President Bush held out the possibility on Tuesday of a U.S. troop presence in Iraq for many years, saying a full withdrawal would depend on decisions by future U.S. presidents and Iraqi governments. That could mean a military presence in Iraq through the rest of his term, which ends in 2008. In his second news conference of the year, Bush acknowledged the public's growing unease with the war, but according to wire reports, vowed to keep U.S. soldiers in the fight, saying: "If I didn't believe we could succeed, I wouldn't be there. I wouldn't put those kids there." He also stood behind Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying he doesn't believe Rumsfeld should resign.
The transcript of the news conference also contains a testy exchange with veteran newswoman Helen Thomas.
The Guardian reported Monday that a Christian in Afghanistan could face death under the shariah laws in that country for converting from Islam to Christianity. According to the Guardian, "Abdul Rahman, 41, was arrested last month after his family accused him of becoming a Christian."
The prosecution is seeking the death penalty:
"The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, said he had offered to drop the charges if Mr. Rahman converted back to Islam, but he refused. "He would have been forgiven if he changed back. But he said he was Christian and would always remain one," Mr. Wasi said. "We are Muslims and becoming a Christian is against our laws. He must get the death penalty."
The Guardian correspondent goes on to note that "there are no known Afghan churches" in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. According to the story, the only Christian churches in Kabul are located in foreign embassies, bases belonging to US or NATO troops in the country or an "old house" in a suburb of Kabul which "serves as a Christian place of worship for expatriates."
Two questions came to mind as I read this story in the UK Guardian newspaper:
What exactly are we fighting for in Afghanistan and Iraq if Christians can be put to death for converting from Islam?
If people are in doubt about a threat to our religious beliefs posed by the growing influence of militant Islam, this should give them pause.
Remember back in February when four Dallas cops were shot while trying to serve a warrant in the 1200 block of Oak Park, just east of Highway 67 and south of Loop 12?
Three of the officers had minor injuries and one was seriously wounded. Turns out that, according to an internal investigation, one of the injuries was an officer - Sgt. Kenneth Wilkins - who shot another officer in the leg, and another of the injuries was Wilkins shooting himself in the finger. Wilkins has asked to be reassigned from SWAT.
Somehow, we don't think this will be making the Dallas SWAT reality show on A&E.
The City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department has temporarily closed a section of the trail around White Rock Lake, along the spillway from Garland Road to Winstead Drive.
The closure is due to damage caused by heavy rain between Saturday and Monday. The section of trail will remain closed until further notice to allow the area to be assessed and approved safe for use. Additionally, miscellaneous sections of the White Rock Lake Trail will close periodically over the next several days to allow park crews to remove mud and debris left from the receding waters.
Park and Recreation Department crews have established parking lots and trail clearing as their first priority. Debris removal from shorelines and turf areas will be done as soon as possible.
The merger of the Dallas Museum of Natural History and Science Place is effective today and the new CEO of the combined outfits will be Nicole Small. Small is currently the CEO of the Museum of Natural History and has served in that capacity for the past four years. She is a native of Dallas. The combined organization is in the midst of raising money to construct a new Museum of Nature and Science near Downtown's West End. The new facility will be similar to Houston's spectacular Museum of Natural Science.
I guess the weekend topper for me -- "the cherry on the pie,'' as Malaprop Michael Irvin now calls it -- was my friend Dale Hansen's treacly late-Sunday commentary on Channel 8, the one that painted T.O. as the Ultimate Insult To What The Cowboys Have Always Stood For. Assorted takes from atop Mike Fisher's barstool in the "School of Fish'' ...
Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Democratic nominee Chris Bell both held news conferences today calling for larger teacher pay raises ($4,000 across-the-board in Strayhorn's case). "To ensure our state’s economic prosperity, we must recruit, reward and retain highly qualified and experienced teachers who are fully certified, well paid and dedicated to a lifelong career with our most precious resource – our children," Strayhorn said. A link to Strayhorn's report is posted below.
Perry spokesman Robert Black called on Strayhorn to release a fully-funded school finance plan. "All Texans have ever gotten from Chris Bell and Carole Strayhorn is promises without pricetags and plans to pay for them," he said.
Okay, I think the Startlegram blew it on this story, that relates a really shoddy study purporting - wrongly - to show that energy deregulation has caused energy prices to go up instead of down.
The Startlegram isn't to blame, per se, but they report this study barely questioning it. And this is not to endorse or disparage energy deregulation, but rather to point out the flaws in the study the paper reports on.
The paper states: "Under electricity deregulation, Texans have paid some of the highest rates in the nation -- a reversal of at least a decade of relatively cheap electricity under the state's old regulated system. That's the conclusion of a national utility expert, who also reports that those in deregulated states typically have had larger rate increases than customers in states still under regulation."
It goes on to note that: "In 2004, the typical Texas residential customer paid an average of $96.00 per month, compared with the national average of $89.40."
Leave aside the meaningless comparison of average Texas household to the national average - should be a given that Texas households would use more energy given how hot it gets. And it's telling that they quote average monthly bills instead of the cost per kilowatthour.
What's really notable is what remains unsaid in the article: Something like more than four out of five households in Texas still buy electricity at the regulated rate.
So how that establishes that deregulation is the problem is, well, beyond me.