Double standard. Although the Obama administration refused to take private donations or state money to keep the Grand Canyon open, officials are not nearly so mean when it comes to programs for low-income children. Houston billionaires Laura and John Arnold are giving $10 million to keep Head Start programs in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi open during the government shutdown. About 7,000 low-income children attend the government-funded pre-school programs in those states. All of them were about to close due to a temporary lack of funding. Head Start plans to repay the Arnolds, if Congress approves its funding for the next year.
Jury law veto. California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to serve on juries in state and local cases. Although Brown is a strong supporter of immigrant rights, he said jury duty held a special significance: “Jury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship.” At the same time, Brown approved measures to allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses and practice law in the state. Proponents of the jury law said nothing in the U.S. Constitution says jurors must be citizens, pointing out that past laws prevented women and minorities from serving on juries.
More Korean saber-rattling. North Korea is ramping up its war-mongering rhetoric (again) after the United States moved a group of ships, including an aircraft carrier, into a South Korean port. A spokesman for the country’s military warned of “disastrous consequences” and put its military on high alert, ready to launch an operation if necessary. According to the South Korean government, the ships are part of a maritime search and rescue exercise with its navy. Despite the threats, the U.S. State Department doesn’t seem worried. “We’ve seen this type of rhetoric from North Korea before,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “Such comments from North Korea will do nothing to end [its] isolation or reduce the costs [it] pays for defying the international community.”
Mall tragedy. Washington, D.C., officials have identified the man who set himself on fire on the National Mall on Friday, describing him as someone with a long history of mental health problems. John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J., doused himself with gasoline and started the fire as horrified joggers and tourists looked on. Despite efforts to douse the flames as quickly as possible, Constantino suffered severe burns and died after being taken to a nearby hospital. Family members, who issued a statement yesterday, said Constantino was not motivated by any political agenda. Although they said he had suffered a long battle with mental illness, they did not provide any more details.