This is our archive of news items tagged USA.

 memo You'll find articles about that subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

US Couple Threatened With $500-Per-Meeting Fines For Home Bible Study

A couple in San Juan Capistrano, California, has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a “church” and not as a private gathering.

The local CBS affiliate reports

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people”.

That type of meeting would require a conditional use permit as defined by the city, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the couple’s legal representation.

The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further “religious gatherings” in their home, according to PJI.

“We’re just gathering and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship. And we enjoy studying God’s word.” Stephanie Fromm told CBS2. […]

Neighbors have written letters to the city in support of the Fromms, whom they said have not caused any disturbances with the meetings, according to PJI.

“The Fromm case further involves regular meetings on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons with up to 50 people, with impacts on the residential neighborhood on street access and parking,” City Attorney Omar Sandoval said.

The city of San Juan Capistrano was founded as a mission in the late 1700s by Catholic priest Junipero Serra, who established a local chapel that remains the oldest standing building in California.

“Imposing a heavy-handed permit requirement on a home Bible study is outrageous,” said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute — a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.

The Los Angeles Times says

The Fromms could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

But Brad Dacus, an attorney and PJI president, said the Bible study groups create no parking problems on the Fromms’ semi-rural street, which has properties measuring more than an acre.

The city “needed some kind of rational basis to justify their rigid intolerance towards this family for having a Bible study in their home,” said Dacus, who added that he is acting as the Fromms’ spokesman.

Dacus said the city should refund the fine and apologize to the Fromms.

“This matter could be resolved very easily,” he said.

Otherwise, he said, PJI is “committed to defending this family’s home Bible study all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.”

Dacus said more than 20 Bible study groups meet in San Juan Capistrano.

Wikileaks


Nazis Were Given ‘Safe Haven’ in U.S., Report Says

A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.

The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades.

It describes the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, part of whose scalp was kept in a Justice Department official’s drawer; the vigilante killing of a former Waffen SS soldier in New Jersey; and the government’s mistaken identification of the Treblinka concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.

The report catalogs both the successes and failures of the band of lawyers, historians and investigators at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was created in 1979 to deport Nazis.

Perhaps the report’s most damning disclosures come in assessing the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement with Nazi émigrés. Scholars and previous government reports had acknowledged the C.I.A.’s use of Nazis for postwar intelligence purposes. But this report goes further in documenting the level of American complicity and deception in such operations. [Read more...]

George Bush’s human rights violations

Human rights experts have long pressed the administration of former president George W. Bush for details of who bore ultimate responsibility for approving the simulated drownings of CIA detainees, a practice that many international legal experts say was illicit torture.

In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

In his book, titled “Decision Points,” Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was “Damn right” and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives, according to someone close to Bush who has read the book.

George W. Bush: Torturer in Chief.

Red Cross: America practiced tortureRoutine and systematic torture is at the heart of America’s war on terrorThe horrors really are your America, Mr BushPoll: On torture, evangelicals not looking to Bible, doctrine • George Bush has claimed to be a Christian — a follower of Jesus Christ, and many people who also consider themselves to be ‘Christians’ believe him. Yet he lied about the fact that America — under his leadership and with his approval — tortured people. He tried to redefine torture, but torture by any other name is just as vile. Christians who support that kind of behavior — and those kind of leaders – are not followers of Jesus Christ, since their very behaviour shows they do not even know Him. • National Religious Campaign Against Torture

And then there’s this… • US defends human rights record before UN body [Read more...]

God in America

God in America,” a three-night joint production from “Frontline” and “American Experience” that begins Monday night, blends two subjects that most folks avoid in polite company — religion and politics. It compellingly presents an American history that has been alternately ruined and elevated by faith, the Washington Post writes.
“God in America” takes the long view and visits familiar territory: Our nation’s history is one of emphatic and often cruel Christian principle, rescued repeatedly from theocracy and other fundamentalist blunders by the intellectual heroics of the founding fathers, Abraham Lincoln and other non-divine interventions of common sense.

Or, because this is PBS, “God in America” can be seen a whole other way: Without its spiritual firmament, the nation would have merely been a collection of immigrants and ideas, but lacking a . . . soul.

(No word on how a nation that claims to be so spiritual manages to keep committing human rights violations ranging from torture to the death penalty, and from secret renditions to waging illegal wars). [Read more...]