April 23rd, 2010
08:15 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Nick Clegg

Most watchers of last week's opening debate - the first televised in British electoral history - scored the contest as a surprise victory for Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats over Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the incumbent in the May 6 election and leader of the Labour Party,  and Conservative leader David Cameron.

Time magazine reports that Clegg's debating prowess has resulted in "Cleggmania" across the UK, propelling the 43-year-old "from the relative obscurity of third-party politics to top the ratings as Britain's most-popular political leader since Winston Churchill."

According to Time, Clegg wants to recalibrate the Washington-London relationship. He said, "We can grow up a bit, repatriate foreign policy. We don't need to be a satellite of the United States."

At Thursday's second debate, London's Daily Mail news paper reports, "Nick Clegg developed a case of the sweaty Bettys."

Time: The Liberal Democrats shake up the UK elections

CNN: Brown attacks rivals in UK election debate

Daily Mail: Aggro, thrusts, palpable hits and moments of high comedy

Franklin Graham

The U.S. Army rescinded its invitation to the evangelist for the upcoming National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon over controversial remarks he made about Islam.

"True Islam cannot be practiced in this country," Graham told CNN's Campbell Brown in December. "You can't beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they've committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries."

Graham later tried to temper his remarks by saying that he had Muslim friends. However, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham has a history of comments that bothered the Pentagon. Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, for instance, Graham called Islam a "very evil and wicked religion."

Graham, who said a prayer at the 2001 inauguration of President George W. Bush, said he regretted the Army's decision but stood by his comments.

"I don't like the way they treat women, the way they treat minorities. I just find it horrific. But I love the people of Islam," he said, adding some of his work has been in Muslim nations. For instance, Samaritan's Purse, the international charity that he heads, works with Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

The Army, which oversees the National Day of Prayer ceremonies at the Pentagon, feared that if Graham spoke there, Islamic militants would publicize his comments, potentially fueling tensions in Muslim nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are deployed.

CNN: Graham disinvited from prayer event over Islam comments

Tony Chavonne

The mayor of Fayetteville, North Carolina, wants to establish Soc Trang in southern Vietnam as a sister city, leading to possible visits and cultural exchanges and also to send a healing message.

WRAL-TV in Raleigh reports that during the Vietnam era, anti-war protesters called the city "Fayettenam" because Fort Bragg, which is mostly located in Fayetteville, trained some 200,000 soldiers.

"I don't think there's any city in America that is more closely aligned with Vietnam and that period in our history and that war," Chavonne told the station Wednesday.

But Don Talbot, a former Fayetteville city councilman who served six years in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart, apparently is not pleased with the mayor's proposal.

He wrote in The Fayetteville Observer, "Who is the mayor referring to when he says 'we' must heal? It certainly is not for us Vietnam veterans. We have moved on. Our children have their own children now, giving us the chance for lives filled with the laughter of grandchildren.

"Why such efforts to resurrect a war better left behind us?"

WRAL-TV: Mayor wants to set up sister city in Vietnam

The Fayetteville Observer: Honor veterans in a better way

Jackie Townsend

The former NASA instrument manager helped keep the Hubble Space Telescope in perfect working condition as it sailed around Earth some 300 miles away. She worked on Hubble for 12 years.

First, she figured out how the materials used to build the telescope could last longer in space. Next, how to keep the telescope spotless, so the images remained crystal clear. Then, Townsend worked on the Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 - one of the cameras that allow scientists to record what the telescope is seeing.

For 20 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has given scientists an unobstructed view of the universe. The first space-based optical telescope, at 24,500 pounds, was launched on April 24, 1990. According to NASA, Hubble has taken some 500,000 images of more than 25,000 celestial objects while traveling at 17,500 mph around the planet.

Townsend, 42, at one time was a psychology student, a farmhand, a bookstore saleswoman and a secretary. But she eventually earned a degree in physics.

She told CNN on Thursday, "For me, the images from Hubble are so breathtaking and stunning because that's the nature of the universe. Hubble makes it possible for humans to appreciate it for the first time."

Nowadays she's at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, investigating how NASA can build the next space telescope.

NASA: Instrument Manager Jacqueline Townsend

NASA: Hubble Space Telescope

Nathan McCann

The assistant principal at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, Arizona, really gets kids. McCann, 38, has been at the high school for four years and watches over curriculum and instruction. The school has 1,750 students.

McCann told CNN, "I try to give students a voice. We're only going to offer four sections of physics if there's a demand for it, if there's student interest in four sections. We're not going to force them into physics if they want to take biology or earth science. All my efforts are geared so we have an individual educational plan for every kid at Flowing Wells."

McCann spent Thursday on Capitol Hill talking to congressional staffers about how complex schools are as organizations, so, he says, one-size-fits-all solutions probably won't work.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled to address the National Association of Secondary School Principals on Friday in Arlington, Virginia. McCann, the 2010 National Assistant Principal of the Year, will be honored at the awards dinner.

National Association of Secondary School Principals: Assistant Principal of the Year winner

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Sarah

    "You can't beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they've committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries."

    If you read about the true Islam, you would see black and white that Islam promotes none of what you've mentioned! It would then by hypocritical for the religion to mean "peace". Just because some lunatics do some of those things and they just happen to be Muslim, it doesn't mean its the religion. Christianity in its 10 commandments says Don't Commit Adultery. So when I see a Christian doing that, do I automatically assume that the religion promotes it? Ofcourse not.

    Culture is different from religion.

    April 23, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Marco

    Nice reply Sarah. However, Muslims who do not practice Sharia have a responsibility to organize and speak out against such obvious and corrupt ploys at the exploitation of others for personal gain. If they don't, human history has shown, quite clearly, what will happen to even the innocent of the same religion/race...high yield eradication or containment.

    You'd think people would learn, but I guess it's hard when most don't bother or are prevented from doing so.

    Culture has always suffered for the sins of its corrupt religion.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Alvaro Pacheco

    Religion can act as a focal point of social activity. It can be used as a guide to a better life. . Internally and externally religion has been used to manipulate people into actions that are aligned with a power agenda. And of course this power agenda could go against some of the very tenets promoted by the specific religion. One has to be able to assess, both the religion in question and its leadership which consequently gives direction to the followers.

    April 23, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |