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USA UK and Malta News
15/04/2008 - 19:58

USA today Editoweb, 15 april 2008


Pope Benedict to Confront Church Skeptics, Scandal in U.S. Trip - Women of polygamist retreat speak out - Bush scolds Congress on Colombia trade - McCain calls for summer-long suspension of gas tax.



Pope Benedict to Confront Church Skeptics, Scandal in U.S. Trip
Pope Benedict XVI has a lot of catching up to do with the U.S. and its 69 million Roman Catholics when he begins his first official visit to the country today. The trip will mark the first by a pope to the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the American invasion of Iraq, and the revelations that, over a span of decades, thousands of clergymen had sexually abused minors. While Benedict's reserved public persona contrasts with the celebrity status of the last papal visitor, John Paul II, he has confronted all three issues head on. He triggered riots among Muslims by speaking out against Islamic extremism, criticized the war, and forced the church to at least begin facing up to the sex scandal.

Women of polygamist retreat speak out
Mothers separated from their children as part of a wide-ranging abuse investigation within a polygamist retreat accuse state officials of misleading them before taking their children into custody. Authorities raided the sect's ranch more than a week ago in response to allegations that underage girls were forced to marry older men. Women and children from the secretive community were taken to a West Texas fort-turned-museum and a rodeo pavilion, but on Monday officials began separating women and some of their children without warning, members of the sect said.

Bush scolds Congress on Colombia trade
President Bush stepped up pressure Monday on Congress to approve a controversial free-trade pact with Colombia, saying the deal is "dead" unless House Speaker Nancy Pelosi schedules a vote.
After a meeting with his Cabinet, Bush said it's not in America's interest to "stiff an ally" like Colombia.
Bush sent the agreement to Capitol Hill earlier this month, but the House, led by Democrats, decided to eliminate a rule forcing a vote on the deal within 60 legislative days. The House's decision probably kills consideration of the Colombia agreement this year, leaving it for the next administration.
"This free trade agreement is in our national interests," Bush said. "Yet that bill is dead unless the speaker schedules a definite vote. This was an unprecedented move. It's not in our country's interests that we stiff an ally like Colombia and that we don't encourage our goods and services to be sold overseas."

McCain calls for summer-long suspension of gas tax
Republican Sen. John McCain on Tuesday called for a summer-long suspension of the federal gasoline tax and several tax cuts as the likely presidential nominee sought to stem the public's pain from a troubled economy. Timed for the day millions of Americans filed their tax returns, McCain offered some immediate steps as well as long-term proposals in a broad economic speech. The nation's financial woes have replaced the Iraq war as the top concern for voters, and McCain, who has said economics is not his strongest suit, felt compelled to address the problems as he looks ahead to the November general election.

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