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Feb. 27, 2013 at 5:00 PM   |   Comments

Obama dedicates Rosa Parks statue

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- President Obama was joined by House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders Wednesday in unveiling a statue of Rosa Parks at the U.S. Capitol.

On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks, then a 42-year-old seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated Montgomery, Ala., bus setting off a 385-day municipal bus boycott that fueled the fledging civil rights movement led by a young 26-year-old Baptist preacher named Martin Luther King Jr.

The U.S. Supreme Court banned segregation in public transportation the next year.

"Rosa Parks' singular act of disobedience launched a movement," Obama said. "The tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads of Montgomery helped a nation see that to which it had once been blind."

Parks died in October 2005 at age 92 and her body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda, the first woman so honored.

The 9-foot tall bronze statue – by California sculptor Eugene Daub -- of a seated Parks clutching a purse was installed in Statuary Hall, part of a collection of nearly 100 statues in and around the U.S. Capitol. Boehner noted her statue was the first of an African-American woman in Statuary Hall.

"Rosa Parks held no political office. She possessed no fortune; lived her life far from the formal seats of power. And yet today, she takes her rightful place among those who've shaped this nation's course," said Obama.

Parks was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the highest ranking African-American member of Congress, called Parks "the First Lady of Civil Rights," and noted that 2013 was the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.


10 injured in Afghanistan suicide attack

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- A suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, attacked a bus carrying Afghan soldiers Wednesday, injuring six soldiers and four civilians.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in text messages to reporters, the Los Angeles Times said.

The bomber struck as soldiers were boarding the bus in the Pul-e-Soktha area of Kabul, a statement from Kabul's police chief said.

The attack followed a shooting Sunday in Kabul, where Afghan intelligence officers killed a suspected suicide bomber attempting to detonate a car bomb near the National Directorate of Security offices, security officials said.

The incidents signaled the Taliban's intent to keep up attacks on targets in the heart of the capital, even with about 100,000 coalition troops still in Afghanistan, the newspaper said.


New Jersey legalizes Internet gambling

TRENTON, N.J., Feb. 27 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation Tuesday allowing state gambling houses to offer betting on online slot machines and table games.

The New Jersey Assembly and Senate overwhelmingly approved Internet gaming legislation Tuesday, and Christie immediately sign it into law, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.

The Republican governor initially vetoed the legislation on Feb. 7, seeking revisions to ensure proper regulation. All the changes were incorporated into the final bill, the newspaper noted.

"This is the ultimate form of convenience gambling. Atlantic City will pick up some of what's being done illegally now. The resort will be able to renew some relationships (with customers) who have drifted away," said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who sponsored the legislation in the Assembly.

New Jersey law specifies Atlantic City has exclusivity on gambling, which is why servers for online gaming will be housed at the 12 casinos in the city, Burzichelli added.


Feinstein argues for assault weapon ban

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, outlining her proposal in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, argued a new assault weapon ban is necessary to reduce gun violence.

Feinstein, D-Calif., cited massacres at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and an elementary school Newtown, Conn., to make her case Wednesday.

"Weapons are more lethal today than they were in 2004," when a federal ban on assault weapons expired, she said. ""The need for a federal ban has never been stronger."

It was the first hearing on the proposed ban on military-style assault weapons since the Dec. 14 deaths of 20 children and six adults in the Newtown incident, USA Today reported.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, expressed his opposition to Feinstein's proposal, saying it was based on "arbitrary distinctions" and has "nothing to do with the functions of the weapons."

The proposal would ban the sale of assault weapons and magazines carrying more than 10 rounds of ammunition, exempting currently existing weapons, as well as the sales, importation and manufacture of semiautomatic weapons with detachable magazines and certain other military features.

The legislation faces an uphill battle, especially in the Republican-controlled House, USA Today said.


World's oldest woman confirmed in Japan

OSAKA, Japan, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- A Japanese woman who turns 115 next week is now the oldest person of her gender alive, the Guinness Book of World Records said Wednesday.

Misao Okawa was born March 5, 1898, in Osaka. She became the world's oldest woman on Jan. 12, when Koto Okubo, also Japanese, died at the age of 115 and 19 days.

The world's oldest man, Jiroemon Kimura, is 115 years and 314 days old. Kimura, of Japan, is both the oldest person alive now and the oldest man who has ever lived whose age is confirmed, Guinness said.

Jeanne Calment of France, who had the longest life on record, died in 1997 at the age of 122 and 164 days.

Okawa married in 1919. She lived in Kobe, where her husband had a business, returning to Osaka after his death. She had three children, with one daughter and her son still living at the age of 90-plus, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Japan has 51,376 centenarians, 44,842 of them female. The average lifespan of Japanese women is 85.9 years.

"It is an honour to welcome Misao-san into the Guinness World Records family," said Craig Glenday, Guinness's editor in chief. "Her impressive longevity -- nearly 42,000 days -- is an inspiration and a testament to the Japanese lifestyle."

© 2013 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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