Just Above Sunset
May 8, 2005 - The Run-Away Bride and Michael Jackson's Urges - Not the Only News

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They had a bit of an election in the UK this week, and early in the week there is a smidgen of that on the national newscasts on this side of the pond, and a few column inches in the press here and there.  But not that much early on.


But we all know about it now.


And over the last weekend Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London broke a story concerning Tony Blair and George Bush that was curious – but the Times story broke almost exactly when the first lady was addressing the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner, so her comedy routine got the airtime on the news and key real estate in the papers over here.  There was no room left for the Times story – given the reluctant bride and the naughty First Lady and Michael Jackson and whatnot.

Too bad.  That London paper got their hot little hands on an odd document - what appears to be a memo from the Blair and Bush discussions in the summer of 2002, and that would be some months before Colin Powell made his presentation to the UN laying out the clear evidence of the reasons the UN should join us in a war.  You remember – all those facts about all those weapons of mass destruction.  The memo - dated 23 July 2002 by Matthew Rycroft, a former Downing Street foreign policy aide? The Brits understood that the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq and toss out the government there – but Bush just hadn’t yet decided why.  The war came nine months later.  So the Brits decided they’d jump on board.  Why not?

Was this news?  No.  History.  Not much coverage.  Although things picked up steam by the end of the week. 

But we did the war and it’s over, sort of.  What is there to say?

Other non-news?  Alabama State Representative Gerald Allen introduced what he calls his "ban gay books" bill down South.  A local story, of course.  But CBS covered it and one or two columnists also commented on it, like Andrew Sullivan here.

What is this about?


No public funds or public facilities shall be used by any state agency, public school, public library, or public college or university for the purchase, production, or promotion of printed or electronic materials or activities that, directly or indirectly, sanction, recognize, foster, or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of the state of Alabama.


Fine.  The wider implications are discussed here - no more Auden, Wilde, Proust or Whitman… in Alabama.

This gives new meaning to “The Importance of Being Earnest.”  One should be earnest, and straight.  And we all know how Wilde ended up – dead in a hotel room on the Left Bank in Paris.  Serves him right.

But not a bad way to go.  Better than Birmingham.

And one supposes CBS covered this as one more look-at-those-yahoos-down-south fillers – for the liberal elites up in New York City. Tisk, tisk….

Was this news?  Nope.  Filler.

Your editor’s favorite news story?  That would be this spottily reported curiosity – the hearings that opened Thursday in Kansas.


Early coverage was scant.  Here is Reuters on the beat –


Evolution is going on trial in Kansas.

Eighty years after a famed courtroom battle in Tennessee pitted religious beliefs about the origins of life against the theories of British scientist Charles Darwin, Kansas is holding its own hearings on what school children should be taught about how life on Earth began.
The Kansas Board of Education has scheduled six days of courtroom-style hearings to begin on Thursday in the capitol Topeka. More than two dozen witnesses will give testimony and be subject to cross-examination, with the majority expected to argue against teaching evolution.


Cool!  Another Scopes trial.

As mentioned previously, over the last several weeks on one of the HBO secondary feeds one could catch the old movie about the Scopes Trial, Inherit the Wind (Stanley Kramer, 1960) – with Gene Kelley, of all people, playing the role of the character based on H. L. Mencken (really!), and Spencer Tracy trying to be Clarence Darrow.  It’s a hoot!
And we DO get a replay in real life – updated!  With a new cast!

And the conflict seems the same too!


Many prominent U.S. scientific groups have denounced the debate as founded on fallacy and have promised to boycott the hearings, which opponents say are part of a larger nationwide effort by religious interests to gain control over government.

"I feel like I'm in a time warp here," said Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray who has agreed to defend evolution as valid science. "To debate evolution is similar to debating whether the Earth is round. It is an absurd proposition."

Irigonegaray's opponent will be attorney John Calvert, managing director of the Intelligent Design Network, a Kansas organization that argues the Earth was created through intentional design rather than random organism evolution.

The group is one of many that have been formed over the last several years to challenge the validity of evolutionary concepts and seek to open the schoolroom door to ideas that humans and other living creatures are too intricately designed to have come about randomly.


You have to love it!


… Kansas School Board chairman Steve Abrams said the hearings are less about religion than they are about seeking the best possible education for the state's children.

"If students... do not understand the weaknesses of evolutionary theory as well as the strengths, a grave injustice is being done to them," Abrams said.


Let the fun begin!

And Newsday sets up the players in this little drama …


… at Blue Valley Northwest High in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, teachers do not have to mention alternative theories, but biology teacher Jeremy Mohn did so anyway this spring, in addition to spending a month talking about evolution, including why peacocks have long tails.

At Topeka West High, Stephanie Bailey, a 14-year-old who previously attended a Lutheran school, is skeptical of evolution, particularly the notion that man and other animals have common ancestors. "Scientists don't have all the answers," she said.

But Emily Hane, a 17-year-old in Volland's class, said: "If you don't understand evolution, you don't really understand biology."


Wait!  The roles are all reversed!  Jeremy Mohn is the anti-Scopes, it seems – a teacher daring to go against what society says and discuss intelligent design as being, one presumes, and good a theory, and as valid a theory, as evolution.  And this student, Emily Hane, is lining up with Gene Kelley and Spencer Tracy.

This is going to be good.

Sometimes the best news stories are the minor ones that gather steam later.

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Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Paris readers add nine hours....