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Saudi Court Sentences Vctim of Gang Rape to 90 Lashes

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Headline News

John Kerry's apology for remarks interpreted by many as demeaning to U.S. troops in Iraq did better in the major newspapers today — with page one coverage in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

But it again failed to crack the front page of The New York Times — which had only a passing mention of the apology in an inside page story about the president's support of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

A subsequent column called Kerry a "punching bag" and blamed the flap on "a single word left out" of a joke.

Huck Stops Here

The book that has been called the first great American novel — "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" — has been pulled from high school classes in Taylor, Michigan after the mother of an African-American student complained about its use of a racial slur. The novel — which is considered critical of slavery — is about a late 19th-century white boy's adventures along the Mississippi River — including his friendship with and efforts to protect a slave named Jim.

The Detroit News reports students in an advanced placement English class read aloud and acted out portions of the Mark Twain classic — but the mother of the class's only black student objected.

The school district now plans to review whether the novel should be removed from the curriculum — and whether other books with what is called objectionable material should also be excluded.

Rape Victim Punished?

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced the victim of a gang rape to 90 lashes of the whip because she was alone in a car with a man other than her husband.

The Jerusalem Post reports the high-profile and controversial trial ended with the convicted rapists sentenced to punishments ranging from one thousand lashes to as little as 80 — 10 fewer than the victim — along with prison terms of between one and five years. The woman's family says it will appeal what it considers inadequate sentences for the rapists.

We're Number 53!

And the journalism advocacy group "Reporters Without Borders" has issued its Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. The U.S. came in tied for 53rd — with the group saying federal courts threaten journalists and refuse to recognize the media's right not to reveal its sources.

Denmark, which is listed in the 19th spot, brought charges against two reporters accused of publishing state secrets in a series of stories about pre-war intelligence.

And in Lithuania, which was 27th, the government shut down a newspaper's Web site, confiscated all 15,000 print copies of the paper, and arrested the editor — for running a story alleging political corruption.

—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.

With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume