INGTON, Va. -- Cadets who are married or expecting newborns will be required to leave the state-supported Virginia Military Institute under a new policy set to take effect today.
Cadets would be allowed to finish the semester in which the marriage or parenthood was discovered, and the policy will not be enforced retroactively, school officials said.
"It's not a punitive thing at all," VMI spokesman Chuck Steenburgh said.
The policy applies to pregnant women and any man who impregnates a woman. But critics said the ban was unconstitutional and a clear violation of federal law, which forbids discrimination against pregnant women in academic programs.
"We have grave concerns about it as a legal matter, as a policy matter, as a matter of common sense," said Jocelyn Samuels, vice president and director of education at the National Women's Law Center in Washington.
Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, said the policy could face a legal challenge.
"Despite the fact that the words of the policy make it appear to apply equally to men and women, in reality women are far more likely to be affected than men," Willis said.
Jordan's Cabinet,prime minister resign
AMMAN, Jordan -- In a surprise move, Jordan's prime minister and his entire Cabinet resigned today, the second such shuffle since late October, government officials said.
Ali Abul-Ragheb tendered his resignation to King Abdullah II, and a new Cabinet was expected to be formed later in the day, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Palace officials said only three or four Cabinet positions would change.
The reshuffle comes one day before the king is scheduled to leave on a state visit to China.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the reshuffle, the third since Abul-Ragheb formed his Cabinet on June 19, 2000. But it was unexpected since the 26-member Cabinet endorsed a $3.4 billion budget on Sunday.
Proposal to changepassports angers China
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government's decision to add the word "Taiwan" to the island's passports has not only angered officials in Beijing, but drawn criticism from Taiwanese lawmakers -- even those in the president's ruling party.
The state-run China Daily quoted an anonymous official with the Taiwan Affairs Office as saying the passport decision was a sign that Taiwan was "inching toward independence."
Beijing considers Taiwan part of China and on numerous occasions has threatened to use force if Taiwan declares independence. The sides split amid civil war in 1949.
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian said Sunday that the passports should be changed because Taiwanese long have been insulted when customs officials mistook them for citizens of communist China. China's official name is the People's Republic of China, while Taiwan is called the Republic of China.
"We can no longer allow one passport to be confused with the other," he said Sunday. "We understand the difference, but foreign governments do not."
The decision was criticized by opposition lawmakers for going too far and by members of the president's political party for not going far enough.
Diplomats try to saveColombian peace talks
SAN VICENTE DEL CAGUAN, Colombia -- Ambassadors from 10 countries flew to guerrilla territory today in a last-ditch effort to salvage Colombia's peace process hours before troops were to retake a rebel safe haven.
The diplomats also met for nearly five hours Sunday with President Andres Pastrana and other top officials, seeking solutions to the most serious impasse in three years of peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Pastrana has given the FARC until 9:30 p.m. today to either come up with a viable offer for restarting peace talks or vacate the safe haven, a zone twice the size of New Jersey. That could lead to a surge in fighting in the country's 38-year conflict.
Before leaving Bogota for San Vicente del Caguan, a rebel-controlled ranching town in the southern plains, the envoys expressed hope of brokering a last-minute agreement to avert wider war.
"We are going to propose solutions to President Pastrana and to [FARC] commander Manuel Marulanda," French Ambassador Daniel Parfait told reporters. "We are not going with empty hands."

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