Michael refutes Jermaine Jackson's Claim of Jackson 5 Reunion

For now, the chance of a full-blown Jackson 5 reunion – especially one that has the members already "in the studio" – seems like little more than a fantasy perpetuated by Jermaine Jackson, a particularly unreliable tipster who made similar murmurings in 2003 and 2007.

Michael Jackson denied on Thursday that he would take part in a reunion of the famed Motown singing group, a day after elder brother Jermaine said the faded pop star was on board.

"My brothers and sisters have my full love and support, and we've certainly shared many great experiences, but at this time I have no plans to record or tour with them," the self-proclaimed "king of pop" said a statement.

Jackson, 50, said he was in the studio working on "new and exciting projects."

But Jermaine Jackson, 53, said in Australia on Wednesday that the clan was working on the music and logistics for a tour next year.

"It is going to be more like a family affair," he was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press. "(Younger sister) Janet's going to open and, of course, the original Jackson 5 ... Michael, Randy and the whole family. ... We're in the studio, we're planning on being out there next year."

Michael Jackson has not encouraged reunion talk. He did not show up with his brothers to collect a lifetime achievement award in Los Angeles in September.

The Jackson 5, whose lineup is rounded out by Jackie, 57, Tito, 55, and Marlon, 51, as well as unofficial member Randy, 47, rose to fame in the early 1970s with such singles as "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "I'll Be There." The group last toured in 1984, by which time Michael Jackson was a huge star in his own right.

The original Jackson 5 have not performed together since 2001, when they reunited to celebrate Michael's 30th anniversary in music.

Michael Jackson has been a relative recluse since then, rarely appearing in public – with the notable exception of 2005's child abuse trial. Though he announced work on a Hurricane Katrina charity single, it was never released. Nor have there been updates on the status of a long-germinating album with songs written by Akon and Will.I.Am.

His statement was credited to a spokesperson dubbed "Dr. Tohme." The publicity firm that distributed the statement declined to elaborate on the person's identity.

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William Balfour was with another Woman during Jennifer Hudson's Relatives Murder

The mother of William Balfour the "person of interest" in the slayings three of Jennifer Hudson's family members insisted Monday night on CNN that her son was not involved in the crime.

"No means did my son do this," Michele Davis-Balfour said on CNN's "Nancy Grace."

She said that her son, William Balfour, 27, was with a girlfriend Friday when the bodies of Jason Hudson and Darnell Donerson, Hudson's brother and mother, were discovered shot to death in their South Side Chicago home.

"My son's alibi was [he was] with one of his girlfriends, OK?" Davis-Balfour said. When Grace asked which girlfriend he was with Friday, the mother said her son was with a woman named Diana on Friday night, and with a woman named Kate on Saturday morning.

Davis-Balfour said that her son is separated from Julia Hudson, Jennifer Hudson's sister. It was Julia Hudson who first discovered her mother's body, police said. Authorities were then notified, and they arrived at the home and found Jason Hudson's body.

At that time, a massive search began for Julian King, who is Julia Hudson's 7-year-old son and Balfour's stepson. That hunt ended Monday when the boy's body was found by police in an abandoned white Chevrolet Suburban SUV on the West Side of Chicago.

A Tuesday autopsy report revealed Julian had been shot multiple times, but the Cook County medical examiner's report did not say when the child died and where his wounds were.

William Balfour was detained for questioning in connection with the killings, a police representative said. Julian was not with Balfour when he was detained, officials said.

Balfour is now in state custody for a parole violation. He spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a stolen vehicle and was released in May of this year. Police have so far refused to discuss precisely how he violated parole.

Balfour was also arrested last June for drug possession, but officials said there was not enough evidence to constitute a parole violation. Chicago news station WLS is reporting that cocaine was found in Balfour's car.

Authorities also said that Balfour's parole violation was of a "technical" nature, which could range from a curfew violation to missing an appointment with a parole officer. WLS reported that Balfour missed an appointment with his parole agent Friday. The agent phoned Balfour, who told the agent that he was baby-sitting, the station said.

Balfour violated his parole by possessing a weapon and by failing to attend an anger management class and a substance abuse program, according to WLS.

On Monday, Davis-Balfour spoke about the nature of her son's relationship with Julia Hudson.

On Julia Hudson's MySpace page Monday afternoon, she wrote: "Now because I chose to do what was natural to me and love someone, it cost me my beautiful family, my wonderful beautiful loving supporting mother, Darnell, my true blue baby brother, Jason, I love u big baby ... and last but never not least, my only son, Julian."

Davis-Balfour disputed that her son and Julia Hudson had a rocky relationship. Grace asked if the two were "romantically" involved, and Balfour answered that they were. Julia Hudson and her son were together Thursday night after she invited Balfour to celebrate her birthday by having cake.

"People don't understand what's going on. My son loved her. She loved him," Davis-Balfour said. "...Regardless to whatever anyone says, my son still loved Julia."

Davis-Balfour expressed anger that her son's picture has been splashed on media reports since Friday, though reports have been careful to point out that police have not named him as a suspect in the killings.

"You all have put my son's face on worldwide news like he's -- like he's Attila the Hun," Davis-Balfour said. "You all are not saying that my son obtained his GED while he was in the correctional facility. You all are not saying that my son took up horticulture while he was there. William is a very smart and intelligent young man."

The mother also defended her son's criminal past, including his carjacking and attempted murder charges.

"No, he has never done bodily harm to no one. He has never been the type of kid that you could say was a violent type," she said.

"My son -- it was still in the man's car, right? The man saw my son starting his car. He ran outside, jumped on top of his own vehicle.

"This is why they said vehicle hijacking, because my son jumped -- the man jumped on top of the car while my son was stealing it, right? He stuck his hand inside the driver's side and started choking my son. So my son kept driving even more, took the owner of the vehicle on a high-speed ..." Davis-Balfour said.

Authorities said they are confident they will soon catch the killer.

"I suspect that we'll have some evidence that will link us to the killer," Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said Tuesday.

Police are collecting evidence from the SUV and reviewing surveillance tapes from all over the city as the investigation continues, Weis told reporters.

"There's a lot of work to be done. We'll be sure we go through this thoroughly," Weis said. Asked about possible motives, Weis replied, "We don't know what the motive really was at this time. But, clearly, you have people who do know each other, so it wasn't a case of a stranger-type homicide."

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Why Congolese Attack UN Peacekeepers

Alex Perry

There can be no greater indictment of a peacekeeping mission than when it is attacked by the people it was sent to protect. But that is what's happening to the U.N.'s biggest peacekeeping mission, the 17,000 blue helmets in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) known by the French acronym MONUC. On Monday, one person died when hundreds of protesters attacked the mission in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, on the border with Rwanda. The protesters say the U.N. is not doing enough to protect them from an advancing rebel army. Several U.N. compounds in the city were attacked, said U.N. spokeswoman Sylvie van den Wildenberg, who adds that at one location, MONUC soldiers fired into the air to disperse the demonstrators. It was unclear whether the dead civilian was killed by a rock thrown by a protester or a bullet, she said.

Hundreds of thousands of Congolese have fled renewed fighting in the eastern part of the country in the past few weeks. Government forces are pitted against rebel groups that have operated in the area since crossing the border from neighboring Rwanda at the end of the genocide there in 1994. In some ways — such as how the conflict has sucked in armies from across Africa and how it has often descended into a fight over the region's plentiful natural resources — the war in Congo is immeasurably more complicated than the one in Rwanda. But in other ways, it's a direct sequel. The rebels now advancing on Goma, for instance, are led by General Laurent Nkunda, an ethnic Tutsi fighting remnant Rwandan Hutu militias.

In all, according to humanitarian NGO the International Rescue Committee, the war in Congo — which escalated into a full-scale civil war in 1998 that lasted until 2003, and still erupts periodically, as now — has killed 5.4 million people, mostly through hunger and disease.

The moral imperative for an international response is clear. It's set out in the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a doctrine adopted by the U.N. World Summit in 2005 — the largest gathering of world leaders in history — that made clear that a nation forfeits its right to sovereignty if it unleashes or is unable to prevent massive human-rights abuses on its soil. R2P was born from the collective shame over global inaction during atrocities in places such as Cambodia, Rwanda and Srebrenica. The most striking current example of R2P in effect is in Darfur, where the U.N. has agreed to deploy 26,000 peacekeepers to end genocide. It is a mission that, if fully staffed, would supercede that in the D.R.C. as the biggest in the world. "The concept is focused on mass atrocity crimes," says Gareth Evans, who heads global-conflict watchdog the International Crisis Group and who launched a book, Responsibility to Protect, in Washington on Tuesday. "The whole point is to develop an international reflex response that goes, 'Of course we have to do something. Let's figure out what.' "

With such high-minded intervention, why have the people of Goma turned on their would-be protectors? Ironically, that may have to do with how aggressively MONUC has pursued its task. MONUC was established in 1999 and has an annual budget of more than $1.1 billion. Its robust mission statement includes "forcibly implementing" a cease-fire and "using all means deemed necessary" to protect civilians and improve security. In that role, it has shown an eagerness to fight, even using helicopter gunships; it has taken sides with the government; and it has pursued and arrested war criminals wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Many U.N. insiders regard MONUC almost as a rogue operation, employing the kind of methods normally used by the U.S. in Iraq and inappropriate to U.N. peacekeepers.

Others regard MONUC's willingness to get off the fence and fight as its great strength. But inevitably, says Alex de Waal, program director at New York's Social Science Research Council and author of several books on Africa, "when you move to coercive peacekeeping, you're no longer neutral. You cannot expect to be treated above and beyond the conflict. You are part of it." Hence MONUC has been beset by accusations of bias from all sides, many with some merit. Now, diminished in authority, it finds itself dodging rocks from the very people on whose behalf it took up the responsibility to protect.

On the other end of the scale is the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur. It has strictly observed the peacekeeping tenets on neutrality, limiting itself mostly to its bases and never opening fire unless directly fired upon. In other words, says de Waal, it has been ineffectual, "a liability. Ten thousand soldiers just sitting in their bases." Even that hasn't saved them, however. Last October in the camp of Haskanita, 10 African Union peacekeepers — seven Nigerian, two Batswana and a Senegalese — were killed by a group of Darfur rebels, again part of the community whom the peacekeepers had been sent to protect. A war-crimes indictment against the rebels who perpetrated and led that attack is expected any day.

Peacekeeping is tricky, no doubt. De Waal is among those who have questioned whether we might have set our sights too high, and whether, while peacekeeping might work in small countries like Sierra Leone or East Timor or Kosovo, there may not be the resources to make it work for vast nations like the D.R.C. or Sudan. Evans, a former Australian Foreign Minister, is among those who believe that just because something is difficult, "it doesn't mean you abandon it." Says Evans: "In Congo, the problem is insufficient resources. Maybe MONUC has to be reinforced and upgraded. In Darfur, you have a lackluster result, yes, but you had to have peacekeepers with a mandate that was accepted by the government. A full-bore invasion [would have had] catastrophic results." Evans is also keen to highlight "unheralded, unacclaimed" R2P successes like in Kenya this year and in Burundi in the early years of the decad — both cases in which strong diplomatic intervention prevented ethnic clashes from descending into wider ethnic wars.

But then there's Somalia. Somalia is the world's biggest humanitarian crisis, in which 3.5 million people — more than one-third of the population — are now on the brink of starvation after 17 years of civil war. If we have a responsibility to protect anywhere, surely Somalia would be top of the list. But Somalia has attracted no offers of help from the West, and only a few thousand African Union troops. It is not as if the world has no interest in what happens in Somalia; anarchy has fostered not only a starvation catastrophe and international piracy, but also Africa's most dangerous Islamists, who have bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. And that's the problem: the dangers of Somalia override any noble notion about saving others. Evans says the "main point" of his book is to "clear away the debris and skepticism about the scope and limits of R2P." Here's hoping his writing is exceptional.

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Pakistan's 6.4 Earthquake Kills at Least 200 People

A powerful earthquake has killed at least 200 people and destroyed hundreds of homes in south-west Pakistan, officials said today.

The death toll from the quake was expected to rise as reports arrived from remote areas of the affected Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan.

It struck two hours before dawn and had a preliminary magnitude of 6.4, the US Geological Survey reported.

It was 10 miles (15km) below the surface, and the Meteorological Department said there were two tremors, the second bigger than the first.

The worst-hit area appeared to be Ziarat, where hundreds of houses in five villages, mostly made of mud and timber, were destroyed.

The local mayor, Dilawar Khan Kakar, said hundreds of people had been injured and 15,000 left homeless. Some homes were buried in a landslide triggered by the quake.

Rescuers have pulled 160 bodies from the rubble in the Zaiarat valley area, one of Baluchistan's most popular tourist spots, he told Reuters.

"There is great destruction. Not a single house is intact," he said in an interview with Express News television.

"I would like to appeal to the whole world for help. We need food, we need medicine. People need warm clothes, blankets, because it is cold here."

Emergency workers were trying to reach places high in the mountains above the valley, where many people are believed to be trapped under debris.

Sohail-ur-Rehman, another senior official, said authorities were attempting to bury the dead as quickly as possible to prevent outbreaks of disease.

"Graves are being dug with excavators ... we can't keep dead bodies in the open," he told Reuters.

Farooq Ahmed Khan, the head of a national disaster management team, told Reuters that around 300 rescue workers had reached Ziarat, which has a population of 50,000, and tents, blankets and clothing were being flown in.

An Associated Press reporter said he had seen the bodies of 17 people who had been killed in one collapsed house and 12 who had died in another.

Survivors sat in the open, with little more than the clothes in which they had been sleeping.

In nearby Kawas, dozens of dead and injured were brought to a hospital. Mohammed Irfan, a doctor, said the hospital was unable to cope.

With roads blocked by landslides, officials said the army was airlifting troops and medical teams to villages in the quake zone. A field hospital and thousands of tents and blankets were also being brought to the area.

Najam Maghlani, a resident of Quetta, the provincial capital, told the BBC the quake had been "the worst 40 seconds of my life".

"It was a very strong earthquake," he said. "After the first jolt, which was not very strong, there was another big one.

"When I came out, I saw very strange things. It was like there was lightning all around the city. There was no electricity, but still there was light in the sky.

"The trees were jolting and shaking. It was just like a thunderstorm."

Large parts of south Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.

Today's quake was the deadliest since a 7.6-magnitude quake devastated Kashmir and northern Pakistan in October 2005, killing around 80,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

Officials said the area affected today, 400 miles from the capital, Islamabad, was much less densely populated.

In 1935, about 30,000 people were killed and Quetta was largely destroyed by a severe earthquake.

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15 Percent of Veterans Suffer Sexual Trauma

New research from the Veterans Administration finds that roughly 15 percent of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans seeking treatment from the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department have suffered sexual trauma ranging from harassment to rape.

These veterans were 1.5 times more likely than other veterans to need mental health services, the VA researchers wrote in their report.

"We are, in fact, detecting men and women who seem to have a significant need for mental health services," said Rachel Kimerling of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, in an interview with Reuters.

Most affected veterans were women, with more than one in seven of those seeking health services also reporting sexual trauma. Slightly less than 1 percent of male veterans seeking medical care reported military sexual trauma.

The research was presented at a meeting of the American Public Health Association in San Diego.

The term "military sexual trauma" includes everything from outright rape to coerced sex or threatening and unwelcome sexual advances, Kimerling said, adding that for her purposes it was not necessary to determine what kind of sexual trauma occurred. The study did examine when such events occurred, and did not include active-duty military since VA services are only available to discharged veterans.

"If you think about military service where you are living and working so closely with the same people, that even if it is not sexual assault ... it is possible that severe sexual harassment is just as traumatic," she said.

A VA spokeswoman said about 40 percent of all discharged veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have sought some form of medical care from the VA.

The agency has a universal screening program for military sexual trauma.

"There are dedicated health care services for military sexual trauma at every VA facility across the nation," she said, adding that many veterans may be unaware that they can be helped.

Kimerling said sexual trauma could sometimes lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We know there are effective, evidence-based treatments for them that are used in VA," she said.

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French Brain Surgeon, Charles de Gaulle to Treat Kim Jong-il of North Korea

Speculation surrounding the health of Kim Jong-il intensified today after a Japanese TV station reported that a leading French brain surgeon had been sent to Pyongyang, after talks with the "Dear Leader's" eldest son.

In a report by Fuji TV aired today, a man the broadcaster identified as Kim's eldest son, Kim Jong-nam, was seen visiting the neurological department of a Paris clinic, where he spent two hours with the unnamed surgeon.

The report said he was "believed to have met with a French brain surgeon, who later departed from Paris for Pyongyang under North Korean escort".

The portly figure, dressed in a dark pinstriped suit with a red tie, ignored questions about Kim Jong-il's health as he got into a waiting car, but managed a wave and a hint of a smile as he left, according to the station.

The report then showed the surgeon arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport two days later, in a car belonging to the North Korean mission to Unesco.

The doctor, whose face had been blurred by the network, confirmed he was flying to Beijing, a common transfer point for flights to Pyongyang, but would neither confirm nor deny whether he was flying to the North Korean capital.

A spokeswoman at Fuji TV's Paris bureau declined to comment on Kim Jong-nam's reported visit. "All of the information we have was included in the report," she said.

Though accounts of political manoeuvering inside the secretive state are all but impossible to verify, few observers now believe the regime's recent claims that Kim Jong-il is in robust health.

Rumours that he is seriously ill have been circulating for weeks, prompting speculation about a possible power struggle involving his three sons, his brother-in-law and senior members of the Korean Workers' party.

US and South Korean officials said earlier this month that the 66-year-old, a former heavy smoker and drinker, had suffered a stroke and undergone brain surgery.

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NFL Players Vs Staphylococcus, Why the Battle in the First place?

The NFL is learning the hard way that a microscopic foe can be much more imposing than a 300-pound lineman, as a sudden slew of staph infections has sacked several players in the game.

Early this week, Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. revealed that staph (short for Staphylococcus) infection had sent him to the Cleveland Clinic for three days, and he accused the Browns of asking him to cover it up. Pro football teams are notoriously reluctant to reveal any information on player injuries, but since six different Browns have caught the bug since 2005 — Winslow has had it twice — the team's medical management looked suspect to some observers. "There's obviously a problem [with staph] and we have to fix it," Winslow told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Just look at the history around here. It's unfortunate, because it happens time and time again." The Browns, who denied that they had kept the news of his infection from his teammates, suspended Winslow one game for his rant, which included his claim that he felt like he had been treated like "a piece of meat."

But the Winslow medical controversy wasn't even the worst of it for the league. In the past week, it has become clear that two of its most marketable stars, marquee quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, had gotten infections. The New England Patriots' Brady has had at least two additional infection-related procedures since his initial season-ending knee surgery in September. It's now possible that his knee will have to undergo another operation, which could delay his return until 2010. Staph seems to be the likely culprit, but neither Brady nor the Patriots will confirm that. During training camp staph infected a bursa sac, which acts as a cushion between bones, in Manning's left knee. The infection required surgery and forced him to miss most of the preseason. Though the Colts released a statement on Friday insisting Manning didn't contract a more perilous staph, the anti-biotic resistant strain known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), the incidents should alarm the NFL. "The NFL, and all the leagues, should be diligent, and not let their guards down," says Dr. Robert Gotlin, director of Orthopedic and Sports Rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. "They've got to do better. It's got to be one of the top five priorities."

The recent cases have certainly gotten players' attention. "I'm concerned, and wondering why it's happening. It's not some little infection that goes away in a few days, it's pretty serious," says Chicago Bears rookie running back Matt Forte. The league is quick to point out that it has partnered with teams to educate players about the bacteria, while the players' union insists it's alarmed and has contacted the league about further action. Some teams, like the Colts, have posted pictures on training room walls that warn players about staph symptoms and how to avoid contracting or spreading it. For their part, the Browns note that the team has previously used a special anti-staph agent to disinfect the locker room, weight room and other places where players gather.

Staph, of course, is far from just an NFL problem. Two college teams, the '05 Florida Gators and the '03 USC Trojans, had multiple cases. And football is by no means the only sports victim. The infection kept Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios out of the 2006 All-Star Game. A few days later another Toronto player caught it, and the clubhouse was disinfected. NBA players Paul Pierce, Grant Hill and Drew Gooden have had it. Staph killed a high school wrestler in California this summer, and last spring 15 students at a Pennsylvania high school were either treated for staph or symptoms caused by the virus.

What exactly are staph infections? Staph is bacteria carried on the skin, which can enter the body through a cut or during a medical procedure, causing the infection. Most are minor, but certain strains are particularly resistant to anti-biotics and can cause athletes to miss significant playing time. Athletes are more likely to suffer cuts, and the locker room setting bunches players close to one another in a warm, damp environment, so they are especially susceptible to spreading the bacteria. Since football teams carry some 55 players on their rosters, and tend to have a higher degree of serious injuries to deal with, they are at particular risk. According to a 2005 survey by the NFL Team Physicians Society, 13 out of 30 teams that responded had had a player contract MRSA in recent years, for a total of 60 leaguewide infections.

Though Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Omar Gaither rightly points out that "we're just a naturally dirty sport," there are several basic precautions athletes can take to lower the chance of catching an infection. Many athletes shave their ankles, legs, and arms because they don't want athletic tape ripping hair off their bodies, but experts say they should lose the razor. "No matter how careful the shaving is, you can have nicks and microscopic cuts in the skin," says Dr. Daniel Sexton, an infectious disease specialist at the Duke University Medical Center, who consults for an NFL team and several college programs. "Any time you break that barrier, it becomes a portal through which bacteria can gain access." Staph prevention is pretty low-tech. "You know, this is pretty simple," Sexton says. "Hand washing remains the primary defense against the transmissions of most organisms, including staph. Most people don't think of a locker room as a place where hand hygiene is important, but locker rooms are also mini-emergency rooms."

In 2003, a team of researchers tracked the St. Louis Rams and found five players who caught eight MRSA infections. "We observed a lack of regular access to hand hygiene (i.e., soap and water or alcohol-based hand gels) for trainers who provided wound care," they wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine. Other offenses included "skipping of showers by players before the use of communal whirlpools; and sharing or towels — all factors that might facilitate the transmission of infection in this setting."

In short: use a little common sense, tough guys. But when it comes to infectious germs, even a 245-lb. bruiser like Gaither believes you can't always outrun them. "You can't worry about it to death," he says. "It's not like you can walk around and put gloves on your hand every 10 seconds. Sometimes, there's just not that much you can do." Except hope that these recent cases are a coincidental hiccup, and not an epidemic that seriously tackles the NFL.

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FARC Hostage, Oscar Tulio Lizcano Escaped After 8 Years in Captivity

A former Colombian congressman who was held hostage in the jungle for more than eight years has escaped -- with the help of a former captor.

Oscar Tulio Lizcano, his hair disheveled, appeared too weak to stand for long when he met the news media Sunday, hours after stumbling onto a military patrol -- and freedom.

Lizcano suffered from hunger and disease in captivity and endured isolation in the company of leftist rebels who often would not let him talk, he and Colombian authorities said.

"Maybe my incoherence is for a lack of speaking," Lizcano told reporters. "I was unable to talk with the guerillas who guarded me."

Lizcano said he had little to read in the jungle except "The Odyssey" by Homer. He suffered from malaria and other illnesses and once ate nothing but hearts of palm for six or seven days, said Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian defense minister.

"This is big news for the whole family," said Lizcano's sister, Amparo Lizcano. "We were waiting for the guerrillas to give our brother back alive before he died."

The former congressman fled about three days ago with the assistance of one of his captors, a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a leftist rebel force that has been fighting the government for more than 40 years in a war that also has involved right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers.

President Alvaro Uribe appeared on television Sunday with the ex-FARC rebel -- known by the alias "Isaza" -- and said the man will receive compensation and permission to resettle in France with his family. He said that's in keeping with a Colombian government policy that rewards rebels who desert and help hostages gain their freedom.

Police officers and soldiers pinpointed the location of the FARC unit holding Lizcano several months ago, Santos said.

They monitored the location for about five months and took steps to seal off possible escape routes, he said, as they planned a rescue operation using information gleaned help from a rebel who deserted October 2. Troops started that rescue operation Saturday -- only to discover that "Isaza" and Lizcano had decided on their own to escape.

The two men wandered through the jungle for three days and nights before encountering a Colombian army patrol Sunday, said Santos, the defense minister.

Lizcano was kidnapped on August 4, 2000 near the Colombian town of Riosucio. He and his former captor stumbled Sunday onto a patrol near the border of the states of Risaralda and Choco, in central Colombia, authorities said.

The FARC holds an estimated 750 hostages in Colombia. Its members have justified hostage taking as a legitimate military tactic.

The rebels have been battered this year by government raids that killed several top commanders, the death by apparent heart attack of their founder and a wave of desertions.

Government commandoes tricked the FARC in July and freed their most prized hostage, the former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, in an elaborate ruse that also liberated three U.S. defense contractors and 11 other hostages.

On Sunday, Lizcano offered words of encouragement to those hundreds who remain trapped in the jungle, captives of the FARC.

"Hold on. Hold on," he said. "One day you will enjoy your freedom, too."

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Body Suspected to be Julian King Found in an SUV

A body believed to be that of the missing 7-year-old nephew of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson was found Monday inside an SUV, an FBI official and Chicago police said.

Speaking at a news conference on an unrelated matter, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said the body is "believed to be" Hudson's nephew, Julian King, and the FBI is working with the Chicago Police Department to confirm the identity.

Deputy Chief Cmdr. Wayne Gulliford said police were responding to "a call about a suspicious auto" in the west side of Chicago at approximately 7 a.m. when they found the body inside a parked white Chevy Suburban, which had a license plate matching the description in the child's Amber Alert.

He had no details on the body, pending the medical examiner's report.

Julian has been missing since Hudson's mother and brother were found dead in their home Friday.

Over the weekend, Hudson offered a $100,000 reward for the safe return of her nephew.

"Please keep praying for our family and that we get Julian King back home safely," Hudson said in a posting on her MySpace page Sunday. "If anyone has any information about his whereabouts please contact the authorities immediately."

Hudson also posted two pictures of her nephew wearing the brown-and-orange striped polo shirt he was wearing when he was last seen.

Earlier, Hudson viewed the bodies of her mother, Darnell Donerson, and brother, Jason Hudson, the Cook County medical examiner's office told CNN on Sunday. They were found shot to death Friday in their South Side Chicago home.

Julian's stepfather, William Balfour, was detained over the weekend for questioning in connection with the case, a police spokesperson told CNN. He was subsequently transferred to prison on a parole violation charge, the spokesperson said.

No charges had been filed against anyone in connection with the murders.

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, Balfour, 27, spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle.

Chicago news station WLS reported Saturday that Julian was not with Balfour when he was detained.

Hudson's sister, Julia Balfour, made an emotional appeal Saturday for the safe return of her son.

"My greatest fear has already happened, my greatest hope is for having my child. I just want my son," Julia Balfour said. "That's all I have to say. Just let my baby go."

William Balfour's mother, Michele Davis-Balfour, also urged the public to focus on finding Julian and said her son had nothing to do with the slayings.

"Out of no means did my son do this. This heinous crime to this family is unbelievable. It's unbearable," Davis-Balfour told WLS.Video Watch Davis-Balfour's emotional appeal »

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Patterson said the bodies of Hudson's mother and brother were found about 3 p.m. Friday, when a relative arrived and found the body of a woman on the living room floor. The relative backed out of the house and called police, Patterson said. Authorities found a man shot to death in a bedroom.

The Cook County medical examiner's office said Saturday that Donerson and Jason Hudson suffered multiple gunshot wounds and ruled the deaths homicides.

Neighbors reported hearing gunshots earlier Friday, Patterson said. Authorities found no signs of forced entry to the home and were not sure whether other items were missing. Video Watch the scene outside the house »

"You've got two people who were killed inside a home. That alone will produce a great deal of evidence," Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said of forensic evidence at the crime scene.

Hudson won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Effie in the film version of the Broadway musical "Dreamgirls." She competed on the third season of "American Idol" in 2004, making it to the top seven contestants before being eliminated from the contest.

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South African and Briton DHL Staff Killed in the Afghanistan

A Briton and a South African working for international courier company DHL were killed along with an Afghan guard in a shoot out in Afghanistan's capital Kabul Saturday, officials said.

It was the second fatal shooting involving the international community in the city in five days with a dual national British-South African aid worker gunned down Monday in a killing claimed by the insurgent Taliban.

Separately on Saturday, two Turks and two Bangladeshis were reported kidnapped elsewhere in Afghanistan, which this year has seen a spiral in violence blamed on increasing insurgent attacks and crime.

It was unclear what prompted Saturday's exchange of fire outside the DHL offices, but one senior police official said an argument had erupted between the foreigners and some Afghans and it was not a Taliban attack.

"Two foreigners and one Afghan have been killed," said Kabul deputy police chief Alishah Ahmadzai. Two people were also wounded, he said, without giving their identities.

The British and South African governments said later they were a Briton and a South African.

They worked for DHL, said a spokesman in Berlin for the German post office, which owns the shipping group. Afghan police said they were the Kabul director and deputy director of the company.

One of them was shot dead in the front passenger seat of a four-wheel-drive vehicle, said an AFP reporter who saw his body slumped in the seat. The front side window was shattered and the cabin spattered with blood.

The other was in the back seat, according to a policeman. The vehicle was covered with a plastic sheet so witnesses could not see inside.

The Afghan appeared to have been shot outside the vehicle, where blood was pooled. He was a guard, a police witness said.

Several people were detained afterwards for questioning, police said.

The killing comes after 34-year-old aid worker Gayle Williams was shot dead Monday while she was walking to work at the SERVE Afghanistan aid organisation.

The Islamist Taliban claimed she was killed because SERVE was "preaching Christianity," a charge rejected by the group which works to help disabled Afghans.

"That is simply not true," SERVE Afghanistan spokeswoman Rina van der Ende reiterated at an emotional press conference in Kabul attended by Williams' mother and sister ahead of her funeral here Sunday.

"There is still no clue why Gayle was murdered," she said.

Authorities have not confirmed that the assassination was carried out by the Taliban.

Security has plummeted in the country this year, with insurgent attacks and crime both surging as foreign troops fight to stem the Taliban-led insurgency.

In other incidents, two Turkish nationals were kidnapped in the eastern province of Khost along with their Afghan driver and translator, provincial governor Arsala Jamal said Saturday.

The men had been contracted to erect a radio mast, Jamal said. There had been no contact from the abductors, who were unknown, he said.

A spokesman for the Taliban, which has carried out several kidnappings for ransom or to put political pressure on the authorities, said the militia was not responsible and blamed bandits.

The visiting Turkish foreign minister, Ali Babacan, said he had expressed his concerns about the abduction of his countrymen during a meeting with his Afghan counterpart in Kabul Saturday.

In Dhaka, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) said two of its Bangladeshi staff were kidnapped in the central province of Ghazni on Friday.

"We don't know who abducted them and where they have been taken," said Mahbub Hossain, BRAC executive director.

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Police are Questioning William Balfour over the Hudson's Murders

Police are questioning a man in connection with the deaths of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother, according to published reports.

Darnell Donerson and Jason Hudson were found slain Friday in their home on Chicago's South Side, according to police.

According to published reports, William Balfour has been taken into custody, but he has not been charged.

Police spokeswoman Monique Bond told AP that investigators were talking to "a number of people in custody" but she declined to elaborate.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert on Friday for a 7-year-old boy who was missing from the scene of the double homicide.

Julian King, Hudson's nephew, is 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 130 pounds. He was wearing a brown polo shirt with stripes and khaki pants when last seen, authorities said in the Amber Alert.

The boy could be in a 1994 white Chevrolet Suburban, authorities said at an evening news conference.

The alert said King could also be in a teal or green Chrysler Concorde with a temporary license plate, a left front headlight hanging out and scratches on the left side of the vehicle.

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Patterson said the bodies were found about 3 p.m. Friday, when a relative arrived home and found the body of a female shot to death on the living room floor.

The relative backed out of the house and called police, who found the body of a male shot to death in a bedroom, Patterson said.

A 1994 white Chevrolet Suburban with Illinois license plates and the 7-year-old were missing from the scene, he said. Patterson said King was the grandson of the female victim.

Neighbors reported hearing gunshots earlier Friday, he said. Authorities found no signs of forced entry to the home and are not sure whether other items are missing.

Hudson's representatives would not disclose her whereabouts Friday, but Willie Davis, pastor of Progressive Baptist Church, told CNN affiliate CLTV that she is on her way back to Chicago.

Davis said he was notified that he might be called out to assist Hudson and her family members.

Hudson won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2006 for her portrayal of Effie in the film version of the Broadway musical "Dreamgirls." She competed on the third season of "American Idol" in 2004, making it to the top seven contestants before being eliminated from the contest.

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Are Your SAT Scores Good Enough for the Ivy League Schools?

Here's a side-by-side comparison of scores for the middle 50% of Ivy League applicants. If your scores fall within or above these ranges, you're on target for admission to one of these top colleges.

Use the chart below to see the 2007-08 data for colleges in the Ivy League.

SAT Scores

Reading Math Writing

25% 75% 25% 75% 25% 75%
Brown 660 760 670 770 660 760
Columbia 660 760 670 780 660 750
Cornell 630 730 660 770 630 720
Dartmouth 670 770 680 780 670 770
Harvard 700 800 700 790 700 790
Princeton 690 790 700 790 690 780
U Penn 650 750 680 770 660 750
Yale 700 790 690 790 690 790

While you'll still receive your printed SAT score report in the mail, My SAT Online Score Report shows you more about how you performed on each section of the SAT Reasoning Test.

The writing portion of the SAT, which was added to the exam in 2006, is still a work in progress, with many colleges waiting for several years of data before factoring it into admissions decisions.

Average SAT Scores for 2008 College Bound Seniors

* Critical reading: 502
* Mathematics: 515
* Writing: 494

What is considered a "good" SAT score?
Scoring close to the mean (average), about 500 on critical reading, 500 on mathematics, and 500 on writing, tells you that you scored as well as about half of all test takers. Each college will have its own range of scores that it considers a good fit for its students. It is best to check with the college(s) you are interested in to see their mean scores for its last group of freshman admits.

Remember, your SAT score alone is not enough to get accepted to the school of your choice. There are many other factors admissions will look at in determining whether or not you get accepted.

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the IMF in Sex Scandal

Bruce Crumley
With the financial crisis forcing global leaders to rethink the basic framework of the world's financial system, it's probably not the best of times for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be mired in internal scandal. Yet even as French President Nicolas Sarkozy got the backing of U.S. President George W. Bush Saturday to organize a summit to reform the international financial rules that the IMF oversees, the world discovered that the organization's French managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is being investigated for possible abuses of power. The findings of that inquiry — expected later this week — will not only shape the IMF's ability to navigate the world into a new, stable era of international trade, but they will also cast the fate of one of France's brightest political stars.

Those high stakes explain why the scandal has drawn rapt attention in France, where Strauss-Kahn is considered one of the opposition Socialist Party's sharpest minds — and a leading contender for a 2012 presidential bid. For now, however, the besieged IMF chairman finds himself at the center of a storm stemming from an acknowledged extramarital affair with IMF subordinate Piroska Nagy, who oversaw the organization's African department until she resigned in August of this year.

Alerted to the liaison this summer, the IMF's board contracted an independent Washington law firm to investigate whether Strauss-Kahn might have abused his power in one of two ways: by pressuring Nagy to resign once their relationship ended or by intervening to enhance the compensation she would receive when she decided to leave on her own. Findings on both types of potential misbehavior are expected Friday.

For now, no available evidence has surfaced to contradict Strauss-Kahn's assurances that "at no time did I abuse my role as director-general." Lawyers for Nagy, a Hungarian economist who now works in London for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, say she left the IMF of her own will and received standard compensation under a cost-cutting plan that eliminated 380 positions via voluntary departures. Caught red-handed after Nagy's husband discovered e-mail sent last January during the monthlong affair, Strauss-Kahn owned up to the tryst, stressing that his transgressions ended there. On Monday, Strauss-Kahn issued an apology to Nagy, the IMF staff and his French TV-personality wife Anne Sinclair for what he called "my error in initiating this relationship."

That quick avowal has led most French commentators and political insiders to believe that Strauss-Kahn will emerge from the scandal intact as long as no abuse of power is substantiated. If they are right, Strauss-Kahn would escape the fate of former Bush Administration official Paul Wolfowitz, who was forced to resign his job as president of the World Bank in May 2007 after it was established that he had intervened to secure unmerited promotions and severance payments for his female companion, who also worked for the organization.

"If, as expected, this shows Strauss-Kahn was personally cavalier rather than guilty of an offense, then we're likely to see people in France and elsewhere file this away as a private matter," says Dominique Moïsi, senior adviser at the French Institute of International Relations. "From there he'll be judged on how he handles the most critical challenge facing the planet: reforming the world's gravely troubled finance system."

Indeed, despite the notoriously rigid rules of conduct enforced at the IMF and other international organizations, the dramatic economic situation appears to be dampening any enthusiasm for seeing any more lofty heads fall. Especially in France, rumors are swirling that the initial press leaks of the Strauss-Kahn investigation stemmed from Russian and American rivals who covet his position and fear the French Socialists would favor an inordinately rigorous approach to regulating the global finance system. Nevertheless, some suggest there is little appetite within the IMF for an extended period of uncertainty over its leadership.

"Though his Bush credentials made him very unpopular, the Wolfowitz ouster wound up traumatizing many international organizations — and that was before general crisis set in," says a high-ranking French civil servant who worked with Strauss-Kahn before he won the IMF position. "Strauss-Kahn is viewed as accomplished, smart and very capable. Because of that, the prevailing view seems to be, 'Let's hope this turns out to be nothing, because the IMF and the world really needs this guy to come through.' "

Should Strauss-Kahn survive the inquiry and oversee a refoundation of the Bretton Woods system that has regulated international finance since 1944, he'd likely come through in an ironic position: strengthened to launch an expected presidential bid in 2012 to unseat Sarkozy — the leader now most energetically advocating what he calls the "moralization" of finance markets. "To say there's a lot at stake on the outcome of this investigation is an understatement," says Moïsi. "But the bigger challenge for Strauss-Kahn — and the world — is what's waiting beyond that."

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China and North Korea Supplying Arms to Khartoum and the SPLM

Fred Oluch
It is no longer a secret: Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) -- which runs the semi-autonomous south -- have been building up their armies ahead of the 2009 elections or the 2011 referendum when the South will choose whether to secede from the north.

There have been reports that Khartoum has been purchasing arms from China and North Korea, including fighter jets and tankers, while the South, suspecting that Khartoum is bent on scuttling the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), has been preparing for any eventuality.

A veteran journalist based in Khartoum, Adil El-Baz, confirmed to The EastAfrican that both sides are preparing for war because of the shaky peace deal and the oil deposits in the South.

According to Mr El-Baz, there is still much controversy about the boundary of the North and the South, especially around the oil-rich Abyei. Thus, should the separation be confirmed in 2011, there could be war over the oilfields that are mainly in the South.

Khartoum and SPLM have been having an uneasy relationship over the implementation of the 2005 peace deal, especially over Abyei.

But the suspicions were kept under wraps until recently, when pirates hijacked a Ukranian ship with a cargo of arms destined for Mombasa, but which the US Navy officials claimed were headed for Southern Sudan. Both SPLM and the Kenya government have denied this claim.

Moreover, Sudanese ambassador to Kenya, Majok Guandong, told The EastAfrican there are no signs that the two sides could go back to war, arguing that the implementation of the CPA is gradual and that both President Omar al-Bashir and Vice President Salva Kiir are committed to making it work.

"Sixty per cent of the CPA has already been implemented while the rest is going on gradually, so there should be no need for a war. However, after 21 years of war, the issues cannot all be addressed within three years," he said.

The debate comes as various political parties in the country converged in Khartoum last week to discuss the restoration of peace in the troubled western section of Darfur, the east and the south.

SPLM insists that it is dedicating its resources to reconstruction and infrastructure development, while Khartoum has taken a rather lukewarm view of the reported shipment to Southern Sudan mainly because it is still preoccupied with the decision of the International Criminal Court to indict President al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur.

At a recent rally in Juba, al-Bashir said that even though Khartoum is working hard to make unity attractive, the decision on whether to separate or remain within a united Sudan rests solely with the southerners.

Still, Khartoum recently summoned the ambassadors of Ethiopia and Kenya to Sudan regarding the alleged arms shipments to Southern Sudan. It expressed its astonishment that the two countries, which are also members of Igad, could be used as conduits.

The Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that an Ethiopian military plane arrived at Juba Airport on October 10 loaded with weapons.

There are unconfirmed reports that assorted arms have passed through Kenya destined for Southern Sudan. What is more, they were given an armed escort by the Kenyan authorities.

Sources in Nairobi maintained that the semi-autonomous South has the capacity to purchase its own arms directly without using Kenya or any other country as a conduit.

However, the CPA states that the replenishment of ammunition, weapons and other military equipment is only allowed if it is approved by a north-south Joint Defence Board.

During the war, the SPLA mainly relied on supplies from Uganda and Eritrea.

But despite working together within the Government of National Unity, suspicion between North and South remains high, with either side second guessing the long term strategies of the other.

Still, the two sides were in solidarity in May when the Darfur rebel outfit, the Justice and Equality Movement, attacked Omdurman with the aim of marching to Khartoum and overthrowing the al-Bashir government.

Analysts say that should the North and South go to war again, it would energise the almost vanquished Uganda rebel group, the Lord's resistance Army, who during the war were used by Khartoum to destabilise the SPLA position in the south.

A source working in Juba intimated that the average southern Sudanese are looking forward to delinking from the north with the hope that it would cut off the Khartoum stranglehold and improve their lives, but those in leadership positions do not want to go back to the war now that they have tasted government goodies.

There is a growing unease, especially among the former SPLA who fighters are getting restless that they are not getting worth what they sacrificed for during the war. For instance, those who have money would prefer investing in Kenya and Uganda because the future is uncertain.

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Republican women’s group Mailing out Food Stamp with Barack Obama’s face

Michelle DeArmond

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."

The GOP newsletter, which was sent to about 200 members and associates of the group by e-mail and regular mail last week, is drawing harsh criticism from members of the political group, elected leaders, party officials and others as racist.

The group's president, Diane Fedele, said she plans to send an apology letter to her members and to apologize at the club's meeting next week. She said she simply wanted to deride a comment Obama made over the summer about how as an African-American he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

"It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement. I really don't want to go into it any further," Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I absolutely apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn't my attempt."

Fedele said she got the illustration in a number of chain e-mails and decided to reprint it for her members in the Trumpeter newsletter because she was offended that Obama would draw attention to his own race. She declined to say who sent her the e-mails with the illustration.

She said she doesn't think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president.

"I didn't see it the way that it's being taken. I never connected," she said. "It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else."

She said she also wasn't trying to make a statement linking Obama and food stamps, although her introductory text to the illustration connects the two: "Obama talks about all those presidents that got their names on bills. If elected, what bill would he be on????? Food Stamps, what else!"

Club Member Cries

Sheila Raines, an African-American member of the club, was the first person to complain to Fedele about the newsletter. Raines, of San Bernardino, said she has worked hard to try to convince other minorities to join the Republican Party and now she feels betrayed.

"This is what keeps African-Americans from joining the Republican Party," she said. "I'm really hurt. I cried for 45 minutes."

The Obama campaign declined to comment. It's the campaign's policy to not address such attacks, said Gabriel Sanchez, a California spokesman for the campaign.

The newsletter prompted a rebuke from another African-American member of the organization, which is well recognized in the community for its philanthropy and efforts to register and turn out voters in the Rancho Cucamonga and Upland areas.

Acquanetta Warren, a Fontana councilwoman and member of the women's group, said the item is rude and requires a public apology.

"When I opened that up and saw it, I said, 'Why did they do this? It doesn't even reflect our principles and values,' " said Warren, who served as a Republican delegate to the national convention in September and is a regional vice chairwoman for the California Republican Party. "I know a lot of the ladies in that club and they're fantastic. They're volunteers. They really care -- some of them go to my church."

Warren forwarded an electronic version of the newsletter to the California Republican Party headquarters, where officials also were outraged Wednesday and denounced the illustration.

Hector Barajas, the party's press secretary, said the party chairman likely will have a conversation with Fedele, and Barajas will attend the statewide California Federation of Republican Women conference this weekend in Los Angeles to handle any news media there to cover the controversy.

Obama in Turban

The newsletter is not the first such episode Barajas has had to respond to this week. The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday posted an image it said was captured from the Sacramento County GOP Web site that showed Obama in a turban next to Osama bin Laden.

It said: "The difference between Osama and Obama is just a little B.S." The site also encouraged members to "Waterboard Barack Obama," a reference to a torture technique. The Sacramento County party took down the material Tuesday after being criticized.

Mark Kirk, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County GOP chairman, said he expects Chairman Gary Ovitt to also have a talk with Fedele and to attend the group's local meeting next week to discuss the issue with members, although the county GOP has no formal oversight role over the club. Kirk said these kinds of depictions hurt the party's ongoing efforts to reach out to minorities.

"It's very damaging and we're going to take steps to correct this," Kirk said. "Unfortunately, I don't know what you do to correct ignorance like this, but we will do what we can."

Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands, and state Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, both criticized the illustration as inappropriate and irresponsible.

Dutton pointed out that his wife, a member of the club, is of Mexican heritage and has battled criticism that the Republican Party is not the party for minorities. The club's newsletter undercuts efforts to rise above racism, he said.

"Bias and racial comments and even suggestions are frankly what weakens us as a people. I think we as Americans need to rise above that," he said.

Emmerson said he was extremely offended and sickened by the newsletter.

Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at Cal State Sacramento, said it's imperative that people speak out about these kinds of depictions no matter how small the organization. She praised Raines for doing so.

"It's a statement about what is civil discourse and can you get away with doing something under an organizational banner," she said. "You have to cut it out at the root and the root is often small organizations that are local and they then become larger."

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Abducted 6-year-old, Cole Puffinburger found alive in downtown Las Vegas.

Associated Press Writer

A 6-year-old boy kidnapped from a Las Vegas home by alleged drug dealers posing as policemen has been found alive in a neighborhood northeast of the Las Vegas Strip, police said early Sunday.

The child was "in extremely good condition" and had been taken to University Medical Center in Las Vegas for examination, Las Vegas police Capt. Vincent Cannito said at a news conference.

"He is safe and in our custody," Cannito said. "It's a blessing this child has been found."

Cole was recovered at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday after a caller informed detectives about a child walking alone on a street in a middle-class neighborhood of tidy, modest-sized homes about 5 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas police Officer Jay Rivera said.

Detectives discovered Cole outside a large Methodist church in the neighborhood. The area was being treated as a crime scene, but police gave no information about how Cole got there or where he had been kept since his Wednesday morning abduction.

The child was kidnapped at gunpoint by men who tied up the boy's mother and her boyfriend and ransacked their home.

Cole's father attended the news conference wearing a T-shirt with his son's photograph, but would not comment on when he planned to see his son or whether Cole would be returning to his home or the boy's mother's home.

"This is just about Cole being home," Robert Puffinburger said as he choked back tears. "Cole's back."

Authorities arrested Cole's grandfather Clemens Tinnemeyer late Friday in connection with the boy's disappearance. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Tinnemeyer was Cole's maternal grandfather.

Police believe that the abductors were Mexican drug dealers and that the kidnapping at gunpoint was a "message" to Tinnemeyer, 51, whom they said may have stolen millions of dollars from dealers.

Tinnemeyer was arrested in Riverside, Calif., and was being held in nearby San Bernardino on a material witness warrant issued by a federal court in Nevada.

Officer Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas police spokesman, declined to say what role Tinnemeyer played in the drug operation or whether the kidnappers had been seeking a ransom.

Police believe methamphetamine was involved, Johnson said.

Las Vegas police didn't know Saturday whether Tinnemeyer had a lawyer. He was scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate Monday in Riverside.

Authorities investigating the abduction were also focussing on two other men, including a Mexican citizen identified as Jesus Gastelum.

Gastelum, who is in his mid-30s, is believed to be in Las Vegas or Southern California, police said. The other "person of interest" was not identified.

Police and child advocates had concentrated their search efforts on a largely Hispanic neighborhood a few miles from where Cole was found. They distributed fliers in English and Spanish with a photograph of Cole, a slight, smiling blonde in glasses.

Robert Puffinburger said he had just stopped passing out the fliers for the night when he got the call alerting him Cole had been found.

"I'm just so glad he's safe," he said.

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Barack Obama Erects Campaign Billboards on Virtual Roadside

Drive this month through the fictional streets of Paradise City — part of the Xbox 360 version of the game "Burnout Paradise"—and you'll see something new on the virtual roadside: billboards for Barack Obama.

In an apparent attempt to reach young men, who have the lowest voting rates of any age and gender group, the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign has placed ads in 18 video games, also including "Guitar Hero" and "NASCAR 08." The game updates are available online for Xbox 360.

After the 2004 presidential election, 46 percent of men age 18 to 29 reported casting a ballot, compared to 64 percent of all adults, according to a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Younger voters are leaning heavily toward Obama," says Michael Dimock, associate director at the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. "The issue is getting them to the polls."

And that may be achieved through the video game console.

According to Mariam Sughayer, a spokeswoman for Electronic Arts Inc., which is running the ads in nine of its games, the typical player is male and age 16 to 32.

The ads will run until Nov. 3 and target 10 states that allow early voting, many up for grabs: Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Colorado.

The McCain campaign was also offered advertising space but declined, according to Sughayer.

Maybe John McCain—who has called himself a computer "Neanderthal"—had trouble getting online. Or maybe he just prefers the Wii.

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Technorati Profile

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McCain, Obama Final Debate, Who is Winning? [Transcript]

Schieffer: Senator?

McCain: Well, you know, I admire so much Sen. Obama's eloquence. And you really have to pay attention to words. He said, we will look at offshore drilling. Did you get that? Look at. We can offshore drill now. We've got to do it now. We will reduce the cost of a barrel of oil because we show the world that we have a supply of our own. It's doable. The technology is there and we have to drill now.

Now, on the subject of free trade agreements. I am a free trader. And I need -- we need to have education and training programs for displaced workers that work, going to our community colleges.

But let me give you another example of a free trade agreement that Sen. Obama opposes. Right now, because of previous agreements, some made by President Clinton, the goods and products that we send to Colombia, which is our largest agricultural importer of our products, is -- there's a billion dollars that we -- our businesses have paid so far in order to get our goods in there.

Because of previous agreements, their goods and products come into our country for free. So Sen. Obama, who has never traveled south of our border, opposes the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The same country that's helping us try to stop the flow of drugs into our country that's killing young Americans.

And also the country that just freed three Americans that will help us create jobs in America because they will be a market for our goods and products without having to pay -- without us having to pay the billions of dollars -- the billion dollars and more that we've already paid.

Free trade with Colombia is something that's a no-brainer. But maybe you ought to travel down there and visit them and maybe you could understand it a lot better.

Obama: Let me respond. Actually, I understand it pretty well. The history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination on a fairly consistent basis and there have not been prosecutions.

And what I have said, because the free trade -- the trade agreement itself does have labor and environmental protections, but we have to stand for human rights and we have to make sure that violence isn't being perpetrated against workers who are just trying to organize for their rights, which is why, for example, I supported the Peruvian Free Trade Agreement which was a well-structured agreement.

But I think that the important point is we've got to have a president who understands the benefits of free trade but also is going to enforce unfair trade agreements and is going to stand up to other countries.

And the last point I'll make, because we started on energy. When I talked about the automakers, they are obviously getting hammered right now. They were already having a tough time because of high gas prices. And now with the financial crisis, car dealerships are closing and people can't get car loans.

That's why I think it's important for us to get loan guarantees to the automakers, but we do have to hold them responsible as well to start producing the highly fuel-efficient cars of the future.

And Detroit had dragged its feet too long in terms of getting that done. It's going to be one of my highest priorities because transportation accounts for about 30 percent of our total energy consumption.

If we can get that right, then we can move in a direction not only of energy independence, but we can create 5 million new jobs all across America, including in the heartland where we can retool some of these plants to make these highly fuel-efficient cars and also to make wind turbines and solar panels, the kinds of clean energy approaches that should be the driver of our economy for the next century.

McCain: Well, let me just said that that this is -- he -- Sen. Obama doesn't want a free trade agreement with our best ally in the region but wants to sit down across the table without precondition to -- with Hugo Chavez, the guy who has been helping FARC, the terrorist organization.

Free trade between ourselves and Colombia, I just recited to you the benefits of concluding that agreement, a billion dollars of American dollars that could have gone to creating jobs and businesses in the United States, opening up those markets.

So I don't -- I don't think there's any doubt that Sen. Obama wants to restrict trade and he wants to raise taxes. And the last president of the United States that tried that was Herbert Hoover, and we went from a deep recession into a depression.

We're not going to follow that path while I'm -- when I'm president of the United States.

Schieffer: All right, let's go to a new topic, health care. Given the current economic situation, would either of you now favor controlling health care costs over expanding health care coverage? The question is first to Sen. Obama.

Obama: We've got to do both, and that's exactly what my plan does.

Look, as I travel around the country, this is the issue that will break your heart over and over again. Just yesterday, I was in Toledo shaking some hands in a line. Two women, both of them probably in their mid- to late-50s, had just been laid off of their plant. Neither of them have health insurance.

And they were desperate for some way of getting coverage, because, understandably, they're worried that, if they get sick, they could go bankrupt.

So here's what my plan does. If you have health insurance, then you don't have to do anything. If you've got health insurance through your employer, you can keep your health insurance, keep your choice of doctor, keep your plan.

The only thing we're going to try to do is lower costs so that those cost savings are passed onto you. And we estimate we can cut the average family's premium by about $2,500 per year.

If you don't have health insurance, then what we're going to do is to provide you the option of buying into the same kind of federal pool that both Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees, which will give you high-quality care, choice of doctors, at lower costs, because so many people are part of this insured group.

We're going to make sure that insurance companies can't discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions. We'll negotiate with the drug companies for the cheapest available price on drugs.

We are going to invest in information technology to eliminate bureaucracy and make the system more efficient.

And we are going to make sure that we manage chronic illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease, that cost a huge amount, but could be prevented. We've got to put more money into preventive care.

This will cost some money on the front end, but over the long term this is the only way that not only are we going to make families healthy, but it's also how we're going to save the federal budget, because we can't afford these escalating costs.

Schieffer: All right.

Sen. McCain?

McCain: Well, it is a terribly painful situation for Americans. They're seeing their premiums, their co-pays go up. Forty-seven million Americans are without health insurance in America today.

And it really is the cost, the escalating costs of health care that are inflicting such pain on working families and people across this country. And I am convinced we need to do a lot of things.

We need to put health care records online. The V.A. does that. That will -- that will reduce costs. We need to have more community health centers. We need to have walk-in clinics.

The rise of obesity amongst young Americans is one of the most alarming statistics that there is. We should have physical fitness programs and nutrition programs in schools. Every parent should know what's going on there.

We -- we need to have -- we need to have employers reward employees who join health clubs and practice wellness and fitness.

But I want to give every American family a $5,000 refundable tax credit. Take it and get anywhere in America the health care that you wish.

Now, my old buddy, Joe, Joe the plumber, is out there. Now, Joe, Sen. Obama's plan, if you're a small business and you are able -- and your -- the guy that sells to you will not have his capital gains tax increase, which Sen. Obama wants, if you're out there, my friend, and you've got employees, and you've got kids, if you don't get -- adopt the health care plan that Sen. Obama mandates, he's going to fine you.

Now, Sen. Obama, I'd like -- still like to know what that fine is going to be, and I don't think that Joe right now wants to pay a fine when he is seeing such difficult times in America's economy.

Sen. Obama wants to set up health care bureaucracies, take over the health care of America through -- as he said, his object is a single payer system.

If you like that, you'll love Canada and England. So the point is...

Schieffer: So that's your objective?

Obama: It is not and I didn't describe it...

McCain: No, you stated it.

Obama: I just...

McCain: Excuse me.

Obama: I just described what my plan is. And I'm happy to talk to you, Joe, too, if you're out there. Here's your fine -- zero. You won't pay a fine, because...

McCain: Zero?

Obama: Zero, because as I said in our last debate and I'll repeat, John, I exempt small businesses from the requirement for large businesses that can afford to provide health care to their employees, but are not doing it.

I exempt small businesses from having to pay into a kitty. But large businesses that can afford it, we've got a choice. Either they provide health insurance to their employees or somebody has to.

Right now, what happens is those employees get dumped into either the Medicaid system, which taxpayers pick up, or they're going to the emergency room for uncompensated care, which everybody picks up in their premiums.

The average family is paying an additional $900 a year in higher premiums because of the uninsured.

So here's what we do. We exempt small businesses. In fact, what, Joe, if you want to do the right thing with your employees and you want to provide them health insurance, we'll give you a 50 percent credit so that you will actually be able to afford it.

If you don't have health insurance or you want to buy into a group plan, you will be able to buy into the plan that I just described.

Now, what we haven't talked about is Sen. McCain's plan. He says he's going to give you all a $5,000 tax credit. That sounds pretty good. And you can go out and buy your own insurance.

Here's the problem -- that for about 20 million people, you may find yourselves no longer having employer-based health insurance. This is because younger people might be able to get health insurance for $5,000, young and healthy folks.

Older folks, let's healthy folks, what's going to end up happening is that you're going to be the only ones left in your employer-based system, your employers won't be able to afford it.

And once you're out on your own with this $5,000 credit, Sen. McCain, for the first time, is going to be taxing the health care benefits that you have from your employer.

And this is your plan, John. For the first time in history, you will be taxing people's health care benefits.

By the way, the average policy costs about $12,000. So if you've got $5,000 and it's going to cost you $12,000, that's a loss for you.

Last point about Sen. McCain's plan is that insurers right now, the main restrictions on what they do is primarily state law and, under Sen. McCain's plan, those rules would be stripped away and you would start seeing a lot more insurance companies cherry-picking and excluding people from coverage.

That, I think, is a mistake and I think that this is a fundamental difference in our campaign and how we would approach health care.

Schieffer: What about that?

McCain: Hey, Joe, you're rich, congratulations, because what Joe wanted to do was buy the business that he's been working for 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week, and you said that you wanted to spread the wealth, but -- in other words, take Joe's money and then you decide what to do with it.

Now, Joe, you're rich, congratulations, and you will then fall into the category where you'll have to pay a fine if you don't provide health insurance that Sen. Obama mandates, not the kind that you think is best for your family, your children, your employees, but the kind that he mandates for you.

That's big government at its best.

Now, 95 percent of the people in America will receive more money under my plan because they will receive not only their present benefits, which may be taxed, which will be taxed, but then you add $5,000 onto it, except for those people who have the gold-plated Cadillac insurance policies that have to do with cosmetic surgery and transplants and all of those kinds of things.

And the good thing about this is they'll be able to go across America. The average cost of a health care insurance plan in America today is $5,800. I'm going to give them $5,000 to take with them wherever they want to go, and this will give them affordability.

This will give them availability. This will give them a chance to choose their own futures, not have Sen. Obama and government decide that for them.

This really gets down to the fundamental difference in our philosophies. If you notice that in all of this proposal, Senator -- government wants -- Sen. Obama wants government to do the job.

Sen. Obama wants government to do the job. I want, Joe, you to do the job.

I want to leave money in your pocket. I want you to be able to choose the health care for you and your family. That's what I'm all about. And we've got too much government and too much spending and the government is -- the size of government has grown by 40 percent in the last eight years.

We can't afford that in the next eight years and Sen. Obama, with the Democrats in charge of Congress, things have gotten worse. Have you noticed, they've been in charge the last two years.

Schieffer: All right. A short response.

Obama: Very briefly. You all just heard my plan. If you've got an employer-based health care plan, you keep it. Now, under Sen. McCain's plan there is a strong risk that people would lose their employer-based health care.

That's the choice you'll have is having your employer no longer provide you health care. And don't take my word for it. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which generally doesn't support a lot of Democrats, said that this plan could lead to the unraveling of the employer-based health care system.

All I want to do, if you've already got health care, is lower your costs. That includes you, Joe.

Schieffer: All right. Let's stop there and go to another question. And this one goes to Sen. McCain. Sen. McCain, you believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Sen. Obama, you believe it shouldn't.

Could either of you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on this issue? Sen. McCain?

McCain: I would never and have never in all the years I've been there imposed a litmus test on any nominee to the court. That's not appropriate to do.

Schieffer: But you don't want Roe v. Wade to be overturned?

McCain: I thought it was a bad decision. I think there were a lot of decisions that were bad. I think that decisions should rest in the hands of the states. I'm a federalist. And I believe strongly that we should have nominees to the United States Supreme Court based on their qualifications rather than any litmus test.

Now, let me say that there was a time a few years ago when the United States Senate was about to blow up. Republicans wanted to have just a majority vote to confirm a judge and the Democrats were blocking in an unprecedented fashion.

We got together seven Republicans, seven Democrats. You were offered a chance to join. You chose not to because you were afraid of the appointment of, quote, "conservative judges."

I voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg. Not because I agreed with their ideology, but because I thought they were qualified and that elections have consequences when presidents are nominated. This is a very important issue we're talking about.

Sen. Obama voted against Justice Breyer and Justice Roberts on the grounds that they didn't meet his ideological standards. That's not the way we should judge these nominees. Elections have consequences. They should be judged on their qualifications. And so that's what I will do.

I will find the best people in the world -- in the United States of America who have a history of strict adherence to the Constitution. And not legislating from the bench.

Schieffer: But even if it was someone -- even someone who had a history of being for abortion rights, you would consider them?

McCain: I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.

Schieffer: All right.

Obama: Well, I think it's true that we shouldn't apply a strict litmus test and the most important thing in any judge is their capacity to provide fairness and justice to the American people.

And it is true that this is going to be, I think, one of the most consequential decisions of the next president. It is very likely that one of us will be making at least one and probably more than one appointments and Roe versus Wade probably hangs in the balance.

Now I would not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided. I think that abortion is a very difficult issue and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on.

But what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn't be subject to state referendum, any more than our First Amendment rights are subject to state referendum, any more than many of the other rights that we have should be subject to popular vote.

So this is going to be an important issue. I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.

I'll just give you one quick example. Sen. McCain and I disagreed recently when the Supreme Court made it more difficult for a woman named Lilly Ledbetter to press her claim for pay discrimination.

For years, she had been getting paid less than a man had been paid for doing the exact same job. And when she brought a suit, saying equal pay for equal work, the judges said, well, you know, it's taken you too long to bring this lawsuit, even though she didn't know about it until fairly recently.

We tried to overturn it in the Senate. I supported that effort to provide better guidance to the courts; John McCain opposed it.

I think that it's important for judges to understand that if a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family, and is being treated unfairly, then the court has to stand up, if nobody else will. And that's the kind of judge that I want.

Schieffer: Time's up.

McCain: Obviously, that law waved the statute of limitations, which you could have gone back 20 or 30 years. It was a trial lawyer's dream.

Let me talk to you about an important aspect of this issue. We have to change the culture of America. Those of us who are proudly pro-life understand that. And it's got to be courage and compassion that we show to a young woman who's facing this terribly difficult decision.

Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted against that.

And then, on the floor of the State Senate, as he did 130 times as a state senator, he voted present.

Then there was another bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the state of Illinois not that long ago, where he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion, one of the late-term abortion, a really -- one of the bad procedures, a terrible. And then, on the floor of the Illinois State Senate, he voted present.

I don't know how you vote "present" on some of that. I don't know how you align yourself with the extreme aspect of the pro- abortion movement in America. And that's his record, and that's a matter of his record.

And he'll say it has something to do with Roe v. Wade, about the Illinois State Senate. It was clear-cut votes that Sen. Obama voted, I think, in direct contradiction to the feelings and views of mainstream America.

Schieffer: Response?

Obama: Yes, let me respond to this. If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not true. The -- here are the facts.

There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.

And the Illinois Medical Society, the organization of doctors in Illinois, voted against it. Their Hippocratic Oath would have required them to provide care, and there was already a law in the books.

With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there's an exception for the mother's health and life, and this did not contain that exception.

And I attempted, as many have in the past, of including that so that it is constitutional. And that was rejected, and that's why I voted present, because I'm willing to support a ban on late-term abortions as long as we have that exception.

The last point I want to make on the issue of abortion. This is an issue that -- look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to -- to reconcile the two views.

But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, "We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby."

Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that's where we can find some common ground, because nobody's pro-abortion. I think it's always a tragic situation.

We should try to reduce these circumstances.

Schieffer: Let's give Sen. McCain a short response...

McCain: Just again...

Schieffer: ... and then...

McCain: Just again, the example of the eloquence of Sen. Obama. He's health for the mother. You know, that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything.

That's the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, "health." But, look, Cindy and I are adoptive parents. We know what a treasure and joy it is to have an adopted child in our lives. We'll do everything we can to improve adoption in this country.

But that does not mean that we will cease to protect the rights of the unborn. Of course, we have to come together. Of course, we have to work together, and, of course, it's vital that we do so and help these young women who are facing such a difficult decision, with a compassion, that we'll help them with the adoptive services, with the courage to bring that child into this world and we'll help take care of it.

Schieffer: Let's stop there, because I want to get in a question on education and I'm afraid this is going to have to be our last question, gentlemen.

The question is this: the U.S. spends more per capita than any other country on education. Yet, by every international measurement, in math and science competence, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, we trail most of the countries of the world.

The implications of this are clearly obvious. Some even say it poses a threat to our national security.

Do you feel that way and what do you intend to do about it?

The question to Sen. Obama first.

Obama: This probably has more to do with our economic future than anything and that means it also has a national security implication, because there's never been a nation on earth that saw its economy decline and continued to maintain its primacy as a military power.

So we've got to get our education system right. Now, typically, what's happened is that there's been a debate between more money or reform, and I think we need both.

In some cases, we are going to have to invest. Early childhood education, which closes the achievement gap, so that every child is prepared for school, every dollar we invest in that, we end up getting huge benefits with improved reading scores, reduced dropout rates, reduced delinquency rates.

I think it's going to be critically important for us to recruit a generation of new teachers, an army of new teachers, especially in math and science, give them higher pay, give them more professional development and support in exchange for higher standards and accountability.

And I think it's important for us to make college affordable. Right now, I meet young people all across the country who either have decided not to go to college or if they're going to college, they are taking on $20,000, $30,000, $50,000, $60,000 worth of debt, and it's very difficult for them to go into some fields, like basic research in science, for example, thinking to themselves that they're going to have a mortgage before they even buy a house.

And that's why I've proposed a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year, in exchange for some form of community service, whether it's military service, whether it's Peace Corps, whether it's working in a community.

If we do those things, then I believe that we can create a better school system.

But there's one last ingredient that I just want to mention, and that's parents. We can't do it just in the schools. Parents are going to have to show more responsibility. They've got to turn off the TV set, put away the video games, and, finally, start instilling that thirst for knowledge that our students need.

Schieffer: Sen. McCain?

McCain: Well, it's the civil rights issue of the 21st century. There's no doubt that we have achieved equal access to schools in America after a long and difficult and terrible struggle.

But what is the advantage in a low income area of sending a child to a failed school and that being your only choice?

So choice and competition amongst schools is one of the key elements that's already been proven in places in like New Orleans and New York City and other places, where we have charter schools, where we take good teachers and we reward them and promote them.

And we find bad teachers another line of work. And we have to be able to give parents the same choice, frankly, that Sen. Obama and Mrs. Obama had and Cindy and I had to send our kids to the school -- their kids to the school of their choice.

Charter schools aren't the only answer, but they're providing competition. They are providing the kind of competitions that have upgraded both schools -- types of schools.

Now, throwing money at the problem is not the answer. You will find that some of the worst school systems in America get the most money per student.

So I believe that we need to reward these good teachers.

We need to encourage programs such as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which -- or have the certification that some are required in some states.

Look, we must improve education in this country. As far as college education is concerned, we need to make those student loans available. We need to give them a repayment schedule that they can meet. We need to have full student loan program for in-state tuition. And we certainly need to adjust the certain loan eligibility to inflation.

Schieffer: Do you think the federal government should play a larger role in the schools? And I mean, more federal money?

Obama: Well, we have a tradition of local control of the schools and that's a tradition that has served us well. But I do think that it is important for the federal government to step up and help local school districts do some of the things they need to do.

Now we tried to do this under President Bush. He put forward No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, they left the money behind for No Child Left Behind. And local school districts end up having more of a burden, a bunch of unfunded mandates, the same kind of thing that happened with special education where we did the right thing by saying every school should provide education to kids with special needs, but we never followed through on the promise of funding, and that left local school districts very cash-strapped.

So what I want to do is focus on early childhood education, providing teachers higher salaries in exchange for more support. Sen. McCain and I actually agree on two things that he just mentioned.

Charter schools, I doubled the number of charter schools in Illinois despite some reservations from teachers unions. I think it's important to foster competition inside the public schools.

And we also agree on the need for making sure that if we have bad teachers that they are swiftly -- after given an opportunity to prove themselves, if they can't hack it, then we need to move on because our kids have to have their best future.

Where we disagree is on the idea that we can somehow give out vouchers -- give vouchers as a way of securing the problems in our education system. And I also have to disagree on Sen. McCain's record when it comes to college accessibility and affordability.

Recently his key economic adviser was asked about why he didn't seem to have some specific programs to help young people go to college and the response was, well, you know, we can't give money to every interest group that comes along.

I don't think America's youth are interest groups, I think they're our future. And this is an example of where we are going to have to prioritize. We can't say we're going to do things and then not explain in concrete terms how we're going to pay for it.

And if we're going to do some of the things you mentioned, like lowering loan rates or what have you, somebody has got to pay for it. It's not going to happen on its own.

Schieffer: What about that, Senator?

McCain: Well, sure. I'm sure you're aware, Sen. Obama, of the program in the Washington, D.C., school system where vouchers are provided and there's a certain number, I think it's a thousand and some and some 9,000 parents asked to be eligible for that.

Because they wanted to have the same choice that you and I and Cindy and your wife have had. And that is because they wanted to choose the school that they thought was best for their children.

And we all know the state of the Washington, D.C., school system. That was vouchers. That was voucher, Sen. Obama. And I'm frankly surprised you didn't pay more attention to that example.

Now as far as the No Child Left Behind is concerned, it was a great first beginning in my view. It had its flaws, it had its problems, the first time we had looked at the issue of education in America from a nationwide perspective. And we need to fix a lot of the problems. We need to sit down and reauthorize it.

But, again, spending more money isn't always the answer. I think the Head Start program is a great program. A lot of people, including me, said, look, it's not doing what it should do. By the third grade many times children who were in the Head Start program aren't any better off than the others.

Let's reform it. Let's reform it and fund it. That was, of course, out-of-bounds by the Democrats. We need to reform these programs. We need to have transparency. We need to have rewards. It's a system that cries out for accountability and transparency and the adequate funding.

And I just said to you earlier, town hall meeting after town hall meeting, parents come with kids, children -- precious children who have autism. Sarah Palin knows about that better than most. And we'll find and we'll spend the money, research, to find the cause of autism. And we'll care for these young children. And all Americans will open their wallets and their hearts to do so.

But to have a situation, as you mentioned in our earlier comments, that the most expensive education in the world is in the United States of America also means that it cries out for reform, as well.

And I will support those reforms, and I will fund the ones that are reformed. But I'm not going to continue to throw money at a problem. And I've got to tell you that vouchers, where they are requested and where they are agreed to, are a good and workable system. And it's been proven.

Obama: I'll just make a quick comment about vouchers in D.C. Sen. McCain's absolutely right: The D.C. school system is in terrible shape, and it has been for a very long time. And we've got a wonderful new superintendent there who's working very hard with the young mayor there to try...

McCain: Who supports vouchers.

Obama: ... who initiated -- actually, supports charters.

McCain: She supports vouchers, also.

Obama: But the -- but here's the thing, is that, even if Sen. McCain were to say that vouchers were the way to go -- I disagree with him on this, because the data doesn't show that it actually solves the problem -- the centerpiece of Sen. McCain's education policy is to increase the voucher program in D.C. by 2,000 slots.

That leaves all of you who live in the other 50 states without an education reform policy from Sen. McCain.

So if we are going to be serious about this issue, we've got to have a president who is going to tackle it head-on. And that's what I intend to do as president.

Schieffer: All right.

McCain: Because there's not enough vouchers; therefore, we shouldn't do it, even though it's working. I got it.

Schieffer: All right.

Gentlemen, we have come to the close. Before I ask both of you for your closing statements tonight, I'd like to invite our viewers and listeners to go to MyDebates.org, where you will find this evening's debates and the three that preceded tonight's debate.

Now, for the final statements, by a coin toss, Sen. McCain goes first.

McCain: Well, thank you again, Bob.

Thanks to Hofstra.

And it's great to be with you again. I think we've had a very healthy discussion.

My friends, as I said in my opening remarks, these are very difficult times and challenges for America. And they were graphically demonstrated again today.

America needs a new direction. We cannot be satisfied with what we've been doing for the last eight years.

I have a record of reform, and taking on my party, the other party, the special interests, whether it be an HMO Patients' Bill of Rights, or trying to clean up the campaign finance system in -- in this country, or whether it be establishment of a 9/11 Commission, I have a long record of it.

And I've been a careful steward of your tax dollars. We have to make health care affordable and available. We have to make quality education there for all of our citizens, not just the privileged few.

We have to stop the spending. We have to stop the spending, which has mortgaged your children's futures.

All of these things and all the promises and commitments that Sen. Obama and I made (inaudible) made to you tonight will base -- will be based on whether you can trust us or not to be careful stewards of your tax dollar, to make sure America is safe and secure and prosperous, to make sure we reform the institutions of government.

That's why I've asked you not only to examine my record, but my proposals for the future of this country.

I've spent my entire life in the service of this nation and putting my country first. As a long line of McCains that have served our country for a long time in war and in peace, it's been the great honor of my life, and I've been proud to serve.

And I hope you'll give me an opportunity to serve again. I'd be honored and humbled.

Schieffer: Senator?

Obama: Well, I want to thank Sen. McCain and Bob for moderating.

I think we all know America is going through tough times right now. The policies of the last eight years and -- and Washington's unwillingness to tackle the tough problems for decades has left us in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

And that's why the biggest risk we could take right now is to adopt the same failed policies and the same failed politics that we've seen over the last eight years and somehow expect a different result.

We need fundamental change in this country, and that's what I'd like to bring.

You know, over the last 20 months, you've invited me into your homes. You've shared your stories with me. And you've confirmed once again the fundamental decency and generosity of the American people.

And that's why I'm sure that our brighter days are still ahead.

But we're going to have to invest in the American people again, in tax cuts for the middle class, in health care for all Americans, and college for every young person who wants to go. In businesses that can create the new energy economy of the future. In policies that will lift wages and will grow our middle class.

These are the policies I have fought for my entire career. And these are the policies I want to bring to the White House.

But it's not going to be easy. It's not going to be quick. It is going to be requiring all of us -- Democrats, Republicans, independents -- to come together and to renew a spirit of sacrifice and service and responsibility.

I'm absolutely convinced we can do it. I would ask for your vote, and I promise you that if you give me the extraordinary honor of serving as your president, I will work every single day, tirelessly, on your behalf and on the behalf of the future of our children.

Thank you very much.

Schieffer: Sen. Obama, Sen. McCain, thank you very much.

This concludes the final debate. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS News, and I will leave you tonight with what my mother always said -- go vote now. It will make you feel big and strong. Good night, everyone.


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