December 8, 2009 in Nation/World

In brief: Christian group’s case to be heard

From Wire Reports
 

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a Christian student group’s right to religious liberty and the freedom of association can trump a university’s ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation or religion.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal from a San Francisco chapter of the Christian Legal Society, which lost its recognition as a student group at the University of California- Hastings College of Law because it refused to abide by the school’s anti-discrimination policy.

The law school says its officially recognized student groups must be open to all. A university policy forbids discrimination based on “race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation” in all of its programs.

Five years ago, however, the chapter’s leaders declared they would not accept students who are gays or lesbians or who do not adhere to traditional Christian beliefs.

The case could set new rules for campus groups which receive funding through fees paid by the students.

Regulators: Toy meets standards

LOS ANGELES – Zhu Zhu Pets – one of the holiday season’s hottest toy crazes – do not violate safety standards, federal toy regulators said Monday after a consumer group raised concerns over the presence of a heavy metal on one model.

The toy “is not out of compliance” with a U.S. toy safety law that went into effect this year, a spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

The California-based consumer group GoodGuide raised concerns Saturday over the presence of a potentially harmful heavy metal in a Mr. Squiggles model of the robotic hamsters. The group said its testing found antimony – a heavy metal that can cause vomiting if eaten, and heart and lung problems if breathed – on the furry toy in levels that exceeded federal limits.

But those claims fell apart Monday, when GoodGuide said the way it got its test results is not recognized by the CPSC for judging whether a toy is hazardous.

Humpback whale freed from rope

HONOLULU – Officials said Monday they successfully cut loose hundreds of yards of plastic rope that had been caught in the mouth of a young humpback whale off Hawaii.

Ed Lyman, the marine mammal response manager for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said the rope could have killed the yearling whale because it may have interfered with its feeding over time.

The whale – believed to have been born last year – would have grown into it if not removed.

“We saved a whale from a life-threatening entanglement,” Lyman said.

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