Recently in National News Category

MLB takes over Dodgers

By Calvin Swanson

Major League Baseball has taken control of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization due to the team's financial woes stemming from the owner's bitter divorce that happened in 2009.

The Dodgers financial situation has been worsened by co-owners Jamie McCourt and Frank McCourt's grueling divorce that started one week after Frank fired Jamie, Dodger's chief executive, accusing her of having an affair with her bodyguard-driver and performing poorly at work, according to an ESPN article.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had not taken action during the past 18 months until Wednesday, according to an LA Times article. Selig announced he would appoint a trustee to oversee the club due to concerns with the team's financial issues.

After Selig's announcement was made, Frank stated the team had been following MLB's financial guidelines and that he was puzzled by Selig's decision. According to the LA Times, Frank is expected to challenge Selig's decision in court.

Tornados devestate North Carolina, southern U.S.

By Calvin Swanson

A large storm, which spawned dozens of tornados, killed at least 43 people and has damgaged several homes as it passed through several southern states from Oklahoma to North Carolina.

The storm severely injured 130 people and left more than 84,000 people without power, according to a NY Times article. North Carolina, which was hit with the worst storm in two decades, reported 62 tornados Saturday night, according to a LA Times article.

The storm system started Thursday night in Oklahoma where it killed five people, according to the LA Times. The storm then proceeded to hit Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia leaving casualties in each state.

Maybe the worst-hit county was North Carolina's Bertie County, according to the NY Times. At least 10 people were killed and at least 50 were seriously injured in Bertie County, which is located 130 miles east of Raleigh.

The NY times reported North Carolina's death toll may have been higher if it was not for a manager at a Lowe's home improvement store in Sanford, 40 miles southwest of Raleigh. The manager's decision to relocate more than 100 customers and employees to the store's offices in the back may have saved several lives, the NY Times stated. The front of the store collapsed because of the storm, but no one was seriously injured because they were in cover in offices that were in a more fortified location.

The LA times reported the North Carolina Governor declared a state of emergency.

Cuba celebrates 50 year anniversary of Bay of Pigs

By Calvin Swanson

One of the largest military and civilian parades was performed at the Revolution Plaza in Havana Cuba Saturday. Thousands of soldiers high-stepped their way through the streets, while hundreds of thousands of civilians joined in.

The country is celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the defeat over Cuban exiles trained by American CIA in an attempt to overthrow party leader Fidel Castro, according to a BBC article. The parade also celebrated the 50-year mark of Castro's proclamation that Cuba is not democratic but socialist.

Chants of "Long live Fidel!" rang the streets of Havana, while helicopters and airplanes crowded the skies above, according to a MSNBC article.

Raul Castro, 79, Fidel's brother and present leader of Cuba, assembled the military personnel for the festivities, according to MSNBC. Fidel, 84, was not seen at the parade.

Despite the celebration of socialism, the BBC reported President Raul Castro stated the country must reduce the role of government, and that it must encourage more private enterprise while moving forward.

Schwartzel wins Masters

by Calvin Swanson

Relatively unknown golfer Charl Schwartzel won the 2011 Masters with a final round of 6 under par to wrap up a final score of 14 under par at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

The Masters is 26-year-old South African native's first career major, and it came on day where the competition was wide open. During one point in the final day of tournament, there were nine players within two shots of the lead, according to a NY Times article. One of them was Tiger Woods.

Woods climbed to the top of the leaderboard after shooting a -5 on the front nine, according to a LA Times article. He could not find his rhythm on the back nine, shooting even par and finishing at -10 for the tournament.

Twenty-one-year-old Rory McIlroy came into the final day at Augusta with a four-shot lead, but could not handle the pressure staying atop the best golfers in the world. He finished for a tie of 15th after shooting a dismal round of an 80, according to the LA Times.

The NY Time reported that Schwartzel's victory came 50 years after Gary Player became the first South African to win the Masters, or any other major title. The La Times reported Schwartzel's next best finish at a Masters tournament was a tie for 30th in 2010.

Uconn cuts down the nets; Butler silenced in defeat

By Calvin Swanson

It may have been the ugliest championship game in NCAA Division I college basketball history, but, despite its lack of glamour, it was still a pretty ending for a remarkable run by the Connecticut Huskies.

Uconn defeated the Butler Bulldogs 53-41 Monday night in Houston, capping an improbable run where they won 11 straight games, according to a Washington Post article. This is the 3rd championship since 1999 for the Huskies and head coach Jim Calhoun, 68, who became the oldest coach to win a national championship.

The game was an offensive struggle to say the least. Butler lead Uconn at the end of the first half 22-19 but could not get past the Huskies' pesky defense in the final 20 minutes. The Bulldogs shot a dismal 12-64 from the field, which is 18.8 percent, the worst ever in a title game, according to an ESPN article.

The Huskies' (32-9) dominant run was lead junior All-American Kemba Walker who finished the game with 16 points and was named the Final Four's most outstanding player, the Washington Post reported.

This is second year in a row the Bulldogs (28-10) have walked off the big stage as runner-ups. Butler could not find its offensive rhythm and was outmanned by Uconn's size and athletic ability. Butler was outscored 26-2 in the paint and only made one field goal in a 13 minute span in the second half, according to ESPN.

The Washington Post reported the Huskies missed the tournament last year and finished the regular season ninth in the Big East conference in 2011. This was before the Huskies won five games in five days to win the Big East tournament and snag a three seed in the Big Dance.

ESPN reported the Huskies were perfect in tournament games this year, going 14-0 in the NCAA tournament, the Big East tournament and the Maui Invitational.

Optimism grows in the U.S. economy

By: Calvin Swanson

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 8.9 percent down to 8.8 percent, marking the fourth consecutive month that unemployment rates fell by a percentage point.

The U.S. economy created 216,000 jobs in March, which is more than U.S. Department of Labor expected, according to a BBC article. The 8.8 percent rate is the lowest since March 2009, according to the LA Times.

The decreasing trend in unemployment is because of the success in private sector which added 230,000 jobs this year, but local governments on the downswing, cutting 16,000 jobs in March and 46,000 in February, according to the LA Times.

Most of the private sector jobs created were in factories, shops, health care, education and in several financial services, the BBC stated.

If the government and U.S. employers are able to retain these rates, economists predict roughly 2.5 million new jobs will be created by the end of 2011, according to the BBC.

The LA Times reported unemployment rates have steadily decreased since November and in the last two years overall. In 2011, 3.7 million people have received unemployment compensation, which is the lowest figure since October 2008, and is significantly down from the unemployment peak in mid 2009 where 6.6 million were receiving unemployment benefits.

The BBC reports analysts are worried about the rise in oil and gas prices, and that they could negatively affect the economy.

Movie icon Elizabeth Taylor passes away at age 79

Elizabeth Taylor, an actress known for her stunning beauty, died Wednesday in Los Angeles at the age of 79.

Ms. Taylor's cause of death was from congestive heart failure, according to a N.Y. Times article. She has had several medical conditions the past couple of years and was hospitalized six weeks ago due to heart problems.

Ms. Taylor was most well-known for her acting, her gorgeous figure and her two Academy awards. But her involvement in the fight against AIDS, her eight marriages and several near-death experiences also made her an iconic figure in popular culture.

Stardom and glamour tie-in well with Ms.Taylor's image, but popularity is her biggest credential. She played in more than 60 films throughout the years and won two Oscars for best actress, a Washington Post article reported. She appeared on the cover of People's magazine more than 25 times and Life Magazine 14 times, more than any other film star.

The N.Y. Times article was written by William McDonald before he passed away in 2005. William Grimes and Daniel E. Slotnik contributed to updating the report. The Washington Post article was written after Ms. Taylor passed away.

Debit card swipe fees may be lowered

By Calvin Swanson

The U.S senate passed an amendment requiring banks to lower their debit card swipe fees they charge retailers for every debit card transaction from 44 cents to 12 cents.

Banks and debit card companies substantially oppose the amendment and are strongly urging lobbyists and lawmakers to change the law or repeal it, according to a New York Times report. Banks say the cuts will make it difficult to offer debit cards to customers and that customers may have to pay more charges and fees to make up the costs.

Merchants are urging Washington to go through with this law, which faces an April deadline. Merchants lose $20.5 billion annually in profits due to the 44 cent per-transaction swipe fee.

Consumers most likely will not benefit from the retailers' savings because retailers will likely reap the profits, Stamford Advocate reported. The lowering of swipe fees may be detrimental to consumers because of imposing banking fees that would make up for the reduction of the swiping fee.

The Stamford Advocate reports the swipe fees will not produce consumer benefits or job growth; the report emphasizes the effects the fees will have on consumers.

The N.Y. Times reports that small-business owners claim swiping fees are devastating to their operations, while banks claim they depend on the fees to create more services for customers. The N.Y. Times' report is structured around the businesses and banks' perspective about the fees.

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