April 14, 2005 | 1:16 p.m. ET | Monica Crowley

MSNBC TV
I spent last night with five amazing men.  Their names?  Simon, Nick, John, Andy and Roger. Now, before you start thinking this is some sort of scandal, let me take you back to 1983.

I was a typical American teenage girl, who was sent swooning over five boys from England called Duran Duran. Like just about every other girl my age, I was obsessed with them, spending countless hours listening to their exuberant pop music: “Rio,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Save a Prayer.” But I spent an even greater amount of time drooling over their photos and praying that one day I'd be Mrs. Roger Taylor. Like God had nothing better to do than to arrange a marriage between a British pop star and a 15-year-old kid from New Jersey. But hope sprang eternal, and I plastered my locker, bedroom walls, and school notebooks with pictures of Duran Duran.

I saw them perform at Madison Square Garden back in the 80s and was in heaven. They were, at that moment, the biggest band the world. Then, of course, the inevitable: the band split up. I grew up. 

But you never forget your first celebrity crush, and I still followed the boys— and then last year, they announced the original lineup was getting back together.

I saw them again, and even got to meet them.  And you know what?  They were just as I’d imagined:  hunky, polite, but a bit aloof. In other words, rock stars.

Ron makes fun of Monica's "Duran Duran" rave.
Last night, I saw them play at the Garden again. And something struck me: Duran Duran never did anything pioneering, like the Beatles. Or turned out legendary stuff like The Grateful Dead. Or “important” rock and roll, like the Rolling Stones. But Duran Duran did something else: They made music that is pure, unadulterated happiness. Nothing profound or sophistisicated. Just happy, and that’s no small thing. 

So Simon, Nick, John, Andy and Roger,  thanks for making music that has made me happy for over 20 years.  Last night, I was a 15-year-old girl again.  And I wasn't the only one. As the boys took the stage, I was surrounded by the familiar shrieks of teenage girls.  Only this time, the girls were 30-something women, who, just for one more fleeting moment, left reality behind, and dreamt of being Mrs. Simon LeBon.

MCrowley@MSNBC.com.

April 14, 2005 | 12:25 p.m. ET

School house snitches

There used to be students who “told” on their friends were ostracized—you know,  forced to sit alone in the cafeteria.  But we live in a different world now,  one in which school shootings and gang activity are sadly all too common.

So, one school in Rome, Georgia is fighting back. And officials there are getting some help from their students. Well, make that their student informants.

“Model high school” is now paying students who snitch about campus crime. Information about a theft gets you $10, drug possession $25 to $50, and gun possession, $100.

The reward money comes from candy and soda sales within the school.

Principal Glenn White is very enthusiastic saying, “It’s a proactive move for getting information that will help deter any sort of illegal activity.” But some of the students are questioning the logic behind the program.

Senior Jaime Parris told one reporter he wonders if anyone would snitch about non-violent crimes

‘”But if it’s not going to hurt other people, I don’t think many people are going to tell on their friends.”

Your e-mails

Schoolhouse Snitch programs have the right idea, but the wrong implemetation. It's not a stretch to say the many school kids would make up stories for a few bucks. Parents should be installing the morals in their kids to help administration in dangerous situations even if they aren't being paid! Teachers have their part in this moral building as well, but it all starts at home and crosses all political lines.
—Dave, Mich.

Okay, let's all be good little nazis and teach our children to tell authorities everything, and get rewarded.  I can see where this could be vehicle for lies and revenge, and get rewarded for it.
—Judi Slover, Tampa Fla.

If your guest says that his students are good, then why did he have to offer money before the ‘snitches’ came out of the wood work? So tell me. Do the school ‘crimes’ have to be proved before the rewards are given out? Or can Johnny falsely accuse a fellow student he doesn’t like  for $50?
—Dan Smith, Marble, Colo.

I am kind of surprised that your conversative host would be for rewarding for snitching since morally you should be doing this without being rewarded. Secondly, being an ex-police officer when I hear some boost that they made 80 arrests the first year I tend to wonder what's happening in that school or town - arrest usually just mask a problem, drive it down for awhile but never solves the underlying issues which cause it in the first place. Like a perscription drug that doesn't cure but rather covers the symptoms. This reward thing scares me - what are we creating in our youth? Another arm of the Patriot Act?
—Doug Sharlow, Ojai, Calif.

April 13, 2005 | 5:41 p.m. ET

DeLay's dilemmas

House Majority Leader Tom Delay spent the day on Capitol Hill fighting for his political future... and blamed his troubles on a vast Left wing conspiracy .

Sound familiar?

Today, DeLay had a luncheon with leaders of his party.  He’s looking to address Republican rumblings calling for him to answer more questions. He seemed to get what he was looking for, with several high ranking GOP leaders speaking in his defense. But that may not be enough to satisfy Democrats. Some are pointing to DeLay’s troubles as sign of a bigger problem with abuse of power.

But before everyone piles on Tom DeLay, maybe it’s time we take a look at all of the others in Congress who often travel on someone else’s dime.

What do you think?

Your e-mails

I have only two things to say; Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. They were not caught until they were caught. Stop being naïve!  Remember the famous "I am not a crook" speech from Nixon.  Spiro Agnew denied any wrong doings all the way to resigning. Do we need another Woodward and Bernstein to uncover the truth?  Delay is not the first politician to abuse his position and will not be the last!   These people are out of the same pool of the population as everyone else.
—Wilberta Berry, Pittsburgh, Pa.

This tactic of "just blame it on the Dems" is getting old.  If I hear one more Republican talking about how the Dems don't like Delya because he's so EFFECTIVE, I will throw something.  Oh yes, I realize that Dems are evil and everything that is bad, while ethically challenged Republicans are merely being persecuted, but even the blind can see with their hands.  It's time for a little push back from the Dems against these "holier than thou" Republicans.
—Rae Ann Turcer, Fremont, Calif.

What Tom Delay did is way worse then what Trent Lott did. What Lott did was say some words that should not say. But Delay did Is break the rules at every turn he makes.
—Joe Petitjean, Rayne,La

This Delay controversy is just a small part of a problem that exists in the greatest government system in the world.  Unfortunately our government allows engagements with politicians that have a conflict of interest.  Bottom line: The act of a party, profit, or non-profit, engaging in any way with a politician, where the party has an interest in that politicians' position on any topic for any reason, should be illegal. It is not currently.
—Rami, Falls Church, Va.

April 13, 2005 | 1:11 p.m. ET

The politics in divorce

The next presidential election is three years away, but as you might suspect, there’s already plenty of speculation on just who will run in 2008.

So when Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold announced he was divorcing his wife of 14 years , the talk quickly turned to how this  might impact a potential bid for the presidency.

The Feingolds say their split is amicable, but there’s already a debate underway on the Internet, on whether a twice-divorced candidate can be a legitimate presidential contender. While Feingold has never said he will seek the presidency, several websites have sprung up urging him to. And even among his strongest supporters, there is  a split on the impact of his divorce.

Would a person's divorce make you less likely to support him or her for president? And are we asking too much from our public servants by expecting their personal lives to be untarnished?

Your e-mails

If a candidate treated his or her spouse unfairly during marriage and then divorced them, it would certainly make me think twice about voting for that candidate. Clinton was sneaky, but he went to great lengths to spare his family. The GOP's Rudy Giuliani had no respect at all for his family's feelings, he cheated proudly in front of everyone.
—Kathleen Herczeg, Monroe, N.Y.

There's been only one divorced president and that was Ronald Reagan. Everyone on the right forgave him. Why not Feingold?
—Justin Tillinghast

The only time I've cared about a politician being divorced or remarried was when they were debating the Marriage Protection Act. Why should we listen to some twice-divorced hypocrite preaching about the "sanctity" of marriage?  I voted for a remarried candidate last November and I'd do it again in '08, as long as they are the best candidate.
—Rebecca, Ind.

No one votes for a president's wife and why should we as taxpayers pay for her trips just so a president can get her out from under foot? Bess Truman was the best presidential wife ever. She stayed away from the white house and out of politics.
—Anonymous

What about Rudy? Twice divorced and moving his girlfriend into the mayor's mansion while still married?  He’s a poster child for Republican family values.
—Joanne Mitchell, Munster Ind.

April 13, 2005 | 12:08 p.m. ET

Are 'Revelations' dangerous? (Ron Reagan)  

By now you’ve seen the promos: Tonight begins six weeks and six episodes of “Revelations” on NBC.

The mini-series stars actor Bill Pullman, portaying a Harvard professor who teams with a nun investigate signs of the coming of armageddon.

Oh, it’s a good-versus-evil story, complete with supernatural special effects, and lots of skeptic vs. believer tension. It even takes on current events, capitalizing on the Terri Schiavo controversy with a character, a young girl, who is declared brain-dead after being struck by lighting (but some say she’s alive) and is speaking the word of God.

But if you’re looking for a movie based in biblical fact, think again.: This is standard Hollywood fare. Even the creators admit truth wasn’t pivotal to this project.

Some warn that a mini-series, based on a book many people treat as fact, is misleading, and even dangerous. Jerry Jenkins, co-authored of those rapture-inspired “Left Behind” books, calls the miniseries “a mishmash of myth, silliness and misrepresentations of scripture (which) seems to draw from everywhere and nowhere.” 

But in a world where “Joan of Arcadia” brings in big ratings, and “The DaVinci Code” is a national bestseller... you might ask, what’s the big deal?

Your e-mails

Have you never heard of Orson Wells?  He put in all kinds of disclaimers in his War of the Worlds, but people still looked to the skies to see the Martians.  People believe what they want to and ignore whatever is said against them.
—CrossPJ

The problem we have today isn't the confusion of the Bible with fiction - it's the confusion of the Bible with fact. The Bible itself is more a work of historical fiction than it is a documentary, much like the Illiad. Perhaps we should be concerned about the people who take the Bible too seriously first. We can worry about people who take Bible-based entertainment too seriously later.
—Aaron, Savannah, Ga.

If more people would realize the Bible is also entertainment then everyone would be much better informed.
—Larry P.

It is not and should not be the responsibility of artists, writers, entertainers and other presenters to ensure that audiences "understand" the meaning of a presentation or that they not "misinterpret" what they are seeing and hearing. 

It is our resonsibility as viewers and listeners to use our brains and our individual beliefs and disbeliefs, and knowledge of what's factual and what isn't, to decide how we respond to TV, movies, books, speeches, and all other forms of communication to which we are exposed each day.
—Al Wright

Anyone that takes it seriously needs some help --  some serious help....did they believe that Christopher Reeves was actually flying in the movie Superman, that aliens actually attacked us (and Will Smith) in Independence Day... I hope not...  We need to stop protecting stupid people in this country by placing warnings and disclaimers on everything... Now I'm going to go outside and try to spin a spiderweb from my wrists and climb the wall!
—Baend, Laramie, Wyo.

April 11, 2005 | 6:05 p.m. ET   

Culture of life? (Ron Reagan)

Despite all the contentiousness over the Bush administration's so-called "culture of life," you'd think there'd be one thing everyone could agree on: keeping little babies safe from harm.
We may not be able to protect them from all of life's calamities but we certainly wouldn't, say, deliberately expose tiny infants to dangerous poisons.

Or maybe we would.

Some of the deadliest poisons on earth are to be found in pesticides. Numerous studies have come to the unsurprising conclusion that exposure to these toxins is not particularly good for you and even less healthy for tiny children. But these studies— for reasons I trust are obvious— were carried out using rats and such not actual babies.

Enter the American Chemistry Council, a trade group that shills for pesticide makers, and our very own Environmental Protection Agency. Upset that pesticides were getting a bad rap and apparently undaunted by the spectre of Josef Mengele, they launched what was meant to be a two year study in Duval county, Florida using, yep, real infants.

In exchange for $970, a camcorder and free bib and T-shirt, parents of infants between 9 and 12 months and younger than 3 months were required to routinely spray pesticides in their homes.

Presumably, chemical industry scientists would later be able to reassure a confused public that lethal toxins and small infants are, in fact, made for each other.

Fortunately, some Congressional Democrats took exception to this and threatened to derail the nomination of Stephan Johnson as new EPA chief. Johnson, having considered what his head might look like on a pike, cancelled the retro-Nazi adventure, "In light of questions about the study design."

Yes, those nagging questions, like "Have you lost your mind?"

Pesticides: They're not just for breakfast anymore.

And those are our tax dollars at work.

E-mail RReagan@MSNBC.com.

April 8, 2005 | 6:05 p.m. ET   

C is for cookie (Monica Crowley)

For 35 years, Sesame Street's Cookie Monster has inhaled perhaps millions of cookies, all without gaining a pound. Maybe that's why the folks over at Sesame Street have made the executive decision to have the Cookie Monster start talking about eating vegetables .  And he's even got a new song, "A cookie is a sometimes food!"

What?

No it's not. Not for my blue furry friend! C is for cookie, not for carrots or cauliflower of collard greens or corn!

The grown-ups at "Sesame Street" say he'll still consume sugar— but now only in moderation.

Come, on. Some monsters can't be tamed! What's next? "Anger management" classes for Oscar the Grouch?

Yes, childhood obesity numbers are on the rise...  and "Sesame Street" should be applauded for trying to make kids healthier.  But being a kid isn't about counting calories or cutting carbs...
there's time to worry about that later. The Cookie Monster's charm is in his cookie eating. It's his job description! 

Please, PBS.  Create a character like the "Salad King" or the "Broccoli Princess."  But please leave the Cookie Monster be the Cookie Monster.

MCrowley@MSNBC.com.


April 8, 2005 | 5:55 p.m. ET   

Where have all the icons gone (Ron Reagan)

Last summer brought the passing of my father and a reminder that the Cold war was long gone.

A few months later, Middle East politics would be forever changed with the death of Yasser Arafat.

In January, the entertainment world mourned the loss of Johnny Carson and a television era without a thousand channels fighting for your attention.

The music world said goodbye to Ray Charles and perhaps, to a pre-MTV era when musical substance ruled over style.

Time passes. Memories fade. Familiar faces are suddenly missing.

But it is the passing of generational icons that remind us how the wheel turns. This makes us wonder, where will we find the next generation of giants?

Your e-mails

Have we forgotten about sports icons?  How about Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, or Joe Montana?  Babe Ruth, Dale Earnhardt and Arnold Palmer also come to mind.  Sometimes these people made us forget about the hardships in the world around us, and made the whole country come together in celebration.
--Anonymous

Your piece about losing icons made me cry because this is something that has been bothering me since Johnny Carson died.  It bothered me before that but something about him going just got to me and I thought all the great ones are gone. All the people I loved are gone. What happens now?  I didn't realize I was not the only one that felt this way.  Thank you for that.  I love the show.
--Pat in Clearwater

A 20th century icon still with us whose passing will be felt worldwide is: Muhammad Ali.
--Rich Harris, Hornell, N.Y.

I agree with Morgan Fairchild, it's a different time.  Much more complex, more populated. More ways of communication technology-wise. Marketing was not there…as it is today.  It's an icon competitive world.
-Patrick Jude

April 8, 2005 | 1:05 p.m. ET   

John Paul the Great (Ron Reagan)

It was an emotional final display of faith, for the man some are now calling “John Paul the Great.”

Dignitaries and pilgrims from all nations stood side by side in Saint Peter's Square,  differences aside, together in mourning. It's a true testament to the power of this pope and his ability to unite people, even in death.

It began with a Gregorian chant, “Grant him eternal rest, o Lord” as the coffin of Pope John II was brought out from Saint Peter's Basilica. It was a simple box, made of cyprus, adorned with a cross, and the letter "m" for the Virgin Mary. Placed on the steps overlooking the square, the wind lifted the pages of the Gospel that rested on top.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided over the emotional mass in heavily accented Italian, frequently interrupted by applause, as he recalled the legacy of this beloved pope.

Presidents, kings and queens joined some 300,000 pilgrims to say goodbye. Polish flags flapped in the breeze, and chants of “Santo! Santo!” or saint, echoed throughout the crowd.

When the mass ended, the bells tolled and the coffin was returned to Saint Peter's for burial in the basilica grotto... close to the final resting place of the very first pope, the apostle Peter.

Your e-mails

I could only watch in awe at the sight of all those people and all those flags today. People from all over the world treating each other with love and dignity was the most amazing picture of the global village I've ever seen in almost fifty years. The Pope's greatest gift, however, is the example of what one man with a pure passion can achieve given strength and conviction enough.
—Gail Briscoe Beckham, Tallahassee, Fla.

I have a question about coverage of the Pope. Why was there was no coverage by the media of Black American Catholics? To the press was this a white occasion. Makes me wonder.
—Anonymous, Miami Fla.

The Pope was a great person, but the non-stop coverage of his passing on every news channel on top of the non-stop coverage of Terri Schiavo is scary. I am really tired of the media hype and one topic coverage. —Anonymous

Religion is a huge lie. Focusing on man-made rituals and looking forward to a better life in “Heaven” takes focus away from the realities of this world. Instead of teaching children that they’re “sinful” and need to be forgiven to avoid eternal torture, we should teach them to love themselves, each other, and the wonderful biosphere we call “Earth.”
—Mark Speciale, Santa Barbara Calif.

For those of us who are not Catholic we have been very respectful on the death of the Pope, but there are other issues in the world like our troops, our national dept, and skyrocketing gas prices. In other words what is effecting us as a nation!
—Anonymous

The Pope was only buried this morning, and there is still a glow surrounding him. When do you think an honest discussion about his ineffectual response to the sexual abuse of children by American priests will take place?
—JZ, Ohio

April 7, 2005 | 6:39 p.m. ET   

Universally mourned (Monica Crowley)

MSNBC TV
You could say Friday will be a true testament to Pope John Paul II's power— not only a religious leader, but also as an international diplomat.

His funeral will be attended by four kings, five queens, and at least 70 presidents. And remember, quite a few of these political leaders have long histories of hostile exchanges with one another.

The United States will mourn alongside Iran, Israel with Syria, and Zimbabwe with Britain. And while Cuba's Fidel Castro will not be in attendance, Cuba's National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon will be there as will U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who once called his country an “outpost of tyranny.”

It's an amazing thing— these leaders, who sometimes won't talk to each other, but who would talk to the pope.  And now, they will risk those possibly awkward encounters to pay their final respects.

Maybe Former President George H.W. Bush put it best when he said: “The conviction he had about humankind, about life and about peace—it just shone through.”

Rest in peace, Pope John Paul II.

MCrowley@MSNBC.com


April 7, 2005 | 5:40 p.m. ET   

Challenging stop-loss

For nearly 14,000 U.S. soliders fighting in Iraq, their time in the U.S. army should be up. But the military needs them a bit longer. They're being held in the service under emergency wartime orders from the Pentagon. Now, an Oregon National Guardsman is fighting back.

Emiliano Santiago officially ended his original eight year service commitment in June of 2004. But the National Guard told Santiago that he was being reactivated and sent back overseas—and that his enlistment was extended until Christmas of 2031. Santiago sued the Department of Defense.

A circuit court judge ruled against him and yesterday his case was heard before an Appellate court. Santiago is vowing to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

In the meantime, he will deploy to Afghanistan tomorrow pending a decision on his appeal.  The stop-loss policy was first used in the Gulf War in 1991 to keep entire military units together so that inexperienced troops would not have to be deployed in the middle of battle.

Opponents of the policy liken it to a draft, a charge lobbied by John Kerry during last year's presidential campaign.

But in a statement released to us here at “Connected,” the army says:

“Bottom line is that stop-loss has everything to do with effective, cohesive units and nothing to do with increasing the number of people in the army. ...  We are using stop-loss to deploy and employ cohesive units, not to increase end strength. Teams win, and our soldiers, their families, America—and the Iraqis and Afghanis who depend on us, deserve nothing less.”

Your e-mails

National Gaurdsman can be stop-lossed until 2031?  Isn't that going to scare the hell out of a lot of potential soldiers.  I'm 28 and probably wouldn't be very effective at chasing terrorists through the desert when creeping up on 60!
—Mike McCullough, Chicago, Ill.

If you enlist in the military, you are potentially enlisting for life.  If the military has the option to indefinitely extend your enlistment they will always find a reason to do it if voluntary enlistments are down.  It sounds like a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
—T. Martin, Norfork, Ark.

The Army man who said the stop-loss orders were “not controversial” should tell that to all the young men and women who will now avoid the reserves like the plague because they know they could end up in some hell-hole like Iraq and cannot do anything about it. I can guarantee one thing; they will surely read the fine print much closer before they do agree to being subjected to a “back-door draft”.
—Larry Parker, Princeton, Tex.

Monica, I am a veteran. I usually agree with you point of view on most issues.  But, I cannot agreed with you on the military StopLoss policy.  These men/women and yes (families) deserve to be released from active duty according to the terms of their contractual agreements, in a close reasonable amount of time. Not kept as (forced) servants of the State.   Legal mumbo jumbo aside.  Republicans are setting themselves up for approx. 14,000 or more disguntled voters and their friends and families, maybe even for life, courtesy of D. Rumsfield.
—Calvin W., Fairfield, Calif.

April 7, 2005 | 12:42 p.m. ET  

A blow to the Republicans? (Ron Reagan)

It seems to have started going bad for the GOP with the Terri Schiavo debate. According to a NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll , a whopping 71 percent of Americans say Congress never should have gotten involved in that dispute.

About 35  percent of those questioned said the political debacle made them lose respect for President Bush. Pollster Bill McInturff even goes so far as to say the Schiavo case had an “anti-Midas” touch, hurting all who got too close. And it was the Republicans who got the closest.

And then there was that memo. Do you remember? There was an unsigned Republican list of Schiavo “talking points,” that mysteriously surfaced smack dab in the middle of this mess, advising that “this is a great political issue...and this is a tough issue for Democrats” and that “the pro-life base will be excited that the senate is debating this important issue.”

Well, we learned this morning that the memo came from an aide the office of Florida GOP Senator Mel Martinez,who expressed quote, “profound disappointment and regret” over the incident.

Well, now we know: if it looks, smells, and reads like political opportunism, it likely is political opportunism.

RReagan@MSNBC.com

April 6, 2005 | 6:05 p.m. ET

Ode to Spring (Monica Crowley in Washington D.C.)

MSNBC TV
It's been a long winter here on the east coast.  So much of the news these past few months has centered on death and dying: Terri Schiavo, the Pope's declining health.

The news seemed to reflect the weather: a couple of giant snow storms, frigid temperatures, and gray skies from late October until, well, today!

Spring has sprung in the Northeast— at last!

Here in our nation's capitol, temperatures are soaring into the high seventies today. That might not be news for those of you living in Key West, but for us snow bunnies, it really is something to cheer about. And then, of course, there are the world famous Washington cherry blossoms.

They came out yesterday in full force, greeting me this morning in all of their gorgeous pink and white splendor.

There is something about seeing those cherry blossoms that seems to put a bounce into every Washingtonian's step. I know I've got a bounce in my step, and I'm just visiting from New York!
So, after a dark season of snow and sleet, and bad and sad news, it's really wonderful to see everything around us coming back to life.

And if it sounds like I'm seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, well, I am— the rose color coming courtesy of those cherry blossoms. They can keep springtime in Paris. I much prefer springtime in America.

(Ron Reagan in Seattle, Washington)

Well out here in the other Washington, Washington State, spring is also springing in a particularly vibrant and multi-colored way.

Of course, we're no stranger to natural wonders out here— as we never tire of reminding our friends back east. So many pine-clad mountains; so many sparkling lakes and rivers. 

But every April, there's an extra burst of beauty in the form of tulips. North of Seattle, near the town of Mount Vernon in the fertile Skagit Valley, the season of death and sleep shrugs off its shroud with a colorful display worthy of the tie-dye booth at a Grateful Dead concert.

Reds, yellows, oranges and more in every variation nature can devise carpet nearly 1,000 acres of the valley, drawing visitors from far and near by the car-load, bus-load and even boat-load.
As you've noted, Monica, the world we humans create can be a grey and troubling place, but occasionally we do something extraordinary... like planting fields of tulips.

What a way to welcome the season of birth!

April 6, 2005 | 5:40 p.m. ET

The Catholic Church's stance on birth control

Pope John Paul II knew what he believed in— and it seemed that in his 26 years as head of the Catholic Church, he was unwavering.

When it came to taking a stand against communism, much of the world rallied to his side.  But there was often criticism  over his uncompromising stance on birth control. Opponents to the pope have long complained that his policy may have helped to contribute to the population problems in some parts of the world Consider the predicament of the mostly Catholic Philippines.

There, more than 50 percent of the population lives on less than two dollars per day. Condom use is almost nonexistent, leaving that country with one of the highest birth rates in the world.
In the next 30 years, the Philippines could see its population double from the current 84 million people!

Your thoughts on the Catholic Church's stance on birth control

I just watched the end of a segment you had with a Catholic Priest and a woman by the name of Kissling, I believe. As a practicing Roman Catholic, the problem with many people like Ms. Kissling is that they want to be believe that Catholic doctrine should be dictated by actions that seem "nice".  The problem with that thinking is that being a Christian, for the most part, is not an easy thing and sometimes you have to obey and not question. —Bill Van

An American Catholic can use oral contraceptives to ease painful menstruation.  An African cannot use a condom to save herlife.  There's a word for that difference.  It's not racism;it's genocide.—Frannie Schafer, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ron, You must make up your mind. A few days ago you were telling us starvation (Terri Schiavo's in particular) caused a state of euphoria.  Now we are supposed to promote condoms to lower the population and relieve starvation. Far be it from us to deprive them of their euphoria. —Pat Carlson, Lincoln, Neb.

Ron, I'm born and bread an Italian Catholic. I'd love to give the Father today my 5 kids for 1  month. He'd then know why I practice avid birth control and  don't have 6 kids. Let him walk a mile in my shoes before he preaches to me. Something I've resented with my church for a very long time. —Michelena, Los Angeles, Calif.

Women everywhere have earned the right to plan their families, decide on the size of their families, explore their reproductive options and choose for themselves.   Perhaps this man of God feels that we should go back to the early 60's when women had little choice in when/if they had more children - whether they could afford to or not.  —Dani, Fla.

Regarding the segment on birth control: speaking as a woman, until a man can conceive, carry and give birth to a child, they should shut up. bottom line is this is between the woman, her physician and God. period. —50-something woman in the Midwest

I find it funny how "True" Catholics are so against using condoms, because they prevent God's will, but are all for using feeding tubes even though they prevent God's will.  Both issues concern the use of man-made technology.  If "True" Catholics were consistant they would have the same stance on each. —Rob, N.J.

April 6, 2005 | 5:37 p.m. ET

Wild Wild Florida (Ron Reagan)

The wild, wild West could be coming to the state of Florida, and not just to Disney's “Frontierland.”

A bill passed yesterday in the Florida state legislature allows Florida residents to “meet force with force.” It allows people who feel threatened to defend themselves with a weapon— on the street, in a bar, at a baseball game or anywhere else without fear of prosecution.

The bill says Floridians have “The right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”

Calling it a “good, common sense anti-crime issue,” Governor Jeb Bush says he'll sign the bill into law.  It's a curious promise from the same governor who adamantly sought to create a “cultural of life” during the Terri Schiavo saga.

Not surprisingly, the measure was a top priority of the National Rifle Association in Florida this year. Supporters say the bill is no different from what most other states when it comes to self-defense. But critics argue the bill promotes violence: they warn that instead of trying to diffuse the tension— or walk  away— now you'll be able to settle things in Florida—Clint Eastwood style.

Obviously the "culture of life" means shoot-outs and legalized duals.  Since no one will address the real issues like gun control, maybe the NRA will support marksmanship and target practice in grade schools instead of physical education since no one will be required to run anymore. —Jim, Seattle, Wa.

I am a native Floridan, elderly and small in stature.  All my life I been bullied and either had to talk fast or run fast. With this new law I can pack heat and blow them bullies away. Thank you Florida legislature. —Henry Ellis

I found the news that Florida is now condoning it's citizens to use potentially dealdly force to be ridiculous. Of course one always has the right to defend themselves when there is no route of escape. But are we tipping our hats to overzelous gun-nuts who can't wait to pull out their weapon and act the part of John Wayne? Who's to blame when the innocent bystander is killed from a vigilante bullet? —Chris Rodriguez,
San Antonio, Tex.

I can't believe what a bad idea this law is .  I'm a jr. high teacher and mother of a son.  We tell our students to avoid conflict whenever possible - walk away, and  I teach my son the same thing.  There are times when people finish fights they don't start, but I believe it is the job of reasonable adults to encourage better behavior.  This law seems to undermine any attempt to teach restraint.  —Sally H.

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