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Obama, Sec. Clinton Speak At National Prayer Breakfast

President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other policymakers and religious leaders on Thursday spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast about various issues involving faith and politics, the Washington Post reports. During his remarks, Obama discussed the "erosion of civility" in Washington politics, saying, "Those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should." He added, "At times, it seems like we're unable to listen to one another, to have at once a serious and civil debate" (Fletcher, Washington Post, 2/5). Obama also denounced a controversial anti-homosexuality bill currently under consideration in the Ugandan legislature.

Obama's FY 2011 Budget Gives Global Health Funding Boost

President Barack Obama's FY 2011 budget request for global health totals $9.6 billion and includes funding for global health activities within the State Department, USAID and HHS, the Wall Street Journal reports. "That compares with $8.8 billion enacted for fiscal 2010, " according to the newspaper (McKay, 2/1). "While scientists concentrating on domestic problems had worried about deep [budget] cuts, global health appears to have been sheltered by Mr. Obama's promise to exempt international affairs and global security, " the New York Times writes. "In her own preliminary analysis, Jennifer Kates, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which specializes in health policy, said the amount of money devoted to programs in the president's Global Health Initiative, which is split among several agencies, appeared to have risen about 8 percent, " according to the New York Times.

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International Violence Against Women Act Merits Passage, Opinion Piece States

Congress should approve the International Violence Against Women Act not only because it is the "the right thing to do" but because "it's in our own interests, " Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox, and Kerry Kennedy, chair of Amnesty International USA's Executive Directors Leadership Council, write in a Politico opinion piece. The bill will be introduced on Thursday by a bipartisan coalition, including Sens. Kerry, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Reps. Delahunt and Ted Poe (R-Texas). The authors of the opinion piece write that IVAWA "will support innovative programs that challenge public attitudes and cultural practices that perpetuate and condone violence against women and girls, " including training police and judicial authorities on how to counter violence and respect victims' rights, promoting women's economic security, expanding access to education and jobs, and engaging men to alter their behaviors and attitudes.

VA Hospitals Urged To Accommodate Growing Number Of Female Veterans

NPR: "The traditionally male-dominated environment often doesn't recognize that women veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced the same psychological, physical and emotional trauma as male veterans." Jill Feldman, manager of the Women Veterans Health Care Program at the Milwaukee VA, says the hospital is working to change a culture that has traditionally been more masculine. A bill pending in Congress "would authorize a study of women who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan to find out how the wars have affected their physical, mental and reproductive health. The bill also would require a review of the barriers women face in accessing VA health care" (Toner, 1/3).

Judge Hears Arguments In Challenge To Patents On Genes Tied To Breast, Ovarian Cancer

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet on Tuesday considered whether to invalidate Myriad Genetics' patents on two genes associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers in a lawsuit that could have far-reaching implications for the biotechnology industry and genetics-based research, the AP/ABC News reports. In March 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan against Myriad, the University of Utah Research Foundation and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. After hearing arguments from both sides Tuesday, Sweet declined to immediately rule (Neumeister, AP/ABC News, 2/3).

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Miss., Utah Debate Sex Education Bills

The following summarizes recent action in Mississippi and Utah on bills regarding abstinence-only sex education curricula. ~ Mississippi: The Mississippi House on Tuesday voted 84-35 to advance a bill (HB 837) that would give school districts the option of offering an "abstinence-plus" curriculum that provides information on contraception, the AP/Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports. Currently the state only allows abstinence-only curricula, with no discussion of contraception. According to the AP/Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi has one of the highest teen birth rates in the U.S. Under the bill, students would still be encouraged to abstain from sexual activity but also would receive information on condoms, birth control pills and other forms of contraception.

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