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Sen. Ensign Announces Resignation Date

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., announced Thursday he would step down from his position next month in the midst of an ethics investigation.

The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating an affair between Ensign and his former political treasurer, Cynthia Hampton. Her husband, Doug, also worked with Ensign in his legislative office.

Both were dismissed in 2008, but Ensign and his family provided the Hamptons nearly $100,000 and assistance in finding new jobs in Las Vegas.

The committee has been investigating the case for over 22 months and plans to complete its work in a timely fashion despite Ensign's resignation, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.

Politico reports Ensign's resignation means the committee cannot bring any formal charges against him, but can refer it to criminal investigation to the Justice Department if it so chooses.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is allowed to appoint a Republican to fill Ensign's seat until his term ends.

Ensign was not planning on running for re-election, so Sandoval's appointment will influence next year's election. The New York Times is reporting a likely choice is Rep. Dean Heller, who was already running for the seat.

Search for 20-year-old Tennessee Woman Continues

Authorities continued to search for a 20-year-old nursing student in Parsons, Tenn. on Friday until heavy rains called for a temporary halt.

Holly Bobo has been missing since Wednesday after her brother witnessed her follow a man in camouflage into the western Tennessee woods. He mistook the man for his sister's boyfriend.

ABC News reports police currently have no leads as to who the abductor may be.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent John Mehr said authorities do not think she went willingly.

"We feel she was in fear of her life, so she was complying with his commands," Mehr said, according to USA Today.

TBI, local police and volunteers have been looking for Bobo. Her lunchbox and cellphone have reportedly been found.

CBS News reports the search was temporarily stopped as heavy rains moved into western Tennessee. A brief break in the rain allowed authorities to continued searching, only until it started again.

Firework Explosion Kills 5 in Hawaii

Five people died in an explosion Friday in a storage unit holding fireworks and remains on fire.

Four of the men died at the scene while one died at a local hospital's burn center after suffering burns on 100% of his body.

Three of the men that died on the scene were in their 20s and one man was in his 50s, according to WTXF-TV. The man who died at the hospital was 25.

The storage unit belonged to Donaldson Enterprises Inc., a explosives company that was contracted to stabilize and destroy fireworks that had been seized as evidence by police.

CBS News reports the heat within in the bunker set off more fireworks several hours after the explosion, making it too dangerous for the fire department to enter.

"There are still explosions that are occurring," Hono­lulu fire Capt. Terry Seelig said.

Two of the dead bodies were pulled from the fire as they were 20 feet from the entrance. The Honolulu Police Department's Special Services Division used motorized devices to try to locate the two remaining inside, who are believed to be at the far end, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

"This is a very tragic situation," Seelig said.

Va. Tech Fined $55,000 Following 2007 Shootings

The U.S. Department of Education fined Virginia Tech $55,000 Tuesday for not notifying students about the on-campus shootings in 2007 quickly enough.

Virginia Tech was found to have violated two requirements of the Clery Act, in which universities are federally required to report crimes in a timely manner. Each fines equal $27,500.

"We believe that Virginia Tech administrators acted appropriately in their response to the tragic events of April 16, 2007, based on the best information then available to them," said Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations at Virginia Tech. The school plans to appeal the fine.

According to USA Today, the shootings began at 7:15 a.m. that day when Cho Seung-Hui killed two students in a residence hall. The university did not alert students about the shootings until nearly 9:30 a.m and did so through an email.

The Education Department said Virginia Tech's initially notification was still insufficient, as it did not state that a murder had happened or that the shooter was not in custody.

By about 9:40 a.m., Cho walked into another university building and went on a rampage, killing 30 students and himself. Virginia Tech sent out a more severe warning at 9:50 a.m. through email, phone and loudspeaker, according to The New York Times.

By the end, 33 people had been killed, including Cho.

"They should accept the fact that they made a mistake," Holly Sherman said to The Roanoke Times upon hearing Virginia Tech plans to appeal the fine. Her daughter, Leslie, was one of the victims in the shooting.

"I'm not saying they had anything malicious in their minds, but they were neglectful. They delayed until it was too late because they didn't want bad press," she said. "If they accepted their faults, I wouldn't be feeling the same resentment."

Maine Gov. Asks for Mural Removal in State Building

The new Republican governor of Maine has announced the removal a mural depicting images from the state's labor history, including workers' strikes, from the Department of Labor.

Gov. Paul LePage has cited that the images are not consistent with the department's pro-business goals.

The 36-foot mural is displayed in the building's lobby and features 11 panels that include images of a 1937 shoe mill strike, the iconic "Rosie the Riveter" and a 1986 paper mill strike, according to the Associated Press. The mural was erected in 1998.

LePage asked for the mural's removal following several complaints from business officials about the message that it implies of pro-labor and not focused on job creators.

"We want to make sure we're not sending a message swaying one side or the other and this is a mural that sides with the labor movement," LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett told "We're making sure we represent all sides."

Opposition of LePage's decision has emerged as groups view it as an anti-union or -working class action.

"People elected Governor LePage, hoping he would create jobs and not get involved in the interior decoration of state offices" Maine People's Alliance spokesman Mike Tipping said, according to the New York Times.

Others have argued LePage is looking to erase Maine's labor history by removing the mural.

"The governor understands the value of history," Bennet said. "That's why we're exploring placing the mural in the State of Maine Museum."

LePage is also looking to rename several conference rooms in the department, including one named after Cesar Chavez.

Four Injured in Factory Explosion

A glue plant exploded Sunday night in a northeastern Massachusetts town, injuring four people and potentially leading to chemical contamination in the area.

The plant was part of an industrial complex located in Middleton, Mass. The building belonged to Bostik Inc., a plastic and glue manufacturing company.

The identity of the four individuals remains unknown, but officials have confirmed that they were plant employees, according to The Boston Globe. None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening.

Environmental and hazardous-material teams were called into the examine the air and water quality following the blast. Authorities said there was no issue of contamination for nearby residents to be concerned about.

"There is no danger at this time for individuals who live in this area," Marshal Stephen Coan told the Associated Press.

According to the Boston Herald, local residents felt the explosion from their homes.

"Initially there was an explosion that many people thought was an earthquake," Peter Judge, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the explosion.

North Carolina Population Increases Nearly 20%

North Carolina's population grew nearly twice as much as the national population did over the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state's population grew 18.5 percent over the past 10 years, compared to the 9.7 percent growth in the entire United States.

This recent jump pushed North Carolina one place up on the most populous state rankings - ahead of New Jersey - to become the 10th in the country.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the state has increased the number of both high-skilled and low-skilled jobs, leading to its increase.

It also cites the low housing costs and favorable climate as other reasons.

While all demographics saw growth, North Carolina's Hispanic population increased 111 percent, from 400,000 to 800,120. The black population and white population grew 18 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Durham are cities where the white population is the minority, according to USA Today. Raleigh is the only one with a white majority.

Charlotte still remains the state's most populous city after a 35.2 percent growth, totaling 731,424 residents.

Providence Sends Pink Slips to All Teachers

The school board of Providence, R.I. voted to send all of its 1,926 teachers termination notices on Thursday as a measure to improve the city's budget.

State law requires that teachers be informed of potential dismissals by March 1, so the vote faced an upcoming deadline that Supt. Tom Brady and the school board had to meet.

Mayor Angel Taveras hoped to ease the concerns of teachers and citizens on Friday. According to The New York Times, Taveras said that an "overwhelming majority" would not actually lose their jobs.

Providence is expected to close some of its schools by September and only teachers at those schools would be terminated.

The Providence Journal reports that Brady clarified in an email that "this action gives the School Board the right to dismiss teachers as necessary, but not all teachers will actually be dismissed at the end of the school year."

This flexibility is expected to help city officials prepare for the coming year's budget.

The school district itself is dealing with a $40 million deficit, while Providence anticipates facing more that the $57 million shortfall that it did a year ago, according to CNNMoney.

The city's contracts with the teachers' union expire June 30, and both parties look to begin negotiations soon.

Obama Dines with Zuckerberg, Jobs, Others

President Barack Obama had dinner in San Francisco with several prominent members of the technology community on Thursday night.

In attendance were Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Apple Inc's chief executive Steve Jobs, Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, among others from the Silicon Valley area.

CNN reports that there was some speculation as to whether or not Jobs would be in attendance, given his recent leave of absence due to medical reasons.

Nevertheless, Obama's meeting was to discuss matters such as investments in technology, his recent budget proposal and improving the economy. Reuters reports that these are in interest for the upcoming 2012 presidential elections.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that Obama will also address elements such as development, research and education with the executives, according to CBS News.

CBS News also reported that Obama will go to Hillsboro, Oregon on Friday to visit an Intel facility to continue his tour of technologically important areas.

Pair of Senators won't run for Reelection

Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Jim Webb, D-Va., both announced that they will not run for reelection in 2012, thus leaving their seat open.

Kyl has served as senator since 1995, for a total for three terms. Webb will be stepping down after only fulfilling one term following a 2006 election.

Both open seats will leave the incumbent party scrambling for a replacement while the opposition will look to take advantage.

CNN reports that Rep. Jeff Blake, R-Ariz., is a leading candidate to run for Kyl's seat. Kyl also serves as Senate Minority Whip, the position of assistant Republican leader - a position that will be fill by an already-elected member of the Senate.

Democratic leaders hoped that Webb would run again in a state that they were feeling insecure about, according to the Washington Post, especially following Virginia's recent gubernatorial and congressional elections that went for Republicans. Republican George Allen, Webb's opposition in 2006, is expected to contend for the seat for the GOP.

Both cited an interest to move past politics in their reasoning for not seeking reelection. Kyl said he had a pretty clear idea he would not run following his 2006 victory, reported CNN; Webb wanted to explore possibilities in the private sector, according to the Washington Post.

The 2012 Senate election will coincide with the presidential election as well.

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