The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that town boards can start their meetings with prayers without violating the Constitution's ban against establishing a government-favored religion. The court was split 5-to-4 in favor of the conservative majority. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote on behalf of the majority that an upstate New York town's prayers — delivered by a "chaplain of the month" who was usually Christian — were symbolic, not coercive.
Justices rule in favor of prayers at town meetings
Percentage of adults without health insurance falls
The uninsured rate for adults in the U.S. fell to 13.4 percent — a five-year low — in April, after the deadline for open enrollment in ObamaCare health plans, according to a Gallup survey released Monday. The rate was 15.6 percent in the first three months of the year. The White House pointed to the numbers as a sign the Affordable Care Act was working, although the law remains unpopular with a majority of Americans.
Target CEO resigns over data breach
Target CEO and chairman Gregg Steinhafel resigned on Monday, five months after the U.S. discount retailer's sales and stock were dragged down by a massive data breach. The board said it needed new leadership to restore customers' confidence, but analysts expressed suspicion that the move might be a sign the data leak caused deeper problems than previously believed. Target stock lost 3.5 percent Monday.
Boko Haram leader threatens to sell abducted Nigerian school girls
The leader of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram is threatening to sell over 200 Nigerian girls snatched from their high school last month. "I abducted your girls," a man claiming to be the group's head says in a video first obtained by Agence France Presse. "I will sell them in the market." The case has provoked heated criticism of President Goodluck Jonathan. Relatives of the girls say he has not done enough to free them.
Egypt's Sisi says the Muslim Brotherhood is finished if he is elected
Egyptian presidential frontrunner Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood "will not exist" if he wins the vote on May 26 and 27. "I want to tell you that it is not me that finished (the Brotherhood)," Sisi said in his first interview with Egyptian TV. "You, the Egyptians, are the ones who finished it." Sisi was head of the army when it toppled elected president Mohamed Morsi last July.
Dozens of separatists killed as Ukraine fighting intensifies
Thirty pro-Russian rebels were killed by Ukrainian forces in an assault aiming to push separatists out of the town of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Tuesday. Four government soldiers were killed in gunfights, and the rebels shot down a military helicopter in the latest escalation in the fighting. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered to act as a mediator before the conflict deepens.
WHO warns of new polio emergency
The World Health Organization warned on Monday that polio, a virus once believed essentially wiped out, is coming back. There were 300,000 polio cases in the late 1980s, and just 417 cases last year. This year, however, polio has been reported in 10 countries already and the number of cases is threatening to rise, creating a global health emergency. Bruce Aylward, head of WHO's polio program, says it will take a coordinated international effort to keep the virus from reestablishing itself.
Coke and Pepsi drop controversial ingredient
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo said Monday that they would remove a controversial ingredient from all their drinks. The ingredient — brominated vegetable oil, is used in flame retardants, and is not approved for use in food in Japan and the European Union. Despite the change, Coke and Pepsi stand by the safety of the chemical, which helps distribute flavors in fruit-flavored drinks, including Powerade, Mountain Dew, and Fanta.
California school district drops Holocaust-denial essay assignment
A Southern California school district on Monday canceled an assignment telling eighth graders to write an essay on whether the Holocaust was an "actual event in history," or "merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth." The district at first defended the assignment, then decided to revise it. "This was a mistake," spokeswoman Syeda Jafri said. "We all know it was real. The Holocaust is not a hoax."
Carter-Williams wins NBA Rookie of the Year Award
Michael Carter-Williams won the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award on Monday after one of the best debut seasons in league history. The Philadelphia 76ers guard led all rookies in scoring (16.7 points per game), rebounding (6.3), and assists (6.2), a feat only two players — Oscar Robertson in 1961 and Alvan Adams in 1976 — have ever accomplished. The award was a bright spot for the team, which was a dismal 19-63 for the season.