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Texas decriminalizing students' truancy

Texas decriminalizes truancyA long-standing Texas law that has sent about 100,000 students a year to adult criminal court for missing school is off the books, though a Justice Department investigation into one county's truancy courts continues.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to implement preventive measures, The Texas Tribune newspaper reported. The new law will take effect Sept. 1.


Al Jazeera demands release of reporter held in Germany

Al Jazeera reporterAl Jazeera has urged Germany to immediately release its journalist Ahmed Mansour, who was detained at a Berlin airport at the request of the Egyptian authorities.

Mansour, a senior Al Jazeera Arabic TV journalist, was arrested at Berlin's Tegel airport at 13:20 GMT on Saturday as he tried to board a Qatar Airways flight from Berlin to Doha.


Texas abortion law teed up for Supreme Court review

Abortion law teed up for SC reviewAbortion is back before the Supreme Court, and the justices could signal by the end of June whether they are likely to take up the biggest case on the hot-button subject in nearly a quarter-century.

If the court steps in, the hearing and the eventual ruling would come amid the 2016 presidential campaign.

The court is considering an emergency appeal from abortion providers in Texas, who want the justices to block two provisions of a state law that already has forced the closure of roughly half the licensed abortion clinics in the state. Ten of the remaining 19 clinics will have to shut their doors by July 1, without an order from the Supreme Court.


Charleston shooting: Confederate flag at heart of growing political storm

Confederate flagPressure is mounting on South Carolina to pull down the Confederate flag that continues to fly on the grounds of the state capitol, after a Republican legislator announced plans to introduce a bill to remove the divisive symbol that has inflamed feelings in the wake of the Charleston church shootings.

Norman “Doug” Brannon, a white legislator, said on MSNBC that he wanted to introduce the bill because of the death of his friend Clementa Pinckney, a reverend and state senator who was pastor of the Emanuel AME church and one of nine worshippers gunned down there on Wednesday night.


Earth 'entering new extinction phase' - US study

extinction stage for earthThe Earth has entered a new period of extinction, a study by three US universities has concluded, and humans could be among the first casualties.

The report, led by the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley, said vertebrates were disappearing at a rate 114 times faster than normal.
The findings echo those in a report published by Duke University last year.

One of the new study's authors said: "We are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event."


Red-light camera CEO pleads guilty to bribing officials

bribery admission by redflex CEOThe former CEO of a company that sells and operates red-light cameras told a judge she bribed officials in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, to secure and maintain contracts with the cities.

Karen Finley, 55, of Cave Creek, Ariz., pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio to conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, and honest services wire and mail fraud.

Between 2005 and 2013, Finley was CEO of Redflex Traffic Systems, a company that sets up cameras at intersections that snap photos of vehicles running red lights.


U.S. crushes one ton of ivory in Times Square to quell poaching

US crushes one ton of ivoryThe U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service destroyed more than a ton of elephant ivory in New York's Times Square on Friday in a very public attempt to highlight and stop the illicit ivory trade.

Wildlife officials, lawmakers and bystanders watched as pieces of ivory, from tusks to jewelry, were run through an industrial rock crusher and turned into a sandy powder.


Mistrial in case of ex-South Carolina police chief

SC ex-poloice cheif CombsA judge declared a mistrial Friday evening in the retrial of a white former South Carolina police chief who was charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man, media outlets reported.

Judge Brian Gibbons ended trial Friday evening after a jury deliberated nearly seven hours without reaching a unanimous decision in the case of former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs, TV station WLTX19 reported.


Charleston shooting suspect’s father speaks out

Charleston shooterThe father of Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old suspected gunman in the shooting this week at the historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine dead, told Al Jazeera on Friday that he and his daughter alerted police during the manhunt for his son.

"My daughter and I called the hotline on Thursday morning to turn my son in," Ben Roof said.  He also disputed an earlier report by Reuters, citing Dylann Roof’s uncle Carson Cowles, that Ben Roof gave his son a .45 caliber gun as a birthday present.

"I did not buy my son that gun. In fact, he used his own money. I did not buy that gun," he said.


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