Recently in National News Category

Supreme Court to hear gay marriage cases

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On Friday the Supreme Court announced that it will hear cases challenging the state and federal laws that define marriage as being between a man and a woman, New York Times Reports.

One court case is from California and challenges weather same-sex marriages should hold the same constitutional right as heterosexual marriages. The other, from New York, challenges a federal law that denies benefits to gay marriages.

Gay marriage is legal, or on its way to becoming legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington.

A total of 31 states, though, have amended their constitutions to prohibit gay marriage.

The Supreme Court will be heard around March, with the decisions expected by late June.

Minnesota urged to stop required graduation exams

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Minnesota state education task force urged legislature to stop required graduation exams needed to obtain high school diploma on Tuesday, Education Week reports.

Required math, reading, and writing exams would come into play in 2015, when students who do not pass the exams would not graduate.

Now, students are required to pass the reading GRAD test to get a diploma, but have three chances to pass the math GRAD test. Even if students don't pass the math test, they can still graduate if they meet all other requirements.

In 2015 this will change, making passing all test required before a student could earn his or her high school diploma.

An analysis of test results suggest that because of this change, 31 percent of students state-wide will not be allowed to graduate, making the state education task force urge legislatures to end the high-stakes testing.

Bounce house related injuries soar

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The number of bounce-house related injuries have increased 15-fold from 1990 to 2010, according to nationwide study, LA Times reports.

The number of bounce-house related emergency room treatments has increased along with the popularity of the bounce-houses, from fewer than 1,000 in 1990 to almost 11,000 in 2010.

With these numbers, in 2010 approximately 31 children were admitted each day at a rate of one injury every 46 minutes, LA Times said.

Overall, the researchers found 64,657 bounce-house related injuries have been reported from 1990 to 2010.

The researchers said that these findings show the need for guidelines for safer bounce-house usage and improvements on the design of the bounce-houses to make them safer for children.

President Obama flew via helicopter into State Island on Thursday to meet with emergency relief leaders and families who were affected by Hurricane Sandy, New York Times reports.

Obama's visit to disaster-stricken Staten Island will include walking through damaged neighborhoods and visiting a disaster-recovery center run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (FEMA)

Of the 43 total deaths that New York City attributed to Hurricane Sandy, 23 occured in Staten Island.

The FEMA center has provided hot meals, nonperishable foods, clothing and shelter throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, helping approximately 1,500 people.

Conjoined twins successfully seperated

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Conjoined twins in Philadelphia were successfully separated on Wednesday after a 7-hour-long surgery, LA Times reports.

The 8-month-old twins, Allison and Amelia Tucker, were separated after a team of 40 surgeons preformed a 7-hour-long surgery.

The twin girls were born attached at the lower chest and abdomen and spent all of the eight months of their lives in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Their mother, Shellie Tucker, found out her daughters were conjoined 20 weeks into her pregnancy and started documenting her life on a blog through Caringbridge.com.

Before the twins went into surgery, Tucker posted, "At this point, it's in the surgeons's hands. We have done all a parent can do. "

It was the hospitals 21st time separating twins.


Supreme Court hears Federal eavesdropping case

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The Supreme Court considered on Monday if the federal government has the right to eavesdrop on international conversations in efforts to combat terrorism, Chicago Tribune reports.

The case, Clapper et al v. Amnesty International et al, will determine weather the eavesdropping could violate the protection against illegal search and seizure rights under the Fourth Amendment.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed in 2005 and allowed the federal government to wiretap international communications without warrant. The act was intended to help pursue terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The courts have argued that the wiretapping was not issued to directly harm an individual or institution.

Those not in favor of the eavesdropping say that they have taken steps to protect their international conversations, such as only meeting their sources or clients in person/

Iraq War Veteran Apologizes to civilian family

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In 2003, Lu Lobello, an Iraq War Veteran was a part of a shooting incident that killed Iraqi civilians, on Oct. 23 2012, he apologized to the family, NPR reports.

Nine years after the shooting incident that killed three members of the Kachadoorian family, Lobello apologizes to the members of the family who have immigrated to the United States.

Lobello, who sufferes from post traumatic stress disorder, could not stop thinking about this shooting incident, and after reading the New York Times article about the event, he decided he wanted to apologize to the family.

The article explained the confusion that the Kachadoorian family was facing when they drove into a firefight. The family was in three separate cars trying to flee after the house they had been staying in was bombed. Lobello and other soldiers yelled that if the cars didn't turn around they would shoot. When the cars didn't change direction, the drivers were shot and killed, and two others were injured. Lobello said that at the time this was protocol.

Lobello said he felt that "there was somebody out there who was greatly affected by our actions as a unit, and that we had a duty to them, to reach out to them, to find out how they were doing, and if I could do that I knew I'd feel better"

The meeting was described by NPR as unbearably tense until Lobello shared a cigarette with the husband of a member of the family.

After the meeting Lobello said, "Just letting me into their home and feeding me and meeting with me," it's as if "they were saying, 'We forgive you, and we understand.'"

Court rules GLBT community deserves special protection

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On Thursday the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the Defense Against Marriage Act unconstitutional, CNN reports.

The Defense Against Marriage Act that denies federal benefits for same-sex couples was deemed unconstitutional, making the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the first to say the GLBT community should be protected as a minority.

The court said the federal law violated the Constitutions equal protection law, and ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, 83, who was charged $363,000 in federal estate taxes after the death of her same-sex spouse.

Windsor sued the federal government after being denied spousal deductions after being with her late partner for 44 years, after their marriage in Canada.

The court upheld the lower courts decision saying that the LGBT community has been discriminated against for years, and deserves special protection.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments about the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case on Wednesday, beginning a new discussion about affirmative action in colleges, CBS News reports.

The Supreme court will hear an hour of arguments on both sides of the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case, potentially changing how colleges across the nation look at race when deciding admission.

Abagail Fisher, a 22-year-old white woman, sued the University of Texas claiming that she was denied admission because she is white.

The University said they automatically accept anyone who is in the top ten percent of their graduating class, and then fill in the rest of the incoming class to make create a "critical mass" of racial groups in the school.

This case will bring up the issue of weather it is constitutional to curb diversity in schools.

This is the first time an affirmative action case has been heard by the Supreme Court since the Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003. Affirmative action has been a part of national discussion since first appearing in the Supreme Court with Brown. v. Board of Education in 1950.

New DNA test for babies could speed diagnosis

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A new DNA test published Wednesday by can find genetic mutations in babies DNA in a couple of days, The New York Times reports.

Researchers at Children's Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., used new technology for genetic sequencing to find genetic mutations in young babies in order to diagnose disease quicker.

The DNA test can identify 3,500 out of 7,500 genetic diseases. Of the 3,500 diseases that can be found, 500 have known treatments, Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, the lead author of the study, stated.

Kingsmore said the test can also be useful in the diagnosis of genetic diseases without treatments, "You can stop doing additional testing or stop giving futile treatments. Parents can get counseling about whether this can recur in a future child and get advice about how intense treatments can be."

This method of diagnosis can costs $13,500, and is not yet covered by insurance, The New York Times reports.

Kingsmore said although expensive, the test can be cost effective because every day a baby spends in intensive care costs about $8,000. An early diagnosis can decrease the days a baby spends in intensive care, making the test pay for itself quickly.

Kingsmore also added that he hopes insurance will soon cover the cost and in the meantime is hoping philanthropists will help reduce the cost.

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