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In brief: U.S. births to younger women decline to ‘historic lows’

LOS ANGELES – Births to women ages 15-19 and 20-24 in the U.S. declined to “historic lows” in 2011, declining to 31.3 births per 1,000 women, said researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Writing in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, Brady E. Hamilton and colleagues summarized vital statistics from birth certificates and death records in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Overall, there were 3,953,593 births in the U.S. in 2011, 1 percent fewer than in 2010. The birth rate was 12.7 births per 1,000 total population, the lowest rate ever reported in the nation.

Breaking the data down by ages, birth rates fell for women ages 15-29 and rose for women 35-39 and 40-44. Rates were unchanged for women 30-34 and 45-49.

Significantly, among teenagers 15-19 the birth rate fell 8 percent. The authors wrote that the overall teen birth rate fell 49 percent from 1991 through 2011, creating a “substantial” impact. If 1991 birth trends had persisted, they said, there would have been an additional 3.6 million births to 15- to 19-year-olds.

Gunman killed after shooting two women in courthouse

WILMINGTON, Del. – A gunman who spent years in court battles over custody disputes opened fire Monday in the lobby of a Delaware courthouse, leaving two women dead before being fatally shot, authorities said.

“He walked right up the first victim and shot her point-blank right in the chest. He then turned around and shot a second woman who was approximately 10 feet away,” said Bill Heriot, who says he was waiting to enter the New Castle County Courthouse on Monday morning. He said the heavy-set man, who appeared to be in his 50s, pulled out a semiautomatic pistol and fired a single shot at each victim.

Heriot said the shooter then exchanged gunfire with police before falling to the floor.

Delaware State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack said the suspect and the women are dead. Mayor Dennis Williams said in a phone interview that one of the women killed was the shooter’s estranged wife, but Shavack said police had not confirmed that.

Authorities said two police officers were also shot, but were treated at a hospital and released.

One suspect jailed, one at large after Bourbon Street shooting

NEW ORLEANS – One man is in jail and police are searching for at least one other person believed responsible for the weekend’s quadruple shooting on Bourbon Street, in the city’s historic French Quarter,

New Orleans police said 23-year-old Deron Bridgewater, of Marrero, surrendered to authorities Monday after seeing his picture on a television newscast Sunday night. Police said he’s cooperating with detectives who are investigating the shooting that wounded four during the countdown to Fat Tuesday today.

Bridgewater and two other men are believed to have gotten into an argument with someone before gunshots erupted. Two men and two women were shot; three have since been released from area hospitals.

New satellite will keep watch on Earth’s natural resources

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A satellite launched into space Monday will keep closer tabs on Earth’s glaciers, crops, forests and shorelines, continuing a tradition that began four decades ago.

The Landsat satellite was boosted into orbit by an Atlas V rocket shortly before 11:30 a.m. local time, more than an hour after lifting off from the seaside Vandenberg Air Force Base under mostly clear skies.

Mission controllers tracked the rocket’s path as it streaked in a southwesterly direction over the Pacific and climbed into space. Cheers erupted in the control room when engineers received word of spacecraft separation.

The $855 million mission is the latest in a string of satellites that has kept a continuous eye on Earth’s natural resources from space.

Since the first Landsat launch in 1972, the satellites have been key witnesses to history, documenting the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Through the years, the Landsat satellites have monitored drought conditions, global crop output, shrinking glaciers and the effects of urban sprawl.


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