Private conversations with George W. Bush secretly taped by an old friend before he was elected president foreshadow some of his political strategies and appear to reveal that he acknowledged using marijuana, The New York Times reported Saturday. \nThe conversations were recorded by Doug Wead, a former aide to George W. Bush's father, beginning in 1998, when Bush was weighing a presidential bid, until just before the Republican National Convention in 2000, the Times said in a story posted on its Web site. \nThe tapes show Bush crafting a strategy for navigating the tricky political waters between Christian conservative and secular voters, repeatedly worrying that evangelicals would be angered by a refusal to bash gays and that secular Americans would be turned off by meetings with evangelical leaders. \nOn one tape, Bush explains that he told one prominent evangelical that he would not "kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?" \nIn early tapes, Bush dismisses the strength of John McCain for the nomination and expresses concern about rival Steve Forbes. He also praises John Ashcroft as a promising candidate for Supreme Court justice, attorney general or vice president. \nBush also criticizes then-Vice President Al Gore for admitting marijuana use and explains why he would not do the same. \n"I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions," he said, according to the Times. "You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried." \nAccording to the article, Wead played 12 of the tapes to a Times reporter. He said he recorded them because he viewed Bush as a historic figure. He is the author of a new book on presidential childhoods. \nThe White House did not deny the authenticity of the tapes. \n"The governor was having casual conversations with someone he believed was his friend," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, referring to Bush.
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South
Australia’s highest court yesterday dismissed an intellectual freedom claim by a university physicist who was fired in part over his public statements that scientists exaggerated damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Five High Court judges unanimously dismissed physicist Peter Ridd’s claim that he had been unlawfully dismissed in 2018 by James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. The court ruled that a clause in his employment contract that protected his intellectual freedom was not a “general freedom of speech” clause and did not protect him from being fired for serious misconduct under the university’s code of conduct. Australian Minister for Education Alan Tudge said
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