granted permanent resident status to the ''Black Hebrews,'' a group
claiming descent from the Bible's lost tribes, after a 34-year struggle for
recognition, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Also known as the African Israelites, the sect was founded by 39 U.S.-born
blacks in 1969. Its members previously had only temporary resident status in the
About 2,500 Black Hebrews based in the desolate desert town of Dimona will now
be able to serve in Israel's military and vote in municipal elections. Under
Israeli law, permanent residents can usually apply for citizenship after five
[Nuwaubians] York federal trial delayed
The scheduled Aug. 4 start of the federal trial of religious sect leader and
admitted child molester Dwight ''Malachi'' York has been postponed due to the
recent replacement of the trial judge.
U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal last week replaced Judge Hugh Lawson after
York's attorneys claimed Lawson had lost his impartiality in the case. A new
trial date had not been set as of Monday.
July 29, 2003
[Islam] Muslim thinkers still playing the blame game
Recently more than 900 or so Muslim scholars and theologians gathered in Kuala
Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, to ask a simple question: What is the role of
Islam in the era of globalization? This was a star-studded occasion with many
prominent religious and political figures from more than 70 Muslim countries
across the globe. The participants heard 22 learned papers and sat through some
36 hours of debate spread over three days.
One theme ran through most of the papers and much of the debate: The Muslim
world, ridden with internecine feuds and conflicts with the West, is in deep
crisis. It was clear that most participants regarded the Muslim world as a
victim of injustice, misunderstanding and unfair propaganda. Many lashed out
against "Islamophobia," which is supposedly growing in the West with tacit
encouragement from powerful "lobbies" in Washington.
Each time it was necessary to take a clear position, for example on terrorism
and suicide bombing, the conferees weaseled out with the help of demagogic
[Buddhism] Vipassana changes the spirit of business
Are formerly hard-headed Western businessmen falling for yet another handful of
magic dust flung from the hands of the gurus of ancient India? Freese was
relieved. He says: "Vipassana leads to clearer thinking and clear thinking is
good for business."
A lengthening list of US, European and Asian corporate executives agree. Senior
staff of companies including Microsoft, Citibank, IBM, Merrill Lynch and Zee TV
experience Vipassana as a powerful human-resources tool. Special Vipassana
courses are being organized worldwide for business executives and government
[Offbeat News] End of the road for U.S. 666
Mindful of the biblical reference to "the number of the beast" that will usher
in the end of the world, state officials in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah
decided to beat the devil by changing his highway's name. After 77 years as U.S.
666, the road is to be called U.S. 491, by decree of the American Association of
State Transportation and Highway Officials.
The highway will be rededicated at a ceremony tomorrow in the reservation town
of Shiprock. Navajo medicine men will issue traditional incantations.
[Ritual Killing] Arrests in 'Adam' torso case
Police investigating the murder of a boy whose torso was found in the Thames
have arrested 21 people in raids across London.
The police were acting on information from detectives who have been
investigating why the limbless and headless body of a boy ended up in the
The victim, called Adam by officers, was found in the river near Tower Bridge in
Police suspect that he was a victim of ritual killing after being brought over
[False Memory Syndrome] A Spielberg in your own mind
Our memories are, to some degree, like a final-cut videotape: Research confirms
that each of us continually edits and splices recollections, replacing one
"picture" with another, sometimes with a little outside assistance. "Memory is a
creative event, born anew every day," says Elizabeth Loftus, a University of
California, Irvine, psychologist who is a leading expert on the malleability of
eyewitness testimony. "You fill in the holes every time you reconstruct an event
in your own mind."
A decade of intensive research has taught Loftus and her colleagues how easy it
is to plant false memories. In experiments, they've demonstrated that few
people, if any, can reliably distinguish between memories of something they've
been shown and something they've been asked to imagine.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Flurry of lawsuits allege abuse cover up by Jehovah's
A national flurry of lawsuits, many by the same or affiliated law firms, accuse
Jehovah's Witnesses officials of covering up sexual abuse, sometimes by
congregation leaders the suits claim used their positions of authority to abuse
The most recent series of lawsuits was filed last week in three California
counties. The law firms involved are holding public meetings this week in
Sacramento, Red Bluff, Clearlake and Napa in a search for more victims and
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