Recently in National News Category

Florida to host python-hunting contest

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced a Burmese python hunting contest to keep the python population under control, CNN reported.

Wildlife officials have organized the contest in hopes that the public would see the threat this nonnative species has on the Ecosystem, Fox News reported. Data will also be collected to further investigate the python population.

"We are hoping to gauge from the python challenge the effectiveness of using an incentive-based model as a tool to address this problem," Florida Wildlife Commission spokeswoman Carli Segelson told CNN.

A prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the person who kills the most pythons, CNN reported. Another $1,000 will go to the person who kills the longest.

The Burmese pythons have destroyed almost 99 percent of the fox, bobcat, and possum populations near the Everglades, according to Slate. They are native to Southeast Asia, but have been brought over to the United States and sold as pets.

According to Fox News, it is currently against federal law to import or sell Burmese pythons.

The challenge begins Jan. 12 for all Floridian permit holders, Fox News reported. Participants will have to pay a $25 entry fee and take an online training course before participating, Slate reported.

Confidential documents found among parade confetti

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Shredded confidential police documents were discovered within the confetti thrown at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York, CNN reported.

The confetti contained social security numbers, police detail assignments, and incident reports that were all visible on the strips that were thrown, Time reported. Some strips also contained information from presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign.

Saul Finkelstein, the eyewitness who alerted the police, said he found police documents in still Turing up on Monday morning, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"There were shredded papers all over the place, like snowball size, all over the ground," Finkelstein told CNN.

Most of the information could not have been pieced together to cause a major threat, Time reported. Parade attendees were still concerned about the breach in security.

Macy's responded to the incident saying it uses commercially manufactured confetti, not shredded up papers, Time reported.

Obama calls criticism of Rice "outrageous"

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President Barack Obama called Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain comments about U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice "outrageous" at a press conference held on Wednesday, CNN reported.

"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after someone they should go after me," Obama said.

Both senators have said they would work to block Rice out of becoming Secretary of State because of her recent relationship with the events in Benghazi, Libya, the Washington Post reported.

Rice had suggested the attack was a spontaneous crime, but it was later discovered that it was planned, the Washington Post reported.

Obama began the press conference with notes of bipartisanship and compromise, but quickly changed tones when Rice was brought up, the Washington Post reported.

Graham responded to the president shortly after the conference, CNN reported.

"Mr. President, don't think for one minute I don't hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi. I think you failed as commander-in-chief before, during, and after the attack," Graham said.

Colorado, Washington legalize marijuana

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Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Tuesday's election, the Huffington Post reported.

Both states have legalized the drug for recreational use for adults, but federal law still names cannabis a controlled substance, according to the Huffington Post. The federal government still has laws against the purchase and distribution of the drug, CNN reported.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper warned it's too soon to "break out the Cheetos."

The success of the campaigns is heavily attributed to the law officials who spoke out on behalf the pro-pot campaigns, according to the Huffington Post.

The war on drugs has used $1 trillion in tax dollars in 40 years, the Huffington Post reported. In 2010 alone, 850,000 Americans have been arrested for marijuana law violations.

Massachusetts also approved a marijuana referendum legalizing medicinal use of marijuana, the Huffington Post reported.

Medical marijuana was already legal in 17 states, making Massachusetts the 18th, according to CNN.

Federal offices closed in response to Hurricane Sandy

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Federal offices in the Washington area have been closed down on Monday in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, according to the Washington Post.

All non-emergency employees will be granted excused absences, leaving only essential and emergency employees, the Baltimore Sun reported.

State government offices will be closed down, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The storm is expected to cause at least 12 to 14 hours of extremely strong winds, DVIDS reported. The Washington area is expected to receive the harshest winds starting at noon on Monday. The severity of the winds is not something more of the residents have experienced before.

The closure has caused Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to close down early voting on Monday as well, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The Office of Personnel Management will decide after 5 p.m. on Monday whether the federal offices will be closed on Tuesday, DVIDS reported.

New York to close mass transit system

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By Laura Marrinan
NEW YORK - New York City announced the closing of its subway system as officials prepare for Hurricane Sandy, CNN reported Sunday.

New York's mass transit system, the nation's largest, will suspend subway service starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening, according to CNN.

"A situation like this, you don't want to be overly panicked and overly prepared, but you want to be prudent and you want to do what is necessary," the Star Tribune reported New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The storm is expected to cause multiple power outages as well as major flooding, CNN reported.

Regardless of the severity of the storm, the subway is expected to be at least slightly flooded, the Star Tribune reported.

Rainfall is expected to begin on the east coast late Sunday of early Monday, the Star Tribune reported. Hurricane Sandy is expected to hit over 800 miles from the east coast to the Great Lakes.

44 TSA agents facing firing or suspension

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By Laura Marrinan
NEWARK, N.J. - The Transportation Security Administration is in the process of firing 25 agents and suspending 19 others for failing to follow screening procedures, CNN reported on Friday.

All 44 of the employees worked in Terminal B of Newark's Liberty International Airport and were caught on surveillance tapes not following screening procedures, CNN reported.

The surveillance cameras were installed in 25 of the airport's screening rooms to check for possible thefts, the Associated Press reported.

The TSA agents are supposed to search passenger's checked luggage with electronic scanners and open some bags by hand. According to CNN, employees allegedly did not follow procedure on about 250 bags.

"Accountability is an important aspect of our work and we take appropriate action with any employee who does not follow our procedures or engages in misconduct," TSA spokesman David Castelveter told CNN.

Eight employees were fired in June for a similar investigation, the Associated Press reported.

Space shuttle Endeavour draws crowds as it lumbers home

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LOS ANGELES - The space shuttle Endeavour lumbered down the streets of Los Angeles on Saturday making its way to Exposition Park, CNN reported.

State Sen. Roderick Wright said he hoped the path of the shuttle through the streets would help inspire young people to continue being interested in space exploration, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The shuttle will be retired into a local museum in Inglewood right where the Endeavour was created, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"All of these states tried to get the Endeavour and they lost," the Los Angeles Times reported Wright said. "One of the reasons they lost is because Endeavour was born here .... This morning, in the great city of Inglewood, we have the opportunity to say 'Welcome home.' "

At around midnight, a Toyota Tundra pulled the shuttle over the Manchester Boulevard bridge and filmed the entire event for a commercial, according to CBS News.

According to CNN, in order for the shuttle to make its way down the streets, 265 trees were cut down, 67 traffic signals were dismantled and 48 mast arms were removed.

"This once-in-a-lifetime event is a cause for celebration," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

Jerry Sandusky sentenced to 30 to 60 years behind bars

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach from Penn State University, was sentenced on Tuesday to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexual abuse, Fox News reported.

Sandusky was charged on 45 counts of abuse stemming from his conviction back in June for sexually abusing 10 boys from disadvantaged homes, the New York Times reported.

"I'm not going to sentence you to centuries," Judge John M. Cleland said to Sandusky. "It makes no sense for a 68-year-old man. This sentence will put you in prison for the rest of your life," the New York Times reported.

Sandusky tried painting himself as the victim and denied committing sexual acts against children, Fox News reported.

Before learning his sentence, Sandusky spoke about his good works in the community and how he has helped children over the years, Fox News reported. He talked about missing his loved ones and said he hopes they will be able to get through this hardship.

According to the New York Times, Judge Cleland considered Mr. Sandusky's statement "unbelievable."

LOS ANGELES- Outspoken comic Seth MacFarlane will host the 2013 Academy Awards in February, the Star Tribune reports.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced Monday that the 'Family Guy' creator has been chosen to host. Oscar telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said "His performing skills blend perfectly with our ideas for making the show entertaining and fresh," Reuters reports.

MacFarlane calls his first time hosting the Oscars "an overwhelming privilege," the Star Tribune reported.

Zadan and Meron said they hope something brand new and fresh will come from their new host by drawing on all of MacFarlane's singing, dancing and performing skills, the Star Tribune reported.

The Academy Awards are the highest honors in the movie industry, but have been struggling in the last few years. The award show has recently been trying to appeal to a younger audience. Although 37.6 million Americans tuned in last year, it was one of the least-watched Academy Awards in the past decade, Reuters reports.

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