The Common Good

SojoMail

Sojomail - February 2, 2001


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++++++++++++++++++++ 2-February-2001 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
     *If life gives you a radish, make....

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *We will test President Bush's words

 S o j o P o l l
     *Readers split on whether media treats religion fairly

 F a i t h  i n  P u b l i c  L i f e 
	*A Sojourners interview with John DiIulio, head of the new 
 White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Stop construction of new bomb plant

 F o r   M e r c y' s   S a k e
     *First-hand report from El Salvador

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Dances with indigenous films

 P. O. V.
     *Elie Wiesel: On Palestinians and Jerusalem

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply

 H e a r i n g  T h e  C a l l 
     *CTR board member to head new White House office

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *Gorbachev: Soviets sought to discredit pope
     *Rose Berger's Colombia journals

 W e b  S c e n e
     *"Electronic privacy elicits priority" and other tongue twisters

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"The worm in the radish doesn't think
there is anything sweeter."
    
             -  Shalom Aleichem

--------------------------------------------------------------

H E A R T S  &  M I N D S
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
We will test President Bush's words

by Jim Wallis

Last week's column on President Bush's inaugural speech 
produced a flood of responses, mostly critical. So, this 
week I thought I'd try to answer some of them.
 
Yes, I know Bush is pro-death penalty (as several people 
reminded us). So are Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Remember 
Ricky Rector? During Bill Clinton's first campaign in 1991, 
he flew back to Arkansas to supervise the execution of this 
mentally retarded African-American man in order to show 
how tough he was on crime. And don't forget Clinton's 
signing of the welfare "reform" bill.

My column was specifically in relation to President Bush's 
inaugural comments regarding poverty, which I and others 
thought were very good. No Republican or Democrat in recent 
years has stressed poverty so much. It's just not right 
to simply assume someone's words are "doublespeak" and 
insincere, as some letters accused. But words must be 
tested, and we will test Mr. Bush's.

He has already begun putting those words into action 
by announcing the creation of the new White House Office 
of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives this week. In 
that announcement he said, "I approach this goal with some 
basic principles: Government has important 
responsibilities... government will never be replaced by 
charities and community groups."  I agree: Government is an 
important part of overcoming poverty (as one reader points 
out).

Bush also recognizes that faith-based organizations are only 
one part of a broader civil society. The inclusion of 
nonprofit community groups in the White House initiative 
is an important step toward revitalizing that sector.

And when he chose my friend John DiIulio to head the new 
office, I was pleased. I've known and worked with John for 
several years - in fact, he has been on the board of Call to 
Renewal and served as co-chair of our policy team. John is 
one of the most knowledgeable and committed people in the 
country on finding effective community-based solutions to 
poverty and violence. Like me, John didn't vote for George W. 
Bush. He is a Catholic Democrat who is especially trusted by 
clergy in the black churches. I have more hope for the 
success of the office knowing it is in his hands. [Ed. note: 
See below for our 1997 interview with John DiIulio.]

There were readers who objected to my meeting with the 
president - "sitting at the table is dangerous" - was one 
comment. It can be. I've often said, having had breakfast 
inside the White House and been arrested on the sidewalk 
outside for protesting its policies, the former can be more 
dangerous to the prophetic vocation. But that doesn't mean we 
shouldn't talk to those in power - especially when they call. 
Why do you think Jubilee 2000 has had such success? During 
the meeting with Mr. Bush before Christmas, we pressed him 
about children in poverty, about AIDS in Africa, debt 
cancellation, the importance of economic justice - all the 
important prophetic words were said. And he seemed to listen; 
but again, we'll see.

It seemed to me that some of the criticism was an objection 
to meeting with a Republican president. Is the Religious Left 
as partisan Democratic as the Religious Right is partisan 
Republican?  What if Al Gore were the president and we were 
in the same conversations with him (which we would be)? Would 
the reaction be the same?

One letter said, "Sojourners was founded on a radical vision 
of Christian social conscience. It supported disarmament, 
nonviolence, ecological justice, abolishing the death 
penalty, and serving the poor." We still do, and we take 
those commitments and principles into the conversation - 
regardless who we're spaking with. We will evaluate all of 
the Bush administration's policies by how they impact 
poverty.

We will challenge tax cuts and budget priorities that benefit 
the wealthy and leave few resources to invest in effective 
anti-poverty strategies. We'll insist that child tax credits 
be refundable so that low-income families also benefit. We'll 
push for a health care policy that includes the 10 million 
children who are without coverage. We'll advocate for poor 
working families who need livable incomes and affordable 
housing. And when it comes time to reauthorize welfare 
reform, we will work to fund the critical supports families 
need to move out of poverty's deadly cycle.  

The president's words on poverty may not turn into deeds.  
And if they don't, as I said last week, it won't be long 
before the new president hears the prophetic voice of the 
faith-based organizations who will be paraphrasing the 
prophet Amos, "Take away from me your empty words, but 
let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like 
an ever-flowing stream." That prophetic voice remains.[]


For Jim Wallis' account of December's meeting in Austin 
between George Bush and religious leaders, see

http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31086-2001Jan8.html

*************************************************************
The New York Times has also published an op-ed piece by Jim
Wallis identifying the need for prophetic integrity among
faith-based organizations as they relate to the new 
administration:
 
"How can religious groups safeguard their prophetic voice as 
they partner with government? President Bush has quoted the 
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as saying, 'The church must be 
reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the 
state, but rather the conscience of the state.' 
 
...Practically, that means evaluating all of the 
administration's policies. Will people of faith challenge 
excessive tax cuts and budget priorities that benefit the 
wealthy and deprive us of resources to fight poverty? Will 
we insist on health care for the 10 million children with no 
coverage? Will we advocate for poor working families who 
need livable incomes and affordable housing?"

Read the full column at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/03/opinion/03WALL.html?ex=982206487&ei=1&en=9c600ab7b6bb688f

******************SOJOPOLL RESULTS***************************

In the current issue of Sojourners magazine, long-time
religion writer John Dart asserts that the media's coverage
of "the God beat" is steadily improving. Do you agree?
Which answer best describes your views on the media and religion?

Here are the latest results from our SojoPoll:

43% Yes, while there's room for improvement, coverage
is better than it used to be.
                   
36% No, When the media don't ignore religious issues,
they usually get it wrong.
                   
14% No way, media coverage almost always reflects an
anti-religious bias.

8% Yes, the media usually get it right. Religion coverage
is accurate and thorough.


**************************************
F a i t h  i n  P u b l i c  L i f e
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

John DiIulio: Transcending categories

Long before President Bush named him to head his much-
publicized Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives,
Jim Wallis interviewed University of Pennsylvania professor 
and Call to Renewal board member John DiIulio about the 
intersection of faith and social policy.  

Jim Wallis: You've said that the factor most critical
in solving social problems is: Trust the solutions closest to
the problem. Doesn't this problem-centered approach
begin to render the conservative-liberal debate almost
irrelevant?

John DiIulio: Yes, it removes old debates. If people are
God-centered and problem-centered, I don't care if they
are Democrats or Republicans, Left or Right. I don't
care who they voted for, and I don't particularly care
how they define or articulate their politics. There is no
partisan or ideological way to nurture a child who is without
a parent, to show them love and affection, teach them to
read, and introduce them to the Bible. That's where the
interesting stuff is happening, largely beneath the radar
screen. 

Wallis: How could that God-centered, problem-centered
approach create some new and interesting alliances, and even
open the door for some new policy directions?

DiIulio: There are people in our national political
discourse from the Left, Right, and Center who are absolutely
open to a dialogue about the capacity of faith communities to
solve social and economic problems, and who are willing as
part of the price of admission to this dialogue to leave all
the old baggage at the door. The one non-negotiable aspect of
this for a lot of people is that it would have to be a
genuinely pro-poor effort.
	
Wallis: You have identified the churches as
foundational to what needs to be done....Why are churches
so critical to this effort, and what should they be doing?
	
DiIulio: Churches are critical to the effort
because they alone are capable of addressing both the
material and the spiritual dimensions of the problem...
	
What the churches are capable of doing, I think
uniquely, is looking at the whole range of problems that
surround these at-risk children. They're also capable of 
doing it in a way that is unapologetic about the 
unconditional love that motivates it....
	
Going to the churches also helps us transcend a number of
the usual ideological and political categories. George Gallup
Jr. tells us that more than 90 percent of Americans believe
in God or some spiritual presence. More than 80 percent of
African Americans believe the churches and spirituality can
be efficacious in solving social problems. There is a
foundation of public belief and support for working through
churches. People are recognizing that we can have an
intelligent discourse about church-state issues and yet tap
into our churches and our faith communities as a way of
helping our children.[]

Read the entire interview at:
http://www.sojo.net/magazine/index.cfm/action/sojourners/issue/soj9709/article/970910.html

*********************************************************

B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

An action alert sent in by SojoMail readers
Beverly & Dan Sweeton of Lebanon, Tennessee:

With a vision of the future deeply rooted in
the Cold War of the last century, the Department
of Energy has unveiled plans for a new "National
Security Complex" in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The
plans are revealed in the first-ever Environmental
Impact Statement for the Y-12 bomb plant; the EIS
outlines the first step in what DOE plans to
eventually build - a brand-new $4 billion bomb 
plant. For a comprehensive overview, go to:

http://www.stopthebombs.org

Tell the Department of Energy what you think.
Comments will be accepted until February 23,
2001. You can mail comments to:

U.S. Dept. of Energy, Oak Ridge Operations Office
Att: Gary Hartman
P.O. Box 2001
Oak Ridge, TN 37831

You can fax comments to:
(865) 576-0273

Or e-mail comments to:
Y12Eis@oro.doe.gov

-----------------------------------------------------------------

F o r   M e r c y' s   S a k e
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
First-hand report from El Salvador

by Salvador Alcantara

We just got back from our trip to El Salvador.
We spent five days trying to help in whatever ways
we could, first with basic emergency relief and
then with some reconstruction projects.

Most of the international news has concentrated
on the urban destruction caused by landslides,
as this caused most of the fatalities. In broader
terms, however, the earthquake hit hardest the
rural areas. The poor adobe houses of the campesinos
could not withstand the power of the earthquake.
More than 500,000 families have lost their homes.
The churches are concentrating efforts in the
emergency relief and reconstruction of these areas.
In the initial days of emergency following the
earthquake, the primary needs were for food,
temporary shelter - including tents and plastic -
medicines, and sanitation supplies.

On Saturday and Sunday, we traveled to the towns
of San Francisco Javier and 15 de Septiembre in
the state of Usulutan (two hours drive from San
Salvador), one of the areas most damaged by the
earthquake. We delivered basic supplies of food
and plastic to the families of these towns,
approximately 300 families in total. As we
mentioned before, almost all of the houses in
this area are destroyed, and neither the government
nor the press had reached these people. The rest
of the time we helped the church with the elaboration
of the reconstruction projects and the translation
of grants to finance these projects.

Churches and NGOs have discovered that the
reconstruction of El Salvador is not only about
rebuilding infrastructure, but also rebuilding
people´s hearts and trust. People are tired of
being in a constant emergency.  The civil war
throughout the '80s, the 1986 earthquake, Hurricane
Mitch, and now in a post-war era another earthquake
have made people reconsider the way they treat
themselves, nature, and the country in general.
It was interesting how from the disaster emerged
voices that asked for a spiritual, mental,
environmental, political, social, and economic
reconstruction of the country. This vision looks
beyond rebuilding poverty, to a true and solid
sustainable reconstruction.

*********************ADVERTISEMENT****************************

The Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)
and the Network of Educators on the Americas (NECA)
invite you to submit materials for "Putting the
Movement Back Into Civil Rights Teaching," a K-12
curriculum guide, to be followed by a series of
professional development institutes for classroom
teachers. The expected publication date is summer 2001.

For more information call 800-763-9131 or go to:

http://www.teachingforchange.org/CRPAnnouncement.htm

Please submit materials as soon as possible to:
NECA/Teaching for Change, PO Box 73038, Washington, DC
20056; necadc@aol.com

**************************************************************

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dances with indigenous films

Since the Zapatista uprising began in 1993,
Chiapas, Mexico, has become a fashionable
destination for documentary filmmakers
and photographers. 

These ethnographic paparazzi travel from around
the world, hoping to create a record of a culture
under siege. And so the Chiapas villagers, who
belong to what is probably the most documented
indigenous population in the history of the
world, have become accustomed to cameras. Many
are comfortable talking to them, are used to
being followed around by them, and know the
tricks to avoiding them.

Now, thanks to an innovative program, some of
them are finding out what it is like to stand
behind one. The Chiapas Media Project has provided
cameras, editing equipment, and training to a corps
of indigenous filmmakers, offering the people of
Chiapas the opportunity to tell their own stories
their own way. These filmmakers - using DV cameras,
non-linear editing systems, and the Internet - have
worked to preserve and protect their culture.[]

For the entire story, go to:

http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,41252,00.html?tw=wn20010119

*************************************************************

HOW DOES YOUR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY USE THE ARTS?

Sojourners wants you to tell us what's hot in
your local arts scene. Tell us about it at
art@sojo.net.

Specifically, we want to know about the unique,
creative, or spirit-filled arts ministry at your
church AND we want you to give us the 411 on
any grassroots organizations that engage social
change through art. Give art@sojo.net a shout.
Does your church have an artist-in-residence or a
gallery? Does your congregation hold poetry
readings or provide performance space to a local
arts organization? Email us: art@sojo.net. Is
there a local street theater group or a stellar
political artist we should hear about? You know
where to find us: art@sojo.net. Any leads,
details, examples are welcome and appreciated.

**************************************************************

P. O. V
++++++++++++
Elie Wiesel: Palestinians' rights do not include
the right to Jerusalem

As a Jew living in the United States, I have long
denied myself the right to intervene in Israel's
internal debates. I consider Israel's destiny mine as
well, since my own memory is bound up with its
history. But the politics of Israel concern me only
indirectly. I find its electoral vagaries interesting,
its blunders embarrassing, but as I am not an Israeli
citizen, I am not directly involved. I may have more
sympathy for a particular politician or greater
reservations about another, but that's my personal
business; I don't talk about it....

Now, though, the topic is Jerusalem. Its fate affects
not only Israelis, but also diaspora Jews like myself.
The fact that I do not live in Jerusalem is secondary;
Jerusalem lives within me. Forever inherent in my
Jewishness, it is at the centre of my commitments and
my dreams. 

Jerusalem, for me, is above politics. Mentioned more
than 600 times in the Bible, Jerusalem, anchored in
Jewish tradition, is the national landmark of that
tradition. It represents our collective soul. It is
Jerusalem that binds one Jew to another....

That Muslims might wish to maintain close ties with
this city unlike any other is understandable. Although
its name does not appear in the Koran, Jerusalem is
the third holiest city in Islam. But for Jews, it
remains the first. Not just the first; the only....

Would it not be better to resolve all other pending
questions first and defer until a later time decisions
about the fate of the holiest of cities? I still
believe human bridges can be built between the
two communities, through reciprocal visits between
students, teachers, musicians, writers, artists,
business leaders, and journalists. Perhaps in 20
years, the children of these people will be better
equipped to approach that most burning of questions:
Jerusalem. Perhaps they will then understand why
the Jewish soul carries within it the wound and
the love of a city whose keys are protected by
its memory.[]

For Wiesel's entire op-ed piece, go to:

http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,427662,00.html

--------------------------------------------------------

B o o m e r a n g
++++++++++++++++++

Richard Clark of Salem, Indiana, wrote:

I would like to ask Jim Wallis, what kind of a
chance is Bush giving us with cabinet nominees
like Linda Chavez, John Ashcroft, and Gale Norton?
It's obvious that Bush is pandering to the Far
Right of his party with these anti-labor, anti-
choice, and anti-enviromental selections....
    
It was bad enough under Reagan, but at least he
won the election fairly. Bush not only stole the
election, but he's trying to ram a right-wing
agenda down America's throat. If you count the
votes for Nader and Gore, it's obvious that most
Americans want a progressive agenda. This is no
time for a honeymoon.

------------------------

J. Austin of Herndon, Virginia, wrote: 

If I want to hear someone tell me to give Bush
a chance, all I have to do is turn on NBC News, Fox
News, or even NPR News. I expect more from Jim
Wallis. What a disappointment.

-------------------------

Dan Sweeton of Lebanon, Tennessee, wrote:

Just received my SojoMail and, sad to say, the
first article was disgusting. Jim Wallis was
fawning all over President Bush's inaugural address
in "Give Bush a Chance." Give me a break! President
Bush is interested in only helping millionaires
to become billionaires. I hardly think that
multi-millionaire's children are in poverty. Let us
look at an example of our president's "Compassionate
Conservatism": 

President Bush wants to do away with the federal
estate tax. In 1997, 2.3 million died and only 43,000
people had to pay estate tax. When former President
Clinton vetoed a bill to eliminate the tax last year,
he said it would be handing the richest 3,000 families
an average tax cut of $7 million apiece. I'm sure
those poor starving children, the beneficiaries of
this proposed tax cut, would have been able to get
off the welfare rolls. Bless the president's soul,
he is so concerned for those little tots. Right on,
Jim, let's give the president a chance. Dream on!

---------------------------

Charles Earp of Chicago, Illinois, wrote:

I am disappointed, extremely disappointed, with Jim
Wallis' editorial in the latest SojoMail. I voted
for Ralph Nader, but consider the Republicans to
be nothing less than dangerous to the radical values
of peace, justice, and freedom.

Sojourners was founded on a radical vision of
Christian social conscience. It supported
disarmament, nonviolence, ecological justice,
abolishing the death penalty, and serving the
poor. Bush may be using nice words about poverty
now, but his record in Texas shows no progress
in this area. His record on the death penalty
speaks for itself.

---------------------------

Tom Warren of New Orleans, Louisiana, wrote:

I have been a Sojourners reader for many years
and have always been inspired by its tone and
contents. Lately, I find myself anxious about the
direction Sojourners seems to be going. Did I
not see Sojourners Voter Guides this past election?
Articles by Cal Thomas? Words by Jim Wallis about
giving Bush a chance? It is not that voter guides,
Cal Thomas, and George W. Bush are inherently evil
or wrong on all the issues. It is, though, where
we as progressive (prophetic?) Christians place
ourselves in relation to power. Do we really think
America can be "saved" with just a few adjustments?
If the votes go the "right" way? If this is so
let us cozy up to those who can in fact make those
adjustments....
 
Sitting at the table with Bush & Co. (or Clinton for
that matter) is dangerous business. Some of the
content coming out of Sojourners seems to be
advocating just that. Should we choose to go down
this road we may find ourselves, like Gloria Steinem,
making apologies for Clinton's problems with women.
Except that with Bush our apologies will likely
have to go much deeper, compromising the essence
of our witness.

----------------------------

Ron Chrisley of Brighton, England, wrote:

Why couldn't the Fellowship Church have chosen
"fellowshipchurch.org" as their new name? Is it because
they don't qualify for tax-exempt status? Or is it
because .org is less sexy than .com? The choice of
"fellowshipchurch.com" as a name will unfortunately
foster the already pervasive perception of churches
as mere moneymaking enterprises. Churches should
be one of the forces opposing the rampant
commercialism of our society, not contributing to
or being assimilated by it.

--------------------------------

E. Tien of Independence, Missouri, wrote:

As a therapist with experience working with
Christians involved in homosexuality, I was
interested in the differing responses from
Chris Beach and Jill Ginsberg - which illustrate
the need for continuing dialogue on this subject
among Christians. I would like to ask Ginsberg
whether persons who experience their homosexual
orientation and behavior as being at odds with
who they really are - are not also deserving of
the respect she requests? This is the problem
of "reverse discrimination," which also pains
many of those Christians who have experienced
growth away from an orientation which they
wish to change. Respect needs to be shown for
and by all sides in the debate.

----------------------------------

Elaine Chan of Oakland, California, wrote:

Just wanted to add a comment to my vote on the
media coverage of religion. As residents of the
San Francisco Bay Area, one of the epicenters of
the "liberal media," my spouse and I have noted
the following on our local newspapers' religion
coverage: 1) religious groups or individuals who
do good works on behalf of the poor and
marginalized generally receive favorable write-ups;
2) religious groups or individuals who have been
caught doing something blatantly un-christlike
(embezzling, sexual harassment/abuse) or foolish
(throwing money at some charismatic cult leader)
generally receive unfavorable write-ups. Like any
fallen human institution, the American media has
its biases, shortcomings, and errors, but I don't
see it being excessively biased against the
religiously-minded - in fact, I think the
American church as a whole has an unfortunate
tendency to invite bad press by straining out
gnats and swallowing camels. My suspicion is that
if American Christianity had more Jimmy Carters
and fewer Jimmy Swaggerts, this whole notion of
"liberal media picking on us poor Christians"
would be less of an issue.

-------------------------------

Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. Want to make your voice heard? Send
Boomerang e-mails to the editor:

"boomerang@sojo.net"

***************************************************
H e a r i n g  T h e  C a l l 
************************************************************
Call to Renewal board member to head new White House 
office

President George W. Bush this week named Call to Renewal 
board member and policy team leader John DiIulio to head 
the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Community 
Initiatives. The office will allow religious organizations 
to receive government funds for social services. DiIulio 
is a social scientist who has taught at the University of 
Pennsylvania and Princeton. A widely published criminologist, 
he is also known for his extensive work in urban areas. He 
is currently scheduled to appear at the Call to Renewal 
Summit in March.

President Bush also named Stephen Goldsmith as chair 
of a new national advisory board that will work with the 
new office. Goldsmith is a former mayor of Indianapolis 
and was the chief domestic policy adviser for Bush's campaign. 
While in Indianapolis, Goldsmith started the Front Porch 
Alliance to increase partnerships between faith-based 
organizations and the government.

In a statement released this week, Jim Wallis said,
"Having worked with both Steve Goldsmith and John DiIulio, 
I trust their commitment to overcoming poverty. Together 
they will serve our nation well." 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
ATTEND CALL TO RENEWAL'S 5TH ANNUAL SUMMIT

March 18-21 in Washington, D.C.

This year's Summit will focus on networking
around the seven planks in CTR's Covenant to
Overcome Poverty: Living Family Income, Dismantling
Racism, Schools That Work, Affordable Quality
Healthcare, Safe Neighborhoods, Family-Friendly
Policies/Programs, and Safe Affordable Housing.

Joining us for Summit 2001 will be: John DiIulio,
Marian Wright Edelman, Jim Wallis, Carrie Bolton,
Sharon Daly, Yvonne Delk, Carmen Guerrero, Robert
Edgar, Rep. Tony Hall, Michael Mata,
Ken Medema, and others.

Summit 2001 will culminate with a breakfast on
Capitol Hill. We'll meet with lawmakers and
representatives of the new administration to
insist that overcoming poverty be at the heart
of the nation's agenda.

To find out more about the summit, or to register, go to:

http://www.calltorenewal.com

or call the Call to Renewal office at 1-800-523-2773

***********************************************************

P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Soviets sought to discredit pope, Gorbachev says

ROME - For the first time, Mikhail Gorbachev, the
last leader of the Soviet Union, confirmed that the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union plotted
against Pope John Paul II in the first years of
his pontificate. On Jan. 20, in an interview with
the Italian newspaper Il Tempo, Gorbachev addressed
aspects of relations between the Soviet empire and
the Polish pope. The revelations were made after
evidence was found in the archives of countries that
at the time were communist.[]

For the full story, go to:

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/1/24/105025.shtml

---------------------
The Colombia Journals
+++++++++++++++++++++

Sojourners assistant editor Rose Marie Berger
recently returned from a 10-day fact-finding
mission to Colombia with Witness for Peace 
(a faith-based movement that has been in
Latin America since 1983.) The next 10 issues
of SojoMail will include her diary highlights.
Look for more on Colombia in upcoming issues
of Sojourners.

DAY ONE: The World's Most Dangerous City

Bogota sits high on an Andean plateau.
We flew in over acres of greenhouses (cut
flowers are a major Colombian export product)
and over miles of Occidental and BP Amoco oil
refineries. No problems with immigration even
with a passport full of war zones - Bosnia,
Northern Ireland, Peru, Israel, Kosovo.
Changed dollars to pesos in the airport. The
current exchange rate is 2040 to one.

We drove by a very deluxe headquarters of 3M.
Everyone is out riding bikes - part of the mayor's
"Beautiful Bogota" campaign. And, apart from
the air, the city is very clean. It's Sunday
afternoon and the day after Christmas (celebrated
on January 6), so tinsel and colored lights fill
the palm and banana trees. We just drove by the U.S.
Embassy. Very high security. Graffiti sprayed across
a nearby wall reads "Get out Plan Colombia" and
"Get out Clinton and your deadly Plan Colombia."

This afternoon we are meeting with Ricardo Esquivia,
director of JustaPaz - the Mennonite peace and justice
presence in Colombia. Esquivia describes himself as
a "recovering lawyer." He is an AfroColombian Mennonite
with an unusual history. Because his dad had Hansen's
disease, Esquivia grew up in a leper colony run by the
Mennonite church. Eventually he became a pastor and has
a long and respected history of working for peace in 
Colombia. He's known as a man who will walk into any
political space to talk about peace. He's worked with 
anyone who has that goal. As a result he regularly
receives death threats, which occasionally force him to
leave the country until things cool off. Everyone I spoke
to before this trip said Ricardo Esquivia is the man
to know in Colombia. They were right.

Here is Esquivia's take on the forces behind
the drug war in Colombia:

Colombia's problem is not "Plan Colombia" and 
is not the war. It is a much larger social 
conflict rooted in social injustice. However, 
the U.S. version of "Plan Colombia" is a regional 
test case to open up free-trade laws throughout 
the Americas, which the U.S. wants to control, and 
thereby form a Western economic bloc. In the north, 
the Colombia/Panama border is the flash point of the
Americas. The Panama Canal was too small for modern
ships, so the U.S. gave it back. The Darrien Gap
is the only place where the Pan-American highway
is NOT built. The U.S. government and multinational
interests want to build a new canal and the place
to build it is on the Colombia/Panama border.

Suddenly this has become prime real estate. In
the south, Putumayo is the connection point
between Venezuela's oil reserves and Ecuador's oil
reserves. This is a highly conflicted area.
Brazil wants to control the Southern economic
bloc. The United States wants to control the whole 
bloc of the Americas. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is
the fly in the ointment and has aligned himself
against the United States.--Ricardo Esquivia, Justa Paz

For more information on JustaPaz go to:

http://www.quaker.org/fptp/pic_sanctuaries.html

Next week: Rose's meeting with Hector Mondragon, a
former adviser to the National Indigenous Organization
of Colombia (ONIC), who went into exile in
November 1998 after receiving death threats and
just returned to Colombia.

Please support Witness for Peace's Colombia project at
http://www.witnessforpeace.org

----------------------------------------------------------

W e b  S c e n e
++++++++++++++++++++++++
Electronic Privacy Information Center

Privacy is one of the thorniest issues we face in our
technologically accelerated world. The Electronic Privacy
Information Center (EPIC) is a clearinghouse for the latest
information on the subject. Read news about security,
cryptography, free speech, and related issues:

http://www.epic.org/

------------------

First International Collection of Tongue Twisters

You're sure to find something in this collection of more
than 1,800 tongue twisters (in 77 languages!) to trip up
even the most agile of talkers. Okay, feeling pretty cocky
about your language skills? Say this tongue twister six
times before breakfast:

"Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks."

Once you've mastered that one, you're elgible to find more at:

http://www.uebersetzung.at/twister/

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