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Associated Press/Photo by Denis Poroy

Homeless no more

Mosab Hassan Yousef finds a home in the U.S.

Issue: "Tilting at turbines," July 17, 2010

Mosab Hassan Yousef, 32, the son of a founding member of Hamas, became an informant for Israel-and also a Christian. His father, a senior leader of Hamas, has disowned him. But he has found a home in the United States following a June 30 deportation hearing that lasted 15 minutes and went in Yousef's favor when Homeland Security abruptly dropped its objections to granting asylum, without explanation. Yousef said U.S. officials denied his request for asylum last year because he was "engaged in terrorist activity," citing passages of his autobiographical book Son of Hamas in arguing that he had aided terror groups. Israel came to his defense, with Gonen Ben Yitzhak, Yousef's handler for the Israeli domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet, identifying himself publicly for the first time last month and confirming Yousef's work to thwart Hamas. "Mosab is not a terrorist," Yitzhak said. "He prevented killing; he prevented violence . . . he risked his life every day."

McChrystal out, Petraeus in

Gen. David Petraeus assured lawmakers on June 29 that he would continue "relentless" pursuit of the Taliban as the next top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Senate Armed Services Committee adjourned after three hours of hastily compiled testimony from Petraeus, who was named by President Barack Obama to succeed Gen. Stanley McChrystal after McChrystal resigned over his disparaging remarks about administration officials and European allies. The committee voted the same day to approve the nomination and full Senate confirmation came a day later. Petraeus made it a point to say there is no withdrawal deadline in Afghanistan: "It's important to note that July 2011 will be the beginning of a process . . . not the date by which we head for the exits and turn off the lights."


A Texas judge shot down creationists' attempts to win approval for a graduate program. The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (ICRGS) wanted to provide a master's degree that taught science education with a "biblical scientific creationist viewpoint." A review team with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board initially gave the project the go-ahead, calling it a "plausible program." But the board sent another group of scientists who nixed the proposal, saying the course content was outside the realm of science and "ignores established scientific evidence." ICRGS then sued the board for infringing on its First and Fourth Amendment rights. In an especially scathing decision, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks called the ICRGS complaint "overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information." He ruled that the board's standard was neutral and served a legitimate state interest. ICRGS has 30 days to appeal the decision.

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Childlessness is becoming more common in the United States. A Pew Research Center study found that 18 percent of women aged 40 to 44 have never had children, compared to 10 percent in 1976. Pew's researchers said the trend is a result of a combination of less social pressure to have children and women delaying marriage to later in life, when the ability to become pregnant has declined. Changing attitudes about the purpose of marriage also seem to be playing a role: A 2007 Pew study found that 41 percent of adults said having children is very important for a successful marriage, down from 65 percent in 1990.

Help that hurts

Pork projects are bad for business-even the local businesses they are meant to help. That's the startling conclusion of a recent working paper from the Harvard Business School. Researchers analyzed data from a 40-year period and found that earmark spending increased dramatically for districts and states when their representatives or senators rose to chair one of the three major congressional committees. At the same time, local businesses suffered losses in sales growth and employment, and they cut back capital spending by about 15 percent. The researchers speculate that government projects supplant private activities, lure employees away from local firms, and create uncertainty for investment decisions. Researcher Josh Coval said the result was "an enormous surprise." The study may help explain why President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package from 2009 did not stop unemployment from rising.


What would make the National Right to Life Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union join forces? House passage June 24 of a campaign finance bill that puts onerous disclosure requirements on groups trying to get election year messages out. The DISCLOSE Act mandates the release of top donors' names in ads. The NRLC called it a "blatant political attack on First Amendment rights," and the ACLU said because of the bill "those challenging the status quo would be suppressed." Many do not expect DISCLOSE, if it passes the Senate, to survive court challenges. But that could be too late in election season: The bill is slated to take effect 30 days after it becomes law.


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