Morning Report: March 8, 2005

Bush stands firm on democracy. President Bush reiterated his support for democracy at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, saying "We are confident that the desire for freedom, even when repressed for generations, is present in every human heart, and that desire can emerge with sudden power to change the course of history." A full transcript of the President's speech may be found here. Bush specifically mentioned the regimes in Iran and Syria. (CNN)

Pakistani women demonstrate against tribal rape. 'Thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan on Monday to demand justice and protection for a woman who said she was gang-raped at the direction of a village council, after a court ordered the release of her alleged attackers. The victim, Mukhtar Mai, also attended the rally in Multan, a major city in the eastern province of Punjab,' according to this AP story by Khalid Tanveer. 'In June 2002, Mai said she was raped by four men on the orders of a village council that wanted to punish her family. Mai's brother was accused of having sex with a woman from a more prominent family, though Mai's family says the allegations were fabricated to cover up a sexual assault against the boy by several men. Mai, a 33-year-old school teacher, went public about her ordeal, drawing international media attention to widespread crimes against women in ultraconservative Pakistan. The government also pledged to track down her attackers. A court later sentenced six men to death for Mai's rape. An appeals court overturned the convictions of five of the men last week, citing lack of evidence, and reduced the other man's sentence to life in prison.' Read the full story at the link. (AP/Yahoo via LGF)

Questions surround McCain, Cablevision. CNN reports: 'A senator promotes a government policy sought by a corporation while a tax-exempt group closely tied to him solicits and gets $200,000 from the same company. Campaign finance watchdogs say that creates the appearance of a conflict of interest. To their surprise, the senator is Arizona Republican John McCain, whom they usually praise for advocating campaign finance restrictions. McCain's help to Cablevision Systems Corp. included letting its CEO testify before his Senate committee, writing a letter of support to the Federal Communication Commission and asking other cable companies to support so-called a la carte pricing.' Kent Cooper of Political Money Line said: "Senator McCain derives a clear benefit by using The Reform Institute to help the debate on campaign finance reform. His McCain-Feingold bill helped break the connection between members of Congress and large contributions. Here is an example of a large contribution going to the foundation connected with a member of Congress. I don't see a difference." (CNN)