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February 8, 2004 - Born again at 35,000 feet and busted in Des Moines

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This may develop into a regular, or at lest periodic feature.  The trick is to read each item and decide whether it represents a trend in the way thing are really heading, or whether it's just an odd, single event that is not really that important, and one should then not worry.  Your call.

Be careful out there...



And they say Saturday is a slow news day.  Here's an item that will make you be more careful about what you let other people know about your opinions. 

Feds win right to war protesters' records
Ryan J.  Foley, Associated Press, Last updated: 2:15 p.m., Saturday, February 7, 2004


DES MOINES, Iowa - In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists. 

In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov.  15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said. 

Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas. 

In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum. 

... The forum, titled "Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!" came the day before 12 protesters were arrested at an anti-war rally at Iowa National Guard headquarters in Johnston.  Organizers say the forum included nonviolence training for people planning to demonstrate. 

The targets of the subpoenas believe investigators are trying to link them to an incident that occurred during the rally.  A Grinnell College librarian was charged with misdemeanor assault on a peace officer; she has pleaded innocent, saying she simply went limp and resisted arrest. 

"The best approach is not to speculate and see what we learn on Tuesday" when the four testify, said Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, which is representing one of the protesters.


Okay, could be nothing. 


... According to a copy obtained by The Associated Press, the Drake subpoena asks for records of the request for a meeting room, "all documents indicating the purpose and intended participants in the meeting, and all documents or recordings which would identify persons that actually attended the meeting."

It also asks for campus security records "reflecting any observations made of the Nov. 15, 2003, meeting, including any records of persons in charge or control of the meeting, and any records of attendees of the meeting."

... A source with knowledge of the investigation said a judge had issued a gag order forbidding school officials from discussing the subpoena.


Well, this could have nothing to do with dissent at all.  Maybe there was a child-molesting Catholic priest in the crowd and they want find out where he is and arrest him.  Or maybe one of the protesters was someone who illegally downloaded some tunes and the RIAA asked for federal help to cull him out from this crowd. 

One could speculate.  One shouldn't. 

But one now really should stay away from public protests.  And should avoid making public statements.  Watch what you do.  Watch what you say.  Be careful what you write. 

We did elect these guys to protect America, and they will. 

And you thought the earnest young folks from the Jehovah's Witnesses appearing at your door were irksome...



See Pilot suggested passengers discuss Christianity during LA-to-New York flight
Saturday, February 7, 2004 - Associated Press (02-07) 18:18 PST

(The Los Angeles Times has the item with more detail here.)

An American Airlines pilot flying passengers from Los Angeles to New York asked Christians on board to identify themselves and then suggested that non-Christian passengers discuss the faith with them, the airline confirmed Saturday. 

The pilot, whose identity was not released, had been making flight announcements before he asked that the Christians on board raise their hands, said American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner. 

Wagner said the pilot told airline officials he then suggested the other passengers use the flight time to talk to the Christians about their faith. 

The pilot later told passengers he himself would be available at the end of the flight to talk about his first announcement. 

Wagner said the airline was investigating the incident. 

"It falls along the lines of a personal level of sharing that may not be appropriate for one of our employees to do while on the job," he said. 

The pilot had just returned to work from a weeklong mission trip to Costa Rica, Wagner said.

I'm afraid if I comment on this Ill get in big trouble. 

I have yet to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior and to be born again.  And this "rapture" business seems silly to me.  But what's wrong for those of the lesser faiths to be asked, in a confined space - talk about a captive audience! - to explain themselves to the loving Christians?  Who knows which of them might be converted?  "The Conversion of The Jews" at thirty-seven thousand feet somewhere over Kansas!  Muslim women from Los Angeles in burkas accepting Jesus just before the plane glides into JFK!  Hey, it could happen!   

Well, the pilot has the right to his beliefs, and the right of free speech.  More importantly, this pilot had control of the aircraft.  You wouldn't want to get him upset and have him start thinking apocalyptic thoughts, or even pleasant thoughts about how wonderful heaven is for the saved.  He might also recall some passages from the Old Testament about smiting the sinners and that sort of thing.  I'd accept Jesus under the circumstances.  As a matter of prudence. 

He has his rights.  And I have the right to choose never to fly American Airlines again. 

As this sort of thing becomes more and more common, and lauded, it may be time to consider relocating to a land more heathen.