Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News

  • In reversal, major law firm drops DOMA defense

    AP070827059786King and Spalding, a high-profile law firm that had agreed to defend the federal government's law prohibiting gay marriage, has now reversed course and dropped the case, according to Politico.  Firm chairman Robert D. Hays, Jr said through a spokesman that "the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate."

    Hays didn't comment further on why King and Spalding dropped the case, but the firm did face something of an about face after House Speaker John Boehner touted the appointment of Paul Clement, Hays' partner, to defend the Defense of Marriage Act last week. (UPDATE: Clement has resigned over the decision to drop the case and will continue to represent the House of Representatives at a new law firm. "Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do," he wrote.)

    The Department of Justice now refuses to defend DOMA in court after finding parts of it unconstitutional, but Justice officials gave the House of Representatives the opportunity to appoint someone to defend the law. Boehner and other House members appointed Clement, the former U.S. solicitor general, to carry on with the defense as various cases challenging the law make their way to the Supreme Court.

    Gay rights groups called the appointment of Clement a waste of taxpayer money (he agreed to bill the government at a stiff $520 an hour) and started an online petition to pressure the firm to drop the case. The firm was also accused of hypocrisy for spotlighting its gay and lesbian nondiscrimination policies on its website while defending the federal government's right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage.

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  • Watch a tornado rip through St. Louis’ airport

    In the wake of the weekend's devastating tornado in St. Louis, the Internet has picked up a fairly terrifying surveillance video showing the twister ripping through a concourse at Lambert International Airport. The video shows frantic visitors and employees running for cover as the facility gives way to the high winds.

    The massive tornado blazed a path of destruction 22 miles long, tearing through Concourse C of the airport, opening up a hole in the ceiling, and smashing hundreds of its glass windows. Though nearly 100 homes were destroyed and thousands damaged in Friday's storm, the tornado claimed no fatalities--something locals are hailing a miracle, with such a powerful weather event moving through a densely populated city. And incredibly, Lambert airport has reopened and flights began departing yesterday.

    In the video below, you can see TSA agents running for the bathroom as debris begins flying through the concourse:

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  • FIRST LOOK: Taliban dig 1,000-foot tunnel for prison break

    Welcome to First Look, our daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • Hundreds of classified documents give a first look into Guantanamo detainees. Most of the detainees rated as most dangerous to the United States have not been adequately supervised, the Times reports. (NYT)

    • Amazingly, St. Louis's fierce tornado didn't result in any fatalities. (AP)

    • Passengers and crew members overcame a man who tried to hijack a plane as it traveled from Paris to Rome. (The Guardian)

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  • FINAL LOOK: Police searching for man in Colorado pipe bomb

    Here is our roster of stories that managed to evade the full-on blog treatment:

    • Police are searching for a suspect in the Colorado mall bombing attempt. (CBS)

    • The puppy cam is back! (Gawker)

    • The CIA's document destroying system helps heat their offices. (AP)

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  • Homeless woman prosecuted for enrolling son in Conn. school

    Connecticut authorities have filed theft charges against Tanya McDowell, a homeless woman, alleging that she used a false address to enroll her son in a higher-income school district, The Stamford Advocate reports. If she's convicted, McDowell may end up in jail for as many as 20 years and pay a $15,000 fine for the crime.

    McDowell is a homeless single mother from Bridgeport who used to work in food services, is now at the center of one of the very few false address cases in the Norwalk, CT, school district that is being handled in criminal court--rather than between the parent and school. Authorities are accusing McDowell of enrolling her 5-year-old son in nearby Norwalk schools by using the address of a friend. (Her friend has also been evicted from public housing for letting McDowell use her address.)

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  • Youth unemployment poll casts doubt on ‘skip college’ advice

    AP00101913299Even as entrepreneurs and intellectuals have been debating whether there's an overpriced "higher education bubble" in America, a new AP poll sheds light on how young people with only a high school education are suffering in the job market.

    Just 40 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds surveyed who entered the job market with only a high school diploma have a job right now. About 75 percent said they worried about having enough money to make it week to week.

    The unemployment rate for high school grads under 24 was at 10 percent in March 2007, before the recession hit. For the past three years, the figure has been at 20 percent.

    But for young college graduates, unemployment is only at 8.5 percent.

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  • 9-11 first responders to be checked on FBI terror list

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    It's the sort of legislative provision that "Inception" director Christopher Nolan—or maybe paranoid sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick—might dream up: Under the terms of last year's health compensation law for first responders to the 9/11 terror attacks, would-be beneficiaries have to submit to FBI background checks to verify that they are not themselves terrorists. The provision places applicants' names and personal information in a file to be cross-checked with the FBI's Terror Watch list before they receive any medical compensation.

    The Huffington Post's Michael McAuliff reports that a last-minute amendment to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law mandates that the government must establish that no first responders and 9/11 survivors are terrorists prior to assessing their eligibility for federal benefits.

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  • Oregon study finds fewer suicide attempts in Dem counties

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    A new study published in Pediatrics that found a correlation between the number of registered Democrats and lower numbers of suicide attempts among gay teens has caused quite a ruckus in the blogosphere.

    The study, led by Columbia University psychologist Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, used five measures to determine how "supportive" an environment was towards gay youth. Three of the factors involved school environment: whether anti-bullying policies mention lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) students specifically; if schools have gay-straight alliances; and if anti-discrimination policies include sexual orientation. The other two factors were the proportion of same-sex couples in the county and the proportion of registered Democrats.

    The study found that LGB teens overall were five times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens. However, in counties that scored high on the "supportive" factors, LGB teens were 25 percent less likely to attempt suicide than LGB teens in less supportive counties. Moreover, in the supportive environments, suicide attempts by straight teens were 9 percent lower.

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  • Taco Bell asks litigious critics: Would it kill you to say you’re sorry?

    tacobellTex-Mex cheese-heavy food purveyor Taco Bell is finally free of a class-action lawsuit alleging its taco filling is more mystery than meat. But the nation's sixth-largest fast food joint still has a beef--it's holding out for an apology.

    Taco Bell ran full-page ads yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Times and some local papers according to the food blog Eater, demanding an apology from the Alabama-based law firm Beasley Allen, whose dropped class-action suit alleged Taco Bell's filling was only 35-percent beef.

    Here's a video of Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed demanding an official apology from his legal antagonists:

    After news of the lawsuit first made headlines in January, Taco Bell launched a similar full-page ad blitz. "Thank you for suing us," the campaign said in huge block letters, explaining its filling to be 88-percent beef and only 12-percent "secret recipe."

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  • Houston community shocked after kindergartener brought gun to school

    AP110419142358Houston police are reviewing surveillance video from an elementary school to try to figure out how exactly a gun carried by a six-year-old went off and injured three students, KTRK reports. Authorities are also trying to figure out how the kindergartner got his hands on a gun to bring to school in the first place. Meanwhile, parents of the injured children told the Houston Chronicle they were prepared to forgive the little boy.

    "I do believe in forgiveness," Francelle Thomas, whose five-year-old daughter was shot in the foot, told the paper. "I can't explain it--probably because I'm just so happy my child is alive. That's all I care about."

    Witnesses said the gun fell from the boy's pocket as he sat down to eat at the school cafeteria at Betsy Ross Elementary. Debris or shrapnel injured the boy and two others, both five years old.

    Some parents are asking whether the shocking incident is indicative of a larger problem in Houston. Last year, three students at Reynolds Elementary used or possessed guns, according to the Houston Independent School District. From 2000 to 2010, 162 guns were confiscated on 45 Houston K-12 campuses. Statewide, students used or possessed guns on campus 142 times last year.

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