Nation Digest


November 23, 2005

Mass. gay marriage foes claim signatures

BOSTON -- Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to put a stop to gay marriage in Massachusetts said yesterday that they have gathered almost twice the number of signatures needed to put it on the ballot in 2008. Beyond the signatures, the proposal needs to be approved by two successive sessions of the state Legislature before it can be placed before voters. The Massachusetts Family Institute said it will submit more than 120,000 signatures before today's 5 p.m. deadline. The measure needed the support of 65,825 registered voters. The proposed amendment seeks to undo a 2003 ruling by the state's highest court that said gays are entitled to marry.

U.S. seeks to update quarantine rules

ATLANTA --Federal health officials are seeking to update quarantine regulations, hoping changes such as easier access to airline passenger lists could better protect Americans from foreign infectious diseases, including bird flu. The proposed changes, announced yesterday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include easier CDC access to airline and ship passenger lists, a clearer appeals process for people subjected to quarantines, and explicit authority to offer vaccinations and medical treatment to quarantined people. The changes are part of a multipronged attempt to guard against infectious agents from abroad.

Hurricane victims get FEMA extension

WASHINGTON --Stung by complaints it was pushing hurricane victims out before the holidays, FEMA extended its hotel housing program yesterday by a month in 10 states where most of the homeless evacuees sought shelter after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. More than 46,000 families in those states now have until Jan. 7 to move out of hotels and into travel trailers, mobile homes or apartments until they find permanent homes. The deadline comes much sooner - Dec. 15 - for 3,500 other households scattered nationwide, before the Federal Emergency Management Agency stops paying their hotel bills. In all, FEMA is paying for 49,826 hotel rooms for hurricane victims at an estimated $3 million a day.

Challenger wants recount in Detroit

DETROIT --Freman Hendrix announced yesterday that he will ask for a hand recount of votes from the Detroit mayoral election, which he lost this month to incumbent Kwame Kilpatrick. "There has been enough evidence ... to raise legitimate questions about how the election was conducted and how the ballots were counted," Hendrix said. Arthur Blackwell II, the mayor's chief campaign strategist, said that with more than 14,500 votes separating the candidates, a recount probably won't change the outcome. Hendrix announced his decision the same day the city's Board of Canvassers certified the Nov. 8 vote.

Fox News rejects ad critical of Alito

WASHINGTON --Fox News is refusing to air an advertisement critical of Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., citing its lawyers' contention that the spot is factually incorrect. A spokesman for the groups sponsoring the ad said the decision reflects the political right's effort to shield President Bush's choice for the high court. The ad says that as an appellate judge, Alito has "ruled to make it easier for corporations to discriminate ... even voted to approve a strip search of a 10-year-old girl." Referring to a document he wrote in 1985 while seeking a job in the Reagan administration, it quotes him as saying "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

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