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10 Dead After Tornado Hits Mississippi

By Sam Preston

Ten people were pronounced dead following a tornado that ripped throught the Southeast Saturday, according to both the New York Times and USA Today.

Of the ten pronouced dead, five were killed in Choctaw County, one was in Holmes County and four were from Yazoo County, Miss., both the Times and USA Today said, where Governor Haley Barbour told The Associated Press there was "utter obliteration."

Two of the victims were children, though aside from those who perished, thousands of others are affected either by loss of property or injuries, USA Today said.

Many of the injured are being treated at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, the Times said.

In Warren County, Miss. alone, at least 30 homes were rendered uninhabitable by the storms, the Times said, stirring the memory of Hurricane Katrina for many.

By Sam Preston

Toyota faces yet another safety concern this year, recalling more than 600,000 Sienna minivans Friday, according to both the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune.

The company was forced to recall the vehicles because of rusting spare tire holders, both sources said, that could break and create a road hazard.

The recall came at almost the same time as when the House announced that it would hold another hearing in May to review possible electronic problems in runaway Toyotas, the Tribune said.

The latest recall covered the 1998-2010 model year Siennas with two-wheel drive that have been sold or registered in 20 cold-climate states and the District of Columbia, the Press said.

Toyota said that it was unaware of any injuries resulting from the latest recall, but that road salt could cause the carrier cable that holds the spare tire to rust and break, allowing the tire to tumble onto the road, the Press said. The problem could threaten the safety of other drivers.

At Least 7 Die in West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion

By Sam Preston

At least seven people are reported dead in a West Virginia coal mine explosion on Monday, according to both the New York Times and the Washingon Post.

The coal mine was owned by the Virginia-based Massey Energy Company and operated by the Performance Coal Company, the Times said. The name of the mine where the incident took place is the Upper Big Branch mine.

Nineteen other workers remain trapped thousands of feet underground, the Post said. The seven that were killed were part of a group of nine workers who were leaving on a vehicle from where the explosion took place, leaving the other two injured.

The cause of the blast remains unknown, both the Times and the Post said, but the operation had a history of safety violations.

The explosion took with it all forms of communication from inside the mine, the Times said, but there were two rescue chambers near the site of the explosion that, if reached by the workers, could keep them alive for four days.

Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time

By Sam Preston

President Obama released on Wednesday a plan of limited expansion of offshore gas and natural oil drilling, according to both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The president proposed this in hopes of winning over Republican support, which will help him pass a greenhouse gas bill in the future, both the Times and the Post said.

And while most republicans are for the drilling, it doesn't go without some opposition even from some conservatives. Some republican representatives don't think President Obama is opening enough territory for the drilling, the Post said.

The expected area that will be opened up for the drilling are vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska, the Times said.

The president is, however, facing harsh criticisms from his own side about the drilling, as they feel it will be very harmful to the environment, the Post said.

Aside from getting the support he needs to pass the greenhouse gas bill, the president also hopes that the drilling will decrease U.S. independence on foreign oil, both the Times and the Post said.

Obama signs historic healthcare reform into law

By Sam Preston

President Obama signed his historic health care bill into law Tuesday, according to both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

This bill is arguably the most expansive social legislation in decades, both the Times and the Post said. And while it has passed, the debate surrounding the nearly 2,000 page document is far from over.

Nearly minutes after the President signed it, thirteen of the nation's attorneys general filed suit in Florida, while Virginia joined with a suit of its own, the Post said. They are sueing on the grounds that the bill is unconstitutional, undercutting states' rights.

The Justice Department released in a public statement that it will "vigorously defend" the new law, the Post said. They are "confident that this statute is constitutional," spokesman Charles Miller said.

The bill will be a $940 million overhaul, and among many other things is said to require people to obtain health coverage, impose fines on those who don't and provide federal subsidies to help low and middle-income families afford the insurance, the Post said.

By Sam Preston

Six people were killed Friday on a busy interstate just outside of Phoenix, according to both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

The six people who died were on a passenger bus clipped by another vehicle, the Press said, that then rolled over on the interstate, the Tribune said.

The bus was carrying a total of 21 passengers, the Press said, and 15 others were injured in the accident.

Two of the 15 that were injured were 11-years-old, the Press said, and of those who dies, two were adult males and four were adult females.

10 of the 15 that were injured were taken by ambulance to local hospitals, the Press said, and five were flown by medical helicopter.

By Sam Preston

Team Canada beat Team USA in the men's gold medal game Sunday, both the Star Tribune and the New York Times said.

The final score was 3-2, after Sidney Crosby netted the game winner 7:40 into overtime, both the Times and the Tribune said.

Zach Parise of Team USA led his team into the overtime period, scoring on Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo with only 24.4 seconds left in the third, both the Times and the Tribune said.

Through three periods, both teams had the same amount of shots, penalties and, of course, goals, the Tribune said.

The win gave Canada its 14th gold medal, the most gold medals ever won by a country in a single Olympics, both the Times and the Tribune said.

However, Ryan Miller, Team USA's goaltender, walked away with tournament MVP, both the Times and the Tribune said.

By Sam Preston

In the news today, it was announced that Roslyn M. Brock was named the new chairwoman of the NAACP, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Brock officially took the seat Saturday, and at an age of 44-years-old, making her the youngest person to take the job in the organization's history, both the Post and the Times said. She is also the first woman to fill the position.

She will be replacing Julian Bond, who has held the position of chairman for the past twelve years. Bond announced last year he would be stepping down, stating that he would stay on until after the association's centennial celebration, the Times and the Post said.

Brock joined the organization 25 years ago as a freshman in college, as a youth board member and Youth and College Division State Conference president, the Times said.

Since then, she has been carefully trained for the top position by NAACP elders -- including Bond and former chairman Myrlie Evers-Williams, the Post said.

The association also recently named the youngest president in its history, 37-year-old Benjamin Jealous, the Post said. This shift comes with the hope of regaining some of the hold the association once held with the civil rights movement.

Brock said her goal is to increase membership and funds for the NAACP, and to focus on a few specific civil rights issues: education, health care, economic empowerment, criminal justice and civic engagement, the Post said.

Snow Recovery Slow in Mid-Atlantic

By Matthew L. Wald
Record snowfalls in the nations Mid-Atlantic region brought all activity in that area to a grinding halt this past Friday and Saturday, according to the New York Times about a snowstorm that pounded down heavily on Virginia and Washington.
Accordinig to the Star Trubune, "the total tally of snow was expected to undoubtedly set a record for a single snowstorm for many areas," which nicely compliments the Times report of how the snowfall was waist-deep.
The Times also noted how school has already been cancelled for Monday in most school districts ranging from Baltimore to Spotsylvania, Va., with some even already cancelling Tuesday as well. This is due to a mixture of both people not being able to get to school as well as the sever issues with electricity that many cities are having, said the Times.
What is more is that both the Times and the Star Tribune have reported on how this part of the country still hasn't seen the end of this massive storm, as it has been predicted for the region to face an additional 5 to 12 inches.
The storm however, as halting as it was, was not enough to put everything to a stop. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who were due for a hockey game with the Washington Capitols on Sunday, managed to get there after a 5 hour bus ride from Newark, where they had to make an unexpected landing due to the Ronald Raegan Washington National Airport being closed.

Obama's First State of the Union Address

Of course the biggest national news to take place this week was the first State of the Union address from President Obama. I wasn't able to watch it because I was at work, but I did make sure to check the Times website soon after it was done to check in and see what was said.

There were some major things that stood out to me, the first of which being the fact that the president only spent 9 minutes talking about foreign affairs. I understand that there are a lot of hometown issues going on right now, but it just struck me as odd that there was SO little time spent on this topic. Especially considering that we are the country who is most involved with every other country in the world.

Another major point was the tone of the president. It doesn't mention this specifically in the article that I've cited, but I've both watched and read other articles on this speech and they all seem to mention that the president seemed very aggressive. He would say things such as 'I came into office with two wars, a crumbling economy.... on my plate', which seemed kind of accusatory instead of proactive.

He also spent a good amoutn of time addressing his own party, and asking them to do what he felt he needed from them. He really wants to get his healthcare reform going, and so he needs the Democrats to help him get some of the Republicans onboard and get the 60% of votes. However, he promised to focus more on the economy first and foremost, so that we can reverse the rate of unemployment.

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