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Women cast votes for their first time

Thousands of Kuwaiti women voted Thursday for the first time in parliamentary elections, though early results indicated they backed incumbent men rather than taking chances on first-time female contenders.

Women’s participation helped boost voter turnout to more than 70 percent, though none of the 27 female candidates was ahead in herdistrict, according to incomplete results aired Thursday night on Kuwaiti television.

The Kuwaiti parliament granted women full political rights last year.


Bush authorizes sale of fighter jets

The Bush administration has notified Congress it approved the sale of 18 new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan as part of a $5 billion weapons deal.

The package, which includes an option to purchase another 18 F-16 fighter jets, an offer to modernize 26 used aircraft already in Pakistan’s arsenal, as well as logistical and other support was quietly sent to Congress on Wednesday.

It coincides with an administration drive in Congress for endorsement of nuclear cooperation with India, a longtime rival of Pakistan. But a State Department spokeswoman, Julie Reside, said the two actions are unrelated.


Stem cell bill revived in Senate

Urged anew by Nancy Reagan, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Thursday revived a bill to expand funding for embryonic stem cell research after conservatives who had blocked it withdrew their objections.

The announcement marked a major advance for a bill – one supported by about 70 percent of Americans – that had been stalled in the Senate since the House passed it in May 2005.

The bill is expected to pass. But for all the progress, President Bush’s veto threat remained, said White House spokesman Ken Lisaius.

The bill would permit the government to pay for human embryonic stem cell research, a science that carries promise in the hunt for cures to diseases that afflict millions of people.


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4 ex-presidents among hundreds at Barbara Bush’s funeral

UPDATED: 9:46 a.m.

updated  Four former presidents joined ambassadors, sports stars and hundreds of other mourners on a gray, rainy Saturday at the private funeral for former first lady Barbara Bush, filling the nation’s largest Episcopal church a day after more than 6,000 people paid their respects to the woman known by many as “America’s matriarch.”