Relatively unknown Indiana Senator Evan Bayh is taking steps to make a run for U.S. President during the 2008 election cycle. Bayh has formed a political action committee (PAC) and already is a leading money-raiser among Democratic party hopefuls. The Hoosier politician also is touting his appeal to traditionally republican voters.

Popular red state politician
Among the selling points Bayh points to in his likely 2008 bid is that he is a democrat who consistently wins elections in republican red states by appealing to moderate republican and libertarian-leaning voters.

A former leader and key figure in the Democratic Leadership Council moderate movement in the Democratic party that brought Bill Clinton to the national stage, Bayh is known as a Democrat who won with landslide margins of victory during both terms as Indiana’s governor and two U.S. Senate runs in the traditionally Republican-voting state.

In an interview with the Terre Haute, Indiana Tribune Star newspaper, he noted former president Harry Truman as a role model. In recent news reports he also criticized the national Democratic Party image as being week on national defense.

Critics point out this popularity with moderate republicans could be a liability for Bayh in the Democrat Primaries, which are traditionally controlled by left-leaning party activists.

Organized money raiser
Between January and July 31, 2005, three years before the election, Bayh has raised $1.17 million for a potential 2008 bid–more than most potential 2008 presidential nominees. He out raised fellow democrats Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and John Edwards. Each, unlike Bayh, are well-known household names in the United States. Money-raising results by political action committees are reported to and released by the U.S. Federal Election Commission .

Clinton is widely considered the front runner, and Republican money leader. She has focused her attention on reelection in 2006 to her New York U.S. Senate seat. For that campaign, she has raised $10 million.

Bayh is being beaten in the money-raising arena by Democratic party chairman Howard Dean, who raised $1.77 million in the first six months of the year. Dean has made a name for himself as an effective money-raiser for liberal causes. But Dean has bowed out of the 2008 race according to reports.

Bayh is trailing the top Republican 2008 presidential; hopeful, Sen. Bill Frist, who is considered a top Republican candidate for 2008 collected $1.9 million in the first six months of 2005.

For: Wikinews

Oregon State University (OSU) animal researchers in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Dubois, Idaho-based Sheep Experiment Station released a report showing approximately 8 percent of rams (male sheep) are “male-oriented”, or effectively homosexual.

By studying difference in the animal’s brains after slaughter, the study also showed what could be a biological determiner for what makes a ram male-oriented instead of female-oriented sexually. The scientists’ results showed that the anterior preoptic area of the rams’ hypothalamus was 50 percent smaller in male-oriented rams as opposed to female oriented rams. A 1991 study of human brains of AIDS victims showed a similar hypothalamus size difference between gay and heterosexual men.

The sheep researchers postulate that low levels of aromatase hormones in the brain of a developing male sheep fetus may have kept the brain from fully masculinizing, leading to sexually male-oriented rams.

“This lends further support to the idea that homosexuality has biological underpinnings,” Charles Roselli, a professor of physiology and pharmacology, said in an interview with the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

The OSU-USDA study was initiated in 1995 after breeders asked the government to determine why some rams bought as breeding studs showed no interest in females. The researchers are working under a $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in hopes of developing a test which can determine the likelihood of a ram being female-oriented before it is sold as a stud.

For: Wikinews

Executives of the U.S. Fox network said Friday that singer Paula Abdul was cleared of any wrongdoing in regard to charges that she had an improper relationship with former American Idol contestant Corey Clark. The network cleared her to return to the show for its fifth season.

American Idol has topped network television ratings as the most-watched program in the U.S. for the past three years. Abdul is one of the three judges of the talent/variety program, where she is popularly referred to as the “nice one” by contestants.

Fox reportedly hired a former federal prosecutor to lead an investigation into whether Abdul compromised the integrity of its flagship series. After an investigation of more than three months, interviewing 43 people and looking over documents supplied by both Abdul and Clark, the investigation showed no proof that Abdul had a sexual relationship with Clark.

Clark was booted from the second season of Idol after it was discovered he hid a previous domestic violence arrest record from producers. Two years later, he told reporters that he had been involved in a secret romantic relationship with Abdul, which would have been a violation of the show’s rules and Abdul’s employment contract.

“I’m grateful this ordeal is over, and I’m so looking forward to getting back to the job I love,” Abdul said in an Associated Press interview after the decision was announced to keep her on the show.

For: Wikinews

U.S. veterans groups and Midwest politicians are angered by the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church’s recent practice of protesting at the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq War.

The Topeka, Kansas-based church led by Fred Phelps sent 6 protestors with picket signs to the memorial service of 49 Ohio servicemen killed in Iraq. They were members of the Third Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment of Brook Park, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.

Last week at the August 5 funeral of Army Specialist Adam Harding in the Chicago suburb of Portage, Indiana, the Westboro church sent 10 protestors. Harding died in Iraq July 25 when the convoy he was in hit a roadside bomb.

According to reports, the picket signs at the funeral carried such messages as, “Thank God for 9/11,” “God is U.S.A.’s Terrorist,” “God hates you,” “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “America is Doomed.” Despite the tone of the messages, church members say they are not protesting against the Iraq War, but against homosexuality. Neither Harding nor any of the 49 Ohio servicemen killed are reported to have been homosexual.

In Ohio, many of the funeral attendees cursed the protestors, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

A report from the Chicago Tribune said Westboro church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper said the church is delivering the church’s message that it believes America is doomed and that they single out military funerals because soldiers, like all Americans, are being taught to accept homosexual behavior and other acts it calls sinful.

“This nation has angered the Lord their God and the wrath of god is pouring out on them. God is dealing with this nation, and you can’t do one thing to stop it or stop him from blowing those young people to pieces,” Phelps Roper said in an interview with CBS affiliate WBBM-TV in Chicago.

Church members say they are expressing their First Amendment rights to protest as they see fit.

But Chicago-area veterans associations held a press conference Monday denouncing the funeral protestors. “Those who are protecting our nation provide the fundamental right of the First Amendment. But to protest at funerals is wrong,” Chicago Alderman James Balcer, a veteran of the Vietnam War, reportedly said.

Balcer said the Westboro church should apologize to veterans for its actions.

For: Wikinews

At the Siggraph 2005 computer graphics convention in Los Angeles, California Tuesday, Star Wars creator George Lucas unveiled plans for a weekly computer-animated series based on the science fiction saga.

The new show, to be called Clone Wars, will be a 3-D animated spinoff of the series and is to be produced in a Lucas facility in Singapore. Lucas already has done limited-run 2-D traditional animated television with Star Wars: Clone Wars shorts on the U.S. cable channel, Cartoon Network.

Lucas said advances in digital technology allow an animated television series to do what otherwise would be too expensive.

For: Wikinews