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Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "One president, under God," Feb. 3, 2001

Billions and billions of years of evolution failed to prevent fallen man from spilling 90,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the waters off the Galapagos Islands, the home of numerous rare species that helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Slicks from the spill spread to fill an area bigger than Los Angeles. Ecuadorean Environment Minister Rodolfo Rendon said the spill, which officials have blamed on navigational error, was "a problem, not a tragedy."

As California's power crisis continued, President Bush made it clear that the state cannot look to Washington to clean up its mess. Meanwhile, local officials told citizens to do everything possible to conserve, including watching the Super Bowl in groups. California desperately tried to prevent more blackouts, buying megawatts on the expensive spot market from as far away as Canada. Many energy suppliers say they have already sold most of their generating capacity for the next year or more.

The First Amendment does not protect child pornography, but what about the computer-generated variety? The Supreme Court agreed last week to decide whether Congress can ban so-called "virtual" child pornography, computer-altered pictures that only appear to show minors involved in sexual activity. Government lawyers maintain the law passed in 1996 "helps to stamp out the market for child pornography involving real children."

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Your tax dollars at work: A new federal study released last week reveals that peer pressure leads children into drinking. But the study did contain some new insights: Peer pressure affects girls more profoundly than boys, and most teens who drink and smoke think their parents don't care. The study found that active parental involvement reduces these problems. In short, nature abhors a vacuum.

Britain's House of Lords voted 212-92 to allow cloning of human embryos for research. So-called "therapeutic cloning" will lead to treatment for Parkinsons, heart, and other diseases, says the British Medical Association. British pro-life groups said the ruling clears the way for the destruction of human life.

Madison Avenue has no trouble paying for the over $2 million per 30-second TV spots on Super Bowl Sunday, but nonprofit humanitarians at World Vision need low-cost barnstorming. The organization decided to send a plane over the Tampa stadium with a simple message: HelpElSalvador.org. Relief organizations continue to solicit funds to help victims of the January earthquake in El Salvador, where 2,000 people are still missing and feared dead.

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