News Around the World Feb 23

7 killed as Quran protests turn violent

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed for calm Wednesday after clashes in several cities between Afghan security forces and protesters furious over the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. military base left seven people dead.

The anger over the Quran burning has sparked two days of protests across Afghanistan and tapped into anti-foreign sentiment fueled by a popular perception that U.S. and Western troops disrespect Afghan culture and Islam. The demonstrations prompted the U.S. to lock down its embassy and bar its staff from traveling.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement that seven people were killed — four in clashes in the eastern province of Parwan, one at a U.S. base outside Kabul, and one each in Jalalabad and Logar provinces. It said an investigation was under way to determine what happened.

Loss of license ordered in Kansas abortion case

TOPEKA, Kan. — An administrative judge has issued an order revoking a Kansas doctor’s license over her referrals of young patients for late-term abortions.

The judge said Dr. Ann Kristen Neuhaus failed to meet accepted standards of care in performing mental health evaluations on 11 patients, aged 10 to 18, in 2003.

Neuhaus provided the second opinions that allowed the late Dr. George Tiller, of Wichita, to terminate the patients’ pregnancies.

But Administrative Judge Ed Gaschler, who presided over a hearing for Neuhaus, said the care of the patients was seriously jeopardized by her actions.

The revocation order will be reviewed by the State Board of Healing Arts, which regulates physicians.

Romney: Obama ‘fought against religion’

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s administration has “fought against religion” and sought to substitute a “secular” agenda for one grounded in faith.

Obama’s campaign seized on the characterization, calling Romney’s comments “disgraceful.”

Romney rarely ventures into social issues in his campaign speeches, but people participating in a town hall-style meeting one week before the Michigan primary asked how he would protect religious liberty.

The Obama campaign linked Romney’s remarks to recent comments by rival Rick Santorum, who has referred to Obama holding a “phony theology” only to say later that he wasn’t attacking Obama’s faith but the president’s environmental views.

Backers seek review of gay marriage case

SAN FRANCISCO — The backers of California’s same-sex marriage ban petitioned a federal appeals court to review a split decision by three of its judges that struck down the voter-approved law known as Proposition 8.

Lawyers for the religious and legal groups that qualified the ban for the 2008 ballot had faced a Tuesday deadline for asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the 2-1 decision made two weeks ago.

The ruling declared Proposition 8 to be a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian Californians.

Andy Pugno, legal counsel for the Protect Marriage Coalition, said the backers appealed to a bigger 9th Circuit panel instead of going directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Monitoring of Muslim students sparks outrage

NEW YORK — New York City’s mayor faced off with the president of Yale University on Monday over efforts by the city’s police department to monitor Muslim student groups.

The Associated Press revealed over the weekend that in recent years, the NYPD has kept close watch on Muslim student associations across the Northeast. The effort included daily tracking of student websites and blogs, monitoring who was speaking to the groups, and in one case sending an undercover officer on a whitewater rafting trip with students from the City College of New York.

Yale President Richard Levin was among a number of academics who condemned the effort, while Rutgers University and leaders of student Muslim groups elsewhere called for investigations into the monitoring.

Mouse causes power outage at KU 

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Power has been restored to more than 10 buildings at the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence.

The outage started around 2:10 p.m. Tuesday after a mouse caused an electrical short. The university said in a statement that buildings were brought back online gradually, with the power fully restored around 3:30 p.m.

Buildings affected by the outage included Spencer Museum, Watson Library and the Kansas Union.

Justices to review affirmative action

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is setting an election-season review of racial preference in college admissions, agreeing to consider new limits on the contentious issue of affirmative action programs.

A challenge from a white student who was denied admission to the University of Texas flagship campus will be the high court’s first look at affirmative action in higher education since its 2003 decision endorsing the use of race as a factor.

This time around, a more conservative court could jettison that earlier ruling or at least limit when colleges may take account of race in admissions.

Iran threatens pre-emptive strike against foes

TEHRAN, Iran — As pressure mounts over Iran’s nuclear program, a top Iranian general warned that the nation will pre-emptively strike anyone who threatens it.

The statement by Gen. Mohammed Hejazi continues the defiant tone Tehran has taken in its confrontation with Western countries that claim it is developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

“We do not wait for enemies to take action against us,” said Hejazi, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency. “We will use all our means to protect our national interests.”

The U.S. and Israel have not ruled out strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Kan. school finance debate extended 

TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas Senate committee is extending its discussion of Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to rewrite the formula for distributing state aid to school districts.

Friday is the last day in this year’s legislative session for bills in certain committees to clear their chamber of origin.

Sen. Jean Schodorf says the Education Committee won’t be able to finish its work on the school finance bill this week, and will request an exception to allow for more debate.

Schodorf, a Wichita Republican, says Brownback’s plan is complex and has generated a lot of discussion. She says the bill isn’t dead, but needs further review.

Brownback is proposing to give school districts more authority to raise revenue and spend the dollars with more flexibility.

Kan. GOP income tax plan hits poorest

TOPEKA, Kan. — Revenue estimates for the House Republican income tax plan show that the lowest income earners would be the only bracket that would see their tax rates go up.

The estimates show the plan would cost Kansas more than $850 million over the next five years, possibly creating budget issues in future years. The Associated Press obtained the figures exclusively from a legislative source who wasn’t authorized to release the information publicly.

House Republican leaders developed the plan as an alternative to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax proposal. In both plans, the only group of taxpayers seeing a collective increase in their income taxes would be those with adjusted gross incomes of $25,000 or less.

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