abortion rates higher where it's illegal
Abortion rates are higher in countries where the procedure is illegal and nearly half of all abortions are unsafe, with the vast majority in developing countries, a study concludes. Experts couldn't say if more liberal laws led to fewer procedures, but said good access to birth control in those countries resulted in fewer unwanted pregnancies. The global abortion rate was steady from 2003 to 2008 at about 28 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, or about 43.8 million abortions, according to the study published today in Lancet. About 47,000 women died from unsafe abortions in 2008, and 8.5 million had serious complications.
Auto safety agency shortcomings cited
The nation's top auto safety regulator is ill-equipped to detect problems with high-tech electronics commonplace in today's cars, a government study concludes. Calling such shortcomings "troubling," the study called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to review its technical capabilities and appoint an advisory panel to help it handle potentially serious risks associated with systems such as adaptive cruise control and GPS navigation. In addition, the agency should require automakers to install electronic data recorders, often referred to as black boxes, in all new cars and consider significant changes in the design of pedals and certain ignition systems. These steps, the National Research Council found in a 139-page report released Wednesday, would help NHTSA "ascertain the causes of unexpected vehicle behaviors" — in particular unintended acceleration — and thus improve safety.
Teacher resigns over slavery math
A suburban Atlanta teacher has resigned after an investigation into third-grade students being assigned math homework with word problems about slavery. Gwinnett County schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach said Wednesday an investigation has concluded into four teachers who gave the assignments at Beaver Ridge Elementary. She says the school system accepted the resignation of one teacher but declined to elaborate on the rest. Parents were angered by the math problems, and the NAACP called for teachers to be fired.
$7.5M pledged to help fix monument
Billionaire Maryland philanthropist David Rubenstein will donate $7.5 million to help fix the damaged Washington Monument, government officials plan to announce today, according to the Washington Post. The 555-foot-tall monument was extensively damaged in the 5.8-magnitude earthquake Aug. 23 and has been closed since. Rubenstein said he agreed to split the estimated $15 million repair bill with the government.
Cuba: A magazine published by an arm of al-Qaida made its way to a terror suspect at the Guantanamo Bay prison, leading to an inspection of cells and a contentious new policy requiring special review teams to examine correspondence between prisoners and attorneys, a prosecutor disclosed Wednesday.
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Syria: Syria's powerful allies in Russia vowed Wednesday to block any Western attempts to intervene militarily as Damascus fights off an increasingly chaotic 10-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad.