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Headscarf ruling divides Turkey

STRASBOURG – Leyla Sahin has run out of options. In 1998, she was barred from attending Istanbul University medical school because her headscarf violated the official dress code.

Last week, her legal challenge reached a dead end when the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), based in Strasbourg, upheld Turkey’s ban on women wearing headscarves in universities, leaving her no more avenues for appeal.

However, the decision also pointed a growing divide between the Islamic-rooted government and the secular establishment. Pres. Ahmet Necdet Sezer said the ruling was "binding" and should spell the end of the controversy, but leaders of the conservative and Islamic-rooted government argued the decision was not binding and promised to press ahead with an effort to lift the ban. Although the country is overwhelmingly Muslim, it has had a secular system since the 1920s. read more

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Students want off recruiting lists

BOSTON – More than 5,000 high school students in five of Massachusetts‘ largest school districts have removed their names from military recruitment lists, a significant jump in the last year, the Boston Globe reports.

This trend is especially true in school systems with many low-income and minority students, the Globe noted.

Since 2002, under the federal No Child Left Behind law, high schools have been required to provide lists of students’ names, telephone numbers, and addresses to military recruiters who ask for them, as well as to colleges and potential employers. Students who don’t want to be contacted – or their parents – have to notify school districts in writing. read more

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War, scandal souring public on Bush

NEW YORK/ELON – After the release of a CBS poll indicating that President Bush’s approval rating had plunged to 35 percent, many conservatives took solace in the notion that it was mainly due to ongoing troubles in Iraq and not bad press related to the CIA leak case. The conventional wisdom has been that much of the public doesn’t take the issue that seriously, or even follow the developments.

But another part of the public opinion survey tends to contradict that assertion, notes Editor and Publisher. Indeed, Some 51 percent of those contacted said the leak case is already of "great importance," with 35 percent choosing "some importance" and only 12 percent labeling it "little or not importance." read more

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Documentary charges U.S. used chemical weapons

ROME – On the first anniversary of the US-led assault on Falluja, an attack that displaced most of the city’s 300,000 population and destroyed many of its buildings, Italy‘s state TV station last week broadcast a documentary that accuses the U.S. military of indiscriminate use of chemical weapons during the attack.

According to BBC news, the film, aired in the morning with a warning that some of the footage would be disturbing, included testimony from eyewitnesses and ex-soldiers who says that they saw white phosphorus bombs used against civilians. The U.S. military calls the allegations “disinformation.” The broadcast coincided with a visit by Iraq Pres. Jalal Talabani.

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No press consensus on Americas summit

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina – Depending on the news outlet, the outcome of last week’s Summit of the Americas was “real progress,” a bit of “cautious skepticism,” or another “fiasco” for the Bush administration.

For the U.S. delegation, the objective was modest: Restart negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a hemispheric trade deal that hit an impasse at a Miami ministerial meeting two years ago. But the official conference slogan was actually "Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance." read more

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Forged Niger documents tracked to Rome

ROME – The Italian newspaper La Repubblica has published an exposé alleging that the nation’s military intelligence agency SISMI provided bogus intelligence in the run up to the Iraq war with the knowledge of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The charge follows a parliamentary report released in July concerning the forged Niger uranium documents at the heart of the CIA leak case. The documents, which purported to show a deal between Baghdad and Niger, may have been produced in the Italian capital, the newspaper claims. read more