Nation in Brief

Peer Grading System Approved by the Supreme Court

Students are constitutionally allowed to grade each other’s papers, the Supreme Court ruled last week.

The case began in 1998, when an Oklahoma parent Kristja J. Falvo sued a local school district for violating FERPA, the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Falvo was rejected by a local court but won an appeal in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, turning the case over to the nation’s highest court.

“We do not think (federal law) prohibits these educational techniques,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the decision.

Kidnapped Journalist reported dead

Daniel Pearle, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped in Pakistan last month was reported dead last week after U.S. government officials viewed a videotape showing his murder.

The announcement, made by Journal publisher Peter R. Kann and managing editor Paul E. Steiger, was based on reports from the State Department and the Pakistani government.

Pearle, who was abducted Karchai on Jan. 23, was investigating possible al Qaeda terrorist links in Pakistan.

The lead suspect in the case, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was arrested two weeks ago under increased pressure from the United States and Pakistani officials, gave no useful leads.

The announcement was made on the newspaper’s Web site. Kann identified the situation as “heart-breaking” and heavily criticized Pearle’s captors for their actions.

Pearle’s wife Mariane is pregnant with their first child.

Bush Visits Asia

The United States and China pledged to increase U.S.-North Korea diplomatic relations last week, facilitating an offer from President George W. Bush to hold talks with the country he included in the “axis of evil.”

“We would be willing to meet with the North Korean regime,” Bush said in a press conference on Thursday, “and I asked (President Jiang Zemin’s) help in conveying that message.”

In an effort to gain support for the U.S. war on terror, Bush expressed concern over Chinese missile shipments to Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.

No agreement was reached on a missile defense plan, and Jiang dodged reporters’ questions on the issue of religious freedom in China. The Chinese leader is expected to visit the U.S. in October.

The meeting in China between Bush and Jiang topped off Bush’s six-day tour of Asia, which also included stops in South Korea and Japan.

Afghans killed in U.S. raid were anti-Taliban

Ten to 15 Afghans killed by U.S. forces last month were not Taliban or al Qaeda fighters, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a press conference last week.

The victims, killed in a two raids in Hazar Qadam, were supporters of Afghan Interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai.

In defense of the military action, Rumsfeld, who called the situation “unfortunate,” stated that U.S. forces were acting in self-defense, dispelling reporter’s accusations that the deaths were a mistake.

“It is no mistake at all,” Rumsfeld said. “If you’re fired on, fire back. We expect people to defend themselves.”

The military was acting on local intelligence that cited enemy fire which left an American wounded, Rumsfeld said.

Washington Monument Re-opens

The Washington Monument in the heart of Washington, D.C. reopened last week in a ceremony in honor of George Washington’s birthday.

The popular tourist site has been closed for restorations since December 2000. The project focused on exterior stone restoration, elevator repairs, and work on the viewing platform at the top of the monument.

The restorations were managed by the National Park Service at a cost of $10 million.

-Patrick W. Higgins

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