- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

Journalists lampoon nation's leaders
On a night full of laughs and lampooning, thoughts of a looming war were not straying far from center stage for much of official Washington.
In white tie and tails, President Bush and other political leaders convened yesterday for the 118th annual Gridiron dinner, a ritual songfest that features journalists with outlandish costumes and untrained voices lampooning the leaders and topics of the day.
"We had some concerns about writing humor in the face of war, threatened terrorism and economic woes," Walter Mears, retired Associated Press special correspondent and vice president, noted in opening the show.
Thankfully, Mr. Mears said, the Bush administration and Congress provided the script: "I mean, no satirist could have dreamed up the duct-tape caper."

Rosa Parks won't attend NAACP awards
DETROIT Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks will not attend Saturday's NAACP Image Awards because the event's host, Cedric the Entertainer, made jokes about her in the film "Barbershop" that she considered offensive.
In a letter dated Thursday, Elaine Steele, a co-founder of the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, said the invitation was appreciated but that jokes by Cedric's character are a "sensitive area to us."
Mrs. Parks, 90, made history in December 1955 when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., city bus.

Teacher fired for giving threatening valentine
PHOENIX A theology teacher at a Roman Catholic high school lost his job after giving a student a valentine that read "I hate you, I wish you would die."
A police report stated that R. Scott Jones passed out similar cards Feb. 14 to his other students at St. Mary's High School, many of whom regarded it as a joke, but one 17-year-old boy said he was "freaked out" by the card.
Police said the incident remains under investigation. Mr. Jones, 44, was placed on administrative leave.

Columbia investigators probe internal messages
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. A new team will look into NASA's internal communications, including e-mails and management directives, as part of the investigation into what caused the breakup of the Space Shuttle Columbia last month.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hess, an aviation accident specialist stationed at Kirtland, said Friday that the team will aid three groups investigating the structural design, operations and technical aspects of the shuttle.
The shuttle was returning from 16 days in space when it broke up over Texas Feb. 1, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

Budget so successful it may get veto
HARRISBURG, Pa. Gov. Edward G. Rendell is having so much success in getting his first state budget through the Legislature that he's begging lawmakers to slow down. In fact, if the $21 billion budget is approved in the next couple of weeks, Mr. Rendell said, he might veto his own bill.
Ordinarily, budget negotiations don't conclude until close to the June 30 end of the fiscal year, creating deadline pressure that forces lawmakers to strike deals.
But if the state Senate approves the basic House-passed budget and Mr. Rendell signs it there would be no deadline, and thus no pressure on lawmakers to even consider his other spending proposals .

Former senator displeased with debate
GREENSBORO, N.C. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole says he's displeased with the first of at least 10 debates against former President Bill Clinton that will air on "60 Minutes."
The two 1996 presidential opponents taped a debate Thursday morning about the wisdom of a tax cut in wartime.
"I think it needs to be a little tougher," Mr. Dole said Friday before speaking at a Lincoln Day dinner held by Guilford County Republicans. "It needs to have a little more edge to it for people to be interested."

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