October 27, 2007 in Nation/World

Suit seeks to halt moment of silence

The Spokesman-Review
 

A 14-year-old suburban girl and her father, atheist activist Rob Sherman, filed a lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court that challenges the constitutionality of a law requiring Illinois public schools to observe a moment of silence.

Sherman and his daughter Dawn, a freshman at Buffalo Grove High School, say the law providing for “silent prayer or for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day” runs afoul of the constitutional separation of church and state.

The Shermans seek an injunction that would prevent the observance of a moment of silence in Township High School District 214, which is scheduled to begin the practice Tuesday. They also hope to reverse the statute statewide, said Gregory Kulis, an attorney representing the father and daughter. “The whole purpose for changing the law is to get more prayer in the public schools and everybody knows it,” Rob Sherman said. “Private business should be done on personal time, not time paid for by the taxpayers.”

WASHINGTON

Firm likely source of tainted beef

A now-defunct Canadian beef firm was the likely source of bacteria- contaminated meat used to make frozen hamburgers that later sickened 40 people in eight states, the Agriculture Department said Friday.

A joint U.S.-Canadian investigation matched the DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria isolated from beef trim that had remained in storage with Rancher’s Beef Ltd. to samples taken both from victims of the food poisoning outbreak and packages, both intact and opened, of Topps Meat Co. frozen hamburgers. Rancher’s Beef of Balzac, Alberta, had supplied Topps with beef trim used to make the patties, the USDA said. A message left with Rancher’s Beef, which has ceased operations, was not returned.

Topps, based in Elizabeth, N.J., recalled in September all frozen patties it had made in the previous 12 months – 21.7 million pounds – in what is the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history. Topps also shut down days later. The recall prompted the Agriculture Department to announce changes in how it will inspect meat plants.

WASHINGTON

Democrats turn to GOP for votes

Having failed to add a single Republican vote in their latest bid for a veto-proof margin on a children’s health bill, chastened House Democrats are trying a humbler tack: talking directly with the lawmakers whose support they need.

Democratic leaders are scheduled to meet Monday with a few Republicans seen as crucial to deciding whether more changes to the bill will give backers the all-important two-thirds majority that eludes them.

Until now, House Democrats have largely avoided direct talks with these Republicans, who oppose the Democratic-drafted bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program but suggest they might be open to compromise.

Bush said from the White House: “After I vetoed their last SCHIP bill, I designated members of my administration to work with Congress to find common ground. Congressional leaders never met with them. Instead, the House again passed a bill that they knew would not become law.”

From wire reports

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