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Perdue (AP/Photo by Shawn Rocco/The News & Observer)

Defunded

And more news briefs

Issue: "De-coding Morsi," July 28, 2012

The North Carolina legislature voted earlier this month to override Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a state budget bill that redirects $343,000 in family planning funding from Planned Parenthood to county health departments. "This budget adjustment does not cut a dime of family planning funding," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. "It does protect the consciences of pro-life taxpayers by sending funds to county health departments which do not perform abortions."

A different path?

When the head of Libya's transitional government described the country's future after the downfall and death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi last year, he declared: "We are an Islamic country. We take the Islamic religion as the core of our new government. The constitution will be based on our Islamic religion." Eight months later, Libyan voters may be trying to take a different path. The country held its first elections in decades on July 7, and preliminary results indicated a surprising tally: A coalition of secularists looked poised to make a strong showing against Islamist political groups.

That's striking in a country that's 97 percent Islamic. But secular-based politicians may have prevailed by focusing on the dynamic most pressing for many voters: rebuilding the country and the economy after 42 years of Qaddafi's corrupt rule.

Appendages no more

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Republican governor-led states are jumping on the Supreme Court's healthcare ruling, which said states will not be required to expand their Medicaid rolls. The 2010 healthcare law required states to expand their Medicaid rolls or face the prospect of losing all Medicaid funding, and the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that states should have the option to refuse the expansion without losing all funding. Republican governors from Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Wisconsin have said they will not only decline the Medicaid expansion, because they're concerned about how it could balloon their budgets, but also will refuse to administer the insurance exchanges required under the law, leaving that job to the federal government. "I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the Obamacare power grab. Neither a 'state' exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under this program would result in better 'patient protection' or in more 'affordable care,'" said Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a July 9 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "They would only make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to healthcare."

Let it end

After a photo of a forced abortion victim in China went viral last month, discussion of the country's one-child policy has moved from the blogosphere to academic circles.

First a government-affiliated think tank recommended that China relax its one-child policy and consider a two-child option, pointing to the growing elderly population and shrinking workforce. In the 2010 census, 13.3 percent of Chinese were over the age of 60, compared to 10.3 percent in 2000. At the same time only 16.6 percent of Chinese were under 14, compared to 23 percent in 2000.

A few days later, a group of prominent Chinese scholars penned an open letter challenging the one-child policy, speaking not just of its economic implications but its human-rights violations. It specifically mentioned 23-year-old Feng Jianmei, whom authorities forced to abort her baby at 7 months because she could not afford to pay the 40,000 yuan ($6,300) fine for a second child. "From an economic perspective, the one-child policy is irrational," signatory and Chinese internet entrepreneur James Liang told The Wall Street Journal. "From a human rights perspective, it's even less rational."

Iranian injustice

Iranian Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani marked 1,000 days in prison on July 8, nearly three years since officials arrested the 34-year-old pastor and charged him with apostasy. Iranian judges may level new charges against him, including blasphemy and crimes against national security, reports the U.K.-based group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). A new conviction could give judges more reason to carry out a death sentence he already has received, following a trial date CSW says is set for Sept. 8.

Back to the future

After spending two years launching protons inside the world's largest particle accelerator, physicists in Switzerland announced July 4 they'd finally found evidence of the Higgs boson, an elusive, elemental particle first hypothesized in 1964. Two independent teams found signals pointing to the Higgs boson in the aftermath of 800 trillion proton collisions. The chance of those signals being false is 1 in 3.5 million, the scientists said-although it's possible they represent some other, undiscovered particle.

Physicists believe the Higgs boson, sometimes nicknamed the "God particle," is responsible for giving atoms their mass. Some hope the particle will help explain the beginnings of the universe, or illuminate other mysteries, such as the invisible "dark matter" that pervades space.

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