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Powell’s Advocacy of Condom Use Has Religious Right Fuming

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

Secretary of State Colin Powell strongly advocated condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS Thursday, setting himself apart from President Bush’s views on sex education and angering some of the president’s closest supporters on the political right.

“It is important that the whole international community come together, speak candidly about it, forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas with respect to what you should tell young people about,” Powell told an MTV audience. “It’s the lives of young people that are put at risk by unsafe sex. And, therefore, protect yourself.”

Powell’s remarks, aired last night on MTV and scheduled for rebroadcast around the globe, are consistent with U.S. support of international AIDS prevention programs. But they appeared to diverge from the message delivered by the president and other administration officials that abstinence from unmarried sex is the principal weapon against the spread of the deadly human immunodeficiency virus.

The secretary of state’s comments prompted a round of hisses and cheers. Ken Connor, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said Powell’s remarks were “reckless and irresponsible” and a “slap in the face” to the president’s core constituency.

Trouble Is Calling for ‘Miss Cleo’

NEWSDAY

The static on the psychic lines Miss Cleo promotes increased significantly Thursday: a federal agency announced a consumer-protection suit against the companies she represents.

The Federal Trade Commission didn’t name Miss Cleo as a defendant, but Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth did in a civil suit filed Thursday, identifying her as Youree Harris of Davie, Fla.

The FTC civil suit filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., seeking a temporary restraining order and consumer refunds, charges Psychic Readers Network Inc., and Access Resource Services with deceptive advertising, billing and collection practices. The “psychic” services are heavily promoted on the Internet and television.

“This is an operation that appears to be fraudulent from start to finish,” said J. Howard Beales III, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It starts with a fraudulent promise of a free reading, continues with lies that you won’t be charged while the meter is running and ends with misrepresentations in billing and collection.”

“Miss Cleo,” he said, “is just a spokesperson, the way we see it.”

The FTC suit said that many of the ads feature Miss Cleo performing readings and giving advice on everything from personal finances to relationships. Beales said the psychic service probably has had about 6 million customers within the past two years.

In a statement, a law firm for Access Resource Services agreed that the business is “better known for its spokesperson, Miss Cleo,” but denied the FTC charges.