Dissident again calls Smith's panel

WASHINGTON - For the second time in less than two weeks, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has spoken by phone to a U.S. congressional hearing and alleged persecution of his relatives.

Chen complained Tuesday that his elder brother and nephew had been beaten by Chinese authorities since Chen fled house arrest in late April. His call to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on human rights from the Beijing hospital was his second in 12 days. Both hearings focused on the fate of Chen and his family, chaired by Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, a fierce critic of China and its one-child policy.

Smith and the witnesses who were testifying gathered on the dais and huddled around the microphone to listen to Chen's crackling voice for about 25 minutes and pay tributes to him.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday that U.S. visas for Chen, his wife, and children were ready for them to travel to America once Beijing gives the green light.

- AP

Changes planned for Ike memorial

WASHINGTON - Architect Frank Gehry and his design team proposed changes Tuesday to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial planned for a site near the National Mall after hearing complaints from the former president's family for months.

The family had said the design focused too much on Eisenhower's Kansas roots, rather than his accomplishments.

Members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission held a public meeting to review changes and said they were nearing a resolution to seek final approval of Gehry's concept.

Gehry has proposed a memorial park that would be framed with large metal tapestries showing a Kansas landscape to evoke Eisenhower's boyhood home. At the center of the park, Gehry is replacing large images in stone reliefs with statues standing about 9 feet tall, showing Ike as a World War II hero and as president.

- AP

Like her sibling, absolutely perfect

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Neither bad weather nor car accident nor even feeling sick could stop Gennesaret Sealy from attending school every single day, nor could they stop her brother before her.

Sealy is set to graduate June 5 from the Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School in Montgomery with a perfect-attendance record since she entered kindergarten 13 years ago. Principal Sylvia Goshton said Sealy has not missed a day or been tardy in high school. School records show she did not miss a day in kindergarten, elementary school, or junior high school either.

That includes a time during high school when family car problems forced her to take a city bus to and from school and the day that she and her mother were in a car crash on the way to school.

Attending school every day is a family tradition for the Sealys. Gennesaret's brother, Sosthenes, also never missed a day of school from K-12. He graduated in 2007 and is near graduation at Montgomery's Faulkner University.

- AP