Recently in National News Category

By Kelsey Lund

Tennessee investigators are asking for help in their search for the 20-year-old nursing student missing since Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Mark Gwyn, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday asking for more information to help assist with the 250 leads the investigators were checking in the disappearance of Holly Bobo, Reuters reported.

Bobo, the cousin of country singer Whitney Duncan, was last seen in Decatur County by her brother, Reuters reported.

Bobo's brother said he saw Bobo being lead into the woods by a man wearing camouflage clothing, at the time he assumed it was her boyfriend, CNN reported. He called the police after later finding blood outside, Reuters reported.

The Tennessee governor authorized $50,000 to be added to the $25,000 award offered for leads that will assist in finding Bobo, CNN reported.

Mitt Romney enters Republican presidential race

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By Kelsey Lund

The former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, entered the race for the 2012 Republican nomination on Monday with a short video, the Guardian reported.

Romney ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 unsuccessfully, but is now a front-runner in the 2012 candidacy race scoring the highest in the Republican opinion polls, Reuters reported.

Romney criticized the Obama administration for its inability to lower unemployment rates, the Guardian said.

In his announcement video, Romney said his own experiences as a businessman are better suited for fixing the country's unemployment problem, the Guardian reported.

As a Mormon, Romney lost votes in 2008 from the large evangelical Christian voting base, Reuters reported.

He has also recently been criticized by some Republicans for the healthcare program he supported in Massachusetts that inspired Obama's national healthcare plan, Reuters reported.

Obama announces his re-election bid

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By Kelsey Lund

President Barack Obama formally began his re-election bid on Monday with an email and an online video, becoming the first official candidate of the 2012 election, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Obama's announcement was aimed toward his grassroots supporters from his first campaign, the Los Angeles Times said.

The video on Obama's website focused on everyday voters voicing their hopes and concerns for the 2012 campaign, a restrained message during a time with a lot of tension on Capitol Hill as the budget negotiations stall in Congress, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Obama said in his email to supporters that campaigning would not detract from his presidential duties, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"We're doing this now because the politics we believe in does not start with expensive TV ads or extravaganzas, but with you--with people organizing block-by-block, talking to neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And that kind of campaign takes time to build," he wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Obama is planning several fundraisers in Chicago, San Francisco, the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and New York with tickets as high as $35,800 to attend, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Before Obama can raise money, however, he must file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, which he is expected to do Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Obama intends to cut oil imports by one-third

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By Kelsey Lund

President Obama called for a one-third slash in oil imports to the United States by 2021 on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Obama outlined a plan for increased gas and oil drilling in the U.S., higher standards for fuel efficient vehicles, and more biofuel options at a time when fuel prices have been rising, the Washington Times reported.

Critics of Obama's speech at Georgetown University said the president was not specific enough about his plan to make the necessary changes in Congress, the Washington Times reported.

Out of the nearly 20 million barrels a day the U.S. consumed in 2008, almost 11 million were imported, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Biden calls for increased college completion rates

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By Kelsey Lund

Vice President Joe Biden announced a plan on Tuesday to make the United States the global leader in college completion rates by 2020, Reuters reported.

During an education summit in Washington, Biden introduced a "college completion tool kit" offering ideas to help state governors improve their college graduation rates, providing financial incentives for colleges to do so, the Washington Post reported.

Biden offered seven strategies to increase post-secondary completion rates, emphasizing the need to concentrate on college completion instead of just high school completion for students, Reuters said.

The college completion tool kit offers ideas to make the transition from high school to college simpler by altering high school graduation standards to align with college entrance standards, Reuters reported.

The United States is tied for ninth place in the world for college graduation rates, the Washington Post reported. In order to reach number one, the U.S. would have to increase its completion rate by 50 percent, or 8 million more students, the Washington Post reported.

By Kelsey Lund

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denied Senate Democrats' request to meet near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to negotiate the bill threatening public workers' collective bargaining rights, CNN reported.

Sen. Mark Miller sent a letter to Walker requesting to meet at the state border and "formally resume serious discussions as soon as possible" with him and the 13 other Democrats who fled to Illinois more than two weeks ago to stall the bill, the New York Times reported.

Walker said the letter was "ridiculous," according to CNN.

Talks were held last week signifying the possibility of a compromise between the Senate's Democrats and Republicans, the New York Times said. Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican majority leader in the senate, met with some of the Democrats in what he said were productive meetings, CNN reported. Although, Fitzgerald said their progress was repeatedly coupled with setbacks, CNN reported.

Senate Republicans approved measures to fine the Democrats $100 daily until they return, as well as authorized to have police arrest the Senate Democrats if seen in Wisconsin, the New York Times reported.

By Kelsey Lund

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 on Wednesday that protesting at military funerals was a constitutional right of free speech, BBC reported.

Albert Snyder sued the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. in 2006 after they picketed at his son's funeral to draw attention to their belief that God was punishing U.S. soldiers because the country was tolerating homosexuality, the Associated Press reported.

The Supreme Court took the case after its appeals, and ruled "to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, according to BBC.

Justice Samuel Alito, the lone judge ruling in favor of Snyder, said the church could have demonstrated their beliefs in a different way, the AP said.

"It does not follow, however, that they may intentionally inflict severe emotional injury on private persons at a time of intense emotional sensitivity by launching vicious verbal attacks that make no contribution to public debate," Alito wrote, according to the AP.

Snyder won $5 million at his first trial when he sued the church for intentionally inflicting emotional distress, but the federal appeals court in Virginia and then the Supreme Court, threw out this judgment, BBC said.

Arizona lawmakers push for state gun

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By Kelsey Lund

The Arizona legislature moved forward on Wednesday to make the Colt revolver the official state gun, angering some who think the state has more important budget issues to consider, NPR reported.

The state Senate Appropriations Committee voted 9-4 to continue the bill, picking the Colt revolver because of its significance when Arizona was settled, the Toronto Star said.

Less than two months ago a mass shooting in Tucson killed six and wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, causing gun-control supporters to ask for stricter gun laws, NPR said. Arizona has been criticized in the past for its loose gun laws, the Toronto Star reported.

Hildy Saizow, the president of Arizonans for Gun Safety, does not support the bill, saying the state should work on stopping gun violence, NPR reported.

Supporters in the state Legislature said they sponsored the bill because it honors a gun that was a monumental piece of Arizona's heritage, NPR said.

New White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was not new to the briefing room where he held his first press briefing Wednesday.

Carney was a White House correspondent for Time magazine before becoming Vice President Joe Biden's press secretary for the past two years, the New York Post reported.

Carney overall kept the briefing on track, managing to avoid direct answers to tougher questions, CNN said.

He sidestepped answers to questions about a possible U.S. response to Iranian warships in the Suez Canal, as well as whether Obama would reduce Social Security benefits, the New York Post said.

Carney stayed focused on Obama's budget proposal, and the need for non-violence in protests in the Middle East, according to CNN.

After the briefing, some reporters asked what Carney thought of his first day, CNN reported.

"It was better than I ever could have imagined," Carney said. "I like it up here."

$53 billion high-speed rail project in the works

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By Kelsey Lund

Vice President Joe Biden announced a $53 billion high-speed rail project Tuesday intended to boost job growth and upgrade infrastructure.

The project will take place over the next six years, with $8 billion to be put aside in this year's budget for passenger-rail projects, the Wall Street Journal reported.

President Barack Obama has already spent $10.5 billion on high-speed rail expansion since he entered office in 2008, CNN said. Obama said in January's State of the Union address that his goal is to provide 80 percent of Americans with access to high-speed rail within 25 years, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Republicans said rail projects were wasteful spending, arguing that rail construction should be canceled in order to reduce the deficit, the Wall Street Journal said.

Biden said in a written statement, "there are key places where we cannot afford to sacrifice as a nation--one of which is infrastructure," according to CNN.

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