Recently in National Category

Gay marriage finally lands on Supreme Court floor

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Several gay marriage cases have been brought before the Supreme Court, and decisions are expected by summer, according to the Pioneer Press.

One of the two cases comes from California, will likely establish or reject a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in the state, or nationally, according to the Star Tribune. The other case, from New York, will challenge the federal law preventing same-sex couples from receiving the same benefits of heterosexual couples, even in states that recognize the marriage, according to the Pioneer Press.

While the trend seems to be an increase in support for legalizing same-sex marriage, many supporters are nervous about the issue being in front of the Supreme Court. Nine states now allow same-sex marriage, but 41 still do not, and 30 of those have a ban written into the state constitutions, according to the Huffington Post.

"Mindful of history, I can't help but be concerned," said Mary Bonauto, director of the Civil Rights Project at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, according to the Huffington Post.

Casper, Wyo police are calling Casper College teacher James Krumm a hero for saving his students after his 25-year-old son attacked him in his classroom Friday, according to the Star Tribune. Christopher Krumm of Vernon, Conn. shot his father with a bow and arrow, stabbed himself, and then fatally stabbed his father, according to NBC. Both men were dead or dying when police arrived, but all of the student had already escaped.

Before driving to the college, Christopher Krumm had fatally attacked his fathers live-in girlfriend outside of their home. The body of Heidi Arnold, 42, lay outside the home for 11 hours, NBC quotes neighbor Heather Maier as saying.

"He told me his dad gave him Asperger's (syndrome), that his dad shouldn't have passed it on," said the younger Krumm's neighbor in Conn., according to NBC. "He said his dad should be castrated. I didn't know him that well, he just kind of said it out of nowhere, so that kind of threw me off a little."

President Obama's nomination of UN Ambassador Susan Rice has caused many key Republican leaders to speak out, according to the Baltimore Sun. Most of the objections to her nominations relate to her interviews after the September 11th attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

Immediately following the attack, Rice was interviewed by a variety of news outlets, but had been assumed to be speaking according to a prescribed set of talking points. According to the Star Tribune, as more details came to light, it seemed that much of the additional information she had provided was false. According to NBC, many are also accusing Rice of being responsible for many security failures in Africa while she served in the State Department as head of the African region. A series of events, like the 1998 bombing of two other embassies.

Ruth Marcus, columnist for the Washington Post, believes there are subconscious gender-based objections coming into play as well for some of the primary objectors. She quotes Rice's colleague David Rothkopf called her "hard-headed and prickly," but added, "The nonsense that she is somehow not qualified for the job is indefensible. . . .As for her temperament, raising it is pure sexism. Why is she called abrasive, when clearly, similar toughness was hailed in our most powerful and respected secretaries of state -- from Henry Kissinger to George Shultz to James Baker?"

With the looming "fiscal cliff," the controversy around this nomination has even broader implications, according to the Baltimore Sun. Not even into his second term, the president is being forced to exercise the already limited "political capital" for a nomination that has never before been such a point of division between the parties.

As Senator, Warren is Loved and Feared

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Come inauguration Day in 2013, women will for the first time make up one-fifth of the senate, according to the Washington Post. While this is still a very low percentage compared to the female population they represent.

According to the New York Times, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will have a controversial role in the development of urban jobs. As a nation, our unemployment improving sidelines.

Prior to her campaign for senate, Warren became a national name for her work for Wall Street regulations and championing the middle class against big corporations, according to the New York Times. She became a hero, speaking the truth and not showing fear in the face of bigger political powers.

"Elizabeth Warren is a doer," said Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for oversight of the bank bailouts. "I think she would suffocate if she went down to the Senate and kept her head down and played nice and made compromises."

A nanny in an affluent Chicago suburb has been arrested for the fatal stabbing of two children, including her own son, according to the New York Times. After changing her story to police several times, Elzbieta Plackowska, 40, admitted she killed her son for revenge against her husband and the other child she was babysitting was a witness.

In both cases, according to the New York Times, the children were discovered when their mother returned home. In the Illinois case, the doors were locked and the mother went in search of the nanny and children before calling police. In the New York case, the nanny tried to kill herself as well, and was found bleeding out with the children in a bathroom of the house.

Both nannies had been with the family for at least a few months, and were regarded by friends, family, and neighbors to be unremarkable and incapable of committing such a crime.

According to CNN, the nanny responsible for the New York killings was treated as a member of he family, with her employers even going to meet her family in her native Dominican Republic.

Though the events are not related, the circumstances have forced many parents to reconsider their employment of nannies as constant caregivers for their children, according to CNN.

"It's a tough call," said Jasmarin Rothbarb, who lives nearby and often passes the building in New York where the murders occurred, according to CNN. "You trust these people with your most precious joys. I think I see more mothers out today than nannies. It's a horrible thing."

7.7 Earthquake Strikes Off Canada's West Coast

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A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of Canada late Saturday, triggering tsunami warnings around the Pacific. Several aftershocks were felt, including on as large as 4.6, according to Reuters.

Emergency management officials in British Columbia said that some power was out in certain areas, but no major damage was reported.

Tsunami advisories and warnings were put into place in the coastal areas of B.C. and in Hawaii. Evacuations in Hawaii began shortly after, but were eventually cancelled as more evidence was found that it would be less severe than originally thought, according to CNN.

Gunman Kills 3, Injures 4 in Wisc.

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A lone gunman killed three people and injured four more before killing himself in a salon in Brookfield, Wisconsin late Sunday morning. Employees said he entered the salon just before 11 a.m. and was asked if he was going to rob the store, according to CNN.

The body of Radcliffe Haughton, 45, was found in the salon with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The first reports listed the three deaths, but Haughton's body was found later. An improvised explosive device inside the salon delayed the investigation, according to CNN.

The shooting is being investigated as a possible domestic-related incident, according to Thomas Ahern, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The president was informed of the incident around 12:30 p.m. but was assured it was not a terrorist-related incident.

According to the LA Times, an unidentified petitioner filed restraining order against Haughton in early October, and on Thursday he received a no-contact order and instructions to turn his weapons over to the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

According to the LA Times, the suspect's father in Florida believed Haughton's wife may have worked in the salon. His two daughters were found near his home in Brown Deer, but not much more information was given.

Anti-Bullying Event Draws Criticism from Christian Group

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Mix-it-Up Day has been an annual event for 11 years, encouraging children to sit by students they don't normally talk to, but this year a Christian group claims the program has a homosexual agenda, according to the New York Times.

The Southern Poverty Law Center started the program as a way of breaking up normal cliques and to help prevent bullying, inspired in part by the shootings in Columbine and other schools around the country. In years past, more than 2,500 schools across the country have participated. This year, however, more than 200 have cancelled the event. Though not all have expressly stated the reasoning, many believe this trend to be linked to an email sent out by the American Family Association earlier this month, accusing the SPLC of using this event to push acceptance of homosexuality as a norm.

"Anti-bullying legislation is exactly the same," said Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the association, according to the New York Times. "It's just another thinly veiled attempt to promote the homosexual agenda."

The SPLC does believe in equal treatment for the GLBT community, but the activities for Mix-It-Up Day have no specific reference to gay or lesbian students. According to New York Magazine, the only goals listed on the civil rights group's website are to "reduce prejudice" and "build an inclusive and welcoming school community."

Parents the subscribe to the American Family Association email were encouraged not only to keep their children home on October 30th, the planned day for the event, but to contact school administrators and tell them exactly why their child would not be present.

According to the New York Times, Maureen Costello, the director of the center's Teaching Tolerance project, said the AFA's email completely misrepresents the organization and the event itself. She also said that once parents understood the true goals of Mix-It-Up Day, the majority were once again willing to allow their child to participate.

A former drama teacher at a Faribault prep school has been charged with 17 cases of sexual misconduct and molestation of former students, according to KSTP.

According to the Star Tribune, Lynn Seibel was fired in 2003 after child pornography was discovered on his computer. Complaints of misconduct had been filed as early as 2001, but no outside authorities were ever notified.

An investigation began after a young man told a community corrections agent with whom he was working that Seibel had forced him and other students to perform sexual acts in front of him. SInce then, several other young people have come forward.

According to KSTP, Seibel has now admitted to touching several of the students in a dorm room, among other charges listed in the criminal complaint. Police still expect more alleged victims to come forward.

Seibel is currently being held in Los Angeles for charges unrelated to this investigation.

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