The Supreme Court has agreed to take a pair of cases that could result in the end of government efforts to maintain racial integration in public schools. The court is expected to decide on what measures, if any, public school districts may use to maintain racial balance. Three years ago the Supreme Court ruled that universities had a "compelling" need to consider a student’s race if it was to maintain diversity in classes. But the court’s make-up has changed significantly since then. The author of the University of Michigan ruling, Sandra Day O’Connor, has since retired. Her replacement Samuel Alito has openly opposed "racial and ethnic quotas."
In other education news, newly released statistics show that only 2 percent of this year’s freshman class at UCLA will be African-American — the lowest number at the school since 1973. The school is expected to have just under 5,000 freshmen this year. Only 96 are African American and 20 of them are recruited athletes. At UC San Diego just 1.1 percent of freshmen are African-American. According to the Los Angeles Times, the problem is rooted partly in the restrictions placed on the state’s public colleges and institutions by Proposition 209, the 1996 voter initiative that banned consideration of race and gender in admissions and hiring.
In Iraq concern is growing that U.S.-backed forces may soon launch a major offensive in the Sunni city of Ramadi. On Monday, U.S. forces fired artillery at the city’s train station. Hospital officials said five civilians died and 15 others were wounded. The Red Crescent reports over 100 families have recently fled the city fearing that a large-scale military operation is imminent. Last week U.S. military officials announced it was moving 1,500 soldiers from Kuwait into the region surrounding the city. One Pentagon spokesperson declared Ramadi had become the most contentious city in Iraq. On Monday the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars warned the Iraqi government not to support any U.S. attacks on the city.
A top European diplomat has arrived in Iran to present the government with a package of economic and political incentives to persuade Iran to give up its domestic uranium enrichment program. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator vowed Iran would closely study the proposals, which he said contain positive steps as well as some ambiguities. The incentive package was drawn up last week by the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council: the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
A new report has determined that members of Congress and their aides took over 20,000 free trips worth nearly $50 million paid for by corporations, trade associations and other private groups between January 2000 and June 2005. The study’s author, the Center for Public Integrity, concluded "In many instances, trip sponsors appeared to be buying access to elected officials or their advisors."
In Washington, President Bush called on Monday for Congress to ban same sex marriage.
President Bush spoke before lawmakers and members of several groups from the religious right, including Exodus International which promotes what it calls "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." The group claims it has helped hundreds of thousands of ex-gay men and lesbians become straight.
In Somalia, Islamic militias have announced they have seized control of the capital of Mogadishu after months of fighting with U.S.-backed warlords. The warlords had controlled the city for the past 15 years.
In Gaza, dozens of gunmen connected to Hamas stormed the studios of Palestine Television on Monday. The gunmen smashed equipment and accused the station of favoring Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is traveling to Asia this week. During his stop in Vietnam, U.S. military officials admitted that Washington will not compensate the millions of Vietnamese suffering from the affects of Agent Orange, used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile Rumsfeld traveled to Indonesia to mark the restoration of Washington’s military ties to the Indonesian government.
The United Nations warned Monday that the world’s deserts are facing dramatic threats because of global warming.
There is an update on the case of Jose Padilla — the U.S. born man who was held in solitary confinement for three years before being charged with a crime. His layers are now alleging that the government’s case against their client relied in part on statements made by a government witness who was tortured. Padilla’s defense team has a filed a motion to suppress evidence and statements connected to a man who says that while in detention he was whipped, hung from the ceiling of his cell with leather straps and tortured with razors.
In news from Washington, President Bush’s new domestic policy advisor has been caught lying about his past. The official, Karl Zinsmeister, has maintained he was the founding editor of the American Enterprise magazine, published by the think tank of the same name. In fact the magazine was founded four years before he became editor. Questions are also being raised about past comments Zinsmeister made about journalists. In March 2003, at the start of the Iraq war, he said: "A significant number are whiny and appallingly soft…. I almost wished there would be a very loud explosion very nearby just to shut up their rattling."
In Greensboro North Carolina, the city’s mayor is rejecting a call to apologize for the city’s role in what has become known as the Greensboro Massacre. On November 3, 1979, 40 Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis opened fire on an anti-Klan demonstration and killed five labor activists and injured 10 others. The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently concluded that the single most important element that contributed to the violent outcome of the confrontation was the absence of police. No one has ever been convicted of criminal charges in the shootings.
And in education news, a Massachusetts company is launching its own private radio network to be piped into school buses. The company, Bus Radio, claims the radio station "will take targeted student marketing to the next level." The company plans to begin broadcasting this fall to 100,000 students in Massachusetts and then take the program national next year.