Recently in National News Category

Sanford's Wife Files for Divorce

South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford filed for divorce Friday from husband Gov. Mark Sanford, after he confessed to an affair with an Argentine woman more than five months ago, the New York Times reported.

Sanford had attempted at reconciliation, but filed for divorce two days after state lawmakers decided against impeaching Gov. Mark Sanford. She cited adultery as the grounds for the divorce.

Sanford said that she discovered his infidelity when she found a letter he had written to his mistress. Unlike other political wives had done, she did not stand by her husband when he publicly admitted to the affair, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In August, Sanford moved out of the governor's mansion, taking the couple's four sons to the family's beach house on Sullivan's Island.

According to the New York Times, Gov. Mark Sanford has faced a series of ethics violation charges, calls for resignation and efforts at impeachment.

Gay Marriage Bill Defeated by New York State Senate

The New York Times reported Wednesday that New York's State Senate voted down a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, an issue gay rights activists compared to civil rights, family and history.

The Democrats did not have enough votes to pass the bill without support from Republicans; however, no Republican senator voted for the measure. The bill was defeated by a margin of 38 to 24.

If the bill had passed, New York would have become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. If it fails, it would mean that New York would become the latest state where critical progress towards gay rights had been made and then destroyed.

The State Assembly had already approved the bill twice before. However, New York's legislative code required the Assembly to pass the bill once more before it could be signed into law.

According to ChicagoPride.com, a similar bill is to receive votes in the District of Columbia and is expected to be approved before Christmas.

In New Jersey, gay activists seek to influence Governor-elect Chris Christie to approve a same-sex marriage bill.

Chances of success are fragile, however, because Christie supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, while Governor Jon Corzine, who lost to Christie during the election, pledged to sign a gay marriage bill into law.

Alleged 9/11 Mastermind to Face Trial in N.Y.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be tried in a federal courthouse in lower Manhattan just blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood.

Prosecutors seek the death penalty for Mohammed and four others accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks; all are being held at Guantanamo Bay. Upholding American values, the accused will be given a fair trial in civilian courts.

However, the decision to hold the trials in civilian courts was criticized due to concerns about security and state secrets.

According to the New York Times, members of Congress argued that the suspects did not deserve the protections of the American criminal justice system, because they believed that bringing them into the U.S. would increase the risk of another terrorist attack. Others said that military commissions would be more appropriate than civilian courts.

The New York Times reported that the decision to prosecute the prisoners in civilian courts symbolized a shift in policy from the Bush administration, which had decided that suspected terrorists and Al Qaeda members should not be treated the same way as other criminals. Also, alleged suspects were tried in military commissions at Guantanamo rather than in American civilian courts.

Formal charges have not yet been announced. Trials are likely to take place next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

12 Dead, 31 Wounded at Fort Hood

A U.S. Army major killed 11 soldiers and wounded 31 others Thursday at Fort Hood in Texas, the New York Times reported.

The gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, was killed by police forces after opening fire at a deployment center at around 1:30 p.m.

Eyewitnesses said there was more than one shooter, the New York Times reported. Two other soldiers were taken into custody, but were later released.

U.S. military officials believed that the attack was premeditated because all of the suspects in the shooting were active-duty soldiers.

Hasan, who was also a psychiatrist, was upset about his pending deployment to Iraq. However, the motive for the shooting was unclear, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Two Men Shot at Los Angeles Synagogue

A man shot and wounded two men in the parking garage of a Los Angeles synagogue Thursday, then fled, the Star Tribune reported.

A teenager who matched a vague description of the gunman was taken into custody, but was released soon afterward.

Mori Ben-Nissan, 38, and Allen Lasry, 53, were shot in the legs in a parking garage underneath the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox synagogue in North Hollywood, in the San Fernando Valley.

The victims were in a stairwell leading up to the synagogue sanctuary when the gunman shot them several times. The attacker then fled on foot.

Police have taken precautions by placing extra patrols near other synagogues and local schools. Authorities said that this was "a random act of violence." The gunman's motives were unknown, CNN reported.

US Arrests Hundreds in Raids on Drug Cartel

Federal agents arrested more than 300 people in a two-day sweep of the methamphetamine trafficking operations of Mexico's La Familia drug cartel, the Wall Street Journal reported.

La Familia, or "the family" in Spanish, is a fast-growing drug cartel based in Michoacan, Mexico, which has penetrated the U.S. The Justice Department arrested about 1,200 people and confiscated nearly 12 tons of drugs, as well as $32.8 million in U.S. currency. 

Law enforcement officials said that the arrests and indictments disturbed the distribution network that delivered methamphetamine and cocaine to major U.S. cities.

La Familia is unique in that it justifies its actions through religion, claiming that assassinations and violence were divine events. Cartel members are even told to go to church, the New York Times reported.

Despite the arrests and indictments, analysts say that the cartel will recover.

U.S. Math Scores Show Little Improvement

The results of a nationwide math test given in early 2009 revealed that fourth- and eighth-graders showed little to no improvement in math.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that fourth-graders' test results had not improved since the test was given in 2007. Eighth-graders showed marginal score improvements of a mere two points.

Scoring gaps between Caucasian students and Hispanic and African-American students has not changed, the NAEP results showed.

Critics and researchers fear that the No Child Left Behind law is failing to reach its goal of improving student achievement, the New York Times reported. The law aims for all US students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014.

Policy makers and business leaders fear that students will not possess the necessary mathematical skills to be competitive in a technology-centric economy. US students trail behind places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Obama Approves Troop Increase in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama approved a troop increase for Afghanistan Tuesday, CNN reported.

The president claimed that more troops were necessary to stabilize Afghanistan, to provide security for areas maintained by the Taliban and to protect America from possible threats.

The Obama administration have been considering a request from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander in Afghanistan, to send as many as 40,000 troops. So far the president has approved 17,000.

The increased troop levels are expected to last three to four years, CNN reported. An increase would be possible in part by expected troop withdrawal from Iraq.

The president's decision resulted in scattered antiwar protests in Washington, and was met with opposition--as well as support--from advisers.

Democratic Fund-Raiser Gets 24 Years in Prison

Democratic fund-raiser Norman Hsu was sentenced Tuesday to more than 24 years in prison for defrauding investors in a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme and for committing campaign finance fraud.

Prosecutors had hoped for a sentence of 30 years.

Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court in Manhattan rejected Mr. Hsu's request for leniency.

Mr. Hsu was a prominent fundraiser for many Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton.

He pleaded guilty to 10 counts of mail and wire fraud related to the Ponzi scheme, which defrauded over 250 investors of more than $50 million, the New York Times reported.

Census Worker Found Hanged in Kentucky

A census worker was found hanged from a tree in Kentucky with the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

Bill Sparkman, 51, a teacher and part-time census field worker, was found Sept. 12 in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Clay County. Police said he died of asphyxiation, the Star Tribune reported.

The police and the FBI are investigating if Sparkman was a victim of antigovernment sentiment.

Other officials wonder if Sparkman stumbled across a marijuana plot, which residents often laced with booby traps to avoid being discovered.

The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in Clay County until the investigation is complete.

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