- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2002

The Boss is back
"The first thing one notices about Bruce Springsteen's [new album] 'The Rising' is that Springsteen himself sounds as if he's risen. His voice is in robust, throat-clearing form.
"But these are, of course, changed times, and he knows it. There are ghosts drifting through 'The Rising.' The contemporary spirits are the subjects of most of the songs deceased firefighters and cops, backpack-carrying suicide bombers, and the deadened souls of survivors and grieving family left in the wake of so many international crises since last September.
"Most of Springsteen's work over the last decade was soggy, the result of a very evident musical midlife crisis. In what could be called a positive development in light of so many negative ones, the post-September 11 world has refocused his songwriting. For years, he told us very little about himself and often hid behind characters. He's still adhering to that modus operandi on 'The Rising,' but these Joes are more flesh and blood. These types of blue-collar characters, like Springsteen himself, seemed to have no place in the go-go Clinton era. But in the war- and economy-ravaged Bush II years, Springsteen's approach feels relevant.
David Browne, reviewing "The Rising," in the Aug. 2 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Deliberate disaster
"A crisis is already engulfing Zimbabwe. I believe that it is about to implode into full-blown disaster. In a world where there are too many natural disasters it is almost a blasphemy to witness one that is deliberately politically engineered. Each of the elements the displaced, the crop failures, the impending famine, the undermining of democracy and the rule of law is the direct product of [President Robert] Mugabe's despotism.
"The tragedy of Zimbabwe is that disaster has been coming a long time, yet so little has been done internationally to avert it at an early stage when pressure could have had a much greater effect. Foot-dragging and 'mental imperialism' prevented it. They must not be allowed to prevent it anymore.
"The international community must come together in an effective coalition and ensure that whatever it takes to secure fresh elections in Zimbabwe is brought to bear now. Soon it will be too late."
Michael Ancram, writing on "Evil under the sun," Saturday in the Spectator

Blurring lines
"Parents haunted by the terror of Samantha Runnion's kidnapping and murder are desperate to ensure the safety of their young ones.
"It's never been more clear that monstrous predators exist in all areas of society.
"At the same time, society pressures children into the world of adult sexuality.
"The natural lines meant to protect children have become dangerously blurred as children, especially girls, have become burdened by the inappropriate transfer of adult sexuality. This doesn't cause criminal behavior, nor can it serve as an excuse. But it also can't be regarded as benign.
"The terrifying reality of pedophilia, coupled with societal pressures on children to dress and act suggestively, leads to a volatile mixture. This is where parents must take up the fight.
"We must protect these most innocent and vulnerable citizens from a home-bred form of terrorism. Aside from child pornography, children are being dangled as sex objects within the inescapable world of advertising. Recently, Abercrombie & Fitch became embroiled in controversy after it began selling thong underwear for young girls.
"Girls in elementary and middle schools feel pressured to keep up with the sexy image of pop star Britney Spears, and retailers are cashing in on the fashion craze.
"Where will we draw the line? When our school-age children are wearing stilettos and string bikinis?"
Julie Hudash, writing on "The Dangers of Sexualizing Our Children," Sunday in the Los Angeles Times

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