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By United Press International   |   Oct. 24, 2001 at 4:45 AM
TEXAS SCHOOL PRAYER FLAP

A religious rights group is calling for a letter-writing campaign to get Texas Gov. Rick Perry to rethink his participation in a school prayer.

Perry took part in a prayer offered by a Baptist minister at a student assembly last week at a middle school in Palestine, Texas, about 90 miles southeast of Dallas --- ignoring the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ban on organized prayer in public schools.

School prayer has always been a hot issue in Texas and the Supreme Court ruled in a case last year that organized prayers before high school football games were unconstitutional.

The Texas Freedom Network is among several civil rights groups speaking out against Perry's position on the issue. It'll ask its more than 9,000-member families to write the governor and ask him to rethink his position, according to Samantha Smoot, the group's executive director.

"Religious freedom is a patriotic human value but religious coercion is not. While we agree with the governor that this is for many people an important time to pray, it is never a good time to have state-sponsored prayer in our schools," she said Tuesday.

Perry is defending his participation.

"Any time you have a crisis that faces you either in your personal life or as we have now in our country, reaching out to a supreme being is a very normal act," he told a news conference Monday. "Why can't we say a prayer at a football game or a patriotic event like we held at Palestine Middle School? I don't understand the logic of that. I happen to think it was appropriate."

-- Is it appropriate to hold an organized prayer at a public school function? Why or why not?


JOB RELOCATION

Last month's terrorist attacks and the anthrax scare have made U.S. workers less willing to relocate for a job.

That's according to Chicago-based outplacement specialist Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which said the number of job seekers relocating during the third quarter of 2001 was the lowest in seven years.

Workers apparently are unnerved in a world where people now routinely don rubber gloves and a mask to open office mail and may be less likely to take a risk by leaving their family, social and professional safety nets, said CEO John A. Challenger.

Staying closer to home was the trend well before the economic downturn and Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Challenger said the number of job seekers willing to relocate had fallen 59 percent from 1986, the year the company began tracking the job relocation rate.

Challenger said the fallout from the Sept. 11 attacks will make it harder for businesses to attract the best job candidates -- especially if they live in other parts of the country. While war-era workers may be more willing to telecommute, he said, proximity to the office and a short commute has become a major factor in a job search.

"While conditions were ideal for moving, the high-flying economy made it possible to find favorable positions in one's hometown," he said. "Now we will probably see different forces pushing relocation to new lows, including the growing uncertainty and anxiety over the economy, the continued terrorist threat and the potential for a prolonged military campaign."

-- Would you be willing to relocate for the sake of a job? Why or why not?

(Thanks to UPI's Al Swanson in Chicago)


WHAT TO DO WITH 11-YEAR-OLD KILLER

Ohio authorities are at a loss over where to jail an 11-year-old boy who has been convicted of killing his 8-year-old sister.

A new state law that allows children as young as 10 to be jailed at a juvenile center does not take effect until January and is not retroactive. The boy will not turn 12, when he would be eligible for incarceration by the Department of Youth Services, until May.

"Under current law we don't know where to put him," Juvenile Judge Sylvia Hendon told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The boy is one of the youngest ever convicted of murder in the Cincinnati area.

He was found guilty Monday of stomping and beating to death his 8-year-old sister, Takeya Bryant, on Aug. 15 while a 13-year-old cousin was babysitting them. Takeya died of abdominal bleeding. She also had been sexually assaulted.

The boy testified he was just roughhousing with Takeya and had kneed her only once in the stomach.

The mother, African Evans, left her children with the cousin while she was at work. The cousin faces murder and rape charges and is scheduled to undergo a competency hearing in December.

-- What do you think should be done with the boy?

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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