Monday, December 17, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 17, 2007

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Inside Higher Education

Creationist College Advances in Texas

Dec. 17

Texas is fast becoming a key state not only in debates over evolution butover what kind of government scrutiny is important and legitimate whenreviewing colleges with particular ideologies.

On Friday, an advisory committee to the Texas Higher Education CoordinatingBoard recommended that the state allow the Institute for Creation Researchto start offering online master's degrees in science education. Theinstitute, which has been based in California, where it operates a museumand many programs for people who don't believe in evolution, is relocatingto Dallas, where it hopes to expand its online education offerings.

In Texas, the institute needs either regional accreditation (for which isapplying, but which will take some time) or state approval to offer degrees.Some science groups are aghast by the idea that Texas would authorize master's degrees in science education that are based on complete opposition toevolution and literal acceptance of the Bible. And these groups areparticularly concerned because the students in these programs would bepeople who are or want to be school teachers.

Complicating matters, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will betaking up the issue in the wake of an August ruling by the Texas SupremeCourt questioning the grounds on which the board had evaluated seminariesand warning the board not to impose secular values on seminaries. The rulingwas seen at the time as making it harder for the state to deny licenses toreligious institutions.

Raymund A. Paredes, commissioner of higher education for Texas, stressed inan interview Sunday that the advisory panel's vote was just that: advisory.But he noted that the board's decision next month would be "sensitive" andsaid he would be asking the board's general counsel to study the impact ofthe August Supreme Court decision on the issue.

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The New York Times

Boycotted Radio Host Remains Unbowed

December 17, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO - The humbling of Don Imus last spring over his remarks aboutthe Rutgers women's basketball team has done nothing to quiet MichaelSavage, a radio host with a far bigger following and far more checkeredtrack record.

Mr. Savage, whose program reaches an estimated eight million listeners aweek on nearly 400 stations, suggested over the summer that a group ofcollege students on a hunger strike in support of easing immigrationrestrictions should "fast until they starve to death." In October the Boardof Supervisors of San Francisco, the city from which Mr. Savage oftenbroadcasts, took the unusual step of passing a resolution condemning him forthe remarks.

Then, a few weeks ago, Mr. Savage uncorked a cascade of invective aboutIslam. Among his on-air comments: the Koran is "a book of hate"; someMuslims, at least, "need deportation"; and adherents of Islam would do wellto "take your religion and shove it up your behind" because "I'm sick ofyou."

In response the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose stated missionincludes correcting mischaracterizations of Islam, tore a page from theplaybook of Mr. Imus's critics. It made Mr. Savage's comments widelyavailable on the Internet and called on advertisers to boycott his program,which is behind only Rush Limbaugh's and Sean Hannity's in number oflisteners, according to Talkers magazine, an industry publication.

At least two of his major sponsors - Citrix, which sells remote access tocomputers, and Trusted ID, which provides protection against identitytheft - have pulled their spots. Thus far, Mr. Savage said in an interviewlast week, the boycott had cost his program more than a million dollars inadvertising revenue committed for next year.

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The New York Times

Huckabee Draws Support of Home-School Families

December 17, 2007

DES MOINES - Christine and Chuck Hurley have raised and home-schooled their10 children here, and five of those children will be eligible to vote in theIowa caucus on Jan. 3.

If Mr. and Mrs. Hurley have anything to say about it - and they do, beingevangelical Christians who have imbued their children with the mandates ofthe Ten Commandments, not least the one about honoring thy father andmother - those will be five votes for Mike Huckabee.

"Five votes - count six, if we get my son-in-law to the caucus," said Mrs.Hurley, 47. "That's eight votes right there, with my husband and I."

Politicians count sure votes at their own peril, but families like theHurleys seem to account for a solid core of Mr. Huckabee's support here inthe final weeks before the first balloting to select a Republican nominee inthe 2008 presidential election.

White, evangelical Christians make up about 38 percent of the Republicanelectorate in Iowa. Among voters in that group, Mr. Huckabee, an ordainedBaptist minister and the former governor of Arkansas, leads his closestcompetitor, Mitt Romney, by two to one, according to a poll released thismonth by the Pew Research Center.

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Miami Herald

Obama fights stories about 'Muslim roots'

Posted on Mon, Dec. 17, 2007

Max Holtzman, a Miami lawyer and fundraiser for Democratic presidentialcandidate Barack Obama, was in a downtown office building when he ran into ahigh-powered business consultant.

One of her major concerns about Obama, she confided, was his ``deep Muslimroots.''

''I told her that he's been a practicing Christian for a very long time,''Holtzman said. ``I cleared the air, and now she's a great supporter.''

Rumor control is rarely that easy for the Obama campaign at a time when amouse click can circulate ambiguously sourced, hard-to-trace and seeminglylimitless attacks. Two volunteers for rival Hillary Clinton in Iowa wererecently kicked out after they were caught forwarding incendiary e-mailsthat suggested Obama is an Islamic terrorist.

One of the chief rumor-mongers is Andy Martin, a former South Floridaresident and perennially losing candidate who now runs his ContrarianCommentary blog out of Chicago. Tens of thousands or hundreds of thousandsof people -- Martin said he's not sure -- receive his e-mail blasts.

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Southwest Florida's News Press

Mack, Bono officially man, wife
Private ceremony included 32 family members

By Jason Wermers
Originally posted on December 17, 2007

Fort Myers Congressman Connie Mack IV and Palm Springs, Calif.,Congresswoman Mary Bono were married Saturday in Asheville, N.C.

The couple held a small, private wedding, attended by 32 members of the Mackand Bono families, at the Richmond Inn, Mack spokeswoman Stephanie DuBoissaid.

Mack's father, former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III, was the best man, andBono's daughter, Chianna, was the maid of honor.

The marriage will not affect either representative's position, at least fornow. Mack will maintain his Fort Myers residence, and Bono will maintain herhome in Palm Springs. The two will share a home in the northern Virginiasuburbs of Washington, D.C.

Mack proposed to Bono in August while the the two were on a camping trip atArches National Park in Utah. They had dated for two years.

Bono's father, Clay Whitaker, lives in Asheville. The wedding colors wereivory and gold.

The honeymoon is on hold for now. Both representatives need to be in thenation's capital this coming week because of the ongoing congressionalsession. They have not yet finalized honeymoon plans.


Los Angeles,1,3132190.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&track=crosspromo

Lieberman will back McCain
Connecticut senator, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000, willendorse the GOP presidential candidate because of his stance against Islamicterrorism.

From the Associated Press
December 17, 2007

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), trying to build momentumtoward a reprise of his 2000 New Hampshire primary victory, is piling uphigh-profile endorsements, including one from another political maverick,Sen. Joe Lieberman.

The Connecticut senator, an independent Democrat who was the Democrats' 2000vice presidential nominee, was scheduled to announce his support for McCainat a town hall meeting today in Hillsborough.

A Lieberman advisor said the senator decided to back McCain because hethought his colleague from Arizona had "the best chance of uniting thecountry in its fight against Islamic terrorism."

The advisor, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal announcement, said Lieberman would continue to caucus with Senate Democrats,and said his decision was not a reflection of any lingering tension with hisold party after key Democrats abandoned him when he lost the Democraticprimary during his 2006 Senate reelection campaign.

Lieberman subsequently won reelection with an independent candidacy and hassince been the darling of many prominent Republicans, including former WhiteHouse advisor Karl Rove, for pushing hard in support of the country's war inIraq.

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New York Post



December 17, 2007 -- FEARFUL New York Re publicans are rethinking their 2008campaign strategies because of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's faltering bidfor the White House, The Post has learned.

Republican leaders, especially those involved in the crucial battle toretain GOP control of the state Senate, had hoped an energized Giulianicandidacy would attract independent and moderate Democrats to their ballotline in what is widely expected to be a big Democratic year.

But, pointing to his declining national polling numbers and his surpriseslide to third place in Florida, GOP strategists are privately callingGiuliani's own strategy efforts "lackluster," and an increasing number ofthem now predict that "America's mayor" won't be their party's nominee forpresident next year.

"Rudy isn't where we thought he would be and there's a growing likelihoodthat he's not going to be our nominee," said a leading New York Republican.

A GOP senate strategist said, "We're no longer planning our campaigns basedon the assumption that Rudy will be the nominee."

Furthermore, Republicans - who once hoped Giuliani could carry New York in apresidential contest - are now convinced the state won't be in play even ifGiuliani does end up as their party's nominee.

"New York isn't going Republican even if Rudy is the nominee," a GOPofficial conceded.


Boston Globe

Budget bill reverses White House cuts

December 17, 2007

Congressional budget officials unveiled a $500 billion-plus catchallspending bill yesterday, reluctantly sticking within President Bush's totalsbut protecting politically sensitive domestic programs from White Housecuts. The bill covers the budgets for every Cabinet department except thePentagon and is expected to pass this week before lawmakers head home forChristmas. Democrats reversed cuts to heating subsidies, local law police,Amtrak, and housing. (AP)


Boston Globe

Romney, Huckabee rivalry heats up: Harsh words fly about Bush's legacy

By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff
December 17, 2007

Raising the stakes with his main rival in the crucial Iowa caucuses,Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accused Mike Huckabeeyesterday of insulting President Bush and called on him to apologize forcriticizing Bush's foreign policy as "arrogant."

Huckabee refused, saying he was not attacking the president personally butlaying out a different vision for the US role in the world.

The exchange on national TV talk shows yesterday reflected the increasinglybitter battle between the former governors and one of the few instances inwhich Republican presidential hopefuls have been drawn into a confrontationover Bush's legacy. So far during the campaign, the candidates, wary ofembracing a president with low approval ratings, have preferred to comparethemselves to President Reagan, who remains unwaveringly popular withRepublican voters.

But Huckabee's surge past Romney in the polls in Iowa, where Republicanswill hold the first nomination contest on Jan. 3, has clearly shaken up therace. Romney, despite vastly outspending Huckabee, declared for the firsttime last week that he is now the underdog in Iowa, and yesterday he soundedlike one as he blasted Huckabee for calling Bush's foreign policy arrogantand indicative of a "bunker mentality."

"That's an insult to the president, and Mike Huckabee should apologize tothe president," Romney said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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Houston Chronicle

Clinton touts endorsement from Kerrey

Dec. 16, 2007, 10:37PM
From wire reports

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton celebrated onehigh-profile endorsement, from the Des Moines Register's editorial board, byannouncing a second Sunday: former Sen. Bob Kerrey, the renegadeNebraskan-turned-New Yorker.

Kerrey told an energetic crowd gathered at a high school here that he isbacking Clinton "enthusiastically and unequivocally." Clinton beamed. "I amabsolutely overwhelmed personally to have my friend of 25 years, Bob Kerrey,endorse me with such a vote of confidence," she said.

Now president of the New School in New York City, Kerrey served as a U.S.senator and governor of Nebraska.


CBS News

Top Republican Vows CIA Tape Probe

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2007

(AP) The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee defied the Bushadministration Sunday and pledged to investigate the destruction of CIAinterrogation tapes.

"We want to hold the community accountable for what's happened with thesetapes. I think we will issue subpoenas," said Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.

The Justice Department has urged Congress not to investigate and advisedintelligence officials not to cooperate with a legislative inquiry.

"You've got a community that's incompetent. They are arrogant. And they arepolitical," Hoekstra said. "And I think that we're going to hold (CIADirector) Mike Hayden accountable."

Earlier this month, the CIA acknowledged destroying videos showing the harshinterrogation of top al Qaeda suspects. Hayden said the videos, which weremade in 2002, were destroyed in 2005 out of fear the tapes would leak andreveal the identifies of interrogators. Hayden said the sessions werevideotaped to provide an added layer of legal protection for officers usingtough interrogation methods authorized by President Bush to help break downrecalcitrant prisoners.

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The New York Times

Editorial: Disappointments on Climate

December 17, 2007

A week that could have brought important progress on climate change ended in disappointment.

In Bali, where delegates from 187 countries met to begin framing a newglobal warming treaty, America's negotiators were in full foot-draggingmode, acting as spoilers rather than providing the leadership the worldneeds.

In Washington, caving to pressures from the White House, the utilities andthe oil companies, the Senate settled for a merely decent energy billinstead of a very good one that would have set the country on a clear pathto a cleaner energy future.

The news from Bali was particularly disheartening. The delegates agreed tonegotiate by 2009 a new and more comprehensive global treaty to replace theKyoto Protocol. (Kyoto expires in 2012 and requires that only industrializednations reduce their production of greenhouse gases.) They pledged for thefirst time to address deforestation, which accounts for one-fifth of theworld's carbon dioxide emissions. And they received vague assurances fromChina - which will soon overtake the United States as the biggest emitter ofgreenhouse gases - and other emerging powers that they would seek"measurable, reportable and verifiable" emissions cuts.

From the United States the delegates got nothing, except a promise toparticipate in the forthcoming negotiations. Even prying that out of theBush administration required enormous effort.

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The New York Times

Pardon Reported for Saudi Rape Victim

December 18, 2007

RIYADH - King Abdullah has pardoned a woman who was sentenced to 200 lashesafter pressing charges against seven men who raped her, a Saudi newspaperreported Monday.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Ministry of Justice or theMinistry of Information, but the newspaper, Al Jazirah, is close to thereligious establishment that controls the Justice Ministry, Reutersreported.

The case has provoked a rare and angry public debate in Saudi Arabia,leading to renewed calls for reform of the Saudi judicial system.

The rape took place a year and a half ago in Qatif, a small Shiite town inthe Eastern Province, center of the Saudi Arabia's oil industry. The woman,who has been publicly identified only as the "Qatif girl," said she met aformer boyfriend to retrieve a photograph of herself. They were sitting in acar together when seven men attacked, raping them both.

The woman and the former boyfriend were originally sentenced to 90 lasheseach for being together in private, while the attackers received sentencesranging from 10 months to five years in prison, and 80 to 1,000 lashes each.

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The New York Times

Russia Ships Nuclear Fuel to Iran

December 18, 2007

MOSCOW - Russia made its first fuel delivery to Iran's Bushehr nuclear powerplant on Sunday, a spokesman for the Russian company overseeing the projectconfirmed Monday, although it remained unclear when the controversialstation would begin operating.

"The first phase of delivery has been completed," said Irina F. Esipova, aspokeswoman for Atomsproiexport, the Russian contractor on the project. "Asmall amount of fuel is already on the premises of the Bushehr station in aspecial storage facility." The company plans to deliver about 80 tons ofnuclear fuel to Iran over the next two months, she said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the fuel would beunder the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency and that Iranhad given written guarantees that the fuel would only be used for thenuclear power plant.

"All fuel that will be delivered will be under the control and guarantees ofthe International Atomic Energy Agency for the whole time it stays onIranian territory," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Moreover, theIranian side gave additional written guarantees that the fuel will be usedonly for the Bushehr nuclear power plant."

The statement added: "After the Russian fuel is processed at the Bushehrnuclear power plant, it will be returned to Russia for further processingand storage."

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Two Months in Pakistan

By Lally Weymouth
Monday, December 17, 2007; A21

When Benazir Bhutto returned from exile in October, she was disturbed by thegrowing strength of the Taliban and Islamic extremists inside Pakistan. Lastweek she sat down with Newsweek-The Post's Lally Weymouth in Islamabad.Excerpts:

Q: How do see your prospects in the upcoming election?

A: We all worried that the elections are going to be rigged in favor of theruling party -- the military's party, the Muslim League. . . . There are 148seats in the Punjab, the government has been told to give 108 seats [to]them. That means we'll only be fighting over 40 seats.

So [President Pervez] Musharraf's party will win the Punjab?

They won't win it. Hopefully we will make him lose it.

Do you think that's possible?

Well, observers are coming from the European Union [among others]. So Ithink if we can get observers to ensure that the ballots don't get siphonedoff, it'll be a huge setback to their rigging plans. . . . They've [also]got ghost voting stations.

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The Washington Post

Egypt's YouTube Democrats

By Jackson Diehl
Monday, December 17, 2007; A21

Is the cause of liberal democracy in the Arab Middle East dead? It would beeasy to jump to such a conclusion in Washington, given the Bushadministration's shameless retreat from its "freedom agenda" and the recentcampaigns by Arab autocrats to crush liberal politicians, journalists andcivic activists. But it's also easy to overlook the fact that the MiddleEast's movement for human rights and democracy originated not in the WhiteHouse but in capitals such as Cairo, Beirut and Amman. There, it is stillalive, well -- and even growing.

I was reminded of this when seven Egyptian civil society activists touredWashington in advance of a meeting last week with Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice. All are in their 20s; all are leaders of groups promotingsuch causes as women's rights, prison reform, religious tolerance andpolitical change. All believe that Egypt could become a liberal democracy intheir lifetime. And why not? They're not acquainted with the numerousWashington experts who have dismissed the possibility.

They do know a lot of people like themselves. "The majority of Egyptians arelike us, under the age of 35," said Ahmed Samih, the 28-year-old director ofthe Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies in Cairo. "Ourpresident is 85, and far away from Facebook."

Samih, a fearless man who says he has been a political activist since age17, ought to know. Six months ago he founded a Facebook group called "Whathappens when Hosni Mubarak dies?" Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt under"emergency law" since 1981, is actually only 79. But he is noticeablyfading. And Samih's group has attracted 2,741 members, almost all of themEgyptian.

Facebook and YouTube are where the young Egyptian democracy movementlives -- mostly out of reach of Mubarak's secret police. There are more than60 Facebook groups devoted to liberal Egyptian causes; many of them havethousands of members. On YouTube, one can find hundreds of video clipsshowing demonstrations for human rights in Egypt, speeches by liberalactivists, sermons by reformist Muslim clerics -- and torture by Mubarak'ssecurity forces, captured on cellphones.

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The Washington Post

The GOP's Budget Retreat

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, December 17, 2007; A21

Nearly the entire federal government would be funded by an omnibusappropriations bill to be unveiled today after covert negotiations. Insubsequent parliamentary maneuvering likely to extend through this week,Democrats will pare the spending level to the maximum demanded by PresidentBush in order to avoid a veto. Republicans will declare victory. In fact,they are in retreat.

As the minority party in Congress, the GOP will have less than 24 hours toread the massive bill before it comes up for a House vote tomorrow. While atleast coming close to Bush's limit, the bill will be passed over Republicanopposition because it contains no Iraq war funding. It then will go to theSenate on Wednesday, where Republicans will use a filibuster threat toinsert money for Iraq. Overall spending will be reduced to the Bush standardin the Senate by means of an across-the-board cut. That version then will bepassed by the House, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she personally willvote against this solution, which, in effect, finances the war at theexpense of domestic programs.

This solution is designed to win bipartisan support because it will containearmarks for pork-barrel spending dearly desired on both sides of the aisle.It became clear a week ago that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wasin negotiations with Majority Leader Harry Reid on a bill to financemultiple new earmarks by means of an across-the-board reduction ingovernment programs. What's more, a little rules chicanery will hide anestimated 12,000 new earmarks, including pork that previously had not beenpassed by any chamber and will be "airdropped" into the bill. The wilylegislators have found a way around new ethics rules that require disclosureof all such spending.

Nobody can predict even at this late date the outcome of this intricatelegislative process. It is not out of the question that an omnibus moneybill still will fail and that Bush will achieve his real desire. On Friday,the president advocated a continuing resolution keeping spending at lastyear's level without new earmarks. That is also the goal of the House GOPleadership. But because that is a very unlikely outcome, Republicanreformers believe that they have lost a golden opportunity to regain theirold "brand" of fiscal responsibility by fighting to the end in the budgetbattle.

The astute House Democratic Caucus chairman, Rahm Emanuel, observed whatMcConnell was up to and issued a statement last Tuesday accusing him oftrading valuable established domestic programs for earmarks:

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The Washington Post

Questions for Musharraf and Bush

By John F. Tierney and Aitzaz Ahsan
Monday, December 17, 2007; A21

One of us chairs a House of Representatives subcommittee tasked withoversight of U.S. foreign policy, and one of us languishes under housearrest after transfer from a Pakistani jail for the "heinous" and"seditious" crime of representing, in legal proceedings, the sacked chiefjustice of Pakistan's Supreme Court.

As members of the political opposition in our respective countries and aslawyers firmly committed to the rule of law, we have a few questions for ourheads of state:

-- How will you address the increasing anti-Americanism in Pakistan in lightof the growing, and not unjustified, perception among Pakistan's democraticmoderates that the United States is not willing to stand with the people ofPakistan against an increasingly authoritarian and anti-democraticgovernment in Islamabad?

-- How will you respond to the inevitable international condemnation of aparliamentary "election" in which journalists are muzzled; political partiesare prohibited from campaigning; Pakistani military and intelligenceservices visibly enforce an atmosphere of intimidation; and oppositionleaders are exiled, jailed or placed under house arrest?

-- How do you expect to effectively compete against extremist ideology whenU.S. education funding to Pakistan is one-fifteenth its military support andPakistani funding for public education remains woefully inadequate? Thirteenmillion children ages 5 to 9 -- out of 27 million total -- are not enrolledin school at all, leaving them exposed to extremist mentors.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many people talk about the need to reform Islam. Now you can stop talking and start helping.

With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. However, it is possible that we missed something, and we could use your help. If you find verses in the reformed version of the Koran that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination, please let us know the number of the verse and the reason why it should be removed. Please email your suggestions to

When we finish editing process, we would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.

In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.