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Democrats face ‘religion gap’

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Washington What political strategists call the “religion gap” between Democrats and Republicans may be widening, despite efforts by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nev., Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, N.Y., and other prominent Democrats to talk about their faith and the religious underpinning of their positions.

A Pew Research Center poll released this week found that 29 percent of the public sees the Democratic Party as “generally friendly” toward religion, down from 40 percent a year ago and 42 percent in 2003. A 55 percent majority continues to see the GOP as friendly toward religion, according to the poll.

Scott Keeter, Pew’s director of survey research, said it appears that during the 2004 presidential race, Republicans succeeded in using Sen. John F. Kerry’s support for abortion rights to raise doubts about the sincerity of the Democratic nominee’s Catholic faith.

The poll found, however, that both parties have weaknesses on religion. While 44 percent said non-religious liberals have too much control over the Democratic Party, 45 percent said religious conservatives hold too much sway in the Republican Party.

Air Force Academy probing cadet’s fall

Denver The Air Force Academy is investigating allegations that one cadet pushed another out a dorm window, causing him to fall 30 feet and break his back, the school confirmed Wednesday.

The victim’s father, Charles Khan of St. Louis, said his son Nicholas was attacked in March because he had reported the older cadet, who since has graduated, for sexually harassing a female cadet.

Academy spokesman Johnny Whitaker said investigators were trying to determine whether there was evidence to support a charge of aggravated assault in the incident.

Charles Khan said the academy had quickly given his son a medical discharge, even though he wanted the option to return to the academy if he fully recovered from the injury.

Swarm of small quakes shakes Imperial Valley

Niland, Calif. Dozens of small earthquakes up to magnitude-4.5 shook the desert of southeast California Wednesday.

The most significant temblor was centered 7 miles southwest of Niland in Imperial County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The county sheriff’s department said there were no reports of damage.

“I would say it’s a very typical Imperial Valley swarm,” said Kate Hutton, staff seismologist at the California Institute of Technology.

Ethanol spills during train derailment

South Hutchinson, Kan. Two freight train cars derailed, causing a tanker to spill 30,000 gallons of highly flammable ethanol into a ditch and forcing the evacuation of about 50 homes, authorities said.

No injuries were reported in the Tuesday night incident.

The 17-car Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad train was headed to Hutchinson from Wichita when two tankers and an empty grain car jumped the track in a residential neighborhood. One of the tankers tipped, spilling the ethanol into a water-filled ditch.

Baltimore airport named for Marshall

Annapolis, Md. A Maryland state board on Wednesday approved changing the name of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport to honor the late Thurgood Marshall.

The change drew criticism from Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, a former governor and member of the Board of Public Works. Schaefer said Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice, often snubbed Baltimore.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, and the public works panel’s other member, Democratic State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, voted for the name change, the final step in the process. Schaefer abstained.

The new name, effective Oct. 1, will be Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

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