updated 5/6/2005 9:00:13 PM ET 2005-05-07T01:00:13

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Bush goes abroad — President Bush began a European tour in Latvia today.  There, he will participate in a ceremony commemorating that country's independence from communism.  Then it's on to the very nation that put Latvia under the Red thumb,  Russia.  And a particularly delicate meeting with President Vladimir Putin.  The U.S. has issues with Russia's business dealings with Iran, Syria and North Korea, and the tightening of Moscow's control over other Russian regions.  Russia's mood at the moment could be gauged as resentful of any attempt by America to influence its local decisions….  Meanwhile back here — some unlikely fence-mending.  Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid commented of President Bush "The man's father is a wonderful human being. I think this guy is a loser."  Reid turned around this afternoon and told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his own remark was out-of-line. "You know the president is in Europe, probably sleeping. But I called Karl Rove and apologized for what I said."

Dems not welcome — The illusion has been with us for a long time: the separation of church and state — or at least the separation of a church and politics.  But separating people from a church — throwing them out — because they voted differently than the minister told them to?  A Baptist minister has expelled nine members of his North Carolina church because they failed to vote the way he told them to in the last Presidential election.  One report says, he even threatened to punish those followers with what the Baptists call "dis-fellowship."  Last October, say members of the East Waynesville Baptist church, their pastor Chan Chandler told them that John Kerry and the Democrats were for abortion and homosexuals, and George Bush and the Republicans were against both.  Chandler said that anybody who intended to vote for Kerry had better come forward to the altar and repent or leave the church.  Things quieted down — until this past Sunday.  That's when Pastor Chandler brought up the topic again.  And "voted out" nine members.  Dozens more — Republicans and Democrats — have walked out — saying politics has no place in the pulpit.  The pastor isn’t talking.

Chaste away — People Magazine now reports that “Runaway Bride,” Jennifer Wilbanks, was primarily upset because she and fiancee, John Mason, were know.  One friend told the magazine that after re-committing to his Baptist faith five years ago, Mason became a born-again-virgin.  Wait — you can do that?  When did they change that rule?  The former "wild guy" was now saving himself for marriage.  When did they change that rule!  In an interview earlier this week, Mason described his relationship with his errant bride as, "very pure." When did they change that rule?

LA freeway shootings — Everything old, they sing, is new again  everything good, and everything bad.  The rash of freeway shootings in Southern California has been treated as if it were a new, unheard-of phenomenon — another sign of the decay of American society.  In fact, freeway shootings have been part of the fabric of life in Los Angeles for so long, that they were mocked in the Steve Martin film "L.A. Story."  But "L.A. Story" premiered 14 years and three months ago.  Now, there have been more shootings.

What's mom's worth? — The debate over being a housewife and mother has waxed and waned with the passing generations.  In the 19th Century, it was a sign of not having enough money to hire cooks and maids and nannies.  For the first half of the 20th, it was the idealized goal of American womanhood.  By 1970, it was a sign of not being able to — or allowed to — get a "real job."  Today, after three decades worth of women trying to be house-wife, mother, and employee, it is often viewed as a comparative haven.  But for the length of the debate, there has been one constant.  People have tried to figure out just what the "job" of housewife and mother would be worth in the real world of salaries and overtime.  Today, the latest answer: $131,471 dollars, annually.  That's the figure arrived at by, which provides compensation advice to companies.  There are some qualifiers: the figure is based on a mother who has two school-aged children and it categorizes her daily efforts into seven main job descriptions: Day-care teacher, chauffeur, housekeeper, cook, nurse, maintenance worker and CEO.  It also assumes a base salary of about $43,000 for a 40-hour week.  With 60 hours of overtime a week totaling another $88,000.  So checking your professional Mom schedule, be prepared for your 100-hour work week, six days of 15-hours each.  And of course, that lighter seventh day, just ten hours.  Benefits?  Well, at some point, you probably had to sleep with a co-worker or boss.


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