- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

No new religion

Board members of the Public Broadcasting Service have banned their 365 member stations from offering any new religious programming, after a yearlong review of their policies.

PBS officials reached their decision after they began reviewing their rules in January 2008 as the transition to digital television began and questions regarding religious programming were raised.

The board vote, which took place last week, forbids stations from airing any program that advocates a particular religion or religious point of view on channels branded as PBS or that feature PBS content, like “Sesame Street” or “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” PBS suggests that if stations wish to continue their PBS membership and broadcast religious programs, it be done on a Web site or other media platforms unaffiliated with PBS.

Howard University’s WHUT “Mass for Shut-ins” is an example of the kind of programs PBS is curtailing.

While “Mass for Shut-ins” will be permitted to continue airing, no new programs like it or additional broadcasts will be allowed. Board members were considering banning them altogether, but compromised to allow existing religious shows to continue.

“The members of the PBS board are pleased to have found a solution that allows the continuation of programming that is valued by individual communities while adhering to our policy of presenting a noncommercial, nonpolitical, nonsectarian service,” a statement provided to The Washington Times by PBS Director of Corporate Communications Jan McNamara.

PBS noted that miniseries and specials that present “historical, cultural and social aspects of religion” will be unaffected by the new policy.

Green-washing

As the number of “green” products being sold by major retailers increase, so does the fibbing about their claims to be environmentally friendly.

Environmental researchers at TerraChoice analyzed supposedly eco-friendly products on the shelves at “big box” stores like Wal-Mart and Target and found the availability of “green” products has increased, on average, 79 percent over the last year.

Yet, more than 98 percent of those products were guilty of at least one of six categories of “green-washing sins,” meaning the products’ claims were misleading, vague, irrelevant or false, the survey said, adding that 22 percent of “green” products carried meaningless environmental endorsements and badges.

TerraChoice’s study, which was recently presented to Congress, found that baby products, cosmetics and household cleaning supplies were the most likely to be marketed in a misleading way.

Advertisers often use the word “natural” to appeal to customers looking for nontoxic items, but as the study points out “arsenic is natural.”

“So is cyanide and mercury and formaldehyde. All are hazardous,” it said.

Nixon on abortion

Audiotapes newly made public by the National Archives reveal that former Republican President Richard M. Nixon secretly harbored racially tinged views of the circumstances under which abortion may be necessary.

“There are times when an abortion is necessary,” he said in a conversation with White House aide Charles Colson about the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion. “I know that. When you have a black and a white.

“Or a rape,” he added.

The new round of tapes that were released are from January and February of 1973, a tumultuous period of time for Mr. Nixon that included the conviction of the men who burglarized Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

Ensign’s silver lining

Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, who recently went public with the affair he had with an ex-campaign staffer, suffered a drop in favorability ratings since making the disclosure, but he’s still faring better than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat and Nevada’s senior senator.

A poll conducted by Mason Dixon Polling and Research Inc. for the Las Vegas Review Journal found 39 percent of voters had a favorable view of Mr. Ensign, down from 53 percent last month.

Still, Mr. Ensign is ahead of Mr. Reid’s 34 percent favorability ratings in the same poll. The scandalized senator also is far more popular than Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons, whose favorability polling is at a dismal 10 percent,

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at [email protected]

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