Vowing he would not be responsible for the loss of Democratic control of the Senate, Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., surprised everyone when he pulled out of the race for re-election.
The senator's decision sets up a historic battle for the control of the United States Senate, coming at a time when President Bush is asking Congress to give him the power to wage war against Iraq. It also may bring legal challenges to both New Jersey and national election laws.
Torricelli made the decision after support among voters plummeted in recent weeks over an ethics controversy.
A Newark Star-Ledger poll Sunday showed him trailing his Republican opponent by 13 points, and pollsters have said he was all but certain to lose the November election. His loss would put the Democrats' one-seat Senate majority at risk.
-- Since when do candidates drop out of a race because they are losing?
-- Should the Republicans fight the move in court?
(Thanks to UPI's Sharon Otterman and Nicholas M. Horrock)
SATANISM CLUB SPARKS PARENTAL OUTRAGE
A group of San Mateo High School students in California, calling themselves The Satanic Thought Society, have formed a club based on Satanism, a religion typically associated with hedonistic philosophy and rituals of black magic.
Co-president of the club James Doolittle admits he originally started the club with his friend, Matt Heeney, to "rile things up a bit," The San Mateo County News reports. "The club does not worship the devil nor will it do any rituals," Doolittle says.
The two studied the teachings of Anton LaVey, who started the Church of Satan in 1966 under the theory Satan is not a supernatural being, but rather a symbol of defiance and rebellion against a conformist, God-fearing society, according to the Anton LaVey Web site.
The school principal says under the federal Equal Access Act for Secondary Schools, the school must allow the club.
-- Do you agree with Rev. Harold Snider, of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Burlingame, Calif., that the First Amendment is behind these students?
-- Do you agree with Snider that teenagers love to shock, and the best thing to do is to not make a big deal?
COLLEGE DROPOUT RATE HIGH
There is an expectation that college is necessary to achieve a middle-class lifestyle.
A study by the American Association of Colleges and Universities says too many students receive what Robert P. Moses calls a "ghetto education," where colleges hold low expectations for many students and shunt them into narrow or shallow tracks, The Christian Science Monitor reports.
The AACU report argues instead of graduating students with mediocre analytical and communications skills, colleges should graduate:
-- Empowered learners with strong oral, written and quantitative skills.
-- Informed learners who understand global and cross-cultural relationships
-- Responsible learners who understand the ethical consequences of actions.
About 75 percent of high school graduates today go on to college, but only 47 percent of high school graduates complete college-prep courses. Less than 48 percent of students who start college graduate from a four-year program.
-- Why is the drop-out rate so high?
-- Would requiring college-bound high school students to take college-prep courses improve the graduation rate?