Monthly Archives: July 2003

Reason versus Religion

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Reason has long taken precedence over religion on most America’s college campuses. For over a century, universities like Georgetown, which was founded by Jesuits, Harvard and Yale, which were both established by ministers, have seen their fortunes rise as religious traditions gave way to secular education.

Now, one major university is going against this time-honored trend. Dr. Robert Sloan, has been president of Baylor University in Texas since 1995. The school is Baptist by tradition, but secular in its teaching. Sloan aims to change that. He argues that bringing God firmly back to the classroom will boost the endowment of this university of 14,000 students in Waco, Texas, improve its academics, and its national standing.


Robert B. Sloan, Jr., President and Chief Executive of Baylor University, Jim Patton, Chairperson of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, Nancy Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion at Boston University

Guns for Hire

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In the first Gulf War one in 50 boots on the ground were not members of the U.S. military, but employees of private companies. In the current Iraq conflict, one in 10 are private soldiers. Spot a trend? But privatizing the frontlines is more than a trend, it’s a business, a $100 billion-a-year business. And it’s going to get bigger.

A confluence of an overstretched military, the Republican urge to privatize, and the Bush administration’s willingness to use American power abroad is creating a new market for private soldiers, and not just for administration friends like Halliburton. Frontline and logistical, planners and paramilitaries: the new American mercenaries — or should we say outsourced military employees?


Peter W. Singer, author, “Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry,” Rob Kovacic, director, Northbridge Services, a private military company

Grandes Horizontales

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They were the femmes galantes. The demi-mondaines of 19th century Paris. Exquisite, hungry courtesans who electrified the forbidden middle space between high society and low, between the emperor’s court and the brothels that thrived in the shadows of Paris’s grand new fa├žades.

They were a glittering, frivolous capital’s best defense against the ennui of so much luxe. In an age when, as one chronicler of the period wrote, “Celebrities sprang up like mushrooms and shriveled even before the sun went down,” they had a lock on fame. Legends arose around them — and remain there still. The masses adored them, but only the very rich could afford them. Remembering the grandes horizontales of 19th century Paris.


Virginia Rounding, author of “Grandes Horizontales: The Lives and Legends of Four Nineteenth-Century Courtesans”

One Way Ticket

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“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” You all know where that sentiment is inscribed. But today, Emma Lazarus’ words echo as a lament for a lost time.

The atrocity just across New York’s harbor from the Statue of Liberty on September 11th ushered in a new era in immigration policy. Particularly for those who got here by “ingenuity” rather than with a green card. Register your presence and get amnesty, said the Clinton administration to illegal immigrants. Thanks for letting us know where you are, you are being deported says the post 9/11 Bush administration. Caught in the middle are people from the Middle East — around 13,000 of them waiting for deportation hearings.


Mark Krikorian , executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies

Kamal Nawash, immigration lawyer.

The Volkwagen Bug

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David Kiley, Detroit Bureau Chief for USA Today, author of Getting the Bugs Out: The Rise, fall and comeback of Volkswagen in America

Dan Oulette, contributing writer to the San Francisco Chronicle, the New Yorker’s special sections, jazz critic for Downbeat magazine, and the author of The Volkswagen Bug Book: A Celebration of Beetle Culture

and Lois Grace, founder of the bimonthly newsletter, Frauline, columnist for VW magazine, commonly known as the Volkswoman.

The Volkswagen Bug

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The Volkswagen Beetle — the original people’s car. More than any other motor vehicle, it defined the post-war generation. It was the car that crossed every kind of social line.

The air-cooled tin can featured on the cover of Abbey Road, was the fancy of Andy Warhol, and the muse for “Me and Bobby McGee.” It was the darling of Disney, and driven by the likes of Paul Newman and Charles Manson in real life.

And tomorrow, the very last original design VW Beetle will roll off the assembly track in Puebla, Mexico. The car that defied the odds and stood the test of time. Bidding goodbye to the little car that could and did — the Volkswagen Bug.


David Kiley, Detroit Bureau Chief for USA Today, author of Getting the Bugs Out: The Rise, fall and comeback of Volkswagen in America

Dan Ouellette, contributing writer to the San Francisco Chronicle, the New Yorker’s special sections, jazz critic for Downbeat magazine, and the author of The Volkswagen Bug Book: A Celebration of Beetle Culture

Lois Grace, founder of the bimonthly newsletter, Frauline, columnist for VW magazine, commonly known as the Volkswoman.

When to Kill

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“Wanted Dead or Alive.” That is what the old Wild West posters used to say, but in the Wild, Wild East, out Iraq way the posters simply say “Wanted Dead.” Somewhere between Tikrit and Mosul, Saddam Hussein is being hunted, even as we speak.

Last week, U.S. soldiers shot and killed his two sons. Today, the U.S. military reports it has detained a long-time bodyguard of the deposed leader and officials proudly claim they are “tightening the noose” around his neck. It’s not the first time a U.S. administration has issued death warrant for a leader, but it is the first time it has done so this publicly.

Advocates of this new brand of shoot to kill diplomacy say stability in Iraq is not possible without his death. Those arguing against claim that killing Saddam will make the Bush administration no better than the regime it has changed.


Ann Scott Tyson, staff writer, Christian Science Monitor, from Tikrit, Iraq

Thomas Powers, author, “Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to al-Qaeda,” and Ralph Peters, retired Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, and author, Beyond Terror.

Cutting Edge Egyptology

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Even the ancient Greeks, themselves monumental architects, were overwhelmed by the pyramids. Herodotus went to Giza and came back with a report blending hard facts about dynastic succession with fanciful stories of ritual sacrifice.

Since then it seems, humanity’s interest in the pyramids has grown and continued in those parallel directions — scientific investigation on one hand, myth and occult stories on the other.

Researcher Mark Lehner has straddled both tracks. Today a prominent and award winning Egyptologist, he first went to Egypt as a disciple of clairvoyant Edgar Casey, looking for Atlantis’s hall of record in the belly of the Sphinx. Archeology and epistemology; extracting knowledge from the rock on the Giza Plateau.


Mark Lehner, Director of the Giza Plateau Mapping Project

Liberia in Focus

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The Liberia that the writer Graham Green traveled to in 1935 was still marked on maps by the words “cannibals” and “dense forest.”

Reports accused then-Liberian president Edwin Barclay of massacring civilians, and Greene, on a break from writing fiction, was there to find facts. What he found was a president who thrilled to his own rhetoric and power. I’m “in charge of the machine,” Barclay boasted. “I’m the boss of the whole show.”

Almost seven decades later, the new boss of the whole show, Charles Taylor, is at the heart of a civil war that has got many in the international community, and inside West Africa, clamoring for American intervention.


Aminatta Forna, journalist and author of “The Devil that Danced on the Water”

Philip Gourevitch, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of “We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families:Stories from Rwanda”

Mark Bowden, columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper author of “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War”

Stephan Faris, Time magazine correspondent in Monrovia

Tour de Force

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Take 2100 miles. Nearly 200 riders. Mix them both with Europe’s highest mountains, most hazardous roads, and a million spectators. Add a history of murder, drugs and international intrigue, and you can begin to imagine a race as exciting as the Tour de France.

A simple contest, conceived 100 years ago as a publicity stunt by a newspaper, is now the most demanding, singular sporting event in the world. It’s hard to believe that the Tour still exists, riders used to call race organizers “assassins” because of the sheer impossibility of the course.

Or recall that it almost disappeared, back in its early days, after devious fans left nails in the road to fell rival teams. But while much has changed since the race’s inception, the goal remains the same: The battle for the maillot jaune.


Bill Strickland, executive editor, Bicycling Magazine

James Startt, author of “Tour de France – Tour de Force”

Lorna Hamilton, mother of Tyler Hamilton, member of CSC team competing in this year’s Tour

Steve Pucci, Tyler Hamilton’s first coach

Sam Abt, reporter for the New York Times and The International Herald Tribune

Peter Ford, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor.