Recently in National News Category

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that female Wal-Mart employees can go forward with a class action lawsuit for sexual discrimination.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco gave a 6 to 5 decision in a decade-long battle over the right for the women to sue, the Washington Post reported. Wal-Mart said it will ask the Supreme Court to review the case.

The original 2001 lawsuit accuses Wal-Mart of paying women less than men, giving women smaller raises and promoting them less frequently, the New York Times Reported.

The class consists of women who worked at 3,4000 Wal-Mart stores since 2001, which some estimate to be over 1 million women, the Washington Post reported. Wal-Mart estimates the number to be roughly 500,000.

The plaintiffs said 65 percent of Wal-Marts hourly employees were women, but only 33 percent of the company's managers were women., the New York Times reported.

Major U.S, Airlines Will Not Charge For Carry-On Bags

Six Major U.S. Airlines have stated they do not have plans to charge passengers for carry-on bags.

The statements from the airlines come in response to a recent announcement by Spirit Airlines announcement that they will charge up to $45 for each carry-on bag, the Associated Press reported.

The six airlines, Sun Country, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways and Jetblue Airways, made their announcement in a form of a promise to Sen Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Associated Press reported.

Sen. Schumer is one of several lawmakers is one of seven lawmakers who are sponsoring a bill that will tax airlines if they charge a carry-on fee, the Star Tribune reported.

Ben Baldanza, the president and CEO of Spirit said that the company lowered its fares more than the price it will charge to carry-on luggage, the Star Tribune said.

West Virginia Mine Disaster Death Toll Reaches 49

There are no survivors from the Monday explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

The death toll marks this as the worst US mine disaster in 4 decades, the New York Times reported.

Seven bodies were removed immediately after the blast, and an effort is underway to ventilate the mine so the other bodies can be recovered, CNN reported.

Officials believe the explosion was caused by a methane buildup, the New York Times reported.

The West Virginia director of homeland security estimated it will take two days to recover the bodies, CNN said.

Supreme Court Justice Stevens May Announce Retirement

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is expected to announce his retirement in April.

Stevens told a CNN analyist on March 8 that he would decide if he would retire in about a month, CNN reported.

Another hint that Stevens will retire was fall hiring of one law clerk, when four are normal, CNN said. Retiring justices are only allowed one law clerk.

Democratic leaders hope that Stevens will remain a justice for another year to avoid a Republican filibuster of the nomination in response to their dissatisfaction with the recent health care bill, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Stevens is known for his liberal politics, and the Democratic influence in the Supreme Court will likely diminish when a replacement is selected, the Wall Street Journal said.

Obama Signs Health Care Bill

President Obama signed the health care bill Tuesday, reforming the country's health insurance practices.

Ending a year-long partisan battle, and decades of failed efforts to launch health care reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land, the Washington Post reported.

"The bill I'm signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see," Obama is quoted as saying in the New York Times.

Winning with a slim majority of votes, the health care overhaul received no Republican support, the Washington Post reported.

"This is a somber day for the American people," said House Republican Leader John Boehner, as quoted by the New York Times "By signing this bill, President Obama is abandoning our founding principle that government governs best when it governs closest to the people."

According to the New York Times, the new bill will require almost all Americans to have health insurance, and will provide subsidies to low and middle-income Americans to help cover the cost.

Health Care Vote Possible in the Next Week

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she believes that the House may pass health care reform within the week.

In light of speculation that a House vote is imminent, President Obama has delayed a trip to Asia until March 21, reported Business Week.

The Associated Press said that Pelosi has dismissed Republican skepticism that there will not be enough votes to pass the bill.

Pelosi is quoted by Business Week as saying that she's "delighted the president will be here for the passage of the bill."

Obama Administration Introduces Short Sale Program

A program will take effect on April 5 that will encourage homeowners at risk of defaulting on their mortgage to short sale their homes.

The program will pay the homeowner $1,500 and the servicing bank another $1,000 to coordinated a short sale, explained the New York Times.

Short sales occur when a home is sold for less than the amount owed on a mortgage, said the New York Times. Investment pools will receive more money in a sale than in a foreclosure, and homeowners will receive less damage on their credit rating.

The Huffington Post says over a million homes were lost to foreclosure last year, many because the homeowners had two mortgages.

An existing $75 million mortgage readjustment program, the Home Affordable Modification Program, introduced by the Obama administration has failed to help a single homeowner, reported the Huffington Post.

White House Social Secretary to Resign

The White House announced Friday that social secretary Desirée Rogers is stepping down.

Rogers, a friend of the Obamas, faced criticism throughout her tenure in the position, and was forced into taking a lower profile after three people crashed the first White House state dinner, said the Washington Post.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is quoted in a Reuters article as saying that "She's not been asked to leave."

Julianna Smoot, who served as the finance director for President Obama's campaign, has been announced as Rogers successor, Reuters reported.

Rogers said that she will return to the private sector, reported the Washington Post. White House rules forbid former employees from immediately becoming lobbyists.

Ron Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

Ron Paul won the annual straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Sunday.

According to MSNBC, Paul won with 31% of the vote, and Mitt Romney finished second with 22%. Romney won the poll each of the last three years.

The straw poll is an unofficial indicator of the current political forecast among the conservative activists attending the conference, explained the Washington Post.

Other conservatives though to be contenders for the presidential candidacy did less well; Sarah Palin received 7% of the vote, and Tim Pawlenty received just 6%, reported the Washington Post.

MSNBC believes the reason Paul did so well is because of the makeup of CPAC attendees; the conference caters to the young conservative supporters and activists who as a group favored Paul in the 2008 election.

Clinton Calls for Increased Action on Iran's Nuclear Programs

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for increased action too be taken against Iran for it's nuclear programs when she spoke at the US-Islamic World forum earlier in the week.

Clinton's call to action comes after an announcement from Iran that it has stepped up production of highly enriched uranium, reported CNN.

Clinton said that she was hoping to begin diplomatic relations with Iran, but that they will not be able to begin until Iran ends it's nuclear programs, said the BBC.

The BBC article said that while Iran claims it's nuclear program is for electricity generation, western countries believe that Iran is creating nuclear weapons. The article quotes Clinton as saying "The evidence is accumulating that that's exactly what they are trying to do."

CNN says that Clinton's speech and trip to the conference is Qatar is part of efforts on behalf on the United States to improve relations with Arab nations.

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