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By United Press International  |  Oct. 27, 2004 at 6:30 AM
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Bush breaks with GOP on same-sex unions

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- President Bush broke with the Republican Party platform in supporting states' rights to permit same-sex civil unions.

"I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so. ...

"I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman.

"Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others," Bush told ABC's Charlie Gibson in an interview broadcast Tuesday on "Good Morning America."

"So the Republican platform on that point, as far as you're concerned, is wrong?" Gibson asked the president, to which Bush replied: "Right."

Bush, Kerry sharpen Iraq duel

ONALASKA, Wis., Oct. 26 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry continued their battle over Iraq Tuesday during campaign appearances in Wisconsin.

The president, speaking in the town of Onalaska at the start of a bus tour, accused the Massachusetts Democrat of changing positions on Iraq for alleged political expediency.

Said Bush: "A president must lead with consistency and strength in these troubling times. Even when you might not agree with me, you know where I stand, what I believe and what I intent to do. On good days and on bad days, whether the polls are up or the polls are down, I am determined to win this war on terror, and I will support the men and women of the United States military."

Kerry, speaking during a rally in Green Bay, said reports that more than 300 tons of high-grade explosives may have disappeared from an arms site after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein only further illustrates Bush's short-sightedness.

ACLU blasts 'Secure Flight' plans

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The American Civil Liberties Union Tuesday slammed the latest version of the airline passenger screening system for effectiveness and privacy concerns.

The "Secure Flight" system is the successor to the Computer Assisted Passenger Screening System, or CAPPS II, that was scrapped for a variety of problems. The new program is supposed to be tested in November and December.

The ACLU said it filed its critical comments with the Department of Homeland Security late Monday.

"We are concerned that the government is moving ahead with building this system before ironing out the fundamental problems with the old watch list systems on which it would be based," Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program, said in a statement. "At best, 'Secure Flight' is a misnomer -- it still does not protect innocent travelers' safety or privacy."

The Business Travel Coalition joined the ACLU in criticizing the plan.

CAPPS II was criticized for being vulnerable to fake identification, reliance on commercial databases and factual errors.

Voter ignorance threatens democracy

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Political ignorance is an old problem that threatens democracy, panelists at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington said Tuesday.

The majority of U.S. voters know little about a broad range of governmental topics, from domestic issues to the war in Iraq, said academics at a forum called "What's Wrong with the Voters."

Ilya Somin, assistant professor of law at George Mason School of Law and author of "When Ignorance Isn't Bliss: How Political Ignorance threatens Democracy," said: "If people lack information, it's difficult to hold leaders responsible or reward them. ... The government is not being effectively monitored by the people."

Forty-three percent of U.S. voters did not know that defense spending is one of two largest expenditure areas in the federal budget, he said, citing the 2004 Princeton Survey Research Associates Survey.

The 2000 National Election Study, he said, reported that only 15 percent of 1,543 Americans asked correctly named at least one candidate for the House of Representatives in their district.

Somin said voters who lack sufficient knowledge on governmental matters may be manipulated by elites and they may demand policies that contravene their own interests.

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