Sunday, February 13, 2011

Boehner Says Facts Show Obama a Christian, Citizen

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner says Americans have a right to think what they want to think, even when they're wrong about President Barack Obama's citizenship and his religion.

Some people believe that Obama, a native of Hawaii, was actually born outside the U.S. or in some other way is not a natural-born citizen eligible to be president. There is also a persistent belief among some that Obama, a Christian, is actually a Muslim.

When the host of NBC's "Meet the Press" asked Boehner whether he, as speaker of the House, had a responsibility to "stand up to that kind of ignorance," Boehner told David Gregory: "It's not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people."

Boehner continued: "Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That's good enough for me. The president says he's a Christian. I accept him at his word."
He later called those "the facts" of Obama's background.

Gregory asked, "But that kind of ignorance, about whether he's a Muslim, doesn't concern you?"

"The American people have the right to think what they want to think," Boehner replied. "I can't — it's not my job to tell them."

Boehner denied that he is willing to let those misperceptions remain because they weaken and delegitimize Obama.

Just a difference of opinion, except for the dying part

People don't like being called stupid, but let's face it. One side or the other is sometimes being stupid. Let's see if we can decide which.

On the climate change side we have:

Plausible theory:
-Carbon Dioxide, a long-acknowledged heat-trapping gas, is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity.
-Scientists measure this, and do their best with imperfect data to model and predict consequences.
-The measuring of CO2 levels throughout history and the effect on climate is tabulated. The effects of current increases are predicted and confirming/refuting evidence is accumulated, analyzed, reported and discussed.
-A range of possible outcomes is forecast. They range from not good to catastrophic.
-A suggestion that, as a precautionary step at least, carbon emissions be reduced is made.
-After DECADES of study, the data solidifies, the range of predicted outcomes becomes more dire, and the speed of observable current changes accelerates.
-Leaders in BOTH parties acknowledge the problem and start discussing legislative responses.
-The responses will include a shift from conventional burning of fossil fuels to alternatives. An interesting, difficult political discussion is underway.

The opponents' side:

-A realization that some familiar consumption patterns will need to change and that there will be some costs.
-The conversation suddenly goes backward from "what is the best way to deal with this?" to "the whole problem is just made up."
-The only way to get around the science is to construct a theory that all the scientists in the world have gotten together in a deliberate conspiracy to subvert their field of study, and hoax the world for personal gain. Virtually ALL of them. Pay attention ONLY to the tiny tiny minority.
-The threat of climate change is no longer discussed as a range of possibilities, but is recalibrated down to ZERO, or next to it.
-If the deniers are right, then they may have saved themselves a few dollars and some personal convenience in doing things the way they have become comfortable with.
-If the climate science is correct, vast destruction may ensue, up to and including millions of deaths. But let's not even CONTEMPLATE that as a possibility, because maybe, just maybe, it's all a conspiracy. In fact, not maybe. It's definitely a conspiracy. We're sure of it.
-So sure we will bet the whole planet on that supposition.

Nobody likes being called stupid. What would you call this?

Tom Toles WashingtonPost

My favorite Grammy moment!

It opened with a reverent tribute to Aretha Franklin, featuring Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Martina McBride and Florence Welch,
a diverse cast that offered a cross-section of the current music industry honoring a woman whose very name conveys musical credibility.

P.S. I loved the performance of Mick Jagger too!

Wael Ghonim and Egypt's New Age Revolution

"60 Minutes" Talks To The Man Who Has Emerged As The Symbol of Egypt's Revolution

This Sunday night, for the first time in more than two weeks, traffic is flowing through Cairo's Tahrir Square. In Egypt, businesses are open, university classes are back in session and a new military government rules with popular support and a promise of coming democracy.

Egypt is an ancient civilization with a youthful population - nearly two-thirds of them are 30 years old or under. Many of them are educated but unemployed and angry.

Their 18-day revolution began not with terrorism and tanks, but with Twitter and texts and satellite TV broadcasts.

This week an aging autocrat who ruled as a modern pharaoh fell victim to those weapons of the young - out-organized and outmaneuvered by social media, by kids with keyboards.

In Cairo, CBS News correspondent Harry Smith had a chance to talk with the man who emerged as the symbol of the leaderless rebellion, Google executive Wael Ghonim.

Ghonim was jailed for his Internet organizing; when he gave a live interview on satellite TV following his release, he galvanized the movement. Though he was at the center of the "new age revolution," he has no ambition for leadership, nor any way of knowing what comes next.

Wael Ghonim: The regime was extremely stupid. They are the ones who basically ended themselves. They kept oppressing and oppressing and oppressing and oppressing. Right after I came out of jail, I wrote a status message that we are gonna (win), because we don't understand politics, because we don't understand their nasty games.
We're gonna win because our tears comes from our hearts. We're gonna win because we have a dream. We're gonna win because we're convinced that if anyone stands up in front of our dream, we're ready to die defending it.

Harry Smith: Two and a half weeks ago, when this started, did you anticipate this outcome?
Ghonim: When I went on the streets on Tuesday, on the 25th, I was like, 'Whoa, it's gonna happen.' Because the only barrier to people uprising and revolution is the psychological barrier of fear. All these regimes rely on fear. They want everyone to be scared. If you manage to break the psychological barrier, you're gonna definitely be able to do the revolution.

That wall of fear fell in the last few weeks, as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians defied their government and demanded change. Helping to lead the charge was 30-year-old Ghonim, Google's regional marketing manager for the Middle East. In his spare time, he created a Facebook page, posting information about the brutality of Egyptian police.

He was especially angered by the killing of a 28-year-old Internet activist, who was beaten to death after trying to expose police corruption.

Smith: How important is his story in what happened here in the last three weeks?
Ghonim: By the way, his name is Khalid Sayid, name translated in English into 'eternal happiness.' His photo, after being killed by those police officers made all of us cry. Made all of us, you know, because he's coming from middle class. I personally connected to him. I thought, 'This could be my brother.' You know? And I know the police in Egypt. You know, they used to act like they controlled the world. You know, they'd beat you up. You are someone basically who have no rights. So when he died I personally got deeply hurt. I decided to start fighting this regime.

The Facebook page was called "We are all Khalid Sayid." Soon hundreds, then thousands of others began sharing photos and video of abuse and mistreatment.

Within months, the number of followers on Facebook grew to half a million, and when he and other organizers posted the dates and locations of protests, people started showing up and posting Internet videos. Many of the organizers never met in person. Their primary interaction was online.

Smith: If there's no social network, does this revolution happen?
Ghonim: If there was no social networks, it would have never been sparked. Because the whole thing before the revolution was the most critical thing. Without Facebook, without Twitter, without Google, without YouTube, this would have never happened
If you want to have a free country, if you want democracy, then the Internet is great, and all this information can be shared. But isn't just the opposite then true? If I want to continue to suppress people, the last thing I'm gonna give them is access to the Internet.
Ghonim: Block the whole Internet, you're gonna really frustrate people. One of the strategic mistakes of this regime was blocking Facebook. One of the reasons why they are no longer in power now is that they blocked Facebook.
Why? Because they have told four million people that they are scared like hell from the revolution by blocking Facebook. They forced everyone who's just, you know, waiting to read the news on Facebook, they forced them to go to the street to be part of this. So really, like, if I want to thank one, thank anyone for all of this, I would thank our stupid regime.

Three days after the protests began in Tahrir Square, Ghonim disappeared. His friends and family feared he'd been kidnapped or even killed. Egyptian authorities had arrested him for 12 days. He was blindfolded, handcuffed and constantly interrogated.

Smith: Did they hit you?
Ghonim: Yeah, but it was not systematic. Like, it was individual based, and it was not from the officers. It was actually from the soldiers. And I forgive them, I have to say. I forgive them, because one thing is that they were convinced that I was harming the country. These are simple people, not educated. I cannot carry a conversation with them. So, you know, for him, I'm sort of like a traitor. I'm de-stabilizing the country. So when he hits me, he doesn't hit me because, you know, he's a bad guy. He's hitting me because he thinks he's a good guy. I'll tell you a funny story: At the end of the last day, you know, I removed my...blindfold. And I said, 'Hi,' and kissed every one of them. All of the soldiers. And, you know, it was good. I was sending them a message.

Smith: Why do you think they let you go?
Ghonim: Pressure. Ask Obama. Probably. There were a lot of factors to it. One is Google. Google did a lot of work to get me out. They did a lot, massive PR campaign.

After Ghonim was released, he appeared on a popular Egyptian television program, talking about those who had been killed in the protests. The next day, the crowds in Tahrir Square grew even larger. Their demands would not be denied. And Friday, 18 days after the protest started, Mubarak resigned.

Smith: President Obama came out several times during the revolution, had things to say. Did it help? Did it hurt?
Ghonim: You know, it was good that he supports the revolution. That's a good stand. But we don't really need him. And I don't think that....I wrote a tweet. I wrote, 'Dear Western governments. You have been supporting the regime that was oppressing us for 30 years. Please don't get involved now. We don't need you.'

Ghonim told us he has no interest in politics and he wants to go back to work at Google. After our interview, he talked about the future with family and friends. But he realizes his future has fundamentally changed.

Smith: Have you had death threats?
Ghonim: Yeah. I get those all the time. I'm getting a lot of hate messages, a lot of people are talking bad about me, and, you know, still accusing me of being a spy and a traitor. And all that funny stuff. But I think, in the next few days, when all the black files of the regime are gonna be out for everyone to read and see, AND we know about the money that was stolen from this country. Things are gonna get better.

Smith: Do you think Mubarak will be brought to trial?
Ghonim: At the moment, I don't care. Revenge is not the thing I want. For me, what I care about right now, I want all the money of the Egyptian people to come back. There are billions and billions of dollars that were stolen out of this country. You cannot imagine the amount of corruption that was here. You know, with all these people in power, with all this conflict of interest. And, you know, it's time for them to pay the price. And it's, as I said, revenge is not my goal, personally.
You know, others would have that as their goal. And I don't blame them for that. But for me, what is more important, we want the money back. Because this money belongs to the Egyptians, and they deserve it. The people who were eating from the trash, that was their money.

Smith: People who watch this say, 'Okay, well, this miracle happened in Egypt. But it won't be like that a month or a year or five years from now. Life isn't like that.' Do you believe the ideals that were so well-displayed over the last two and a half weeks are the pavement or the foundation for the country?
Ghonim: Yeah, that's actually our responsibility. We're now meeting a lot. Because...this momentum, whatever that just happened right now, needs to be capitalized on now.

Smith: Did the Mubarak regime underestimate, or do you even think it understood, the power of the social network?
Ghonim: They don't understand the social networking part. But they underestimate the power of the people. And, you know, at the end of the day, I want to say my final word is, 'Thanks, thanks, thanks to the stupid regime. You have done us the best thing ever. You have woke up 80 million Egyptians.'

Smith: So if you're an autocrat, or if you're a dictator, and you watch what happened in Egypt over the last several weeks, what lesson do you think...?
Ghonim: He should freak out. He seriously should freak out.

No happy-ever-after with fairy-tale ideas on gender: Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn:
My outlook on dating is very traditional - man courts lady and pays for dinner/drinks, etc.
Then, after you figure out you truly want to continue to date, the woman offers to pay.
The man I am dating seems a bit more on the equal end ... I paid for last night, you pay for tonight.

It started very early on, maybe the eighth date or so. I kept getting the vibe that I should offer to pay, and then it got uncomfortable.
We went on a vacation together and he wanted to split everything. The place was not my first choice of vacation spots, so the more he said, "Okay, give me this much for the bill," the more animosity I felt. He earns a good $30,000 more than I do, his company pays for a lot of his food/transportation, and his rent is half of mine.

I approached him about this when I was frustrated beyond belief, and basically unloaded repressed anger and rambled on about how female and male roles in a relationship are not supposed to be equal. His response was, "Well, I'm not prince charming, and don't expect me to be."

Then he claimed he was "used" for money in his last relationship, which I find very very hard to believe.

I have a very tight budget, with student loans and a huge rent check, yet I still manage to "split" everything. I get him meaningful gifts, and his are only so-so, in meaning and value. I don't need expensive things, but it would be nice to be treated like a lady in terms of dinners and vacations!!

Growing up my dad was amazing and I was his princess! He showed me the role a man is supposed to play: take the girl out, open her door, pull out her chair, etc. How do you suggest approaching this situation? - The princess and the finances

So, do men pay because they're supposed to, or because this man out-earns you, or because you out-borrowed and out-rented him?

And, since when is a vacation not an "expensive thing" - and not proof that you "truly want to continue to date"?

You'll help your cause if you scrutinize and solidify your beliefs on gender roles - and make sure you apply the resulting ideology consistently. If indeed "female and male roles in a relationship" are unequal, then do you believe the inequality is ceremonial (opening doors, etc.), or substantial (men are breadwinners)?
And if you vote "substantial," are you prepared to have less say than your someday husband in family matters? To accept less pay and lesser jobs because men are the ones with the greater social and familial expenses?

Yours may be an amazing dad who doted on you out of love. However, he may unwittingly have installed a fairy tale that's now weak with dry rot. Consider dismantling it if only for your boyfriend's sake: You blow right past those first eight or so dates, which could easily have lightened him by a sum in the thousand-dollar range, and for which you come across not as grateful, but spoiled and unimpressed.

The bigger and more important reason to dismantle the fairy tale lies between the lines of your letter: You struggle mightily to express how you feel, what you believe and what you want. As un-princessy as it feels to speak your mind, your inability to do so is more to blame for your unhappiness than your boyfriend's bean-counting is.

Had you said early on, "My father treated me like a princess, and I'm traditional about gender roles to this day," then you probably would have actually talked about who pays for dates/vacations - and maybe even the deeper implications of such - allowing each of you to proceed (or not) with eyes open, instead of carrying awkwardness and clashing values to the point of pent-up anger.

You may have come away from such a conversation just as convinced that his "I've been used" story is bunk. (Which it is; he needs to own his habits, not blame them on exes.) But you may also have been able to spot - or just accept - a solid declaration: He made it clear he's not paying your way.

I believe that being in the habit of directness yourself allows you to be more receptive to it in others. As it stands, you're opting not to take him at his word, and asking me how to approach the issue. I.e., change his mind, right?

So that's my suggested approach: Lock coyness in the tower. Tell him who you are, and why splitting everything rankles. Find out now whether princess and frog have a chance.

Washington Post

Who Won CPAC? From the who cares department!

Rick Perry issued a call to arms, Ron Paul squeaked out a second straw-poll victory, and Donald Trump drew libertarian ire. Mark McKinnon on CPAC's 2012 forecasts.

At the auditions for Conservative Idol 2012, also known as the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend in Washington, D.C., some contenders pitched hard but fell flat, while others hit perfect notes and were rewarded with rock-star receptions from the record crowd.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the Sanjaya of presidential candidates—with a fevered but limited libertarian fanbase—won the straw-poll vote for the second year running. But the CPAC straw poll is not historically predictive. Other more likely contestants for the final two on the GOP ticket tested their messages, finding their rhythm and groove.

Headliners included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), former Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN), and Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS). And other crowd pleasers: Donald Trump, who riled Ron Paul fans saying Paul cannot get elected (but neither can “The Donald”), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Though fan votes carry more weight, for judges’ scoring, see Politico’s report card.

The showcase featured more voices from the heartland than the Beltway. Most were in perfect harmony, with fiscal issues the primary motif. In recognition of the Tea Party movement’s influence and this week’s tango lessons, a familiar refrain resonated: The federal government should focus on doing well only what the federal government should be doing, but otherwise “get off our backs, and out of our pockets." And as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) said with swagger, “Get the hell out of our way.”

Tim Pawlenty offered a surprisingly high-energy performance, and some refreshing honesty in response to questioning by CPAC bloggers. Pawlenty acknowledged that he once supported cap-and-trade legislation but has since changed his position. "Almost everybody who's running has a similar problem," Pawlenty said. "I think if you look under the hood you'll see that I, like everybody else potentially running, looked at it, flirted with it, and then decided it was a bad idea." A successful two-term governor, Pawlenty has a down-to-earth, blue-collar appeal, but is an underdog on a stage crowded with bigger names.

A similar unknown, Mitch Daniels, began his CPAC address with self-deprecating light humor, but then offered a studied and serious address on the dangers of the nation’s fiscal failures. “It is the new Red Menace, this time consisting of ink,” Daniels said. “If a foreign power advanced an army to the border of our land, everyone in this room would drop everything and look for a way to help. We would set aside all other agendas and disputes as secondary, and go to the ramparts until the threat was repelled. That is what those of us here, and every possible ally we can persuade to join us, are now called to do.” Preaching to the choir, Daniels, nicknamed “The Blade” for his cost-cutting, presents quite a policy and personality contrast with President Obama.

As Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) said with swagger, “Get the hell out of our way.”

The GOP’s narrative architecture that won in 2010 will return in 2012 with messaging around the top issues: the economy, jobs, spending, the proper role of government, and a growing concern about international instability. Conservatives are united in limiting President Obama to one term. And Obama is vulnerable. In a CNN poll, 51 percent predict he will lose. But to whom?

Keeping it real, the 2012 contest has months to go. No Conservative Idol contestant will be sent home this week, for one speech at CPAC does not win the title. No one hurt their chances, but a few performances stood out, and CPAC begins to give clarity to who the frontrunners will be and what their messages will sound like:

1. Mitch Daniels
Serious message. Serious candidate. Largely unknown to the public, but inside buzz getting hot.

2. Mitt Romney
In a conventional season, he'd be a lock. But his Massachusetts health=care bill is gonna wrap his axle.

3. Mike Huckabee
If he gets in, he'll be top tier.

4. Newt Gingrich
The intellectual bomb-thrower is back.

5. Tim Pawlenty
Sharpening up message and operation. Points for effort but still has difficulty exciting anyone.

6. John Huntsman
Good general-election candidate if he can get through primaries.

7. Haley Barbour
Savvy vet, needs to start showing some leg.

8. John Thune
Plum Senate assignments may be diminishing his appetite.

9. Sarah Palin
Miserable couple months, but just hired a chief of staff to tighten up the operation.

10. Tie: Ron Paul and Donald Trump
Lit 'em up at CPAC as usual. But The Donald told the truth: Paul can't win.

Runner Up: Rick Santorum
Couldn't fill the CPAC auditorium. Could strike in Iowa, but that's it. Can't win.

The VP List

1. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
2. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)
3. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA)
4. Jeb Bush
5. Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX)


Michelle Obama 78% Sarah Palin 21% in our blog poll WHO would be the BEST PRESIDENT.Still time to vote.

First Lady Says Laughter Is Key to Togetherness (from an outside view Michelle appears to be a Great Wife!)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Here's Michelle Obama's advice for couples this Valentine's Day: laugh with your partner.

She says it's what she and President Barack Obama do, and it seems to be working. Their marriage, although tested throughout the years by his political ambitions — for the Illinois Senate, the U.S. Senate and later president — is going on 19 years.

"I think a lot of laughing," the first lady said at a White House luncheon with reporters who asked about the Obamas' union. "I think in our house we don't take ourselves too seriously, and laughter is the best form of unity, I think, in a marriage.

"So we still find ways to have fun together, and a lot of it is private and personal. But we keep each other smiling and that's good," she added.

It also helps that Obama is "very romantic."

"He remembers dates, birthdays," Mrs. Obama said last week on "Live! With Regis and Kelly. "He doesn't forget a thing, even when I think he is. . I'll have a little attitude. I give him a little attitude, but he always comes through."

"Got to keep the romance alive, even in the White House," she said.

As for Valentine's Day on Monday, the first lady said her husband would do right by giving her jewelry.

"You can't go wrong," she said.

But Mrs. Obama also said they don't fuss too much over the day that's about celebrating love and affection between couples.

Last year, the Obamas spent Valentine's Day at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

In 2009, their first year in the White House, they went home to Chicago and enjoyed a quiet dinner at Table 52, a traditional Southern restaurant owned by Art Smith, the former chef of Obama pal Oprah Winfrey.

How will they celebrate this year? Stay tuned.

"We don't make a big deal out of Valentine's Day because my birthday was the 17th (of January)," she told Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. She noted, too, that Christmas was just a few weeks before that.

"So by Feb. 14, we're kind of tired," Mrs. Obama said.

For her 47th birthday last month, the Obamas dined at The Source, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's restaurant at the Newseum in Washington.

AP News

Speaker's NY Death Highlights Assisted-Suicide Law

NEW YORK (AP) — The motivational speaker's death looked like a sinister tale of a suburbanite who strayed into a rough city neighborhood. He was found stabbed in the chest in his station wagon in East Harlem, his hands tied behind his back, hours after telling his wife he'd gotten a flat tire.

But when a one-time computer technician goes on trial this week in Jeffrey Locker's 2009 death, jurors will hear a very different story: A desperate man in debt enlisted a stranger to kill him and make his suicide look like a street crime so his survivors could collect millions in insurance money.

Even prosecutors have acknowledged there's evidence to support suspect Kenneth Minor's account, but he's been charged with murder, and jury selection in his trial is likely to begin Monday. The case is putting a novel frame on tricky legal questions surrounding assisted suicide, a topic that courts more often address in the context of terminally ill people who ask doctors or loved ones to help end their lives.

"This case has 'unusual' written all over it," says Marc Spindelman, a professor at Ohio State University's Michael E. Moritz College of Law. He studies legal issues surrounding death and dying.

At 52, Locker had built a career around coping with pressure. Focused on "bringing spirituality into the business world," he gave presentations on handling workplace stress and frustration, according to his now-gone website. A father of three, he lived in prosperous North Woodmere, N.Y.

But Locker was buckling under financial strain. He was facing a federal bank court trustee's demands to return at least $121,200 he'd made from investing in a $300 million Ponzi scheme run by boy band impresario Lou Pearlman, the mastermind of 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Locker had told the court he was an innocent investor who was now "severely in credit card debt" and would have to declare bankruptcy if forced to repay the money.

He created a trail of clues that suggested he was contemplating a deadly way out.

In the last months of his life, Locker took out at least $4 million in life insurance, according to a lawsuit filed by an insurance company. Locker also researched funeral arrangements online, told his wife in an e-mail how to protect and distribute their assets "when I am gone" and discussed making farewell videos with his son, prosecutors have said in court documents.

Principal Life Insurance Co. has asked a federal court to void a $4 million policy he took out in April 2009; the company's lawsuit doesn't address the circumstances of his death but says he lied about his earnings.

And when Locker drove up to Minor on a street near an East Harlem public housing complex, he said he was looking to buy a gun and "do a Kevorkian," Minor later told detectives, referring to famous assisted-suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

The family is declining to comment, said attorney Irving Serota, who was Locker's father-in-law.

Minor, now 36, was a sometime computer technician with a high school education, a drug addiction and an arrest record that dated to the early 1990s, according to his lawyer and authorities.

He told investigators he initially rebuffed Locker, but then Locker explained his financial woes and family worries.

"Mr. Minor actually began to feel sorry for him at that point, so he agreed to help if he could," Detective Robert Mooney testified at a pretrial hearing Thursday.

Locker agreed to pay Minor about $1,400 by giving him his ATM card and PIN number, but Locker "said it had to look like a robbery so his family can get what they deserve," Minor told police.

When Minor couldn't get a gun and his attempt to strangle Locker with telephone wire didn't work, Locker supplied a knife from his glove compartment, told Minor to hold it against the steering wheel and repeatedly threw himself on it, according to Minor's statement. He said Locker was still alive when he left.

Whatever jurors think of the strange saga, Minor's trial — and the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison — may hinge on precisely how they define his role in it.

Under New York law, "causing or aiding" a suicide is a form of manslaughter punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison; there's also a lesser offense of "promoting a suicide attempt." Minor has offered to plead guilty to manslaughter, said his lawyer, Daniel J. Gotlin.

Prosecutors have rejected that. Even if Minor just held the knife, that was "active participation" in Locker's death that amounts to murder, Manhattan assistant district attorney Peter Casolaro said in a court filing. A judge echoed that reasoning last year in refusing to toss out the murder charge, punishable by as much as life in prison.

Legal debate over the boundary between murder and assisting suicide has largely focused on cases involving medical professionals or relatives who help terminally ill people kill themselves.

Kevorkian was acquitted of several assisted suicides before being convicted of murder in 1999 after giving a lethal injection to a man with Lou Gehrig's disease. The Michigan doctor served eight years in prison.

But courts also have weighed in occasionally on cases involving murkier relationships and patients who weren't dying of disease.

To a Texas appeals court, it didn't matter whether a woman was beset by problems and wanted to die when she was shot in 1985 by a man who said she talked him into it by offering her car and a couple of hundred dollars. The man's murder conviction was upheld.

Nor did a written suicide pact between a prison escapee and his wife — who'd married him after he was convicted of killing his first wife — persuade a New Mexico appeals court that the shot to her temple wasn't murder, even if he only held the rifle. (He said he was too "freaked out" to kill himself afterward.)

But in a case that went to New York's highest court, a man was charged with and convicted of manslaughter — not murder — after he gave a rifle to a suicidal 17-year-old and told him to "blow his head off."

But if the parameters of such cases might not be clear, the legal lesson is, Spindelman said.

"If asked," he said, "answer 'no.'"

AP News

Police: Man kills 4 in stabbing rampage across NYC that ends in Times Square subway station.

It apparently began, police said, when a 23-year-old graffiti artist asked his mother if he could drive her Lexus. She said no.

Maksim Gelman had a bloodied kitchen knife when he was taken into police custody at about 9 a.m. Saturday after a nightlong manhunt, police said.

"It's so horrendous and bizarre. We have no reason to know why he did this," said police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who held up a photo of the knife that he said Gelman had used to slash a subway rider on the head and neck before he was apprehended. The man survived.

"I don't recall seeing anything like this," said Kelly, who has spent decades working for the New York Police Department.

He said charges were pending against Gelman.

The stabbing spree started just after 5 a.m. Friday, when police say Gelman fatally knifed his stepfather, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, at their apartment in Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. Gelman had gotten into a fight with his mother after she refused to allow him to use her Lexus, and Kuznetsov intervened and was attacked, Kelly said.

Police found the 54-year-old man's body at his home in the predominantly Eastern European immigrant neighborhood. The Ukrainian-born Gelman and his mother became naturalized U.S. citizens in 2004 or 2005, Kelly said.

At about 10:30 a.m., several blocks away, Gelman entered the home of his ex-girlfriend and used a kitchen knife to fatally stab her mother, 56-year-old Anna Bulchenko, Kelly said. When 20-year-old Yelena Bulchenko arrived home at about 4 p.m., she found her mother dead in a pool of blood and called 911, police said.

Police: Man Kills 4 in Stabbing Rampage Across NYC
Police: Man kills 4 in stabbing rampage across NYC that ends in Times Square subway station.
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Gelman apparently was still in the house, chasing Bulchenko as she fled outside and stabbing her 11 times as she died, Kelly said.

More Video
Watch: Greenroom: Obama and Egypt
Watch: Roundtable: Revolution in Egypt
Watch: Interview with Tim PawlentyHe then sped away in the Lexus to Brooklyn's Midwood neighborhood, rear-ending a Pontiac. The driver confronted Gelman and was stabbed three times in the chest but survived and was in stable condition, Kelly said.

Gelman drove off in the Pontiac, hitting 62-year-old pedestrian Stephen Tanenbaum, who died of his injuries, police said. He later abandoned the car, engine running, in the driveway of a private house in Midwood, not far from a freight railroad line "Gelman frequented as a graffiti artist," Kelly said.

Gelman was not seen again until just before 1 a.m. Saturday, when he confronted a livery cab driver in the Crown Heights area and stabbed him, Kelly said. Shortly after, he approached a couple in a Nissan, stabbing the man multiple times in the hand before hijacking the car, police said. Both men survived.

Just after 8 a.m. Saturday, passengers on a southbound No. 1 train in upper Manhattan noticed that a man on the train matched photos of Gelman they had seen in newspapers.

One passenger on the train got off at West 96th Street, approached officers on the platform and told them that a man fitting Gelman's description knocked a newspaper out of her hand, saying, "Do you believe what they're writing about me?" Kelly said.

Gelman jumped off the train at the West 34th Street station, crossed the tracks and hopped on a northbound No. 3 train, where he stabbed a passenger, the commissioner said.

Officers were in the driver's compartment of the train after hearing reports that Gelman might be on board. Gelman made his way up to the driver's door and pounded on it, "claiming that he was the police," Kelly said.

One of the officers threw open the door and wrestled Gelman to the ground, knocking the knife from his hand, Kelly said.

He was taken into custody from the train at Times Square. None of Gelman's relatives could be reached for comment Saturday.

"I saw a stream of people coming from the front of the train. They looked upset. They had white faces," Hyun Jo of East Orange, N.J., told the New York Post. "The conductor announced they 'found the guy who killed four people yesterday.' I saw the blood in the other car when they let us off. It was crazy."

Kelly described Gelman as an unemployed drug user with 10 previous arrests — mostly linked to graffiti and drugs.

The commissioner said the suspect's statements to police were "pretty incoherent" — including one in which he stated that "she had to die." Kelly said he wasn't sure if that was a reference to the ex-girlfriend or someone else.

A longtime friend of Yelena Bulchenko, Angela Akopyan, said the first time she heard of Gelman was Friday. "I never heard of him prior to yesterday. Ever in my life," she said.

She described Bulchenko as "always happy." "She was just a really good person to be around," Akopyan said.

Bulchenko worked as a receptionist at a dental office in Brooklyn, and had attended Kingsborough Community College, she said. The last time Akopyan saw her was Tuesday, when a group of friends got together at an Applebee's. "It was the first time we saw each other in the past two weeks. We were making plans for the weekend like we always do," Akopyan said. "And then it never happened."

AP News


Rep. Paul Ryan defends Republicans' budget plans
Chris Wallace asked U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) how cutting stimulus spending would help the economy, when many economists - along with Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue - argue that some investment is needed to spur job creation. Ryan responded that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had told congressional Republicans that cutting spending would "send a signal to the markets, to the small businessmen and women of tomorrow," giving them confidence to start hiring. "I am not worried about Washington cutting too much spending too fast," he added. Asked about cutting entitlement spending, something the current Republican budget cuts don't touch, Ryan said the caucus needed time: "I can't tell you what our budget's gonna look like."

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) spoke on his own record on spending cuts, saying the libertarian CATO Institute was mistaken when it gave him a 'C' for fiscal policy. He explained that he raised taxes on cigarettes in his state "for health reasons, not for budget reasons," and that taxes had been so low they were out of line with the rest of South. On his poor showing in the CPAC straw poll, Barbour pointed out that the poll closed before he spoke, and said that many young conservatives had told him after his speech that they wished they could have voted for him.

Newt Gingrich: Obama should have reached out to Mubarak quietly
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R) criticized the Obama administration's response to the crisis in Egypt, saying the White House should have stood by Mubarak publicly while privately pushing him out. "You do it quietly, because every other potential ally in the world is watching you. And if they see you publicly abandon somebody who's been with you for 30 years, they wonder, why should I trust the United States?" At the same time, he says, "It's the courage of the Egyptian people that made that possible and we should be encouraging and reinforcing that courage." As for what the U.S. should do now, Gingrich said U.S. officers should reach out to friends in the Egyptian military and tell them, "You don't want to own the country, because then you own every problem and you can't solve them."

Boehner: Not my job to tell people what to think
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) followed a panel on Egypt, and he was hesitant to attack the president as some other Republicans have. "I think what happened surprised everyone, so there's going to have to be a real assessment of why," he said. "I think I was surprised, I think [the White House] was surprised ... It's a very complex situation." He added that the uprising "gives you an idea of the impact of digital media today."

Boehner also avoided criticizing 'birthers' in his own caucus and the general public. "It's not my job to tell the American people what to think, it's my job to listen to the American people," he told David Gregory. He said he'd made it clear what he believed the facts to be: "I believe that the president is a citizen, I believe the president is a Christian, I take him at his word." But "the American people have a right to think what they want to think." Asked about Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who made a joke about his birth certificate at CPAC last week, Boehner said "the gentleman was trying to be funny, I imagine." On the other hand, Boehner declared his willingness to judge his members' behavior, in response to the resignation of Rep. Chris Lee (D-N.Y.): "The American people have the right, and should expect, the highest ethical standards from members of Congress," he said. He also said that once the American public understood the depth of the Social Security crisis, it would be easier to cut entitlement spending.

Sen. Lindsey Graham: 'Electable' GOP 2012 presidential candidate 'has yet to emerge'
Graham (R-S.C.) joined the program as news broke of the Egyptian military leadership's announcement that it would dissolve the parliament, suspend the nation's constitution and retain power for six months or more before elections could be held. "This election ... is going to define Egypt for decades," Graham said. Conversation turned to the Conservative Political Action Conference, which concluded Saturday, with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) winning the gathering's informal presidential candidate straw poll. "I'm looking for the most conservative person who's electable," said Graham when asked if there was a potential 2012 presidential candidate he could get behind, "that person has yet to emerge."

Graham was followed by White House Office of Management and Budget director Jacob Lew, who addressed the president's budget request set to be released Monday.

"We're beyond the easy, low-hanging fruit," Lew said referring to tough choices that needed to be made. Lew referred to the Obama's plan to make cuts to the Federal Pell grants program -- cuts that, Lew said, would need to be made to preserve the integrity of the student loan program. Lew defended the cuts saying that while the burden would increase on students - they would have to start paying their student loans, plus interest, immediately after graduation -- it would not jeopardize the accessibility of higher education.

In response to whether the GOP's proposed $100 billion cuts were possible, Lew demurred, choosing to tout the president's proposed plan saying, "We look forward to working with the congressmen."

Rep. Steve Israel: 'Republicans are actually helping us' get House majority back
DCCC chairman Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) joined reporters Reid Wilson of Hotline and Alex Isenstadt of Politico to discuss Democrats' preparations for the 2012 elections after their drubbing in 2010.

"The state of the Democratic party is sound," said Israel,"we have a path to get the house back and Republicans are actually helping us along the way." Israel went on to describe the party's fundraising efforts, and the instructions the party was delivering to lawmakers in terms of how to orchestrate their election efforts on the ground. "We lost 9 million independent voters between 2006 and 2010," said Israel, but "Republicans have a heck of a lot more to be nervous about on retirements than we do." He also announced that Democrats would be making announcements regarding re-redistricting results "by the end of the quarter," refusing to provide any early details.

Israel was also called on to address the fallout from Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) sudden retirement following the disclosure that he had attempted to cheat on his wife via the online classifieds Web site Craig's List. Israel denied being in touch with White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, who is rumored to be exploring a potential bid. "I've not had any direct conversations with Bill," Israel said. He also took an opportunity to advertise his own abilities to lead Democrats to victory in 2012. "I may not have the same volume of obscenities that Rahm Emanuel did" or "the same attributes" that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had, Israel said, but he was confident he could produce the same quality of results.

Sen. John McCain on the uprising in Egypt: 'We should have seen this coming'
Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian ambassador to the United States, provided an update on the situation in Egypt and was followed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain was asked if the United States should have seen the Egyptian uprising coming. "I think so. We should have seen this coming when the Egyptian government failed to move forward with a process to democratization," McCain said. McCain went on to blame the Obama administration for not speaking up for the protesters in Iran, referring to the outrage that followed the death of Iranian protester Neda Agha-Soltan - who became a touchstone for anti-government protesters in 2009.

"I think it's going to be a confrontation," McCain said of the nature of the debate that will follow the president's release of his fiscal 2012 budget request and how it will be compared with Republican's cost-cutting proposals laid out in the continuing resolution to fund the government through the current fiscal year. On the subject of making cuts to entitlements ans defense spending, McCain was firm: "No longer can it remain the third rail of politics," he said, praising Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for "getting out ahead" of the budget debate and proposing cuts on his own.

"We've got to be very careful with our cuts to defense spending," said McCain, a decorated military veteran.

Washington Post

Egypt's military to keep Mubarak government for now; protesters still in Tahrir

CAIRO - Egypt's military chiefs on Saturday sought to restore calm and stability to a country still exhilarated by the first fruits of its revolution. But the armed forces signaled there were limits to how much change they would tolerate, ignoring demonstrators' demands to dismantle the institutional legacies of former president Hosni Mubarak.

In its fourth public statement in three days, the Supreme Military Council repeated its promise to oversee a transition to a "democratic and free" Egypt run by civilians. For the time being, however, the generals said they would keep the old order in place, allowing Mubarak's government to stay on in a caretaker role.

They also said Egypt would honor its international treaties, including its peace accord with Israel.

The council statement said the military wanted to meet "the legitimate demands of the people" but was silent on whom, if anyone, it would consult as it maps out Egypt's future.

Several Egyptian intellectuals who had tried to mediate between Mubarak and the protesters during the 18-day uprising said they have been kept in the dark and are worried.

"Everything is in the hands of the military. They issue one statement after another, but they are very brief," said Nabil el-Arabi, a former diplomat and judge at the International Court of Justice. "There's nothing else. Nobody knows."

While the military chiefs were focused on preserving order, Egypt's revolutionaries had further goals in mind. Many demonstrators said they were grateful for the military's decision not to crack down against the protests but doubted the generals would be so permissive about sharing power.

"This is a revolution, not a half-revolution," said Ahmed Abed Ghafur, 36, a computer engineer from Mansoura, a city about 100 miles north of Cairo, who had camped out in Tahrir Square for four straight days. "We need a timetable for elections. We need an interim government. We need a committee for a new constitution. Once we get all that, then we can leave the square."

In their own statement, protest organizers listed several other demands Saturday, including the release of political prisoners, the repeal of Egypt's 30-year-old state-of-emergency decree and the dissolution of Mubarak's parliament.

But there was disagreement over how long they should maintain their vigil in Tahrir Square, along the east bank of the Nile in central Cairo. Some insisted they would stay, others said they had made their point and would go home, while still others favored a weekly resumption of the protests every Friday.

"We need to give people a break, but we also need to follow up," said Ahmed Nagib, 33, a higher-education administrator and spokesman for the loose coalition of protest leaders. "We also need to spend time to further develop the leadership of our revolution."

Revolutionary pride

Uncertainty over the future, however, was overshadowed for the moment by Egyptians' immense pride at what their revolution had wrought and the fact that they had done it by embracing peaceful tactics.

Tens of thousands returned to Tahrir Square on Saturday to drink in their newfound freedom. People sang patriotic songs and marveled at the scene. Parents snapped photographs of their children perched on tanks next to soldiers. Cartoonists plastered the storefront of a condemned KFC franchise with dozens of hand-sketched posters, virtually all of them mocking Mubarak, their once-feared former leader.

For many Egyptians, upholding the square's image as a sacred place became paramount. Paint crews daubed fresh black-and-white stripes on street curbs. Small armies of volunteers fanned out across Tahrir and transformed it into the cleanest site in the city.

The White House said in a statement that President Obama "welcomed the historic change that has been made by the Egyptian people, and reaffirmed his admiration for their efforts."

While most of the country celebrated, a few people made themselves scarce.

Mubarak was reportedly holed up in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, though there was no official confirmation. State television reported that the military had banned a handful of former government officials from traveling abroad; several are under investigation by prosecutors on corruption allegations.

Popular opinion was mixed on whether authorities should prosecute Mubarak, as well. The formal list of demands released by protest organizers Saturday took no position on his fate.

Some Egyptians said they had no desire to seek retribution against the former president. But many said that, at a minimum, he and his family should be investigated on the widely held suspicion that they pocketed immense wealth during his three decades in power.

"The money he stole has to be returned to the people," said Safwat Higazi, a Muslim cleric active in the demonstrations.

The prospect of that appeared unlikely, however, as long as Mubarak's former allies in the military and government remain in charge of the country.

Ibrahim al-Moallem, a well-known publishing executive from Cairo, said he was "very worried that there must be some remaining pockets from the old regime who will try to resist."

"They don't like what happened," he said. "It is now the new, modern, up-to-date young people against the old, out-of-touch, out-of-date and out-of-place people who can't understand what's going on. We have to be aware and cautious."

Mubarak loyalists

There was also evidence that some Mubarak loyalists were trying, with apparent sincerity, to come to grips with the new era.

Rida Rifai, a member of Mubarak's National Democratic Party from Cairo, marched in counter-demonstrations to show support for the president last week. He said his wife and children burst out crying when Mubarak's resignation was announced on television Friday.

On Saturday, however, Rifai made his way to Tahrir Square, where he said, "I can see a new dawn over Egypt." He said he hoped a new government could do a better job of improving the health, education and economic well-being for ordinary Egyptians.

In hindsight, he said, the National Democratic Party's biggest mistake was to rig legislative elections last year. He also bemoaned the heavy-handedness of Mubarak's secret police, who are blamed for the deaths of an estimated 300 people after the protests began Jan. 25.

"I am not afraid of this revolution," he said, acknowledging that he was at risk of losing his status in society, if not his job. "This is the will of the people, and of God."

Craig Whitlock, Leila Fadel and Samuel Sockol
Washington Post Foreign Service

Paul wins CPAC straw poll — again (How meaningLES for PRESIDENT PAUL!)

For the second consecutive year, libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) breezed to victory Saturday in the CPAC straw poll — a sign of the intense following he enjoys and the waning relevance of the surveys.

The results this year were nearly identical to last year — Paul took 30 percent in 2011 and 31 percent in 2010 — and the response from the crowd was the same, as well.

Outgoing American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene was jeered by Paul enthusiasts as he sought to downplay the results.

“It is what it is. It’s a straw poll,” Keene said before introducing pollster Tony Fabrizio, who conducted the survey.

Fabrizio tried to put a positive spin on the survey that the organizers are plainly embarrassed about, noting before announcing the results that attendees agree upon the size of government being a top priority.

Yet, even before the pollster could disclose the news, someone in the audience yelled: “Ron Paul!” The congressman’s supporters let out a loud cheer while his detractors booed just as loudly.

The same pattern took place when Fabrizio actually announced that Paul had won except as the pollster begin to explain the results a man yelled: “Now you’re going to minimize it!”

The controversy in the weeks before this year’s CPAC was over whether a little-known gay conservative group would be allowed to have a booth. But the more pressing threat to the relevance of the venerable conservative confab, or at least its straw poll, is the continued dominance of Paul.

The 75-year-old congressman may run for president again, but his prospects for winning the GOP nomination are nil. Yet because he has an intense following among antiwar youths, and has supporters who are willing to organize his effort, the libertarian-leaning Paul dominates the balloting and renders the survey as largely irrelevant.

Mitt Romney was Paul’s nearest competition in the past two years, trailing the congressman by 9 percent last year and 7 percent this year.

Keene, who supported Romney in 2008 but has not committed for 2012, made the case to reporters after the results were announced that the former Massachusetts governor’s strong support as a second choice candidate “amazing” and said last year it was an “unreported story.”

Faring not as well are two Republicans who consistently poll near the top of many early presidential surveys: Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Both took less than 5 percent.

Indeed, the gathering has been hampered by the refusal of Palin and Huckabee, two of the party’s biggest draws, to attend over the past two years.

“CPAC has becoming increasingly more libertarian and less Republican over the last years,” Huckabee said last year by way of explaining why he skipped the event.

There is, however, little appetite among organizers to remove Paul from the ballot. Doing so would result in losing hundreds of fee-paying attendees and spark a backlash among an energized bloc of activists.

“I think CPAC would be diminished if we got into a censoring of what our message ought to be,” said Al Cardenas, who will oversee CPAC going forward as the new ACU chairman. “We’ll opt for the open door.”

But Cardenas acknowledged that he was troubled that Huckabee, Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who skipped this year’s gathering in solidarity with social conservatives upset about the presence of the gay group, weren’t present.

“We’ve got to fix it,” he said. “They’re part of the family. And when your relatives don’t come to Thanksgiving dinner, you’re disappointed.”

The strategy among conservatives seems clear: Downplay the straw poll without bad-mouthing CPAC.

“I don’t think the straw poll’s important,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). “I think what’s important is the views that the activist conservatives across this country leave this hall with. What’s in the back of their mind [about the candidates] when they leave this hall?”

Speaking to reporters after the straw poll results were announced, Fabrizio emphasized that the results were not scientific — and reminded the press that Arizona Sen. John McCain finished fifth at CPAC in 2007.

“A year later, where was John McCain?” he asked rhetorically.

What many Republican activists here are thinking about is who else may get in the GOP race.

Former Michigan state GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, who lost a bid for RNC chair last month, said that the straw ballot still matters because the second, third and fourth-place finishes are revealing.

“It’s just like a poll. When you’re doing a poll, you look if you oversample one group or another and then you make a calculation,” he said. “It’s very hard to calculate in a situation like this because it’s not scientific at all.”

The straw poll’s more indicative figure than candidate preference was that 43 percent of participants said they wished the GOP had a better field.

One of the candidates they’d like to see run is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Even though he has said repeatedly that he’s not running, Christie got 6 percent of the vote, that’s more than Palin, Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, John Thune and Haley Barbour each garnered.

As telling was whenever speakers mentioned Christie’s name from the podium, he won applause.

The loudest cheers Barbour got during his speech where when he singled out his fellow GOP governor.

Speaking Saturday night, conservative provocateur Ann Coulter won loud cheers when she said: “If we don’t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee, and we’ll lose.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who also has said he won’t run, gave one of the best-received speeches of the event, reminding attendees about their desire for more options.

“Some of the candidates from last time around are not as exciting as the governor of Texas, who seems to be a real conservative,” Rohrabacher said.

One of the Republicans who has not ruled out a bid, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, won raves from some attendees for his Friday night speech. But the straw poll balloting ended hours before he addressed the crowd, and Daniels received just 4 percent.

© 2011 Capitol News

Church Tries to Ignite Married Couple's Sex Lives

Church's Web Site, Billboards Offer Parishioners Help, but Stir Controversy

But Ignite Church's Lead Pastor Heath Mooneyham said the message of both is all about love, and God's purpose for it -- which includes sex.

The billboards -- one of which features a man in jeans and T-shirt, his tattooed arms holding the legs of a woman who has her arms around his neck, and her legs wrapped around his waist -- are to advertise a series the church is doing about sex, and how married couples should be having more of it, so they will avoid being tempted into sin.

A similar image was the first to display on the Ignite Church website, and at the church's related site,

"We're doing a series about sex, and God's intended purpose for it," Mooneyham. "We're hitting things like adultery and pornography."

Mooneyham indicated that in a poll on the church's website, 86 percent of the respondents said they were not having enough sex in their marriage.

"This is really one of the major issues that's ripping marriages apart. They are at a higher risk of adultery, looking at pornography -- that leads to divorce," Mooneyham said.

So he decided to try to do something about it, planning a series of Sunday "experiences" about sex at the church, and creating a series of videos on the subject for the Web site.

"Some people think we are porno-fying the church," Mooneyham said, but he argued that what the church is really trying to do is help people with their marriages -- helping the faithful stay faithful.

The billboards around town may feature people in sexual poses, but they are married people, he said.

That distinction might be lost on some Joplin residents, especially since they carry the name of the Web site in bold black letters.

The message on that site might be even more controversial: "God Is Pro Sex. It Should Be Exciting."

"There is no way ever I would take my kids to a church with a big sign advertising sex," Veronica Warren told ABC affiliate KODE-TV in Joplin.

One of the billboards is near a Sonic fast food restaurant.

"People bring their kids to Sonic and their kids are going to look at that sign and say, 'Mommy what's that mean?' and, oh my God, and then that parent has to explain," Warren said.

"You got a lot of people's attention now, but you made a lot of people mad," she said.

Getting people mad is not the church's intention, Mooneyham said -- but he does want their attention.

"The town's divided down the middle on this," he said. "This is the Bible Belt. They're freaking. But the congregation has been really great about it. They understand the message behind it."

Despite some people's reservations about what the church is doing, Mooneyham said that the way the world is today, kids are already exposed to sex at an early age.

If that is going to happen, he said, he would rather have them exposed to it in church.

"God created it and he's not freaked out by it," he said. "So I don't see why we should be."

Infectious Revolution: Mideast Protests Grow

Clashes With Police Erupt in Algeria As 400 Demonstrators Arrested; Mideast on Unsteady Ground After Egypt

Algeria has been the scene of frequent anti-government demonstrations after years of emergency rule, high unemployment and general unrest, but Egypt's successful revolution sparked protests anew Saturday. A human rights advocate says 400 people were arrested there Saturday during demonstrations.

The departure of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has governments across the Mideast on uneasy footing, with some, like Bahrain, giving out money to stave off protesters. In Algeria and Yemen, anti-government demonstrations turned violent.

Some 10,000 people flooded into downtown Algiers, Algeria's capital, where they skirmished with riot police attempting to block off streets and disperse the crowd. An estimated 30,000 police have been deployed around the capital, BBC reports. Some arrests were reported.

Protesters chanted slogans including "No to the police state" and "Bouteflika out," a reference to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power in this sprawling North African nation since 1999.

Under Algeria's long-standing state of emergency - in place since 1992 - protests are banned in Algiers but the government's repeated warnings for people to stay out of the streets apparently fell on deaf ears.

The march comes at a sensitive time, merely a month after another "people's revolution" in neighboring Tunisia that forced long-time autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile on Jan. 14.

The success of those uprisings is fueling the hopes of those seeking change in Algeria, although many in this conflict-scarred nation fear any prospect of violence after living through a brutal insurgency by Islamist extremists in the 1990s that left an estimated 200,000 dead.

Saturday's march aimed to press for reforms to push Algeria toward democracy and did not include a specific call to oust Bouteflika. It was organized by the Coordination for Democratic Change in Algeria, an umbrella group for human rights activists, unionists, lawyers and others.

In a bid to placate militants, Algerian authorities announced last week that a state of emergency which has been in place since 1992, at the start of the Islamist insurgency, will be lifted in the "very near future." However, authorities warned that even then the ban on demonstrations in the capital would remain.

The army's decision to cancel Algeria's first multiparty legislative elections in January 1992 to thwart a likely victory by a Muslim fundamentalist party set off the insurgency. Scattered violence continues.

In Yemen, pro-government demonstrators armed with knives and batons broke up a protest on Saturday by around 2,000 Yemenis inspired by the overthrow of Egypt's president, Reuters reports.

Yemeni police with clubs also beat anti-government protesters.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, trying to ward off protests spreading across the Arab world, has promised to step down when his term ends in 2013, but the opposition has yet to respond to his call to join a unity government, Reuters reports. The opposition wants talks to take place under Western or Gulf Arab auspices.

In Bahrain, the nation's king said he will give the equivalent of $2,650 to each Bahraini family ahead of protests scheduled for next week, Al Jazeera reports.

Activists in the majority Shia population in Bahrain had called for protests demanding political, social and economic reforms, and the Sunni rulers were seeking to placate them, Al Jazeera reports.

The Bahraini government has made several concessions in recent weeks, such as higher social spending and offering to release some minors arrested during a security crackdown against some Shi'ite groups last August, Al Jazeera reports.