Archive for April 2007

Two thousand seven hundred forty dead. Today. Same tomorrow…

April 25, 2007

Africa Malaria Day 2007

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/ HQ04-1276/Giacomo Pirozzi
Katuwala Saruwai, 10, embraces his sleeping baby brother Kalu at a local health clinic in the Trobriand Islands in Milne Bay Province. Ten-month-old Kalu is suffering from severe malaria, a primary cause of child deaths in the country.

Malaria kills over one million people each year worldwide. More than 80 per cent of these deaths take place in Sub-Saharan Africa and most are among children under five years of age. An African child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.Malaria is one of the biggest killers of children in Africa, accounting for nearly one in five of the continent’s child deaths.

Yet this disease is both preventable and treatable. The solutions are available. For just US$10, a child can be protected against malaria by a long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net (ITN). And an infected child can be treated with Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).

The good news is that there was a ten-fold increase in ITN distribution in sub-Saharan Africa between 1999 and 2003, and surveys in 2005 and 2006 are expected to even more progress. Countries such as Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Zambia have made great strides on the percentage of children sleeping under ITNs. Ethiopia, a country with around nine million malaria infections each year, quadrupled the number of ITNs distributed from 1.8 million in 2004 to 8 million by the end of 2006. This year’s target: 20 million.

But challenges remain, including the challenge of reaching children in remote areas with the prevention, testing and treatment that they need. Then there is the funding gap. An estimated US$ 3.2 billion is needed worldwide each year to fund the fight against malaria in the countries with the highest disease burden – US$ 1.9 billion for Africa alone. While funding has increased over the past decade, thanks to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the US President’s Initiative, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, estimates suggest that international funding for malaria control stood at only around US$ 600 million in 2004.

UNICEF is not only calling for greater resources for malaria control, but also for an integrated approach to combat the disease. Malaria control should be part of integrated, community-based health programmes. UNICEF supports integrated child survival programming, including ITN distribution alongside measles vaccination campaigns and routine immunization and as part of antenatal care and early detection and improved treatment through the integrated management of childhood illnesses, looking at the health needs of the child as a whole, rather than focusing on one specific health issue.

UNICEF works closely with national governments and with partnerships such as Malaria no More and Roll Back Malaria to scale up the availability of ITNs and ACTs and ensure that malaria is high on every national health agenda.

UNICEF is the world’s largest procurer and deliverer of ITNs, with over 24 million ITNs procured in 2006. More than 90 per cent of these were long-lasting, requiring no re-treatment.

For further information, please contact:

Angela Hawke, Press Officer, UNICEF NY: Tel + 1 212-326-7269; email ahawke@unicef.org

Jessica Malter, Press Officer, UNICEF New York: Tel +1 212-326-7412; email jmalter@unicef.org

Related press releases and news notes:

28 March 2007 – Spread the Net purchases 33,000 anti-malarial bed nets for Liberia 1

27 November 2006 – Fight against Malaria – A priority in Guinea-Bissau 2

9 November 2006 – Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer launch anti-malarial bednet campaign:“Spread the Net” with UNICEF Canada 3

6 November 2006 – Serena Williams joins the fight against malaria in Ghana 4

28 September 2006 – Ethiopia can beat its biggest killer with historic push – UNICEF 5

8 July 2006 – Partners team up in Kenya to fights measles and malaria

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NOT Off the Table — Strategies to Impeach Bush AND Cheney

April 24, 2007

Despite Nancy Pelosi’s early assertion that impeachment is “off the table,” it’s clear to me that we as a nation have moved beyond that initial statement. It’s bigger than any one person (in this case the Speaker of the House). Bush and Cheney are inept and corrupt and evil, and those they have put into decision-making positions are likewise inept and corrupt and evil. They all need to be swept from power, while there is still an America, and still a world.

As of last Friday, the number of dead Americans serving in the military in Iraq in April was sixty-five. Ten of those were from my home state of California, including two from the nearby town where I grew up, and one from the nearby town where I go to church. The average age of these dead soldiers was 24.84 years old. The youngest was 18 years old: Steven Walberg from Paradise, California (an irony in itself); the oldest was Philip Murphy-Sweet, a 42-year-old from Caldwell, Idaho.

George Bush and his meaningless war killed these heroes. This war is a series of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was never time for Bush to be IN office, and now it’s clearly time for him — and all of those in this administration — to go.

Urge your representative in Congress to do the right thing and impeach — and convict — these officeholders.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ANALYSIS: US Rep. Kucinich’s Shift Towards Impeachment

By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor and National Correspondent,
Atlanta Progressive News
April 23, 2007

(APN) ATLANTA – US Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is about to unveil Articles of Impeachment against Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney at a press conference tomorrow, Tuesday, April 24, 2007. Both Kucinich’s Campaign and Congressional Offices have thus far maintained a veil of secrecy about the rationale for the Articles.

Kucinich’s step is certainly bold and substantively appropriate, but it is only one stage in what has been the Congressman’s shifting in political posture towards impeachment as a remedy to the abuses of the Bush Administration.

This, of course, may still not be the end of the shift, because Bush himself still hasn’t been recommended for impeachment yet in this Congressional Session.

To illustrate this shift, consider the Congressman and Presidential Candidate did not cosponsor H Res 635, the bill in the 109th Congressional Session, which had 39 total cosponsors and would have created a Select Committee to look into the possible grounds for impeaching Bush. The bill charged Bush with misleading the public on the need to invade Iraq, retaliating against public officials who disagree with him, and encouraging torture.

Kucinich was one of 31 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who chose NOT sign on to H Res. 635 at the time. The other 31 members, or exactly one half, of the Caucus did sign on.

The 39 total co-sponsors of H Res. 635 were US Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Jackson, Jr., (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Dianne Watson (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. David Wu (D-OR).

Kucinich also did not cosponsor former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s bill which called for Bush’s impeachment. Congresswoman McKinney shifted towards the idea of impeachment herself, telling APN that she first considered the idea in 2001 and her mother begged her not to do it.

Over the last year or so, Atlanta Progressive News has asked multiple sources as to why Kucinich chose not to support impeaching Bush.

One source close to the Kucinich Campaign told APN that Kucinich did not want to impeach Bush because of his belief in forgiveness and redemption and that even Bush could be redeemed.

The Kucinich Campaign also responded to an inquiry from one APN reader who contacted them several months ago, asking why the Congressman wouldn’t support impeachment.

“I have been watching intently the tally of Congress people who have signed on as sponsors or co-sponsors of H. Res 635, which would create a Select Committee to look into the grounds for recommending President Bush’s impeachment. So far there are 36. I notice that you are not among them and I find this to be virtually unfathomable. Is there some reason you are reluctant to do this?” Lyn Bernstein sent in an email to the Kucinich Campaign on May 02, 2006.

“It is my understanding that Congressman Kucinich is working for major systemic change rather than mere personnel changes. Also, he does not support efforts which are basically set up to rip people apart,” replied Kucinich volunteer, Gail Heyn, adding she did not speak on behalf of the Congressional Office.

A few weeks ago, the Kucinich for President 2008 Campaign released a remarkable YouTube video in which the Congressman asks Americans to provide him with feedback on the question “Is it time” for impeachment.

In the YouTube video, Kucinich said he was troubled by the prevailing idea in Congress that impeachment should be “off the table,” while an invasion of Iran should be left on the table.

At that time, it wasn’t clear why Iran was seen as a reason for impeachment now, when the Invasion of Iraq–which has been equally atrocious as well as fraudulent–was not mentioned as a potential reason.

Now, it’s not clear why Cheney is the sole target of impeachment and not Bush.

It will be fascinating to see which Members of Congress, if any, will support Kucinich’s bill. It will also be interesting to see whether the discussion of impeaching Cheney leads to possibly also impeaching Bush.

One function of Kucinich’s introduction of the Articles will be break the silence on the “I” word, which had been demanded by US Rep. Pelosi. It was largely viewed that US Rep. Conyers, the original sponsor of H Res 635, dropped his bill out of respect to Pelosi and his desire to be appointed Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Moreover, several Members of Congress have stated that they have followed in Conyers’s steps in choosing not to introduce similar bills of their own.

According to APN’s analysis, there are currently four (4) Members of Congress who would be willing to support impeachment. US Rep. Kucinich has been one of the people on the list for some time and we can now reveal this to our readers. US Rep. John Lewis told an Atlanta-based radio station WAOK that he would support Articles of Impeachment should they be introduced, although he did not support his colleague Cynthia McKinney’s bill when it was introduced. The other two Representatives cannot be named at this time.

One of the main arguments against is impeaching Bush is regarding the possibility of a President Cheney; however, the bill to impeach Cheney would eliminate this issue.

At the same time, when Pelosi said impeachment was off the table, implicitly she meant the impeachment of Bush.

For Kucinich to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Cheney is, thus, in a way, dispelling the stigma of impeachment, because many Members of Congress may be more inclined to support impeaching Cheney. It also brings up the general idea of impeachment into the mainstream media dialogue.

The corporate media almost completely ignored H Res 635. US Rep. Conyers recognized Atlanta Progressive News on his blog for being the only media outlet at the time to regularly cover this bill.

Last week, it was actually a blog on the WashingtonPost.com website, which revealed that Kucinich had sent a letter to other Members of Congress indicating his intent to file the Articles of Impeachment against Cheney.

Kucinich’s Congressional Office declined to comment at this time, and his Campaign was not expected to respond prior to the official announcement.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor and National Correspondent for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

The Bloodiest Day… part 1

April 19, 2007

In no way am I downplaying the importance of the story at Virginia Tech this week. It sickened me. I watched the television coverage until I was so numb that I couldn’t watch it any longer. I haven’t seen any of the material that was sent to NBC–and I don’t care to see any of it.

But where is the parallel outrage, where is the sorrow over the Iraqi people who are dying? More than 140 people dead, and another 150-plus injured in one incident. (see post)

And then… there have already been 50 Americans who have died THIS MONTH in Iraq. (see post)

Where is the righteous indignation about the perpetrator of THIS violent act? One that, unlike the one in Virginia, will not be ending soon.

The Bloodiest Day… part 2

April 19, 2007

Car bombs kill nearly 200 in deadliest Iraq attacks

From correspondents in Iraq

April 19, 2007

  • 190 killed in attacks in Shiite districts
  • ‘Swimming pool of blood’ at crowded market
  • Iraqi PM blames extremist “vampires”

FOUR car bombs detonated in a co-ordinated attack have killed more than 190 people in Baghdad in the deadliest attacks in the city since US and Iraqi forces launched a security crackdown aimed at halting the country’s slide into sectarian civil war.

One car bomb alone at a bustling market in the mainly Shiite Sadriya neighbourhood killed 140 people and wounded 150, police have said.

“The street was transformed into a swimming pool of blood,” said Ahmed Hameed, a shopkeeper near the scene.

Among the other attacks to have struck the capital, police have said a suicide car bomber killed 35 people and wounded more than 70 at a checkpoint in Sadr City, stronghold of the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

More were reported killed in two other attacks. All were apparently timed to coincide with each other, hours after Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq would take security control of the whole country from foreign forces by the end of the year.

Mr Maliki blamed the attacks on infidels and Sunni extremist “vampires” and said the Iraqi Army commander responsible for the area had been detained and would be investigated over the “weakness” of his protection of civilians.

“This monstrous attack today did not distinguish between the old and young, between men and women. It targeted the population in a way that reminds us of the massacres and genocide committed by the former dictatorship,” he said.

Mr Maliki is under growing pressure to say when US troops will leave, but the attacks in mainly Shiite areas of Baghdad underscored the huge security challenges.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the US will not be shaken from its mission of pacifying sectarian tensions in Iraq and would push on with its new strategy to do so, in which 80,000 US and Iraqi troops are patrolling Iraqi streets.

“We have anticipated from the very beginning… that the insurgency and others would increase the violence to make the people of Iraq believe the plan is a failure,” he has said.

“We intend to persist to show that it is not.”

Burned alive

“I saw dozens of dead bodies. Some people were burned alive inside minibuses. Nobody could reach them after the explosion,” said a witness at Sadriya, describing scenes of mayhem at an intersection where the bomb exploded.

“There were pieces of flesh all over the place. Women were screaming and shouting for their loved ones who died,” said the witness who did not wish to be identified, adding many of the dead were women and children.

Firefighters doused nearby cars and buses, as dozens of ambulances and pick-up trucks ferried wounded to hospital and volunteers wrapped charred bodies in carpets for transport to the city’s overflowing mortuaries.

One man waving his arms in the air screamed hysterically: “Where’s Maliki? Let him come and see what is happening here.”

“Where is the security plan? We are not protected by this plan,” the bereaved shouted.

US and Iraqi forces began deploying thousands more troops onto Baghdad’s streets in February.

US military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox has admitted commanders were frustrated at their inability to prevent such car bombings, but insisted Iraq was not witnessing any further escalation of sectarian violence.

Al-Qaeda is blamed for most of the major bombings targeting Shiites in Iraq and there are fears Sadr’s Mehdi Army – which numbers in the tens of thousands – may take to the streets to retaliate.

“There is no magic solution to put out the fire of sectarian sedition that some are trying to set up, especially al Qaeda,” Mr Maliki said in a speech made on his behalf before the attacks.

The Sadriya bombing was the highest death toll in a single attack in Baghdad since a truck bomb killed 135 people in the same area on February 3.

– Reuters and AFP

The Bloodiest Day… part 3

April 19, 2007

American Casualties in Iraq
April 1-17, 2007

NAME

AGE

HOMETOWN

HOME STATE

James T. Lindsey

20

Florence

Alabama

Harrison Brown

31

Prichard

Alabama

Ismael G. Solorio

21

San Luis

Arizona

Damian Lopez Rodriguez

Tucson

Arizona

Rodney L. McCandless

21

Camden

Arkansas

Gabriel J. Figueroa

20

Baldwin Park

California

Curtis R. Spivey

25

Chula Vista

California

Walter Freeman, Jr.

20

Lancaster

California

Daniel J. Santee

21

Mission Viejo

California

Jesse L. Williams

25

Santa Rosa

California

James J. Coon

22

Walnut Creek

California

Derek A. Gibson

20

Eustis

Florida

Joseph A. McSween

26

Valdosta

Georgia

Jay S. Cajimat

20

Lahaina

Hawaii

Curtis R. Hall

24

Burley

Idaho

Philip A. Murphy-Sweet

42

Caldwell

Idaho

David N. Simmons

20

Kokomo

Indiana

Jason J. Beadles

22

La Porte

Indiana

Bradley D. King

28

Marion

Indiana

Joseph H. Cantrell IV

23

Ashland

Kentucky

William G. Bowling

24

Beattyville

Kentucky

Gregory J. Billiter

36

Villa Hills

Kentucky

Phillip I. Neel

27

Maryland

Maryland

Gwilym J. Newman

24

Waldorf

Maryland

Anthony Palermo

26

Brockton

Massachusetts

Adam P. Kennedy

25

Norfolk

Massachusetts

Joseph C. Schwedler

27

Crystal Falls

Michigan

Levi K. Hoover

23

Midland

Michigan

Todd A. Singleton

24

Muskegon

Michigan

Daniel R. Olsen

20

Eagan

Minnesota

Jerry C. Burge

39

Carriere

Mississippi

Shane R. Becker

35

Helena

Montana

Kyle G. Bohrnsen

22

Philipsburg

Montana

Jonathan D. Grassbaugh

25

East Hampstead

New Hampshire

Miguel A. Marcial III

19

Secaucus

New Jersey

Clifford A. Spohn III

21

Albuquerque

New Mexico

Daniel A. Fuentes

19

Levittown

New York

Brian E. Ritzberg

24

Long Island

New York

Brian L. Holden

20

Claremont

North Carolina

Larry R. Bowman

29

Granite Falls

North Carolina

Ebe F. Emolo

33

Greensboro

North Carolina

Eric R. Vick

25

Spring Hope

North Carolina

Ryan S. Dallam

24

Norman

Oklahoma

Brett A. Walton

37

Hillsboro

Oregon

Jason A. Shaffer

28

Derry

Pennsylvania

Robert M. McDowell

30

Deer Park

Texas

Jason R. Arnette

24

Amelia

Virginia

Forrest D. Cauthorn

22

Midlothian

Virginia

Raymond S. Sevaaetasi

29

Pago Pago

American Samoa

David A. Mejias

26

San Juan

Puerto Rico

Thanks in part to Soulforce, BYU changes honor code about gay students

April 18, 2007

Three weeks after an on-campus visit from Soulforce during their second annual Equality Ride, Brigham Young University has tweaked its honor code statement about homosexuality. Certainly this change doesn’t change the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) into an open-arms community for LGBT people, but it’s a positive step.

I can’t imagine how bad it would be to be a sexual minority kid growing up Mormon, especially in  Salt Lake City.

I knew a man in the 1970s who was gay; he had been a grad student at BYU, and had gotten kicked out when he was discovered to be queer. At that time, he was very close to completing his Ph.D., but–because it was an honor code violation–they refused to credential the coursework that he had completed, so he couldn’t transfer any of his credits to another school. Having moved out of the area (and having my own life trauma at the time, the result of my own coming out), I lost touch with him, but I believe that he never completed his doctorate.

So I hope that this action on the part of BYU will mean that this never happens to another student. And that it’s a step on the road, not  the end of their progress there.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BYU changes honor code text about gay students
It now says stated orientation is not an issue and clarifies which actions are violations

By Julia Lyon
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
4/17/2007

What a difference just a few sentences can make.

A small but significant change in how Brigham Young University’s honor code may be applied clarifies gay students’ status just weeks after gay-rights advocates were arrested at the school.

The changes, which condemn behavior rather than sexual orientation, “remove a lot of the Gestapo atmosphere from the campus,” said Brett Condron, a BYU freshman.

The new section of the honor code application reads, in part: “Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards… One’s stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity.”

The honor code is a set of rules students and staff at the school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are expected to follow in order to live the “moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The honor code’s applications clarify the short set of rules. Students who disregard the code can be put on probation and, in rare situations, suspended.

Prior to the honor code application change, the section on homosexual behavior or advocacy read, in part: “Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation… Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.”

That version had too many holes leading to individual interpretation, students said.

In March, a mother and son from Kanab were cited with trespassing after trying to deliver a list of concerns from former and current gay BYU students about their treatment at the school. Their actions followed the arrest last year of 29 members of Soulforce Equality Riders, the group that also organized this year’s event.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the revision is not related to Soulforce. Instead, it reflects the school’s response to student questions and concerns.

“I think what it does, it better explains our position,” she said.

Such changes occur on an ongoing basis. On Monday, students praised the administration’s willingness to listen.

“With the previous honor code there was a lot of fear attached to it,” said David Hulet, a senior. “[Now] we have clarity and understanding of what is acceptable and what isn’t.”

A former BYU student who is now an attorney in Seattle, Nick Literski was among bloggers buzzing about the news. Literski, a gay man who has withdrawn his membership from the church, said his daughter will attend the school this fall.

“What it’s reflecting is there’s a growing disconnect between church position on homosexuality versus what individual members are coming to see,” he said in a phone interview.

“As more and more members of the LDS Church are coming to know individuals who are gay and finding out that they’re human, that these are people just like them, that they’re good people, it becomes difficult for them to demonize homosexuality the way the church positions do.”

* JULIA LYON can be contacted at jlyon@sltrib.com or 801-257-8748.

Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation.
Students can be enrolled at the University and remain in good Honor Code standing if they maintain a current ecclesiastical endorsement and conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code. Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.

New statement:

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One’s stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_5684555

Rowan Williams to meet liberal bishops over gays

April 17, 2007

Melinda and I were in England in 2003 when Jeffrey John was elected as Bishop of Reading. It was widely known–both within the church and outside–that he is gay, and that his partner is another Anglican priest (although they don’t live together and never have, and profess to be non-sexual in their 20-plus-year relationship). Well, the conservatives went ballistic, using the old standby threat to storm out of the Communion.

[Sidebar: at that time, there was a cartoon in the Times of London on the front page, accompanying the article on the subject, in which this unsavory grizzled old man in clerical garb complete with tall pointed hat with a cross on it was sitting at the pub, leaning forward across the bar, smoking a cigarette, drinking, complete with beard stubble and flies circling around; the caption showed him saying something like, “I’ve just been appointed Bishop. Thank God I’m not gay.”]

Rowan Williams called Jeffrey John to London, where they had an hours-long meeting (five or six, as I recall), after which John announced that he would continue as priest but would not be serving as bishop. On television, John was shown making his announcement standing outside at the top of some steps, with all of the media people arrayed before him; Williams was a presence back behind him at the door, almost hiding–trademark eyebrows were the most evident feature.

People who knew both of them said that Williams had pulled every card from the deck, using “psychological torture tactics” to get John–a very strong character himself–to back down; these same people said that Jeffrey John would be fine, but that Rowan Williams was most likely changed forever, since he had been identified with the liberal wing of the denomination up to that incident.

Everything that has happened since then has, in my opinion, demonstrated this to be true. Of course, even though I have been disappointed with him as archbishop, I have great empathy for Williams–being in what is clearly a no-win position.

It will be interesting to see if this meeting does take place and what will come out of it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Williams to meet liberal bishops over gays

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

The Archbishop of Canterbury bowed to mounting pressure today and agreed to meet the liberal American Anglican bishops in a last-ditch bid to prevent a disastrous split over homosexuality.

In a move that will dismay conservatives, Dr Rowan Williams said that he will meet the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops later this year even though they are still refusing to toe the majority line on gays.

Speaking at a press conference in Toronto, Dr Williams, who is on a short trip to Canada, said: “These are complicated days for our Church internationally and it’s all the more important to keep up personal relationships and conversations …

“My aim is to try and keep people around the table for as long as possible on this, to understand one another, and to encourage local churches.”

Although no date was mentioned, it is understood that he will fly to America in September, accompanied by a small group of primates and senior advisors. Conservatives said they feared that Dr Williams will succumb to American pressure and weaken the hard line taken by the Anglican primates at their summit meeting in Tanzania in February.

One conservative leader said: “The worldwide Church is unraveling fast and he is doing nothing stop it.”

At the summit, the primates, the heads of the 38 provinces that make up the Anglican Communion, issued an ultimatum to the American bishops, giving them until the end of September to reverse their pro-gay agenda or face expulsion from the worldwide Church.

The Americans last month rejected a key part of the primates’ plan, saying that they could not accept to the creation of a “parallel” Church for conservatives in America who have rejected their liberal leadership.

They have yet to respond to the primates’ demand that they unequivocally agree to moratoriums on the consecration of actively gay bishops and on same-sex blessings, though a number have said they will not exclude gays.

They also called for an urgent meeting with Dr Williams and senior primates, complaining that he has listened far more intently to the conservative wing of the Church.

Dr Williams described their initial response to the primates’ ultimatum as “discouraging” and said that the situation needed further clarification.

Pressure on him to agree to the meeting with the American bishops before the September deadline mounted after they learned that he was taking June and July off as study leave and August as annual holiday.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the liberal primate of Canada, urged Dr Williams to hold the meeting a week ago, just before Dr Williams’ trip to Toronto and Niagara to deliver a spiritual retreat to the Canadian bishops.

He also called on Dr Williams to postpone next year’s Lambeth Conference, the ten-yearly gathering of all Anglican bishops in Canterbury, in an effort to defuse tensions.

In a lecture to theology students in Toronto this evening, Dr Williams warned both conservatives and liberals against “rootless” and “limited” interpretations of the Bible on issues such as homosexuality.

“Take Scripture out of this context of the invitation to sit at table with Jesus and to be incorporated into his labour and suffering for the Kingdom, and you will be treating Scripture as either simply an inspired supernatural guide for individual conduct or a piece of detached historical record – the typical exaggerations of Biblicist and liberal approaches respectively,” he said.

“For the former, the work of the Spirit is more or less restricted to the transformation of the particular believer; for the latter, the life of the community is where the Spirit is primarily to be heard and discerned, with Scripture an illuminating adjunct at certain points.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/16/ngays116.xml