Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 |
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Senators call for stronger rules on off-the-books suspension
Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are urging the Education Department to strengthen regulations against excluding kids from class because of behaviors related to a disability — a practice known as informal removal. Since the pandemic began, parents of kids with disabilities say the practice is on the rise, denying their kids their legal right to an education. In a report Tuesday, The Associated Press and The Hechinger Report documented the impact of these informal removals on children and families. In interviews with 20 families in 10 states, parents said they were called repeatedly to pick up their children. Some said they left work so frequently they lost their jobs.
Relatives of kidnapped California family beg for help, tips
Relatives of a family kidnapped at gunpoint from their trucking business in central California are pleading Wednesday for help in the search for an 8-month-old girl, her mother, father and uncle. They are asking anyone who owns a convenience store or gas station near the business in the city of Merced to check their surveillance video for the suspect or family. Authorities showed surveillance footage that showed the kidnapper taking the four out of their property. Sheriff’s officials say a convicted robber who later tried to kill himself is a suspect in the case. They say they are hoping to interview the hospitalized suspect once he is less sedated.
Barges grounded by low water halt Mississippi River traffic
The unusually low water level in the lower Mississippi River is causing barges to get stuck in the mud and sand. That’s disrupting river travel for shippers, recreational boaters and even passengers on a cruise line. The lack of rainfall in recent weeks has left the Mississippi River approaching record low levels in areas from Missouri south through Louisiana. The U.S. Coast Guard says at least eight grounding of barges have been reported in the past week, despite low-water restrictions on barge loads. The National Weather Service says nearly all of the Mississippi River basin, from Minnesota through Louisiana, has seen below-normal rainfall over the past 30 days.
Nobel Prize for 3 chemists who made molecules ‘click’
This year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to Americans Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless, and Danish scientist Morten Meldal for developing a way of “snapping molecules together” that can be used to design better medicines. They were cited for their work on click chemistry, which has been used to make cancer drugs, map DNA and create materials that are tailored to a specific purpose. Hans Ellegren, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, announced the winners Wednesday at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
Colorado baker fighting ruling over gender transition cake
The Colorado baker who won a partial Supreme Court victory after refusing on religious grounds to make a wedding cake for a gay couple a decade ago is challenging a separate ruling that he violated the state’s anti-discrimination law — this time over complaints he refused to make a birthday cake celebrating a gender transition. A lawyer for Jack Phillips on Wednesday urged Colorado’s appeals court to overturn last year’s ruling in a lawsuit brought by Autumn Scardina, a transgender woman. Phillips rejected her request in 2017 to make a birthday cake that had blue frosting on the outside and was pink inside to celebrate her gender transition.
SpaceX launches to space station with Russian astronaut among crew of 4
A SpaceX rocket carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station launched Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. One of the passengers of the mission, Crew-5, is a Russian astronaut, Anna Kikina. Her presence on the spacecraft shows that cooperation is continuing between the United States and Russia on the International Space Station in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The other crew members on Wednesday’s flight are Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA and Koichi Wakata of JAXA, the Japanese space agency. The four will spend half a year in orbit on the space station.
US aims to turn Taiwan into giant weapons depot
U.S. officials are intensifying efforts to build a stockpile of weapons in Taiwan after studying naval and air force exercises by the Chinese military around the island, according to current and former officials. The exercises showed that China would probably blockade the island as a prelude to any attempted invasion, and Taiwan would have to hold out on its own until the U.S. or other nations intervened, if they decided to do that, the officials say. But the effort to transform Taiwan into a weapons depot faces challenges.
Ukrainians were behind an assassination in Russia, US believes
U.S. intelligence agencies believe parts of the Ukrainian government authorized the car bomb attack near Moscow in August that killed Daria Dugina, daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, an element of a covert campaign that U.S. officials fear could widen the conflict. Ukraine denied involvement in the killing immediately after the attack, and senior officials repeated those denials when asked about the American intelligence assessment. While Russia has not retaliated in a specific way for the assassination, the United States is concerned that such attacks — while high in symbolic value — have little direct effect on the battlefield and could provoke Moscow.
Putin signs annexation of Ukrainian regions as losses mount
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the final papers to annex four regions of Ukraine while his military struggled to control the new territory. In a defiant move, the Kremlin held the door open for further land grabs in Ukraine. Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “certain territories will be reclaimed” and that Russia would continue “consulting” residents about joining Russia. He did not specify which additional Ukrainian territories Moscow is eyeing. The four annexed regions were added in violation of international laws. Ukrainian law enforcement officials, meanwhile, reported discovering more evidence of torture and killings in areas retaken from Russian forces.
North Korea launches more missiles as US redeploys carrier
North Korea has launched two ballistic missiles into its eastern waters after the U.S. redeployed an aircraft carrier in response to the North’s earlier launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said North Korea’s continued launches were “absolutely intolerable.” The launches Tuesday were North Korea’s sixth round of weapons tests in less than two weeks, adding to a record number of missile launches this year that has been condemned by the United States and other countries. Thursday’s launches came as the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan returned to waters east of South Korea.
By wire sources
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