Sunday, November 28, 2004


The Air Force Academy's longtime football coach has agreed to remove a Christian banner from the team's locker room after school administrators announced they would do more to fight religious intolerance. Coach Fisher DeBerry agreed Friday to remove the banner, which displayed the "Competitor's Creed," including the lines "I am a Christian first and last ... I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."

DeBerry put the banner up Wednesday to encourage the team, which has experienced one of its worst seasons in recent years, academy spokesman Lt. Col. Laurent Fox said.

A day earlier, academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa announced the school would do more religious tolerance training after some nonreligious cadets reported on a survey that they felt ostracized. Others reported hearing religious slurs or jokes.

Outgoing Air Force Secretary James Roche issued a statement Friday backing the academy's effort. "Our policy is clear. Tolerance of gender, racial, ethnic and religious diversity is required at our Air Force," Roche said.

In September, academy officials issued a memo explaining the government's e-mail policy after some staffers put biblical verses at the bottom of their e-mails. Some cadets were admonished in March for using academy e-mail accounts to encourage other people to see "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's movie about the crucifixion.



(He referred to homosexuals as "poofs")

Broadcaster John Laws, who has vowed to fight a formal finding that he vilified homosexuals, today dedicated a segment of his radio program to the defence of free speech. The NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal found comments by Laws and his 2UE colleague Steve Price were vilification under the Act and were not reasonable, even if done in good faith.

Laws used his program to deny he was anti-gay. "It's not going to be too long before I have to apologise for everything that may offend any individual, particularly if he or she is part of a minority group," he said, as music played in the background.

The tribunal's equal opportunity division proposed ordering both hosts to apologise or retract their comments but 2UE has vowed to appeal against the decision, saying it believes the law has been applied incorrectly.



A prominent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have overstated the number of obesity-related deaths in 2000 by as much as 20 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. An analysis of the study, which was released in March and predicted that obesity would surpass tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death, found that mathematical errors may have inflated the 2000 death toll attributed to obesity by 80,000, the Journal said. It sourced its report to CDC documents reviewed by the newspaper.

The CDC's chief of science, Dixie Snider, who is also leading the internal inquiry of the study, confirmed to the paper that the CDC will reduce the estimate of the number of deaths attributable to poor diet and lack of exercise, but he declined to say by how much, the paper said.

The study originally concluded that in 2000 there were nearly as many obesity-related deaths, at 400,000, as there were deaths related to tobacco use, at 435,000. The CDC launched an internal review of the study after researchers criticized its methodology in letters published in the journal Science. Snider told the paper the CDC would submit a correction to the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the original study.


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