National News for Dec. 20 - Jan. 2

Jan. 4, 2009, midnight | By Poorna Natarajan | 15 years, 5 months ago

This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from the New York Times, CNN, Chicago Tribune, U.S.A Today, MSNBC and Associated Press. Silver Chips Online posts this news summary to provide readers with a forum for discussion.

Washington, D.C.

Dec. 23 - President Bush granted 19 pardons and commuted one prison sentence for drug possession. Charlie Winters, who died in 1984 at 71, was the second person to ever be pardoned by a U.S. president after death. Winters violated the 1939 Neutrality Act by breaking an embargo on shipping weapons to Israel. Although he was praised by Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir for his efforts, Winters was jailed in the U.S.

Bush commuted Reed Raymond Prior's 10-year prison sentence for holding and intending to distribute methamphetamines. Bush withdrew his pardon of Issac Robert Toussie of Brooklyn after receiving details of Toussie's prior criminal offenses. Toussie was pardoned from conviction for false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and mail fraud.

Springfield, Ill.

Dec. 30 - Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill President-elect Barack Obama's newly vacated Senate seat. Blagojevich selected Burris despite the fact that attorney Ed Genson, Blagojevich's criminal defense attorney, stated that Blagojevich could not name Obama's successor. Democratic Senate leaders and Obama have concurred that anyone appointed by Blagojevich would be dismissed, but no legislation has been passed to prevent Blagojevich from appointing a replacement Senator. As the state Comptroller since 1978, Burris, 71, was the first black person to hold statewide office. Burris donated more than $20,000 for Blagojevich's campaign for Illinois governor.

New York, N.Y.

Dec. 31 - The U.S. Labor Department released an economic report for the week of Dec. 27, which stated that the number of jobless claims dropped to 492,000 from the 26-year high of 586,000 claims a week earlier. However, the Labor Department report also showed that the number of people receiving unemployment benefits increased by 140,000 people on Dec. 27. Experts claim that the decline in jobless claims might be due to a seasonal adjustment since workers in unemployment offices may have not filed claims over the holiday; they predict the situation will only get worse in the New Year.

Boise, Idaho

Jan. 1 - Kenneth Quintana, 29, was charged with second-degree murder and felony injury to a child for allowing his niece Sage Aragon, 11, and nephew Bear Aragon, 12, to go on a 10-mile walk to their mother's house on a subfreezing Christmas day. The father of the children, Robert Aragon, 55, faces similar charges. Before the walk, Quintana and Aragon were driving their children when the car was stuck in a snowy road. Sage died of hypothermia, and was found by rescue dogs at 2 a.m. while Bear was found alive in a public restroom. Aragon faces 10 years in prison and both men are being held on $500,000 bond.

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