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.

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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.

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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.

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Called the “Carrie Bradshaw” of bloggers by the New York Times, suburban New Yorker Stephanie Klein’s online musings in her personal blog, Greek Tragedy, has gained the attention of Hollywood and the book industry while it draws comparisons to former HBO television series, Sex and the City.

Since January 2004, Klein has written her blog which goes into the intimate details of her life as a 29-year-old professional single woman living in New York City’s northwestern suburb of Prospect Park, New Jersey. Since then her blog has become among the top 1 percent most-read blogs in the world, according to Technorati’s “net attention” ratings system.

That popularity grabbed the attention of two international media conglomerates, News Corporation and NBC Universal. News Corp.’s HarperCollins book division struck a book deal with Klein valued at more than $500,000. The book is scheduled to debut in April 2006.

Comparisons to Sex and the City may continue, as NBC Universal is developing the blog-based book into a fictionalized weekly sitcom version of Klein’s life for its NBC television network.

For: Wikinews

President Bush is lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which is scheduled for a vote Wednesday night. The U.S. Senate passed the treaty in June.

Similar to the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the U.S., Canada and Mexico, CAFTA would create a free trade zone putting an end to most trade barriers between the United States and six additional countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The free trade agreement faces stiff opposition among Democrats. Many Republicans who represent agricultural Corn Belt or industrial Rust Belt and southern textile states in Congress also have stated opposition to the bill. But with a Republican majority in the House large enough to ensure passage of CAFTA, party leaders are trying to shore up enough votes to ensure CAFTA’s passage.

This has prompted last minute action by the President to lobby individual members of House, reminding members that Central American countries have committed troops and other resources to fight the U.S. War on Terror. Other Republican leaders have been using the party’s traditional pro-business message and linking it to homeland security issues.

“Trade creates jobs and lifts people out of poverty and there’s nothing like a stable society to fight terrorism and strengthen democracy, freedom and rule of law,” Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, reportedly said at a news conference Tuesday.

But the opposition disagrees. CAFTA is “a bad deal for Central Americans and also for Latinos in this community… (with CAFTA) the exploitation of workers will continue in Central America,” Democrat Representative Hilda Solis of Los Angeles said. Her views are common among Democrats, who are overwhelmingly against the treaty.

According to opponents of CAFTA, the current trend of American jobs being sent to foreign countries, particularly in the information technology sector, would greatly expand under the treaty.

“This will be a vote in the middle of the night. They’ll keep the vote open for several hours, in violation of the rules. If it passes, it will be by fewer than five votes,” predicted Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, according to a Washington Post report.

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After years of declining subscription rates, the owners of U.S. magazine TV Guide ordered a complete overhaul of the 52-year-old publication. Gemstar-TV Guide International, the corporate parent of the magazine says the current format of the magazine has caused it to become unprofitable.

The changes will be effective with the October 15 issue. Lack of profitability has been a point of contention between Gemstar management and its largest shareholder, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Included in the new design is a shift away from detailed listings to more of a People or Entertainment Weekly celebrity-focused format. Included in that change will be the elimination of the 140 localized editions of TV Guide in favor of one national publication with only “Eastern” and “Pacific” times listed for program listings.

The magazine’s owners noted that with the advent of digital cable and satellite TV, more viewers rely upon electronic program guides provided free by the television service provider than printed listings.

TV Guide officials say the current magazine is 72 percent listing, printed on newsprint and in black-and-white. The new version of the magazine will be four-color and on glossy paper.

A second change will be the magazine’s size as it moves from a digest-sized publication to a full-sized glossy. The company expects the larger edition will be more profitable against competition such as People and US Weekly. But that profitability may be at the expense of national reach.

Although the magazine is getting physically larger, according to reports, the readership is expected to shrink. Gemstar expects many of is subscribers not to renew with the new format. Currently the TV Guide guarantees 9 million subscribers to its national advertisers. According to reports, it is only guaranteeing 3.2 million subscribers to its revamped publication once it hits newsstands.

For: Wikinews

Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, announced the name of its forthcoming version of the Windows operating system from its headquarters in Redmond, Washington Friday. But in choosing the name “Vista,” Microsoft may find itself in a legal fight.

Microsoft has made a name for itself in legal circles as a company that fiercely defends its trademarks and other intellectual property. With the choice of “Vista,” the tables may turn as it may face allegations of swiping another company’s trademark.

It appears the Vista name has already been taken by another high-tech company, coincidentally also based in Redmond. A few miles from the sprawling Microsoft campus is Vista Incorporated, which has operated a small business internet interchange since it was founded by Wall Data founder, John Wall in 2000. He was suprised by his larger neighbor’s move.

“We are going to consider our options and talk to Microsoft,” Wall said in an interview with the Seattle Times. Wall reportedly has not yet filed suit against Microsoft to stop it from using the “Vista” name. An investor in SCO, he does have other legal options aside from law suits. Instead, he may offer to sell the rights to the “Vista” name.

However, John Wall’s company is not the only business with claims on the name “Vista.” Many other tech companies use “Vista” as product names. Additionally, a wide-range of non-computer businesses have the name reserved, including branded products for sewing machines, elevators and the dairy industry.

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After the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) completes its acquisition of Chicago-based electronic trading company, Archipelago Holdings within the next 12 months, the impact will also be felt in San Francisco, California as the future of the 123-year-old Pacific Exchange (PCX) becomes murky.

This stems from a deal struck in January of this year, before the NYSE merger, when Archipelago struck a deal worth $83 million to take over operations of the San Francisco stock exchange and its 260 employees. All PCX operations are scheduled to be under Archipelago control by the end of September. Archipelago had planned to maintain the San Francisco operations.

As details were released Thursday of the April NYSE-Archipelago merger to the Securities and Exchange Commission, all Archipelago functions are to be folded into NYSE operations, including the PCX stock and options trading business. The report did not state whether or not the San Francisco employees would be kept after the merger is complete.

Started in 1882 at the San Francisco Stock Market, the Pacific Exchange, along with other regional stock exchanges, has suffered as customers shifted to electronic trading, which bypassed the need for stock exchange services in many instances.

For: Wikinews