Road To Hell
April 24, 1998
Hell, Michigan (USA Today) -- This summer, repair crews will reconstruct a 62-year-old bridge that serves the main road through town. The work will block traffic for three months. "It'll close the whole town," said Hell Chamber of Commerce President Jim Ley. "That's where our money comes from. It'll kill us." Tourists flock to the rural village, about 55 miles west of Detroit, for its underworldly allure. Many leave with souvenir items that say "I've been to Hell and back."
Jumps Off Tower
to Prove Immortality
July 31, 1998
Cairo, Egypt (AP) -- A German tourist hurled himself to death from a Cairo tower after reportedly telling a friend that he expected to be resurrected, police said Thursday.
Adam Gotz, 34, a student of ancient Egyptian history, jumped late Tuesday night from the observation deck of the 613-feet (185-meter) Cairo Tower, a police official said.
Gotz was trying to demonstrate to a friend, Sarah Klimer, his Pharaonic belief that the dead get resurrected, the official said on the customary condition of anonymity.
Officials at the German Embassy in Cairo said the suicide was carried out "for unknown reasons." No other details were available.
Ms. Klimer, also a German, was not available for comment.
In recent years, a growing number of foreigners have been visiting Egypt's numerous Pharaonic sites in the belief that they hold mystical powers.
The ungainly Cairo Tower was built in 1961 by then President Gamel Abdel Nasser, allegedly as a national symbol of defiance against the United States after the CIA gave funds to try to coopt the socialist leader.
Power Line Effects
Said To Have Faked Data
Medical Tribune News Service
June 22, 1999
Reports that a prominent national laboratory researcher falsified data in his studies on electric power lines should add to the debate over whether power lines play a role in causing cancer, according to federal investigators.
In 1992, Robert P. Liburdy committed scientific misconduct in two studies examining the effect of magnetic and electrical fields (EMF) on cells being studied in test tubes, according to the federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI). Prior to Liburdy's studies, which spurred other such efforts, no plausible mechanism for EMF causing cancer had been discovered.
As part of his settlement with the government, Liburdy must withdraw parts of two studies and may not apply for federal research money or act as an adviser to the Public Health Service for three years.
However, his real punishment could last longer. All of his more than 20 EMF research papers must now become the property of Pennsylvania, "His credibility is gone after this. Science is unforgiving, and rightly so, of those who break the rules."
Where Church Equaled State
by Paul Harris
Associated Press Writer
June 8, 1998
Cape Town, South Africa (AP) -- A scientist for South Africa's former apartheid government testified Monday that he made poison-tipped umbrellas and screwdrivers to kill enemies of white rule, and described how his bumbling almost cost him his own life.
Dr. Jan Lourens said the umbrellas, walking sticks and screwdrivers, outfitted with concealed needles, were made at the request of apartheid-era security forces. He said he did not know if they were ever used to kill anyone.
"It is rather like a James Bond movie," commented Truth Commission member Dumisa Ntsebeza.
"Unfortunately," replied the tall, bespectacled Lourens.
At one point during his testimony before South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Lourens described taking vials of poison to a contact in Britain, referred to only as "Trevor."
Lourens said he accidentally spilled poison on his hand as he demonstrated one of the weapons in a cottage near Ascot, just outside London.
"I don't know how it happened, but I wiped my mouth and I lost consciousness very quickly," Lourens said.
He said he survived because he staggered to a bathroom after he awoke and drank antiseptic until he vomited.
Lourens also testified that he sent equipment to an army research laboratory for fertility experiments among primates. He said he suspected experiments were being carried out to discover ways of reducing birth rates among black women.
Reports that such research was conducted have surfaced in recent years, although there is no indication the research ever escalated into actual attempts to reduce birth rates among blacks.
Earlier Monday, the Truth Commission turned down a government request to hold the hearings behind closed doors.
The ruling African National Congress, which won South Africa's first all-race elections in 1994, believes some of the information should not be released to prevent the spread of dangerous technologies.
However, Truth Commission chairman Desmond Tutu rejected the request, saying potentially sensitive documents had been withdrawn from the public hearings.
The Truth Commission was set up by President Nelson Mandela in 1995 to probe apartheid-era human rights abuses and promote reconciliation.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press
June 24, 1998
Johnstown, Pennsylvanis (AP) -- A University of Pittsburgh physics professor is inviting everyone to a very special backyard barbecue on July 2.
On the menu? His tootsies.
David Willey has a burning ambition to set the distance record for walking over hot coals at his fire-walking contest on the school's Johnstown campus.
The official record is a 120-foot nonstop dash, set in 1987 in Redmond, Washington. Willey said he unofficially walked 80 feet farther than that at a party at his home without suffering even a blister.
First, he walked once across a 20-foot-long bed of coals set up in his yard. Then he drank a beer and pushed himself to his limit. "I managed to turn around 11 times before stopping," Willey said.
Willey is developing a computer model of a foot in his quest to learn how far people can go on hot coals before their feet burn.
"It just seems like something that's fascinating. Nobody's put the numbers on it before," he said.
The public is invited to watch the contest. Among the expected guests will be officials from the Guinness Book of Records, the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Discovery Channel.
Pagans to Worship
by Jenny E. Heller
Associated Press Writer
June 11, 1998
London (AP) -- Off-limits since a hippie riot there 10 years ago, Stonehenge is reopening this year to the age-old summer solstice ceremonies of the world's pagans.
The English Heritage, the nation's watchdog for historical monuments, will permit 100 pagan worshippers and members of the public to watch the June 21 sunrise from inside Stonehenge, a spokeswoman for the government-funded body said Thursday.
The area usually is roped off to visitors, who must view the ancient ring of rocks from a distance.
This year, the Arch Druid of Britain, Rollo Maughfling, and a few members of his order will perform the traditional summer solstice druid ceremony that celebrates their religion's top symbol of fertility -- the oak tree at the monument.
''It's our most revered site, holiest of holy sites,'' he said.
Pagan worshippers and others have been denied access to the area during the summer solstice since nine hippies were injured and 70 people arrested following clashes with riot police in 1988. About 4,000 hippies had tried to break police lines to join the white-robed druids at the site.
''We have been working for many years with interested parties to look at ways in which we can provide access,'' said the English Heritage spokeswoman, who requested anonymity.
Stonehenge is a double circle of large stones standing on England's Salisbury Plain, about 80 miles southwest of London. Experts dispute its age and origin, but many say it was a center for pre-Christian worship and astronomy built between 1500 B.C. and 2000 B.C.
Bishop's Bribe Money
June 26, 1998
Buenos Aires (Reuters) -- A bishop from the strict Mennonite religious sect complained to Argentine police that con-men tried to steal a big bribe he hoped would influence local government officials, a newspaper reported Thursday.
The bishop was duped by two men who said that if he paid them a bribe, they would make La Pampa province stop trying to force the Mennonites to teach their children Spanish, Mennonite community members told La Nacion daily.
The bishop signed an IOU for $50,000. To his horror, the men not only did nothing to influence the local government, but also altered the IOU to read $250,000 and went to court to try to make him pay, the Mennonites said.
The Mennonites lead a simple rural existence isolated from their neighbors under strict religious rules. They arrived in Argentina from Mexico just 13 years ago seeking better farm land and a place where they could be free of state interference.
But La Pampa province said last year they must teach their children the national curriculum. It then said the Mennonites could continue teaching what they wanted in their schools, as long as they made sure their children learned Spanish.
The Mennonites speak a guttural form of German akin to Dutch. Their origins date back to 16th century Dutch priest Menno Simons and they began as an obscure Anabaptist sect in the Reformation.
But their radical pacifist beliefs have inspired persecution over the centuries. They were driven from the Netherlands to Prussia in the 1600's and have wandered the world ever since.
But Will They?
Wives to Submit
by Sarah Tippit
June 11, 1998
Los Angeles (Reuters) -- By telling America's wives to "submit graciously" to the leadership of their husbands, Southern Baptists set off a controversy that raged from neighborhood pastors all the way to the Ivy League.
While many men probably agreed with the sentiment, they wondered if their wives would listen. President Clinton had his press spokesman report that he would bring the idea up with his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, famed for her outspokenness.
Southern Baptist spokesman Herb Hollinger said the 16 million strong denomination was receiving a mostly positive response to its statement on the role of women in marriage, but admitted, "we're getting a lot of flak from feminist folks."
At issue was a passage in the church's amended statement of belief passed Tuesday at its convention in Salt Lake City which reads: "A wife ... has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation."
It adds, "A wife has to submit herself graciously to the servant-leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ." The statement also says that husband and wife are of equal worth before God.
The church had not changed its creed in 35 years and had never before included a specific definition of the gender roles of the family, Southern Baptist spokesman Martin King said.
"With changes in the culture it was necessary for the convention to clarify what the majority of Baptists have to say on the definition of the family," he said.
David Bartlett, the associate dean at Yale's Divinity School, said the change in creed, "represents one more attempt by conservative Americans to try to find clear solid standards they can hold to when culture is shifting in all kinds of ways that aren't easily comprehensible."
That the passage was adopted instead of one saying that husbands and wives should be mutually submissive to each other surprised Bartlett and other theologians around the country.
Based on St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, a first century text written for early Christians, the Baptist passage "disregards 2,000 years of evolution of faith and the roles people have grown into," said Robert Bock, pastor of the First Christian Church of North Hollywood.
He added, "How does that apply to women ministers, to women bishops, to single mothers raising families on their own who have to be mother and father? There's a whole gamut of responsibilities that were not really prevalent in Paul's time when he addressed this to new Christians in a new faith in a new situation."
The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, the Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, and an outspoken liberal churchman, was even more scathing in his appraisal.
"The Bible also says the earth is flat, epilepsy is caused by demon possession, slavery is a legitimate institution, women are the property of men and God orders the people of Israel to go to war and kill every man, woman and child from the nation of Amalekite," he said.
The New Testament passage from which the Baptist creed was taken was meant in its total context as a "household code which said Christians had to be responsible people in the society in which they lived," said Raymond Collins, dean of the School of Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
"All Christians are to subordinate themselves to each other in awe of Christ, a man who didn't push people around, who didn't make people's decisions for them," said Scott Bartchy, director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Religion.
"For the Southern Baptists to take only the portion (of the Bible) as it relates to husbands and wives is a reaction to some trends in the culture rather than a true response to their Bible," he added.
Some critics predicted the passage could lead to increased domestic abuse. "The danger of using submission language is that it can be interpreted as a license to use force against women," said Yale's Bartlett.
National Organization for Women President Patricia Ireland said the resolution could be interpreted to offer "not just an excuse, but a grant of permission" to a man to abuse his wife.
Many theologians said they did not believe the Southern Baptist move would redefine the way Americans look at marriage. "In today's economy when two people are going to have kids they have a mutual responsibility for providing for the family and they will often both need to work," UCLA's Bartchy said.
Bishop Spong agreed, noting: "I am the father of four daughters. The oldest is a bank vice president, the middle is an attorney, the third has a PhD in Physics and heads up a high tech company in Silicon Valley and the fourth is currently going through fighter pilot training."
to Family Doctrine
by David Koenig
Associated Press Writer
June 12, 1998
Dallas (AP) -- Is the Southern Baptist Convention trying to push women down? Or is its declaration that a woman should "submit herself graciously" to her husband as family leader merely logical advice for a smooth marriage?
Within the nation's largest Protestant denomination, the pronouncement at this week's meeting in Salt Lake City has been met with a mix of dissatisfaction and acceptance.
The convention's statement on families said wives should submit to their husbands and defined marriage in solely heterosexual terms. The article is the first change in 35 years to The Baptist Faith and Message, the denomination's declaration of beliefs. While it's not binding, pastors, seminary employees and others are expected to ascribe to it.
Some within the 15.6-million member church viewed it as a slap to women.
"They took a good thing, the family, and used it as a cloak to further their own agenda, which is to limit the role of women in the church," said Brian Harbour, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Richardson. "I think the publicity will increase a lot of people's discomfort with what's happening in the Southern Baptist Convention."
Julie Pennington-Russell will become the first female senior pastor at a Southern Baptist Church in Texas when she moves from San Francisco to Waco's Calvary Baptist Church in August.
She said the declaration sees only one side of the equation.
"I believe the Bible makes a very good case for the mutual submission of men and women to each other in family partnerships," she said Thursday.
But conservative pastors said the declaration is merely a restatement of a passage from the New Testament book of Ephesians.
"When God created the family, he meant for there to be leadership," said Steve Stroope, senior pastor of Lake Pointe Baptist Church in Rockwall. "At Microsoft or Wal-Mart, nobody says, 'Why do I have to submit to the boss?' But in the family, everyone gets paranoid about the word 'submit.'"
He noted, however, that the words could be misunderstood.
"It's a good statement, but it might be misinterpreted by people outside the church," Stroope said.
Others noted that the declaration also instructs husbands to treat their wives well.
"I don't have a problem with this," said John Pollard, senior pastor at Richland Baptist Church in Richardson. "The whole context begins with the man loving his wife like Christ loved the church. Really the heavier burden is on the man, if you read the whole passage."
He said critics were using their modern sense of the word "submit" to interpret Ephesians, a 2,000-year-old letter from the apostle Paul.
"You're putting a cultural bias from the 20th century that would not have been on the mind of Paul," he said.
Both sides pointed out that individual churches are not obligated to preach the decree, and said many will simply ignore it.
"It won't change anything we're doing," said Bob Dean, senior pastor of Northlake Baptist Church in Garland.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press