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Tuesday, Jul 29th

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Supreme Court Justices Reject Appeal Over Graduations In Church

ScaliaThe Supreme Court has left in place a court decision that said public high school graduations in a church adorned with religious symbols violated the separation of church and state.

The justices' action Monday comes more than a month after the court upheld Christian prayer at the start of town council meetings.

The justices did not explain their denial of the appeal from the Elmbrook School District in southeastern Wisconsin, however. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have heard the case.

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Lake Isabella fire: 2,000 acres scorched in California

Lake isabella fireSome 500 homes were under threat in the Kern River Valley, Calif., after the Shirley Fire near Lake Isabella swelled to about 2,000 acres Sunday.

Officials ordered the evacuations of 500 homes and the Southern California Edison communication facilities Saturday night as the fire spread through the region.

A shelter was opened by the Red Cross at the Lake Isabella Senior Center for the evacuated.

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Starbucks offers workers free college tuition

starbucksStarbucks employees nationwide will be eligible for a free college education through Arizona State University's online program beginning this fall.

The new initiative, touted as the first of its kind, will allow many of Starbucks' 135,000 workers to graduate debt free from ASU with no requirement to repay or stay on with the company. The funding will come from a partnership between ASU and Starbucks.

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Supreme Court rules against straw purchasers of guns

no more straw gun purchasesThe Supreme Court dealt a rare blow to the gun lobby Monday by ruling that purchasers must report when they are buying firearms for other people.

The decision upheld two lower courts that had ruled against so-called "straw purchasers," even though the justices acknowledged that Congress left loopholes in gun control laws passed in the 1960s and 1990s.

For gun purchasers to be allowed to buy from licensed dealers without reporting the actual final owners of the firearms, the justices said, would make little sense.

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Meth pours into Central California as liquid

liquid methIn meth- amphetamine's seedy underworld, traffickers are disguising the drug as a liquid to smuggle it into the United States from Mexico.

Dissolved in a solution, it's sealed in tequila bottles or plastic detergent containers to fool border agents and traffic officers. Once deep in California's Central Valley, a national distribution hub, meth cooks convert it into crystals — the most sought-after form on the street.

Tough policing has driven the highly toxic super-labs south of the border where meth is manufactured outside the sight of U.S. law enforcement, but the smaller conversion labs are popping up domestically in neighborhoods, such as one in Fresno where a house exploded two years ago.

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US DJ Casey Kasem dies aged 82

Casey KasemDJ Casey Kasem, best known for hosting US radio show American Top 40, has died at the age of 82, his daughter has said.

Kasem became a household name in the US after launching the nationally-syndicated show in 1970.  He also voiced cartoon character Shaggy in Scooby-Doo.

He had suffered from Lewy body disease, a form of dementia, and had recently been at the centre of a bitter family court battle over his care.

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President Obama intervenes to end Philadelphia transit strike

Philadelphia train strikePresident Barack Obama on Saturday intervened to end a transit strike in the greater Philadelphia area, establishing an emergency board to force the two sides to negotiate.

The move, at the behest of Republican Governor Tom Corbett, came hours after about 440 engineers and electricians who operate trains that connect Philadelphia and its suburbs walked off the job.

“That’s it. The strike is over," said Arthur Davidson, spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of the two unions on strike.

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