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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

Dec. 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM   |   Comments

Most schools resume in Newton, Conn.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Most students in Newtown, Conn., returned to school Tuesday except at Sandy Hook Elementary, where 26 students and staff were killed last week.

Because the school remained a crime scene, Sandy Hook students are expected to resume their classes on Wednesday at a school in neighboring Monroe, WTNH-TV, New Haven, Conn., reported.

More funeral services, including those of two 6-year-old children, and wakes were scheduled Tuesday for the 20 children and six adults killed Friday by gunman Adam Lanza, 20, who then killed himself. Police said Lanza also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in the home they shared before he went to Sandy Hook.

Meanwhile, a former director of security for Newtown Public Schools offered more information about the gunman, CNN said.

Richard Novia said Lanza had Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, based on documents and conversations he had with Lanza's mother. Novia said he would have been told of students who may pose a problem to themselves or others as part of his job, which he left in 2008.

However, Novia said he never thought Lanza posed a threat nor thought he could commit such violence.

CNN said it hasn't been able to confirm whether Lanza was diagnosed with autism or Asperger's syndrome, both developmental disorders.

Experts say the rampage couldn't be blamed on Asperger's or autism, CNN said.


NIU frat members charged in pledge's death

DEKALB, Ill., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Arrest warrants have been issued for 22 members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Northern Illinois University in the death of a fraternity pledge.

David Bogenberger was found unresponsive Nov. 2 at the fraternity house, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.351 percent, which DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller said led to an arrhythmia, the NIU student newspaper Northern Star reported Monday.

Miller ruled the death accidental.

The DeKalb Police Department said five fraternity members face felony hazing charges and 17 people face misdemeanor hazing charges.

An investigation into the events before Bogenberger's death confirmed that the fraternity hosted "Parent's Night," where pledges were provided with alcohol, the police said in a release.

"All 22 are charged with a form of hazing," DeKalb Police Lt. Jason Leverton said. "Those five [facing felony charges] we felt were principally involved in the planning of the evening. ... They had more responsibility in the fraternity. They could have ended the evening at any time."

NIU announced that Pi Kappa Alpha and 37 unnamed students faced charges of violating the university's Student Code of Conduct, the Northern Star said. The university said its investigation found that Pi Kappa Alpha hosted an unsanctioned social event for pledges Nov. 1. The university said fraternity leaders did not officially register the event with their national chapter or NIU.

Bogenberger's family, in a statement issued Monday, told university administrators and fraternities "to stop the hazing and initiation rituals that claimed David."


6 polio workers killed in Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Six workers on an immunization campaign against polio, including five women, were killed Tuesday in attacks in Karachi and Peshawar, Pakistani officials said.

Because of the shootings, Sindh province Health Minister Sagheer Ahmed ordered the World Health Organization's anti-polio drive in Karachi stopped, the Pakistani News Agency reported.

In Karachi, the attacks occurred in three areas of the sprawling port city on the second day of a nationwide three-day drive against the disease that is endemic in Pakistan.

In Peshawar, a woman who was shot along with another female worker died of her injuries in a hospital, the Pakistani News Agency said.

Police said a gunman also killed a volunteer for the World Health Organization's anti-polio campaign in Gadap Monday.


Report: 2012 executions ties 2011 total

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Nine U.S. states performed executions in 2012, equaling the fewest number of states to do so in 20 years, a Death Penalty Information Center report indicated.

The 43 executions in 2012 was 56 percent less than the peak in 1999 and equaled last year's total, the report, released Tuesday, said.

Twenty-nine states either have no death penalty or have not carried out an execution in five years, the report said.

The number of new death sentences in 2012 was the second lowest since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, the center said. Seventy-eight people were sentenced to death in 2012, a 75 percent drop since 1996, when 315 capital punishment sentences were handed down.

Many death-penalty states that have histories of high use had no new death sentences or no executions in 2012. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia reported no death sentences and no executions, while Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Missouri reported no executions were performed.

"Capital punishment is becoming marginalized and meaningless in most of the country," said Richard Dieter, the center's executive director and report author. "In 2012, fewer states have the death penalty, fewer carried out executions, and death sentences and executions were clustered in a small number of states. It is very likely that more states will take up the question of death penalty repeal in the years ahead."

Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Arizona were responsible for more than 75 percent of executions nationwide, the report indicated.

Four states -- Florida, California, Texas, and Alabama -- accounted for two-thirds of the nation's death sentences, the report said.


Pew: Majority identify with a religion

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- More than eight in 10 people worldwide identify with a religious group, a Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life report indicated.

The report, released Tuesday, estimated there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children worldwide, representing 84 percent of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

The center said its analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers found there are 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, nearly 500 million Buddhists and 14 million Jews worldwide as of 2010.

The report said more than 400 million people practice folk or traditional religions, while an estimated 58 million people belong to other religions, such as the Baha'i faith, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism.

The Pew survey found about one in six people around the globe -- about 1.1 billion -- have no religious affiliation, making it the third-largest religious group worldwide, following Christians and Muslims.

Pew said its analysis found many of the people who said they weren't affiliated with a particular faith hold some religious or spiritual beliefs.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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