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Updated: 06/26/02

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"Dead Until Dark"
by Charlaine Harris

sweep up

red, white and blue

Wednesday, 26 June, 2002

A federal appeals court declared today that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of the words "under God" added by Congress in 1954. The court said the phrase amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which requires a separation of church and state. The ruling, if allowed to stand, means schoolchildren can no longer recite the pledge, at least in the nine Western states covered by the court.

The appeals court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has said students cannot be compelled to recite the pledge. But even when the pledge is voluntary, "the school district is nonetheless conveying a message of state endorsement of a religious belief when it requires public school teachers to recite, and lead the recitation of, the current form of the pledge."

White House spokesperson Ari Fleisher noted, "The Supreme Court itself begins each of its sessions with the phrase 'God save the United States and this honorable court.' The Declaration of Independence refers to God or to the Creator four different times. Congress begins each session of the Congress each day with a prayer, and of course our currency says, 'In God We Trust.'

[I wonder what would happen if they decided our currency was unconstitutional?]

As expected, there was indeed another strange story out of Scotland.

LONDON (AP) - Master of mangled meter, writer of ridiculous rhyme, Scotland's bard of the banal, William Topaz McGonagall is being feted by his adopted city of Dundee, 100 years after his death.

Dundee's City of Discovery campaign, which promotes the delights of the city 40 miles north of Edinburgh, has decided to play up its connections with the man celebrated by many as the world's worst poet the Scot whose subtle style has bequeathed to literature such gems as "The Tay, the Tay, the Silvery Tay, flows from Perth to Dundee every day." They plan to inscribe the bridge over the Tay with his words.

"His appalling use of meter and rhyme and his unshakable self-belief have endeared him to the hearts of thousands of fans all over the world," said Mervyn Rolfe, chief executive of the Dundee Chamber of Commerce and head of the City of Discovery campaign.

He wrote more than 200 poems on everything from famous Scottish battles to Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. He was paid for his work just once, for a Sunlight Soap commercial that read, "You can use it with great pleasure and ease/Without wasting any elbow grease/And when washing the most dirty clothes/The sweat will not be running from your nose."

[Between McGonagall, the UFOs and the chicken hypnotist, we're going to need a whole week in Scotland next time.]

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Quote du jour:

"How poetry comes to the poet is a mystery."

-- Elizabeth Drew (1935 - ____) US journalist, commentator

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