Senate approves war funding bill
WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Thursday gave final approval to a $124 billion supplemental spending bill that imposes a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
U.S. President George W. Bush has vowed to veto the measure, which was reported out of conference committee Monday. The Senate voted 51-46 to approve the measure on the heels of a 218-208 House vote Wednesday night.
Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., defended the measure, saying lawmakers "should be proud to send" it to the president.
"No one wants this nation to succeed in the Middle East more than I do," Reid said, adding there is "no magic formula or silver bullet" for ending strife in that region of the world.
Reid said the withdrawal outlined in the measure represents a "responsible plan for redeployment" and denied it was "precipitous."
Reid also defended provisions in the bill that have nothing to do with the war effort, citing the need to provide relief to drought-stricken farmers and victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"How many more suicide bombs must kill American soldiers before this president offers a timeline for our troops to come home?" U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Murphy, D-Pa., and an Iraq war veteran, said during the House debate. "How many more military leaders must declare the war will not be won militarily before this president demands that the Iraqis stand up and fight for their country? ... This bill says enough is enough."
Congressional leaders planned to send the bill to Bush Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of the president's speech in which he declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, The New York Times reported.
A White House statement called the bill "disappointing legislation that insists on a surrender date, handcuffs our generals, and contains billions of dollars in spending unrelated to the war."
Democratic hopefuls have low-key debate
ORANGEBURG, S.C., April 26 (UPI) -- Eight Democratic presidential candidates spent more energy on President George W. Bush than each other Thursday in a debate in South Carolina.
The debate -- sponsored by MSNBC and moderated by NBC News anchor Brian Williams -- was held at South Carolina State University, the first black college in the state.
With so many candidates, Williams occasionally asked candidates to raise hands to respond to a question.
Five raised their hands when asked if they had ever, as adults, had guns in their houses, while no one did when Williams asked if anyone agreed with the proposal by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney, The New York Times reported.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. -- the two candidates who have attracted the most attention so fa -- called each other by first name and were low-key in their responses to questions. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., attacked Clinton for her vote in favor of the Iraq war.
All eight went after Bush for his threat to veto legislation passed by the Democratically-controlled Congress, combining a troop withdrawal timeline with funding for the military.
The four senators in the field -- Clinton, Obama, Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut -- all traveled to North Carolina after voting for the bill earlier in the day.
New Hampshire approves same-sex unions
CONCORD, N.H., April 26 (UPI) -- New Hampshire lawmakers Thursday approved a measure legalizing civil unions between gay and lesbian couples.
The Nashua Telegraph said the final vote was 14-10, with all Democrats supporting the bill and all Republicans opposing it.
Gov. John Lynch has said he will sign the measure.
"This legislation is a matter of conscience, fairness and of preventing discrimination," the governor's communications director Colin Manning told the newspaper. "It is in keeping with New Hampshire's proud tradition of preventing discrimination, and Gov. Lynch will sign it into law."
The bill, which will take effect Jan. 1 if signed into law, will allow gays and lesbians over age 18 to form civil unions. It will recognize civil unions from other states, the newspaper said.
MIT dean resigns for resume padding
BOSTON, April 26 (UPI) -- The dean of admissions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology resigned Thursday for misrepresenting her credentials, university officials said.
Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones, an outspoken critic of resume padding, listed degrees from Albany Medical College, Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute but the Boston Globe reported she had no such degrees.
MIT Chancellor Phillip Clay in a statement posted on the university's Web site called the situation "unfortunate."
"But the integrity of the institute is our highest priority and we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior," said Daniel E. Hastings, dean for undergraduate education.
The discrepancies came to light following a query from someone who questioned Jones's credentials.
Stuart Schmill will take over the admissions post while the university searches for a replacement, MIT said.
U.S. removes some swine from food supply
WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- U.S. officials Thursday announced that swine fed adulterated products will not be permitted to enter the food supply.
Capt. David Elder of the Food and Drug Administration told reporters in Washington the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had notified states such swine would not be approved to enter the food supply.
"Based on information currently available, FDA and USDA believe the likelihood of illness after eating such pork is extremely low," Elder said. "However, the agencies also believe it's prudent to take this measure."
Officials have determined that a shipment of rice protein from China -- off-loaded during the week of April 2 by agricultural products importer and distributor Wilbur-Ellis -- was contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds. Rice protein was used in pet food and pet food byproduct that was used to produce animal feed.
The contaminants involved include melamine and melamine-related compounds, including cyanuric acid -- which present what officials called "a potential source of concern in relation to human and animal health."
The USDA said it would help officials ensure that, if necessary, animals are euthanized and disposed of in accordance with federal, state and local laws.