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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-10-04 - 10:55 a.m.

Mixed Messages

Rice: Iraq Nuclear Plans Unclear

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said yesterday it is still unclear whether Iraq attempted to procure tens of thousands of aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program or a conventional rocket program, despite conclusions by the Senate intelligence committee and U.N. investigators that the tubes could not be used in any nuclear program.

Administration officials at the time did not acknowledge that debate, though Rice acknowledged yesterday she was aware of it. "I knew that there was a dispute," she said. "I actually didn't really know the nature of the dispute."

Condi, don’t you think you should have looked into it? Condi just kept saying over and over, “If you’re a policymaker, you’d rather be on the safe side.” I’m sure the people of North Korea and Iran are feeling much more secure about any future decisions the Bush administration might make based on that logic. I know I am! (said sarcastically!) I agree with David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, who said, "I think she is being disingenuous, and just departing from any effort to find the truth." The Bush administration has ignored science and scientists on all kinds of issues from day 1.

An excerpt for an excellent article, Homophobia and the Republican Party at Capitol Hill Blue

The House and Senate, in a rare moment of common sense, sacked President George W. Bush’s homophobic constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as a union only between men and women. That kills the issue for this year but we will be forced to visit it again as long as right-wing whack jobs dominate the Republican Party.

…Like most bigotry, homophobia is driven by hate and fear. Bigots fear what they don’t understand and they don’t understand a lot of things. Fear and hate appeal to the lowest parts of humanity, to simple minds that – in their own ignorance – cling to outdated concepts that a belief, point of view, lifestyle or philosophy must be superior to another.

It’s Time to Grab a Banned Book

One of the most cherished luxuries Americans possess is freedom of the press. With that in mind, the American Library Association is asking book lovers to pick up a book on its list of the 100 most challenged books and read it in honor of Banned Books Week kicking off Saturday and running through Oct. 2.

Guess which woman author has the most frequently challenged books on the 2003 list?

Author: Judy Blume, Forever: A Novel of Good and Evil, Love and Hope (8th on the list)

Plot summary: The saga of Katherine's and Michael's love is a joyous one, filled with all the wonder of "the first time." They meet on New Year's Eve and become completely involved with each other. It's an idyllic affair -- until they're separated that summer...

Challenged for: explicit sexuality.

Other challenged Blume books on 2003 list: Blubber (32nd), Deenie (46th), Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret (62nd), and Tiger Eyes (78th).

Editorial Reviews of Forever at Amazon.com

"Going all the way" is still a taboo subject in young adult literature. Judy Blume was the first author to write candidly about a sexually active teen, and she's been defending teenagers' rights ever since. Here, Blume tells a convincing tale of first love--a love that seems strong and true enough to last forever. Katherine loves Michael so much, in fact, that she's willing to lose her virginity to him, and, as the months go by, it gets harder and harder for her to imagine living without him. However, something happens when they are separated for the summer: Katherine begins to have feelings for another guy. What does this mean about her love for Michael? What does this mean about love in general? What does "forever" mean, anyway? As always, Blume writes as if she's never forgotten a moment of what it's like to be a teenager.

Here’s one of 246 reviews, many from teenagers,(this one from Bombay, India.) found at amazon.com:

I don't understand why some reviewers find this book dirty or perverse,I mean I think it's one of the most honest books on teen sexuality that I have read. Judy Blume never writes books that are highly intellectual or filled with glorified words and phrases,she writes straight from the heart and that's why her books ,all of them i think touch a cord. Her characters in 'Forever' are believable and also likeable.I can't believe she wrote this book during the seventies because the problems faced by teens pertaining to sex ,peers,parents,growing up etc are the same ones faced by us in the nineties.I guess many of us, girls especially get swept up in the first relationship with someone an have a notion that it will last forever.In most cases relationships end ,and yes there is hurt and confusion and somehow I never cease to wonder how Judy Blume understands us so well.Yes the author has done her best to inform us about 'The First Time'and why we must be prepared for the love to end sometimes because lets face it, nothing lasts forever.

Books like Blume's may be the only honest sexual information some young people get. With the recent availability of federal abstinence-only money, more focus has been placed on abstinence-only messages in many of our schools. Unfortunately, both the abstinence-only and abstinence-plus-information programs are usually offered after the first sexual experience has occurred these days. The abstinence-plus programs teach that abstinence is the best way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in addition to being the best morally, but if teen is going to be sexually active they should use protection. Many believe this program gives mixed messages and somehow sanctions such activity. I find it appalling that people still believe that talking about it will make it more likely that pre-adolescents will experiment. Especially with all they can see on prime-time or even daytime TV.

The jury is still out about which program is more effective in combating adolescent pregnancy: abstinence-only or abstinence-based. At this time there have only been six studies done on the effectiveness of abstinence–only education programs. None of these studies has showed consistent and significant results on its ability to delay the onset of intercourse; and at least one study has provided a strong indicator that the program does not delay the onset of intercourse among teens. What the studies have indicated is that those in the abstinence-only programs were less likely to use any kind of protection. This in and of itself would cause me to discount such a program.

But we all know how our President and the Republicans feel about mixed messages, don’t we? So federal funding for programs is available for abstinence only programs.

According to ACLU, this restrictive brand of abstinence education was adopted as part of the 1996 welfare reform bill. Federal funding for abstinence education now totals over $100 million per year. In contrast, no federal money whatsoever is spent on comprehensive sex education.

Perhaps our votes in November can bring a change to this overly moralistic and dangerous-to-our-children policy. I'd rather have mixed messages than no message at all, wouldn't you?

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