Recently in National News Blog Category

Death penalty case reversed due to racially bias laws

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In what the LA Times calls a landmark ruling, a judge in North Carolina vacated the death penalty for a man convicted of murder due to prosecutors allegedly engaging in systematic racial discrimination.

The prosecutors deliberately struck black potential jurors in death penalty cases.

According to the NY Times, Friday Judge Gregory A. Weeks order the death sentence of the convicted to be changed to life in prison without parole, which is the first decision of its kind under the controversial Racial Justice Act of North Carolina, passed in 2009.

It is also reported Weeks said in a 167-page ruling the prosecutors "intentionally used the race of [jury pool] members as a significant factor in decisions to exercise peremptory strikes in capital cases."

Prosecutors plan to appeal the decision.

U.S. experiencing worst drought in years

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According to RT News, climatologists say the weather community is beginning to worry about the dry spell throughout the U.S. It is thought to be one of the worst droughts in recent years.

RT News also reports 48 of the 50 states in the U.S. are experiencing at least moderate drought conditions, and this experience could lead to catastrophe for the country's agricultural and economic businesses.

According to USA Today, this year's 61% of 48 states in the "abnormally dry" drought conditions is the highest percent of dry or drought conditions since September 2007.

USA Today reported the U.S. has not been this dry in five years and wildfires and brush fires have become common in recent weeks because of the dryness and windy conditions.

NBC News producer fired for airing edited 911- call

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According to Police News, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Police News Saturday that an NBC News editor was fired for editing a recording of George Zimmerman's 911-call to police the night he shot Trayvon Martin.

They also reported the identity of the producer was not disclosed.

The Huffington Post reports the president of the network's news division stated the decision to air an edited call from Zimmerman to police was "a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call."

It is also reported the edited recording was played on NBC's "Today" show March 27, and suggested Zimmerman volunteered Martin's race to the police without being prompted but the portion of the tape that was left out of the editing recording was the 911 dispatcher asking Zimmerman if the person who raised his suspicion was "black, white or Hispanic." After which, Zimmerman answered, "He looks black."

NBC News President Steve Capus confirmed to the Huffington Post "several people" involved in were disciplined, saying the nature of the disciplinary actions were internal personnel matters.

Jobless claims lowest in U.S. since April 2008

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Evidence of a thriving economy and improving job market, Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest in four year.

According to Bloomberg News, the initial jobless claims and applications for jobless insurance fell 5,000 to 359,000 the week of March 29.

As reported by Providence Business News, this follows the close to minus 33.7 reading two weeks prior, the lowest since March 2008, reported by the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, which changed to minus 34.7 for March 25. The statistics for those on the unemployment benefit rolls dropped to levels as low as August 2008.

Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit told PBN, "The labor market is still improving at a modest pace."

Girl Scouts reach 100 years

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The Washington Post reports the Girls Scouts organization, founded 100 years ago in March, is planning a sing-a-long on the Mall this summer, which expects 200,000 participants. The worldwide Girl Scouts organization includes 10 million girls from 145 countries over the past 100 years.

According to Boston.com, the Girl Scouts of U.S.A. strive for education in young women, including progressiveness build on combining lessons in domestic know-how with outdoor adventure and technical skills, the aim is to teach girls that they can do anything.

Settlement talks delay BP civil trials

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According to the Wall Street Journal, the civil trial over the oil spill disaster was delayed and rescheduled for Monday morning in a New Orleans federal court. The delay resumes so BP PLC and lawyers for business and individuals suing BP can continue talks.

Lawyers representing about 120,000 businesses and individuals have been given more time to work out an out-of-court agreement. Business Week reported the lawsuits against BP and its partners include pollution claims by federal and state governments and consolidated cases brought by thousands of commercial fishermen, seafood processors, property owners and tourism-related businesses harmed by the spill.

If a deal isn't reached, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier will determine if companies are responsible for punitive damages to thousands of businesses and fines to the government.

3 Skiers died in Washington Avalanche

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STEVENS PASS, Wash. -- The New York Daily News reports three skiers died after an avalanche in Washington Sunday after a popular ski resort received heavy snow in the area.

According to USA Today, the avalanche swept four skiers about a quarter-mile down an out of bounds canyon, and the fourth skier was saved by a safety device, authorities said.

It was reported that the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center issued a warning for high avalanche danger for areas above 5,000 feet because warm weather could loosen surface snow and cause slides.

ABC News online reports, according to the Associated Press, the winning jackpot for a lottery drawn on Saturday was purchased in Rhode Island. The winning jackpot totaled $336.4 million.

The unidentified millionaire has yet to claim his winnings. USA Today reports in order to win, the player had to match all of Saturday's five numbers and the Powerball number.

The jackpot recently doubled from $173.5 million on Feb. 1 due to rising sales.

After a leave of absence from pastoring due to a divorce and other issues, Bishop Eddie Long returns to the pulpit of New Birth Missionary Baptist church in Georgia.

Desert News reported in September of 2010, Long was accused of sexual misconduct by former church members. The case was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Shortly after, his wife filed for divorce.

As reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Long returned to preaching during the church's New Year's Eve service and will continue weekly.

New Jersey's battle for Gay rights

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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey called for a state-wide referendum last Tuesday to settle New Jersey's Gay rights political battle.

The referendum would allow state residents to make the decision. According to The Washington Post, recent polls show majority of the citizens of New Jersey are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, CNN reports 52% of the population. If approved, New Jersey would be the seventh state to permit same-sex marriage.

New Jersey's conservative Republican governor disagrees with the Legislature, controlled by Democrats on this controversial issue. The Associated Press via The Washington Post predicts and protracted standoff likely with Democratic leaders resisting the referendum Gov. Christie seeks.

Democrats and Gay rights advocates protest the idea of a referendum saying this is an issue of civil rights and should not be included on a ballot.

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