2 girls arrested on bullying charges after suicide

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Florida authorities have arrested two girls — 12 and 14 — on felony charges for allegedly taunting and bullying a 12-year-old girl who jumped to her death last month from an abandoned cement factory tower.
 
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters Tuesday that one of the suspects had posted a message on the Internet saying that the victim should "drink bleach and die."
 
Rebecca Sedwick, of Lakeland, Fla., who died Sept. 9, was "terrorized" by as many as 15 girls who picked on her for months through online message boards and texts, according to authorities. Some of the girls' computers and cellphones were seized in the investigation.
 
The suspects were arrested Monday night on charges of felony aggravated stalking, WTSP-TV reports.
 
The girls, who had previous problems at school but no arrest history, were released into their parents' custody and remain on home detention.
 
Judd said that a feud had erupted after the 14-year-old suspect began dating a boy that Rebecca had been seeing. She "didn't like that and began to harass and ultimately torment Rebecca," Judd said.
 
The sheriff said the 14-year-old was "very cold, had no emotion at all upon her arrest." The second suspect was once the victim's best friend.
 
Judd said the pair were allegedly the main culprits, but that the investigation continues into the possible involvement by other young girls.
 
The sheriff said the tipping point leading to the arrests came when one of the suspects purportedly showed a lack of remorse for Rebecca's death by allegedly posting on Facebook on Saturday: "Yes ik [I know] I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don't give a f***]"
 
The suspect told deputies that her Facebook account was hacked and that she did not write that post, WTSP reports.
 
Judd said that police decided to make the arrests out of concern that the girls would pick a new victim.
 
"We decided, look, we can't leave her out there," Judd said. "Who else is she going to torment? Who else is she going to harass? Who is the next person she verbally and mentally abuses and attacks?"
 
He said that their parents did not cooperate with police, would not bring them in to the police, nor stop their daughters' use of social media.
 
"The parents were not doing what parents are supposed to do," Judd said, according to Fox News.com. "My goodness, wake up, girl."
 
A man who answered the phone at the 14-year-old suspect's Lakeland home told the Associated Press that he was her father and said that "none of it's true."
 
"My daughter's a good girl and I'm 100 percent sure that whatever they're saying about my daughter is not true," he said.
 
A message left at the 12-year-old girl's home was not immediately returned, the AP said.
 
Rebecca's mother, Tricia Norman, told WTSP last month that the constant bullying drove her daughter to kill herself, and that the school district did not do enough to protect her.
 
"They would tell her she's ugly, stupid, nobody liked her, go kill herself," said Norman, who launched an anti-bullying campaign in her daughter's name on Facebook, Rebecca Sedwick — Against Bullying.
 
Rebecca ran away in November and was hospitalized the following month for three days after cutting herself. At one point, the school stepped in to separate the girls' schedules because of fights. Rebecca later even changed schools, but the bullying continued online, on sites such as Ask.fm, Kik, Instagram and Voxer, authorities said.
 
Judd said on the morning of Sept. 9, Rebecca texted a boy she had met online in North Carolina from the cement tower, saying she was jumping and she couldn't take it anymore.
 
Judd said the "red flags" for possible suicide were there. On her computer, police found search queries for topics including "what is overweight for a 13-year-old girl," ''how to get blades out of razors" and "how many over-the-counter drugs do you take to die." One of her screensavers also showed Rebecca with her head resting on a railroad track.
 
Florida has a bullying law named after a teenager who killed himself after being harassed by classmates. Amended July 1 to cover cyberbullying, the law leaves punishment to schools, though law enforcement also can seek more traditional charges.
 
Contributing: Associated Press

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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US and UN condemn abduction of Libya PM Ali Zeidan

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The US, UK and France, along with the UN, have condemned the brief abduction of Libya's PM and pledged their support for its transition to democracy.
 
US Secretary of State John Kerry called the act "thuggery", while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged all Libyans to respect the rule of law.
 
Ali Zeidan was abducted from a Tripoli hotel and held for several hours by armed militiamen.
 
He praised the armed groups that came to rescue him and has called for calm.
 
The motive of the abduction is unclear but some militias had been angered by last Saturday's US commando raid in Tripoli to capture senior al-Qaeda suspect Anas al-Liby.
 
Many militias are under the pay of the defence or interior ministries – in the absence of an effective police force or military – but their allegiance and who really controls them is in doubt.
 
'Calm and measured'
The US denounced the kidnapping.
 
Mr Kerry said: "Libyans did not risk their lives in their 2011 revolution to tolerate a return to thuggery.
 
"Today's events only underscore the need to work with Prime Minister Zeidan and with all of Libya's friends and allies to help bolster its capacity with greater speed and greater success."
 
Mr Kerry said there could be "no place for this kind of violence in the new Libya".
 
A statement on behalf of Mr Ban said Libya was facing a deteriorating security situation and increasing acts of violence.
 
It read: "The secretary-general calls on all Libyan parties and the Libyan people to form consensus around national priorities and work towards building a strong, stable country, respectful of the rule of law and the protection of human rights."
 
France and Britain both pledged swift support for Mr Zeidan.
 
French President Francois Hollande said he stood ready to strengthen ties with Libya to tackle militants.
 
"We must be there to co-operate with Libya to put an end to these groups," he said.
 
A spokesperson for David Cameron said the UK prime minister had spoken to a "calm and measured" Ali Zeidan after his release and had promised to help build a "stable, free, peaceful and prosperous" Libya.
 
The spokesperson said the two leaders discussed the challenges facing Libya.
 
"We have always known and said these transitions clearly take time, transition after a very long period of ruthless authoritarian dictatorship. I think the key thing is to continue to support that country," the spokesman said.
 
The identity of the militiamen who abducted Mr Zeidan remains unclear.
 
One group, the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR), said it had captured Mr Zeidan, claiming it was acting on orders from the prosecutor general. But the justice ministry denied this.
 
The official Lana news agency also named another formal rebel group, the Brigade for the Fight against Crime, as being involved.
 
The government has been struggling to contain the numerous militias who control many parts of the country.
 
Two years after the overthrow of Col Muammar Gaddafi, Libya still has no constitution and divisions between secular and Islamist forces have paralysed parliament.
 
'Libyan wrangle'
Mr Zeidan was taken in a pre-dawn raid on the Corinthia Hotel by more than 100 armed men.
 
Photographs showed Mr Zeidan being surrounded and led away. There were no reports of violence during his capture.
 
The prime minister was reportedly held at the interior ministry anti-crime department in Tripoli, where an official said he was treated well.
 
The BBC has been told that local armed residents backed by brigades from nearby districts had rescued the PM, our correspondent in Tripoli, Rana Jawad, says.
 
The PM later appeared at a cabinet meeting broadcast live on Libyan television.
 
He thanked those who had taken part in the security operation to free him.
 
Mr Zeidan said: "I salute the revolutionaries who had an important role. The real revolutionaries, those who rose above greedy demands."
 
The prime minister said of his capture: "These are accidental things from the revolution's overflow and they will disappear."
 
Mr Zeidan assured foreigners the incident had happened "within the context of Libyan political wrangles".
 
Many militia groups saw the US raid in Tripoli on Saturday as a breach of Libyan sovereignty.
 
Mr Liby, 49, had been living openly in Tripoli before his capture.
 
He is believed to have been one of the masterminds behind the 1998 US embassy attacks, which killed more than 220 people in Kenya and Tanzania.
 
In remains unclear whether the Libyan government had prior knowledge of the US commando operation.

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Police: 5 shot at Hmong festival in Tulsa

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Gunfire that erupted and left five people injured at a traditional Hmong New Year's festival followed by the prompt arrest of two men suspected in the shooting have rattled this peaceful, tight-knit community of about 4,000 in east Tulsa, and some feared Sunday the rampage could deter other Hmong from attending upcoming cultural celebrations, including one set later this month.
 
"It's really sad because a lot of people do not feel safe to go to the other New Year's celebrations. I know there are people who don't want to attend that anymore," said Joua Xiong, who attended Saturday's celebration along with hundreds of other Hmong people and heard the gunfire break out. "It's very sad because this is the only time we really get to embrace our culture and unite as one.
 
"And I know a lot of other people will not come (to the Oct. 26-27 event) because of that," she said.
 
Hmong are an Asian ethnic group mainly from Laos and number between 3,000 and 4,000 in Tulsa. Many have traveled to Tulsa from across the country during recent years seeking jobs.
 
Two men have been taken into custody and face multiple charges in the shooting of five people at Saturday's festival, authorities said Sunday. Authorities were holding 21-year-old Boonmlee Lee and 19-year-old Meng Lee, both of Tulsa. Each faces five counts of shooting with intent to kill plus firearms charges.
 
It was not clear from jail records whether each had an attorney.
 
Tulsa police spokesman Capt. Steve Odom said a gun was recovered but that it will have to be tested to see if it is linked to the Saturday night shooting. Odom said the alleged shooters and the victims were all Hmong and that there was "probably a relationship" between the men charged and the victims.
 
The suspects were arrested shortly after the attack, which happened about 8 p.m. A police helicopter that was in the area spotted a car driving away from the scene with its headlights off and notified officers on the ground, who pulled it over.
 
The suspects had thrown clothes and a semi-automatic handgun believed to have been used in the attack out of the vehicle, police said.
 
A witness at the party described the chaotic scene, as people lined up to get dinner were sent running and ducking for cover when the shots rang out. There were at least 200 people at the celebration, which festival-goers likened to a Thanksgiving celebration in America.
 
For Xiong, who was walking with her family to get dinner Saturday night at the festival, she heard a loud 'pop' sound, but didn't think anything of it at first, believing it was a balloon.
 
"Then I realized we didn't have any balloons over there, and then everyone started standing up and taking cover," she recalled in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press. "Some people were crying already, and that scared us."
 
Xiong said Sunday she did not know the two alleged gunmen and questioned why they showed up at the party.
 
"I've never seen them in my life," she said. "They really don't have common Hmong names, either," she said. "I don't know if they were from out of town or what,"
 
Spokeswomen for the two Tulsa hospitals where the victims were transported said they could not release information on the condition of the wounded Sunday, citing the ongoing police investigation.
 
But Xiathao Moua, the president of the Hmong American Association of Oklahoma, Inc., said he visited the two hospitals Sunday morning and said even though the victims sustained injuries from the shooting, they are expected to live. He would not elaborate further on the nature of the injuries to the victims, citing privacy concerns.
 
Moua described hearing the shots ring out Saturday night as some party guests were toasting with champagne and waiting in line to get dinner. What happened next, he said, was chaos and confusion.
 
"The emcee at the ceremony, he was on the stand and he told everybody to lay down under the table and the floor," he said.
 
Moua also said he asked the victims at both Tulsa hospitals if they knew why they were targeted by the violence or if they could describe the shooters, but they could not, he told the AP on Sunday.
 
Names of the victims, who police say are all hospitalized, weren't released.

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Amid shutdown, runners protest at Valley Forge

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dozens of people staged a protest run through Valley Forge National Historical Park on Sunday after a runner and others were ticketed amid the government shutdown.
 
Since the shutdown closed the popular site near Philadelphia, marathoner John Bell and others have gotten $100 tickets for allegedly violating the closure order, mostly for parking in the park.
 
Several running groups took part in what some called a "Patriot Run" to call attention to the shutdown.
 
"How can you close the outside?" asked runner George Fenzil, 46, of Philadelphia.
 
They ran on state and local roads that cut through the national park but remain open and are just a few feet from paved walking paths in the park.
 
"It's less safe, people running out on the road, with no shoulder, with traffic coming at 40 miles per hour. We're literally running three feet from the trail that they say we can't be running on," said Bell, 56, of Chadds Ford, who plans to fight his Oct. 6 ticket in federal court.
 
The National Park Service says at least 20 people have been issued tickets at Valley Forge, and more at parks across the country. A spokesman has said that safety is a concern, given widespread staff furloughs. The park service has said that a hiker in Acadia National Park was seriously injured after violating a closure notice.
 
But Bell doesn't believe safety is an issue at Valley Forge, which has wide paths and gently rolling hills.
 
"We've run in here for years, without ever seeing a park ranger. Anytime there's been an injury with a runner, the park ranger has never been the one to respond," he said.
 
Some national parks are reopening with the use of state or other funds. A park service spokesman did not immediately return an email message Sunday.
 
Lawyer Jeremy Ibrahim, who is representing Bell in contesting the ticket, helped organize the protest. The runners parked offsite and asked the park superintendent if they could run on the trails, Ibrahim said. They were told they would not be cited for running, but only for parking, he said. Nonetheless, they took to the roads to make their point about the shutdown.
 
"All politics aside, I think that they need to get their act together," Fencil said. "This is not a good thing for our country."

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Dying Ohio man on gurney leads daughter down aisle

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CLEVELAND (AP) — A terminally ill Ohio man who arrived at his daughter's wedding by ambulance gave her away, from a hospital gurney.
 
Guests cried and clapped as Scott Nagy took part in daughter Sarah's wedding Saturday at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Strongsville, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported.
 
A volunteer team of medical professionals helped Nagy escort the 24-year-old bride as groom Angelo Salvatore and the Rev. Chuck Knerem awaited their arrival.
 
"It was a promise I made in March, to walk her down the aisle," said the 56-year-old Brunswick man. "She's my princess. This is my definition of walking down the aisle."
 
Nagy was diagnosed last year with urethral cancer and has undergone chemotherapy. He has been at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center since August.
 
Doctors were uncertain if he would be able to make the wedding, initially scheduled for next year. But with monitor cords slipped under his tuxedo and a tracheal tube attached, he made the trip down the aisle, kissing a grandson who was the ringbearer and giving a thumb's up.
 
"There was no way he was not going to finish this out," said his wife Jean.
 
Jacky Uljanic, a nurse practitioner with the hospital, helped make the arrangements for Nagy to attend the wedding. She put him through daily therapy to build up his strength and she checked on the logistics in advance. Physicians Medical Transport donated the ambulance trip, and a doctor and other medical personnel accompanied Nagy on the ride.
 
Sarah said that since she was a little girl, she has wanted her father to escort her down the aisle when she married. She said her future husband assured her she would get her wish.
 
At the vestibule, she burst into tears and told her father she loved him.
 
"We did it," Nagy said to her and reminded her not to streak her makeup.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. Cruz, Palin join protesters at WWII Memorial

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A crowd converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, pushing through barriers Sunday morning to protest the memorial's closing under the government shutdown.
 
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were among those who gathered Sunday morning, along with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, according to WTOP radio. Cruz said President Obama is using veterans as pawns in the shutdown.
 
"Tear down these walls," the crowd chanted. Protesters also sang God Bless America and other patriotic songs as they entered the memorial plaza.
 
The memorial has become a political symbol in the bitter fight between Democrats and Republicans over who is at fault since the shutdown began. Earlier rallies have focused on allowing access for World War II veterans visiting from across the country with the Honor Flight Network.
 
Sunday's rally was more political. A protest by truckers converged with a rally by a group called the Million Vet March at the World War II Memorial. Participants cut the links between metal barriers at the National Park Service site and pushed them aside.
 
Jeff Thompkins of New York told WRC-TV he was there because people fight and died for the freedom to visit public spaces and to protest.
 
"Our constitutional rights are being taken away," Thompkins said. "People made the ultimate sacrifice, and they should be open to the public, open to everyone to come down here and see this. This is ridiculous. This is not just and not fair. It's just not fair."
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. Ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords attends N.Y. gun show

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — A smiling Gabrielle Giffords toured rows of tables loaded with rifles and handguns Sunday in her first visit to a gun show since surviving a 2011 shooting, and pleaded afterward for people to come together to stop gun violence.
 
The former Arizona congresswoman visited the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair with her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to highlight a voluntary agreement that closely monitors gun show sales in New York.
 
The trio mixed with a gun show crowd that was mostly welcoming — with a few hostile undertones — before calling for people to build on the cooperative effort.
 
"We must never stop fighting," Giffords said at a post-tour news conference, her fist in the air. "Fight! Fight! Fight! Be bold! Be courageous!"
 
Giffords, a face of the national gun control effort, slowly walked hand-in-hand with Kelly through the large room where Winchester rifles, muzzle-loaders, antique knives and other weapons were on display and "Don't Tread on Me" flags covered a wall.
 
They stopped at display tables, Kelly asked dealers questions about the weapons, and Giffords shook hands and smiled when people greeted her. "Good to see you looking good!" some said. Kelly bought a book on Colt revolvers, and said later he probably would have bought a gun if he had had more time. He said both he and his wife are gun owners.
 
The trio was greeted by light applause when introduced at the news conference, but some people booed from across the room. Dealer Joe Albano, who chatted with Kelly about his muzzle-loaders, later said the couple was nice. But he also said he was against New York's recent gun control law, which is separate from the Schneiderman initiative.
 
"If she can help us, fine," Albano said. "We're doing everything right here. We're legal."
 
Under the agreements worked out by Schneiderman, all firearms are tagged at the entrances to gun shows. Operators must provide computer stations for sellers to do national background checks.
 
As they are taken away through a limited number of exits, guns are checked to make sure background checks were performed. No buyers can leave a show without documentation of a proper sale.
 
Schneiderman, who has worked with all 35 gun show operators in New York, showed the couple how the process worked.
 
"It's great to see government and licensed firearms dealers working together to solve a problem," Kelly said.
 
Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in Tucson. Six people died.
 
Though it was mostly smiles inside, about a dozen protesters rallied outside the gun show holding signs critical of New York's new law that expanded a ban on military-style weapons, among other things. The law was passed not long after the December school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
 
Kenneth Hall, who held a sign with a swastika that read in part "gun control made the Holocaust possible," said the New York background check was not needed.
 
"I believe this is a publicity stunt for Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords," Hall said. "They say they're Second Amendment supporters. I don't believe they are."
 

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. Court to decide if race preference bans hurt diversity

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WASHINGTON — To hear Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette explain it, what could be wrong with a state constitutional amendment that "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin?"
 
Just about everything, says Mark Rosenbaum of the American Civil Liberties Union and a host of civil rights groups. "While that makes a good bumper sticker … it's not the truth," Rosenbaum says. "Instead of healing the nation's wounds, it's actually opening those wounds."
 
Those two views will play out before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, almost precisely a year after the justices heard another major case on a subject that has divided the nation — and the high court — for decades: affirmative action.
 
On the docket will be the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a 2006 constitutional amendment banning the use of racial preferences in public university admissions. It may not be a close fight. Lawyers for Schuette (pronounced Shoo-tee) are likely to convince the conservative court that, as Chief Justice John Roberts put it a few years back, "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."
 
Far more is at stake than Michigan's Constitution. The justices' ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action could reverberate from the University of Michigan's flagship campus in Ann Arbor to seven states with similar bans: California, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and New Hampshire. And it could prompt other states to follow suit.
 
The justices could go beyond the dispute over state bans and render a ruling that affects affirmative action policies nationwide — something they stopped short of doing in last year's Fisher v. University of Texas case by sending it back to the lower courts to scrutinize more closely the use of racial preferences.
 
"This case gives conservatives a second bite at the affirmative action apple at the Supreme Court," says Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation, the nation's leading advocate for creating alternatives to racial preferences. The justices, he says, "may well use this case as a strong signal of what's to come."
 
Though the legal battle could turn out to be one-sided, the national debate over the impact of banning racial preferences is a far closer call. Beginning in the 1990s in Texas (by court order) and California (by constitutional amendment), the prohibitions have reduced black and Hispanic enrollments at some of the nation's most elite schools, from those in Berkeley and Los Angeles to Austin and Ann Arbor.
 
As a result, the percentage of African Americans among entering freshmen at the nation's top 29 universities in 2011 was lowest at the University of California-Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Michigan, despite efforts by those schools to use socioeconomic and other race-neutral criteria in search of diversity.
 
"It becomes harder and harder to offset the race-conscious ban with whatever tools are in the toolkit," says William Kidder, assistant executive vice chancellor at the University of California-Riverside, who has written extensively on the issue.
 
Other states' bans have forced officials to find recruitment tools that can replace racial preferences and maintain campus diversity. That has worked well in Florida, where a 1999 executive order by Gov. Jeb Bush prohibited using race in admission decisions but not in outreach to potential students.
 
"We really try to target students in urban communities, rural communities, upward-bound types of programs," says Zina Evans, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Florida. Prospective students get the message that "a ban may exist, but it's not because we don't want you here."
 
More typical are states such as Washington, which struggles to maintain a semblance of diversity at its flagship Seattle campus 15 years after a statewide ban on affirmative action went into effect. Philip Ballinger, associate vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions at the University of Washington, likens it to making spaghetti sauce without garlic.
 
"We do the best we can," Ballinger says, but "I think that I could make a better spaghetti sauce — a better freshman class — if I could use race and ethnicity."
 
DRIVING DOWN DIVERSITY
 
Can banning affirmative action help white students without hurting "underrepresented minorities" — largely blacks and Hispanics? The experiences of the most elite universities suggest not.
 
Among in-state students at the University of California, the percentage of African Americans enrolled in 2012 remained lower than 1995, before the ban went into effect. Hispanics' enrollment rose from 16% to 27%, still far below their 46% share of public high school graduates. The university's graduate business, law and medical schools saw similar shifts.
 
"More than 15 years after Proposition 209 barred consideration of race in admissions decisions at public universities in California, the University of California still struggles to enroll a student body that encompasses the broad racial diversity of the state," the school's president and chancellors say in their Supreme Court brief opposing Michigan's law.
 
The University of Michigan makes a similar case. From 2006 to 2012, the percentage of black undergraduates there dropped from 7% to 4.7%, and Hispanics from 4.9% to 4.3%.
 
"Despite its best efforts to maintain racial diversity, (the university) experienced a sharp decline in the enrollment of students of color after Proposal 2 took effect," says Liliana Garces, an assistant professor at Penn State whose brief on behalf of the Civil Rights Project offers the most extensive statistical look at affirmative action bans nationwide.
 
Garces' separate study of affirmative action bans in California, Texas, Florida and Washington found that they slashed the percentages of black and Hispanic students in graduate schools as well — particularly in engineering and science.
 
"It's not too surprising that the largest effects are in California and Michigan," says Peter Hinrichs, an assistant professor at Georgetown University who has written on the issue. "Out of all the states with affirmative action bans, these are the ones with the most selective public universities."
 
State officials and those who spearheaded the constitutional amendment dispute the figures. They note that prospective students can check more than one box for race or ethnicity, skewing the results.
 
"You can't say that those numbers changed significantly when you've changed the rules of how you score the game," says Jennifer Gratz, who won her case against the University of Michigan's racial point system in 2003, then led the effort to change the state Constitution.
 
AN 'INDEFENSIBLE' DECISION?
 
Opponents can say something else: that Michigan's law is a form of "political restructuring" that prohibits racial minorities from seeking admission to a university the same way an athlete or legacy applicant can. Instead, the argument goes, they have to change the state Constitution. That dichotomy was the basis of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals' narrow 8-7 decision striking down the ban.
 
As precedent, the majority cited the Supreme Court's 1969 and 1982 rulings in cases from Akron and Seattle. The high court struck down voter-approved initiatives that had blocked the cities' pro-minority housing and school busing policies. Opponents of the Michigan initiative want equal treatment.
 
"Michigan established pervasive de facto segregation and inequality with the same scientific precision that it used to create the assembly line," the state's opponents argue in their brief. "Michigan must not become the model for how to create a new, constitutionally-ratified Jim Crow."
 
Given the innocuous wording of the amendment, some Supreme Court litigants say the "political restructuring" argument isn't likely to go down easy with most justices.
 
"This is an indefensible decision by the 6th Circuit," says Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration who argues frequently before the high court. "This is really a legislative choice, and it's up to the people, not to the courts."
 
Katyal's former boss, Justice Elena Kagan, has recused herself from the case, presumably because of work she did while serving as solicitor general in 2009-10. That won't alter the result, because opponents just need a 4-4 tie to uphold the lower court ruling.
 
As usual, then, Justice Anthony Kennedy is the man to watch. He wrote the court's 1996 decision in Romer v. Evans that struck down a Colorado referendum that banned local governments from enacting gay rights laws.
 
Kennedy has been less enthusiastic about the use of racial preferences in several recent cases, including Fisher and the court's landmark 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision upholding the limited use of racial preferences at the University of Michigan Law School. That ruling led to the 2006 constitutional amendment and to Tuesday's case bearing Schuette's name.
 
"We need to achieve diversity by constitutional means, not by any means necessary," the state's attorney general says. "In Michigan, we don't discriminate against anything or anybody, except discrimination."

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Families fight Tenn. child agency for information

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Read Time:7 Minute, 30 Second
NASHVILLE — When a Department of Children's Services caseworker first placed Jonathan in Janie Cunningham's arms, he was just 2 weeks old — a tiny thing, born three months premature — with a swirl of thick brown hair that seemed to swallow up his face.
 
The Cunninghams, who were foster parents, signed the adoption papers 16 months later. Jonathan was their fifth son, in a tight-knit and often boisterous family in Tullahoma, Tenn.
 
MORE: Tennessean coverage of Department of Children's Services
 
But within months of his second birthday, Jonathan began to act strangely, staying up all night, kicking violently, crying inconsolably. He didn't learn to talk until he was 3.
 
By age 4, he had become violent. He punched his hand through a glass pane. He tried to jump out of moving cars and said he hoped a big yellow truck would run over him. He bit his mother, split her lip and broke her eyeglasses.
 
Janie and her husband, Kelly Cunningham, spent years trying to help Jonathan. Janie quit her job. They exhausted their private health insurance, sold their house and, eventually, declared bankruptcy to pay Jonathan's medical bills.
 
"I thought, 'He's my baby.' I loved him regardless, and we said we would deal with whatever comes our way," Janie Cunningham said. "We would get him whatever help he needed. No one is ever guaranteed good physical or mental health."
 
Adoptive parents of children such as Jonathan are guaranteed financial help and health insurance under federal adoption rules for children born with special needs — benefits the Cunninghams say caseworkers with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services specifically told them they could not receive when they adopted Jonathan.
 
Medical records the Cunninghams were later able to obtain from doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center showed that Jonathan was born with a host of well-documented problems — known to lead to psychological and physical impairments.
 
Difficult start
 
At birth, Jonathan tested positive for phenobarbital, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center records. His biological mother received no prenatal care, and she had admitted that her first cousin might be Jonathan's biological father. She had been hospitalized for schizophrenia, the records showed.
 
"DCS had access to all of Jon's records, knew his mother's history and, in fact, they knew more about Jon than the Cunninghams," said Cynthia Cheatham, an attorney for the couple. "At the time of the adoption, they should have sat them down and explained what adoption assistance was. They not only did not do that, they pretty much lied to them. DCS kept important information about a child from his parents."
 
When the Cunninghams turned to the agency's staff for help when Jonathan was 4, they were told they could not qualify because Jonathan had been healthy when he was adopted — which would disqualify him according to the rules of the adoption assistance program. For parents to receive any aid, the program requires pre-existing conditions to be documented before the adoption.
 
A spokesman for the Department of Children's Services acknowledged the agency had erred when Jonathan was first adopted but said the agency has worked to "make it right" — and has implemented improvements in its adoption assistance program.
 
"Yes, we made a mistake approximately seven years ago when this case was initially approved," said spokesman Rob Johnson.
 
"For the past few months, though, our staff has worked hard and faithfully to make it right," he said. "We believe the family has done great work on behalf of this child. By the same token, we respectfully take issue with their attorney's contention that DCS was deliberately untruthful."
 
Department of Children's Services attorneys last month agreed to a settlement with the Cunningham's for $79,000 in retroactive adoptive assistance after Cheatham threatened to file a lawsuit against the agency.
 
The agency also pledged to provide assistance going forward to help the couple with their expenses raising the now-9-year old boy, who has been diagnosed with autism, bi-polar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and disruptive behavior disorder, among other things.
 
Much to overcome
 
Advocates for adoptive families of children with special needs say the Cunninghams' experience is not an isolated case.
 
For more than a decade, two class-action lawsuits against Tennessee brought federal court oversight of the medical care provided to children in the department's custody and the information about a child's medical background that is passed along to foster parents and adoptive families.
 
The court oversight identified problems and forced system-wide improvements. In one lawsuit known as John B., overseers appointed by the court more than a decade ago found the agency was not getting children regular check-ups or proper medical or psychological care before placing kids with foster families or adoptive parents.
 
That suit has since ended after the court found the agency has made significant improvements in the past 15 years.
 
Michele Johnson, executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, which filed the now-ended John B. class action lawsuit, said her agency has tried to assist nearly two dozen families adopting children from Department of Children's Services custody in similar situations.
 
Johnson said she believes caseworkers and staff are motivated to find good adoptive homes for children in their care, but that the agency has fallen down on the job of evaluating children's backgrounds and giving adoptive parents the guidance, support and financial assistance they need.
 
High caseloads, bureaucratic errors and pressures to get children adopted are all factors, Johnson said. The agency is under court order to meet annual benchmarks in getting children adopted out of state custody.
 
"What you would expect from DCS is a little more expertise and knowledge about what to anticipate in terms of levels of abuse or drug or alcohol abuse in utero," she said. "They should have the resources to know that a child who looks really cute at age 4 but who has been sexually abused or exposed in utero to cocaine, that chances of that child growing up and not needing any mental health care is nil."
 
A federal adoption assistance program was created by Congress in 1980 to encourage the adoption of special-needs children and remove the financial obstacles.
 
States can offer financial payments — a combination of federal grants and money from the agency budget — to help families pay for therapy, transportation, in-home services, medications and other expenses associated with a child diagnosed with special needs at the time of the adoption. Similar financial assistance is offered pre-adoption to foster parents of children with medical or psychological problems.
 
'He could have died'
 
Hoping to adopt, Josh and Tonya Graham became foster parents in 2007.
 
When 6-week-old Chase was brought by a Department of Children's Services casework to the Graham home, she told them he had been in the hospital overnight with a virus, but was otherwise healthy, Tonya Graham said.
 
The first night, they noticed his cries were barely audible. He had trouble eating.
 
Six days later, Chase couldn't keep his food down and he was rushed to the hospital.
 
They learned Chase already had a long medical history. Chase had been born addicted to benzodiazepine and cocaine. He had been on life support. And when he was discharged, doctors required him to go home with special bottles, special formula and an oxygen machine.
 
"None of that was relayed to us," Tonya Graham said. "We were told that he was a healthy baby. We learned little by little over time just how sick he was.
 
"We told DCS he could have died because of the information you did not give us."
 
Agency officials dispute the Grahams' account, saying agency caseworkers were never told the family had concerns about a lack of medical equipment being brought to their home.
 
Johnson, the agency spokesman, noted that after a series of hospitalizations nine months after being placed in the Grahams' home, the child was properly qualified as "medically fragile."
 
The Grahams have adopted Chase and were able to secure adoption assistance.
 
They remain in an ongoing dispute with agency officials over retroactive pre-adoption foster care assistance for special needs children from the day Chase was placed in their home.
 
They are appealing the agency's decision to deny it.
 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Egypt: Detained U.S. citizen found dead in cell

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Read Time:4 Minute, 0 Second
CAIRO (AP) — The Egyptian government said a U.S. citizen it detained in the Sinai Peninsula last month for violating curfew was found dead Sunday in his jail cell, the second foreigner to die in detention in recent weeks.
 
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo confirmed that an American citizen held prisoner in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia died from an apparent suicide and that it was in contact with Egyptian authorities. It had no further comment.
 
In Washington, the State Department identified the American as James Lunn and said U.S. consular officials in Cairo were informed of his arrest on Aug. 28, a day after the Egyptians detained him. Consular officials had been in touch with Egyptian authorities and Lunn since, it said.
 
A statement by the Egyptian Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said Lunn was detained on Aug. 27 during "combing operations" that followed a car bombing outside a police station in the turbulent northern region of Sinai. It said a computer and maps of "important installations" were found in his possession. It did not identify the facilities.
 
Lunn, it continued, was remanded in police custody and was remanded again for 30 days by a court on Saturday. He was found hanged on Sunday at the door of the bathroom of his cell block in an Ismailia police station. Lunn had a visit from a U.S. consulate official last Tuesday, it added.
 
A coroner has been appointed to determine the cause of death, the statement said.
 
Security officials earlier said he was a retired U.S. Army officer, a claim denied by the State Department. Lunn arrived in Cairo from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain on Aug. 25, Egyptian officials said. They had said he was detained by army troops in Sinai three days later while making his way to the border crossing with Gaza in the town of Rafah.
 
He was flown to Ismailia on a military aircraft and handed over to the police there, the officials said. Jailers found him dead after he used his belt and shoe laces to hang himself, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
 
The Interior Ministry and the security officials earlier mistakenly identified the American as James Henry Allen and James Henry. Such confusion is common in Egypt in the case of foreign names that are transliterated from English, often with some liberty.
 
The American is the second foreigner to die in Egyptian custody since last month. Then, authorities said cell mates beat a French man to death after his arrest in Cairo's upscale district of Zamalek for violating curfew.
 
The latest death is likely to revive the furor about poor conditions and human rights violations in Egyptian jails. Two Canadian citizens jailed for weeks before their release last week complained of torture and inhuman conditions.
 
However, the State Department said Lunn had at no time complained to U.S. consular officials that he had been maltreated by the Egyptians. It confirmed the Egyptians' claim that Lunn was last visited by a U.S. consular officer on Oct. 8.
 
The American's arrest came at a time when the military and security forces are fighting Islamic militants in northern Sinai, where they have been attacked daily since the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in a July 3 military coup. Authorities have arrested more than 2,000 Morsi supporters since, including leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood, in the biggest campaign against Islamists since the early 1980s.
 
Authorities slapped a nighttime curfew on much of Egypt in August following a wave of violence stemming from the popularly backed military coup.
 
Meanwhile Sunday, a Soviet-made MiG-21 fighter jet belonging to the Egyptian air force crashed while on a training mission near the southern ancient city of Luxor, killing a villager on the ground and injuring three, officials said. The pilot bailed out and parachuted safely to the ground.
 
The plane crash set several houses on fire and damaging an elementary school. The fire was quickly put out, said security and medical officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
 
Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, a military spokesman, said on his official Facebook page that the plane crashed as a result of a mechanical failure. He gave no other details.
 
The Russian-made MiG warplanes and other Soviet-made aircraft were once the backbone of Egypt's air force. They began to be replaced by U.S.-made fighter jets, mainly the F-16, starting from the 1980s.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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