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Apr 8, 2015

Oklahoma set to join Kansas in banning flashpoint abortion procedure

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday passed a ban on the main procedure used for second trimester abortions, a day after neighboring Kansas became the first state to ban the practice that its critics call “dismemberment abortions.”

The “Dismemberment Abortion Act” passed easily in both houses of the Republican-dominated Oklahoma legislature and should soon head to Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, who has been a staunch supporter of abortion restrictions.

Apr 7, 2015

Kansas becomes first state to ban a second trimester abortion procedure

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – Kansas became the first state to ban a common second trimester abortion procedure when Governor Sam Brownback, a Republican, on Tuesday signed into a law an act to halt what lawmakers said are “dismemberment abortions.”

The law that goes into effect on July 1 prohibits the use of dilation and evacuation. The bill says the procedure can result in the fetus being extracted in pieces.

Apr 7, 2015

Corrected – Arkansas woman dies at 116 after 6-day reign as world’s oldest person

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Gertrude Weaver, who last week became the world’s oldest-known living person, has died at the age of 116 at a senior care facility in Arkansas, officials said on Monday.

Weaver, who said the key to longevity was to treat people kindly, basked in her brief moment in the global spotlight. She enjoyed being read news articles about being the oldest person on the planet, said Kathy Langley, the administrator of the Silver Oaks Health & Rehabilitation Center in Camden, Arkansas.

Apr 6, 2015

Indiana, Arkansas retreat on religion bills may spark wider trend

AUSTIN, Texas, April 6 (Reuters) – Oklahoma lawmakers have
put the brakes on a religion bill similar to ones in Indiana and
Arkansas that were overhauled last week after facing a storm of
criticism for being seen as discriminatory against gays.

Oklahoma’s decision on Friday to shelve a bill that would
have expanded its religious freedom law to allow people to deny
services to same-sex couples made it the latest state to back
away from proposed legislation that critics say targets the
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Apr 6, 2015

Arkansas woman dies at 116 after six-day reign as world’s oldest person

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Gertrude Weaver, who last week became the world’s oldest-known living person, has died at the age of 116 at a senior care facility in Arkansas, officials said on Monday.

Weaver, who said the key to longevity was to treat people kindly, basked in her brief moment in the global spotlight. She enjoyed being read news articles about being the oldest person on the planet, said Kathy Langley, the administrator of the Silver Oaks Health & Rehabilitation Center in Camden, Arkansas.

Apr 4, 2015

Reality TV burnishes image of the neighborhood pawn shop

AUSTIN, Texas, April 4 (Reuters) – After centuries on the
fringe of consumer finance, the neighborhood pawn shop is
pushing its way toward the mainstream, thanks to the power of
reality television and the long arm of government regulation.

The History Channel’s hit show “Pawn Stars,” featuring a Las
Vegas shop run by three generations of the quirky but endearing
Harrison family, has helped transform the image of the pawn
shop, portraying it as a fun place to do business and discover
one-of-a-kind buys.

Apr 2, 2015

Arkansas, Indiana lawmakers seek fixes of religion acts

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – Lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas plan remedies on Thursday to religion acts that were sent back to them this week following criticism from rights activists and businesses who said the measures allowed discrimination against gays.

In Indiana, lawmakers planned to unveil changes to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), enacted into law last week, which spurred protests, threats of boycotts and warnings from powerful U.S. firms about pending economic damage for the act’s perceived stand against U.S. ideals of inclusion.

Apr 1, 2015

Be kind to live long, world’s oldest woman says from Arkansas

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – The world’s oldest person, 116-year-old Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas, believes the key to longevity is treating other people kindly.

Weaver, born on July 4, 1898, lives at a senior care facility in Camden Arkansas, where she exercises in her wheelchair three times a week and eats three meals a day at the facility’s dining room.

Apr 1, 2015

Indiana Republicans meet with LGBT groups seeking fix to law

By Fiona Ortiz and Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – Republican lawmakers in Indiana were meeting with gay and lesbian groups on Wednesday as they rushed to re-craft a potentially discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act that sparked national outrage.

The rewritten law could be ready as early as Thursday, said Tory Flynn, spokeswoman for Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma.

Mar 31, 2015

U.S. Justice Department launches probe of Dallas truancy courts

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating truancy courts in Dallas County, Texas, for alleged violations such as blocking access to lawyers and excessive fines after complaints about a system critics say is one of the nation’s harshest.

The investigation of the Truancy Court and Juvenile District Court in Dallas County “will focus on whether the courts provide constitutionally required due process to all children charged with the criminal offense of failure to attend school,” the department said on Tuesday.