Thursday, November 15, 2001

Driving God
A concurrent House resolution expresses the sense of Congress that the nation’s schools should set aside a sufficient period of time to allow children to pray for or quietly reflect on behalf of the United States during its struggle against the forces of international terrorism.
A period of prayer or reflection that no doubt will ruffle the feathers of certain lawmakers and the American Civil Liberties Union alike.
“Frankly, I find it bewildering and disappointing that this modest proposal should engender any opposition at all,” reacts Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican.
And you, Rep. George Miller, California Democrat?
“I grew up as a Catholic believing that God was all-knowing and ever-present, and it was not until I came to Congress and listened to these debates that I thought anybody would ever believe that a superintendent of schools or a teacher or a congressman could … drive God out of school, drive God out of Congress, drive God out of here, drive God out of there,” he says.
“I find it interesting that somehow people believe children’s faith is so weak that it can be dismissed like that,” Mr. Miller adds, “despite the teachings of their families, church and peers. I find it interesting that somehow God just disappears. It is an incredible statement that I do not understand regarding the underestimation of the American people’s faith in their God.”

Beware the stuffing
Afraid to fly to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving?
Don’t be, for the odds of getting there in one piece unlike the turkey are greatly in your favor, says the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS).
“For 1999, flying on a scheduled airliner anywhere in the world was 53 times safer than driving on an American highway,” STATS Director David Murray tells Inside the Beltway. “All of that assumes, of course, that fatalities result from accidents, not malevolent intent. Then the odds change a bit.”
As for the American Airlines jet that crashed this week after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, killing all 260 persons on board, Mr. Murray points out that “accidents still happen, even in wars.”
“But,” he adds, “if you’re set to fly home to grandma’s for Thanksgiving, take the shot. Odds are overwhelming that you’re safe. Just watch the day-old oyster stuffing or your brother-in-law flailing about with a carving knife.”

Finding Kabul
Americans who prior to September 11 couldn’t pinpoint Afghanistan on a map are having an easier go of it now.
“Times like these remind us that we are part of a larger world, and there is a renewed desire to better understand this world and its geography,” explains William Stoehr, president of National Geographic Maps.
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Mr. Stoehr says, map sales like sales of American flags have soared as Americans seek information on Afghanistan and the surrounding region. Initially, National Geographic supplied the curious with a 1999 Caspian Sea region map, but in recent days has issued a new Afghanistan, Pakistan and Middle East map.

Same race, no borders
Days after former President Clinton predicted that cyber-terrorism could constitute the next major threat to the world, visiting Japanese Senior Vice Minister Kenji Kosaka is warning there’s “no time to wait.”
“At first glance, you may think of me simply as a representative of the Japanese government,” Mr. Kosaka told this week’s special security conference of the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the technical coordination body for the Internet.
“However, I am also a fellow member of the Internet family like all of you. I became connected to each and every one of you through a wireless internet LAN card the moment I entered this hall. I can connect via the wireless Internet, even though I arrived from Japan with Japanese equipment because two years ago in Japan we adjusted the frequency band for wireless LANs to ensure that the same wireless cards can be used anywhere in the world.”
Mr. Kosaka said the Japanese government was participating in the ICANN conference, which ends today, for two reasons: “The first one is, of course, because after watching the tragic terrorist acts, I became concerned about ensuring the security of the Internet, the nerve system of the contemporary world.
“The second reason is that I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that ICANN decided to hold a meeting focused on the security of the Internet only after the tragic events of September 11.”
The vice minister called the Internet “a revolutionary tool for humankind that will bring change on a par with the agricultural revolution and the Industrial Revolution,” and went so far as to say that the Internet “has become part of the very foundation of human society.”

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