High court agrees to hear ‘Pledge’ case

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide
whether it’s unconstitutional for children in public schools to
pledge their allegiance to “one nation under God.”

The Pledge of Allegiance case pushes the court into an emotional
argument over religion, patriotism and schools.

Activists on both sides of the church-state divide immediately
predicted one of the most significant, and wrenching, rulings in
the court’s modern history.

Generations of schoolchildren have begun each day by standing,
hand on heart, to recite the oath that begins, “I pledge allegiance
to the flag of the United States of America.”

Sometime next year, the high court will hear the case of a
California atheist who objects to the pledge his 9-year-old
daughter’s teacher leads daily. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals in San Francisco agreed with Michael Newdow last year, and
the ruling set off a national uproar.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress criticized the decision
and quickly passed a law affirming references to God in the pledge
and the national motto, “In God We Trust.” President Bush, who
signed the measure, called the appeals court decision

The ruling is on hold pending the court challenge. Newdow, a
doctor and lawyer representing himself in the case, was pleased the
court agreed to hear the appeal.

China becomes 3rd country to enter orbit

GOBI DESERT, China – China launched its first manned space
mission today, becoming the third country in history to send a
person into orbit – four decades after the former Soviet Union and
the United States.

With a column of smoke, the Shenzhou 5 craft cut across a
bright, azure northwest China sky at exactly 9 a.m. Wednesday (9
p.m. Tuesday EDT) and went into orbit 10 minutes later. The
official Xinhua News Agency immediately confirmed the launch and
said the astronaut was air force Lt. Col. Yang Liwei, 38.

“China’s first manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou 5, blasted off,”
Xinhua said. China Central Television’s Channel One, the
government’s flagship station, cut into its programming to announce
the launch. The station later showed Shenzhou streaking into the
sky and disappearing, its tracer billowing behind it.

Minutes after the launch, a CCTV announcer said that Shenzhou 5
and Yang had “entered orbit at 9:10.” Xinhua said Yang was “reading
a flight manual in the capsule of the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft and
looked composed and at ease.”

“I feel good,” Yang radioed back from space after a half-hour in
flight, according to Xinhua.

Washington sniper pleads innocence

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – John Allen Muhammad entered innocent pleas
yesterday as the death-penalty trial of the sniper suspect got
under way a year after a series of deadly shootings terrified the
Washington area.

Muhammad, 42, pleaded innocent to capital murder and firearms
charges. He initially remained silent when asked a routine question
by Circuit Judge LeRoy Millette Jr., but later answered after
whispering with an attorney.

Muhammad told Millette he understood the charges and that he was
ready for the trial.

“I’m prepared for it, yes,” he said.

The case, which is expected to last up to six weeks, was moved
some 200 miles out of metropolitan Washington to this southeastern
Virginia city after defense lawyers argued that every northern
Virginia resident could be considered a victim because the
shootings made them afraid.

Life expectancy linked to cholesterol particles

CHICAGO – One reason some people live into their 90s and beyond
may be a genetic variation that makes the cholesterol particles in
their blood really big.

“Supersize it” is not usually associated with good health, but
evidence increasingly is showing that bigger is indeed better when
it comes to the lipoprotein particles that carry cholesterol
through the bloodstream.

Smaller particles, it is believed, can more easily embed
themselves in the blood vessel walls, contributing to the fatty
buildups that lead to heart attacks and strokes. A study in today’s
Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the
tendency to have large cholesterol particles can be inborn.

Calif. labor disputes frustrate citizens

LOS ANGELES – Train and bus mechanics for the nation’s
third-largest mass-transit system walked off the job yesterday,
stranding hundreds of thousands of Southern California commuters
already burdened by a supermarket strike and sporadic sickouts by
sheriff’s deputies.

The labor disputes snarled traffic, inconvenienced grocery
shoppers and threatened to disrupt the operation of county jails
and courts.

“I’m just stranded,” said commuter David Strattling, 59, who
made it to Union Station on one of the buses not affected by the
strike before realizing he could not go any farther.

“I won’t be able to go to work today.”

– Compiled from Daily wire reports.










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