President-elect Obama's selection of the prominent evangelical minister Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation is causing quite a stir in the gay community. One gay rights activist — Joe Solomonese of the Human Rights Campaign — says in a letter to Mr. Obama, "We feel a deep level of disrespect when one of the architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the pulpit of your historic nomination."
The Politico newspaper reports another activist — Evan Wolfson of "Freedom to Marry" — says Warren "did a real disservice to gay families...by causally supporting our continued exclusion from marriage."
Kevin Naff, the editor of Washington Blade — a pro-gay newspaper — called it Obama’s first big mistake. "This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated."
But the president-elect defended his pick today saying, "It is important for America to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. I was invited to Rick Warren's church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights."
It turns out the man behind that alleged $50 billion investment fraud scheme was a long-time Democratic contributor. The Non-Partisan Center for Responsive Politics reports Bernard Madoff and his wife gave more than $238,000 to federal candidates, parties and committees since 1991 — with Democrats receiving 88% of that.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee did the best, receiving a total of $102,000 from Madoff. Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Charles Schumer of New York got $13,000 and $12,000 respectively. Massachusetts Congressmen Ed Markey received $10,000.
Also on the list are New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and New York Congressman Charles Rangel.
Putin on a Crackdown
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is backing legislation that would allow Russian authorities to label any government critic a traitor. The bill — which is expected to become law — would expand the definition of treason drastically to include damaging Russia's constitutional order, sovereignty or territorial integrity.
Existing law defines treason as acts that harm security by passing information to foreign organizations. Russian activists say by expanding the definition, authorities can interpret any act against the state as treason, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Russian Human Rights Activist Lev Ponomaryov says the new law is, "A base for a totalitarian state."
And finally, there is a new struggle in the Middle East as competing shoemakers claim that they were the creators of the footwear thrown at President Bush Sunday by an Iraqi reporter. The journalist's brother, Udai al-Zeidi, says the shoes were made by a Baghdad cobbler.
"100-percent they were Iraqi-made shoes. His shoes are not Chinese or Turkish."
But a Turkish newspaper ran a front-page photo of the shoes and the headline "Made in Turkey." Turkish Businessman Ramazan Baydan says he designed the shoes and that since the incident sales have doubled. Referring to the softness of the leather he says, “If it had hit Bush's head it wouldn't have hurt him."
Meanwhile a Lebanese newspaper As-Safir ran a front-page photo of the reporter during a recent visit to the country asking, "Did he buy the shoes in Beirut?”
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.