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United States

Jackson, Miss.

Lesbian teen challenges school: Local educators are facing a potential lawsuit for refusing to publish a lesbian high school student’s graduation photo. Ceara Sturgis, an openly gay honors student at Wesson Attendance Center, wore a tuxedo for her graduation picture. But school officials told Sturgis they wouldn’t publish her photo in the yearbook because only boys are permitted to wear tuxedos. The ACLU threatened legal action on Sturgis’ behalf if Principal Ronald Greer fails to reverse the decision. “I feel I’m not important, that the school is dismissing who I am,” said Sturgis. “All I want is to be me.”


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School year cut: In an effort to cut $468 million from the state education budget over the next two years, Hawaii’s teachers have agreed to take Fridays off for the rest of the school year. The plan, which goes into effect next week, will give Hawaii’s 171,000 public-school students the nation’s shortest school year, at 163 days. Although teachers say they will try to compress five days of schoolwork into four days each week, parents are objecting. “It’s just not enough time to learn,” said state PTA president Valerie Sonoda. Hawaii already trails most states in national education achievement.

Washington, D.C.

Health-care crunch: House and Senate leaders worked behind closed doors this week to produce final health-care bills capable of passing their respective sides of Congress. Debate in the Senate continued over a “public option”—a government insurance program to compete with private insurers. One proposal would allow individual states to “opt out” of a public option. Another, from Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, would “trigger” a public option in the event insurance reform doesn’t sufficiently slow health-care spending. The White House is eager to get a filibuster-proof 60 votes for legislation. “We are heading into crunch time,” said one senior Democratic aide. “The president and his team are going to have to reach out and bring some wary Democrats into the fold.”

Tangipahoa Parish, La.

Interracial marriage barred: A black man and white woman are suing a justice of the peace for refusing to perform their marriage. Keith Bardwell, a justice since 1975, refused to wed Terence McKay and Beth Humphrey because he objected to the prospect of mixed-race children. “I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children into a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” he told reporters. “In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Mary Landrieu called for Bardwell’s removal. Humphrey and McKay were married by another justice of the peace.

Storrs, Conn.

College star killed: A starting cornerback for the University of Connecticut football team was stabbed to death last weekend, hours after his team won its homecoming game. Jasper Howard, 20, was killed in a fight at a school dance in the university’s student union. The fight erupted at around 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning after a fire alarm was pulled, forcing the evacuation of 300 students and guests. Police, who have yet to identify a suspect, were investigating whether the alarm and stabbing were related. A second stabbing victim was treated at a local hospital and released. Howard, a Miami native who led the Big East in punt returns last season, was also an expectant father. “He loved UConn,” said the university’s football coach, Randy Edsall. “He loved everything about this.”

New York City

Artist admits lie: Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic “Hope” poster for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, admitted that he previously lied about the photograph he’d relied on to make the poster. Fairey initially claimed to have cropped a shot of Obama’s head from a 2006 Associated Press photograph featuring Obama and others. But last week, Fairey acknowledged that he had used a solo image of Obama—also from the AP. The distinction may influence the outcome of AP’s legal claim that Fairey violated “fair use” of its copyrighted work; if Fairey merely copied AP’s solo image, his defense is likely weakened. “This was a brain-dead move by Mr. Fairey,” said Laurence Pulgram, an intellectual property lawyer. Fairey also acknowledged destroying and fabricating evidence.

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