- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Afghan park

The State Department has championed a biodiversity program to pass environmental laws and create national parks in an unexpected place: Afghanistan.

The park, called Band-e-Amir, was created on Earth Day, April 22, by the State Department and nongovernmental organizations such as the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society. USAID reportedly spent nearly $1 million of its money getting the Band-e-Amir lakes, known for their beauty, recognized as national parks.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat, recently circulated a letter, obtained by The Washington Times, urging his colleagues to sign a letter commending the State Department for its efforts in developing a biodiversity program.

“Now this protected area network is spurring the development of Afghanistan’s first listing of endangered species, which will serve to protect highly endangered species like the elusive snow leopard,” it said.

Sex ed lessons

School officials in England have revised their sex-education guidelines for children and now require all students receive instruction about same-sex relationships.

They are also requiring children, starting at age 5, to receive instruction about human anatomy and refusing parents the right to pull older children, 15 and up, from specialized classes about gay relationships, contraceptives and HIV.

The new policies were enacted to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy and increase tolerance of homosexuality.

Ed Balls, the schools secretary, said in remarks reported by British outlets, “You can teach the promotion of marriage, you can teach that you shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage, what you can’t do is deny young people information about contraception outside of marriage. The same arises in homosexuality. Some faiths have a view about what in religious terms is right and wrong - what they can’t do though is not teach the importance of tolerance.”

Gay rights groups see the mandated lessons about same-sex relationships as a victory. The Manchester-based Gay and Lesbian Foundation issued a statement that said: “The news that it will be compulsory for issues like lesbian, bisexual and gay relationships and HIV to be discussed in schools could not have come at a more crucial time. Many of the perpetrators in recent high-profile homophobic attacks have been school-age young people or have recently left school. Hopefully, the discussion of gay issues in schools will lead to a greater understanding of gay relationships and acceptance of gay people.”

Yes

Former CNN personality Lou Dobbs confirmed to former Republican presidential contender Fred Thompson that he was considering making a run for president in 2012.

Mr. Thompson asked the longtime TV anchorman whether he was thinking about it on his talk radio program on Monday and Mr. Dobbs replied: “Yes is the answer.”

“I’m going be talking some more with some folks who want me to listen to them in the next few weeks,” Mr. Dobbs said. “I mean, I don’t even know what to tell you in terms of where I’m leaning. Because right now I’m fortunate to have a number of just wonderful options.”

Mr. Dobbs abruptly left his prime-time CNN program earlier this month.

Quoted

“The people of Louisiana sent her to Washington to get as much sausage as they could, you know, she could.”

- “Good Morning America” anchor Bill Weir discussing the $300 million allocated for Louisiana in the Senate health care bill. It is widely believed the money was put in the bill to persuade Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, to vote Saturday in favor of a hotly contested motion to proceed with the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, needed 60 votes to advance the bill and Mrs. Landrieu was one of three he needed to make up the margin.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com

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