- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2008


Activists demand end to race gap

If Johnny can’t read and Sally can’t add, it’s often because of the color of their skin and their ZIP code, educators and activists said Wednesday.

The heads of the New York City and Washington school systems joined with the Rev. Al Sharpton and others to press for a shake-up of public schools from coast to coast to narrow the achievement gap between white students and black and Hispanic students. The group called the gap the nation’s most pressing civil rights issue.

By the time they near high school graduation, black and Hispanic teenagers on average have math and reading skills no higher than that of white middle-school students four years younger.

Nationally, 55 percent of black males graduate high school on time, compared with about 78 percent of whites, according to recent data released by Education Week with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“All the numbers, no matter how you look at it, are shocking,” said Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City school system, the nation’s largest.


Vote sidetracks Bush impeachment

The House has voted to send articles of impeachment against President Bush to a committee that is not likely to hold hearings before the end of his term.

By 251-166, House members dispatched the measure to a committee on Wednesday - a procedure often used to kill legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, long ago declared the prospects for impeachment proceedings “off the table.”

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, who ran for president earlier this year, insists that his resolution deserves more consideration. He spent more than four hours Monday night reading his 35 articles of impeachment into the record, including charges that Mr. Bush manufactured a case for going to war against Iraq.

The House vote sent the impeachment articles to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, who had once vowed to hold impeachment hearings. He wouldn’t immediately comment on the articles’ prospects for hearings.


Census to probe temporary workers

The U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday it will fingerprint and conduct background checks on more than a half-million temporary workers who will go door to door for the 2010 count, at a cost that could exceed $300 million.

Census Director Steven Murdock told a congressional committee the measures are necessary to ensure the federal government does not send criminals into the homes of the nation’s residents.

He said it would be “absolutely devastating to the census” if temporary workers used their government jobs to commit crimes.

“We have a prime responsibility to ensure the safety of the American people,” Mr. Murdock told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.


NOAA proposes fishing registration

The government wants to know who’s fishing for fun in federal ocean waters.

Recreational anglers and spearfishers would be required to be registered, starting next year, under a rule proposed Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA’s Fisheries Service said it wants to get more accurate data on recreational fish catches. Commercial fishers already need licenses or permits and thus would not have to register again, the agency said.

The registry is required under a change in the law and would cover recreational fishing in federal waters as well as fishing anywhere for what are called anadromous species, such as striped bass, salmon and shad, that spawn in rivers and streams and spend their adult lives in estuaries and the ocean.


Obama attacks credit-card firms

CHICAGO | Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama charged Wednesday that credit-card companies are tricking Americans with deceptive practices and that likely Republican nominee Sen. John McCain has done nothing to stop it.

Mr. Obama, on a two-week tour focusing on problems in the economy, held a roundtable discussion with three people who have seen their credit-card debt skyrocket because of a relentless cycle of interest-rate increases and fees.

“For too long, credit-card companies have been using unfair and deceptive practices to trick Americans into signing agreements they can’t afford,” said Mr. Obama of Illinois.

Companies held up for scorn at the event included Bank of America, Washington Mutual and GE/Pearl Money, a credit card issued through the eyeglasses vendor Pearl Vision.

Mr. Obama said the laws and regulations governing credit-card companies have been lax and that the companies have paid millions of dollars to curry favor with members of Congress “to get laws written to their liking.” Mr. Obama said “John McCain has been part of the problem,” accusing the Arizona Republican of siding with banking-industry lobbyists on credit issues.


McCain’s daughter plans picture book

NEW YORK | Meghan McCain, daughter of the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, is working on a picture book about her father, Sen. John McCain.

Miss McCain’s children’s story, currently untitled, will be published by Simon & Schuster the first week of September, about the time of the Republican National Convention.

“I am truly excited about the opportunity to write a children’s book about my father, who is not only a fantastic dad, but also a great American,” Miss McCain, known for her blog, McCain Blogette, www.mccainblogette.com, said in a statement issued Wednesday by her publisher.

“This book will offer children the unique opportunity to see the character building events that happened over his lifetime, experiences that led up to his current bid to become the future president of the United States.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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