To keep my mind off the waiting, waiting, I play bridge.
Omar Sharif represented Egypt in the 1964 Olympics for the game of contract bridge, according to one of the more benign rumors circulating about him on the internet. The secular trinity of Google, Google Books, and Wikipedia are uncharacteristically useless in confirming or denying the story, but the fact is, it just can’t be true, because bridge isn’t an Olympic sport. Bridge players have tried for decades to make it one, and in the late 1990s, the Olympic Committee recognized as it as one of two “mind sports,” along with chess. But the committee, which apparently finds curling perfectly tolerable viewing, has yet to be persuaded that the bridge is, in any conceivable sense, watchable. After considerable digging, I was able to trace the source of the rumor to a 1966 story in the Washington Post, which reported that Omar Sharif had captained the United Arab Republic’s bridge team for the World Bridge Olympiad of 1964. So much for the legacy media: there was indeed something called the World Bridge Olympiad, held every four years between 1960 and 2004, but the United Arab Republic — the short-lived union of Egypt and Syria — ceased to exist in 1961.
Still, there is something apt about the bogus story. If anyone could have turned contract bridge into a spectator sport, it would have been the Omar Sharif of the swinging sixties. He was religiously devoted to the sport, occasionally refusing films if they interfered with his bridge-playing schedule. And he tried valiantly to bring attention to the game, even forming a barnstorming “Omar Sharif Bridge Circus,” a caravan of crack players who traveled the world playing tournaments and exhibition matches. Truly, there has never been a more beautiful, more glamorous bridge ambassador than Omar Sharif. The only way he might have given the Olympic Committee something to watch is if he had agreed to compete, like Olympians in the age of Pindar, naked.
Two in five Americans say they regularly attend religious services. Upward of 90 percent of all Americans believe in God, pollsters report, and more than 70 percent have absolutely no doubt that God exists. The patron saint of Christmas, Americans insist, is the emaciated hero on the Cross, not the obese fellow in the overstuffed costume.
There is only one conclusion to draw from these numbers: Americans are significantly more religious than the citizens of other industrialized nations.
The FBI estimates that more than 100,000 underage girls are exploited for sex in the Unites States each year. Sex trafficking is a modern form of slavery, yet all too often victims are difficult to identify and trafficked persons are often prosecuted as prostitutes or deported as undocumented immigrants.
The Senate has already passed a bill by unanimous consent that would call victims of sex trafficking what they are -- victims -- and establish pilot programs which would provide counseling, education, and basic support for these young women. This bill, the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act (S. 2925/H.R. 5575), would also mandate participation at all levels of law enforcement and educate officers and prosecutors in how to identify, investigate, and prosecute traffickers.
With just days remaining in the lame duck session, we cannot allow the House to fail to take action to support young women exploited by sex traffickers in our very own country. To act now is to make a real difference in the lives of thousands of women and girls.