One candidate's refusal to speak entirely in Spanish became an issue last Friday night in an historic Spanish-language debate between the leading candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Texas.
Dan Morales -- a former two-term Texas attorney general -- answered reporters' questions in both Spanish and English during the hour-long debate with Tony Sanchez, a Laredo millionaire. The Spanish-language debate was billed as the first ever in the nation between gubernatorial candidates and recognition of the growing political power of Hispanics in the United States.
Sanchez said Morales had violated the negotiated rules that they would only answer questions in Spanish, and that it was a "slap in the face" to the 7 million Latinos who live in Texas.
But Morales said it was important to communicate with all voters, including those who are Hispanic and speak only Spanish. "I also believe the great majority of the voters in the state of Texas, including those who are Hispanic, speak English," he said.
In an English debate earlier in the evening, Morales said he was proud of his Hispanic heritage but that English is the dominant language in Texas and the United States. "I think we need to promote the fact that children should learn to speak English as quickly as they can," he said.
Nearly one third of Texas' 21 million residents are Hispanic, according to the 2000 Census. In the 1990s, the state's Latino population increased more than 50 percent so it comes as no surprise that politicians are speaking more Spanish.
Hispanics are also taking more interest in the Democratic gubernatorial race this year because of Morales and Sanchez campaigns. The winner of the May 12 primary will face Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has been taking Spanish lessons but has no intention of debating either candidate in the language, according to his spokeswoman.
-- Was Morales wrong to break the agreed-upon rules and answer in both Spanish and English? Why or why not?
(Thanks to UPI's Phil Magers in Dallas)
British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon says Britain would support U.S. military strikes against Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussein if "conditions were right," such as Baghdad's developing weapons of mass destruction.
Hoon insisted in a BBC radio interview, however, that "absolutely no decisions have been taken about any prospect of an attack," but added the lessons of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States "cannot be ignored."
Hoon's comments Friday came amid speculation Washington planned to spread its war against international terrorism to Iraq, which President Bush branded as part of an "axis of evil" that also includes Iran and North Korea.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week said it was important to move against any country that contributes to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. "Those who are engaged in spreading weapons of mass destruction are engaged in an evil trade and it is important that we make sure that we take action in respect of it," her told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday.
Iraq answered late Thursday by saying, "Blair always makes antagonist and biased statements against Iraq in line with U.S. policy without taking into consideration the facts of accuracy and truth."
In the same statement, Iraq invited British inspectors to investigate Iraq's allegedly weapons of mass destructions production. "We are also ready to invite Arab and international journalists as well as ambassadors and representatives of foreign missions to Baghdad to document the truth as it is and show to the world who are the truthful and who are the deceitful," an official Iraqi spokesman said.
Iraq has denied it has any plants making weapons of mass destruction. But Hoon said, "If there is no evidence of wrongdoing, then I cannot understand why Iraq should now allow inspectors to look at various sites."
What do you think?
THE 'F' WORD
It isn't as though the so-called "F-word" hasn't made it onto network air in the past -- mistakes will happen in live TV -- but ESPN is breaking a little ground with its March 10 presentation of the TV movie "A Season on the Brink," starring Brian Dennehy as fiery college basketball coach Bob Knight.
According to New York Daily News, the ultimate four-letter word comes up 15 times in the first half-hour alone.
Mark Shapiro, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN programming, told the paper the Disney-owned outfit believes the language is important to the integrity of the picture. "We conducted a lot of focus groups and did a lot of qualitative research, as well as a thorough evaluation here," he said, "and the bottom line is we don't believe you can give an accurate depiction and portrayal of The General (one of Knight's nicknames) if it doesn't accomplish the language he speaks."
Shapiro said ESPN understands that not everyone wants the F-word coming into their home on basic cable, so an alternative version -- with the F-word bleeped out -- will be offered on ESPN 2. In addition, ESPN will run a disclaimer every nine minutes or so cautioning viewers about the rough language.
"Granted, it's cable, but historically we haven't shown profanity on our network," said Shapiro. "You've got a show, you need to warn your audience fast and furious."
-- Do you agree that an accurate portrayal of Knight must include the language he speaks? Why or why not?
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)