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Oil change

"Oil change" Continued...

Issue: "Crossing the Rubiocon," Aug. 14, 2010

Hope Award voting continues

Online voting for the 2010 winner of the Hope Award for Effective Compassion continues until Aug. 26-near the end of July two contenders were neck-and-neck. Go to worldmag.com to see the Final Four and choose your favorite: Rock Ministries (Northeast region winner), Advance Memphis (South region), Freedom for Youth (Midwest region), or New Horizons (West region).

Aiding abortion

An audit review of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reveals USAID has given at least $23 million to grantees who are pushing a Kenyan constitution that liberalizes abortion law. The new constitution is supposed to create checks and balances and protect freedoms, but it also changes Kenya's strict abortion law to allow a "trained health professional" to authorize abortion "for emergency treatment" or if the life or health of the mother is in danger.

Jeff Sagnip, spokesperson for Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said of the abortion language, "It's vague enough of a loophole that you could drive a truck through it." Because the funds went to grantees who agreed to push for a yes vote, Smith and other Republican congressmen say that the funds violate an amendment that prohibits using U.S. foreign assistance funds to lobby for or against abortion.

Dona Dinkler-spokesperson for the inspector general's office, which is conducting the review-stressed that the review is not over and said, "We have no evidence-no information that USAID has done anything illegal." A July Infotrak Harris poll showed 65 percent of Kenyans saying they would vote for the constitution on Aug. 4. Of the 25 percent who said they would vote no, 59 percent said they were voting no because the constitution "permits abortion."

Border battle

In blocking key provisions of Arizona's controversial immigration law, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton may have ensured that illegal immigration and border security will be high-profile issues in the 2010 elections. On July 28, one day before the law was scheduled to take effect, Bolton put parts of the law on hold until they are resolved by courts.

Specifically, the Clinton appointee blocked sections of the law that require police officers, while enforcing other laws, to check a person's immigration status if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal immigrant. She also blocked provisions that require legal immigrants to carry their papers and prohibit illegal immigrants from seeking jobs in public places.

Republican candidates in Arizona, but also as far away as Arkansas and Tennessee, denounced the ruling and pledged to make illegal immigration and border security central issues in their campaigns. Democrats, meanwhile, sought to use the issue to bolster Hispanic support in California and other states. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, pledged to fight for the law: "This is a little road bump. I will battle all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, for the right to protect the citizens of Arizona."

Overall, the Arizona law is popular. A CNN/Opinion Research poll in July found that 55 percent of Americans favor Arizona's law and 40 percent oppose it. Other surveys have put support as high as 61 percent.

Violence returns

Sixteen years after Rwanda became infamous for a Hutu-led genocide that killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, international observers worry that a new wave of human-rights abuses is corrupting the political landscape. The United Nations has demanded a full investigation into allegations of politically motivated murders of opposition leaders ahead of the country's August elections.

President Paul Kagame-a Tutsi credited with ending the 1994 genocide-now faces allegations of suppressing opposition to his bid for re-election to another seven-year term. Government officials have banned two opposition newspapers from publishing and have harassed opposition politicians. In late July, unidentified assailants beheaded opposition leader Andre Kagwa Rwisereka in southern Rwanda. Other recent murder victims included a human-rights lawyer and a journalist investigating the attempted murder of another Kagame opponent. Rwandan officials deny any involvement in the murders.

Center of moderation?

A public outcry has followed the news that Muslim leaders plan to build a community center and place of worship two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. The National Republican Trust PAC released an ad showing images of 9/11 with the message, "Where we weep, they rejoice" and "Kill the Ground Zero Mosque." Both Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich spoke against the project with Gingrich saying, "There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia."

The leaders of the initiative say the $100 million, 13-story community center is not a mosque but a prayer space since it contains space for musical performance and a restaurant-neither of which are allowed in mosques. The leaders also changed the name of the project from "Cordoba House" to "Park 51" after critics noted that Cordoba is the name of a Spanish city conquered by Muslims in the eighth century.

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