Signatures Handed In To Repeal Abortion BanMay 31, 2006 15:02 Abortion rights advocates on Tuesday submitted more than 37,000 signatures supporting a ballot initiative to overturn South Dakota's ban on abortions.

If the secretary of state verifies the signatures, which number more than twice the amount needed to place a measure on the ballot, South Dakota residents will decide in November whether to keep the strictest ban in the nation.

The measure, which outlaws all abortions — even in cases of rape or incest — unless the mother's life is at stake, is set to take effect July 1. Doctors who perform an abortion could be fined $5,000 and imprisoned for five years.

The law, signed by Republican Gov. Michael Rounds in March, was intended to trigger a legal challenge that would end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. President Bush's two appointees to the court are thought by some abortion foes to be ready to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established the right to an abortion.

But abortion rights supporters pursued a ballot initiative, arguing that voters, even in a conservative state like South Dakota, were not ready to completely outlaw abortion.

They said that Tuesday's submission of the signatures was a sign that they were correct.

"It proved to be extremely easy for us to gather these petitions," said Sarah Stoesz, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and North and South Dakota, part of the coalition backing the ballot initiative. "It underscores that the governor, the Legislature and the anti-choice movement have over-reached."

  Florida City Approves Abortion Protest Laws After Judge Strikes Down OthersMay 23, 2006 18:56 City officials in West Palm Beach have adopted a pair of abortion protest laws to keep pro-life advocates away from a local abortion business. The laws come after a judge found unconstitutional the city's first attempts to restrict protests.
City commissioners approved a pair of less strict laws on Monday. The revised laws prohibit anyone from blocking traffic or approaching vehicles traveling on roads outside the local abortion center. They also prohibit using loudspeakers or bullhorns or other types of amplified sound.

The new laws don't include a 20-foot buffer zone around driveways to the abortion business or other public areas. That's because U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks struck down those provisions in a previous law in April.

Abortion advocates told the Palm Beach Post newspaper that the new laws don't do enough to protect the abortion facility.

  Amnesty Sees Duplicity In 'War On Terror'May 23, 2006 18:48 Amnesty International has accused the United States and other major powers setting aside human rights protections in the war on terror. The London-based human rights group has released its annual report.

The secretary-general of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, told a London news conference the world's biggest powers have much to answer for in the field of human rights.

"Powerful governments are playing a dangerous game with human rights," Ms. Khan says. "Those with power and influence - the United States, European Union members, China and Russia - have been either complicit or compromised by human-rights violations in 2005, at home and abroad."

Ms. Khan has singled out the United States for particular criticism over the detention of suspected terrorists at a military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

  Company To Sue U.S. Government Over .XXX Extension RulingMay 22, 2006 15:12 ICM Registry, the internet domain registry behind the unsuccessful attempt to create a .xxx domain extension for pornographic sites, is planning to sue the U.S. government over rejection of its plea by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the U.S.-based non-profit group that oversees the domain name system.

ICM Registry said it will ask ICANN to reconsider its application to operate the .xxx extension and file a judicial appeal to force the government to restore redactions and omissions from official documents about the .xxx debate obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

On 10 May the board of ICANN had voted 9 to 5 rejecting ICM Registry's request for the .xxx domain on the ground that it would create a virtual online red-light zone. ICM Registry and its supporters, however, believe a dedicated porn domain will make it easier to protect children from adult material online.

ICM Registry says ICANN, which is mandated to operate independently, has been under pressure from the government over the issue. The rejection has been criticized in several quarters for being motivated by political pressure rather than the technical or administrative concerns that ICANN is expected to handle.

  Reprehensible Representative: RBI Says It Recorded Democrat Lawmaker Taking BribeMay 22, 2006 15:09 A congressman under investigation for bribery was caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer.

At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret what the government contends was his corrupt role in getting his children a cut of a communications company's deal for work in Africa.

As Jefferson and the informant passed notes about what percentage the lawmaker's family might receive, the congressman "began laughing and said, 'All these damn notes we're writing to each other as if we're talking, as if the FBI is watching,' " according to the affidavit.

  Senate Spat Over Gay Marriage Ban AmmendmentMay 19, 2006 21:50 A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage yesterday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him "good riddance."

"I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) shouted after Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.

  Frivolous Legislation: Senate Votes Hike In Indecency FinesMay 19, 2006 18:49 "Wardrobe malfunctions" and other indecency may soon cost broadcasters 10 times more in federal fines.

Both the Senate and House have now passed legislation to dramatically increase penalties for broadcasters that break federal rules and air profane or indecent material during certain hours. The two bills still have to be merged into one.

With no dissent, the Senate late Thursday approved a bill to raise indecency fines 10-fold to $325,000 per violation for television and radio broadcast stations that air profane or indecent material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., prime family viewing hours.

  Georgia Gay Marriage Ban VoidedMay 17, 2006 20:33 A Fulton County Superior Court judge on Tuesday struck down the state's gay marriage ban, a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by Georgia voters in 2004.

Judge Constance Russell did not rule on the merits of allowing gay couples to marry. Instead, she said the measure violates the state constitution's "single-subject rule" because it required voters to decide on marriage and civil unions in a single amendment.

Her decision on one of the state's most politically explosive issues comes as this year's election season begins to kick into gear. In November 2004, the debate over the gay marriage amendment in several states — including Georgia — has been credited for helping bring social conservatives to the polls and aiding Republican candidates, including President Bush.

  Execute Gays?: The Battle Cry Of G.I. JesusMay 15, 2006 17:29 Gary DeMar stated he'd execute gays only if they were caught indulging in sodomy, but others envision sinners in line for the death penalty would include women who commit adultery or lie about their virginity, blasphemers, witches, children who strike their parents, and gay men. Thus, DeMar is considered somewhat of a liberal in this extreme authoritarian movement.

Gary DeMar is not a fringe Christian. He is in the same realm with Mainstream Extremist Christian leaders such as Televangelist Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. DeMar is leader of the Restore America Rally, head of American Vision and one of the most prolific publishers of the movement.

  Court Strikes Sex Work PledgeMay 14, 2006 05:51 A federal judge in New York ruled that a 2003 federal law requiring U.S. health groups fighting AIDS to sign a pledge that condemns prostitution violates the free speech rights of those groups, Long Island Newsday reported May 10. The groups must sign the pledge in order to receive funding for assistance and education programs.

The plaintiffs--Pathfinder International in Watertown, Mass., the New York-based Open Society Institute and an affiliate--argued that denouncing prostitution placed restrictions on their ability to provide "life-saving" services and information to prostitutes. The groups also claimed that the policy was unconstitutional because it was vague and it required private organizations to adopt the government's position.

"It's really a tremendous victory for public health," said Rebekah Diller, who is the lawyer for the health groups that filed the suit. "It will enable these organizations to serve very vulnerable women."

  McCain Bends Over and Takes One for Christian ConservativesMay 12, 2006 20:17 In Christianity, forgiveness and reconciliation are part of the path to redemption. In politics, they can pave the way to winning elections.

Six years after he verbally attacked two prominent leaders of the religious right, charging that they'd helped to kill his presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain is making up with one of them and hoping that Christian conservatives will help him win the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

The Arizona senator will give the commencement address Saturday at Liberty University, the Christian school in Lynchburg, Va., headed by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, a fundamentalist Baptist. McCain called Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson intolerant and "evil" in 2000 after blaming them for a smear campaign against him.

The truce could benefit both: It can help McCain reach evangelical Christians, an influential bloc in his party, and it might revive the 72-year-old Falwell's influence a quarter-century after his Moral Majority movement helped propel Ronald Reagan into the White House. While younger televangelists now dominate the airwaves, Falwell maintains an extensive political network capped by an e-mail list of 5 million families.

  Dirty Republican Campaign Tactics in AZMay 10, 2006 16:38 Campaign workers for Jim Pederson, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, say state Republican Party workers are engaging in “bush league” tactics to undermine Pederson’s campaign.

Republicans posted their own political signs above, below and in front of Pederson’s campaign signs on major street corners in Scottsdale and Phoenix during the weekend.

On some corners, the Republican signs obscure the bottom of Pederson’s signs, which provide his campaign Internet address, The Republican-made signs proclaim, “Liberal Agenda, Supports Amnesty.”
Arizona Republican Party chairman Matt Salmon approved the signs, which party spokesman Garrick Taylor said are a legitimate voter education effort.

“It’s just a simple, yet effective way of telling passers-by and potential voters of some of the distortions that the Pederson campaign is attempting to put forth,” he said.

  God's Political Affiliation?May 05, 2006 05:28 This is an interesting, honest look at both parties affiliation with God... basically that there is none.

Let unto Caesar what is Caesar's, God what is God's.

  Allan Guttmacher Institute press briefsMay 04, 2006 19:38 After a yearlong investigation, on April 4 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its analysis of spending on HIV prevention programs funded by the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The report recommends that Congress reevaluate the stringent requirements for how this money should be spent. Specifically, it exposes the challenges created by the requirement that at least one-third of global HIV prevention funds be reserved for “abstinence until marriage” programming. The GAO found that the spending requirement is squeezing out available funding for other key prevention interventions. In addition, the majority of PEPFAR country teams on the ground reported that meeting the spending requirement “challenges their ability to develop interventions that are responsive to local epidemiology and social norms.”

Notably, the spending requirement is forcing some country teams to cut funding for other prevention programs aimed at meeting the needs of sexually active youth, who could benefit from more comprehensive ABC (abstain, be faithful and use condoms) messages. It is also limiting support for programs to prevent the transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their children.

  In Partisan Vote, House Oks Ethics Bill By 4 VotesMay 04, 2006 19:26 It slipped through the House by four votes, divided largely along party lines, but now comes the real test: Is the new ethics bill enough to rejuvenate Congress' battered image after a series of high-profile lobbying scandals?

By a 217-213 vote Wednesday, legislators passed a bill that suspends privately funded travel for members of Congress and their staffs until the end of the year; makes it more difficult for lawmakers to attach pet projects to spending bills; and adds more detailed disclosure rules for lobbyists.

The House and Senate will have to negotiate the final bill in conference committee.

However, the bill is not what it was in January when House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, proposed measures to ban all gifts from lobbyists, including travel, and to double how long lawmakers have to wait before becoming lobbyists after they leave Congress.

  Supreme Court Rejects Abortion Poster Case, Allows DamagesMay 02, 2006 14:39 The Supreme Court on Monday ended a decade-long fight over the use by anti-abortion protesters of "wanted" posters to identify clinic doctors.

Activists who created Wild West-style posters and a Web site targeting abortion doctors had been ordered to pay nearly $5 million in damages, and the court refused without comment to take up their appeal.

The 12 activists and two anti-abortion groups were sued under a racketeering law and the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it illegal to incite violence and threaten abortion doctors.

  Pro-Choice Is Not A Synonym For Pro-AbortionMay 01, 2006 20:19 I've had two unplanned pregnancies in my lifetime, one when I was a junior in college, another when I was packing my bags to leave my first marriage.

Their names are Sean and Brendan.

Abortion was illegal when I got pregnant the first time, in 1968. It was legal the second time, in 1973.

In neither case did I consider having an abortion. It never occurred to me to end either pregnancy. Didn't do it then. Wouldn't do it now.

There are those who might presume from this that - surprise, surprise - I'm anti-abortion.

Not true.