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  Alaska'S Palin Faces ProbeJuly 31, 2008 08:49 When Sarah Palin was elected governor as a Republican outsider in 2006, she didn't just take on an incumbent from her own party. She took on Alaska's Republican establishment.

Ms. Palin vowed to clean up a long-cozy political system that had been sullied by an FBI corruption investigation. She endeared herself to Alaskans by making good on her reform promises and showing homey touches, like driving herself to work.

Now, one of the bright new stars in the Republican Party has suddenly become tarnished. The state legislature this week voted to hire an independent investigator to see whether Ms. Palin abused her office by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from his job as an Alaska state trooper.

"This is a governor who was almost impervious to error," says Hollis French, a Democratic state senator. "Now she could face impeachment, in a worst-case scenario."

The allegations against Ms. Palin are less serious than -- and entirely separate from -- those that have been leveled against a number of Alaska's most prominent politicians since 2006, when a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into influence peddling by oil-field contractor VECO Corp. came to light.

Since then, five state legislators have been sentenced to prison or face prosecution on corruption charges. On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens was indicted on criminal charges related to the case. Mr. Stevens says he is innocent.
  Hollywood Reacts To Savage'S Autism SlamJuly 22, 2008 16:22 Conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage’s outrageous claims on autism have unleashed a fury of attacks from Hollywood.

“Now you want me to tell you my opinion on autism since I’m not talking about autism … a fraud, a racket,” Michael Savage said last week on his radio show, “The Savage Nation.”

The shock jock went on to say, “What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them don’t act like a moron, you’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up! Act like a man! Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’”
  Dems Urge Bush To Halt Abortion ProposalJuly 22, 2008 09:52 More than 100 members of Congress wrote President Bush today, urging him to "halt all action" on a proposal they argue would change the definition of abortion, and drastically limit women's access to birth control.

The Department of Health and Human Services draft proposal, which began circulating around Capitol Hill last week, would require hospitals receiving federal funds to certify that, in their hiring, they do not discriminate against people who refuse to provide forms of contraception, such as birth control pills, due to personal religious beliefs.

The proposal immediately incited an uproar among Democratic lawmakers led by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who have also written to Bush. Now, 104 members of the House of Representatives have sent the president a protest letter of their own.

"The draft regulation could have a disastrous effect upon access to safe and effective birth control for millions of women across the country," the protest letter warns.

"The regulation's definitions are so broad as to go far beyond abortion politics and threaten virtually any law or policy designed to protect women's access to safe and effective birth control. The department does this primarily by defining 'abortion' in a way that could sweep in many common forms of birth control," the lawmakers write in the letter.
  Clinton Vows To Fight Insulting Abortion PlanJuly 18, 2008 22:48 A Bush administration plan to define several widely used contraception methods as abortion is a "gratuitous, unnecessary insult" to women and faces tough opposition, Sen. Hillary Clinton said on Friday.

The former Democratic presidential candidate joined family planning groups to condemn the proposal that defines abortion to include contraception such as birth control pills and intrauterine devices.

It would cut off federal funds to hospitals and states where medical providers are obligated to offer legal abortion and contraception to women.

"We will not put up with this radical, ideological agenda to turn the clock back on women's rights," the New York senator told a joint news conference with New York Rep. Nita Lowey, also a Democrat, at Bellevue Hospital.

"Women would watch their contraceptive coverage disappear overnight," said Clinton.

The planned rule is aimed at countering recent state laws enacted to ensure that women can get contraception when they want or need it. It also would help protect the rights of medical providers to refuse to offer contraception.

Clinton said she has written a letter with Patty Murray, a Democrat senator from Washington, to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt asking him to reconsider and reject the release of the proposed rules.

She also urged people to sign a petition on her website,, against the proposed changes.