The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on August 2, 2005 · A13
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · A13

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Tuesday, August 2, 2005
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A13
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Filename: A13-MAIN-AJCD0802-AJCD Date/Time created: Aug 1 2005 9:12:39:216PM Username: SPEED10 AJCD0802 Tuesday, Aug 02, 2005 MAIN 1 3 A AJCD 1 3 A 1 3 A $EGL+*A3))*=4$ 4 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005 A1 3 Cyan Magenta Yellow Black *SUZ21OA001KB* Cyan Magenta Yellow Black AJCD Filename: A13-MAIN-AJCD0802-AJCD By LANIER SWANN While he had previously claimed to support President Bush’s policy on federal funding for embyronic stem cell research, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) flip-flopped last week. He spoke at length on the Senate floor about his concerns with the current policy that restricts federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, a failed science that is structured around the destruction of human life. It is mystery to us how the senator could claim that he believes life begins at conception and then immediately contradict that statement by adding, “I also believe embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported.” It certainly gives one pause in trusting his commitment to the sanctity of life. While we respect the senator’s desire to support a science that offers hope to ailing patients, we want to remind him respectfully that such hope already exists through the numerous advancements in adult stem cell research. While embryonic stem cell research has yet to yield one result, more than 65 diseases have already been successfully treated through the safe and morally unquestionable research of adult stem cells. Adult stem cell research offers the promise of cures, not the mere “dream” Frist spoke of last week. A dream of cures through embryonic stem cell research is a nightmare for the unborn. For years we have focused on educating both Congress and the public on the great strides that have been made for human cures using adult stem cell research. We continue to support the president in his principled stand for human life and for the magnificent work of the medical community through their progress with adult stem cells. By JENNIFER BURK Somehow I’ve entered a profession where everyone thinks I’m a liar with my own political agenda. Well, maybe not everyone, but from the looks of recent letters to the editor, some of The Atlanta Journal- Constitution’s readers do, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not just them. In response to Public Editor Angela Tuck’s column “Federal shield law would let journalists do their jobs” (@issue, July 9), several readers wrote the newspaper expressing their distrust of American journalists. As a rising senior at the University of Georgia majoring in newspapers and a reporting intern at the AJC, reading those letters saddened me. In the wake of several high- profile reporters plagiarizing or fabricating stories, it seems newspapers must no longer maintain credibility but rather try to earn it. On almost a daily basis I am confronted with this fact. Recently I covered an event and interviewed some of the participants. When I was finished interviewing a woman, she laughed and said that she might see quotes other than her own associated with her name in the paper. After getting over my initial shock, I said, “You better not. If you do, you should give me a call because I have some explaining to do.” If that were a rare occurrence, I would have been more surprised by the woman’s remark. But it seems readers and the people we interview just expect journalists to get it wrong — whether it be facts, quotes or the spelling of names. I enter this profession with every intention to get it right. If I don’t understand something, I ask for it to be explained again. I ask everyone to spell his or her name for me. If I’m unsure of a quote, I don’t use it. That’s not to say I’ve never made a mistake. But can anyone honestly say he has never messed up at work? Journalists are human, too. I know many of my colleagues share my desire never to have to fill out a correction form. Listening to my fellow interns and classmates talk, I hear a passion for this profession and the will to do good in it. We want to tell you something you didn’t know. We want to watch over the bigwigs, so you don’t have to. We want to tell you the unbiased truth, so you can make deci - sions based on your interpretation of what we’ve given you. Fair and accurate reporting can raise awareness about what’s going on in the community. The AJC was the first to report that Ralph Reed, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, knew the money used for an anti- gambling campaign came from Indian tribes with rival casinos. AJC reporter Patti Ghezzi revealed that the former DeKalb County schools superintendent, Johnny Brown, was paid $160,000 for doing nothing. Some people are skeptical of our intentions. Maybe you’re one of them. I still believe, however, that journalists want to be fair, honest and accurate. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. So I’ll work my hardest to earn your trust. I hope you believe me. By CAROL MEGATHLIN When the great, grinding maw of war spits something indigestible up onto the sands of civilized life, it’s almost impossible not to sidle over and examine the object. So it is that the residents of Savannah, host city to a large military presence, are gazing at news photos of the square-jawed, soldierly face of Sgt. Kevin Benderman — 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart— and wondering “coward, or man with a bad sense of timing?” Benderman served six months in Iraq in 2003. Then, 10 days before his unit was to leave for a second deployment in Iraq, he decided to apply for conscientious objector status. On Jan. 8, 2005, he didn’t show up for his flight to Iraq, and the men under his command left without their sergeant. The military smelled cowardice. Army officials charged him with desertion and “missing movement” and won a conviction on the lesser charge of missing movement. Benderman was sentenced to 15 months in prison, busted to private and dishonorably discharged from the Army. It’s easy to understand why a soldier would not want to return to the hellhole of Iraq. But the bold step of not showing up at the plane when his unit shipped out had to have been rooted in something dramatic. A nervous breakdown, perhaps, or a stunningly traumatic experience during his first deployment? Maybe a profound religious epiphany. So I went online to try to find out what drove this 10-year veteran of the Army to maneuver himself into military prison. What I discovered, in his own words, were earnest declarations on the “insanity” of war: “When you contemplate the beauty of the world around us and the gifts we have been given, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this what humanity is meant to do, wage war against one another?’ ” “I cannot tell anyone else how to live his or her life, but I have determined how I want to live mine — by not participating in war any longer, as I feel that it is stupid and also that it is against everything that is good about the world.” “I have learned that I have done things that are not to the benefit to mankind and that to continue in that vein would be detrimental to my growth as a human being. And now that I have seen the errors of my ways, wouldn’t it be prudent to change the way I conduct myself? Why should I continue with what I see as self- destructive behavior?” Yes, well. The battlefield is a great clarifier of convictions. Of course, even volunteer soldiers are allowed to change their minds, but timing — not to mention a responsibility to one’s fellow soldiers — is everything. Obviously, war is a savage, dehumanizing business and a poor way to resolve disputes. We can only hope, as Benderman does, that in time it will go the way of slavery and human sacri - fice. But right now individual soldiers cannot flout rules of procedure and simply walk off the battlefield. The Army is stronger for expelling those whose first duty is to themselves. Thank God for the soldiers who felt much the same way Benderman did but got on the plane for Iraq anyway. They are the bedrock upon which our nation rests: men and women who keep their hearts constant and their doubts to themselves. Soldiers who live the meaning of duty and honor and sacrifice. Because of the character of the American people and the nature of the government we fight to preserve, our country is big enough for the Bendermans. And for the widows of men who, throughout our history, have marched off to war though they knew it would be detrimental to their growth as human beings. Sleep well in your civilian life, Benderman. The 3rd Infantry Division is awake. MORE INFORMATION AND OPINIONS ON TODAY’S TOPICS: An opinion column discusses the case of Sgt. Kevin Benderman. For more information: EQUAL TIME Opponents of voter IDs thrive on fear This column is solicited to provide another viewpoint to an AJC editorial published today. To respond to an AJC editorial, contact David Beasley at dbeasley@ajc.com or call 404-526-7371. Responses should be no longer than 600 words. Not all responses can be published. Published responses may be republished and made available in the AJC or other databases and electronic formats. ➤ ONLINE: A Matter of Conscience: www.antiwar.com/orig/benderma n.php?articleid=4455 One Soldier’s Fight to Legalize Morality: www.onlyvolun teers.blogspot.com/ ➤ BOOKS: “The Strength Not to Fight,” by James Tollefson Tie Atlanta Journal-Constitution @ issue As is routine in life, many of our most bitter arguments are about something other than what we’re arguing about. So it is with voter ID. Black Democrats simply cannot be arguing on merit against a system that asks voters to positively establish their identity at the polling place. And they aren’t. They’re arguing for the right to be aggressors today — as they were in ruthlessly conspiring with white Democrats to rid the Legislature of Republicans — and victims tomorrow, entitled to safe seats under U.S. Justice Department protection. Retaining that power over Republicans and white Democrats requires extending the punitive and discriminatory pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That provision was expected to last no more than five years. It has now extended to 40 — and activists are pressing Congress to extend it another 25 when some provisions are due to expire a year from now. Extending it 25 years would continue to feed the microphone-grabbers who gain financially and politically by stoking the fears of the ignorant and insecure that elements of another race wish to do them harm. We have, unfortunately in this country, created an industry that prospers by selling racial pessimism, by convincing those on the economic and intellectual margins that their condition can never improve. Voter fraud is real. Atlanta attorney Harry W. MacDougald, a Republican member of the Fulton County Board of Registrations and Elections, testified during the legislative debate. “Our experience in Fulton County is typical of the problem and illustrates why a photo ID requirement is a good idea,” he said. “We received 2,456 voter registration applications that appear to be entirely fraudulent.” Those were discovered because the board sent letters to 8,112 applicants whose registration forms had missing information. Of those, the board got only 55 responses. “That is a response rate of 0.678 percent,” MacDougald said. “That is a non-response rate of 99.32 percent. Thus, almost all of them were bogus.” Between the primary and general election last year, Fulton got 45,907 new registrations. When precinct cards were mailed to addresses just provided, 3,071 were returned as undeliverable. Of those, 921 people actually voted in November. Another Republican member, Atlanta attorney J. Randolph Evans, argued that because Georgia’s electronic voting system provides no audit trail, the implications of voter fraud are even more serious. “Once the ‘cast ballot’ button is touched, the ballot is transmitted into a collective pool without a trace.” One safety valve legislators approved for elderly voters and others who may not have photo IDs is no-excuse absentee voting. That is in addition to agreeing to provide free state-issued photo IDs to those who say they can’t afford to pay. That no-excuse absentee voting option has, not surprisingly, given ammunition to critics who say Georgia’s worst history of voter fraud is in absentee voting, not fraudulent registration. “For those willing to commit fraud, there is a paper trail with absentee ballots which does not exist with electronic voting,” argued Evans. “In addition to the request for the absentee ballot, as well as the other records maintained, the ballot itself serves as a paper record. If challenged, and found to be fraudulent, the ballot can itself be removed before being cast.” Because of that, “the absentee ballot is safer and more secure than a paperless electronic voting system where there is no effective remedy once a vote has been cast.” Fully 80 percent of Georgians are satis - fied with a photo ID voting requirement — and, in truth, getting state-issued photo IDs for those who don’t already have them is nothing more than a civic club or voter- registration group project. As of February, 6,675,100 voting-age Georgians had either a driver’s license or a state-issued photo ID. That’s 2,260,437 more than were on the state’s voter registration rolls. Whatever the numbers, some undoubtedly will be required to get photo IDs, unless they choose to continue voting absentee. It’s not a major problem. The tactics in this campaign against photo IDs are a bit like arguing that people are starving, but instead of providing food, the concerned citizenry marches to protest hunger. ➤ Jim Wooten is the associate editorial page editor. His column appears Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. NEW ATTITUDES New Attitudes is a weekly opinion column written by readers between the ages of 15-22. E-mail submissions or questions to dbeasley@ajc.com or call 404-526-7371. Carol Megathlin is a writer living in Savannah. HOW TO SUBMIT AN OPINION COLUMN: Submissions should be 750 words or less. e-mail columns to dbeasley@ajc.com; fax them to 404-526-5610. Columns submitted to the AJC may be published, republished and made available in the AJC or other databases and electronic formats. Lanier Swann is director of government relations for the nonprofit Concerned Women for America. Jennifer Burk of Peachtree City attends the University of Georgia. War is hell; so is dishonesty STEPHEN MORTON/ Associated Press Army mechanic Sgt. Kevin Benderman enters a military courtroom for his court-martial Thursday at Fort Stewart. Journalists must earn trust, and I will Readers and people we interview just expect journalists to get it wrong. JIM WOOTEN jwooten@ajc.com MY OPINION Adult stem cells offer hope without killing the unborn

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