National Shorts

Seattle Pacific University Student Stopped Gunman, Saved Lives


(WNS)–Officials are hailing a Seattle Pacific University student as a hero for his role in subduing a 26-year-old gunman who came to the small Christian college campus June 5 to kill as many people as possible. Friends describe Jon Meis as quiet, gentle, outdoorsy, and deeply committed to his faith.  When Aaron Ybarra entered the Otto Miller Hall at about 3:30 p.m., armed with a shotgun, knife, and rounds of ammunition, Meis was working as a building monitor, sitting at a desk near the door. When the gunman paused to reload his weapon, Meis unleashed the can of pepper spray he always kept with him. While Ybarra was disoriented, Meis tackled him to the ground and restrained him in a choke hold until police arrived and put him in handcuffs.   Police say Ybarra, who was not a student at Seattle Pacific, was obsessed with the Columbine High School massacre, in which two students killed 15 classmates and injured 21 others in 1999. He had even visited the Colorado school.


Should Truancy Officers Be Keeping Track of Teachers?

(WNS)–Public school teachers are absent from their classrooms an average of 6 percent of the time, according to a recent study released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).  “We may be missing one of the most obvious ways to improve teacher quality,” Nancy Waymack from the NCTQ told me. Schools could improve education simply by ensuring regular teachers show up for work.  Of the teachers in the 40 districts surveyed during the 2012-2013 school year, 16 percent were “chronically absent.” This means they missed 18 days or more, equaling about one in 10 days of a normal school year.  Teachers in Cleveland averaged 15.6 absences per year. In Indianapolis, they missed an average of six classes. According to the Center for American Progress, paying for substitute teachers adds up to at least $4 billion annually.


Obama Administration Orders Medicare to Pay for Sex Change Surgery


(WNS)–Taxpayer dollars could soon pay for sex reassignment surgeries for elderly or disabled Americans on Medicare, thanks to a May ruling from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency’s Departmental Appeals Board lifted a three-decade-old ban on using Medicare funds for transsexual surgeries. The decision means the government considers the surgeries medically necessary and effective treatment for some individuals who do not identify with their biological sex.   The policy reversal came in response to a request from 74-year-old Army veteran Denee Mallon to have Medicare pay for genital reconstruction. Mallon, from Albuquerque, N. M., was born a man but has been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria,” a state of distress about one’s biological gender. Medicare denied Mallon’s request for surgery two years ago, but the appeals board overturned that decision.

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