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March 15, 2009

National News for Feb. 28 - March 13

by Alisa Lu, Online News Editor
This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from CNN, BBC and Reuters. Silver Chips Online posts this news summary to provide readers with a forum for discussion.

Washington, D.C.

March 4 - President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kan.) as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Nancy-Ann DeParle as head of the White House Office for Health Reform. Obama had earlier nominated former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) for both positions but Daschle withdrew over concerns regarding his failure to fully pay his taxes. If confirmed, Sebelius and DeParle will oversee a gigantic overhaul of the United States health care system and make many changes to government programs and agencies such as Medicare and the Food and Drug Administration. Obama has estimated that the cost of overhauling the system will exceed $1 billion.

March 9 - Obama reversed former President George W. Bush's ban on federal funding of research using human embryonic stem cells. United States law had previously only limited federal funding for research that would create human stem cells but Bush expanded the law to limit federal funding for any work involving human stem cells. Pro-life critics have criticized Obama for lifting the ban because they believe that stem cells can become human beings; others support Obama because of the potential cures to diseases that can be found by stem cell research. Obama's aides said that he has given the National Institutes of Health 120 days to create a guideline on how to oversee stem-cell research.

March 10 - The United States Senate passed a spending bill totaling $410 billion that provides funding for the government throughout this fiscal year, which will end in five months. The bill has drawn criticism for including over $9 billion in earmarks but Senators voted 62-35 to end a Republican filibuster and immediately passed the bill afterwards. The House of Representatives had passed the bill last week. In response to critics, Obama has indicated that he will compose guidelines for future spending bills that will supposedly cut down on earmarks.

Maryville, Ill.

March 8 - A man now identified as Terry J. Sedlacek allegedly killed Reverend Fred Winters and wounded two others during a Sunday service at the First Baptist Church. Sedlacek, 27, is accused of firing shots at Winters while Winters was preaching on a pulpit. Sedlacek is also accused of stabbing Terry Bullard and Keith Melton, two church-goers who tried to stop him. Melton and Bullard were both treated at a nearby hospital. Sedlacek is being charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery and is currently being treated for wounds received during the incident.

New York City, N.Y.

March 10 - Bernard Madoff's attorney Ira Sorkin indicated that Madoff intends to plead guilty to the 11 counts of crime charged against him including mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. Madoff is accused of running a giant Ponzi scheme that is estimated to have cost investors $64.8 billion - the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Experts had expected a plea deal, but without such a deal, Madoff could face up to 150 years in jail and will be forced to forfeit his assets to pay retribution to victims.



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