And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine.
A top Enron executive now admits he gave poor advice to students at his alma mater. Jeffrey McMahon visited the University of Richmond twice last fall, singing the praises of Enron, even as the company's stock prices were streaking toward worthlessness. Perhaps inspired by the talk, a student group that manages a small portion of the university's endowment fund bought nearly $13,000 worth of Enron stock. The students later sold the stock for $900. McMahon said he hadn't foreseen Enron's collapse – and conceded, "In hindsight, that probably wasn't good advice."
Starting today, some Los Angeles-area motorists will drive past billboards promoting good relations with Muslim-Americans. The three billboards show a diverse group of smiling Muslims above the slogan, "'Even a smile is Charity' – a message from your Muslim neighbor." The campaign, funded by the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is designed to counteract what it calls negative images of Islam and Muslims since Sept. 11. The group solicited donations from the local Muslim community to help pay for the billboards.
Do you think you have "the right stuff?" Well, if you're thinking about a sojourn at the space station, NASA has some new rules for would-be astro-tourists. You will stay on terra firma if in prior employment you have been found guilty of "criminal, dishonest, infamous or notoriously disgraceful conduct," if you have indulged in alcohol or drug abuse, or if you have belonged to organizations that could offend others in the mission.
Some students at a Dubuque, Iowa, Christian school are peeved at Dr. Pepper. The soft drink's cans now feature a paraphrase of the Pledge of Allegiance that omits the words "under God." Students at the Bible Baptist Academy are sending letters and e-mails to friends, conservative talk shows and other media in an effort to get the complete pledge on the cans. A company spokesman says there was only so much room on the cans and that the modified pledge is a "non-denominational, bipartisan message of unity."