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  Leading Women'S Rights Groups File Complaints Against Bush Administration Sex Discrimination In Job Training ProgramsMarch 30, 2007 14:12 Legal Momentum and the National Organization for Women (NOW) today filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) alleging sex discrimination in 34 of the first 100 programs funded by the Bush Administration under its new "Responsible Fatherhood" initiative. According to the program summaries on the HHS web site, the 34 programs are providing job-training services to men but not to women.

The complaints, filed with HHS's Office for Civil Rights, charge that the 34 programs violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal statute that prohibits sex discrimination in any education program that receives federal funds. The complaints also charge HHS itself with violating the Constitution and Title IX by funding programs that HHS knew planned to discriminate against women.

"The Bush Administration has awarded over $80 million to 'men only' job training programs, in violation of our nation's laws against sex discrimination," said Legal Momentum President Kathy Rodgers. "Our organizations strongly support appropriate job training programs but only those that are non-discriminatory and serve both men and women. Both in the White and in the African American communities, women earn much less than men, are much more often poor, and are much more likely to be custodial single parents. Excluding women from these training programs does families a tremendous disservice."

The 34 programs are active in twenty-two states and provide a range of education services in addition to job training. While some will serve only fathers, some will also serve men who are not fathers. Together, the programs were awarded five-year grants totaling $83.4 million in October 2006. A list of the programs with their annual funding amount is attached.
  Free-Speech Case Divides Bush And Religious RightMarch 18, 2007 21:48 A Supreme Court case about the free-speech rights of high school students, to be argued on Monday, has opened an unexpected fissure between the Bush administration and its usual allies on the religious right.

As a result, an appeal that asks the justices to decide whether school officials can squelch or punish student advocacy of illegal drugs has taken on an added dimension as a window on an active front in the culture wars, one that has escaped the notice of most people outside the fray. And as the stakes have grown higher, a case that once looked like an easy victory for the government side may prove to be a much closer call.

On the surface, Joseph Frederick’s dispute with his principal, Deborah Morse, at the Juneau-Douglas High School in Alaska five years ago appeared to have little if anything to do with religion — or perhaps with much of anything beyond a bored senior’s attitude and a harried administrator’s impatience.

As the Olympic torch was carried through the streets of Juneau on its way to the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City, students were allowed to leave the school grounds to watch. The school band and cheerleaders performed. With television cameras focused on the scene, Mr. Frederick and some friends unfurled a 14-foot-long banner with the inscription: “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.”

  2 Democrats Clarify Beliefs About GaysMarch 15, 2007 22:20 Under pressure from gay rights groups, two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, issued statements yesterday saying they believed homosexuality was not immoral.

Mrs. Clinton, who has particularly cultivated gay voters and donors, found herself under the most intense fire yesterday after she said on Wednesday that the morality of homosexuality was for “others to conclude.” Later that day, after complaints from gay rights groups, she put out a statement indicating she thought homosexuality was not immoral, though she did not use those words.

Her remarks left some gay donors and advocates angry; several said yesterday that they believed she was afraid to say the words “moral” or “immoral” because Republicans might use them against her.

The issue arose this week after Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in published remarks that he believed homosexuality was immoral.

  Pace Won't Apologize For Gay RemarkMarch 13, 2007 09:31 Senior aides to the chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that Marine Gen. Peter Pace won't apologize for calling homosexuality immoral — an opinion that gay advocacy groups deplored.

In a newspaper interview Monday, Pace had likened homosexual acts to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces.

"General Pace's comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces," the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement on its Web site.

The group has represented some of the thousands dismissed from the military for their sexual orientation.

Pace's senior staff members said Tuesday that the general was expressing his personal opinion and had no intention of apologizing. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak on the record.
  Gingrich Had Affair While Hounding Clinton Over MonicaMarch 10, 2007 10:58 Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, admitted yesterday that he was cheating on his own wife when he led the Republican charge to impeach Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Mr Gingrich made his confession in an interview with James Dobson, one of America’s most powerful Christian conservatives, in an apparent attempt to clear the decks with the religious right ahead of a presidential bid.

“The honest answer is yes,” Mr Gingrich told Mr Dobson, the Focus on the Family founder, in a carefully choreographed interview broadcast last night. “There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There’s certainly times when I’ve fallen short of God’s standards.”

Reports of extra-marital affairs have dogged the thrice-married Mr Gingrich for years, but until now he has refused to discuss them publicly.
  Mindreading Scientists Predict BehaviorMarch 05, 2007 16:20 At a laboratory in Germany, volunteers slide into a donut-shaped MRI machine and perform simple tasks, such as deciding whether to add or subtract two numbers, or choosing which of two buttons to press.

They have no inkling that scientists in the next room are trying to read their minds -- using a brain scan to figure out their intention before it is turned into action.

In the past, scientists had been able to detect decisions about making physical movements before those movements appeared. But researchers at Berlin's Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience claim they have now, for the first time, identified people's decisions about how they would later do a high-level mental activity -- in this case, adding versus subtracting.

While still in its initial stages, the techniques may eventually have wide-ranging implications for everything from criminal interrogations to airline security checks. And that alarms some ethicists who fear the technology could one day be abused by authorities, marketers, or employers.
  U.S. Supreme Court To Decide Whether Taxpayers Can Sue Government On Religious SpendingMarch 01, 2007 10:33 An appeal preferred by the White House has come up for hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, basically to determine the constitutional right of taxpayers in challenging the White House's acts of offering federal financial aid to religious charities.

Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is a group of atheists and agnostics, wants the court to say whether it has the legal standing by its being taxpayer to challenge the White House's "faith-based initiative" to enhance the role of religious groups in fighting against social problems like drug addiction and poverty.

The group wants the court to allow it to sue in order to prove that the White House has violated the constitution by spending federal funds by way of offering grants to religious organizations.

Earlier, a federal appeals court in Chicago had upheld the group's contention, but the justice department is contesting this ruling and it wants the top court to reject the right as it could lead to a situation where every government spending can be challenged by taxpayers.