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POSTED March 20, 2012 8:04 p.m.

COURT WARY OF LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR JUVENILES: WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to say anew that young people who commit even the most brutal crimes should not be punished as harshly as adults, taking up a pair of cases in which 14-year-olds convicted of murder are serving life sentences with no chance of parole.

The latest in a line of cases asks whether young teenagers facing the rest of their lives in prison deserve the possibility of a second chance. In recent years, the court has ruled out the death penalty for juveniles and life without parole for young people whose crimes did not involve killing.

Roughly 2,300 people are behind bars for life with no chance of winning their freedom for crimes they committed before their 18th birthday. Seventy-nine of them are in prison for crimes that took place when they were 14 or younger.

MALIA OBAMA SAFE AFTER EARTHQUAKE IN MEXICO: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's oldest daughter, Malia, was never in danger during a strong earthquake Tuesday in Mexico, the White House said.

Malia, 13, accompanied by Secret Service agents, has been in Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico for a school-sponsored service project. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was felt strongly in Oaxaca.

The quake was followed by an aftershock that shook southern Mexico, swayed buildings in Mexico City and sent frightened workers and residents into the streets.

Kristina Schake, the first lady's communications director, said Malia Obama "is safe and was never in danger." Typically the White House does not comment on the Obama children but made an exception because of the quake.

"We would reiterate our request that the media respect the privacy and security of the Obama children and not report on or photograph the girls when they are not with their parents," Schake said.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum criticized Obama for allowing his daughter to travel to Mexico when the State Department had issued a travel warning for the country. "When the government is saying this is not safe, then you don't set the example by sending your kids down there," Santorum said during an interview with radio host Glenn Beck.

The State Department warning in February did not say Americans shouldn't travel to Mexico but noted that "crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere."

US GOVT SETS NEW TARIFFS ON CHINA SOLAR PANELS: WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department is imposing new import fees on solar panels made in China, finding that the Chinese government is improperly giving subsidies to manufacturers of the panels there.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday it has found on a preliminary basis that Chinese solar panel makers have received government subsidies of 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent. Therefore, the department said, tariffs in the same proportions will be charged on Chinese panels imported into the U.S., depending on which company makes them.

The tariff amounts are considered small, but the decision could ratchet up trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Several U.S. solar panel makers had asked the government to impose steep tariffs on Chinese imports. They are struggling against stiff competition from China as well as weakening demand in Europe and other key markets, just as President Barack Obama is working to promote renewable energy.

SCHOOL PRINCIPAL WHO HOSTED ANTI-GAY BAND SPEAKS: DUNKERTON, Iowa (AP) — The principal of a secondary school in Iowa where members of a Christian rock band promoted their anti-gay and anti-abortion views during an assembly says his resignation was planned long before the performance.

Mike Cooper resigned Monday. It was accepted by the school board.

Cooper recommended inviting the Junkyard Prophet band, which is part of a Minnesota group, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. Discussions after the March 8 assembly turned into talks against abortion and homosexuality.

Cooper told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Monday's school board meeting that he was leaving to become a superintendent. He says he was in Arizona when he learned his resignation plans were reported and says the public was wrong to believe it was related to the assembly.

NY TIMES CUTS NUMBER OF FREE ONLINE ARTICLES: NEW YORK (AP) — A year after it began charging for full access to its website, The New York Times is cutting the number of articles available for free from 20 per month to 10.

The change, which takes effect in April, will affect "a relatively small number of people," said Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy.

The Times offers three unlimited access plans, ranging in price from $15 per month to $35. Each plan has an introductory price of 99 cents for the first four weeks. Print subscribers get online access for free.

The website's "paywall" has many gaps. Readers who follow links in emails, on Web pages, on Facebook or on Twitter can access individual articles for free even after they reach their limit.

MONTANA’S LAST MADAM DIES: BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Ruby Garrett ran the last brothel standing in this mining town's once-lively red-light district with a reputation for kindness toward her girls, but the grandmotherly figure was also a husband-shooting, tax-evading madam who once said that prostitution should be considered a commodity.

The first time Garrett went to prison, it was for shooting her husband five times in the middle of a card game in 1959. She killed him, she said, because he had abused her repeatedly.

She went to prison again in 1982 for failing to report her earnings. While she was investigated, the sheriff padlocked the doors of the Dumas Hotel in late 1981, marking the end of the brothel that had catered to the miners in the Montana boomtown since 1890.

Butte's last madam died Saturday at Crest Nursing Home at the age of 94, the Duggan-Dolan Mortuary confirmed Tuesday. The cause of her death was not immediately known.

NH LEGISLATOR DROPS GUN BEFORE SAFETY MEETING: CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire state representative has dropped his gun on the floor of a state building while preparing to attend a hearing by a committee that deals with public safety.

A fellow committee member says Northwood Republican Rep. Kyle Tasker dropped the gun in the legislative office building on Tuesday before attending a meeting of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee. Sanbornton Republican Rep. Dennis Fields says he saw it.

It's unknown if the gun was loaded.

Carrying a firearm isn't illegal in the Statehouse complex after the Republican Legislature lifted a ban last year.

 

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