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By United Press International  |  Sept. 24, 2004 at 6:30 AM
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Allawi: Problems, but success in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told U.S. lawmakers Thursday the forces of freedom are "succeeding in Iraq."

"We are succeeding in Iraq," Allawi told a joint session of Congress. "We Iraqis know that Americans have made, and continue to make, enormous sacrifices to liberate Iraq, to assure Iraq's freedom, I have come here to thank you, and to promise you that your sacrifices are not in vain."

Allawi's visit comes at time when violence is on the rise in Iraq and President Bush is under increased criticism from Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts for entering Iraq under false pretenses and mishandling the post-invasion period.

In his speech, he also echoed the Bush administration stance that since it became clear the Weapons of Mass Destruction would not be found in the country that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power and promised national elections would be held in January as scheduled.

"Today we are better off, you are better off, the world is better off without Saddam Hussein," said Allawi. "Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one, but it was the right one."

Cat Stevens wants U.S. explanation

LONDON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The singer formerly known as Cat Stevens said Thursday he wants an explanation for being denied entry into the United States, the BBC reported.

Speaking to reporters in London, Yusuf Islam said he intended to contact his lawyer over the Tuesday incident in which his London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine, and he was held.

His name had recently been placed on a U.S. terror watch list, and he was ordered to return to England.

"It's crazy and everybody knows me from my charitable work and now there has to be explanations," Islam said.

His detention and return to Britain sparked a protest to the U.S. government by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell the action "should not have been taken."

The former singer said he was treated well and not handcuffed while in detention, and said he signed many autographs for security officials.

Before converting to Islam in 1977, Stevens had a string of pop hits such as "Morning Has Broken" and "Wild World."

Norway soccer prayers draw objection

OSLO, Norway, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Praying for a sports victory has sparked controversy among Norway's clergy with some calling it blasphemy and others saying it's what parishioners want.

Norway's Minister of Culture and Church Affairs Valgerd Svarstad Haugland called the practice "banal" and "flippant," Aftenposten said Thursday.

"I don't want to meddle with what people pray for in private but I think this is a bit flippant in regards to prayer in church," Svarstad Haugland said.

But, Bishop Ole Christian Kvarme in Borg is not so sure.

"I don't think praying for victory is strange to God," said Borg, a soccer fan.

Vålerenga Church Minister Einar Gelius is among many clergy who pray for their local teams during Sunday worship, Aftenposten said.

Theology professor Jacob Jervell is another dissenter, however.

"Praying that your team will win is nearly blasphemy," he said. "I am a keen football fan myself and often say that in heaven Viking (Stavanger) will win all their matches. But God is not a Viking-supporter and it would never occur to me to pray for my favorite team."

Parents favor more regulation of TV

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. parents strongly favor government regulation of sex and violence on TV, said report released Thursday by the Henry Kaiser J. Family Foundation.

However, the report also found that most parents don't use tools already at their disposal to regulate their own children's viewing.

Researchers reported on a survey that showed 60 percent of parents say they are very concerned about sexual content on TV, and 53 percent say they are very concerned about violent content. Nearly two-thirds -- 63 percent -- said they support new government regulations limiting sexual and violent content on TV during early evenings hours, while 35 percent said they would oppose that sort of regulation.

Half the parents surveyed said they use the TV ratings system to help guide their children's viewing, but only one in four said they use the system often.

Sixty-one percent of parents who said they use the V-Chip to filter their children's viewing choices said they find it useful. But only 15 percent of parents said they use the device and 39 percent didn't know if their TVs had one.

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